Another delightful post from the Hayes family as they work on their goal to visit all of our Virginia State Parks – this time Belle Isle State Park.
Good Friends, Beautiful Day, Fun Events, and a Great Park, what more can I say about our latest trip to the Virginia State Parks. Saturday morning, I questioned the wisdom in going out. The sky was cloudy and the wind was blowing cold. But my husband assured me it was suppose to be 80 and sunny. So we loaded up the cooler and minivan with kids, baskets, food, and a GPS. We met up with friends of ours and headed down to the park with four parents and kids ages; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Belle Isle State Park is only about 2 hours south of Northern Virginia so it was a nice little day trip. The roads to it were actually really good for such a rural setting; most of them were four lanes. The one amazing thing I noted on the drive down was the gas prices kept dropping. Something I haven’t seen in months. The lowest price I saw was for 3.60 something. I know I should have taken a picture because I will probably not see that again.
When we reached Belle Isle, it was still cloudy and windy, but the temperature was rising. We decided to geo-caching first. Our friends have never done it before and since the kids have been locked in a car for 2 hours, running the hyper energy off sounded like a good idea.
All I can say is after the second cache in the 75th Anniversary multiple geocache, we did not need the GPS any more. Our little ones geo-sense kicked in and before we even entered the next coordinates they had found it. We also found a micro. Let's just say that was our first and only one, even though we have searched for them in the past.
After "looking for treasure" we decided to get lunch. Near the boat landing at the park is a screened in pavilion with multiple picnic tables. This was the perfect setting for our group of 10 (2 families of five) to settle in for lunch. The screened pavilion also had an added advantage. With six small kids running around it acted like a corral and kept the hyper-ness contained. Looking out I saw a huge field along the river that screamed; ” kite flying”. Instead it was used for children relay races after lunch.
Our final stop at the park was the Easter Egg Hunt. We arrived and went to the one of the two pavilions they had set up for the party. This one had a clown putting on fake tattoos and a coloring contest. With all the wind coloring was a challenge with our kids, but they all went for tattoos. My middle child apparently has a fear of grown men dressed in costumes (Can't really blame her there). After mom held her hand she got her pretty tattoo and was off running again. The littlest one was fascinated with the big bunny and kept walking up to him and saying "Hi Bunny."
We had a few minutes to kill until the egg hunt started so we roamed over to the river. There was a small beach area that the kids went down to and played and a beautiful Osprey fed on a branch near us.
Finally it was egg hunt time. The area was divided into age groups and the eggs were laid out on the ground. Once the whistle blew the kids were off. My oldest spent so much time looking for the "golden egg" he did not get many other eggs, the middle was being very selective in her eggs, and the littlest just was not as fast as the other kids. So we did not get a huge amount of eggs, but enough to make it worthwhile. After the egg hunt, there were free snacks for the parents and kids. Instead of braving the crowd we decided to hike a trail nearby.
Note to self: if you do not want to go bushwhacking, do not let the kids led the way. Once we found an exit from the kid’s trail (through the briars) we headed back to the Easter party. The kids got cupcakes and water and then went off to the playground. The staff came around and made sure every child got a goody bag. The kids loved them.
Since we were one of the last to leave, I asked if there were any spare goody bags. The staff said yes and gave me some for the kids at our church. It made the Sunday school teacher’s day to have the goody bags for the additional kids on for Easter.
For a questionable start, it became a beautiful day. The kids had a blast and the park experience was so much more enjoyable with friends. The facilities were nice and one of our friends commented that these were the nicest public bathrooms he has seen. (I think we can count on them joining us for future trips.) We really enjoyed the day and the park staff was great.
FYI: Apparently there is a park in Richmond named Belle Isle as well. From what I heard it is a nice park, but this park is located in Lancaster, Virginia.