Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Doane's Falls & Royalston Falls

By K.J. Cardinal

Anna & Leo at Doane's Falls
Well, my quest to find more outdoor adventures for our family to enjoy recently took us to Royalston, Mass. where we hiked to Doane's Falls and Royalston Falls. It was the first real hike that we have done with the kids and overall I think it was a runaway success.

A little obvious caveat first... when hiking to "falls" there are going to be more potentially dangerous scenarios than hiking a mountain, but there is also more to keep the kids interested in, so the risk was worth the reward for us... by that, I mean, no one fell in.

Doane's Falls
Anyway, Doane's Falls is an absolutely perfect spot to take your kids for their first hike. When you park your car, you can hear the rushing water and only have to walk a few feet before you can see the falls. Anna was immediately psyched to be there. We took about 10 steps and she says, "this is awesome, daddy!"... mission accomplished.

So, Leo was strapped on my back in the MacPac that we have and Angie had a backpack with essentials and off we went. It's only about a half mile hike to get to a nice picnic spot where you can view the lower falls. The kids had a blast here as they could sit down on some of the log benches to eat and run around a bit as it offers quite an open area that is actually handicap accessible from a different access point than how we entered.

Self-timer family photo... nice of Leo to stop eating 

Mommy & Anna at Royalston Falls
After lunch, we made the short hike back to the car and drove to Royalston Falls for our second trip of the day.

Now that the cupcake hike was out of the way, we actually had to work a little bit to get to Royalston Falls. First, I had to navigate the XTerra down a pretty treacherous road until we could not drive any further. We put it in park and hiked a few miles to the falls.

Here is where Anna really shined. She hiked the whole way all by herself and only asked to stop to take a break once or twice... which was about as many times as I had to ask for a break as Leo + the MacPac filled with food = about 50 pounds and a solid workout for me. We actually let Anna lead the way and she was happy as a clam.

Royalston Falls
When we reached the falls, it definitely wasn't as big as Doane's Falls, but more of a natural wonder than I think any of us were expecting. In the middle of the woods was a small, meandering river that plummeted probably a good 150 feet into this gorge.

The pictures I took really can't do the Royalston Falls justice as it's tough to gage the height and power of the falls, but it's definitely a worthwhile hike if you're ever so inclined.

Both Royalston Falls and Doane's Falls are managed by The Trustees of Reservations, which also manages Spirit Falls that is in Royalston as well. We didn't have time to hit that up, but if we venture back someday, we will go earlier in the morning and try to hit up all three.

Daddy & Leo at Royalston Falls
Overall, we had a great time and will definitely be making some more hikes with the kids. I have a few places identified that are great swimming holes, so hopefully this summer we can get the chance to try something else new with the kids.

Also, I'd like to take a minute to thank Greg Parsons, author of New England Waterfalls for his assistance. I stumbled across his book at REI the other day with the kids, but got dragged away when fatherly-duties came calling. Anyway, I came across his email address online and figured I'd drop him a note to see if he had any thoughts or recommendations on the falls. Graciously, he emailed me the three pages out of his book on all three falls in Royalston. I will be purchasing his book the next time I'm at REI, that's for sure. Thanks Greg!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Playoff fever

By K.J. Cardinal

Man, I think I'm coming down with a major case of playoff fever and the only prescription is more from the Captain. Green 18!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Playground fun

By K.J. Cardinal

Best buds... at times.
On Sunday, Angie and I took the kids to the Haskell Field playground in Sudbury.

It's without a doubt the best playground in the area that we've come across and the kids absolutely love it.

The playground is divided into different sections for different age groups, so it has something for everyone. Leo obviously migrates towards whatever his big sister is doing, rather than the more age-appropriate things for him, so that keeps us on our toes for sure.

Anna is turning into a pretty athletic little kid. She was dominating this spider web-like climbing structure.

When we got there, she went right over to it as she knew it was right up her alley, but she was a little unsure on how to attack the thing. I tried to coach her through it, but it's just something that she was going to have to figure out on her own... and that she did.

About five minutes later, she had made her way to the top for the first time and was the proudest kid in the world. She couldn't wait to do it again... and again... and again. After her first successful voyage, she was flying up the thing without any hesitation.

So intense.

Leo is getting there too. He wants to do everything Anna does, which has disaster written all over it, but luckily crisis was averted.

I was kind of shocked that he wasn't all about this huge sandbox area that they have. It's filled with trucks, shovels, buckets, rakes, etc. Just seemed to be right in his wheelhouse to me.

But instead, he was more interested in following Anna and walking around with a small stick and banging it on things. His pronounciation isn't quite there yet on stick, so he calls it a "dick". I NEED to get footage of this.

Anyway, of course, I just follow him around and ask him "whaddaya got, Leo?"... just to see him show me the stick and say "dick". I know, I know, 12-year-old humor, but it still cracks me up every time... kinda like when you ask him to say kitty.

Hungry hungry hippo.
Overall, just a fun activity with the kids. The whole playground is covered with that soft composite rubber flooring stuff, so it's somewhat a stress free environment for parents too... it's always great when you don't have to worry about your kid cracking their skull open on the pavement. If you live in the area, definitely hit it up someday, it definitely won't disappoint.