Paradise Valley Conservation Area | Woodinville, Washington
He lasted 15 minutes. Each step I took, he begged me to pick him up. Each time I set him down, he ran back toward the parking lot, yelling, “Momma car! Momma car!” (Luke-speak for “I want to leave!”). After a few minutes, I realized my seemingly ambitious attempt at a pleasant morning hike at Paradise Valley was futile, so I gave up and followed my runaway toddler back to the car.
We ran a few of our planned errands and worked up an appetite. Instead of going straight home, I decided to try the hike idea again. We stopped at the local Haggen’s and bought a turkey wrap, some fruit, and a cookie, then we hopped in our car and drove back to the trailhead.
I threw Luke on my back, grabbed our lunch and my camera, and headed down the Mainline Trail until we reached The Clearing. A tidy little glade with a few wooden picnic tables about Luke’s height presented us with the perfect place to stop and eat.
Luke ate most of the fruit, I ate most of the wrap, and we “shared” the giant chocolate chip cookie. Our bellies full and our spirits renewed, we admired every tiny tree and examined every pinecone in The Clearing. I spelled Luke’s name in pinecones and he dissected it one by one and used the cones for target practice on the unsuspecting ferns around us.
After a decent chunk of time, Luke started to rub his eyes and I knew it was time to start heading back. Luke followed me back down the Mainline Trail, stopping to look at the symbols on each waypoint (“Horsey, bike, astronaut!”). We slowly made it back to the parking lot and waved to another group of mothers and babies enjoying their own picnic.
Lesson learned: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again… and throw in a picnic.