I scoped out the trail by our house and read somewhere that it would be a round trip of 16 miles to Jensen Nature Park. So I promised the girls we could feed the ducks and pumped them all up about completing our goal.
We had spent the summer riding 2-5 miles per day, usually after breakfast, but with vacations and summer camps and sometimes just laziness, we still had 16 miles to complete. The girls were all pumped up to ride farther than we'd ever ridden before.
On Tuesday morning (the day before school started) it was rainy and a little bit blustery. Mike left us a cheerful wish-you-well note and some Life cereal to help us have a great breakfast. We hurried through our chores and took some time filling water bottles and gathering food, jackets, bike pump, slime (for emergency tire repair), and dolls and then we set off into the wind.
About mile into our ride we encountered the R.O.U.S. (warning: graphic picture of huge rodent follows).
Luckily, the Dread Pirate Roberts had already dispatched it. K shuddered and made gagging sounds when she saw it, H was fascinated and wanted to prod it. E and N didn't really like it. Later that day H asked me if rats could climb up the pipes into the toilet. BLECK!
The ride to Jensen Nature Park was good. It looked pretty stormy and Mike had warned us that we might get rained on, but we decided we could handle it. I kept scoping out shelters like newly built houses or boweries that we could shelter in if it started thundering, but the weather held. We made it to the shelter just as it started really raining and the wind picked up. We ate our lunch and eventually the wind died down, but we were glad we had brought jackets. It took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there. And I didn't tell the girls yet, but I had been watching the mile markers and it had only been 6 miles, not the 8 we were hoping for.
Here's E showing off her mad picnic table parkour skills.
K and H eating our lunch of pbj, cucumbers that we ended up throwing away, and go-gurts.
After lunch the girls wanted to feed the ducks--the aggressive, loud, noisy ducks. K and H ran off with their allotted duck bread, and were soon screaming in terror as the ducks rushed them. I had to run over and do some serious Mommy-bear stances to get the ducks to back off. I taught the girls to stamp their foot at the ducks and act tough and their screams of terror stopped.
Then the girls became obsessed with feeding this little family of ducklings, trying to shoo off the big ducks. I said, "Girls, stay on the upper part of the cement, up here." Then I turned away to help N ward off an aggressive goose. K and H did not listen. Next thing I knew H was screaming louder than ever, and splashing about wildly in the lake! She had lost her footing and slid into the water. I'm not sure if she was more terrified of the ducks coming to get her or upset about being wet, but she was super upset.
I'm pretty sure the fisherman who saw the whole fiasco was laughing his head off and I had to bite my tongue just a little bit. I calmed her down as best I could, and we headed to the bathrooms where luckily there was a hand dryer so we were able toget her clothes somewhat dry. I knew it was going to be a really long ride home because it was not warm and her jacket, skirt and shoes and socks were soaking. I gave her my jacket and called Laurie, who lives about a mile away from the park, to see if we could come over there to dry off a bit more before heading back.
The girls on the bridge, after the fall in.
At Laurie's house she found some clothes for H to wear, she gave us Twix brownies and other food, and was so nice. The girls were well-rested and re-charged and ready for the ride home after our visit and playing with Brody. Hannah loved the clothes so much that Laurie let her wear them home too. We gathered H's mostly dry clothes and headed back out. We tried Brody riding in the bike seat behind me, with N and E in the trailer together (I usually separate N and E because I prefer my children to not gouge each other's eyes out). Brody did not like being away from his Mama, and after a short ride, Laurie picked him and N up. At this point, N was crying sadly and refusing to go back in the seat, so Laurie saved us again by offering to drive N home while we finished the ride. I couldn't believe how much easier the ride home was. It was probably a combination of having dropped 25 pounds off my bike (without N) and the wind was at our backs too. It only took us 1 hour and 10 minutes to ride back home. We stopped whenever we needed a drink and kept the pace pretty slow.
With 1.5 miles to go we stopped to try and take an usie. It wasn't working out for us.
Now, sorry H
E gave up and went back to the trailer, but I bet we would have got it in this one. Yes, K had a helmet, she just took it off every time we stopped.
A "wild" billy goat we saw.
Here we are exhausted from the long ride!
We celebrated with Creamies and high fives. Then I mapped our route, just to see if it had been 16 miles with our detour to Laurie's. It was 13.5. I had an internal debate about telling the girls this. They would never know right? I didn't want to rob them of their accomplishment, but I didn't want it to be a sham either. So after thinking about it, I told them. They cried. I felt awful. But we wiped away the tears and decided we would do the last three miles with Mike. After back-to-school night and tumbling (we had way too full of a day), we jumped back on our bikes with Mike and even E rode her little 16" for our last three miles. It was awesome!
The completed bike chart! Good job girlies! Now we get to celebrate with a day of no chores and going to Lagoon!