Saturday, April 10, 2010

Howard County Green Fest

Mark your calendars now for GreenFest 2010!
Greener Choices, Greener World:
One Person At A Time
April 17th from 10am - 4pm
Howard Community College

Have you heard about this event?  There will be over 100 vendors and displays to learn about greening your lifestyle. There will be live animal displays for the kids and lunches available for purchase from Great Sage.  There will also be speakers and demonstrations on site!  Check out the schedule of events for more info!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lake Elkhorn

If you've never been to Lake Elkhorn in Columbia, you need to go.  Now.  The walking trail around the lake is just as big, if not bigger, as the one around Centennial Lake.  At the far edge of the lake, the path goes off in about a million directions which leads me to wonder where exactly would you wind up if you followed one of those paths? 

But, I digress.  We parked off Cradlerock in the Dockside neighborhood, near the playground.  The Pea was thrilled!  Not only do they have swings (big boy and baby!), they have two jungle gyms, a sand box (with toys!) and two bouncy sports cars to bop around in!  The playground is mostly in the shade, too!  There are a few picnic tables here and there is a McDonald's across the street, so you can have a lazy picnic, too! 

Next up, we walked around the whole lake.  Lake Elkhorn is much flatter than Centennial, so it will be a good place to bring the kids' bikes once the Princess gets the hang of steering and pedaling at the same time!  Speaking of cyclists, there are lots of them at Lake Elkhorn.  Some were really nice and gave us a little ding-a-ling warning from their bike bell, but some were down right surly and practically yelled at my kids to get out of the way!  I think walkers have the right of way, but I could be mistaken!

Anywho, there is another arboretum here and an Exer-path!  Yup!  We had to stop at every station to see how woefully out of shape we are!  But, the kids loved it!  We also saw tons of squirrels, turtles, geese and ducks, both real and not real.  (Hint, the fake ones are near the boat launch.)  The lake is currently being dredged, so we got to see some cool looking heavy machinery as well!  There are also several places to stop and play Pooh Sticks along the way.  In addition to the ginormous waterfall you can see from Broken Land Parkway, the Pea found a teeny tiny waterfall where he declared he would build our new house.

One of the things I love about Lake Elkhorn is the rhythm of the different neighborhoods that surround the park.  When you first come in, there are townhouses.  Almost all of them have a kayak or canoe hanging under the deck.  Many have lawn chairs out near the water.  I keep thinking how fantastic it must be to look out your window and see that gorgeous lake every day.  Many people were out grilling on their decks,  listening to music or talking on the phone.  There are also apartments, large single family homes way up near the "mysterious paths" and some adorable little cottage-y looking houses that I'd never seen before.  Then, you're back at those cool townhouses again!

If you go to Lake Elkhorn, be warned that the parking lot off of Broken Land is currently closed.  Also, because of the dredging, the bridge at the far end of the lake will be closed as of April 1, 2010.  We were there on April 3 and it was still open, but I suspect it will be closed soon!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Piney Run Nature Center

Yesterday we went with some friends to the Piney Run Park and Nature Center.  Technically, the center is in Carroll County, but it's very close!  The kids had a blast!  First, we checked out the Nature Center.  There were some super cute turtles and lots of snakes.  There is a whole room just for kids!  Puzzles, books, coloring books, so much to do and look at.  In the main room, there is a touch table and more exhibits.  There is also a small gift shop with some take along nature books that I had my eye on, but I showed fiscal restraint!

The staff was super friendly, and even showed us where the snakes like to hang out!  We enjoyed our picnic style lunch on the patio in the sunshine.  The boys enjoyed playing in the woods, climbing in and out of the dugout canoe and finding gigantic sticks! 

After lunch, we went on a short nature walk--I had even made a little scavenger hunt style game for them, but the fun of running through the woods with friends won out! We played on one of the playgrounds for about an hour before hiking back to the car and heading home.

There are more things to check out at Piney Run Park.  There is a boat launch and boat rentals during the summer months.  There are over 5 miles of hiking trails, including a cool boardwalk like trail that starts near the boat launch.  There are tennis courts, two playgrounds, a cool looking new climbing rock, lots of picnic tables and lots of bathrooms.  The Nature Center offers camps and classes throughout the year.

There is a ten dollar charge to enter the park for non-Carroll County residents during the season, which begins April 1.  The Nature Center is open Wednesday to Sunday.  Check out their website for more information!