I've been to Central Park in New York City, and I have to say, I much prefer the one in Burnaby, British Columbia. I just about completely missed discovering this 86.4-hectare urban park because I only saw the walking trail around it! I love how wide the trails are. And I recall getting completely lost in the forest trails and then struggling to find the car parking lot after parking lot. Every time I come to Central Park I find something new. Outdoor pool? yep! Horseshoe pitches? yep! Waterpark and two play grounds for the kids? yep! Outdoor stadium and running track? yep! Baseball diamond? yep!
Really, this park has more to offer than I could ever have imagined. However, this is not why we go! And, in fact I'm conscious of only going in the middle of the day after discovering it is also known for quite a few brutal crimes and thefts. It seems the most beautiful places attract the most horrible people.
When we went there today, all we tried to do was to get away from everything you could find on the map while staying within ear shot of the main path if we needed help. My constant quest for peace without compromising safety is relentless. It was my first time on my new-to me-bike and to compound the challenge of finding my balance after many years, I was going to be trying out the Wee Ride Co-pilot tandem bike with Jazlyn. I wanted someplace fairly flat, not as challenging to bike on as mulch or loose gravel, and since it was proving to be the hottest day of the year, shade was well received.
I loaded up the 4 bikes with ease thanks to our SUV. (Click here for my rack mounting tutorial) Denzel had grown into a youth size bike that no longer fit easily inside the vehicle so we used the rack. His bike was an amazing freebie off Facebook last year that we eagerly waited for him to grow into. I had also nabbed a free 4 bike carrying rack last year when someone else was feeling generous with their spring cleaning. I was amazed at how easy the rack was to install when I tried it a few weeks ago. So, last week I had splurged on a second-hand bike I found on Craigslist ($80)...something I had wanted for years and had finally conquered the guilt of spending money on material things for myself thanks to my evening income. With the purchase of a bike for myself, I decided to help slow-poke Jaz and attach her to my bike with a cool gadget I picked up on Facebook Marketplace as well. We got so many compliments on the Wee Ride Co-pilot tandem bike and she loved the feeling of biking without all the effort involved.
It was a workout just getting all the bikes loaded!
The park happened to be a few minutes from our home which is always a perk when our outings follow a night of me working through the night for VIPkid. I usually don't get out the door till after noon and today was no exception.
We did a short loop to get into the forest and as soon as the kids started to show boredom with the weaving in and out of our bikes through the trees, we looked for a path off the main trail.
The kids clobbered down the trail, resting their bikes against a Douglas fir...or was it a Cedar? We made our picnic, complete with symbolic apple slices (to pay tribute to the wife of Vancouver's second mayor, who was born in The Big Apple and who the park was built in honour of) A woodpecker sang through the bushes and then flew over to us showcasing its red crown and rat-a-tat-tat approval on our lunch from up high.
The wonderful thing about picnics in the forest is how relaxed I tend to be. I know meal times are supposed to be fun, but at home, I find myself policing behaviors. As a foster parent, meal times can be a source of trauma for the kids that come into our care. Unusual behaviours from over eating, to under eating and everything in between show themselves. I find I am naturally on edge at the table. and my parenting is on steroids. "Sit down, chew with your mouth closed, eat with your fork, your fork, not someone else's fork, feet off the table...", the list is endless and despite my beckoning, the dining table still ends up looking like the Tazmanian Devil was set loose in our home.
But, in the forest, things are different. The kids don't sit, they wander and explore with a sandwich in their hands. They probably talk with their mouths full...but I don't even seem to notice. Probably because they aren't 2 feet from my face spitting onto my food...haha. The crumbs that drop are dusted off and forgotten. Picnics in the forest make me a better mother. If you are interested in sponsoring our next picnic click here
We stayed the full 2 hours that the street parking permitted and even had time for a detour past a beautiful lagoon. On previous visits I've seen seniors gathering around the edge steering their remote control and hand made sail boats as the carp and ducks dart around. It's nice to see the love of nature has no age limit.
Today the price of peace was 41 cents!
Breakdown: My $80 second hand bike plus Jazlyn's $70 Second hand tandem bike, divided by 365 days of the year...because in British Columbia, you can actually bike every. single. day.