Exploring the Roads, Part III

After embarking on our brave adventure (part I), almost getting gunned down by SWAT (part II), our brave adventurers found themselves on an endless trek across Baldwin Park.

For those unfamiliar with Baldwin Park, here’s the story. When Orlando closed it’s Naval Base, they converted its grounds into a giant planned town. It has shops, businesses, town houses, houses – everything you could want in a community. It sounds great, and it probably is, but it’s also a maze of twisty-turny roads and alleys..

After the kids and I moved on from the community picnic, we wandered our way back north and discovered an art festival in Baldwin Park. We parked at the art festival – which was really minor – and ate some pizza with my friend Steve (who lives nearby). That’s when we decided to walk to the playground.

Remember how big I said Baldwin Park was? Well, the walk to the playground took about half an hour. Walking for half an hour doesn’t sound like much, but once you mix in pizza, temperatures in the mid-80s, and two tired kids, it turns into a really long distance.

By the time we spotted a slide in the distance, we were all dragging. My six-year-old threw his hands into the air, shouted ”we made it!” and ran for the slide.

The rest of us continued trudging. It was hard to get excited about the playground. It had a tall metal slide, facing us, and two swings. That’s it. No jungle gym, no monkey bars, no play area, just a slide and two swings.

My son disappeared around the slide to climb its stairs. I watched his hands grab the handrails and work their way up. He slid down and ran around to go back up again.

That was enough to energize his little brother. The little guy ran over to the slide. Steve and I continued our trudging.

The little guy shouted and stuck his head around the slide. “Daddy, I can’t climb it! I can’t go up!”

“Sure you can,” I said. “Just go up.”

“But I can’t!”

I jogged over to him. “What are you talking about? You climb slides all the – oh.”

Now that I had reached the other side of the slide, I could see that its stairs were covered with plywood boards. Someone had spray painted “Keep Off” in faded red paint across the boards.

My youngest pointed. “See? I can’t climb it.”

“I can,” his oldest brother said. He put his feet on the board, grabbed the handrails and started to walk up – right across the painted red letters.

“No,” I grabbed him and pulled him off. “No, that’s slide’s broken. Those boards are actually a sign.”

I swung him up on to my shoulders. “Come on,” I said. “There has to be a real playground around here somewhere.”

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