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The Butterfly Paths

by Tom Johnson on May 2, 2011
categories: family


We went down to Saratoga Springs along the Jordan Parkway Trail. This time I brought Molly, Callie, and Lucy, and let them all ride in the Burley. Walking is much easier this way, even though three kids is a bit too much in that space.

Cozy makes three in a burley

Looking at Google Earth images the day before, we were intrigued by the butterfly pattern that you see below.

The strange butterfly path pattern
The strange butterfly path pattern

As we walked around, at first I thought it was just the remote control airfield strip.

This is the remote control airstrip.

As we neared the area, we saw some strange cages.

Really interesting empty cage. Purpose?

And another way off in the distance.

Can you see this cage hidden in the background?

As we turned the corner on the airstrip, I noticed the black butterfly paths off to the side.

The wing of the butterfly (firearms range)

We couldn't get to the paths, as they were blocked by a fence. The paths weaved around in strange figure-eight-like shapes.

Part of the butterfly path (the firearms range)

I looked ahead to the entrance and finally saw a sign giving me some clue as to what they were about.

Says UCSD Firearms Range -- this is what the butterfly path is all about.

However, I looked online and could not find any information about the range. Oh well. It remains a mystery.

On our way back, I gave Callie the old Nikon pocket camera. At first she was excited, but she didn't immediately understand how to work it -- the LCD screen turned off every 5 seconds of non-use, and she had to hold the shutter release half way down to get it to come back on.

Her excitement over the camera transitioned to a major disappointment and eventually a tantrum. She has the same patience as Shannon for technical things. On our way home, however, she figured it out and regained her excitement, especially as I told her she could have it.

Molly didn't care much for the walk at all. She showed absolutely no interest in being carried about outside. Maybe it's the inability to explore the world on her own that removes the interest. The other week, when I set her down in our backyard to play, where she can crawl about as she pleases, she's happy.

I noticed, too, that pushing the kids in the Burley removes some of the excitement of the walk. When they're walking on their own, they can stop and explore things as they wish. When they're being pushed around, that agency is gone.

However, when they saw this huge tree, they both wanted to get out of the Burley to climb it.

Awesome looking tree.

I lifted Callie up into the tree. As soon as she was up there, though, she got scared and wanted down. She's afraid of heights.

Callie wanted to climb the tree, then got scared of being so high.

When she got back down, I gave her the camera, and soon after she launched into the tantrum. It took about 10 minutes to get her to keep going along the path -- she refused to go any further.

Eventually she got back in the Burley and I pushed them along.

Maybe the Burley isn't such a good idea. Part of the fun of an adventure walk is exploring an area for yourself. My sister has a philosophy of "child-led parenting." When you go on a walk, you follow behind your child and let him or her go at his or her own pace and interest. It can take an hour to go half a mile. But having agency isn't something to underestimate.

The problem is, not everyone can have agency at the same time on an adventure walk. You have to make compromises and follow another person at times. It's a give and take, but that cooperation is a constant theme in any relationship.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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