Baby Voyage

The U-Pick Fruit Loop Trail in Oregon

Posted on by Noah Lederman in Baby Voyage | 1 Comment

U-Pick Fruit Loop Trail in Oregon Hood River CountyOne fond memory of my own childhood is of driving to upstate New York to pick apples off the trees. But on the last year that I had visited the orchards, I found no pleasure in the activity. Perhaps it was the year that I had transitioned into adolescence. While I had grown insolent, it certainly didn’t help that the orchard employees had plucked the fruits themselves and had them available only in wooden bins, transforming the back-to-nature event into a three-hour car ride for an outdoor grocery store that sold one product. Gone were the days of apple picking; gone was childhood.

 

When I visited Oregon’s Hood River this past summer, I came across a map for the region’s U-pick Fruit Loop trail, just south of the township. I was intrigued by and dubious of the few dozen farms on the list. Now I was a father, and I didn’t want to promise my three-year-old daughter that we’d go fruit picking only to find piles of bruised fruit that had been fondled over in bins. (She already exhibited a precocious sauciness of her world.)

 

In any event, my wife and I took a chance and followed the Fruit Loop map, pledging nothing to our two children in the backseat. We stopped first at one of the farms that promised flowers, berries, and cider. I figured if we found a bunch of pre-stocked berry baskets, we’d fib to my toddler and tell her that Mommy and Daddy needed a morning hard cider. (Better to think her parents irresponsible lushes than crushers of dreams.)

 

But upon arrival, there were no baskets, just fields of flowers and berry bushes. Little red wagons were parked on the edge of the lot. Happily, Mommy and Daddy didn’t have to feign alcoholism. Instead, we plopped our three and one year old into a wagon. They giggled as we hit bumps and looked frightened as we hit bigger bumps. We stopped at the strawberries first, where they smiled as they picked the leftover runts. We moved onto the raspberry bushes filled with berries and bees. It was wonderful and worrying for all of us.

 

U-Pick Fruit Loop Trail in Oregon Hood River County

 

After berry picking, we drove the trail to the one alpaca farm on the map, where, up in the hills, baby alpacas roamed beside their elders. My daughters looked on in amazement at these strange looking sheep, or whatever it was they thought they were looking at.

 

“They’re like llamas,” I said.

 

“What’s a llama?” said the one child who could talk in sentences. The baby said, “Oooh.”

 

The things still unknown were beautiful.

 

“I’m scared,” my three year old said, after I tried to give her food to hold out for the alpaca. She held onto me instead and wouldn’t let go. One day, she would be that girl who knew what a llama was, who looked at pre-picked apples in bins and rolled her eyes at her parents. But at the alpaca farm, those eyes spoke of shock and innocence, fear and fascination, the very thing a parent longs to hold onto as their child experiences the world, slowly.

 

The Fruit Loop offered that speed and a lovely repetitiveness of u-pick fruit options and the quietness of farms. There were a few aberrations along the way, like wineries and cideries. When the hour seemed appropriate, my wife and I pulled off at one of those wineries, ordered a glass of Oregon’s famed pinot, segregated ourselves from the childless tipplers who harbored dirty looks, and watched our children continue to hone their picking skills–this time by harvesting stones from the dirt. I thought back on my own apple-picking days. Perhaps, this could be our family tradition, too. There was nothing better for a parent than to see that look of wonder in their children’s eyes, a look that had yet to escape my two daughters on this trail. But if it would become tradition, I’d always make certain to call ahead to ensure that fruit still clung to the trees.

 

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Drinking Wine in Washington with Kids

Posted on by Noah Lederman in Baby Voyage | 2 Comments

Drinking Wine in Washington with KidsWine does not pair well with children. Most parents can’t stock their wine racks, as they stand dangerously at toddler height, and Mommy’s nighttime wine consumption is often less about pleasure than serving as a counterbalance against the daytime’s whine.

 

But Washington state, one of the world’s top wine destinations, with its nearly one thousand wineries, has a few that tipplers can tour with their toddlers. Most are found in Washington’s two great wine regions: Walla Walla in the east, and Woodinville, just a half hour from Seattle.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Kids

Posted on by Noah Lederman in Baby Voyage | 2 Comments

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Kids

Most people head to Edinburgh in August for the Fringe Festival: a few weeks when comedians and thespians and every sort of artist take over bars and performance spaces, nooks and crannies. There are vans parked around the city that double as comedy clubs for a crammed half-dozen audience members and huge trucks are stationed on pedestrian thoroughfares to serve as temporary film houses. It’s a joyous, if not overwhelming time to be in Edinburgh. There’s so much to do on any given day, from free shows to street festivals to ticketed events, that you’re faced with the realization that you’re going to miss most of everything. And then you head to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with kids and you really feel like you’re going to miss everything.

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Traveling London with a Baby, a Toddler, and a One-Seat Stroller

Posted on by Noah Lederman in Baby Voyage | 5 Comments

Traveling London with a Baby and a ToddlerBefore arriving in London, I had spent a few sleepless nights trying to figure out the logistics of the whole thing. The whole thing being how to travel around London with a toddler and an infant while my wife went to the office and while I was only equipped with a single-seat stroller.

 

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Train Travel with Babies and Toddlers and Their Stuff: A Happy Disaster

Posted on by Noah Lederman in Baby Voyage | 2 Comments

Train Travel with KidsThere’s always a sort of poetry in train travel presented in novels and memoirs, documentary films and dark comedies. I had been looking forward to my train journeys through the United Kingdom: to watch the hills flow like waves; to watch the castles rise from mediaeval rubble; to count sheep as the vibrations of the locomotive lulled me to sleep. But with kids there was no sinking into the rhythm of the hills; no enjoying castles; endless kilometers of uncounted sheep. The journey was fine. The kids, for the most part, were good, too. It was the luggage. The luggage was awful, especially when we had six train trips in nine days and every other leg had, on average, one connection.

 

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