Sunday, 16 September 2012

Gettin' Bad in the Badlands

A few weeks ago I was chatting with the lovely Janice who is the receptionist for my hairdresser.  We were talking about doing family day trips and she mentioned a place in Ontario that I had never heard of that even her two teenagers loved.  The funny thing was, Janice wasn't referring to the mall!!  It was a place in NATURE!  You know, the place with trees, grass and animals!  Dear Janice, tell me more about this magical place in nature that has the ability to hold the interest of teens.  Seriously.  She intrigued me and now I needed to know.

You see, our family loves to go on day trips and we regularly go on hikes.  We always throw in a picnic too in order to keep everyone's blood sugar up and stop us from going bat crap crazy with each other.  This is what family outings are all about.  Time together without the disturbances of videogames, house chores etc and a healthy bloodsugar level so we can just being happy to be together.  Just the five of us, full bellies and Mother Nature.  Bliss!

So, back to the magical teen nirvana that Janice spoke about.  It's called the Cheltenham Badlands.  Oooooo, right?  Who doesn't want to get bad ass in the Badlands?  Nobody, that's who! 

I have to admit that the image that initially came to my mind when I heard the term 'Badlands' was the place that Whoopi Goldberg and her fellow hyenas in The Lion King lived.  You know, all barren, kinda creepy with skeleton heads all around.  Admit it, you thought the same thing.

Actually I wasn't that far off with my initial Disney-fied image (minus the skeleton heads thankfully).  The Badlands were really cool, especially since they were so out of place with the rest of the scenery.  Picture it if you will.  The Bookworm Family in our family loser cruiser (Honda minivan) bustling along in the morning sun.  Brad and I with requisite coffees in hand (because a caffeinated parent is a happy parent.  Truer words were never spoken.).  Our three offspring blissful in the back while we drove through beautiful countryside and I got to oogle all of the ginormous mansions on the way.  I do lurve a good house peepin', yes I do.  All of a sudden we climb this hill and voila!  There's this barren, red landscape that has these wicked deep grooves in it.  It's like they plunked Mars north of Toronto. 

Here's Missy Moo and I getting our Tyra on for the camera. 

Totally cool, right? The picture actually doesn't give the red 'soil' justice. The terracotta coloured 'soil' is actually shale. It gets it's red colour from iron oxide. The greenish-blue horizontal bands that you can see are caused by the ground water turning the red iron oxide to green oxide. {Thus ends your science lesson for the day.}

Unfortunately the shale is very delicate and easily eroded by water. It's also fairly grainy in parts which makes it slippery to walk on unless you have the hooves of a mountain goat -- which I suspect Boy 2 must have because the kid literally bounded from precipitous edge to fairly deep gullies while making his mother cringe.

The Badlands was so great that even the trees were giving us high fives!

The Badlands, though totally awesome to explore, is relatively small.  We explored it in about 90 minutes.  After that we packed up the kids even though Missy Moo wanted to stay on the 'red mountain' a little longer.  The rest of us, of little attention span, had decided that we wanted to head out and find something else to keep us occupied.  So the five of us jumped into the Loser Cruiser again.  After meandering around the area with only our GPS to help us out (see we were still bad ass and we weren't even in the Badlands anymore!) we found the Forks in the Credit Provincial Park. 

Brad and I looked at each other then turned to the kids and said,  "We realize that we just explored a natural wonder for 90 minutes, kids.  Now let's go on a 4km hike!!  Who's with us?!"  {we received only the 'woot woot' of Boy 2 and silence and squinty eyes from the other two}.  Huh.  Too bad for Missy Moo and Boy 1 because when Dad and I asked 'who's with us' it was actually rhetorical and you're coming either way!  Yay for family time! 

Yes, we went on a hike and found a pretty lake, a crumbled down silo/farm house and even a waterfall.  Oh the adventures and fun that were had!  Ok, if I'm being honest two of my spawn, by the end of the hike, wanted to throttle Brad, Boy 2 and I for our upbeat explorer chatter and our insistence on their participation on this hike.  But isn't that what family fun days are all about?!?  Dragging around at least some of your small humans and wondering what the heck we were THINKING going on a hike after climbing up and down some Badlands? 

It's all about knowing your family because in the end all five of us had a great day.  Yes, we had some minor scraps from the shale, had red dust on our clothes, stubbed a toe or two and witnessed the horror of ... a spider but all in all we had a great day.  You know how I know?  Because once we got home, fed the kids and watched the pictures and videos of the day's adventure we were all laughing and remembering the day fondly.  THAT is what a family adventure is truly about.

What are some of your favourite day trippy places??  I'd love to find more in Ontario and hear about more cool places to explore in your area!

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