Goldilocks Las Vegas 2014 50K (31 mile) Ride Recap

On Saturday, October 25, 2014, I participated in the female-centered bike/run event out in Summerlin (Northwest Greater Las Vegas pretty much).  It was called “Goldilocks” by event organizer Brooksee.  I’ve never done an organized ride other than a group ride through a local Meetup group (Biking Henderson, which is made up of a great group of supportive riders who accept with open arms all skill levels and share their experience in return – the group is run by the husband and wife team of Ryan and Gayle) so I was nervous about being in a crowd of cyclists even in what was deemed by the organizers as a “noncompetitive event.”

Goldilocks 2014 Packet Pickup
Goldilocks 2014 Packet Pickup

We had packet pickup the day before, the window of time was between 4pm to 8pm out where the event was to be held which can be good as far as finding your way the next day but not great for driving in rush hour traffic to the other side of town when you’re heading out there the next morning anyway.  A minor gripe but only because we had the school trunk or treat to get back to at home and were juggling timing.  My husband drove me and the kids to packet pickup so they could have the outing and we arrived at about 3:30pm.  I helped with a few boxes at registration and the kids got to meet “baby bear” (yes, everything had a Goldilocks story theme).  R was enthralled by the large bear mask and E kept saying “I think that is a person!” so I reminded her it was like Santa where we don’t tell people something is pretend lest we ruin their surprise.  Teachable moment and whatnot.

2014 Goldilocks Vegas' "Baby Bear" tells E and R her age
2014 Goldilocks Vegas’ “Baby Bear” tells E and R her age

There were no course or other details in the packet when we did get to registration – I was assigned a rider number and given a gift style bag with some fliers for sponsors and some lip gloss as well as an event-themed water bottle.  The official shirt was a tech tee with a cycling pocket at back in a bright pink color (see part of it on the image below).  I had sized one up but would have sized two sizes up if I’d known how snug the shirt was.  They said you could swap for another size the next day but I wasn’t going to haul the shirt around when I had plenty of gear as it was.  Still, nice to know if you’re debating registering and participating after reading my review/recap.

One of our favorite bike shops, Irwin Cycles, was a sponsor.
One of our favorite bike shops, Irwin Cycles, was a sponsor.

The 50K riders were the last to start so I was able to hit the road out to Summerlin at about 7am for my anticipated 8:30am start time.  When I parked I got to chatting with a group of really nice ladies from Utah that were getting their bikes and gear ready.  They’d done a Goldilocks event out near Salt Lake City earlier this year and seemed to love the experience.  At that point I spied Gayle, one of the organizers of the meetup group I’m in for cycling, on her signature pink bike.  When I say pink, I mean not just for the event pink, but always pink, down to her tires.  For the occasion, however, she sported a pink tutu to match and it made me feel at ease to see her.  I got to meet her sister and her sister and I hung out a bit before it was time to get started on the course.

When I registered you could create a team to get a discount, so couponer that I am at heart, I created a team called “Spoketacular.”  A bit Halloween, a bit cycling, a bit girl power all rolled into one.  A friend signed on with me, Michelle, and though we only knew each other via email and Facebook (we were introduced a while back by a mutual friend), I felt like I already knew her.  We were both going to ride our own race so to speak though we did see each other once or twice out on the course after we started.

Me and Michelle starting the ride (picture courtesy of Michelle's husband)
Me (purple jersey) and Michelle (pink jersey) starting the ride (picture courtesy of Michelle’s husband)

I’ve seen a lot of people say they liked the signage on the course and I’ll just say that I was glad I had made an effort to memorize the course from the web map before we started because there were several points where I saw people go the wrong way or misunderstand a sign that I would have easily misunderstood similarly if I didn’t have the directions on my mind.  I’ve ridden from Blue Diamond into Summerlin, which was the latter part of the course, but getting out there from our starting line took a couple turns and even some roundabouts.

(Attempt at a photo of my displayed distance while riding, I ended up using text to speech to message my husband instead.)
(Attempt at a photo of my displayed distance while riding, I ended up using text to speech to message my husband instead.)

The advertising for the race called it “fully supported” but there was one aid station fairly early and then nothing for quite some time.  The traffic was something to contend with as well, a lot of construction on the route that made it tricky going for a bit since some of the riders didn’t have experience with riding etiquette.  I don’t mean that as a jab or anything, and I am not seasoned by any means, but there are things I’ve been able to learn from riding with small groups that came in handy for me.  For example, when you are coming to pass someone, you announce “on your left” or “on your right” so that they know you’re coming and don’t make a sudden swerve.  If you see a problem on the road you yell it out, like “car back,” or “rocks” so others can avoid them.  I made a point to say thank you to everyone that followed good practice by announcing their presence, it just helped keep us all safe.  Someone mentioned that for Pedal to the Medal  (another cycling event) they gave a little primer on etiquette right before the race so everyone was on the same page.  That’d be something I’d suggest for Goldilocks as well.

Oh, and on the subject of aid stations, I stopped 3 miles before the second station for my first (and only) break and later learned that the aid station I bypassed after my break was out of water when people were reaching it.  I don’t know that information first hand but hopefully no one relied solely on the stations for their water if that was actually the case!  A main aid station feature were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – I avoid nut butters just for peace of mind with E’s allergies and could see that if she ever does a cycling or running event she’ll just have to be vigilant as usual about bringing her own food and water.

Where the course got familiar for me, off of Blue Diamond
Where the course got familiar for me, off of Blue Diamond

The first 14 miles went by at a great pace, I managed them in an hour, but the rest involved a lot of inclined road.  By the Blue Diamond turn I knew the course well and that if I just kept pushing along I would get the glorious downhill to make up some of my time.  Still, being rusty on my training the last few months meant that my uphill pace was 6 miles per hour if I was lucky, and I know when I’m more on my game I am capable of 7 miles per hour or more so it does give me an official time/pace to beat.  But when all was said and done, I made it through without injury, major discomfort, or incident, which was nice.  I did miss the usual guys I ride a portion of that route with, it was strange not to see my husband, JR, and Sam (to name a few) waiting for me at the top of hills.

I finally made it to the point where I knew the downhill was coming when I saw a Honda Pilot go by.  For a split second I thought it looked like our car but shook the thought away since my husband and I had agreed the day before that he wasn’t going to bring the kids out.  They had swimming and other activities to keep them busy and there was no reason to waste the gas.  What I spied at the top of the hill, though, made me so incredibly happy – my husband and the kids were waving and cheering me on.  It was such a rush to see them and to hear “go mommy!”  They drove ahead and stopped another time before heading ahead of me to the finish (where they were given the cutest pink bells to ring by organizers).

My official time was 3:05:53.9 (link) per the timing chip for 50K, here’s a screenshot of the GPS data:

Goldilocks Vegas 2014 50k
Goldilocks Vegas 2014 50k

I think the GPS deducted non-moving time which would be the break I took.  My usual average just on the portion of the map from Blue Diamond to Summerlin and back is 12 mph so I feel good about my average yesterday.  Plus, it gives me something to beat on the “official” side of things since when I do the usual route we get to stop for coffee midway and rest for a bit.

They don’t do finisher’s medals for Goldilocks, they do necklaces!  (They also have free event photos, I haven’t seen mine yet but that is another nice perk.)  Then you can purchase additional charms but I didn’t know when I bought my charm that I needed them to use pliers to add them, I assumed they would just slip on.  Just a tip, I think the volunteers were eating lunch when I purchased my charm or they would have mentioned it to me.  The funniest thing to me was that at the finish they had performers from male revue show on the strip presenting the necklaces.  It took me a minute to figure that out!  In the interim, he said something about riding like the wind but what I heard was a question about win conditions on the course so I rambled about the cross winds up by Blue Diamond (they were worse than a headwind) while another part of my mind read his shirt, thought about the Australian accent, and understood that the last thing he wanted to hear about was the condition of the course.  Oops.  Very nice of the guys from “Thunder from Down Under” to come out for the event, though!

Finisher's necklace with purchased charm (they had nothing for my distance so I got a bike image)
Finisher’s necklace with purchased charm (they had nothing for my distance so I got a bike charm)

Michelle and I chatted for a bit after the ride (she posted a great time!) and she got to meet my husband and the kids.  Her kids had been at the race start so I’d met them earlier, she has such a sweet family.  I love how being outdoors for things like running or riding brings people together.  You get to forget about deadlines and conflict for a little while and just keep moving forward.    My husband and the kids took me out to lunch at Jason’s Deli and we had a wonderful rest of the day.  They were serving food at the finish line but I didn’t try any though at the start I did have a banana from the food tent.  On the ride itself I had water and a Gu energy gel (caffeine plus sugar, essentially).  Normally for this distance I would (and should) manage nutrition better but I had some nervousness that makes me not crazy about eating.  So it is always a mix of listening to your body and keeping in mind that it does need some fuel.  And also, sometimes you have to stop when the lactic acid in your muscles is getting to be too much (the one stop I did make was very necessary and helped a lot in that regard).

Team Spoketacular!  (Michelle on the left, Me on the right)
Team Spoketacular! (Michelle on the left, Me on the right)

I have pangs sometimes where I miss running but ever since the Hoover Dam half marathon last December my right knee just hasn’t played along with running.  I do think the 5k distance is still something I’ve got in me with the right prep but cycling leaves me a lot less wrecked and is simply more fun through the whole process.  When you get to the top of a tough hill on a bike you get to feel the wind in your face as you go downhill at 30 mph while the reward for reaching the top as a runner is not as exhilarating.

My trusty road bike (a sale find at REI)
My trusty road bike (a sale find at REI)

I would absolutely do the event again – I think the vibe was upbeat and friendly, the volunteers were great, and riding a route I largely had done many times was a huge plus.  I had to chuckle at the fact that more than one person complimented my jersey as they passed – not that I haven’t complimented men on their jerseys before but I don’t think they feel comfortable doing the same to me.  I was going to wear a new one I’d found but at the last moment wanted to wear my first bike jersey.  I told my husband later it was my lucky jersey because it had gone the Blue Diamond route but then he reminded me it was also my torn jersey from my bike crash on the River Mountain Loop Trail.  He’s technically correct that I have an odd definition of lucky, but the reminder of crashing my bike was actually useful to me on this ride because I stayed focused, alert, and safe.  I also had a lot of fun!  Here’s to the fall/winter cycling season and more good rides!

Sunrise, Sunset

I have this tendency to group periods of time in a way that I’m sure is related to confirmation bias, but even being aware of that doesn’t stop me from doing it.  2013 set itself up to be a terrible year and it didn’t disappoint.  Which is strange because many longstanding challenges were conquered and I am immensely grateful for the fortune my family has had especially as E outgrew certain allergens and had a fantastic first half of kindergarten.  I, who have struggled with depression on and off my entire life, finally realized I could not go it alone and went on anti-depressants in tandem with therapy.  Now, I’ve read the suggestion that people prone to blogging engage themes of “needing space” or “trying to find peace” because their overworking tendencies are what make them sit down and add something to their to-do list (say, a blog) at a time when they should be cutting away at demands on their time.  I feel strongly though that when I was frantically searching for answers in our pre-diagnosis food allergy days and colic days, the voices of other regular people on social media were so helpful that a way to say thank you was to pay it forward and share our coping strategies.

Even as we endeavor to support others (the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference had such an amazing vibe last year) I even find myself explaining to clients in my legal practice that a certain amount of self-care is crucial to our ability to continue supporting others in our families and communities.  I haven’t by any means figured anything out but that is the path I’m on for myself at the moment.

I had a rough summer of training for the Hoover Dam Half Marathon – I kept having minor injuries to grapple with, culminating in the fall with crashing my bike on the River Mountains Loop Trail.  I was going downhill, trying to gain on my pace so that I could make up for a slow hill climb on a group ride.  When I ride in the Red Rock area there are hills but the roads are fairly straight so that I don’t have to maneuver when I’m going faster speeds.  The River Mountains Loop Trail may be 10 feet wide and paved but I panicked on a downhill curve and, with my shoes still clipped into the pedals I didn’t attempt to brake, I didn’t attempt to un-clip or simply navigate to attempt to stay on the trail – I headed into the rocks to stop myself (yes, what was I thinking?!) and crashed.  I was hurt and ashamed.  I couldn’t run for a while and couldn’t rest on my left side without shooting pain.  Worst of all, I kept thinking that I jeopardized my ability to care for my family – I could have been injured worse, for example.

It has been a long slow process to regain trust in myself since that October crash.  My long run before the crash was 8 miles but my weekly mileage dropped off sharply for runs so that when I stood at the starting line for the Hoover Dam Half Marathon in December I had adjusted my goals to simply finishing the race instead of besting my prior time on the Red Rock Half (though I did hope that my recent paces would be indicative of my capacity to finish in less time than I feared).  I also, unrelated to the crash but certainly an aspect of my mounting feeling that I was a failure, stopped adhering to a vegan diet – returning to vegetarian choices and re-introducing the now safe for my daughter egg and milk products into my own selections.

I ran a good mental race, I can say that much, and felt great coming into mile 7.  The run starts at Boulder Beach by Lake Mead and goes uphill into the Railroad Tunnels – turning around for the return trip after some awful switchbacks that loop runners over the top of the Hoover Dam parking garage for a quick peek at the Dam.  Calico Racing runs a wonderful race but I was the one that came up lacking.  I think that by running the switchbacks (I like to use downhills to make up for lost time) and not training enough on rocky trail terrain I contributed to the pain in my knee that cropped up around the 7 mile mark.

IMG_0546

Much of the next few miles back through the tunnels I galloped to favor my twisted knee – my husband texted that he and the kids were nearby enjoying the fish in the lake and would head to the finish line in a bit. . .I was nowhere near where I’d envisioned being at that point in the race.  This was the return trip I’d been looking forward to – yes there were hills but there were also downhills and when I’d headed up them I fantasized about the downhill returns, chipping away at my average pace on my Garmin GPS device.

As I came past an aid station by the parking lot for the Six Tunnels trail, a fellow runner, Julie, remarked that she had seen me limping and wanted to offer me some “KT tape” to help.  She unzipped her fanny pack and started looking for it.  All I could keep thinking was “she is losing minutes on her time to stop for me” and I kept saying I appreciated the offer but she should really keep going.  She didn’t, though.  She stayed and helped tape my knee.  The stabilization from the tape made my knee feel better and I started running in normal form again.  Later I would learn that I needed to rub the tape to activate the adhesive so after a mile or two it started to peel off (something that hasn’t happened since I purchased my own pack of the product) and the pain returned.  At this point I was getting to the double digit mile markers and gave up on looking at my time and instead focused on my kids.  They needed me to take them to school and the library and to play with them – I could not and would not do some sort of lasting injury to myself for the sake of a finishing time.

hdhfinish

When I made the final turn I saw my daughter and my son and my husband.  My daughter ran towards me and my son soon followed.  The three of us ran across the finish line, smiling, hand in hand.  I loved that moment.  My husband had predicted that I would hurt myself based on under-training and I had failed to prove him wrong but aside from limping for a week or two I was okay.  I wanted to write my customary race recap post but I was still feeling that I hadn’t figured out what I could take from my experience.

Chip Time: 2:54:50.7   
Gun Time:  2:55:44.9     
Pace:  13:21/M
Finish Line: Hand in hand with my children

I knew I’d write about it eventually – especially because I wanted to say thank you again to Julie for stopping to help me and to encourage me.  She and I chatted after the race when I stopped her to say thank you and she instructed me on home care for my knee.  “Ice and heat,” she said.  People involved in outdoors activities are some of the nicest people.  I am humbled when someone shows me kindness and this was no exception.

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On one of my training runs I came upon a fellow morning runner and we paced each other for several miles, chatting the whole way.  She invited me to run with her and a friend and since then I’ve met them three times a week (they run almost every day though) for runs.  Running with someone motivates me to get up and out there in a way training for a big race only sometimes did.  On the off days I ride my bike on the trainer or on the trail.  Which leads me to regaining some confidence on my bike – I still clutch my brakes on downhills that are curvy but yesterday I rode the River Mountains Loop trail of about 34 miles successfully (albeit slowly).

RMLT

I have a long way to go to putting the right mileage in for my fitness goals this year (there’s a 40 mile bike race I’d like to do, I also bought some triathlon clothing on clearance at REI that I’ve been using on runs and on on my bike trainer with a mind to attempting a sprint tri in October) and I have regained weight I had lost in my drive to lose weight before my 30th birthday last year.  It comes down to personal discipline but also not trying to prove myself to anyone but, well, myself.  Added benefits of course are friendship and connecting with my spouse about something other than the day to day management of the house or our respectively high stress careers.

On the subject of goals, I am trying to take on new pro bono cases as others have wrapped up, put in more time in my daughter’s classroom, get my son ready for pre-school in the fall, and to just keep being outside.  I was brought to my lowest multiple times in 2013 (sorry to be vague but let’s just say I cried a lot more than I had in prior years) and when I thought things were better I’d crash (literally sometimes, mostly figuratively) all over again.  What I learned was that I have a wonderful support network and that there is a lot of good in people.  I also learned to let go of trying to impress people whose admiration are unattainable.

There’s a song that I’ve loved for a long time by Amanda Palmer called “Trout Heart Replica” (NSFW link to the lyrics) and one of the lines is: “[…] and when the wizard gets to me i’m asking for a smaller heart.”  I would listen to the song at various times, especially on runs, and I’d think “yes, that is what I need, a smaller heart” – not in a humblebrag way of saying I have a big heart or anything, but that I wasn’t sure how to stop feeling hurt.  I am in control of my reactions, I would think, if I let everything break my heart then I won’t be a good mother for my children, etc.  2013 was the year that broke my spirit but now I know that I made it through and I will figure out a way to make it through.  I can face my fears of being alone, of falling down, of not making the right decisions as I head into 31 because I have made it this far.  I wanted to ask for a smaller heart when what I was finding was my courage.

Growing up is hard, I worry for my children and their heartbreaks that I can’t protect them from, but as long as I can be there for them I hope I can be part of their support network to remind them that they are not alone and they can face what lies ahead.

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Happy 2014, everyone.  May the year bring you good things and the support you need to face the rough spots.

Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail Hike and Nomadic Wise-Walker Backpack Review

The other day, my husband forwarded me a link to this National Park Service page about Nevada’s Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail.  As you can see from the picture of me above, it is a fantastic hike and you get to see great views of Lake Mead as you go!  Be warned, however, this is not an ideal summer hike, especially not with children.  Here’s a bit of background about the tunnels:

The Six Companies, Inc. Railroad was, of course, abandoned after the completion of Hoover Dam in 1935. The U.S. Government Construction Railroad section was sporadically used until 1961, when the last generator was hauled over its rails and installed at the power plant.

The tracks were dismantled in 1962 and sold as scrap. The tunnels and trail were nominated in 1984 to the National Register of Historic Places.

Today you can walk or bicycle along the elevated railroad bed used to haul supplies and materials for the construction of Hoover Dam. Enjoy the spectacular views of Lake Mead and the surrounding desert landscape. (Source)

Right away I knew we had to check it out, so I pinned it to Pinterest to save the idea for later.  Almost instantly my friends were commenting to keep them posted if we headed over there so on April 28th we met up with several friends and their little ones to give the trail a try.  I was cautioned that we wouldn’t likely make it through all six tunnels with the kids but we will be back for more.

So, what do you need to know?  First of all, there are no definitive directions for getting there.  Well, we knew there’d be parking before the fee station for Lake Mead recreation but the signage to find the turnoff tells you it is coming in half a mile and that’s it.  You’ll want to turn left onto Lakeshore drive heading south on the US Highway 95 towards Hoover Dam.  When you go through Boulder City just follow the signs to stay on the freeway.  We missed the turn and had to turn around, I used the free Android tracking app, My Tracks, to track the way we went using GPS and you can see we overshot a little and had to turn around at the Hacienda’s parking lot (click the thumbnail below to enlarge).  If you reach the Hacienda, you’ve gone to far!

The parking lot is on your right after you get onto Lakeshore drive.  We arrived at 9:30am or so and it was packed but shortly thereafter the morning crowd headed out and there were spaces available.  Just be aware if you’re meeting a group that it is a small lot and you might want to park at the Hacienda and carpool to park if you’re running into trouble.  I used the tracking app to record our route on the trail as well.  I’ll share that here, we went 3.2 miles total, a little over 5 kilometers, round trip.  The kids did ride in the jogging stroller some of the way but did a fair amount of walking.  The trail has an increase in elevation but is smooth and looks like a lot of fun to bike.  We stopped for a while before turning around so the whole excursion from start to end took 2 hours.  You’ll want to factor the drive to and from the area in so an earlier start than 10 in the morning would be ideal.  Luckily we had fantastic weather that day!

There’s signage showing you the trail, I wish I’d looked more closely at it because early on there’s a fork in the path – one side (to the left) has a large gate that is open and the other stretches off to the right.  Go through the gate, I saw lots of people stop and wonder which direction they should go, just like we did.

There were creosote bushes as we made our way to the first tunnel (which was about a mile into the trek).  They had lovely yellow flowers.

It isn’t long before you get to see Lake Mead and the marina below.  We have such beauty so close to Las Vegas and I can’t figure out why we don’t make a point to check it out more often.  Well, aside from the fact that when you have small babies that hate car trips you don’t like to venture very far from home.  R will be 2 in August and E will be 4 so things have improved greatly on that score!

I love the reds and browns of the desert landscape, this was a view to the right as we headed to the tunnels.

Another thing I love about the desert is seeing how tenacious plants and animals are about survival.  This was growing in the site of a rock wall on a tiny patch of dirt:

It is a little hard to see in these thumbnail photos but the lighter area of the islands and land surrounding the lake are signals that the water level of the lake has been dropping.

Finally, the shot you were waiting for: a tunnel!  It feels very pioneer-like to go through here and feel the cooler air.  I was able to get some fantastic silhouette style shots but the kids are in them so I won’t share them here but if you are looking for a neat place for a photo shoot, this is it!

We got as far as the second tunnel.  There was a bench and a viewing area for the lake so we snacked, visited with everyone, and decided to head back before we overstayed our welcome as far as the children’s moods were concerned.  I was able to spy my favorite desert flower, though, the globemallow.

As we approached the tunnels some hikers heading back told us they’d seen a family of bighorn sheep nearby.  They were still climbing about when we got to the second tunnel – they stared back at us and posed a little for some photos.  Beautiful.

Whether you live in Vegas or are just visiting I think this is a great outing.  Pack plenty of water, put on the sunscreen, and bring snacks.  Speaking of packing, I answered a request from my favorite pen store, Jet Pens, for a “mommy blogger” (am I one?) to try (and review as a diaper bag) the Nomadic CB-01 Wise-Walker Multi Compartment Day Backpack in Gray.  I received the backpack for free but my opinions are of course my own.  I wanted to review it in this post because the day we made this hike was the first day I had transferred the contents of my beloved vegan Crystalyn Kae handbag into the backpack instead of carrying both the bag and the diaper bag.  As an aside, my purse is also a great diaper bag but with two kids when you are on adventures you need something a little different.

Since that day I haven’t gone back to carrying two bags, actually.  There are tons of compartments and pockets which have been great for having a separate area for our necessary allergy medications, diapers and wipes (of course), and my wallet as well as the very necessary lunches and snacks I need to carry for the kids.  It has two raised strips on the back where it meets your back for air flow and a buckle in the front to help distribute the weight.  It is not a giant school backpack that may come to mind, it is pretty light and compact when empty so it scales to your needs (to a point).  I need to throw a first aid kit into it because one of our friends cut her finger on a rock while we were out and I kept thinking “I really should carry some bandages!”

Another neat feature is a little pocket on one of the straps that you can put a train ticket or money into for quick access.  The product site on Jet Pens has great photos of the interior as well as other glowing reviews so do check it out if you are interested but the bag is $103 which I know is a lot of money.  Well, I guess if you are looking at other diaper bags it is in the middle of the range cost-wise and it has features that are in demand.  The results of my unscientific poll:

Pockets and Compartments? Check.  Neutral?  Check.  Being able to carry it AND a toddler?  Check!  (By the way, all of the ladies quoted above are wonderful, thank you for your responses @catestew, @xFoodAllrgyhelp, @TGBTS, and @babytoolkit!)

My previous diaper bag is by Skip Hop and it is a simple black messenger.  The downside to the Skip Hop has always been that it was not easy to carry so we’d leave it in the car a lot (I’d carry all the allergy medications in my purse anyway).  The thing I liked about it was that it strapped with special separate buckles to the handles of our stroller.  It is hard to hang the Nomadic Wise-Walker on the stroller even though it does have a handle so that is a downside but ideally you’d be wearing the backpack anyway.

I like the idea of neutrally colored bags because they can be used through babyhood and beyond, even though the Nomadic Wise-Walker is expensive it is future proof.  I took it with us on another trip to the Bellagio Conservatory that I’ve yet to post about and it was great especially since I’d forgotten our stroller at home.  The only big negative I’ve experienced with using it is that some stores have policies requiring that you let them hold backpacks at the front of the store while you shop.  I saw a sign directing me to do that and asked if I had to turn the bag over but was luckily told that it was okay to carry it.  It is something to be aware of, at any rate.  Food allergy families especially have a bit more gear than most and need it close at hand so I am really appreciating the review bag I received.  If you are shopping for a diaper bag in backpack form you’ll want to add it to your list for consideration.  Thanks, Jet Pens!

Harmony Park Photos

We biked to Harmony Park the other day and enjoyed a morning with the park mostly to ourselves.  Be forewarned, there are no bathroom facilities at the park but it is fenced in and nicely covered with play structures and swings that are in good repair.  So many parks don’t have classic basics like slides and swings lately so it is nice to have this park.  I have to say the ride felt long and not as interesting as the ride to Sunset Park but Sunset is under a lot of construction.  This park is in a residential area so another time we tried to visit in the afternoon it was simply too busy to even find a parking space (we went in the car because it was a tad warm).

The central seating is nice for watching the kids play, we also met up with friends another time at this park which is how we discovered it.  Las Vegas parks have a different feel from Henderson ones but it might be worthwhile to explore some close to home.  My husband and I used to walk at Paradise Park which we passed on the way to Harmony.

 

“The Little Children”

E is very concerned lately about all “the little children” that don’t have what we do.  I don’t want to make her fret about suffering in the world but we do look at pictures from my brother’s post in Afghanistan and we talk about the reconstruction efforts over there.  She sees little kids in the photos and really identifies with them.  When it came time to send my brother a packet of treats she wanted to draw a picture for “the little children” as she calls them, since “they don’t have any art on their walls.”  I think she extrapolated that from thinking about the things we have that others don’t since she also speculated that we should give our toilets to them because they might not have any.

I took a picture of her artwork and let her know as we packed it up to send away that maybe her uncle wouldn’t be able to give it to the children.  She still wanted to try.  I love her sweetness and compassion, it makes me think that children have to learn to be otherwise since it really feels like something that comes from within her versus something we’ve taught specifically.  I am thinking we’ll gather some toys for tots this winter as well as some materials for Shade Tree (a local shelter) to start to give her an idea of service.  Just sending money is not enough, I think, though she does like to look through the Save the Children catalog and ask about the different donations you can give.

Sort of related:  We went to see about a new tube for the bike trailer the other day and many of the boxes were empty.  My husband speculated that kids stole them for their BMX bikes and E really had trouble understanding the idea of stealing.  We talked about it for a while after we got home, she said that maybe little children didn’t have money but they wanted to ride bikes.  I said that may be true but it was not nice to take things without paying, they should save their money.  She suggested that maybe their mommies and daddies didn’t have money, but then agreed that it wasn’t okay to take without paying.  Her main question always is “why?” and in this case she wanted to know why people steal.  I generally answered that they were taught that way, hoping that it doesn’t seem like a rote response but hoping also that she understands that people are complex.  She tied the plight of children that didn’t have anything with the idea of children stealing things so she was worried for them.  Personally I have a huge problem with theft, just the idea of taking something knowing it isn’t yours really bothers me.

To end on a happier note, my brother loved the packet and appreciated the drawing E made just for him.  We can’t wait until he is back in the states so we can visit him.

Sunset Park

We rode our bikes to Sunset Park on Sunday, I think we were there 8-ish in the morning and it was sunny but not too hot, which was awesome.  The only bummer was that we were trying to ride to a particular playground area and it was entirely torn up with bulldozers.  So we moved along to a different playground area near the lake and it seemed impassable as well.

That is how we ended up in the “new” area of the park so I snapped some pictures with my cell phone.  I think it was our second or third time in this area and I am not usually a fan because it is for much older children (ages 5-8) so there are no slides and mostly just spinning devices.  Feels a little sterile to me.  That said, this time both kids had a lot of fun climbing around under the canopy.  I am most certainly not in the best shape but riding a bike to a particular destination is something I can manage even as it taxes me a little bit!

I do like the new bike and walking trails as well as how the new area has nods to the animals of Southern Nevada, I wonder if they will do something similar in the currently demolished areas of the park.  Here’s a 2010 article in the RJ about some of the improvements being made.

A Visit to Star Nursery

This is a great outing for kids, we went to Star Nursery this weekend (go early, it is warming up fast and it gets busy there as well).  They have a small fish and turtle pond and you get to pull your kids and purchases around in a red wagon.  They love it!

We planted garlic, carrots, tomatoes (better boy, early girl, and cherry varieties – this article suggested some but we had luck with early girl last year), pumpkin, snap pea, strawberries (two varieties), cilantro, basil, dill, parsley, and apple mint.  We also planted two flowering plants (cassias) and a nectarine and peach tree.  I love fruit trees, we have a pomegranate working along already and a large fig tree.  You can see the peach tree blossom in the shot above with the nectarine we bought behind it.  I also splurged (ok, it was $3.99 and we had a 20% off coupon off the back of the water authority 2011 calendar) on a kneeling pad so I can kneel on it for weeding.  It is awesome!  Oh, and a pair of gardening gloves so that I can work with R watching me and grab him with clean hands if he suddenly wants to be picked up.

I put the herbs in a container but if one of them takes over I’ll do some moving around.  Won’t it be great if I can just grab a handful when I’m cooking?  I had luck with mint last year and basil the year before that.  Here’s hoping!

We also took the kids out in the bike trailer to the park and had a great time.  R actually fell asleep both ways and we got some good family exercise in.  I love my new bike, my husband got it for my birthday and it is a Specialized Ariel (not the same model, mine is blue but maybe bike shops have a different selection?).  The shop in boulder city gave us 10% off which really helped and I found a helmet at Costco this past week.

I will take some pictures of the tomatoes, etc. once I am done putting the mulch down around them.  The article I linked to above said to pick varieties that mature in 70 days or less because you don’t want to hit the high heat.  Then you can encourage fruiting again later in summer for another crop but at above 90 degrees the flowers will fall from the tomatoes so you have to plant now and buy the bigger plants, not the little 6 packs.  Of course if I planned better I could have started my own seedlings for cheaper on the porch a while back but I don’t have that much time.

I love spring!