“Who’s Dora?” My three-year-old daughter asked as she looked up at me with a confused expression.
“We’ve seen her show once or twice,” I responded. I knew that wouldn’t help her memory, but I figured it was worth the effort.
Ginny began to plead with me then, “I want to watch Dora, Mommy. Now. I want to watch her now.”
Ginny has never watched Dora. Not because she’s annoying (which she is), but because the times the show comes on doesn’t fit in our schedule to watch the program. Besides, Ginny prefers watching Disney, Jr. Of course, my parents didn’t know that when they gave her a gift from their travels, a Junior Ranger vest. As my mom gave it to her, she told Ginny that the vest would help her on adventures just like Dora. Then the questions began.
After finding some episodes to DVR, Ginny and Grace happily watched Dora on the screen. She knew who Dora was and wanted to go on more adventures of her own.
A few days after my parents left, I decided my girls and I needed to go on an adventure. With autumn slowly changing the leaves and more moderate temperatures, I felt a nature walk through the woods was in order. And I knew just the place.
Not far from where I live is a park next to the Sangamon River, here in Illinois. This park has many trails to explore. I had never ventured on the trails there before; having only discovered the park when I was pregnant with Grace.
Before we left on our adventure, Ginny grabbed her Junior Ranger vest and asked that I attach a small flashlight to it as well. I also grabbed a toy bucket from our backyard to take on our walk, with the intention of collecting leaves as we walked on a trail.
We arrived at our destination a mere 5 minutes after leaving the driveway. (I told you it was close to my house.) All of us got out of the minivan and headed to a large board that held a map of the trails through the park. Doing my best to decipher it, I chose what looked to be the shortest trail.
As we started our walk into the woods, Ginny lit up. She couldn’t wait to go on this adventure. Luckily it was a bright day outside which allowed a lot of light on the trail. Despite that, Ginny decided it was dark in the woods so she turned on her flashlight. I think she was just looking for an excuse to turn on her flashlight.
The walk took us about 45 minutes. It might have gone quicker had I not stayed on a trail that seemed to peter out. I’m sure it was the active trail, but no one had walked it in a while, as evidenced by the overgrowth of plants. Unfortunately, the plants were taller than my girls. For some reason, they didn’t want to attempt walking through all the overgrowth. So, we retraced our steps and found another path to take. After walking for a while and feeling as though we weren’t getting closer to our vehicle, I began to get worried. Eventually, the path turned and we ended up where we started. I’m glad I didn’t panic! That would have been embarrassing in front of my girls.
The girls enjoyed grabbing leaves to add to the bucket plus a few other things. They seemed especially intrigued by all the acorns they found on the ground. I’m sure the fact that we were surrounded by large, beautiful oak trees had nothing to do with it. Grace was the most determined to collect every acorn she could. Trying to convince her not to pick them up seemed a futile exercise in frustration.
We will likely go on another nature walk in future days. The girls and I loved being in the fresh air and going on an adventure. Besides, it ended up being the perfect way to make sure both got a nap later that day. They were exhausted!