Sunday, October 4, 2009

Horses and Woods

OK, I do have the entire scenario for Fall In laid out on my gaming table in the basement, but life got in the way of picture taking and my kids are so darn cute I just have to post this instead.

While Amparo was away in Lancaster today playing in a regional WTT tennis tournament, I decided to take the kids to Linvilla orchards since it was such a beautiful day and I have been getting nagged to ride ponies and pick pumpkins. With all the best intentions, we went out for lunch and then set out for Linvilla. Upon arriving in the area, it became obvious that every other family in a 50 mile radius seems to have had the same idea as us. I guess the combination of early October, beautiful weather and a Sunday on which the Eagles weren't playing created the perfect storm, crowd-wise. We couldn't even readily find a parking space in the overflow lot. Much to the chagrin of the little ones in the back seat, I decided to opt for plan B, which was to investigate nearby Ridley Creek State Park. Brother Dave has hiked this park regularly, and I knew from a number of years ago that there was horseback riding and pony rides. Now if I could just find it...

It turns out we got lucky and everything was well marked. I knew how to get to the main park entrance, and once there, roads, turns and park features were all very clearly marked. After stopping near the park office to pick up a map, we pulled into the area marked "stables" at precisely 1:55pm, and I was overjoyed to see that there were pony rides from 2-4 on Saturdays and Sundays. We spent a few minutes watching the horses in the various corrals while the ponies were being brought out, and were about the third or fourth family in line for rides. The wait was only about ten minutes, and then Grace was on a pony and being led around the paddock. Julia wasn't interested in riding yet and just wanted to watch, which was fine.

After the rides, I decided to press my luck and see if I could find a place in the park where there was a short section of trail somewhere where I could get the girls out for a short walk in the woods. We ended up parking at area #9 and hiking the short distance down the Blue trail to Ridley Creek itself. It was perhaps an eighth of a mile, and a bit steeper in places than I would have guessed, but we went slowly, stopping to listen to the nature sounds, and got down to the creek with no problem. We took a bunch of nice photos, some of which are included here, and then slowly made our way back to the parking lot. There was a bit of grumbling along the way about the climb back out of the stream valley, but the girls persevered like troopers. Giving an honest opinion isn't an issue for these two, and they said they had a good time. Uncle Dave would be proud!

It's funny now that I think about it - Uncle Dave is hiking down to the Colorado River at the floor of the Grand Canyon and back up at the same time I am hiking from the parking lot down to Ridley Creek and back. Talk about modest beginnings! OK, maybe not so proud after all, but I can always claim that my hiking prowess was merely curtailed by the presence of a 5 year old. Yes, that's it...

Grace wanted to ride again, so we went back to the ponies for round 2. Julia rode this time, which was great. At this point, we knew that Mommy would be home, so we packed it in and headed home for a Starbucks drink/snack and then a nice dinner with the neighbors.

All in all, a very successful day! And the one lasting impression as I write this - I have to get out into nature more. I love it, and I miss it from my younger (ok, much younger) days.

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