Another school year has come and gone and we are now working on our second full week of summer vacation. Within 36 hours I was ready to choke out a child. My house looked like a bomb went off, I swear my laundry doubled and nothing that we owned seems to be in its place. This was not going to work. We decided to reinstate the Park Tours but add a little extra this time. We are checking out FREE and CHEAP things to do around the area and we are going to let all of our readers in on these great things! First stop, SOUTH PARK
The first thing we did was pack a lunch...and sunscreen, a mini first aid kit, WATER BOTTLES (that's a MUST), hand sanitizer, some cash and a blanket. We decided to do South Park all. day. long. That's right, one end of the park to the other and everything in between OK, not necessarily everything.
The last time we played here, ALL of the yellow equipment was covered in weevils. It was pretty gross so we didn't stay long. We noticed that South Park had added some new equipment throughout the park along the walking trail but the most interesting was right here outside of the Black and Yellow fenced area. South Park built a fitness area! It was pretty cool and the kids jumped right in. Keep in mind, this area is not fenced in and seems to be for children and grownups alike. All of the equipment faces the play area so parents can do a little exercising and still see their kids playing.
I loved going here as a kid. We would see buffalo and deer roaming along the hillside. Chickens, roosters, and peacocks prancing around their large, open cages. There were bunnies everywhere. And then, of course, there were the ducks. We quickly jumped out of the car and raced over to the duck pond. The ducks were doing their thing, quacking, swimming, you know, what ducks do. We spotted a few turtles sunning themselves but that was about it. No bunnies, no buffalo, just the ducks and male and a female peacock. I felt like a jerk for building the place up soooo much to my kids. The looked at me like it was my fault that there were no animals there. Disappointed (for like 3 mins), we headed out for our picnic.
After about 30 mins of hard core playground time, we decided to eat lunch. There are a TON of groves and picnic tables throughout the park. We are dog lovers so we went to a mini park by the dog park, set out a blanket and popped a squat. As the doggies came by to play, we asked their owners if we could pet them. My kids were in their glory. There are also bathrooms (like real bathrooms) right next to the dog park which made cleaning up, that much easier.
After the clean up, we headed down the hill to the creek to wade around. We found a little path and hiked through the water and back. The kids love any excuse to get wet!
Oliver Miller Homestead
My Aunt Kimmy tagged along. She is the older, smoking version of Snow White. I swear, this woman knows about all of the forest animals and plants and they love her. She's the lady that can feed a squirrel from her hands and birds come to sit next to her just to hang out. She was our "tour guide" and was so excited to share all of the things that she used to do as a kid) The Homestead, was closed. Yep. Turns out its only open for 3 hours on Sundays. Everything was roped off so you couldn't even look around. Huge bummer. She was not a happy camper.
Aunt Kimmy was so excited to take us to the Old Stone Manse Pool. She told us stories about how her, my dad and my other aunt used to swim there, how beautiful it was. Then, we hiked through and found nothing but over grown weeds. We knew the area was no longer a swimming area but it could be a beautiful place to relax and take in nature if it was taken care off. It made me sad to see the potential of the area but it was still a cool place to hike.
The Original Park (across from the stables)
I loved this park when I was little. I vividly remember climbing up a double set of ladders into what looked like a flying saucer. We would sit inside of that metal sauna with our faces pressed on the steamy bars, yelling for mom and breathing in fresh air instead of the stagnate, hot air inside. Now, everything is new. No crazy merry-go-rounds, where the strongest kid would spin everyone until people started flying off, or until they were brave enough to jump. No sandbox littered with play toys left by a screaming child whose mother had had enough. Now the park is filled with "nature themed", freestanding play structures. Yes, they are pretty cool, with mini zip-lining type activities but they are boring. We imagined ourselves as kidnapped space pirates trying to get our friends to save us,. We played cops and robbers as we chased each other down the enormous, scalding hot, silver slide. We imagined that we were super heroes and veterinarians and didn't need to be told how to play!
Ok, Ok, I'm done! The kids loved the "Original Park" but loved the fact that the shaved ice lady was in the parking lot, even more! Shaved ice ranges from $2.50-$3.50 so make sure that you have cash. It's totally worth it on a hot day. We took our ice and headed across the street.
I think that the stables were one of the favorites of the afternoon. The horse were out playing and came right over to the fence to be pet. They were beautiful and very friendly. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught my 9 year old staring intently at the two larger horses and finally asked him what he was doing. "I want to see him pee like a race horse." We are proud to say that we did watch a horse, "pee, like a race horse" and it may have have been the highlight of the afternoon.
Although South Park was not what I remembered as a kid, it was still an amazing afternoon spent out doors with my babies. Next time we will bring our bikes and spend the day riding and stopping to play when we feel like it. The groves are relatively clean but the bathrooms are a little scary (out of my kid's mouth). I get that it's a park but when the toilets in the structured buildings are borderline overflowing, there's a problem. Lots of people and dogs and a TON of things to do and see. If you haven't been to South Park, give yourself a day to explore!
After 7 years of teaching full time, I was able to quit teaching and work full time from home! I love that I can spend so much time with my family. No more missed life events, even the little ones. Pink Zebra has changed my life. Now, I help others create their own strong economy allowing them to work from home, pay off debt and follow their dreams.
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