The disappeared park: a lesson in flexibility

This past weekend our adventure was to revisit the Lowry Nature Center. We hadn’t been since the beginnings of Covid. Partly because we liked visiting new hiking paths to keep life interesting and partly because we moved during the pandemic so it felt like part of our “before” life and wasn’t at the forefront of my mind.

But it had my kids’ absolute favorite playground so the other day, when we remembered it, we were all dying to go back. We loaded up the camelbaks (yes, for a 1 mile hike. We like being extra) and headed out.

I did no research before we left.

As a new travel agent, I’m pretty researched out. I actively try to be obsessive over the details of the packages I put together for my clients. I’m terrified they’ll arrive at their hotel to find out 5 people aren’t actually allowed in the room or that the digital tickets I sent them are actually for a different night… so when a well-known and experienced opportunity presented itself I didn’t think twice. It seemed like a nice easy adventure.

The parking was easy, as I remembered. The ticks were terrible, which is par for these paths, but I had forgotten. And the 4 year old was a bit grumpy about the walk since it had been a season since we’ve done a family hike. But with promises of playing at “the coolest park ever” when we were done, he soldiered on with minimum complaining.

At last, we rounded the final turn and when he asked “where is the park” I happily proclaimed that it was just up that hill and through the trees.

Only it wasn’t.

At some point the park had been shut down for renovations. And at some point renovations had been scrapped and the entire park was simply removed. The amazing nature-themed, two-level park with flowers to hop on and a beaver dam to climb in and a treehouse slide to climb up to was gone. The whole park, neighboring butterfly garden included, had been leveled and filled in into one flat, empty space.

I stood agape for a moment, by brain not comprehending the new place we were in, and then started panicking a bit about what I was going to say.

“But where’s the park?” Four year old asked.

“I guess it’s not here?”

Worried 4 year old: “But I wanted to see all the cool stuff!”

“Me too, buddy.”

Older kids: “yeah it was so cool! The beaver dam! The dragonfly! The birds nest! The tunnel!”

Me: “I guess It’s not here anymore…”

I’m proud to say that this was not a disaster moment. Even when the rain started and we had to scramble back to the car.

This hike is what we call an adventure. And my kids know that with adventure comes surprises, changes, and not always getting your way.

Adventure means driving around the block a second time so the brother in the back seat can see the husky puppy that he missed the first time.

It means mama not always telling you where you’re going so she can surprise you with a visit to the worlds largest candy store.

It means voting on whether you go right or left next on the hike AND knowing that if even if your vote doesn’t win it’s ok (and it might win next time.)

And sometimes it means that adults don’t know everything, that the simplest plans can be undone, but it can still be a fun day if we let it. Because sometimes a disappeared park can mean extra time playing your favorite board game at home. And it can mean a funny story about “that adventure when mama brought us to a park that wasn’t there.”

P.S. see the clip of our adventure where I almost fell into the marsh here.


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