Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video or slide show of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb.
“They draw pictures of bears and lions and all these really big animals,” says Weems, the center’s senior manager of early childhood programs. At the end of the program, when she asks them to draw a picture of what they actually did see at this 45-acre natural oasis in the heart of Raleigh, she gets sketches of tadpoles, frogs, crickets, ladybugs … .
“The reality is it’s really much more fun to get close to a lady bug,” says Weems, who has been in the business of exposing kids to the outdoors for 30 years.
The reality is also that today more than ever, too many kids like the ones viewing Prairie Ridge as a wild jungle have only a vague notion of what’s going on outside their living room windows.
That’s why in 2006, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ Director of Education Liz Baird deemed it necessary to create Take A Child Outside Week, seven days at the end of September dedicated to introducing our increasingly insulated youth to the great outdoors. Take A Child Outside Week 2013 begins Tuesday and runs through Monday, Sept. 30. At least 82 Take A Child Outside-related programs are scheduled throughout the state. (To find an event close to you, check our calendar, here.)
“The average child spends seven hours a day in front of a screen,” says Baird, “with no logged time outdoors. Obviously, we still need to remind parents to get their children outside.”
Take a Child Outside Week was spurred by Richard Louv’s 2005 bestseller, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” an account of how, in less than a generation, our kids have gone from being weaned in the wild to garrisoned in the great room.
To anyone who came of age pre-1980, the notion of having to be reminded to go outside and play would have seemed crazy; outside — in a local forest, along a nearby creek, in a neighborhood park — was where kids went to escape. But as Louv notes, a proliferation of electronic options and increasingly protective parents have conspired to keep our kids inside.
Some disturbing numbers:
A cool weekend is on tap across North Carolina: weekend highs will be lucky to top 50 and there’s a chance of snow in the west. If you’re going outside — and you know you will — it’s a better idea than usual to keep moving.
Five miles is a nice distance to run, we’ve always felt. A 5K — 3.1 miles — feels too short, too fast. And a marathon just seems ridiculously long (our judgement on this may be clouded as we’re signed up for the Umstead Trail Marathon Saturday and the thought of a 5-mile race is darn attractive right now). If you also like the sounds of a 5-mile run, then head to Greenville Saturday for the 2013 Patriot Run benefitting Fort Bragg’s Survivor Outreach Services, which helps families who have lost a serviceman/woman in combat. Awards by age category.
There are times when you flat-out need to sleep in a tent but don’t have time to get out of town.
Like when the first warm days of the year present themselves and you realize it’s been … how long since you’ve been camping?
Or when you realize the kids have been hibernating behind their screens all winter and need some fresh air.
Or when you’ve had it with work and need to be as far from any electronic reminders of civilization as possible.
Times that you need to be encased in ripstop nylon but don’t have time to be encased in steel, glass and plastic to get there.
For those times, you have your local campground.
You might be surprised at how close the nearest campground is. In the Triangle, for instance, between Jordan Lake and Falls Lake alone, there are more than 1,300 campsites at six campgrounds. And the Triangle is not unique. Charlotte, Greenville, the Triad and Wilmington all have camping opportunities within their city limits.
In our ongoing collaboration with Great Outdoor Provision Co., we have identified five top campgrounds in each of the outdoor retailer’s seven markets (Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem). We’ve compiled everything you need to know — from location (down to the latitude and longitude) to number and type of campsites to cost to what activities you can do nearby — to plan a quick trip.
You can find the information in one of two places.
Welcome to our latest effort in our quest to build a comprehensive list of places to play in North Carolina: Mountain biking.
North Carolina, if you aren’t aware, is a hot spot for mountain biking. Last year, Outside magazine named the Pisgah National Forest one of the top five mountain biking destinations in the U.S. Singletracks.com asked its followers to name the their favorite trails in the world, and four were in the state: Tsali, the Fletcher Creek area of Mills River, Bent Creek near Asheville and Overmountain Victory Trail at Kerr Scott Reservoir near Wilkesboro.
You want an epic ride? You don’t have to go far if you live in North Carolina.
Here’s our preliminary offering of 19 places to ride that we think are pretty swell. But we want to hear what you think. Think a place on our list is overrated and should be replaced? Let us know. Have we made a glaring omission? Fill us in. Or maybe we’ve omitted a key detail about one of the places that is listed. Tell us about that as well.
We’ll update the list periodically, and so you don’t have to go searching around the site to find, it will live permanently in the left rail of our home page. Scroll down to “Mountain biking,” click and you’re in business.
And send us your thoughts. Nothing like another good excuse to ride.