Friday, May 20, 2011


If you're one of three people who regularly read this blog or if you know my boys and I in person, you'll know for the past two years we've participated in Park Quest through Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. It's a great program that encourages families to get outdoors and enjoy Maryland's state parks. We've had a few rocky quests (I'm looking at you, Merkle), but overall it's been a wonderful experience.

Or I should say, I view it as a wonderful experience.  My younger son, Matt, would likely agree.  Gabe on the other hand. . .

Gabe does not like bugs.  He does not like to sweat.  He does not like to walk. His idea of enjoying the great outdoors is reading National Geographic in the air condition.  You can imagine his views on hiking in a state park.

Last Sunday, we ventured on our first Park Quest of 2011.  We drove 17 miles to the Hilton area of Patapsco Valley State Park. Our instructions were to begin at the Nature Center.  We were greeted at the door.

Gabe was done right there.  Bugs in general are bad enough, but spiders are the worst.  Giant attack spiders, as he called this one, are the stuff of nightmares.

We managed to collect our instructions and get out on the trail without losing any extremities to the attack spider.

The trail was a relatively easy one--a pleasant .8 mile walk through a wood of enormous poplar, maple and oak trees. There were eight stops on our map with various activities.  At stop three, Gabe asked when we'd be finished.  I told him we had five more stops.

"We're going to die!" he moaned.

Despite Gabe's lamentations, we made it through with little trouble and spent some quality time on the recycled tire playground.  When we returned to the Nature Center to get our quest book stamped, we learned the poor attack spider had accidentally been squished in the door. 

"Is he in heaven now?" Matt asked while examining the mangled body.  I nodded but secretly hoped heaven was spider free.

Once in the car, I asked the boys what their favorite and least favorite parts of the quest were.  Their answers surprised and amused me.


Matt: snacks, playground, walking in the woods

Gabe: looking at the giant spider

Least Favorite

Matt: Gabe's whining

Gabe: giant spider was dead


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