Friday, October 12, 2012

Keep It Local: Patuxent Research Refuge

There are so, so many places on our summer bucket list that we never had a chance to visit. And Patuxent Research Refuge was up there. So on one of our many holiday days off of school (already!), we donned our most sensible hiking gear (I obviously insisted on accessories) and set off to see what this refuge was all about. We checked out the Visiting Center first, but mom quickly realized we needed to run off some steam before we'd be able to focus on exhibits.

So we took off in search of Goose Pond Trail, but didn't make it much farther than that. Both Kane and I really wanted to play off in the woods just a bit -- Kane wanted to "build a playground" and I was most interested in "walking the balance beam" while holding all my various accessories. We took turns spotting wildlife -- some very cool kind of slug, which I kept telling mom not to touch; lots and lots of geese (likely fleeing from the hunting going on in the "refuge"); woodpeckers; spiders, etc. And we spent some time building fairy beds, turned Cami pillows, out of the spongy moss.

When mom tired of trying to corral us away from wetlands and hunting blinds, we headed back to the Visitor Center. There is an extensive, interactive set of ecosystem exhibits, which was a little over our head. We liked pressing all of the buttons, but mom couldn't get us to slow down and focus on what we were doing. But then we came upon a series of animal exhibits, including a super cool ("spooky" as Kane said) one of wolves eating a deer carcass. Pretty rad. And there was a nice kids corner in the lobby that had some neat books, an art project, and several animal pelts to check out.

Out of all the "nature center" spots we've visited, this one was the nicest and offered a good variety of stroller accessible trails while providing nice spots to veer off-road a bit (although our stroller days are almost finally behind us for good!). We had a great time and are looking forward to returning in the summer when the tram tour is up and running!

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