Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summertime, the livin’ is easy

It’s mid-way through summer, I have been a busy, busy woman! The unseasonably mild weather brings big crowds to the area, which I see first hand while working at an area campground.

Last weekend, on a 70 degree July Saturday, I went to Elephant Rocks and saw more people there than I have ever seen in my entire life. And that is really saying something because I go to Elephant Rocks more than anywhere else in the area, besides work, of course!

There were cars parked alongside the edges of every piece of road that butted up to even the smallest patch of grass. Still, the crowd didn’t make the walk any less beautiful.

The massive storm that swept through the area on May 8, downing millions of trees in the Arcadia Valley and Black River Recreation Area alone, did little damage at Elephant Rocks. Perhaps the massive boulders took the brunt force of the wind, protecting the majority of the trees, or maybe it just got lucky.

Throughout the park, the work being done by the parks department was pretty obvious. There was about two inches of gravel laid alongside the current Braille trail, and several culvert pipes had been replaced. The astro-turf mats that helped to prevent slipping along the sloped portions of the trail were pulled up, leaving dirt-shaped rectangles along the trail.

It is expected that the work in the park will take several weeks, with portions of the trail being closed and detoured around while the work is being done. When completed, the trail will be wider than ever, easing the trip for wheelchair-bound nature lovers or parents pushing their children in strollers.

This morning we went to Millstream Gardens, and the storm definitely did more damage to that park than Elephant Rocks. There were several trees down alongside the paved path that leads to the river overlook.

Hayden’s favorite part about the walk is the two “troll” bridges. If you stop when you walk across them, they make such a great noise! He is also a big fan of the numerous benches along the trail. Or perhaps, it is the spiders which seem to favor spinning their beautiful, intricate webs on the benches, he thinks bugs are “cool.”

Instead of putting Kaitlyn in a stroller for this trip, she enjoyed riding in her Snuggli, now she’s big enough to face out at the world and take in all the sights. Not quite as excited about the walk as her brother, who tried to push several massive fallen trees off the edge of the trail, Kaitlyn nonetheless had a pleasant walk.

Max also loves to walk at both Elephant Rocks and Millstream Gardens, two places we’ve been taking him since he was a puppy. His only complaint is the number of squirrels that are free to roam around while he is confined to our sides by a leash. It’s hard to be a dog.

Next weekend we are hoping to finally make it back to Johnson’s Shut-Ins, which is finally re-open to the public—except for camping. We would have gone sooner, but last time we started to go, we had Max with us and dogs aren’t allowed on the boardwalk or at the shut-ins. Next time he will just have to stay at home!