Sunday, November 16, 2008

Our Recent Outdoor Adventures

We've been taking advantage of the not-as-hot-as-summer season to get out and about, and we've been having fun doing it. We have been canoeing at West Lake Park; we had so much fun two weeks ago* that we went again yesterday with our friends the Hendersons. It's gorgeous to row through the mangroves, spot crabs and look for birds. And the view from the outlook tower is incredible.
We also spent Veteran's Day at Sugar Sand Park, which is a science playground in Boca Raton. I know, what could be better than mixing science and playgrounds? It looks kind of like a mix between a western army fort and the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, and has sections devoted to rockets, music, the Pythagorean Theorem (no, seriously!), dinosaurs and more. It's three stories tall! However, Stellan never even got past the main courtyard because it had a water feature. That was enough to keep him entertained for over an hour without any breaks. Kev and I were a little sad because we wanted to explore all the other parts of the playground, but there will be other times. We ended the trip with a ride on the carousel.
On Saturday night, as we were wandering though an unlit county park looking for the local observatory and amateur astronomy club, we saw the shuttle launch! It was really great, and helped convince me that are some perks to living in Florida. (Incidentally, we're planning on going to one of the launches before they retire the shuttles, so if you're interested in joining us, let us know.) Sorry, no pics. Also, we did eventually find the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association. We even joined, though I'm still a card-carrying member of the SBAU and will never disavow my loyalty to my first and best astronomy club.
Finally, we have discovered an incredibly interesting spider in our garden, a spiny orb weaver (gasteracantha cancriformus). Super amazing looking, it appears to be a spider that's carrying something spiky on its back. But no, that's just its natural form. Cool! Tragically, Stellan is still too young to hold still long enough to notice it, much less appreciate it.

*Funny story; on our first trip, we realized that Stellan would require some serious attention in the boat. He always wants to dive off the side into the water, so I have to keep at least three fingers hooked onto his PFD. But he actually prefers to be in my lap, so I had to leave all the rowing to Kevin. Poor guy had to do all the paddling and didn't get to look around as much as he would like. So at one point I gestured to some tree crabs scuttling up the mangroves and Kevin paused to take a closer look. Unfortunately, out boat didn't stop to look. We got dangerously close to some branches sticking out into the water, and suddenly I had to decide what to do to avoid Stellan getting whomped in the face by mangroves. I decided to go with the stiff arm, but was saddened to discover that mangrove branches don't have a lot of give. Stellan and I were thrown backward into the boat, and I found myself with my butt and legs still in rowing position on the bench, and my top half sprawled out on the floor of the canoe with a very angry toddler pinning one of my arms down. Take a moment to reflect on this physical situation; imagine yourself strapped in to a bench by branches, an unwieldy toddler in a life vest struggling to get off your arm and chest, and realizing that you have absolutely no leverage to get yourself up from your semi-supine position. I took more than a moment to reflect, as I really and truly couldn't get up. It was very uncomfortable, and my lower back took a few days to recover. I did eventually get up without capsizing, but Stellan sustained a sizable good egg on his forehead where his little face hit the wooden crossbar behind us. It was one of those rare times when pain and laughter were pretty evenly matched.


D said...

Cool activities! I saw the Columbia launch back in 91 I think it was. It was amazing. Glad you are finding places to enjoy and people to enjoy it with.

Amanda said...

I'm actually a little bit jealous of the Swiss Family Robinson-inspired museum/park dedicated to the Pythagorean Theorem. And, just to clarify: I thought mangroves were the trees that ate people in Harry Potter. No? From your story, it doesn't sound too far from reality.

Jenae said...

The spiney orb weaver is terrifying.


quesetescapa said...

The spiney orb weaver is awesome!!! In pictures I mean, because in person... mucho scary.

MELISSA said...

That spider is crazy!

So glad you guys are having fun. I miss both you two and the Stinkface. xoxo!