Category Archives: Calvin

All about Calvin

Columbine Park, Boulder, CO

After Salberg Park I decided to drop by Columbine Park which was just a few blocks away. Earlier in the morning when I was trying to decide where to go I stumbled across a Boulder City post about their Top 10 Nature Play Parks. Columbine Park was on the list but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be large enough to amuse Calvin for more than a couple of minutes.

Columbine Park was a very pleasant surprise. It doesn’t have any traditional playground structures but still had enough elements to keep Calvin amused. The first thing he did was run over to the “OmniSpin Spinner” which appears to be a modern equivalent of a merry-go-round. It’s definitely a cut above most modern merry-go-rounds but I found it difficult to get up to a nice speed (being pregnant probably doesn’t help). Even though it goes slower, it’s pretty comfortable to sit in. I relaxed in it for a bit and let Calvin (briefly) spin me.

01MerryGoRound

Next up, Calvin climbed aboard the “Oodle Swing” (at least, I think it’s an Oodle swing, definitely similar if it’s not that exactly). Add some pillows and I think it’d make a nice hammock-like swing for a kid to read in.

02Swing

The playground also have several rocks with rope ladders to climb up.

03Climbing

A unique feature of this park is its extended balance path consisting of pretend tree stumps, rocks, log balance beams, and log tunnels. Calvin enjoyed running back and forth on them.

05Balance1

06Log

07Balance2

The park also had a fake “stream” wandering around one edge of the playground area with rocks providing more balance options.

08Stream

The final feature of the park is a tree. Normally, I just mention the man-made structures. However, this was a perfect playground tree. Its branches hang low enough to the ground that children ducking under toward the trunk are nicely hidden. Plus, the branches are low enough to the ground that children can climb up the (sap-leaking) tree. This is probably not an officially approved activity but I liked Calvin have the opportunity to climb on something actually natural, not just nature-imitating. Calvin didn’t go up more than a couple of branches but enjoyed that bit of climbing up by himself.

04Tree

I was amused to see a sign indicating the playground was designed for ages 5-12. I know they have to do this for safety reasons but there was a lot that younger kids could get from this park. I think it’s one we might go back and visit once 2.1 is born.

Summary:

Features Multi-person swing, merry-go-round substitute, lots of balancing elements, several rocks/ropes to climb, good climbing tree
Surface Material Poured Rubber
Restrooms No (though there’s an elementary school behind the park that might be available if you get desperate)
Water fountain Yes, it was even turned on
Shade Yes, there’s quite a bit of shade provided by a picnic structure and mature trees.
Picnic area Yes, one covered picnic area with a couple of tables, including wheelchair friendly tables.
Parking Fairly convenient street parking
Pros
  • Lots of balancing options
  • Merry-go-round-like equipment
  • Good climbing tree
  • Interesting multi-person swing
Cons
  • No traditional playground equipment, may bore some kids?
  • No restrooms


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Salberg Park, Boulder, CO

October has been unnaturally warm. It’s almost the end of October and today was sunny and almost 80 degrees. On the weekends Calvin has a tendency to get stuck in the family room playing with Legos all day. I love Legos but I also think that outside time is important. So I decided it was time to go and explore a couple of parks.

We first went to Salberg Park. Calvin and I have been to this park before but it was in the pre-photographing of park era. It’s a nice park with restrooms! (Though it appears the restrooms may only be open in summer as they were locked today).

Playground Equipment

The park has a nice-sized traditional playground structure. It’s mainly designed for “older” kids but does have several things underneath for younger kids. An example is a little bucket swing.

Little Swing

Calvin enjoyed climbing across the rope wall.

04Climbingrope

The playground also has two regular swings and two bucket swings for babies. (Calvin hasn’t learned how to swing himself yet so I don’t have any pictures of them). I had forgotten that Salberg park has a very nice sand area. I should have brought our sand toys. Even so, Calvin was able to amuse himself with the built-in sand equipment: two regular diggers, a wheelchair accessible digger, and an elevated sand table.

Sand Area

As always, Calvin enjoys climbing on the rocks.

01ParkRock

I think the playground might have been upgraded since I was there last. It has two structures that I don’t remember. The first is some equipment that I believe is suppose to mimic a sailboat (note it’s also surrounded by blue poured rubber). The entire structure can be rotated, with some effort.

Sailboat

The other structure provides more climbing opportunities.

05climber

Summary:

Features Small double slide, curved slide, swings, bucket swings, mini-swing, rope wall, sand diggers, accessible sand digger, elevated sand table, stylized sailboat structure, climbing wall
Surface Material Poured Rubber and some sand
Restrooms Yes (possibly only open for summer)
Water fountain Didn’t see one but seems like there should be one by the restrooms
Shade Yes, there’s quite a bit of shade provided by a picnic structure and mature trees.
Picnic area Yes, one covered picnic area and additional nearby picnic tables.
Parking Dedicated parking lot
Pros
  • Good equipment
  • Easy to park
  • Sand!
Cons
  • N/A


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Camping

Our family spent the Fourth of July long weekend camping at Moraine Park Campground. It’s a very civilized campground with flush toilets! This campground was also the site of Calvin’s first camping trip back in 2010.

This time I tried a new way to organize camping food. All the stuff that needed to be cold went into the cooler. But everything else got portioned into my cloth grocery bags. I had one bag for each cooked meal. So, in the first bag went everything I needed for the first meal that didn’t need to be chilled. The next bag contained everything for the next meal, minus the items I needed for the first meal (like the camping pot) and so on. Then, at the end of each meal I redistributed the things that would be needed later into the appropriate bags for their next meal. This system worked surprisingly well and prevented me from doing a lot of the rummaging I’ve done in previous trips. I would have preferred to use clear plastic bins for each meal but this was a lot cheaper.

Thursday
We left for the campground Thursday evening around 5ish. As soon as we got there I put up the bug shelter for the picnic table and then started to make supper. Since we were expecting to arrive around supper I made it super easy. I brought a bag of freeze dried pasta primavera for each of us and a pound of asparagus. In retrospect, I can’t believe I never thought to bring asparagus for camping before. It’s incredibly easy to prepare and cooks within minutes.

After supper we put our stuff in the tent (we have a fantastically huge family tent), got everything organized. I read to Calvin for a while and we all eventually fell asleep.

Friday
Thursday night I slept the best I can remember in a tent. The air was pretty warm most of the night and Calvin slept straight through without waking. In addition, nobody else’s child was screaming which was a definite plus. At around 5:30 I was woken up by a loud noise. At first I thought it was the wind violently whipping the tent around. Then I realized a huge herd of deer had decided to go pounding through the campground. We got the tent door open soon enough to see them stampede away. It was not uncommon to see a couple of deer in my backyard growing up but it was still pretty interesting to see a whole herd of deer wandering around a campground.

For breakfast we had scrambled tofu that I had prepared back home, pastries from the Bavarian Bakery, and strawberries. I heated up the tofu in my cast iron skillet so cleaning up was really easy. I just dumped the extra tofu into the compost sack1, wiped out the skillet and then heated it on the stove again to sterilize it.

Our goal on Friday was to hike up to Emerald Lake. Since Calvin loves transportation, and parking at Bear Lake is impossible, we took two shuttle buses to get there. Calvin obviously can hike when he wants but he spent much of the time complaining. However, it was still a successful hike for him.

On the way back we stopped by the Moraine Park visitor center and I got seduced into buying three books. Two are books about park ranger adventures and the third was a picture book about scat. Calvin also decided he wanted to use his allowance to buy a stuffed fox.

For supper we were contemplating hot dogs. However, they didn’t start selling wood till 5:30 so I read to Calvin out of one of the new ranger books. Around 5:30 Jaeger left to get the firewood and it promptly started raining. I changed supper bags and started getting things ready. The bug shelter provided some protection from the rain but not for a particularly large area.

While mom was visiting she took me shopping to Costco and suggested I try using the prepackaged Tasty Bite entrees. They’re shelf stable and it turns out you can heat the pouches up by just putting them in boiling water. This has the distinct advantage of keeping a pot from getting dirty. I paired them with boil-in-a-bag brown rice and called the supper a success. Given the rain it was particularly nice not to have to spend a great deal of time cleaning up.

Saturday
Saturday I attempted to make pancakes. I haven’t had prior good success with pancakes while camping but gave it another shot. I used a Krusteaz mix so I only needed to add water and then oil for the cast iron skillet. It took me a couple of times to get the cooking time and temp right but eventually I ended up with pretty decent pancakes. Probably a first for me.

Jaeger was having trouble coming up with hiking routes that were both interesting and something Calvin could reasonably be expected to do. Eventually he settled on going over to the west side of the park and taking the Big Meadows trail. This time we explained clearly to Calvin that we didn’t want to hear any moaning or no smores for supper. This hike went much better, especially during the short time when we were walking as the same speed with another family that had kids close in age to Calvin. The meadow was nice but I didn’t find it quite as inspiring as a lake as a destination. On the way back we saw a moose.

Since Calvin did so well, and it was way too hot, we decided a treat was in order and drove to Granby to get ice cream. Then we returned back over Trail Ridge Road to camp.

There wasn’t any rain in the evening so we were able to eat our veggie hot dogs and smores. To my surprise Calvin seemed to think the smores were ok but he only wanted one.

Sunday
Sunday we ate a fairly boring breakfast of oatmeal then packed up and came home. Remarkably we were on the road by 9:30 so got back home in time to unpack and put things away in a orderly manner.

All-in-all I think it turned out to be a pretty successful camping trip though Calvin can definitely use more practice hiking.

  1. I wanted to minimize dish cleanup so we brought compostable dishes and had a bag we put all the compostable stuff into. It worked fairly well except the bag stunk up the car toward the end. Next time it needs a sealable bin.

Bookmark

For Mother’s Day this year Calvin’s preschool had him create a bookmark. This is one of the more useful Mother’s Day presents I have received from daycare/preschool because I always need more bookmarks. The front has a drawing which I suspect is suppose to be me. I have very large feet. The back has typed written descriptions of what Calvin must have told his teachers about me. It must have been in the form of fill-in-the-blank but they aren’t explicit about which parts Calvin filled in. I found it pretty amusing:


Gem

Her hair is brown.
My mom’s favorite food is food I
don’t like.
My mom likes to wear whatever
fits her.
My mom’s job is working at home.
My mom’s smart because she knows
I don’t know if she’s smart.
My mom works hard at I don’t know
if she works hard.
My mom relaxes by exercising on the
treadmill in our basement.
My mom tells me a lot to hurry a lot
when we’re late for school.
I’m happy when my mom reads
to me.
I love my mom because she loves me.
I know my mom loves me because
she hugs me a lot.

Love,
Calvin, age 5

Mother’s Day 2014

Pineview Park, Boulder, CO

Several weeks ago Calvin and I made it to another park. However, then life got busy and I never got around to posting about it. We visited Pineview Park which is relatively close to his preschool.

01Playground

It’s a nice playground with a “nature” theme that was just remodeled in 2013. It even has sand!

02Sand

The playground structure itself has a lot of different climbing options. Calvin ventured out on the rock but didn’t want to try climbing down that way.

03Rock

He did venture up the petite climbing wall though.

04Climbing

And the ladder.

06Ladder

An interesting feature is the “tree trunk” was created to be hollow to allow climbing ladders up and down.

05TreeTrunk

The park also has a nice covered area for parents to sit on and both regular and bucket swings. As an aside, the Boulder park website claims there are restrooms, a water fountain, and a parking garage which is incorrect I assume that must be a copy/paste job from another park.

All-in-all, it’s a cute park and is close enough to Calvin’s preschool we might visit it again.

Summary:

Features Curved slide, “wooden” ladder, rock, small climbing wall, tree house, swings, bucket swings, accessible digger
Surface Material Poured Rubber and some sand
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Seating area for parents in shaded and there are some trees, though I’m not sure it’d shade the playground
Picnic area Yes, one picnic table
Parking Street parking, the best parking is on Cloverleaf drive then you walk down a path and over a bridge to the play structure
Pros
  • Nice new equipment
  • Secluded
  • Sand! and a large field by the playground for running around
Cons
  • No restrooms


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Shanahan Ridge Park, Boulder, CO

The weather was marvelous today. I spent the morning working on money but after lunch Calvin and I went thrift store shopping and then stopped by Boulder’s southernmost park, Shanahan Ridge Park. The Shanahan Park Page, on Boulder’s site, said the park was “small” but I didn’t understand how small till we got there. The picture below shows you most of the park.

01Shanahan

Parking turned out to be quite tricky. In addition, Google maps took me a couple blocks past the park and into an apartment complex. I followed Google’s directions hoping it knew about a parking lot I didn’t but, alas, it was just confused. I backtracked and decided the road next to the park was too narrow to park on the street. Eventually, I parked on Smuggler Way which had a path to the park.

As I stated above, the park is really small. However, it did have a very unusual feature: a human sundial1.

Human Sun Dial: Stand along the centerline opposite the current day of the year with your arm raised above your head.  Your shadow will point to the current time. *Tempis Fugit*

Human Sun Dial: Stand along the centerline opposite the current day of the year with your arm raised above your head. Your shadow will point to the current time. *Tempis Fugit*

Hours are arced around the the sundial:

03SundialTimes

I had Calvin try it out but I think a taller person would have worked better. It seemed roughly accurate, within an hour or so2.

04CalvinSunDial

The sundial amused me a lot more than Calvin. However, even though the park is really small Calvin had a blast running up and down the slide area. When I looked at the city’s picture of the park, I thought the slide had asphalt on either side but it turned out to be poured rubber.

05Slides

They also had a random hole that kids could run through.

06Hole

Lastly, the park did have two regular swings and one bucket swing. Even though the park is small, it was completely overrun with kids so Calvin had to make do with the bucket swing.

07swing

It was a really interesting park to visit. The parking’s horrible but it was a fun visit.

Summary:

Features Straight slide, bumpy slide, climbing rocks, hole, sun dial, swings, bucket swing, stairs to nowhere
Surface Material Poured Rubber
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade No
Picnic area No
Parking Horrible parking options. Try parking on Smuggler Way and then walking.
Pros
  • Seems very popular with kids.
  • Human sundial!
Cons
  • No restrooms
  • Bad parking options
  • Really small


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  1. As an aside, does anyone know Latin? Google is giving me the definite impression that “Tempis Fugit” should really be “Tempus Fugit.”
  2. I didn’t see any notation of when it assumes daylight savings time starts

Meadow Glen Park, Boulder, CO

I signed Calvin to participate in a study on Monday at the Cognitive Development Center but we had about an hour after preschool before we needed to be there. Monday turned out to be remarkably warm, for winter, so I decided we should visit a park first. I went to City of Boulder’s playground list and decided to try out Meadow Glen Park.

01MeadowGlen

Meadow Glen Park is a neighborhood park. It’s a nice park to walk to if you live in the neighborhood. However, unless you’re specifically trying to tour all Boulder parks, it’s not a park you would normally drive out of your way for. It has all the basics but not much else. Calvin’s favorite piece of equipment was the Vertical Pipe Climbers:

02Climber

In the picture above, you’ll also see there’s a red playhouse-type structure. I’m not sure what it is suppose to be called officially. It’s bigger than the normal playground playhouses. Outside, along either side, there’s a bench that can be sat on. Inside, there’s a fair amount of space and a couple small seats that kids can perch on.

03Playhouse

One of the other unique features of this park is it has a sun dial. It seemed accurate to within a 1/2 hr or so.

04Sundial

The playground also feature several swings and traditional-style playground equipment. Unfortunately, the spiral slide was roped off with a note that it needed to be fixed.

05Playground

The park backs up to City of Boulder open space on two sides. It’s not as scenic as Foothills Community Park but is still very relaxing. In addition to playground equipment there’s a small basketball court and the park connects to a path that runs beside the Empson Ditch. Once Calvin got bored with the playground he challenged me to several “races” across the bridge that spans the ditch.

06Bridge

I don’t think we’ll go back to this park, we still have a lot of parks left to explore. However, it did provide a nice break in the day.

Summary:

Features 5-12 year old equipment, spiral slide (currently broken), playhouse, swings, bucket swing, sun dial, verticle pipe climber, horse spring riders, steering wheel, storefront panel, bubble panel, Corkscrew Climber, Loop Arch Climber, chinning bar,
Surface Material Mostly pea gravel. Some poured rubber.
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Most of the playground is unshaded. Playhouse provides shade as do some mature trees on the west side.
Picnic area picnic table (no shade)
Parking Streets parking and then a short walk
Pros
  • Peaceful, backs up to open space
  • Neighborhood park so it’s not going to be over-run with people
  • Interesting playhouse
Cons
  • No restrooms


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Wonderland Lake Park, Boulder, CO

Well . . . the weather report misled us. It said today was suppose to be sunny and 60 degrees. It actually was cloudy and in the 30s with a couple snowflakes drifting down. However, I told Calvin we would go to a park today so we went to the park after Sabbath School. This time we went to Wonderland Lake Park which was almost on the way home.

Getting there turned out to be more confusing than I expected. I had looked briefly at the map but my phone’s battery was dying and I wanted to save it for pictures so I didn’t use it for directions. I missed the turn the first time but eventually figured out that from Broadway I needed to turn west onto Poplar. It’s a “neighborhood” park which I think means there is no parking lot. We parked on Poplar street between Quince Cir and Quail Cir.

The park itself is beautifully situated. Wonderlake is fairly close and there are hills in the background.

01WonderlandPark

There’s a nice sand area with an elevated sand table and two diggers. One digger has a seat and the other one doesn’t so it can be used standing up or by someone in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, the snow had melted into the sand and frozen it into one hard mass so it was hard to do much digging.

02SandShovel

An informational sign at the park says the park was designed for ages 2-5. Though, most of the equipment seemed a bit “old” to officially be for 2-5 year olds. However, they did have an interesting caterpillar tunnel as well as a little covered house.

03CaterpillarTunnel

The main play structure is probably officially rated for 5-12 year olds but probably interests younger kids more. It’s a traditional style but looks fairly new.

04Structure

One of the panels was a double steering wheel.

05SteeringWheels

They also had a periscope panel and Calvin pretended he was on a submarine.

06Periscope

Like Harlow Platts Park, they had a tire swing. I was expecting I would have to push him a lot. However, after the picture below, when the tire swing was practically motionless, Calvin fell off, bumped his head and didn’t want to get on after that. I’m not sure how he fell off, I was zipping my coat up and missed it. However, it seems weird he fell off this swing when I was spinning him very fast on the other without any problems. Perhaps he got overconfident.

07TireSwing

We didn’t stay very long at this park. It’s a nice park but the weather was chilly. However, before we left Calvin managed to make some sand dunes (plural, he got upset when it was implied it was only one sand dune). If you look closely at the picture you’ll see a rock on top. That is Calvin. Next to it is a stick. That is Jaeger.

08SandStructure

Summary:

Features 5-12 year old equipment, spiral slide, periscope panel, steering wheel panel, caterpillar tunnel, sand area, accessible digger, digger, elevated sand table, small playhouse, swings, bucket swing, tire swing, straight slide
Surface Material Mostly rubber squares. Sand in the sand area and pea gravel by the tire swing.
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Small shaded structure with a picic table.
Picnic area A small picnic table
Parking Streets parking and then a short walk
Pros
  • Very scenic area.
  • Neighborhood park so it’s not going to be over-run with people
  • Nice variety of equipment
  • Good sand equipment
Cons
  • No restrooms


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Harlow Platts Community Park, Boulder, CO

The past couple of weeks have been fairly snowy and cold. However, today’s weather was forecasted to be in the 50s and I decided we needed to take advantage of the weather and go to a park. After speech therapy, I took Calvin to Harlow Platts Community Park which is very close to Fairview, the high school Jaeger went to. This morning our backyard still had several inches of snow so I brought along a towel in case I needed to wipe off the slides. Viele Lake, adjacent to the park, was covered in ice. However, the playground itself was completely snow free and the slides were even dry!

The playground at the Harlow Platts park is pretty traditional and perhaps a bit on the old side. However, I don’t know if it really was old or if it was just so traditional it felt old. The equipment itself was in good shape. Calvin’s favorite feature by far was the tire swing. I probably spent 20 minutes pushing him on it and earned the honor of him telling me I made him go even faster than Kyle1 I did have some minor qualms about how fast I was spinning him but he survived without falling off 🙂

01CalvinOnTireSwing

The park also had a traditional play structure which the safety experts will tell us is for kids ages 5-12. Calvin climbed up the corkscrew and slid down the covered slide once but other than that ignored it.
02CalvinCorkscrewClimber

They also had a play structure for 2-5 year olds. Calvin wandered around this a bit more because it was windy and this structure was sheltered better.

03CalvinPlays

The tunnel made a nice escape from the wind.

04CalvinTunnels

05CalvinSlides

Calvin tried the overhead glider but it’s still a bit tall for him. I lifted him up and pushed him to the other side but it was too awkward for him to really enjoy it.

06CalvinTrackRide

The park has both bucket swings for smaller children and decent sized swings for older kids. However, Calvin didn’t stay on them long because it was uncomfortable with the blowing wind.

07CalvinSwing

Calvin did enjoy playing a little bit with the pull-up bar.

08CalvinChinningBar

There was also a decently sized sand pit which looks like it could be interesting closer to summer. There’s no provided sand toys but it’s a big enough area he could bring his shovel and bucket and spread out a bit.

Overall, this was an ok park. I expected more from it since it’s close to the recreation center but it didn’t really overwhelm me. It looks like there are some nice paths around the lake that might be nice for Calvin to ride his bike around.

Summary:

Features 5-12 year old equipment, 2-5 year old equipment, covered slide, track ride, tic-tac-toe panel, corkscrew climber, swings, bucket swings, sand area, tire swing, spring riders
Surface Material Mostly pea gravel/coarse sand
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Shaded structure right next to the playground but the equipment itself isn’t shaded.
Picnic area One small, two-person picnic table and then a couple more closer to the lake
Parking Yes
Pros
  • The lake is picturesque but there’s a fence between it and the playground to keep toddlers from wandering too far.
  • Tire swing!
Cons
  • The tire swing was nice but other than that it wasn’t a particularly exciting park.


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  1. Calvin’s preschool has a tire swing and Kyle is one of Calvin’s preschool teachers.

St. Mary’s Square Playground, San Francisco, CA

The last couple of weeks have been busy. Calvin and I went out to visit Nana, Jaeger’s mother, early so she could have more time with Calvin. Than the rest of the family arrived a couple of days later. After Christmas we flew to San Francisco and are decompressing from family time before going to visit Jaeger’s grandmother. This was our second full day in San Francisco. We went to Chinatown and wandered around the streets for a while. While there, we stumbled across a playground in St. Mary’s Square1. To my surprise it was mostly deserted . Maybe it was just the wrong time of day for families to be their with their children.

The playground is small but has a nice selection of equipment. The equipment seems fairly new but is showing some sign of wear and tear. The first thing Calvin tried out was the double teeter-totter-type thing.
teetertotter

Next, he played for a bit with the Playworks structure which was very similar to the one at East Boulder Community Park.
sand

They also had a train which looked like it could entertain a variety of ages.
train

The last piece of equipment was a semi-traditional playground set that is probably officially designed for 5-12 year-olds. Calvin enjoyed climbing on the rope ladder but other than that seemed to get bored of it fairly quickly.
playground

They also had some swings outside the fenced area but we didn’t get around to those. It was a nice little park and provided a great opportunity for Calvin to run around and get energy out before once again braving the Chinatown crowds.
Summary:

Features 5-12 year old equipment, 2-5 year old equipment, rope bridge, slide, new-style teeter-totter, sand play works, train, swings
Surface Material Poured Rubber and sand
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Yes, mainly provided by the tall buildings around the park.
Picnic area No.
Parking I believe it’s on top of a parking garage but we walked there.
Pros
  • Nice place to take a break in the middle of the city
  • Provides a couple of playground pieces for a variety of ages
Cons
  • Eqipment showing some wear and tear, though most is still fine.
  • It’s a city so there’s homeless people, though none were near the enclosed part of the playground.


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  1. Also yet another statue of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, they’re everywhere.