Parks and Mikereation

This has been a week filled with amazing highs and buckets of nostalgia. What has happened since the last Mike Uncorked? Well, I was part of the Grapely Ghost Walk tour last Friday and two of my oldest and dearest friends were in the crowd. Seeing them and hearing their laughter brought back so many memories of the three of us in high school, acting like fools – except this time it was just me acting the fool. One of those friends has been in my life for 30 years and I love her to bits! I met her the first day of grade primary when she asked me to sit at her table and we’ve been friends ever since. The other guy is her husband whom I’ve known for 25 years. He’s pretty cool too.  

Then Tuesday arrived and with it, the release of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s latest CD, Mandatory Fun. It’s one of his best albums to date. The first album I ever bought with my own earned money was a “Weird Al” album and the fact that I’m a 35-year-old man who still gets that excited about this incredible artist, speaks volumes. Of course, as soon as I purchased his new album, I listened to all the old ones and was flooded with countless memories of growing up in Kentville and driving my parents loony with “Weird Al” Yankovic’s music.  It makes me happy to know that kids as young as my nephews (9 and 10) still listen to “Weird Al” and embrace his unique style. I never thought I would share that part of my youth with a new generation but it’s happening.

When I was in high school, a select group of friends and I would take day trips all over the province. We weren’t your average teenagers obsessed with electronics and wandering around town being nuisances; instead we hopped in the car and went on adventures. Yes, we had jobs too, but in our free time it was all about us and the open road and the fun places we were heading to. We would visit museums, parks, small towns, and embraced what Nova Scotia had to offer. We wanted to explore and see things and spend time together and it was a blast. Do teenagers still do that? Well this past week my friend Michelle and I tackled Oaklawn Farm Zoo – a place we had not been to in almost 20 years (wow, that’s depressing to write!). I was scared the Zoo would be deserted or that it would have lost its charm but it had only improved. Oaklawn is located in Aylesford and they have owls, snakes, new baby pigs, lemurs, lions, tigers and bears – Oh My!  Again, being a 35-year-old man did not stop me from being engaged and excited to pet the baby Llama!

Oaklawn Farm Zoo was established in 1984 and boasts the largest display of big cats and primates in Eastern Canada. Its 50-acre setting offers a relaxing atmosphere to its animals and patrons. It’s impossible to leave without learning something new.  (For group rates or more info call 902-847-9790 or visit their website at www.oaklawnfarmzoo.ca.)

The summer is almost over and what have you done? Have you ever been to Randall House Museum in Wolfville? Or Prescott House? How about Peggy’s Cove? Or Halls Harbour? What about Upper Clements Park? I will never forget that rickety old roller coaster or the flume ride, or the go-carts… and now they offer an Adventure Park (with 14 zip lines and 43 challenging courses) so it’s a whole new experience and a great place for all ages.

When I was a teenager we went to all these places and had picnics, snapped photos (on our 35mm cameras), and put what little money we had into those struggling museums because we wanted to go back and visit them again one day.  It was about the memories we were creating and the friendships we were strengthening. And now, taking my nephews and my niece to experience what I loved as a kid and teenager is more rewarding than I can put into words.  A lot of people encourage others not to live in the past but to live in the present so you will have a rewarding future. Well, my advice is to take what you loved from your past and introduce it to those in your present. Pack a lunch, get in the car, and go exploring. Create your own memory lane! Have a great adventure everyone!

Mike Butler