Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hidden Secrets

So Saturday was all work work work.  For Jimbo anyway.  And Sunday was the breath of fresh air he needed.  A gorgeous morning in our amazing city, so what was a family to do?  A family that needed some time to reconnect, get out, relax and feel no pressure to actually DO or COMPLETE?

Well that's the family that decides to go on their first geocaching adventure.

We'd never been before, but had discussed it as a possible activity for Harriet in the future, since it incorporates a treasure hunt with pottering in new environments - both of these are activities she enjoys.  Hey - I enjoy those too!

James slid his iPad across the table to me with a geocaching site open on it and said "How about this?".  I was immediately fired up with the excitement of a new adventure and within about forty minutes we went from lazing around in pyjamas, to all showered, dressed, food packed and out the door.  Yay!

The children chose the 'bridge' route, which lead us across to Narrabeen via the Harbour Bridge, the ANZAC Bridge and the Spit Bridge.  Glorious in itself.  

Then when we arrived, Ted had crashed in the car, so we spent a little time having some food, admiring the lake and surrounds, and working out how to use the compass and app on the phone.

Ted woke and found it tricky to come to life straight away.  But once we walked away from the ducks. rounded a corner and moved from open expanse into an area with water, well he was off and away.  At pace.  Holy hell!  

Within about three seconds of coming out of my arms and walking on his own, Ted had filled his wellie boots with water, saturating his tights and making a tough chafing spot on his ankle.  And no, I'm not exaggerating when I say three seconds.  He literally popped down out of my arms - with one step he was in the water, the second step was to ankle depth and the third step was up this knees.  Obviously creatures from the deep were attempting to drag another sweet mortal down into their swampy abode.  

They weren't about to have this fresh face though - check out the innocence, would you?!  Both Harriet and Ted managed to leave their boots behind in the thick mud, leaving a lonely looking sock-clad foot to dangle above the boot mouth.  James and I took turns in assisting said children to acquire both feet back into boots whilst the other parent giggled.  Hearts of stone, we have.

After exploring the gloopy muds of the path less traveled, we wound our way back to the main path through a deliciously dark, beautiful, serene glen.  Serene, that is, apart from the constant squawks of "I need food!" from Ted.  Remember our impromptu carside lunch from before?  Ted slept through that, so it was no surprise but, all the same, a little less than tranquil.  Feed the boy child already! 

And after feeding, Ted's motor got a-running and off he zoomed.  Up tree stumps, along knotted roots, climbing rock clusters and inspecting all items with a potential purple hue (see above photo of the leaf - this was such an item and was held aloft with awe, oh the purple!).

And whilst Ted and I ran ahead with squeals and the slight lilt of madness to our cries, James and Harriet were faithfully following our compass to the location of the container.  Ted and I backtracked, and saw Harriet removing the camouflaged container from inside the tree trunk.  So cool!  We found inside the little log book, and we perched on the side of the trail to read the others who had found it before us.  There was a laminated information sheet about the black swan, some hi-bouncer balls, a little figure with a bobbing head and wheels and an empty name badge.  We swapped the balls and figure with a doll and a pumpkin holder (don't ask!) and wrote our little message in the log book.

Pretty much anyone who walked past us was accosted with the information of our find.  Harriet and Ted shared in the delight of finding new treasures and James and I stood around enjoying the (relative) quiet (all quiet is relative for this family).  

Ted appropriated my hat for his own purposes (main one of which appeared to be looking cute as hell).  And then we returned the container to its special little hidey hole for future families out enjoying a walk with purpose.

Where we ended up looked out over the water to...well pretty much nothing.  I'm sure that just over that expanse of water there was a teeming metropolis of cars and suburbia, but from where we stood it was silent, beautiful and empty.  Finding very large sticks is always a boon to any child's wanderings - combine that with some water and large stones, and you have yourself a recipe for fun times.

Harriet stayed out on the water for quite a while, exploring how far she could step between rocks, how deep the water was, looking at small shells, fish, and Harriet's big find - the 'fossilised' stick.  It's a stick on a mussel shell that has had the shell grow over part of it, so that the stick is all caught up in the shell.  Harriet LOVED/LOVES it.  Remember how she was excited to learn about fossils last week?  She was a bit sad on Friday when she asked me what they would have as their theme for next week, because she was sad to see the end of fossils at school (we obviously still do loads about them at home) - but when I told her it would probably be volcanoes (just the result of it being studying rock types...then fossils...seemed not too much of a leap in logic) she was a little placated.  However the fossilised stick is making its way into news tomorrow, no matter what.

Ted could have stayed there all day, but in a stroke of luck he managed to get even more wet and muddy by falling in the mud face first.  Luck, you ask?  Well there was no way we were going to be able to move him on in any manner other than denying him the ability to shield from the elements. 

And that would be why Ted is wearing no pants in this teeny tiny family portrait, taken out of focus and by precariously dangling my camera on the edge of a rock wall.  You can see I don't carry off that hat half as well as Ted does - damn him!

Ted loved having Jimbo around all day, with nothing better to do than hang around with him and give him snuggly hugs all the time.  You can see how terrible the experience was for both of them.

In fact Ted wasn't really quelled by the loss of pants quite as much as I would have preferred.  Considering his penchant for the pants-free lifestyle generally, I should have seen this coming. 

He was excited to take his own photos for a while, but when he started taking photo after photo of his own palm pressed up against the lens, we decided to call it a day.  Back to the car we ambled, me with Ted on my back like a monkey, yelling out "FAST!" to get me to run.  It worked while my back could hold out on withstanding the weight, but I interspersed it with walking so I could maintain an upright walking position before the age of ninety.

We returned home via the bridges again and a long winding road with delicious cool fresh air (to which Harriet and Ted demanded we wind up our windows immediately).  As we crossed the ANZAC Bridge, Teddy asked how one got down to the wharves below...and what was down there anyway...and who went down there?  

Who goes down there?  Families in an adventurous spirit.  Sure we were followed by a slow moving security car at one point, but we were courageous!  Undaunted by the assumption of trespassing!  (Well ok, a little daunted maybe)  But we were in that spirit on Sunday.  Us, Sydney and a whole lot of smiles.  Now that Ted is that bit older, the options for what we can do and what we can see open out before us again.

I may have said it before, but I just really couldn't live anywhere else.  I've lived here for so long and I can still keep finding hidden pockets of *huge* reserves and waterways and bushlands with walking tracks.  All within the city bounds. 

Yep, we're starting to use the world again. 


Lou said...

What a perfect day! We have got to try geocaching sometime soon, I suspect the kids would totally dig it. I agree about this city too, it has so much going for it doesn't it? Xx

Jimbo said...

I think our children may just have the best day of their lives if we took them all geocaching.

There's actually a trail right near us that has several way points and... clues! Awesome. We should give it a go