hideaway woods

8.31.23 ~ Museum of Life & Science, Durham, North Carolina

While his grandparents were distracted by a katydid posing on a nearby post, Finn was eagerly inviting them to climb up into the treehouses with him at Hideaway Woods. Grandpa politely declined but Grammy decided to take a different way up, using a wooden ramp.

There was no way around it, I was eventually going to have to use those rope bridges if I was going to get anywhere. The first one had a wooden bottom so I navigated that wobbly experience fairly well.

part way up, looking back

But the next bridge, no pictures. The four year-old was very encouraging and I was determined not to disappoint him… “Just” a rope bridge way high up in the trees! After I was half way across it I suddenly realized that the last part of it was more like a ladder. I’m not sure how I did it but I reached for the grab bar near the top and hauled myself up, scared out of my wits. Finn said nonchalantly that he knew it could be done and moved on to the top treehouse.

Finn looking down 20 feet to let Grandpa know we made it!

Somehow, I made it back down that perilous rope ladder/bridge. If I had noticed the above sign on my way up I probably would not have followed Finn up there! Still feeling unsteady on my feet, I declined the invitation to follow him down a slide. Grandpa was waiting for him at the bottom.

Connected by rope bridges, each of our eight handcrafted treehouses offers a unique vantage point that changes with the seasons. Find your favorite way up using ladders, cargo nets, staircases, and an accessible gangway. Two slides offer a unique way back down!
~ Museum of Life & Science website

By the time I found my way out of the Treehouse Village Finn was taking off his shoes, getting ready to play in the Woodland Stream.

Wade in an accessible, recirculating freshwater stream for a cooling exploration of how water interacts and behaves with other elements in nature.
~ Museum of Life & Science website

After he was done wading Finn led us to the Dinosaur Trail, where we spent a great deal of time watching him climb up on the parasaurolophus and then slide down his tail. Over and over again. When he mastered the process, he asked Grandpa to take some videos of this accomplishment. After each take he would run over to Grandpa, climb up onto the stone wall behind him, and watch the video. And repeat.

While these two enjoyed this activity immensely I soon got bored and started looking around for nature things to photograph. I was still excited by the earlier katydid discovery.

autumn preview

And then I spotted a very tiny frog sitting quietly on a leaf! After taking lots of pictures I interrupted the guys to share my discovery with them. I haven’t been able to identify it.

immature eastern gray tree frog
(thanks to Eliza for the identification)
Finn looking at the miniscule frog
alamosaurus peek-a-boo

And so we were off again, Finn introducing us to all the dinosaurs on the trail. Spending some time in the Fossil Dig. Stopping for a mango popsicle… We finally made our way into the indoor part of the museum and explored amazing hands-on science exhibits for children of all ages. We came home happy and thoroughly exhausted!

27 thoughts on “hideaway woods”

  1. Grammy, are you crazy?! Very brave of you, Barbara. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope Finn appreciated your effort!
    Looks like a great park for kids to explore and run off their endless energy. Good of you to try to keep up. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Looks like a immature eastern gray tree frog to me. Very cute!

    1. I know! What on earth was I thinking??? Finn didn’t seem to have any idea that Grammy might be having a hard time keeping up with him, as is the case with four-year-olds. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think you’re right about the frog — it took me a long time to find a picture of an immature one online that matched. Thank you!

  2. Hi Barbara, I canโ€™t believe that you climb up that playscape! Finn definitely has a mystical power over you!! Terrifying.

    I would have taken the slide down rather than try to climb it down again. Was is easier to climb down rather than up for you? I was holding my breath as I read your post. Iโ€™m breathing again.

    I believe this little green critter is an American Green Tree Frog. I will send a second separate reply with a link that includes a picture. Let me know if Iโ€™m correct.

    The photograph of Finn and Grandpa is a keeper to print two. One for your home and one for his, perhaps a Christmas present for Finnโ€™s parents.

    What a fun place for children!!

    1. I can’t believe it either, TD! I’m still marveling at how I let myself get into such a predicament but I’m kind of glad now that the experience gave me a story to tell. Finn is a very charming little fellow, he often reminds me of his mother when she was the same age. Going down the slide was a definite NO! Too claustrophobic and nothing to grab onto if I had wanted to slow down.

      I examined the picture of the green frog in the link you sent me but I don’t think it is the same as the one I found. Mine didn’t have the whitish stripes on its sides. I think mine looks more like this one: https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/juvenile-gray-treefrogs/
      But I must say, the green and gray tree frogs look remarkably alike!

      1. Yes I agree on the frog! When I looked up gray tree frog I didnโ€™t see the a pic of a juvenile. But your link definitely is correct. โœ…

        I also did not know you have claustrophobia! That is where you draw the line with following adorable charming Finn. Sounds like Finn has some climbing ability gifted from his grandma too!

        I hope you and Tim are able to go back soon for the Butterfly experience! That will be a great treat for you with your camera.

        1. As for slides, I’m happy to go down them if they’re not enclosed in a tube! I do wonder what the appeal is. Perhaps to keep kids from falling off of (or jumping) the sides?
          Ten years ago I did go to that butterfly house with Larisa and one of her friends, a year before Katherine was born. But I didn’t have much luck photographing the butterflies with the camera I had then so I am looking forward to another chance. Tim will probably not last long in there with the heat and humidity but I’m sure he will wait for me in the air-conditioned lobby. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hey Barbara– This day (today?) sounds exhausting. At least the humidity is down. Good for you on climbing up and down the treehouses. You displayed a lot of courage- you were scared, but did it anyway. Did you go in the butterfly house?

    1. This was last Thursday, which turned out to be a perfect day for our visit as it was in the 70s with low humidity. We didn’t get to the butterflies, our tour guide wasn’t interested in them. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Tim & I want to go back soon by ourselves to see some of the other exhibits.

  4. Barbara, you are a braver person than me … I would not have made that climb, especially if I had seen the sign (good thing you saw it after the fact). Of course, I did not have a cute grandson telling me I could do it either. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d be mixed on the tunnel slide as well. I’ve never seen a katydid, so I’m glad you showed us one. A former co-worker/Facebook friend used to have those tiny frogs sitting in her porch pots and sometimes photographed them and posted the pics – very cute. I’ve never seen them around here. She lives in a more rural area and has posted pics of Sandhill Cranes at her birdfeeder. I rarely see a frog, even though I hear them in the marshes and even at Council Point Park. I think that this is a very fun park with the dinosaurs and treehouse and slides and all. I like the photo of Tim and Finn looking at the video together. Very nice and it conveys the reason for your big move this year.

    1. I don’t know about braver, Linda. Perhaps more foolhardy! Sometimes I don’t look before I leap… Finn is very persuasive at times, I’d even say irresistible. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t come across frogs that often, although when I was a child we had loads of spring peepers (a chorus frog) in the woods near the swamp. At first glance that’s what I thought this one was because it was so small. But I guess this was a baby gray tree frog. I really love that picture of Tim and Finn, too. They share the same birthday and similar personalities and interests. Finn taught Tim to play a complicated strategy game, Catan Junior, a game for ages 6+. And he’s only 4! I was completely lost. Well, I can’t play that game but I can climb trees with him. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. I’ve never climbed a tree in my life, so hats off to you Barbara! When I walked in the neighborhoods before I regularly walked at Council Point Park, I went past a house where the homeowner had two sons and he built them a treehouse. He built it over the course of the Summer in a huge tree in his backyard. He did a great job and it had amenities like a rope and bucket system for mom to transport lunch and cold drinks to the treehouse in the Summer. The house had windows, a tiny front porch – very awesome to see and the kids are grown up now so no one uses it … maybe the grandkids will.

        1. Oh my goodness, Linda! That’s one of the few places where our childhood experiences differ — I spent a good chunk of my childhood up in the trees. ๐Ÿ™‚ But we were surrounded by woods, not a typical suburban or small town neighborhood. That treehouse sounds like a lot of fun. It must have been great having lunch up there, delivered by mom no less. I bet those kids had great summer memories. We never had a treehouse but two of my neighbors had a playhouses in their back yards — I was so envious. We had an above-ground swimming pool, though.

          1. We have a lot in common, but yes, it stops there and we never had a swimming pool after my yellow, two-ring inflatable pool with I was a kid. My mother wanted a swingset for me and my father didn’t want to ruin the lawn. So, I watched the treehouse take shape and documented it with the camera … I will send you the link to see how it looked when finished in a separate comment.

          2. Ah, yes, you had given me that link before a couple of years ago. I would have just loved playing in that treehouse. I wonder with all the safety regulations we have nowadays if one would need to get a permit before building a treehouse and an inspection before it could be used. (It’s a pity your father was such a killjoy…)

          3. I didn’t realize I had sent it to you before. I usually look before I send a link on a topic. I’ll bet a treehouse that fancy would need a special permit these days. It’s a shame that now the kids are grown up, it just sits there. This house was on that garden tour I recently wrote about. When I was talking to Annette, (the violinist), she mentioned the other stops on the walk and said “the unique house on Emmons” – I knew right away where she meant. They have gorgeous gardens out front and do beautiful displays for Fall and I usually go there a week after Labor Day while everything is “fresh” – pumpkins, mums and a homemade wooden scarecrow and a wagon. It’s the same set-up every year, but so tastefully done. (You’re right about my father being a killjoy. He went on and on about me not scraping his whitewall tires when he was out with me when I had my learner’s permit, that he bought “curb feelers” so I wouldn’t damage them and as a result I never drove close to the curb. When I took my driver’s test, I failed because the test person asked why I drove in the middle of the street all the time. I explained and he still didn’t pass me on the driving portion. The next time I went with my mom’s friend and used her car, passed and got my license.)

          4. It’s amazing how fast time flies by — I can’t believe almost three years have passed since you sent me that link! Oh my goodness, I’m amazed you learned to drive at all under those circumstances. I got most of my driving lessons from Tim and didn’t actually get a license until I was 21. Thank goodness he was a good teacher because I was reluctant to drive at all. I drove my kids around a lot, had to, and drove my father and aunt to countless medical appointments over the years, but I still don’t like to drive, and have gone years without doing so. I had to for a couple of weeks when Tim got his pacemaker and it was nerve-wracking. Practice never made it perfect for me. Sigh…

          5. Time is going way too fast now that I’m getting older. I don’t enjoy driving in the least Barbara so we are the same way. I am supposed to drive my car more for the electrical system as it is older (14 years old on 09/13/23 and today’s mileage: 13,321). I’d prefer walking in the neighborhood, but I zip to and from the Park and then around the City streets that are used for fire/EMS routes as they are not full of potholes to give the car a little bit of a drive. Our pothole situation in Michigan is horrid. Occasionally I go to the main street and people go 10-15 miles over the speed limit … it’s not a highway and going 60, jam-packed with cars and the inevitable “weavers” is unsettling to me. I go out of my way to take surface streets every time.

            A former co-worker lives in Canada and after 80 years old you must take a road test. She doesn’t drive much now, but used to commute from Kingsville, Ontario to Detroit for work for many years, plus tracking with her dogs over here in the States as well. She was nervous to take the road test as she lives in a rural area with few highways. I’d be nervous too, but she did pass the road test.

          6. I avoid interstates, too, for the same reasons. Plus, my depth perception is poor so I have trouble merging onto the highway and changing lanes when necessary. When we moved here I told Tim if I had to take a road test I would probably skip getting a license. But there was no road test, just a vision test and a multiple choice written test. Phew! I might have to do some driving when we go to the mountains, if Tim’s sciatica acts up… That’s great your co-worker passed the test. It’s probably a wise thing to test older people because some are still able and others have problems. My aunt was driving into her 90s.

          7. When my mom and I went to North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky for a week’s vacation in 1992, it was the second week of May. We wanted to visit the Great Smoky Mountains and we had mapped out everything. I was leery of driving in the mountains and my mom didn’t drive, but I put on a brave face about it. The hotel clerk where we stayed told us to wait until mid-day because there was still black ice on the roads until noonish … more fears. We were okay and made it, but I was happy to be done with that part of the trip, scenic or not.

            I don’t enjoy driving at all. I can’t remember the last time I drove at night or before sunrise. It was probably while I still worked on site – that was April 2009. Sometimes in Winter, if the weather was clear, I’d take the car for a little spin when I got home from work if snow/ice was expected on the weekend. For decades, I have stocked up on pantry items in the Fall to eliminate going out in the Winter. I took the bus to work, got it at the foot of my street and six blocks away used to be a grocery store, Farmer Jacks, the same size as a Kroger, but now out of business. So if we needed perishables in Winter and the weather was bad, I got off the bus, had an extra tote bag, got what was needed and just caught the bus back home.

            It was a win-win for me and because of that, I’ve never honed my Winter driving skills and with all the people speeding, going the wrong way … I really don’t enjoy driving at all now. The last time I took a written test, they said I did badly on the eye test … I didn’t want to press my face against the machine and that was before Covid. I was happy I didn’t have to go for the in-person renewal this year, so I renewed it for two years, since that was a new option to do so … I’d have renewed it longer if I could have. I sat and studied the booklet “What Every Driver Must Know” the last time. My driving is really so limited I didn’t know a lot of things like driving at night, driving near a schoolbus … I never go near schools if I can help it … congested and kids run out never looking for cars … that is how my mom was injured all those years ago. She never looked both ways before crossing the street and was struck down by a soldier on leave. She drilled it into my head at an early age to always be mindful of cars when crossing the street.

          8. I don’t know what I would have done if Tim wasn’t there to drive us to the grocery store in the winter. Probably like you, I would have stocked up my pantry ahead of it. I hear they get icy roads down here at times, but it never lasts so all we’ll have to do is wait it out. I never had to worry about another driver test in Connecticut after I first got my license. It automatically renewed every few years, as long as I paid the renewal fee. My new NC license expires in 5 years — I have no idea if it will renew automatically or if I will have to take tests again. It’s so very understandable why your mom drilled safety into your head from an early age. My father did the same thing because he lost three siblings growing up. One died from a burst appendix, another from ingesting some chemical cleaning thing he found under the kitchen sink, and another from pulling a pot of boiling water off the stove onto herself. My childhood was filled with cautionary tales of danger from germs and poisons and accidents.

          9. How nice never having to take the test again. The last time I took it I literally studied the book the entire weekend before and still worried. I don’t drive in heavy traffic and I just don’t put myself into situations like school bus drop off/pick up. In fact, just this morning in my City, an 8th grader (boy) walking to school was hit by a car and broke his leg. It was a hit-and-run driver with plenty of witnesses as it was across from the school Your poor father – those are terrible ways to lose your life. I can understand all the cautionary tales after your father endured the loss of his siblings. My grandmother, when growing up on the farm, witnessed a neighbor in his field get struck by lightning and die. She never forgot that and was afraid of storms after that. She had holy water and sprinkled it around the house every time there was a bad storm.

  5. I am in awe of your climbing ability, even if you were reluctant and never do it again. Finn obviously has you trained to do what he says. The little green frog is charming.

    1. Since I survived to tell the tale I *might* be persuaded to do it again. Maybe. Depends on the little guy’s charm and if I ever find myself in that situation again…

  6. We finally made our first trip to The Dinosaur Place in Salem this Summer. Now I understand why you made a day of it when the grands were visiting in Connecticut! And, here’s a similar place in NC! What an exciting (almost too exciting!) adventure you all had!

    1. So glad to hear you finally got to the Dinosaur Place, Janet! There’s a lot there — we never got to all of it. We came to this Museum of Life & Science when Katherine was younger, but we were led by that little one to much different parts of it!

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