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Bikes- check. Helmets- check. Snacks for boys so they will want to stay in bike trailer- check. Stretching before exercise- as long as trying to pack the bikes into the van counted, check. Stock up on water intake (coffee counts as water intake right?)- check. We were finally ready to hit up the newly officially opened Mitchell’s Bay Lakeshore Trail.
          The original plan was to go in the early morning when it would be cooler outside, but, as most of the parents out there know, there is no such thing as a ‘plan’.  You have to just go by the ‘we will go with the plan that happens as it happens plan’. Needless to say we got there at 10:30am.  With the temperature at 30˚C, that was definitely not part of the original plan but luckily there was a great breeze coming off of the lake so it didn’t feel too warm. We parked in the parking lot off of Park Street in Mitchell’s Bay.  There is a lot of parking there and a lot of room to set up if needed. We spent a good time there trying to organize getting our boys in the bike trailer with their little helmet heads clunking against each other as comfortable as possible, while chatting to another couple with two children about how much effort it takes to get ready to go somewhere compared to actually doing something.
      
       I knew that this trail allowed bikers but as we approached the opening of the trail I was a bit hesitant if it would actually be possible with the trailer. I was amazed at how many people were out and walking on the trail. I kind of figured that since the “official opening” for the trail was Saturday that it would have little or no interest on a Monday, I was wrong, there was definitely a lot of interest still. Then came the next worry- will I be a bother on a bike when everyone else is walking? The answer was a surprising no. The trail is long enough and wide enough and there are enough places to stop along the way that it didn’t seem as though everyone was walking (or biking) together at the same pace. I am sure some people were relieved that we could bike past them while both boys vocalized their unhappiness with the fact that they were strapped in the bike trailer. This trail is packed with many things to look at. There are benches throughout, beautiful wood carvings, signs placed in different areas about the types of nature that you may be able to spot and some great viewing spots. If I had known there was so much to look at, I probably would have not brought the bikes. However, for a not very experienced biker it was a welcome excuse to stop to look at all of the nature points…not that I needed a break because I was sweaty and my legs ached…no definitely just had to look at a possible bird or turtle or even a frog.
         There is one point of the trail that has a bit of green space with picnic tables and then a boardwalk out onto the water. You get a view of marshes and the lake and a lot of greenery. It was a great place to let the boys out to run and take a look at what Mitchell’s Bay had to offer. The water was extremely clear so the boys were able to watch small fish and big fish swim around close by as swans swam in the distance. We took some time to admire the wood carvings and the amount of time it must have taken to do them. Make sure you take a good look at all of the detail and hidden animals in them.  They are just amazing.
          
          While Mitchell’s Bay Lakeshore Trail is a great place to jog, walk, walk a dog or even bike, I would suggest doing something where you can slow down and just check everything out and chat to everyone else on the trail. I don’t think we passed one person that didn’t smile and say hi to us. One lady even offered to take a family picture of us in all of our sweaty glory that we took her up on as we don’t get many family shots. I will probably be back soon just to fulfill the stay-at-home mom need of “I need to talk to another adult or I will go crazy” moments.

  
         As I was walking the trail, I was reminded of the Erieau Marsh Trail since again all of the nature seemed to be just on one side of the trail. The other side was once again farm fields. At the same time I was trying to get my bike going in hopes of calming the boys after a small battle while trying to get them back into the bike trailer so we could go to the car, I noticed a sign.  It mentioned something along the lines of ‘where nature meets agriculture’. I am not sure if that is a direct quote as I was just hoping  my boys wouldn’t start yelling until after we bypassed a few more people, but it really struck a chord with me. The idea of nature meeting agriculture is something I have noticed now at a few of the trails, and it hit me that these two things are a large part of what assembles Chatham-Kent into who we are as a municipality. It is something we should embrace. Perhaps I won’t look too harshly at fields the next trail I go on where I see a lot of farm land.
     
      I really did love this trail. I was actually disappointed when we came to the end of it, but maybe it is a good thing it leaves you wanting more. Not only did it give me a chance to learn about the different parts of nature in the Mitchell’s Bay area, but it also taught me that bike riding is not my sport anymore, especially with sweaty kids who like to run who are confined in close quarters in the bike trailer. I will definitely be back again very soon… but maybe not on bike.

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