Kangaroos in the Pacific Northwest? Visiting the Outback Kangaroo Farm in Arlington, WA

 

About an hour north of Seattle is a surprising little adventure my twins love. Whenever we have a free morning, a visit to Outback Kangaroo Farm is always on their wish list. The kangaroo farm is in Arlington, Washington, in the Stillaguamish Valley.

Outback Kangaroo Farm is a family-owned small business. It’s a breeding farm and many of the animals roam freely in open areas, and they do what they do right there with you. We wear sturdy shoes and dress for the outdoors.

To get to the Outback Kangaroo Farm, you’ll pass through the small town of Arlington, Washington. Heading east on Highway 530, look for the sign and watch for the free-roaming peacocks, or peahens with peachicks, right there in the parking area.

© twin-mom.com. Outback Kangaroo Farm, Arlington, Washington.

You visit the kangaroo farm on scheduled tours, so you’ll need to plan ahead to make your tour time. Every tour we’ve taken has been led by owners Ray and Joey Strom. You start at the lemurs, where a family group hops around eating bananas while you hear information about their lives in the wild. On our last tour, some mini donkeys also wandered by and gave it a real Doctor Dolittle feel.

© twin-mom.com. Outback Kangaroo Farm, Arlington, Washington.

© twin-mom.com. Outback Kangaroo Farm, Arlington, Washington.

At the Outback Kangaroo Farm, the animals that are better at being admired from afar are behind fences, with plenty of reminders for curious little ones. Still, I’d bring enough adults to keep a close eye on kids as they get excited to see the animals.

© twin-mom.com. Outback Kangaroo Farm, Arlington, Washington.

The tour guides do a great job of keeping the group moving and giving enough information about each animal. There is a lot of hands-on time, with bread scraps and alfalfa to feed the kangaroos, wallabies, alpacas, llamas, turtles, chickens, and many other animals that appear any time the food is handed out.

The animals we’ve fed and touched seem gentle and obviously used to people, but my daughter has been the only one in the family brave enough to hug a kangaroo so far. You can also feed the llamas and alpacas from your mouth. Not sure we’ll ever do that.

© twin-mom.com. Outback Kangaroo Farm, Arlington, Washington.

© twin-mom.com. Outback Kangaroo Farm, Arlington, Washington.

The tour lasts about 40 minutes. There is an area to wash everyone’s hands before you leave. The kangaroo farm has portable bathrooms, tables, and a small gift shop.  Plan to head back into Arlington for lunch or snacks.

© twin-mom.com. Outback Kangaroo Farm, Arlington, Washington.

More info

The farm is open March through October, with tours by appointment in the winter. The farm’s website www.outbackkangaroofarm.com has more information.

If you want to make a day of it, the Stillaguamish Valley is a great place to explore farms and small town attractions. Check out www.visitstillyvalley.com for ideas.

Text and images © twin-mom.com. All rights reserved.

Outdoor math on the Al Emerson Nature Trail at Camano Island State Park

 

There’s a little trail we love at Camano Island State Park, a green and uncrowded park I like to visit with my kids. It’s always been quiet when we’re there, and like its neighbor Cama Beach State Park, there are beautiful views, coastline to explore, fresh island air, and great trails.

© twin-mom.com. Camano Island State Park.

My favorite family trail at Camano Island State Park is the Al Emerson Nature Trail. We’ve been walking this easy interpretive trail for a while now. The trail is a half-mile loop that’s perfect for little feet, with varied views, mostly flat terrain, and a few places to stop and have our snacks along the way. What makes this trail really unique for us is how we’ve come to use it – for practicing numbers and math skills outdoors.

© twin-mom.com. Camano Island State Park. Al Emerson Nature Trail.

On a visit to Camano Island State Park when my twins were preschoolers, we pulled over after a picnic at the beach to check out the Al Emerson Nature Trail. The idea of a loop appealed to me – mine, like many kids, dislike the whole “turn around and go back” business. We got started on the easy walk, and after a ways my kids discovered one of these – wonderful, numbered posts, with photos of trail fauna stuck to them.

© twin-mom.com. Camano Island State Park. Al Emerson Nature Trail.

Oh, how exciting. “Where’s post #2?” They were off, counting up numbers, making up clues, chatting with each other about what they were seeing and barreling forward toward the next number.

© twin-mom.com. Camano Island State Park. Al Emerson Nature Trail.

There’s no way you won’t find the next number, btw. You just follow the loop. I’ve never had a single foot dragger on this little walk. We know when it will end (at #18) and we know what to expect. With that familiarity, we can now do things like –

“Let’s go back two and take a picture.”

“What number does that say?”

“Which number is next?”

“How high do you think these trees grow?”

© twin-mom.com. Camano Island State Park. Al Emerson Nature Trail.

And on and on.

© twin-mom.com. Camano Island State Park. Al Emerson Nature Trail.

My twins are in kindergarten now, and being an active participant in my children’s early learning is important to me. When I find something easy, where we can go outside in almost any weather, and get some time in nature and still practice math skills, it makes me feel like I’m doing something right for them. And that’s about the best feeling you can have as a mom, anywhere.

© twin-mom.com. Camano Island State Park. Al Emerson Nature Trail.

Text and images © twin-mom.com. All rights reserved.

 

Family memories: The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood, WA

The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood, Washington, has been a part of my family’s holiday season since before our twins were born. I have pushed a double stroller through the lights, abandoned ship soon after entering the lights (off day for the toddlers), and been quietly in awe of the lights for every Christmas for as long as I have been a mom. My twins remember The Lights of Christmas as “the Christmas festival,” and every year their experiences and their reactions become a measure of how much they’ve grown.

This year I have twin kindergarteners, and let’s just say that they’re very independent. Sometimes darting here and there, they know the lay of the land – where the petting farm is, where the tunnel of lights is, when to point out Rudolph’s nose and Santa’s rooftop sleigh.

© twin-mom.com. All rights reserved. Photographed at The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp, Stanwood, WA.
The Lights of Christmas is a large but manageable 15 acres. The many volunteers are kind and welcoming to us, with big smiles and enthusiasm. It’s a kid-friendly place, although we see young couples, multi-generational family groups, and packs of friends all enjoying the lights and pointing out their favorites in many different languages.

There are over one million lights in impressive and funny displays. This year, we liked the leaping orcas and the swimming fish, and the model train village at Joyland Central Station was a big hit. I’ve always liked the angels and my twins enjoyed the petting farm’s goats and llamas. This was the first year we made it onto the Polar Express Train Ride, and after some angst in the line (the wait was short, anticipation high), my twins enjoyed waving at everyone while taking the grand tour.

© twin-mom.com. All rights reserved. Photographed at The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp, Stanwood, WA.

In our house, life is busy and we have a lot of commitments. Our simple strand of Christmas lights sometimes barely makes it up onto the house by mid-December. At The Lights of Christmas, the vision of that much work, that much planning and effort to celebrate the holidays, is something my husband and I admire every year.

The Lights of Christmas is a holiday tradition that I hope will always be part of my kids’ lives. With all of the impressive lights, music, and tasty food, it is still a quiet and reflective place for me. You see the hands of caring people when you visit The Lights of Christmas. I’m not sure what can get better than that.

© twin-mom.com. All rights reserved. Photographed at The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp, Stanwood, WA.

Some tips from our visits:

Photos: You’ll want to take photos of your family and friends but remember that it’s a night display, with low light and moving subjects – a challenge for most of us. Have a  good charge on your camera or phone and try photos at the larger displays with multiple light sources.

What to wear: There are fun indoor activities, but much of the experience is outside. The paths are a mixture of pavement and dirt, so plan to dress warmly for the weather with comfortable walking shoes. With babies, bring your carrier or sturdy stroller. There were rentals at the entrance.

Cash for food: The Lights of Christmas opens at 5 p.m. and we spent about two hours there this year. That’s dinner time, or at least “I’m hungry, mom!” time. Bring cash for food. There are ATMs available. We saw lots of budget-friendly food options, like pizza, burgers, sandwiches, donuts, salads, coffee and warm drinks.

Helpful website: The Lights of Christmas has a new website that was really helpful for me. It has directions, information about costs, discounts, activities, and online reservations for the shows and accommodations. Check it out at www.thelightsofchristmas.com.

From twin-mom.com and my family, I wish you Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and good health to you and your family in the New Year!

14.12.10 scriptures

Disclosure: twin-mom.com received admissions to The Lights of Christmas for review purposes this year. Opinions are the writer’s own.

Text and images © twin-mom.com. All rights reserved.