I can hardly even believe our luck, to have this perfect sunny, summery weather, and the freedom to take the kids for the whole day, on a Friday.  Somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming.
We could not have found a better place to spend the day.  That morning I looked at the map and decided to drive east out highway 36, exact destination unknown.  There are some great parks along 36 from which to explore the redwoods, but I was really hoping to find a spot along the Van Duzen river.  We found it.  We stopped when we came to the Van Duzen River County Park, aptly subtitled Swimmers Delight.

boys in front of Van Duzen river with cliff in background

Brother and Young Son had a blast wading in the river and throwing rocks in the water with some other little boys that were staying at the campground there.  Perhaps most thrilling was discovering tadpoles and baby frogs in every stage of metamorphosis in the shallows along the rivers edge.  Both boys were able to catch at least one petite dime-sized new frog to hold in their hands.

Brother and Young Son sitting at a picnic table with their sketchbooks and snacks

There was a cold breeze blowing off and on through the morning which stopped in the afternoon and it got very warm in the sun.  Midway through the day, we had our now usual stop for drawing and snacks.  They drew a lot of frogs and tadpoles, of course.  And I made a list in my notebook, with their help, of plants and animals which we had seen that day.

Then we went back to the riverside for more wading until the shadows grew long.  The river is at its lowest right now.  There was at least one good swimming spot we saw still, up the river, but mostly it is very shallow, with lots and lots of slimy green algae.

Brother standing in the shallows of the Van Duzen river

Young Son pulling algae out of the river with a big stick

Fun things to do with algae: slide on it, pull it out of the water and pretend its attacking you, lift long strands of it with a stick, wad it up and toss it back in the river, throw it at your mom and make her shriek.