Category Archives: Calvin

All about Calvin

An Epic iPad Saga

A little over a year ago I bought an iPad as an experiment. We were planning to fly to Hong Kong and my main purpose for buying the iPad was to see if it’d work as an entertainment device for Calvin. Beyond that, I had no thoughts of what I would use it for. Since I wasn’t sure what my use case was, I didn’t want to spend a great deal of money on it. So, I bought a 16GB, Wifi-only, refurbished iPad2. That device was the best thing ever invented for keeping a child happy on an airplane.

<digression>
Just recently I saw an article whose author seemed to think the end of western civilization was nigh and it was the fault of lazy parents who didn’t want to entertain their kids the old-fashioned way on airplanes. I read this article in stunned disbelief. I do not view myself as an overly strict parent but we do have limits on screen time, types of snacks, etc. However, the moment we get on the plane I have one goal: survive the plane ride with Calvin and me both sane and, preferably, happy. If that means letting Calvin watch 10 hrs of video and eat the occasional piece of candy, I can live with that. When traveling to Hong Kong we were traveling for 23 hrs straight. Of that time, Calvin was grumpy for about 5 minutes. That, my friend, is priceless.
</digression>

Calvin is the main user of the iPad but I do use it for a couple of things. My biggest use is trying to learn Chinese characters via the TrainChinese app. Calvin uses the iPad to watch movies, play games, and also play some educational apps. I’ve also created some “movies” of some of Calvin’s favorite books. I scanned the pictures in the book and then synced the audio book to the pictures. Calvin seems to like these quite a bit and will listen to the audio book while working with legos and occasionally glancing at the pictures.

I’m fairly happy with the iPad but I do have two complaints. First, 16 GB is no longer big enough. I’m ripping more and more of Calvin’s movies for the iPad and it’s starting to fill up. This is a fairly minor complaint and it was self-inflicted. My biggest complaint with the iPad is it doesn’t have a lot of good parental controls. I understand iOS 7 has better parental controls than the prior version but it’s still not at the level I want. I want to be able to have different profiles such as the “airplane” profile which lets him use pretty much everything installed and then a “normal day” profile which doesn’t let him watch movies and use the “game” apps without a parental override while still allowing access to the “educational” apps.

Because of the two complaints above, I started considering whether or not it made sense to get Calvin his own tablet while letting me keep the iPad (16 GB is plenty for what I use it for). I waffled for quite a bit and finally decided I couldn’t really justify the money. So, I resigned myself to the inferior parental controls and started looking for solutions to the space issue. I investigated a couple of options, including a couple variations of wifi drives. One of the biggest problems I saw with dragging a separate drive along is power. I’m not so concerned about storage space for the iPad on domestic flights. I’m worried about international flights. The iPad has a great battery life and most of the wifi drives I looked out would die significantly before the iPad. Of course, I could bring even more batteries with me to keep the hard drives charged but it seemed like it could get clunky fast.

While looking for storage options, I stumbled across several posts detailing how to use the iPad Camera Connection Kit to provide extra video storage. It sounded very kludgy but also like it’d probably do what I needed. The camera connection kit/SD card wouldn’t require any extra power and it is also pretty small. This would also allow me to swap out movies during longer vacations (my iTunes is on my non-portable kitchen computer). I ordered the kit and a 16 GB SD card and hoped for the best.

The camera connection kit was scheduled to arrive today. I prepared supper early so as soon as the package arrived I could start fiddling and wouldn’t have to be distracted by minor things like food ๐Ÿ™‚ The package arrived and I eagerly opened up and inserted the SD card into the camera connection kit. Then, I went to find the iPad. It was sitting, ever so innocently, on the kitchen table. Calvin had been using it earlier but was now occupied playing Legos with Jaeger. Before plugging the adapter into my iPad, I turned my iPad on. That is, I tried to turn my iPad on.

When I hit the power button on my iPad, a curtain of dark gray advanced about 1/3 of the way across the screen and then retreated. The rest of the screen stayed blank. I tried again, same thing. I though that perhaps Calvin had run down the battery so I plugged it in to my computer and saw that it still claimed to be at 50%. I asked Calvin if he had dropped the iPad recently. He looked a little sheepish and noted it had only been dropped a little bit from the couch, accidentally of course.

Now, I know for a fact that this poor iPad has been dropped a fair amount by Calvin. Often at distances higher than the couch. However, I had a bad feeling that this had been one drop too many. Just to be thorough, I tried a reset and then a restart. Other than the background briefly changing to a lighter gray, nothing happened. I was able to hook the iPad up to iTunes and it appeared to transfer data fine so it just seemed to be some sort of display issue. At this point, I was pretty convinced it was broken but decided to have iTunes attempt an update and restore just to see. No luck.

Jaeger suggested I should make an appointment with the Genius bar. I was a bit dubious because I was pretty sure they would just tell me it was broken. If I was lucky, I thought they might have a way to diagnose exactly what was wrong and then give me the option of having it shipped off to be fixed for some indeterminate amount of money. The problem with this is Calvin and I are flying out on Tuesday. Yes, I’m spoiled but I did not want to fly alone with Calvin without some sort of entertainment device for him.

I made the appointment with the Genius bar for a little after supper and then set to researching my tablet options. One of the first things I looked at was how much it’d cost to get another refurbished iPad. The cost was about what I expected. However, the major sticking point was there didn’t appear to be any way for me to get one of these iPads by Tuesday. If I was going to buy a new iPad, I want the 32 GB model. Those looked like they’d cost around $600. Given recent events I was very reluctant to hand over a $600 tablet to Calvin. I turned my attention to Kindle Fires as a possible stop gap option. Best buy had several 32 GB Kindle Fires available for under $300. From what I’ve heard, the Kindle Fire has some of the best parental controls of any of the tablets. I talked to Jaeger about it but he was worried about being locked in to yet another vendor’s proprietary weirdness. His argument had merit so I checked and Best Buy also had some 7″ Nexuses. That seemed a reasonable option to get us through the Thanksgiving trip and then I could order a 16 GB refurbished iPad for myself later.

After supper our whole family piled ourselves into Motoko to go visit the Genius bar. We got there, they checked us in, and settled in to wait our turn. They had a cute kids table with 4 tethered ipads on it loaded with kids games. I thought Calvin would be fascinated but instead he wanted to sit in my lap and listen to me read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Eventually a tech came up, took a look at my iPad and proclaimed it dead, as expected. What was completely unexpected to me was he then offered to sell me a replacement 16 GB iPad 2 for $250. That was a better price than I’d seen online so I figured it was worth it to go ahead and order my replacement iPad now, even if it wouldn’t arrive in time. To my astonishment, he told us he’d be right back with it. I hadn’t realized he’d been talking about getting me a replacement immediately. That’s probably the best customer service I’ve ever had from an electronics manufacturer. Once the tech came back with the “new” iPad he poked a couple of buttons, we handed over our credit card, and then were on our way once again with a fully-fuctional iPad.

Given we once more had a working tablet, I decided it did not make sense to follow our original plan and buy a Nexus for Calvin at Best Buy. So, we went home and I synced it and everything appeared to be back to normal.

I was delighted that the experience turned out to be so cheap. However, I still had only a 16GB tablet. So, my purchase of the camera connection kit wasn’t going to be wasted after all. Following the Lifehacker directions, I created the DCIM folder and 100DICAM subfolder. Then I moved a test video file over and renamed it DCM_0001. It was a mp4 file which I had been led to believe should work fine. I plugged it into the iPad and was happy to see the iPad recognized the file and seemed quite happy to give me the option to import it. I imported it and then clicked on the Camera app to try to find it. Based on the instructions, I was let to believe it would appear in my camera roll. I didn’t see it. I tried several other things and tried to figure out where I went wrong. I tried different file extensions and still couldn’t find the videos. The iPad definitely thought it was transferring the files, it would ask me for confirmation when I requested it import something it thought it already had, but I couldn’t find them. Finally, I figured out my mistake (which you may have already noticed). I had been looking in the Camera app, not the Photo app. On my iPad I only use 2 of the 4 statically placed apps: Safari and Mail. As a result, I apparently have developed a blind spot in actually seeing the Photos and Music Apps. Now that I’m finally looking in the right app, everything is working perfectly.

Of course, the biggest problem with this scheme is that all the videos are going to have really bizarre names: DCM_0001, DCM_0002, etc. I need to come up with some sort of index option that is relatively easy to use. That’s probably a project for tomorrow.

Foothills Community Park, Boulder, CO

Tuesday we took an unplanned visit to Dakota Ridge Park because the weather was so nice it seemed wrong not to go to the park. While there, I talked to another mother who said that the Foothills Park was very nice. She inspired me to go check it out.

This is a “community park”, versus a “neighborhood park”, so it covers a fairly large area. I looked at it on Google maps and was able to guess where I thought the playground equipment would be. However, I wasn’t sure how to get to it. We entered the park but I decided to turn south which took us past a play structure by the community garden. However, it didn’t look large enough to be the playground equipment I had seen on the map. So, we retraced our steps and went to the north side of the park. Once we got there, it was obvious that the north side was suppose to be the main playground area.

CalvinFoothilsRock

The view is pretty impressive. As the name suggests, it hugs the foothills. It also looks like it has a lot of paved paths so it might a good place to take Calvin to ride his bike.

The playground area is divided into two sections. The bottom section contains fairly traditional playground equipment that contain hints of boatness.

lowerplayground

Among other things, they had a periscope.

periscope

They also had ladders which Calvin thought were like the ladders on the fireboat we saw in Hong Kong.

ladders

In addition to the periscope, they had a lot of other panels on the equipment: several different wheels, “fan” panel 1, gears, and a “spelling panel”.

steeringwheel1

steeringwheel2

fan

fan2

spelling

There were a lot of different climbing options to get into the structure including several rope ladder variations.

ladder

Calvin had fun playing on the lower structure but I think he would have had even more fun with a group of kids where they could have play-acted being on a ship. After a bit, we went around to the upper playground equipment.

upperplayground

This equipment was more contemporary, the same sort of things that the Dakota Ridge Playground has. I was initially skeptical of how non-traditional this style is. However, after watching kids play on it, it obviously offers a lot of upper body exercise. There was a little girl playing and it was amazing how, using just her arms, she was able to hoist herself all around the ropes and “hammocks.” Like the little girl, Calvin enjoyed scrambling all over the equipment.

climbingwall

hanging

climbing

hamock

While Calvin was enjoying the equipment, I wandered around to see what else was on the top level. There were a couple of swings including regular swings, bucket swings, and a molded bucket seat. Then I went over to where there appeared to be a covered slide that went from the top area down the bottom area. However, it was completely fenced in with no gate. Eventually, I realized that you were suppose to climb the rock wall to get into the enclosure and slide down. The slide was interesting in that it was a tube but had clear pieces interspersed so it wasn’t too dark inside. I called Calvin over and he got a kick out of climbing up the rock and then going down the slide. The sun was in a bad position so I was only able to get a picture of Calvin climbing up.

rockclimbing

It’s a nice playground and fairly close to Calvin’s preschool so I expect we’ll visit this one again.

Summary:

Features 5-12 year old equipment, covered slide, bridges, track ride, periscope panel, gear panel, spelling panel, chimney climber, corkscrew climber, wavy web climber, vertical climbers, sky rail climber, small climbing wall, climbing cables with orbs, “playshell” seat, “rocking tube”, twisted ladder, small rock climbing wall, swings, bucket swings, molder plastic bucket swing
Surface Material Poured Rubber
Restrooms Yes!
Water fountain Not sure
Shade There are quite a few shaded picnic shelters.
Picnic area Yes, quite a few. Some are available for renting.
Parking Good sized parking lot
Pros
  • Good variety of equipment
  • Provides both traditional and modern playground eqipment
  • Restrooms!
Cons
  • No sand but you can’t have everything.


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  1. After looking it up, it was apparently suppose to be an hourglass panel except there was no sand.

Firefighter Storytime

When Jaeger’s mom came out to visit we went to the Erie library and noticed signs on the door stating there was to be a Firefighter Storytime in a couple of weeks. Oddly enough, it wasn’t during times that I normally work1. I filed it away and meant to look up more information about it later but then forgot. Monday, we went to the Erie library again. Unfortunately, in my rush to get out of the house, I had neglected to pick up the bag with our items that needed to be returned. Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge problem but I had a member video checked out that I couldn’t renew2. I glumly resigned myself to revisiting the library again that week3. However, as we entered the library, I saw the flyer again for the firefighters and realized they would be visiting Tuesday and Thursday of this week. Since I had been thinking of taking Calvin anyway, this worked out well for returning the video.

Tuesday we visited the library again for the storytime. This time I remembered the bag and successfully returned our books and videos. Calvin was very excited by the prospect of the Firefighter Storytime. We got there early to stake out our seat on the floor. To my surprise, there were hardly any kids there. However, Calvin enjoyed listening to the stories and watching the fireman put on his gear. They were hoping that the firetruck would be free but it ended up being out on a call. The children’s librarian hinted that perhaps we’d have better luck if we came back for the Thursday storytime.

I was a bit ambivalent about taking Calvin back to the library yet again. However, I eventually decided firefighter storytimes were rare enough that it’d be worth it. It was a good choice. There were different firefighters this time and probably four times the number of kids there had been on Tuesday.. They read the obligatory firefighter books4. However, in addition to the firefighter showing off his gear, they had a little “hot or not” game to indoctrinate kids of the types of things they need to be careful of. In addition, the kids all practiced dropping to the ground and crawling when the smoke detector went off. I was fascinated that in both of the storytimes once the firefighter had his gear on, he requested the kids come and give him a high-five or a hug. They were trying to show the kids that firefighters aren’t scary so the kids wouldn’t hide from the firefighters in case of a real fire (which makes me wonder how often that happens).

We were lucky and after the second story time we were able to go outside and see a fire truck. I hadn’t brought Calvin’s fleece in, because the building was warm, but it was a bit nippy outside so he wore mine. Naturally, Calvin had a blast.

Firetruck1

Firetruck2

Firetruck3

  1. Most library storytimes are not designed for working parents. I complained about this once or twice but was told that non-morning storytimes are not attended well. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see this storytime was running from 4:15-5. It still wouldn’t work for someone working full-time but was perfect for me.
  2. Branch items will renew up to 15 times unless someone puts a hold on it. However, member items only renew 1-2 times, depending on the type of item. I’m employed by the district and the relationship between the district and member libraries can be heated so I try very hard to return all member items on time religiously.
  3. Don’t get me wrong, I love libraries but it’s not the most convenient location for us to visit since we live in Boulder. Once a week visits fill our need for books and movies without monopolizing all of our afternoons.
  4. I think it’s a requirement that every firefighter storytime include Curious George and the Firefighters.

East Boulder Community Park, Boulder, CO

The weather has calmed down a bit, at least for the moment. Boulder has great parks but, sadly, they don’t have water features nor a lot of shade. Thus, most summer days I was unwilling to drag myself to the park. Then, we had a lot of lovely rain that turned into flooding. Even I must admit we got too much rain. Several days after the flood the weather was in the lower 70s and sunny, perfect park weather. Unfortunately, every park we tried was closed due to flooding or the roads to the park were closed.

Today, we tried another excursion, this time to East Boulder Community Park. I also made sure to check ahead of time that it wasn’t on the closed park list and all the roads to it were open.

playground5-12

This playground is in a large park complex that includes a rec center, lake, dog park, tennis courts, handball courts, and squash courts (we have these in the US?). The playground itself is very nicely designed. Most of it is fenced in, probably to prevent the ducks from getting in, but it also nicely corrals the children. In addition, there’s a very wide variety of playground equipment for all ages as well as shaded picnic tables.

Before we entered the playground area, Calvin got distracted by the lake and the ducks. However, Calvin lost interest fairly quickly.

communityparklake

As soon as we entered, Calvin headed straight for the prominent reptile. He was going to climb up on it but the sun had made its surface fairly hot.

alligator

After the reptile, Calvin headed straight for the play area designed for 5-12 year olds.

playground5-12

This play equipment had a couple of unique features. One of them was the rollerslide.

rollerslide

Calvin managed to do fairly well on the roller log. He keeps getting bigger . . .

logroll

The equipment also had three different types of bridges: an arch bridge, belt bridge (basically reinforced rubber), and a “clatter” bridge.

archbridge

beltbridge

clatterbridge

It also had “enrichment” options such as the maze panel, tic-tac-toe, and bubble panel.

mazepanel

tictactoe

bubblepanel

I was fascinated by the “spiral climber.” They were pretty big steps but Calvin managed.

spiralclimber

Also, Calvin is hanging on better to overhead equipment. This is the trapeze horizontal ladder. He couldn’t manage to get to the next trapeze bar but hung on this one for a fairly long time.

TrapezeHorizontalLadder

Calvin briefly went over and explored the equipment designed for 2-5 year olds but found it fairly uninteresting.

playground2-5

There is also a “club house” and a contraption that looked like it was suppose to be hooked up to water. However, it wasn’t turned on.

clubhouse

Most of the surface material was sand. However, they had an official sandbox as well as a digger.

sandbox

However, the highlight of the visit was probably the discovery of the “playworks” structure. At first it looks like just another piece of playground equipment. However, if you look closer, you can see it has various tubes running through the structure as well as tethered shovels to pour sand into the tops of the tubes.

sandplayworks0

sandplayworks1

The tethered shovels were good in that they wouldn’t walk away. However, they are a bit awkward to use. Fortunately, I had brought along Calvin’s shovel, pail, and dump truck just in case we discovered sand. This allowed Calvin to put sand in his bucket and lug it up, and then use his shovel to move the sand down to his dump truck at the bottom of the tube.

sandplayworks2

This is a very nice playground. I’ll definitely plan to visit it again in the future.

Summary:

Features 5-12 year old equipment, 2-5 year old equipment, club house, sand box, sand play works (tubes and shovels), sand digger, roller slide, covered slide, bridges, tic-tac-toe, maze panel, bubble panel, spiral steps, trapeze horizontal ladder, log roll, regular swings, bucket swings, track ride, spring riders
Surface Material Mostly sand but some poured rubber
Restrooms I assume there are restrooms in the rec center but didn’t see anything obvious near the playground
Water fountain Not sure
Shade Shaded shelter with picnic tables. The 5-12 year old play equipment does get some shade from trees but the rest is un-shaded.
Picnic area There are two small covered shelter with picnic tables.
Parking Parking lot for both the playground, community center, and everything else in the area.
Pros
  • Amazing variety of equipment for a fairly small area
  • Has a nice variety of things for children to play on regardless of age.
  • Lots of nice sand play options
Cons
  • Nothing obvious


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Scot Carpenter Park, Boulder, CO

One Sunday, a couple of weeks back, the weather went from being oppressively hot to comfortable temperatures with a slight drizzle. I jumped at the opportunity to go outside in reasonably nice weather and decided to take Calvin to the park.

Calvin had asked me the previous day if we could go to the “rocket park”. He meant the Scott Carpenter Park which is probably most famous for the 4-story rocket. When he was younger Calvin had to be coached up by daddy. However, now he blithely scrambles to the top by himself.

01rocket

Upon first entering the park, there are two large metal discs that allow you to make echoes.

07rocket

The rocket is the most prominent feature in the playground. However, it has quite a few different play areas.

02rocket

There’s a sand area that I think is suppose to be moon-crater-like.

03rocket

Calvin enjoyed scrambling up the rock.

04rocket

Even though Calvin is comfortable with the biggest structures now, he still likes scrambling through the little toddler tunnels.

05rocket

There’s also a couple of space-themed spring riders. This one is a two-seater that he convinced me to hop on with him after the picture.

06rocket

All-in-all, it’s a very nice park. The only slight downside is it’s so popular it can become mobbed.

Summary:

Features 4-story rocket!, sand pit, playground equipment for everyone from toddlers to older children, swings, bucket swings, spring riders, slides, spiral slide, covered slide, double slide, echo panels, ladders, climbing nets, fireman poles
Surface Material Mostly pea gravel but some poured rubber
Restrooms I think there are restrooms, or at least a porta-potty but I forget to check for sure. The Scott Carpenter pool is right next to the playground and they must have restrooms there.
Water fountain Not sure
Shade Shaded shelter with picnic tables. However, none of the playground equipment is shaded and it’s of older materials and may get hot.
Picnic area There is one covered shelter with picnic tables.
Parking Parking lot for both the park, the pool, and everything else in the area.
Pros
  • Rocket!
  • Has a nice variety of things for children to play on regardless of age.
Cons
  • Can be very crowded at times.


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Holiday Park, Boulder, CO

While visiting the Reading in Spires Little Library, Calvin wandered over to play at the playground equipment. This park had almost nothing indicating its name or purpose. However, based on the a sign advertising “movies in the park”, I eventually decided it must be a Holiday HOA created park. Unlike our HOA, there were no nasty signs telling non-residents to leave immediately1.

moviesinthepark

The playground isn’t large but has a nice selection of things to climb.

Kompan "Triple Shifter"

Kompan “Triple Shifter”

They had several large rock-like sculptures that I thought Calvin would enjoy climbing. However, we mostly hid under the larger one avoiding the rain.

The plaque on one of the rocks says it's by Monolithic Sculpture Inc.  This appears to have been a Boulder company at one point.

The plaque on one of the rocks says it’s by Monolithic Sculpture Inc. This appears to have been a Boulder company at one point.

Landscape Structures "SpringRing Bouncer"

Landscape Structures “SpringRing Bouncer”

We didn’t spend a huge amount of time at this park. However, that was mainly because I wanted to go see the next little library. Calvin probably would have had fun for another half hour if I had let him.

As we were walking back to the car, I noticed one of the surrounding buildings is guarded by gargoyles.
gargoyle

Summary:

Features climbing structures, ring bouncer, pretend megaphone, pretend binoculars, stairs to nowhere
Surface Material poured rubber
Restrooms No restrooms ๐Ÿ™
Water fountain None
Shade Very little. Eventually some of the trees may grow tall enough to provide shade. The largest rock allows some huddling under.
Picnic area There are a couple of picnic tables
Pros
  • Interesting things to climb on
Cons
  • No bathrooms of any kind.


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  1. Our HOA probably does it for safety reasons . . . or something. Personally, the more kids there are in the park, the happier I am because Calvin will play with them instead of asking me to play with him.

On Dying

Out of the blue at supper this evening Calvin said, “if you and daddy died I would be all alone.” This was not a topic I expected to discuss at supper. However, I recovered (hopefully quickly) and told him that he wouldn’t be alone if we died because daddy and I had made a plan. If daddy and I died, he would go live with Uncle Yanthor and Aunt Anya. Then Calvin backed up and wondered how he could get to Uncle Yanthor and Aunt Anya’s house. I told him we had a plan for that too and Grandma Judi and Grandma and Nana would make sure to take care of him while everything was getting sorted out.

Calvin seemed to find this scenario very interesting1 and hopefully (?) started listing off the different ways Jaeger and I could die. He finally decided that a car crash was the most likely2. He then worried that he might be in the car with us when we have our accident. At that point I decided to talk about seat belt safety and pointed out we wear our seat belts to lessen the chance we would die in an accident. Then he started talking about chicken pox and we delved into vaccines and measles.

All-in-all it was a very strange conversation. At least Jaeger and I have an obvious plan that I could tell him about.

  1. I think he had visions of playing with Uncle Yanthor all day every day.
  2. Given our ages and currently known health status, I suppose this could be the most likely cause of death in the moderately near future.

Christiansen Park, Boulder, CO

One the way home from the Arapahoe Ridge Park we stopped by Christiansen Park. This park is more of a neighborhood park in size. It has a nice structure and some swings but nothing that makes it overly unique.

christensenpark

Calvin immediately became enthralled with the chalk hopscotch markings that had been left on the sidewalk.

hopscotch

The playground equipment had both a double slide and a spiral slide.

doubleslide

These are the first dinosaur spring riders I’ve seen.
dinosaurspringrider

Calvin enjoyed hanging upside down on the bike rack.

bikerack

Calvin particularly enjoyed the sliding pole. He went slid down it several times. However, the last time he got a friction burn and decided it was time to go home.

slidingpole

Summary:

Features Double slide, spiral slide, age 5-12 playground equipment, bucket swings, swings, dinosaur spring riders, sliding pole, shaded bench and picnic table, biking paths
Surface Material Sand with poured rubber underneath the double slide
Restrooms No restrooms ๐Ÿ™
Water fountain None
Shade Shaded shelter with picnic table. There is also a shaded bench.
Picnic area There is one covered shelter with a picnic table
Pros
  • Nice neighborhood park
Cons
  • No bathrooms of any kind.


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Arapahoe Ridge Park, Boulder, CO a.k.a. Rock Park

We haven’t gone to the park recently because it’s been beastly hot (i.e. above 80 degrees). Last week wasn’t too bad but I spent much of the week wandering around to various libraries looking at their ILS (catalog system). Fortunately, mom was around to watch Calvin since preschool had their summer conference and was closed Wednesday-Friday. This morning I took mom back to the airport. When I arrived back home I was shocked to see it was still in the 70s. I had planned to do USEFUL THINGS but decided we needed to grab the opportunity to go to the park while the weather was bearable.

Today I decided we’d go to Arapahoe Ridge Park. I saw a post about it on 8Z Real Estate that sounded interesting1

ArapahoeRidgePark

In some ways, the park is very traditional. It actually has a real merry-go-round which I didn’t realize still existed in any Boulder parks.

merrygoround

What really makes this park stand out though is the rock cave and tunnel system. It’s a man-made structure that has numerous tunnels kids can wiggle through as well as a large cave area that can fit quite a few children. Most parks we’ve visited have one or two mothers with their young kids. However, when we arrived at this one there was a swath of older neighborhood kids who were hanging out in the cool cave area.

rockcave

The tunnels were fun looking but definitely sized for children, not adults. One father was playing tag with his kids. He did manage to wiggle through the tunnels without getting stuck but his kids had a definite advantage.

rocktunnel

Calvin enjoyed clambering on top of the rocks.

rockwalking

rocksitting

Calvin called the little cave a house.

inrockcave

rockhole

The park also has an older-style playground which apparently use to have a slide but, according to the 8z site, was removed because it allowed the kids to go too fast. What remains is a tic-tac-toe feature, which Calvin got me to play with him, and 3 steering wheels.

steeringwheels

Summary:

Features Rock cave and tunnels, bucket swings, tennis court, ball field, tic-tac-toe feature, steering wheels, spring riders merry-go-round, grill, shaded picnic table, shaded benches
Surface Material Pea Gravel
Restrooms No restrooms ๐Ÿ™
Water fountain None
Shade Shaded shelter with picnic table. There are also several shaded benches. However, most of the play equipment, except in the rock cave, is out under the sun
Picnic area There is one covered shelter with a picnic table
Parking Parking was a little odd. There doesn’t appear to be any official parking lot so we ended up parking in one of the cul-de-sacs that were close to the park.
Pros
  • Rock cave/tunnel
  • Merry-go-round
Cons
  • No bathrooms of any kind.


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  1. The 8z post says there is a baby bucket swing as well as a regular swing. All I saw were 2 bucket swings, no regular ones.

Herbert Park, Lincoln, NE, USA

We’ve been in Lincoln for the past couple of days visiting friends. We’ve spent most of this time playing board games that are way above Calvin’s current abilities. While we do this he watches an excessive amount of videos or plays with Legos. However, I’ve been trying to make sure he has at least one active thing to do each day.

Yesterday I took Calvin to Herbert Park which is relatively near our friends’ house. I forgot my phone to take pictures. However, the visit didn’t last as long as I was expecting. The park has a wonderful old-fashioned merry-go-round. Anya and I pushed Calvin on it for a pretty long time. Then, he went over to the swings. I gave him one big push on the swing and Calvin regurgitated supper. So, we decided that was enough park for the day.

Today, Jaeger and I took Calvin back to the park, before supper, and this time I remembered my phone. This park is hidden away, Anya didn’t even realize it was there before I found it on the city’s list of parks with playgrounds. It wasn’t clear where the park entrace was so the first time I went there I went south on 81st and turned left on Trail Ridge Rd. I found a place to park but it required hiking through a field to get down to the playground. This time I turned right and was able to park close to the playground on Apache Trail.

HerbertPark1

Calvin remembered the merry-go-round fondly from our last visit and immediately headed to it. I did agree to push him on the merry-go-round again but limited it to shorter pushes with more breaks in between.

merry-go-round

Calvin briefly played with the spring rider but didn’t find it nearly as novel as the merry-go-round.

springrider

The playground also had some traditional playground equipment that is technically rated for ages 5-12. It had both a curved slide and a straight one. Calvin pretended the equipment was a ship and slid down the slide to get to a life raft, which was a rubber square.

slide

The park has a digger but it’s a little too big for Calvin and also isn’t in top condition (though still workable).

digger

Jaeger pushed Calvin a bit on the swings without any unfortunate incidences this time.

swings

All-in-all, it’s a nice little park. We’ll probably visit it again next time we’re in Lincoln.

Summary:

Features Swings, bucket swings, merry-go-round, digger, age 5-12 playground equipment, slide, circular slide, 2 spring riders
Surface Material Rubber for most of the area with a sand/pea gravel combo for the swing and digger area
Restrooms Yes! There’s a porta potty across the bridge next to the park entrance
Water fountain Yes, next to the porta potty
Shade There are a several mature trees that offer shade for the benches, not as much shade for the playground equipment
Picnic area Several picnic tables including a covered shelter on the other side of the bridge
Pros
  • Merry-go-round! (hard to find these days)
  • Bathrooms and water fountain
Cons
  • Playground equipment is not too old but is showing signs of very minor wear
  • It’s a little hard to find the right place to park on the first visit


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