The Indoor Park

Sometimes in Oregon it rains. But only sometimes.  Other times it might be drizzling, misting, sprinkling, pouring, or most often as the weather man dictates “showering”. We like our different words for water falling from the sky. This land where children are so often confused by learning the sky is blue, since around here it is mostly gray. But with these many gray days, wet days, and completely erratic weather days we parents need places to take the kids to run in circles that is not just the living room at home.

We started attending the indoor park at the city rec center about the time my daughter could crawl. The array of toys wasn’t extensive, and the probability of injury was high for the most part. Crawlers intermixed with toddler’s just able to reach the pedals on the tricycles, but not adept enough to steer them, resulted in the occasional scene from “Red Asphalt”. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic. It seemed, though, like there was a frequent invasion of just a couple bigger kids to show the littler ones what kind of dare-deviling could be achieved . . . then all of a sudden that was my child.

Her mother gave the go ahead on this, not me!

As the parents (typically moms) stood along the sideline it seemed that the older the kids got the fewer mad dashes across the room to pick up a crying crawler would take place. Coffees in hand everyone could stand and chatter with the frequent interruptions of “don’t throw that at him/her” or “no, you don’t need to take off your pants”. Without fail, mouths open wide, the kids would come running. It was snack time.

Bartering, Sneaking. Begging. Stealing. All the typical jailhouse cafeteria decorum would take place around the little Fisher Price picnic table. We wonder why our little people are sick so often, then you watch them share food. They sit, they eat, they run off and quickly the food is picked up by a mom so that a wayward crawler isn’t learning whether he/she has a nut allergy yet. But for 2 hours twice a week its a place to go that is dry, and gives us a chance to count home many laps the old fella with a limp can make it around the track above us. Well worth the $2 entry fee.

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At The Park

The sun is deceitful on the Oregon coast. You can look out a window to a clear blue sky, the sun above, then walk out to the bone chilling wind. It’s not rain though, and for the parents in the area that means time to go to the park.

When I was a kid it was called a playground. Now that I am a parent it’s more like a meeting ground. The adults hold tightly to their various coffee mugs, exchanging tales of what their little person did today. Intermittently breaking up the conversation are the “gentle” reminders to our kids to not eat bark chips, as they are not real chips, or as they get old not to physically accost the other kids. There is always a “no” for every age.

They find their friends from school, from dance class, the ones they shared library time with as a toddler. That’s the nature of a small town. Even the kids all know each other before they realize what it means to be social, and exchange stories as well about what has been going on in the respective circles.

When I am not feeling particularly social it gives me an opportunity to follow my little blonde whirlwind around the playground catching some snapshots. My favorites are when she and her little friends don’t even think about my presence, and in this case while playing on some of the unusual equipment at this park, I got my shot.

And no, that’s not a UFO above them. Just because we live in Oregon doesn’t mean we all claim to see UFO’s… often. 😉

Spinning

A person’s a person, no matter how small – Dr. Seuss (Horton Hears A Who)

The Yaquina Head

Yaquina? Yuhkwinuh? It’s ok if you stumble a little when trying to pronounce the name, it’s an Oregon thing. We like to confuse tourists with names like Yachats, Neahkahnie, Umpqua and the ever popular Boring. But on the central Oregon coast there is the Yaquina Head Oustanding Natural Area, home to Oregon’s tallest lighthouse.

It may not be Oregon’s most photographed lighthouse (that goes to Heceta Head about an hour south) but it ranks amongst the windier points of interest. On this evening it was no exception. I took my daughter out to grab a couple shots when the tourist population was low. I prefer to keep fanny packs and straw rimmed hats out of as many of my shots as possible. 

It was blowing hard, as usual, on the bluff that stretches about 1 mile into the Pacific. My daughter ran in circles, tracing the cement compass while I fired off a couple of shots. The lighthouse was closed for tours, inside is a lengthy spiral staircase and usually a volunteer dressed as a caretaker. If traveling the coast this is worth a stop. There is a well designed visitor center with museum, and a small hike to the top of the hill giving an expansive panoramic view. Just remember, they close at dusk….

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