Coming home from our Portland trip, the kids and I stopped at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. We loved it so much we decided to bring Daddy back for a visit too. We did just that for a late Father's Day outing, and because of the second trip, I have another recommendation...don't go to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge during the summer! Spring...Definitely. Summer...Stay Home!
We arrived at Ridgefield in the early afternoon. It was the perfect day...sunny skies, warm but not too warm, no rain in sight. We checked in at the visitor center. There were no volunteers so we paid our entry fee with the provided envelopes and off we went. Our plan was to take the auto tour, stopping to walk the 1.5 mile trail that's about midway through the auto tour route. Along the way, we saw a few birds, though not as many as the kids and I saw on the first trip. It was mildly disappointing to me, actually. We passed an older couple spraying themselves down with bug repellent...later they would be our saviors.
We reached the trail head and parked. After getting Maddie tucked into the backpack and Josh comfortably seated in the stroller, we headed out. At the beginning of the trail, there was a sign stating "bees". Yep, there were bees. They had a hive in a tree next to the trail. We could see the hive but you could hear the hum of the bees. It was quite impressive; I certainly wouldn't want to upset that hive!
We crossed the bridge right at the beginning of the trail:
There are two things I want you to notice about this photo. One is that there was a lovely, large heron sitting right in the middle of the water. (The picture should enlarge a bit if you click on it.) It was a ways off but still cool to see. Second, notice that the water is very stagnant. Yep, we were being swarmed by mosquitoes...midday...in huge numbers. At first, we thought we should just keep going. But another 50 feet had us turning around. It was BAD! And every time a mosquito landed on Josh, he screamed a blood-curling scream, frozen in fear. I'm sure that by the time I got there to swat them off, they had plenty of time to bite him (there were four on his legs at the same time); however, I could not find a bite on him. Luck, I guess. In fact, none of the kids had visible bites and none of them complained of itchiness. Scott and I weren't so lucky. I found at least 8 itchy bites while Scott had 15-20.
So, we hightailed it back to the car. On the way, we ran into that older couple and begged some bug repellent off of them (actually, they offered). I sprayed down the kids and myself (Scott refused) and rolled up all the windows on the car for the remainder of the drive, killing the dozen or so mosquitoes flying around inside the car.
There were a few highlights of the remainder of the drive. We saw a beaver in the water. The way he was swimming, it looked like he was chewing the water. He sure was cute though. We saw TONS of dragonflies. And, we saw another very busy beehive in a tree just off the road. We were glad our windows were rolled up because a few bees buzzed around them. It wouldn't have been fun with them in the car with us. Definitely, beware if you are allergic to bees and bring that Benadryl and epipens.
Another thing we noticed was the difference in color between the seasons. Compare the two following pictures:
We also lazed around a bit before heading home, which we did via short cut (ie. my dad's definition of the scenic route that takes tons longer than the regular way). We stopped for dinner on the way, too.
So, to recap...don't go to Ridgefield during the summer unless showering in bug repellent and enclosing yourself in a bubble first. If you choose not to head my advise, the day might still be salvageable, especially if you don't mind several days of itching afterwards.