We called it the "Grand Adventure Weekend."

The second to the last weekend before we sent our son back to school, my wife and I packed the car and the kids and set off on a new and somewhat educational adventure.

Our final stop was at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Located just outside Olympia, this refuge offers visitors an opportunity to connect with nature in a peaceful and non-intrusive manner. Established in 1974, it hosts a variety of fish and wildlife habitats, and over 200 species of birds make the refuge their home annually.

A mile-long wooden pathway and several gravel side paths wind through the wetlands. From the paths and viewpoints, visitors can also view the wildlife in the grasslands. We enjoyed the Visitor’s Center and Children’s outdoor activity loop, which is surrounded by apple and pear trees. At the end of August, the reserve hosts frogs, finches, robins, woodpeckers, waterfowl and a statuesque Blue Heron. One unfortunate frog became the heron’s lunch.

We were not sure how our children would like the slow-paced walk, but they truly enjoyed it. Our son, the aspiring photographer, followed me in an attempt to capture the better shot. The trails are perfect for nearly all ages. Pack a lunch and enjoy a relaxing getaway in nature, not too far from home.

We look forward to another adventure this winter when the raptors and snow geese arrive.