Spiders in the Dark, Caught in the Light of an Iphone

“No, I don’t want to go!”

“Get in the car!”

These words must repeat themselves over and over, all around the world, day after day, at least everywhere where families drive cars.

If the girls decided our plans, we would watch Curious George all day and night.

When we get to where we are going and I catch them skipping down the trail, I know we have it made.

After dinner the other night, Blue Eyes, Sparkles, Buttercup and I headed out for a night time hike on Lady Bird Lake.

Night time hikes for little kids aren’t a super common after-dinner activity, but they shouldn’t be ruled out.

There were lots of animal and insect sounds. There is some light, lots of shadows and a spooky vibe. Catching spiders in the glow of an iPhone is way cooler at night, than the same spider in the sun during the day.

For a night time hike, I go to Lady Bird Lake, on the north side, near Austin High School, because the trails are wide and there is some light from the moon and the city. It requires one adult per kid. Everyone needs to be extra aware of others on the trail and of the nearby water. Our max time for a night time hike is about thirty minutes.

But with a little extra care, it can be a sweet time, with lots of skipping and spider watching, followed by heavy heads resting on your shoulders, as you carry them back to the car to head home.

See AustinKidsHike.com for kid-friendly hikes within city limits and kid hiking tips


Be Careful What You Wish For

It was Thursday at lunch and I made a wish. I didn’t wish for a book deal or that my girls would stop fighting or to get the day back at Hyatt Lost Pines that Blue Eyes and I lost when Sparkles got sick, which all would have been good wishes, but my needs were simple.

I wished for Friday off work.

So I could catch up at home. So I could relax just a little. So I could get a break from my job that didn’t ever slow down.

Then, when I got back to the office, I got laid off.

I was smiling a little, in the meeting with my boss and HR, and I’m sure they weren’t sure why. It was just kind of funny, that I got what I wished for, only different.

My plans for 2013 will change. For now, my only plans are for next week, when I will…

  • Spend one day doing nothing at all with any practical value.
  • See a few movies on the list I always make after the Golden Globes, but don’t usually have time to see.
  • Write for a whole day.
  • Spend time with a friend and her new baby.
  • Find a hiking buddy and take a long hike, the kind I can’t do with the kids.
  • Write for another whole day.
  • Take a nap.
  • Sit around the house.
  • Take another nap.

After next week, I’ll think more about it and get more serious. Hmmm, should I dare to make another wish?


Holiday Hikes Are Just As Sweet

Growing Up Austin - Barton Creek

It is funny, in the late spring, when the grocery stores advertise their grilling recipes, as if grilling is somehow associated with summer. One of the reasons why Austin is the best city in the world is that it really is almost never too cold to grill. Just wear a jacket if it is chilly. Put on the patio light if has gotten dark early. The meat will still get done and it will still be delicious.

Hiking is the same. It feels like a summer activity sometimes, but really, you can hike in Austin any time of year. For one thing, sometimes it is 75 degrees in December. For another, as long as it isn’t below freezing, you can put on a jacket or a coat and be just fine. (Check out our near freezing hike last year.)

Blue Eyes, Sparkles, Buttercup and I hiked Barton Creek, #4 Homedale Access, the other day. Well, we call it rock climbing instead of hiking, because Sparkles loves rock climbing, but not hiking. I chose this spot because it is as rocky as they come. For the 5+ crowd, there are areas full of boulders that make for a 3-dimensional hike. I especially like the curves and dips of the rock formations on the creek bed. I wonder why the rock is washed away by the water in some places and why it lasts forever in others. I also wonder about the plants that can grow in the rock, with the smallest amount of dirt for their roots to grow.

As the holidays get more and more hectic, I’m going to remember to take a holiday hike now and then, to get away from the busy and remember the wonder.