“So mom, want to go with us to our hideout?” – Sure. “Yippee!”
My children have asked me to tour their hideout and I was always busy or honestly not that interested. As part of my campaign to kick the kids out of my home for as long and often as possible I suggested they trek through our “backyard” which is not ours nor a backyard. I had previously scoped out the area, but not in detail. I knew it was an abandoned ranch and after today’s stroll, I must say a pretty nifty hideout.
Behold the entrance.
Please note that all of the stones you see in the photos are stacked and not held together by mortar. This leads to many a rock slide under one’s feet at the risk of twisting an ankle and to my children’t delight the option to remodel as though they were Lego blocks. So for now it is a tie: Mom’s nerves 1 vs. Kid’s cool factor 1.
We suspect “Romana” is the name of the horse who once rode with the cowboy in charge of this land; this land that in the last several years was literally split by a fancy new highway. On the one side a hill and on the other side the ranch slowly being invaded by hundreds upon hundreds of new homes, including mine.
When I first moved here the cattle grazed in this part of the ranch and still do nearby. The cowboys have had to be very creative in maneuvering around the construction boom. It is not uncommon to walk right into some stray cows, leisurely resting on a freshly manicured lawn whilst cars zoom by. As of late my kids have taken to bringing stray dogs to this spot so they can have some shelter. Loose rocks, stray dogs… I know, I am keeping count.
“…and there is a basement.” Mind you that “basement” was previously covered and like the great explorers that they are they found a way to get in. So naturally I asked what exactly was down there, because you know, I was not feeling that adventurous. No bodies, good, just don’t linger because you know, we have earthquakes on a regular basis here and mommy doesn’t want, oh you know the speech. So let’s review the count: Sprained ankles, rabid dogs and crushed children.
As we strolled past the hideout onto the ranch the eldest reminded the youngest ones to watch out for tarantulas. “You see mom just yesterday we got to watch a full wrestling match between two of them right here where we are standing! ” He wasn’t kidding either, they are native to Chile and referred to affectionately as “Baby Chick Spiders” since they too are fuzzy and um adorable? Keep walking kids!
Not only is this an escape for my children it is also for our dogs. I love that my pets can also sneak away, off the leash and romp. Somehow I know the “pack” is safer with the four-legged ones in tow.
…and now for the anxiety driven parent test. How many objects in this shot set off your “Hover Parent” alarms?
Just in case you were wondering, note the rusty nails on the log, the coil of rusty barbed wire and the fresh pile of horse manure. Yes, the cowboys, or huasos as they are referred to locally still patrol the area, but rarely by daylight. They still herd the cattle by weaving them in and out of the suburban sprawl throughout the night when the traffic and pedestrians are least likely to get in their way. We have learned to drive very slowly when coming home late in the evenings. Once we managed to get ourselves completely surrounded by a herd and all we could do was wait, they were here first you know.
Signs of life at the ranch featuring the unforgiving thorn bush. It is absolutely everywhere and at all ranges of height. I ONCE made the mistake of zoning out while jogging in this area, not realizing the sidewalks were lined with them … at eye level.
Like a moth to a flame the piles of dirt were calling. We ran as fast as we could up those hills, yes we, I still find them irresistible. Our feet sank in up to our knees, the shoes left buried underneath the freshly dumped earth. During the week truck after truck from the new developments dump earth once held together by the roots of this ranch to its new resting place. I doubt it is the final one.
The pleasantly cool part of the day was ending. The temperature here swings from sweater to shorts weather within hours. Now how do we get out of here? They had no clue, they had not dared stray so far from their hideout before. Point for mom. So the kids found the space in the barbed wire fence where they agreed I would most likely fit and off we went down the somewhat beaten path.
So the next time my kids ask me if they can go out and play what do you think goes through my head? Sprained ankles from the rocks, rabies from the dogs, buried alive in the hideout by earthquakes, tetanus thanks to rusty nails and barbed wire , eyes poked-out from thorn bushes, bacterial infections from horse and cow feces and tarantulas swallowing them whole. ” Yeah, sure, go out and play!”