Earning our Explorer Badges in Downtown Wausau
by Cheryl Mathis on October 12th, 2011
For the month of July, my kids and I used a bus pass. I ended up only using my car once a week.
We developed rituals. We’d go out and wait for the bus (which stopped at the end of my driveway) at least five minutes early because the clocks in my life never agree. Once on the bus, we’d go to the WAY back, and Anna would often sit on my lap because she was unsure about herself around strangers. And then we bumped and zoomed through the neighborhood until that magic time when I could pull the yellow cord.
Often our first stop would be the library. We’d linger there in the play area: me with my laptop and the kids with whatever they could find to entertain themselves. By the end of library time, they’d usually have brought me a few books to read aloud to them, and I enjoyed being “Story Lady” to whatever other children were playing nearby. When the clock ticked closer to lunchtime, we’d pack up and check out and go on our next adventure.
We packed a lunch to eat by the kayak course at the bottom of the hill. The kids enjoyed exploring the water’s edge while the sun baked down on our sunscreened skin. And because it just doesn’t make sense to catch a bus to drive four blocks to the depot to switch busses to drive another four blocks, we would walk the six or so blocks to the YMCA. But our adventures would take us through downtown.
July was also the month when I was using up a coupon for 12 free cupcakes from Sweet Lola’s after winning a Facebook Friday contest. So we might have swung through there or gone to splash in the fountain at the 4oo block. After Chalk Fest, we’d regularly meander around the 400 Block to see how the pictures were fading and to spot where mine was (I did the drawing of the girl on a swing catching a bird).
Of we’d wander into Janke’s to say hi to the big bear. I picked up some flashcards there that entertained us quite a bit while we waited for future busses. Then down further to the YMCA, which was our Atlantis, our “X,” where my kids learned to dive for rockets and how to swim under water and how Mommy makes a great dolphin to ride. In the heat of the summer, we’d also linger in the Robot Room (which is actually the Mini Care room after hours when it’s available to members for free and there’s a robot toy so that’s why we call it the Robot Room).
Our summer was packed with joy and adventure. Unfortunately for the business owners, we avoided spending money, but just because we didn’t have any to spend, not because there wasn’t anything worth buying. We found over 10 new parks with varying degrees of awesomeness. We fell in love with the Sculpture Garden at the art museum and the River Walk which goes by far too quickly when you’re zooming down on a bike.
It’s no wonder I’ve put off our inevitable move to Marshfield for another year. I’m not willing to leave Wausau and all her jewels.