Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tidbury Creek Park

Tidbury Creek Park is tucked away in the woods in South Dover with next to no information offered online regarding the amenities there so it is understandable if you've never heard of it before. I probably would be unfamiliar myself had my parents not brought me here to hike as a kid.
My childhood dog, Blayze the chocolate lab, loved to swim so this was one of the closest places to us to bring her. In 2010, a dog park was installed at Tidbury with both large and small dog areas and water fountains. In fact, during our most recent visit, we had one of our foster dogs with us so she could make friends and play. If you like to bring your furry family members on adventures with you, this is the perfect place for that!
There is a short loop trail surrounding the pond and even though this is Delaware, there is actually a bit of an incline if you start on the trail to the right of the parking lot, but it's still manageable with a stroller.
If you go left, it's pretty flat and gets you to the picnic area, playground and dog park a little quicker.
When you have reached the halfway point on the trail, it brings you out to the creek where you may be able to spot birds or other wildlife by the water. If you're into fishing, you'll want to try your luck in the pond though. There are plenty of access points around it and in the Spring, it is stocked with thousands of trout so you're almost guaranteed a bite! Because of its accessibility, and proximity to the playground, you will want to keep a close eye on littles so they don't have an impromptu swim.
As we made our way around the loop, I happened to notice quite a bit of English ivy overtaking all of the native vegetation. This, and other commonly used landscape plants like butterfly bush, burning bush and many more are considered to be invasive species. They spread easily by seed (after birds have eaten them) and quickly choke out ecologically beneficial plant species while offering nothing in the way of a food source to animals and insects the depend on those plants for survival. This is why it is SO important to do some research when selecting plants for your home landscape. I just so happen to be a landscape designer should you need any assistance in that area :)

Scavenger Hunt!
1) Tulip poplar leaf
2) Paw print in the mud
3) A mushroom
4) A picture of a fish
5) A giant mound of dirt with trails on it

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Chiggers. Everything you never wanted to know, but should.

Let me start by saying that I've been in the woods and going on adventures my entire life and have never gotten chiggers. Unfortunately, there's a first time for everything. So here I am, documenting it so that my itchy misery serves a purpose.

Chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, snakes, biting flies and any other creature on this green earth are part of adventuring. Some you are more likely to encounter than others and since I've covered snakes, spiders and ticks, I figured we might as well continue down the list because as I've said before, knowledge is power.

As usual, I am going to be completely honest with you. Before this is experience, all I knew about chiggers is that they buried under your skin (not true!) and that they were extremely unpleasant (TRUE!) After some frantic, and intensive Googling, I now know just about all there is to know about chiggers and now you will too.

Take the quiz to test your chigger knowledge!
True or False questions, answers are at the bottom of the post:
1) Chiggers are an insect
2) Like ticks, chiggers drink your blood
3) Chigger bites begin to itch a few hours after they bite
4) Chiggers do not carry harmful diseases
5) Chiggers only bite humans
6) Chiggers can only be found in tall grasses
How did you do?? I would have most definitely failed that quiz a few days ago!
Here's the background info on how we got ourselves in to this mess...
We headed out for an adventure in a less common location that is typically used only by hunters. We headed off the path at times to flip logs and explore. It was cool, Fall-like weather that morning and we weren't having any issues with mosquitoes so we skipped applying bug spray. We were all wearing long pants and sneakers. Not too long after leaving, my 4.5 year old began complaining on bugs crawling on him and sure enough, he was COVERED in microscopic creatures that had already begun attaching themselves. When we got home, we stripped the boys naked on the front porch and frantically began removing them one by one with our fingernails. At this point, it was an emergent situation because there were so many of them and they were nearly impossible to see. With the naked eye, I could see that they were shaped like ticks. I had never seen chiggers before to know what they looked like, but I assumed they would be different. Turns out, chiggers and ticks are closely related and that's why they look so similar.

After manually removing what seemed to be 100+ chiggers from each kid, we rushed them up to the tub to hopefully scrub off and/or drown any that we missed. After they were down for nap, I realized that I also had them all over my feet and ankles. Honestly, my Lularoe leggings seriously saved me from a far worse situation because they could not travel up my pants. Once I got them off of myself and got a shower, I was thinking we were out of the woods. WRONG.
The next day is when the real fun started. Red bumps began to show up all over D's body. It looked like he had chicken pox there were so many. He started to complain about the itching so I applied Caladryl clear, which was the only thing we had and I crossed my fingers hoping it would work. I also cut his nails as short as I could so that he could not scratch his skin open and cause a secondary bacterial infection. My feet and ankles were itching so badly, it was torture. The Caladryl did next to nothing for me, so we headed to the store to stock up on anti-itch products and colloidal oatmeal to bathe the boys in.
That night, I couldn't sleep because I was so itchy and I tried each of the products to no avail. I even tried a topical numbing cream I had from when I got a tattoo called Dr. Numb. It seemed to help a little bit at first, but the effects were short lived.
I called the pediatrician in the morning to see if they would prescribe something for D that was stronger than what I could get over the counter. Unfortunately, they just told me to use hydrocortisone, so my mom graciously picked up the super strength version and brought it over for us. Luckily, this did provide some relief, although I don't think anything in the world would be able to fully take away the itching.
I am not sharing this story to scare you in any way. The last thing I would want to do would be to cause you to avoid going on adventures. The likelihood that this would happen to you as well is slim, but if it does, I want you to be prepared, unlike me.
In the future we will ALWAYS use the bug spray and stay on the paths. As long as it isn't 100 degrees out, we will to try to adventure in pants (preferably leggings for me!) and take all our clothes off when we get home to check for hitchhikers, blood suckers and flesh eaters. Keep on adventuring!
Quiz Answers:
1) Chiggers are an insect
FALSE. Chiggers are actually an arachnid. Because they are the immature larval stage of a mite, they only have 6 legs (like insects) but will have 8 as an adult.

2) Like ticks, chiggers drink your blood
FALSE. Chiggers insert digestive enzymes in to your skin when they bite causing your cells to rupture. They then eat the digested flesh.
3) Chigger bites begin to itch a few hours after they bite
TRUE. After only a few hours, the bite locations begin to intensely itch. The itching can last days or even weeks.
4) Chiggers do not carry harmful diseases
TRUE. Unlike ticks, chiggers do not carry diseases.
5) Chiggers only bite humans
FALSE. Chiggers are not picky about their host and will even latch on to reptiles if they pass by.
6) Chiggers can only be found in tall grasses
FALSE. They can be found most anywhere, although tall grasses are their favorite because it gives them a better chance of reaching a host.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Woodland Trail at Delaware State University

Every once in awhile I like to do a post that makes people say "I never knew that was there!" I think the Woodland Trail at Delstate qualifies as one of those posts. I was saving our visit to this trail for when I had about an hour I had to kill with the kids and the opportunity arose recently so I was excited to try to find it!

This trailhead is definitely not obvious unless you know what you're looking for. I only briefly read the general vicinity of where it was located before going, and I ended up needing to google it when we got there for more specific directions. Here they are:
Green=Walking                                Red=Driving
 Go in the main entrance to Delaware State University and turn right. Continue around past the football stadium until you see parking lot #4 on your left. That is where I parked and then walked the rest of the way. Unfortunately, there is no where to park right at the trail and there are no sidewalks along the road, so use caution as cars sometimes fly through on that curve. Also, I would not go at dawn or dusk just to be on the safe side.

The beginning of the trail!
We hit log flipping gold here when we stumbled upon a huge pile from a tree that had been taken down. The boys could have spent an hour looking at all the worms, ants, beetles and other creatures underneath them.

There is a small creek that you walk over and the boys had fun looking for frogs (we found one!) The trail is 1/3 of a mile long and is a loop but I would suggest avoiding a stroller if you can because even though it's Delaware, the trail had some hilly spots that were tough to navigate without tipping over. Maybe that's because I had close to 80lbs. of kid in a single stroller though...
If any of you have been reading my blog posts for awhile, you may have noticed that my 4 1/2 year old hates to walk. He always wants to be pushed in the stroller which is getting more difficult. It also hinders his experience on our nature walks if he's just riding the whole time. On this trip, I bribed him in to walking and before he realized it, he was having a great time on an acorn scavenger hunt. He found green ones, brown ones, tall, skinny, big, small, medium and twin ones. Ones with caps, ones without caps and just the caps by themselves. It was very interesting to see the variation.

The one down side of this trail being at the University is that it seems like it's a hangout spot for the students and there are places where trash is plentiful. Use this as a teachable moment and talk about why we don't litter and if you're feeling extra inspired, go prepared with gloves and bags and have your kids help you pick up trash. You can even take grabbers and make a game of it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Delaware Museum of Natural History

I am not a museum person. I am certainly not a history museum person, but I let the hubby plan the adventure for this one and that is where he picked so we went. Turns out the Delaware Museum of Natural History isn't so bad after all!

If you notice that my kids look a bit different, it is because this is one of my first "throwback" posts as the youngins' say. We have been adventuring long before I started blogging, so every once in awhile I will throw in an oldie but goodie to keep you on your toes!

The purest form of adventuring is going somewhere without a plan in mind, which is something I have a VERY hard time with so it is actually nice to let someone else takeover and do things differently for a change. When we arrived at the museum, I was picturing a brisk walk around the inside while attempting to keep my hooligans from destroying all the exhibits but the museum is actually very kid friendly!

From the dinosaurs, to the under-your-feet fake aquarium, to the live animals, it was actually very fun! We especially loved the kids area complete with a giant bird nest they could sit in. The museum itself is definitely a place to put on your list for a rainy day but don't save it for inclement weather only, because you'd miss the best part...the nature trails!

We stepped outside to see a gorgeous, mature meadow teeming with life and a trail that was begging us to enter, so we did. We walked through wildflowers as tall as us until we reached the entrance to the woods path.

Since it is in Northern Delaware, the terrain is a bit more hilly than we normally hike on so strollers would be challenging but doable depending on what type. We have both a City Mini GT and a BOB and they can handle just about any trail but our umbrella or double stroller couldn't. As usual, baby (or toddler) wearing usually saves us when the going gets tough. Now that O is just about 2, and 30+ pounds, he likes to walk and explore more and I like to give my back a break so I try to pick short trails since we end up moving at a snail's pace.

We walked down hills, through fern patches, over creeks, and back up hills all the while in disbelief that we had never been there before! We visited exactly a year ago, so if you hurry, you will be able to see the same blooming flowers as we did and hopefully much, much more.

You can do birthday parties there, they host Summer camps AND they offer adult get togethers too!