01/25/2006: ""... we didn't even see any beavers!""
If you were to ask the children about their day today, it would likely end with that statement =)
We planned to go to a Riverside Hike at Estrella Mountain Park today, this one specifically to look for beavers and other riperian wildlife, with a Mom and daughter from the homeschoolgroup. I underestimated the drive time, so we missed meeting with the ranger at the park office. I did get some directions and a map from another ranger at the office and we dashed off to try to meet them on the trail. I parked in the directed lot, unloaded the jogging stroller and put Ephraim in the seat and the diaper bag, camera, juice pouches and granola bars in the undercompartment. I used the sling as a blanket for Eph and we headed down the straw covered sand towards the river.
By this time the hikers had at least a fifteen minute lead on us, so we hurried as fast as we could. There was a black tarp fence along the side of the trail, and we spotted a place where it looked like we would climb over a lowered portion that had a ribbon tied around the post. There were other ribbons leading along that split off to the river, so I decided we'd follow those. At this split, however, we had to leave the stroller behind because I couldn't lift it upright by myself. I put Ephraim in the sling, grabbed the camera, and we continued on.
We did see some very beautiful birds (ducks & cranes were the only ones we identified), lots of animal tracks/scat, and burrows. No sign of the other hikers, no beaver, and when we got back to the main trail about 30 minutes later, no stroller. The diaper bag and its contents were dumped on the side of the hill leading to the road, the juice still there but the stroller and the granola bars, just gone. We were just dumbfounded--someone stole our stroller!
We trudged back to van downhearted. Actually, I was praying as I walked that the van was there because I didn't feel safe there anymore; who knows what else might have vanished?! It was still there, untouched, and we drove back to the park office to report our missing stroller. I let them know we hadn't caught up with the group and I left my name & phone number just in case the stroller turned up. They apologized, and one woman noted that they have had some trouble with teens in the area during lunch...
We were supposed to picnic at the playground after the hike with our friends and as I circled the park I spotted her truck with a few other cars and a ranger's vehicle in a lot together. Hmmmm... it turned out I had been given the wrong place to meet up with the group!
We did end up lunching and playing for a couple of hours. The children told Lisa about our mishaps thus far and their frustration at missing the group hike. "It's okay," she told them. "We didn't see any beavers either." We laughed at how we each had to let a child know that it wasn't going to be like Narnia today =)
Injuries sustained were minor: I have a funky sunburn (odd thanks to my headband), Elena bonked her head (standing too close to the baby swing) and Ephraim suffered his first bloody nose (same swing incident).
We did get Duncan to Cub Scouts tonight. He wants to make cupcakes for the boys next week =)
All's well that ends well, right? Even if...