Monday, September 9, 2013

Two things I found underwhelming and then some biking adventures

A few weeks ago, a friend and I took our kiddos to the Billings Zoo.  First up was the "petting" zoo/farm where most of the animals are non-pettable, except these of course!
 We stopped to check out the Koi:
 And saw this guy (which along with an inchworm and two squirrels playing chase were kind of highlights):
 Looking out for the bears:
Now to be fair, the zoo probably has about 10 non-farm animals.  However, most were hanging out in less than ideal viewing/photographable spots, which is cool for them, but unlike a bigger zoo, 5 sleeping animals leaves you with a less than ideal visit.  After we saw a woman sitting in the Lynx cage (clearly without fear as she pet the thing as it walked by) I inquired further and most of the animals were former pet-type rescues, which is good to know, but not discussed in any of their very sparse interpretation which is one of my many frustrations about the zoo.   These guys below stole the show for the day.  The otters were awfully playful and very curious about the other side of the glass and would appear to follow the kids around, which they found great fun!


 Afterwards we hit Chucky Cheese, along with what seemed like the rest of Billings!  Must have been the last day before school started for them too!
 Playing games with his buddy:
 Catherine's game attempt:
 That night our friend Po arrived.  Since he had driven in from Great Falls and would be driving to start a backpacking adventure in Glacier, we opted to stay close to town for the day with a hike and some paddleboarding.  The hike we had hoped to do was closed due to wildfires (luckily on the other side of the mountain from it but they still kept the area closed) so we headed up to History Rock.  This was on our "hikes the kids can do but we've never done list" but keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the list because it just doesn't seem that interesting, and boy was I . . .

right :-)  Now to be fair, it's a nice mountain hike, and it was the perfect length/climb for the kiddos.  However, History Rock itself was underwhelming to say the least, mostly due to the modern graffiti that prevents its historical graffiti from showing through, and it's literally just a rock on the side of the trail.  We also saw this guy which was pretty cool:
 We saw some wildflowers:
There was some posing:
 
Some climbing:
Some sliding:
 Soon after we reached the top the skies turned dark so we headed back down the hill.  After one very loud clap of thunder and some raindrops, we reached the last meadow
 And were greeted by this, which is one of the 80 million reasons I love where we live:
 Though we had planned to paddle up at the reservoir, the thunder, rain and wind pushed us back into town where it was a bit warmer, but no less cloudy.  Po had some good luck with the paddleboard and I managed to do a bit better than last time:
 But we also took this as an opportunity to commission our new float tubes into service:

 Which made the perfect pull behind rafts:

 In other excitement, Catherine has a renewed interest in her baby dolls which have been joining us on errands.  She is not, however, a great baby doll momma per se as they mostly get carried like this:
 Matthew has had a renewed interest in his legos, modeling some cool stuff off the box:
 We've also been doing lots and lots of bike riding.  We opted to stay in town for Labor Day and just do a bunch of day trips.  First we headed our favorite park.  Matthew took his trike which was unbelievably slow, but he managed to bike about a mile on it.
 The next day we headed over to the nearby pond and Catherine rocked out the miles on this little guy, insisting she ride all the way over by herself, which was probably 3/4 of a mile.  This was more a test of patience for us, but she did it and was very proud of herself (at least until we got to the rocky trail).
 We convinced Matthew it was time to bust out the balance bike.  We got this for him at Easter but he was so into his trikes and so not into the wobbling of the new bike, he hasn't used it much.  We convinced him he would be faster on it (which is true) and now he is a balance biking machine! Looks like next Easter it'll be time for a big boy bike!
 Water break!
 Picnic break!
Boo break!

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