Monday, September 08, 2014

Playground Reviews: Jordan Dam; Pearsontown Elementary; Little River Park

B. Everett Jordan Dam - Jordan Dam Road, Moncure, NC
Visited: Sunday, August 31, 2014
- Google Street View

Summary: We thought we'd take the family - one-week-old Bruce included - out to Jordan Dam, which Amber and I visited on our own many years ago (even before Amber moved down here). But wouldn't you know it, they have a playground here! Lucky Marla!

(Note: The individual scores are calibrated so that 50% is an average score. "Perfect" scores are rarely given. The star rating system takes all this into account, such that an "average" playground corresponds to about 3½ stars.)

Things for Marla to do: 10/20. So, this is a pretty standard playground. Big kid set, small kid set, swings.

(By the way, I think Bruce will need to be 18 months old before I can rename this category "Things for Marla and Bruce to do". 18 months is about when Marla could start really doing things at playgrounds, other than just the toddler swings.)

Uniqueness: 2/10. I reserve the 1/10 score here for smaller playgrounds than this one.

Upkeep: 3/10. Trash level was worse than average, and the playground equipment has a lot of spider webs on it. Like, a lot of spider webs.

Crowd: 8/10. There was another family there that morning, but I'm taking the spider webs as a sign that this playground doesn't get a huge amount of use. Mostly, people come to the dam to fish.

Marla enjoyment: 3/5. Marla didn't care for the spider webs, but otherwise was able to entertain herself.

TOTAL: 26/55 (★★★). They didn't have to install a playground at Jordan Dam, of course. This playground is better than no playground. But, you shouldn't come here just for the playground. They have a nice visitor center and walkable trails with some nice views of Jordan Lake, and it's also a popular fishing spot. If any of that sounds good to you, then by all means, make the drive to Jordan Dam - and bring the kids, because did you know they also have a playground here?


Pearsontown Elementary - Barbee Road, Durham, NC
Visited: Saturday, September 6, 2014
- Google Street View

Summary: Last time I reviewed an elementary school playground, I said that we should go to more elementary school playgrounds. So, here we are.

Things for Marla to do: 11/20. Two playground sets, although I can't really call them "big kid" and "small kid"; the smaller set was still really for "big kids", which makes sense because this is at an elementary school, after all. Big kid swings only; no toddler swings.

Uniqueness: 4/10. A few climbing things that you don't see at most playgrounds.

Upkeep: 7/10. The equipment was in good shape, and trash was average.

Crowd: 9/10. I thought about giving 10/10 here, but the problem is, you can only come here when school is out of session, of course. (By the way, Pearsontown is a year-round school, according to the sign.) Elementary school playgrounds are generally going to be less crowded; I think the primary reasons are 1) no public bathrooms or other facilities, 2) nothing else to do around the playground, 3) this feeling that the school grounds are private property and that you're not really allowed to be here. (Speaking of which...are we allowed to be here? Are we trespassing?)

Marla enjoyment: 2/5. A couple of falls, and that was that.

TOTAL: 33/55 (★★★★).


Little River Regional Park - Guess Road, Rougemont, NC
Visited: Sunday, September 7, 2014
- Google Satellite

Summary: North of Durham, you'll find Little River Regional Park, which appears to be a popular mountain biking destination. We went here primarily for a picnic in the woods, but there's also a small playground.

Things for Marla to do: 6/20. Just one playground set here, with a few slides; no swings or anything else.

Uniqueness: 3/10. I would have given 1/10 here, but a couple of the slides were "tiered" (or bumpy or whatever), which Marla really enjoyed. Other than that, this playground is pretty generic.

Upkeep: 7/10. (copied and pasted from the previous review) The equipment was in good shape, and trash was average.

Crowd: 7/10. This is another case of "people don't come here for the playground alone", so occasionally the playground will pick up some stragglers who are on their way in or out of the woods.

Marla enjoyment: 4/5. Even though the playground is small, we had a really hard time getting Marla away from it.

TOTAL: 27/55 (★★★). Honestly, I almost wish this playground wasn't here. The reason you come to Little River is to do other nature-y things, like hike or mountain bike, except that there's a playground front and center, which probably just distracts the children and ruins your plans more so than anything else. At least, that's how I see it.

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