We are officially out of school for summer!
Thursday morning was kindergarten graduation and Achievement awards. After it was over, we decided to reward to the kids for their good grades and hard work by taking them out to dinner and to the park to play.
We headed to Mount Airy, North Carolina which is just over the mountain from us. We always enjoy the drive over the mountain, and route 52 is lined with fresh produce stands, flower nurserys and flea markets. We stopped at my favorite nursery along the ay so i could pick out a few perennials. You can get a perennial 2 packs, for $.89. Great deal! i came home with Jacob's Ladder, Cupid's Dart, Foxglove and Delphinium. :)
When we first decided we'd be coming to Mount Airy for the day, i decided to look around for a park or place to hike. i came across info for Riverside park which is also the starting point for the Ararat River Greenway trail.
Riverside Park is really neat! The kids really had a fun time here.
They had a music wall, that both kids enjoyed. Lots of slides, swings, climbing wall, monkey bars everything you'd expect at a playground. It was all fenced in, and they had a smaller attached section for little kids (under 5). It's really a nice playground!
We've been to several other wooden castle parks, and one thing i liked about this park was that a lot of the wood had been replaced with wood-plastic composite. We had just learned how this was made at our field trip to the recycle center last week. Not only is is made with recycled plastics, it doesn't splinter like the wood does. It was also painted in bright fun colors and themes and really made the play structure different from others we have played at.
The boys had lots of fun too!
Before leaving the playground we spotted a robin's nest. Mother bird was sitting on the eggs, but flew away the minute i got out my camera. :)
Right across the parking lot is the beginning of the Ararat River greenway trail.
We really were not sure what to expect. The trail follows the Greenway, and runs about 2.2 miles. There are various picnic shelters and places to rest along the way. The trail is wide and established, and we saw many bicycles, strollers and joggers along the trail.
Although the trail kind of runs through the city, we still saw plenty of nature and wildlife. This baby praying mantis was spotted darting across the path. It's only about 1" long.
We also saw many wildflowers and native plants. There was lots of honeysuckle, oxeye daisy, gaillardia, Coreopsis, and even a few bachelor buttons.
We nearly stepped on this guy who was making it's way across the path. We had never seen this type of snake before, although i guess it's quite common in many places. It's a Rough Green Snake.
About 10 minutes after spotting the first one, we spotted a second. This one was a bit larger, and was laid out across the trail sunbathing. It didn't seem to be bothered by us at all.
Although the path is more of a city nature trail than an actual 'hike through the woods' trail we still spotted plenty of wild food to forage. There were several Mulberry trees along the path, and blackberry and raspberry canes were in full bloom.
We passed a couple of kayak launch areas, and a place where folks were swimming in the river. It seemed to be a pretty popular trail. Both the park and trail were kind of a nice find, especially since we come to Mount Airy now and again. It is always fun to explore new places, and identify new plants or critters. It was definitely a nice way to begin our summer vacation.