Friday, October 14, 2011

The Enchanted Forest

Wild Bear, an ecology center for kids up here in Nederland, puts on an annual Enchanted Forest every fall.

And this was our first year attending.

The event is an interesting one, part ren-faire, part fall harvest fest, part nature walk, part costumed characters, part trick-or-treating.... And most definitely a unique quirky mountain town thing to take the kiddos to.

The day started by driving into town to discover a mad house of tourists touring the leaves (people are nuts), which made things like parking a little more of a pain.

Then we got to wait for the shuttle to come by.

One might think that waiting for 10 minutes isn't a particular hardship, but that one never would have had to spend those 10 minutes attempting to keep a small squirmy (and by my personal observations, undoubtedly deaf as a doornail) darter from bolting out into an uncharacteristically busy parking lot while simultaneously attempting to answer the constant flow of questions ranging from truly random to stupidly ridiculous from the other child.

(Thank God I don't have, like, six children.... I think I'd be dead by now.)

Luckily, my children have been taken on the bus just enough that they actually kinda know what is expected of them for behavior while they haven't been on buses enough yet to take away the captivating novelty of the experience, which combined for a very uneventful shuttle ride out to Mud Lake.

(Ok, I never actually saw the lake, so for all I know it was just a chunk of forest with an inaccurate name. But the talking animals referenced it. And adults in costumes would NEVER lie to children......)

Then we got off the bus.

And I realized that the event had a much more hippy-renfaire feel to it than the Ecology Center had promoted.

But my children scorned the option to make fairy costumes anyways.

The main focus of the Enchanted Forest, at least according to the advertising, was the forest walk where you would walk a little trail and meet "enchanted animals" who would tell you a big about themselves and how they live in their surrounding environment.

Astute readers may recall that my oldest, Kristina, hasn't had a particularly positive reaction to costumed people in the past (by which I pretty much mean she screamed bloody murder at every sight of one from Santa Clause to Mickey Mouse throughout her 4 little years of life), so I was definitely taking a slight leap of faith on this.

And you know what? She totally rocked it and had a blast!

(So you know, maybe there WILL be a picture of her with Santa Clause before she's 16.)

First up in the Enchanted Forest we met the Beaver, who had been quite busy building his beaver house all day.

I was impressed by Adrianna's willingness to toddle right over and sit down with other kids (blue hoody sweatshirt in the back row), although some of the Beaver's factual information flew right over the preschoolers' heads.

Next was the Dragonfly.

I was actually surprised by the creativity and effectiveness of the costumes, although I did find it a bit distracting that the high female voice of this actor was the one explaining how only the males have the shiny green tummy just like she has...

And then we came to the Bat

This one I think also got a bit overly technical for the younger kiddos on the tour, but certainly gave a fact heavy spiel about how bats navigate to fly and find insects.

(I resisted the urge to chime in "Like the Dragonfly!!")

And then we met the Mountain Lion

Kristina like the mountain lion the most, but we've also had a fair number of conversations over what to do when you meet a mountain lion.

Next was the Salamander (which, to be fair, I didn't know the mountains of Colorado even had, so it was an informative trip even for me...)

And finally we got meet Mr. Bear, just before he lumbered off to hibernate for the winter.

Also note the cameo appearance of our fairy tour guide who had been leading us along the nature path.

(Yeah, I told you there was interesting level of renfaire sprinkled on top of the ecology.)

After visiting with each animal, the kids got to pick out a prize from the basket, including things like a smooth river rock from the salamander, a coloring book from the mountain lion, birdseed from the bat, and a super natural organic health food bar from the Dragonfly.

(This would be the hippy influence, since had I been the one running the thing I totally would have just given them popcorn balls and small packages of M&Ms.)

Now unfortunately, I had not come properly prepared for there to also be venders set up selling wood fired pizza and local beer. Because otherwise I most probably would have given into my children's requests for some (well, some of the pizza... it's possible that *I* was the one disappointed in the lack of getting beer).

So my poor children had to resort to eating the super natural organic health food bars or spend two hours not consuming food that afternoon.

Kristina took a nibble and declared it disgusting (and to be fair, it did rather strongly resemble seaweed). Adrianna ate hers and then Kristina's, and then threw up 45 minutes later.

(Yep, those were way better to give my children than M&Ms.)

(Damn hippies....)

The girls tried their hands at hula hooping (note their matching University of Michigan sweatshirts courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa), Kristina got to run around with numerous classmates (a side effect of a small town) and then they rocked out on a drum accompanying a folk band.

And then we boarded the infamous shuttle bus yet again, and found our way back to town through the crazy throngs of leaf-lookers.

Sorry about both the delay in getting this published and the lack of appropriate links (especially to referances in past blog posts), blogger and the internet (and spell check!!) have NOT been cooperating with me the last few days. The fact that I got the pictures to upload at all is a huge accomplishement at the moment, and I'm to the point of just calling it good enough. Sucks to be human sometimes, always limited by circumstances outside of your control and easily demotivated by the desire for sleep.


  1. You're right, this post did require the pics.

    Very few U of M'ers have heard of Webb, but I still feel the need to "booooo!" the other major US college of naval architecture.

  2. looks like you had fun - even w/ the hippie influence. ; )

  3. This brings back long surpressed memories of Karob. I will now spend the rest of the afternoon curled in a ball.