Monday, March 01, 2010

Travel with Kids - Boyce Thompson Arboretum

One of our goals in 2010 is to explore more of Arizona.  Last month was a fantastic trip to northern Arizona, but this month we stayed closer to home.

My sister and I both follow Boyce Thompson Arboretum on Facebook (even though I hadn't made time to visit since 1999!) When she sent me an invite to their World Desert Fair this weekend, I decided we'd go to meet our once/month exploration goal!  (with just a day to spare to fit it in February!)

We headed out mid-morning for the 45 minute drive.  I packed trail mix and drinks for all.  I wasn't sure how long we'd be there, but I realize now I should have packed full lunches.  We looked at the cost of admittance ($7.50 / adult and $5.00 / children) and decided an annual membership ($60 / family) would be a good investment.

I was reassured that it was a great idea to purchase a membership when Nate read a sign near the beginning of the trail that listed ways to learn more -- and encouraged touching!  Nate is my kinesthetic learner, so being given free rein to touch pleased him to no end!

Ever since the boys have been little, we've taught them "how" to touch vs. forbidding them to touch.  Of course, there are things that are off-limits to touching (art at museums, for example), but instead of admonishing them not to touch a cactus, I've shown them how to carefully touch a cactus to avoid being pricked.  I saw those lessons being applied all day as he freely touched the rocks, plants, and objects that were found.  Both boys touched things gently, carefully, and with great interest. They loved noting the ways different rocks felt, or the different thickness of leaves.

For the World Desert Fair, booths were set up around the trail where you could learn about foods from different desert regions.  That was definitely Lydia's favorite part, and I'm sure she will be sorely disappointed next time when there aren't any more food booths!  The overall favorite of hers was the waffles made with mesquite flour and the Blue Agave syrup that are native to our Sonoran Desert.  Nate tried something from every table -- and I think the olives from the Mediterranean were the biggest hit for him.  Colin was a bit more hesitant to try new things, but he thoroughly enjoyed the hot Rooibos tea from Africa.  NONE of us liked the Australian fave -- Vegemite -- but almost all of us gave it a try.

We were there much longer than I anticipated, but everyone had a wonderful time. I know we will go back soon, as the boys were disappointed we didn't make it to the hummingbird and butterfly gardens.  It was a great way to spend a Saturday, and I think we may even head there again on Friday already!

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