OK - it was through a few abandoned train tunnels - but that's still pretty cool!
On one of his recent runs Andre' found some train tracks that have been ripped out near our home and thought it would be fun to follow the tracks for a while. What better way can you think of to spend a Saturday afternoon?
We headed out in full snow gear - I am happy to report the advent of a new milestone - all three kids can put on their own snowpants and boots - and 2 out of 3 can also do gloves - HOORAY! I hate stuffing them all into that stuff. It hasn't been snowing but it has been cold enough for the snow to stay around - we had fun on the way walking, rolling around in the snow and tossing snowballs at each other. Here is a snowy parental quandary - throwing snowballs - fun, yes, but not so fun when you get hit in the face. Well, how about this rule? Only throw at the body. Sounds good but 3, 5, and 7 year-olds don't always have the best aim - and they often dodge right into a snowball instead of avoiding it. So far all snowball fights have ended with at least one kid angry and vengeful - guess learning how to have fun snowball fights is all part of growing up.
We got to the site that formerly had train tracks and started walking - I was worried this would not be allowed but there weren't any fences or any signs barring our way - so we went for it. Luckily, here, we can always play the 'stupid American' card! We found this natural kid sized cave that Callie is perched outside, saw tons of amazing icicles and then entered the tunnel.
Thinking ahead, we brought some flashlights. It was so scary and fun to go through the darkness. They weren't so long that you couldn't see the dot of light at the end - but they were long enough for it to be severely dark inside. I know the picture is dark - but that's the point - the bright dot on the upper left is the light at the end of the tunnel... The kids noticed it was protected in there, and warmer than the outdoors (see this was educational). They were all very brave and wanted to explore every corner of the tunnels (although we did do a lot of hand holding).
We saw some amazing, naturally occurring stalagmites and stalactites and also discovered a scarily musky smelling animal den of some kind.
There were two tunnels - the second one was far longer than the first - it even had a side cave with a ventilation shaft - of course we climbed up into it. The opening at the top was completely covered in vines - made you hope there was a sign around it up there somewhere to protect the unsuspecting hiker! The kids were all just staring and staring up.... It was amazing to see how deep we were under the earth and to imagine all the people who had houses up above who didn't even know we were down below them. We wondered how they built the tunnels and the tracks and if they would ever use them again.
We finally reached the end of the tunnels and saw there were actually 3 tunnels if you counted the last short archway. Of course, by this time we were famished and refreshed ourselves with some delicious icicles. The kids were all fighting over who would get the biggest one - Zander - as you can see by Callie's expression - picked the winner. We had to walked quite a bit more to find a place to climb off the tracks. We then walked on the streets the rest of the way home.
Saw lots of snow and also some blooming plants - I guess some plants got tricked into thinking it was spring during indian summer a few weeks ago - or perhaps this is some exotic, French, winter-blooming flower? It took us about 3 hours and we covered probably 4 miles on foot - and the kids (including Griffin) walked the entire way with the exception of the last perhaps 1/8th mile when both Zander and Griffin got carried a bit.
Finished out the day by watching a movie together as a family - The Goonies - a classic favorite of mine! Kids have spent this morning working on booby traps for our afternoon guests...heh heh.....