The Pict family had a very busy Father’s Day weekend, so much so that we decided that Mr Pict should open his gifts and cards a day early because it was the only way to schedule it in. In addition to various cards and treats made at school, the boys made up a hamper of fun foods for their Daddy and also gifted him a steel coffee flask plastered in their mugshots.
Saturday afternoon was spent at a Scouting Regatta hosted at a nearby Swimming Club. While Mr Pict and I have some reservations about our family being involved in the American version of the Boy Scouts movement, as of now we are very glad that at least one of our children (the seven year old) has committed to joining an extra-curricular activity of any kind. The people in the local troop are nice and our son certainly gets a lot out of participating, both socially and in terms of experiences. It is one of those examples of treacherous waters we have to wade through as parents, setting aside our own beliefs and politics in order for our child to benefit. But I digress … The event was about bringing the families together at the end of the Scouting season, awarding the boys with the badges they had earned and having some friendly competition with racing boats in some guttering. Meanwhile, the seven year old’s brothers got to benefit from his extra-curricular commitment since they were free to come along and devour barbecued munchies and play in the pool.
Yesterday, Father’s Day proper, we got up bright and early (perhaps too early for our very tired children who were none too bright about it) to drive up to the Poconos for a day of hiking in the sunshine. Mr Pict and I had been to the Poconos back in April for a child-free break so had scouted out the places we thought would appeal to our kids most. We had considered going for an overnight camping trip as a way to extend our adventures. Sadly (not really – I was nothing but relieved) the busy nature of our weekends meant we could only undertake a day trip. We, therefore, decided to contain our exploration to Hickory Run State Park.
We started with the Boulder Field as we knew that was a unique landscape and that our mountain goat children would enjoy scurrying and leaping all over the rocks. Their smaller feet, of course, are better suited to finding foot holds on all shapes and sizes of rocks plus they are pretty much fearless (our five year old is emerging as an adrenalin junkie) so the kids were soon on the horizon line of the boulder field while I was still slowly, very slowly, working my way from rock to rock. As well as enjoying bounding all over large boulders, the kids also enjoyed finding various spiders basking in the sunshine. Two of my kids have arachnophobia but they are still fascinated by spiders so long as they are not taken by surprise or have to make physical contact with them. My 8 year old also saw the tail of a lizard whip off between some rocks – so the tail was presumably still attached to an unseen lizard.
We then took the kids on the Shades of Death trail, which was much more verdant and even more picturesque than when we had visited in April now that Spring has passed into Summer. The boys loved scampering over all of the tree roots and leaping over streams and bounding over rocks. The whole walk reminded them of ‘Lord of the Rings’. What they especially loved about the walk, however, was all of the water since the trail follows the course of a fast-flowing stream and skirts past a weir with a roaring waterfall and then concludes with a large pond. We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife on our trek. Some birds, insects and some high-speed chipmunks were all we saw on the trail and we saw deer when we were driving. My youngest sons were disappointed as they were totally up for a bear encounter. As I have shared before, however, that is not an American experience I am keen on having so I am glad the bears gave us a wide berth. What the boys did enjoy finding, however, were tadpoles teeming along the water’s edge, including some godzilla-esque tadpoles that must have been bullfrog babies. The American word for a tadpole is polliwog. I like it.
We left Hickory Run State Park and detoured via the General Store called Country Junction that claims to be the world’s largest general store. Mr Pict and I thought it would be a brilliant experience for the boys and sure enough they were spellbound as soon as they walked through the door, saw the yellow brick road, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ playing on a loop and the buckets of brightly coloured, bizarrely flavoured popcorn. They loved the place! Getting them to leave without a puppy or a pet ray might have proved a challenge but unfortunately no sooner had we arrived then a voice on the tannoy announced that the shop was closing so we had to abandon the yellow brick road, pay for our watermelon (!) popcorn and shoofly pie and return to the car – via the adjacent petting zoo that is also part of the general store. My kids are already demanding to go back to Country Junction to see the rest of the store and have an adequate amount of time to poke around its incredibly eclectic wares so I think another jaunt to the Poconos will be in order this Summer.