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Wheaton Regional Park

I remember this park as the place right off of Georgia Avenue where Mrs. Ressler took us library aides for our end-of-the-schoolyear picnic. We'd go to the playground and poke at the animals in Old MacDonald's Farm and eat pizza from Fat Man's.

Later, Brian was an umpire at softball games played there. The ballfields are not visible from the playground, we took Arcola Avenue to get there, and I was never quite sure how it connected. I would take the kids and we would wander through the woods when the games got dull (unless someone was yelling at the ump, the games were not too interesting). Once a deer jumped right over Christopher's head. Once I found a perfectly good rear rack for a bike under a bush.

Ah, memories.

A few weeks ago I was dogsitting and decided to take our guests to the dogpark. It was beyond the ballfield, near the ice rink. Apparently there is an ice rink there. I did not know this. The dogs had a good time and I noticed a gravel path leading past the fenced area into the woods. I thought it might lead to the playground and decided to come back sometime and see. I brought Victoria with me on Sunday, the most perfect weather day of the decade so far, and it was a lot of fun.

The path led down to the pond and a sign pointed right for the Nature Center. Oh yeah, I have been to that nature center! Except I got there from Kemp Mill Road and never put it and the park together in my head. Victoria was not interested in straying, but we'll return sometime soon. The good news is that she changed her mind when the next left-pointing sign appeared a mere fifty yards down the path.

I've never been to Brookside Gardens, although I've meant to. And there it is, plunked right next to the park. So we went in and admired the gardens and followed the butterfly signs until we got to the butterfly house. This has been up all summer but it will be coming down on September 19th, so it was lucky that we found it. It cost four bucks to get in and normally that would have given me pause but a kid we'd met walking was SO EXCITED to be showing his family the butterfly thing--he'd been there before, they hadn't. He got me all excited about it, too. And Victoria was free, so that mitigated matters a bit.

Damn. The butterfly thing was so cool! It was a greenhouse chock full of butterflies. Just reading this sentence on my screen, it doesn't look like much, but I assure you that it was perfectly thrilling.

We finally got to the playground, which has been renovated completely. It's mostly climbing and sliding things. Old MacDonald's Farm is mercifully defunct. There is a carousel and a miniature train at the bottom of the hill. It is $1.50 per ride on either and I was just about out of cash. But if you have 15 punched tickets, you can get a free one. A short scavenger hunt later, we were riding in style. I would have chosen the train, but Victoria had her eye on a zebra and I like to pick my battles, as they say.

I was starving and ready to go home. Victoria said she would go home after she had gone down the really big slide fourteen times. She did and we did. A lot more happened but that is the gist of it. What a park!


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 7th, 2004 03:20 pm (UTC)
I have fond childhood memories of that park
Real-life jet planes with their insides hollowed out so you could crawl around inside fuselages & engine cylinders. I always wanted to like them, they intrigued me. I tried every time. I have a vague memory of them being lined with coarse rocky concrete that was not friendly to bare crawling knees. I always had to be lifted to get in, while bigger kids just barged & climbed right up. I was never very athletic, and I found the dark tunnelly insides scary too. There was a slide you could slide down from the cockpit, but of course little boys with pre-testosterone inklings of machodom would clog up the works by sitting in the cockpit and pretending to fly the thing, supplying sound effects while spraying the cockpit with spittle. Once you reached the cockpit you couldn't get by them to slide. Little bastards. I can't recall if the planes were military or civilian, but I'm sure if I went there today and found children being encourage to treat a bomber like a source of fun I'd be incensed.

There was lots of other great playground equipment I enjoyed more, but they were less unusual, and my memories of them are less distinct.

I didn't get to go on the train much; it cost. But I loved seeing it.

My favorite part was the trash moose. A giant fake moose head with a vacuum inside, and a recording that struggled to be heard above the straining whine of the vacuum: "I LOVE TRASH. FEED ME. FEED ME. FEED ME." I say straining whine, because the poor moose's mouth was always totally clogged with too much "food" eagerly shoved into his gullet by hordes of over-enthusiastic rowdy children. I'm not sure I ever got to feed the damned moose, and I always wanted to.

Weird. I loved the place, I considered it a big treat to go. Yet so many of my memories are intertwined with disappointments!

Sep. 8th, 2004 06:21 am (UTC)
I don't remember the playground equipment at all and I didn't realize there was a train until recently. Neither do I remember the moose, but now that I know about him ... I NEED a supplicant trash moose. How excellent!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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