Hesitations (20230422)

I have always embraced the concept that in life, like books, we need margins…some white space that gives us perspective, and room to breathe if only for a moment. But what happens when I turn those well-needed and deserved marginal segments of time and confuse them with hesitations?

What do I mean? I suppose the best example might be a recent situation.

I had received an inflatable kayak for a Christmas present. Unexpected? Yup. But upon reflection I realize I had been “moaning” and looking on-line for such a device for months, if not longer. The concept of having a raft, kayak or canoe that can be easily transported stirs the imagination of all the places to go and sights to see, and the reflective quiet that can be embraced on open water. For me, the “pack-a-boat” idea really came about with a sailboat we used and inherited from a friend when I was in my teens and twenties. It had a wooden frame surrounded by a flexible vinyl shell. Add a few attachments and it became a small sailboat instead of just a portable canoe.

So, the idea had been there, percolating for decades, and now it was reality. It was an ideal moment that created a margin around the reality of my life. The dreams and possibilities.

I blamed the weather, the temperature, the “inaccessibility” of local bodies of water…but I did make the calls to see where I could launch my new acquisition. I gathered all the data, test-inflated the kayak, and bought this or that to make the adventure less problematic (i.e., an electric air pump versus pumping each chamber with 150-200 manual hand pumps).

Instead of allowing it to create a margin around the busyness of life, I permitted it to become a “hesitation” on action. A hesitation that with constant feeding of comfort zone insecurities (or being out of my depth…pun intended) was turning out to be yet another thing-not-started.

But the weather confounded the hesitation. It moved me from talking about taking the kayak out, to feeling guilty if I never took it out. And with blue skies, low wind, and the perfect temperature, “hesitations,” though still present, were quieted down enough for me to hear the call of the wild.

Assembly time was prolonged to make sure everything was right for the water adventure.

Only planning on a 15-minute maiden voyage, I was surprised when an hour flew by. Paddling on the quiet lake, setting the oar down and letting the boat drift, was a true margin in life’s craziness. Being able to literally roll it up after the lake trip made me realize the true flexibility of this new hobby, and I look forward to other lake times whether they are near or far.


How often has and does that get in the way of new activities? How often does it kill excitement and a sense of adventure? How many times has it stopped any action from happening? And perhaps the telling questions, what had been, is or would be missed (or gained) by hesitation?

Time to reflect a bit…but I hesitate to start that reflection now 😉.

Keeley Park, MadSplatter, Sea Life, and NC Zoo (20230413)

Keeley Park, Greensboro NC (20230306)


A little bit of this and that: bike track, exercise station, walking paths, a different kind of playground, 3 fishing ponds, large splashpad, disc golf, picnic shelters, clean restrooms…

Our grandsons hit the ground running and jumped on the first thing they saw…a spinning swing. Going alternately fast and slow, they circled the center pole until they caught sight of another piece of playground equipment. All too soon, the older boys had jumped, ridden, slid, and climbed everything there…and were “bored.” Our youngest playground kiddo still had a few more to experience and the older two waited while he managed to try most everything there.

Once they all were done, we took a walk around one of the fishing ponds to the bike trail to see how it was laid out should we ever bring the bikes. The lawncare staff were busy at work so we could not get too close to it but did get a flavor of what it had to offer. Not sure we will come back with the bikes since our grandsons did not seem overly impressed with it.

Next on the schedule, fishing. While two of us went to the car to retrieve the fishing gear and bait, the others investigated the second pond area. Fishing did not produce and “fun” since nothing was biting but as we were wrapping up the fishing gear, our oldest grandson saw a large Koi swim under the dock. Perhaps on a cooler day or with different bait, we might catch something.

Walking with gear in hand, we took the path that led to the large outdoor splashpad. It was not open yet but it looked like a great place to cool off.

All-in-all, it looks like it has a bit of everything though next time we will just focus on one part of the park.

Life Lesson

All too often I try to handle or do too many things at the same time, which ends up is less enjoyment (or completion) had I focused on only one thing a at a time. It’s at those “busy” times I need to ask myself, why? Or perhaps seek how to focus on only one activity to completion, ignoring the Sequential Vortex (P. McManus) often created by tackling a task.

Either way, time with grandkids always seems to generate a life lesson of some sort, which shows I am still observing and learning at “my age.”

Attraction Notes

  1. Link: https://www.greensboro-nc.gov/departments/parks-recreation/parks-gardens/keeley-park
  2. Location: 4110 Keeley Rd., McLeansville, NC 27301
  3. Cost: Zip. Nada. Zero.
  4. What did the kids like/dislike: Loved the playground, looked forward to the splashpad, and would have enjoyed fishing had there been any bits. They were not too enamored by the bike course but then again, they could not try it without their bikes.
  5. Kids opinion of it: good place to go and let off some energy
  6. What to do: playground, disc golf course, hiking, exercise, bike course, fishing, visit the community garden
  7. New places to eat along the way: did not investigate or stop
  8. Discoveries: three safe zip lines for all ages
  9. Difficulty of getting around: none. The park had a great layout and flow from one activity to another.
  10. Return? You betcha!
  11. Restrooms? Very clean and well maintained
  12. Parking: Plenty of close parking

MadSplatter, Greensboro, NC (20230401)

A messy birthday party, what kid would NOT want that?!! I love the idea and I appreciated the facility (and permission) to make it happen.


Kids enjoyed the whole activity. For the  adults, it was a bit of work and cajoling of kids when the paint flew in the face or ran out altogether. Not very organized or clear instructions by our hosts. Good area (tables, chairs, space) for the party.

Life Lesson

Sometimes a bit of personal investigation in a DIY event would pay off…

Attraction Notes

  1. Link: https://madsplatter.com/
  2. Location: 2917 Battleground Ave Ste. A, Greensboro, NC 27408
  3. Cost: $$$ – no real discounts for party size or age (kids, parents); see website for current pricing
  4. What did the kids like/dislike: Dislike – cost, clean-up, had to bring own party supplies( including food and beverages etc.), MIA store hosts before during and after, and poor attitude when we rang the buzzer for help like they instructed us to do (gave them some grace since they appeared to be busy and understaffed; Like (most) – the permission to get really, REALLY messy; liked their willingness to re-schedule party 3 times while kids were getting over various illnesses, and liked the fact that everyone got to take their “artwork” home…but be warned the paint was NOT dry (suggestion for the store is to have a way to dry the paint)
  5. Kids opinion of it: great fun as long as no paint was “aimed” at faces
  6. What to do: paint!
  7. New places to eat along the way: none tried.
  8. Discoveries: this can be done at home with $75 worth of supplies and hose wash-off
  9. Difficulty of getting around: no
  10. Return? No
  11. Restrooms? Yes, two.
  12. Parking: shopping center parking

Sea Life, Concord Mills NC (20220412)

For a mall-based aquarium, this one was done well. With a winding passage through eight zones, there is plenty to see and watch.

The best parts for the kids were the “bubble” port holes, which allowed them to get closer to the fish. Being tall enough, you can actually look down over the top of some of the exhibits.

Two sections really caught our attention. The circle aquarium tank where fish swam continuously around and around us. They never stopped and we could only wonder what happens at feeding times.

The second was the tunnel walk through where fish swam on either side of us and over our heads. We were able to spot several “elusive” critters including a sea turtle swimming in the tank.

Restrooms were hard to find, and no signs appeared to guide to these facilities, which are critical with little kids. The aquarium check-in was easy, and a wall map and small aquarium made the wait tolerable. The flow is from the cashiers through eight zones ending up in a “rest” area with large “Connect” games and tables to sit at. To exit a walk through the store and into the mall.

By the way, there is a food court in the mall with a carousel so of course we had to stop and “race” each other around the merry-go-round!

Life Lesson

Hmmm. An hour travel time to Sea Life merited more thought on car activities for our youngest participant (3 year old), and lunch plans for the older boys. Life lesson? Not sure about this trip.

Attraction Notes

  1. Link: https://www.visitsealife.com/charlotte-concord/
  2. Location: Concord Mills, 8111 Concord Mills Blvd, Concord, North Carolina 28027
  3. Cost: $21.99 per child, $24.99 per adult (ask for Senior discount if you qualify!)
  4. What did the kids like/dislike: crowded passages
  5. Kids opinion of it: they liked it and would re-visit if given a chance
  6. What to do: Visit early I the day to avoid crowd congestion in the winding passage
  7. New places to eat along the way: stopped at a fast-food place on the way there to avoid the hangries.
  8. Discoveries: winding path allowed for more fish and critters than I thought possible in a mall setting
  9. Difficulty of getting around: none
  10. Return? No, just because of cost and travel time. Atlanta GA aquarium is a richer experience, and from a personal point of view, the Greensboro Science Center has just as much, is less costly, and includes an outdoor zoo.
  11. Restrooms? Hard to find but clean
  12. Parking: mall parking lot

North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro NC (20230417)

The zoo is always a worthwhile trip, especially is you arrive early in the morning when the animals are “lively” (later in the day, the heat puts most of them into a nap-time mode). Walking paths are clean, restrooms easy to find, food court…is a food court, and sites are plentiful.

Visiting Africa, we could see elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, gazelles, river hogs, lemurs (sleeping in cave), and more. Our oldest grandson spotted a bird’s nest with a resting “mom” bird in the bamboo forest along the path…a bonus for this trip.

The food court is well-maintained and the food selection is okay. They do not know about any allergens, however, making it a challenge to pick out food for those who are gluten-free or tree nut-free.

The biggest bug-a-boo is the preponderance of school trips and the thousands of kids associated with them. The gorilla exhibit was an example of how claustrophobic and nerve-wracking the window viewing area can get when it is 6 people deep to see the gorillas. I acknowledge the zoo has made several days “Quiet Days” when they limit the school bus attendees, and that may be the best way to visit in the future.

Life Lesson

“Relax” was the buzzword for this trip. Don’t push, shove, or waggle your way into the crowds…too irksome. Let it be and enjoy the moment.

Attraction Notes

  1. Link: https://www.nczoo.org/
  2. Location: 4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, NC 27205
  3. Cost: Best deal…Membership (https://www.nczoo.org/become-zoo-member), if you plan to visit frequently or visit other museums (discount); for day rates check https://www.nczoo.org/visit
  4. What did the kids like/dislike: like – everything
  5. Kids opinion of it: thumbs up…always
  6. What to do: If a member, visit either America or Africa and save the other for a later trip.
  7. New places to eat along the way: did not stop (zoo fare is pricey but it pays for the care of the zoo)
  8. Discoveries: a new Baboon house is being constructed!
  9. Difficulty of getting around: none
  10. Return? yup
  11. Restrooms? Staged at several areas throughout the zoo
  12. Parking: easy but early morning is best…but fraught with school classroom trips

Note: all reviews above are subjective, at-the-moment observations by myself or others participating in the trips. Others may have different experiences at each site. Thus, visit the websites and take a trip to see for yourself.