One of the reasons we renew our membership at the Morton Arboretum every year is that, in terms of value for us, it lets us "do more" for the same price despite somewhere like the Brookfield Zoo actually being closer to our house. If it's not biking together as a family, it's the Children's Garden. And if it's not the Children's Garden, it's a class. Plus there are special events...honeybee weekend, chocolate weekend, art exhibits, the Enchanted Railroad. It never gets old.
Last weekend it was Husky Heroes.
When we left the house, the sun was shining and only a lighter coat was needed. But when the clouds came, we were a bit unprepared for the chill. Even so, we managed a 3 hour stay. It was also good to visit with a family we were in Early Childhood preschool with last school year. My son is now in a different program so he doesn't see her as much. And we like the parents. So it's win-win.
Instead of a snowy course, unfortunately, the dogs got dry land training...which was more like mud training. Puddles of melting snow, slush, and mud everywhere. Many of the dogs at the event were adoptable so we stopped to pet a few of them. There were a few tables set up in the Visitor's Center selling stuffed animals and offering information about the breed. (Their husky rescue group works very much like our greyhound adoption group.) But we needed to get tickets to the Enchanted Railroad first because it is timed, limited entry and does sell out. We had a couple hours to wait before our turn.
Then volunteers directed you along the Arboretum paths to an open space where a course of cones had been laid out for the dogs to run on. There was a stage, sound system, and before each set of runs there was a lady doing a brief discussion about the dogs. What the equipment and terminology is called, how they train, etc.. The weekend before, her dog had pulled her on skis for 16 miles. These dogs love to work...which, if you know anything about dogs, is a major issue with many breeds is giving them a "job" to keep them busy. The dogs like to do what they were bred to do. In this case, pull.
After her chat, several waiting teams of wheeled sleds, scooters, or even bicycles made the loop around the course each hour that demonstrations were taking place. We stayed to watch 2 of these. In the meantime, there was a concession stand and the nearby auditorium was open to watch a movie about the Iditarod. The kids loved this. Plus it was nice to get warm!
Before visiting the Enchanted Railroad there was was table setup with animal pelts from animals present on the Arboretum grounds. So we got to touch beaver, raccoon, fox, mink, deer antlers, etc.. A volunteer even quizzed the kids on bird calls and were amazed my 3 year old daughter knows the sound of a red tailed hawk. Yes. Yes she does. The model railroad display was a bit different this year since it wasn't for the holidays like last year. It was themed to the seasons and it's always fun to watch these fairly large-scale trains go around.
We've had a fairly mild winter, but there is also cross country skiing at the garden. Trails are groomed, I believe, when there is 4 inches of snow or greater on the ground. Something else I'd like to try one of these days.