Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weldon Springs: October 11-12, 2012

Last October we needed one more overnight, even though it was getting a little chilly. Enter Weldon Springs. The map didn’t look too thrilling, but it’s only 1 ½ hours from home, there’s a river… So we went. 

We checked in at the park office, and the person who checked us in seemed a little inexperienced at such things. I asked about trail conditions, and she said they were overgrown. Apparently she was comparing them to a suburban lawn, because the trails were wide and obvious. She did tell us that in the spring the two more distant campsites flood, so if you’re planning to go, call ahead. 

There are 4 campsites within 100 yards of the trailhead (and outhouses and a pump) that would be good for very inexperienced kids or a gear shake out or anything where you might need to bail.  The most direct route to the further campsites is about a mile. We took a slightly loopier route. 

Monday, April 22, 2013


Lunches are some of the hardest meals to figure out. Boo still can’t eat and walk at the same time, so snacking all day instead of stopping for lunch is right out. Sometimes we have a hot lunch, sometimes we don’t. What Boo eats varies a lot. Here are some things she’s eaten for lunch on hikes. 

Hard-Boiled Eggs

She’s been a fan of hard boiled eggs for a while. They’re good to fill her belly and stick with her, and I don’t mind eating her leftovers. The shell must be carried out, and if she’s already too hungry, there’s no quick sugar boost, but as a planned meal or snack, they’re awesome. 

Egg Break


Some tortillas, meat, veggies of choice (tomatoes, greens, cucumbers), maybe a mustard packet. Pack the ingredients, build at lunch time. Awesome for unplanned dayhikes that have to start at the grocery store anyway. 

Lunch First

Stuff in Pitas

We often have a pita with a pouch of tuna. We have had dehydrated hummus, which was fine after it sat a few minutes. Much like wraps, almost anything can go into a pita.

Hot Lunch

Sometimes something hot is called for. We’re fond of couscous, and not just because it was the only camping food we knew when we started. I start her portion rehydrating before the water boils, so it’s not too hot for her when it’s ready. 

Hot Lunch


One recent hike, Lee made calzones in the morning. We wrapped them in towels in our bags, and they were nicely warm for lunch. 

Smashed Sammiches

A traditional choice. Boo is fond of peanut butter and jelly. 


Random Plants

Though we try to keep this to a snack level, there is always the option to eat what plants are edible and allowed. We’ve been known to munch on dandelion greens, garlic mustard, and an assortment of berries.

What do your kids eat for lunch? Is it any different than what the adults eat?


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Whistles: Review-ish

When she started running ahead of us, we decided we needed to start teaching her basic getting unlost skills. First was “If you get lost, hug a tree and stay put.” Then we got her a whistle. 

Practice Being Lost

The first whistle she had was a yellow one like this. It was too easy for her to cover the holes with her mouth. 

Many backpacks come with whistles built in to the sternum strap (like this). While I can make an OK tweet on one, Boo doesn’t have sufficient control to keep the holes uncovered and make any noise. It’s a nice backup, but not sufficient for her yet.

Now she uses an orange whistle like this. She likes it best. The sound holes are furthest away from the mouth, so she’s most successful making noise with this type. 

We do have her practice with them occasionally, in situations where nobody is likely to mistake it for an actual emergency call (trail head, back yard…). 

The other thing we do is put her whistle on a break-awayneck lanyard. We bought a pack online, and I cut out 5-6” of the strap to make the length better for her. It stays looped on her backpack, or is a safe necklace. We did lose one once, but I’d rather she have the breakaway safety feature right now. 

I’ve considered a bigger whistle with the holes even further away and harder to cover up, but I’m afraid those are too big for a good little kid necklace. Thoughts? 

The boy had three whistles on him the last time we discussed it. One plain yellow whistle, an two that were parts of emergency/survival multi-use things. 

What whistle (if any) do your kids carry?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Favorite Place to Play

Forest Park Nature Center in Peoria Heights, IL.

Nice little museum (mostly hands-on), some critters, frequent classes, friendly staff, store, and a few miles of beautiful trails.

And the best selection of fair-trade, organic, shade-grown, bird-pooped-on coffee in the area.

Where do you like to hang out and brag about your outdoor exploits?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Scavenger Hunt

I got a new camera, and Boo immediately claimed the old one. 

The next Saturday, instead of hiking, the adults in the house were cleaning up after a horrible pickle juice spill in the refrigerator. Boo was in desperate need of some outside time, but wanted company. I suggested a scavenger hunt. A photography scavenger hunt. She jumped at the idea. 

So I made up a list. Things I could draw, since she’s not quite literate, and both easy and hard for her to find. Easy: green grass, mud puddle, bulbs coming up. Hard: bike, bird, squirrel. She took her list and camera and had a fun almost-hour running around the yard. 

 On hikes, we generally give her one or two interesting things to look for if she gets whiny, but this has potential. And will become easier as she reads more words...

Do you kids carry a camera? 

Have you done scavenger hunt hikes? How did it go?