The "I've got boogies" complaint started only a few feet down the trail. Spirits sagged. I wanted to throw myself face first into the snow and cry. Here we were in such a beautiful setting and I couldn't even appreciate it. I suggested we go back to the car (multiple times), but he kept choosing to go forward, even though clearly no one was having any fun.
We made it to the observation tower and carefully climbed the snow covered stairs. The wind whipped off the lake with such ferocity the snow stung my face. I tried crouching down below the height of the railing but it didn't help, so I dragged my very resistant child back down the stairs. Fortunately, it was at this point that we made a discovery that turned things around. There was open water under the tower and snow is fun to throw and kick into open water.
Eventually we got out to the end of the island where I mentioned the possibility of pancakes and sausage back at the building. We very rarely go inside the nature center, so this was a big departure for us. But dude LOVES sausage (eew). I buy the fake sausage to eat at home, but I suspected he'd be more than happy to eat the real stuff too. So that motivated him all the way back to the building. After we ate he ran around the exhibit area looking at the animals and playing with the touch & feel table. When it was time to leave, I steered him into the gift shop. I know this seems like an odd decision, but I wanted some maple candy. I was prepared to buy him a small (not edible) treat in order to satisfy my sweet tooth, but it ended up working out better than I could've have hoped for. He settled on a small rubber snake and after paying I suggested he show Mr. Snake where our car was. And that's exactly what he did, with enthusiasm and no fuss about leaving the super fun building.
Let's try not to worry about what happens next time when there is no sausage and Mommy does NOT want to go inside the boring, overly heated building.