Sunday Hike #11

Date: September 14, 2014

Location: Our Neighborhood

Distance: 1.3 miles

Critters Spotted: Geese, ducks and swans.

This “hike” was more of a walk. Paige had been requesting a “walk to the ducks,” which is what we have always called our walks to the cemetery at the end of our street. We have made many, many, many walks to the ducks over the years. It is something I will miss when we move from this neighborhood. I actually met one of our neighbors at the grocery store, years ago, when she said, “You must live on my street,” she said. “You always walk by with your baby during his fussy time!” Yep, that was us!

Now, that fussy kid was running ahead of us.

005One kid was still being fussy. Shoe issues. It’s always shoe issues.

006At the cemetery entrance.

007“Can I take a picture of your bad attitude?” Otherwise known as the mean mom picture. Feel free to NOT ask her about these photos. 😉

008Then, we reached the pond and the birds came begging for food.

009“We don’t have anything for you,” I said. “You should thank us!”

“Why?” Andrew asked.

“Because they really shouldn’t eat people food,” I said.

“Oh!” he replied. “Kind of like us and sugar. It’s not good for us, but we love it anyway!”

010“I love the duck with funny hair!” Morgan said. “His name is George Washington!” (See duck on the right below. His name is now George.)


012Having a bit too much fun chasing George.


014There were so many geese in the cemetery, in three separate large groups. It seems to early for the number of geese. We hope that is not a sign of winter coming soon. 😦


016We walked home along a different street that has no sidewalks. Thankfully all the fussiness was gone. Walks have a way of doing that.




Sunday Hike #10

Date: August 31, 2014

Location: Northern Mahaska County and Southern Poweshiek County

Distance: Unknown

Critters Spotted: Frog, caterpillar, bugs.

We set out on this day to find a couple spots, and not so much for the hikes. We started our journey at Robertson’s Access, a small park/river access area on the North edge of Mahaska County. There is a small, primitive campground, and only one group was camping there. We felt a little like we were invading their space.


069_1We had lunch at one of the campsites/picnic tables and enjoyed the tall trees around us.


072 We wondered if Mr. Fuzzy, our pet caterpillar, would like a brother, but we opted to let the little green guy stay in his natural environment.073The county website mentions a short trail along the river at this location, but we aren’t sure if we found it or not.

074We found a path near our picnic site, but it ended fairly quickly in a marshy area. Dad thought it would be best if we turned around.

075So, we got in the car and headed to our next destination in southern Poweshiek County … a bridge Dad remembers seeing as a kid. The bridge is no longer open, so we went down some old roads.

078We discovered what a “Level 0” service road looks like, and we may have ignored the No Trespassing words. Oops.


080The “road” might be gone, but the road signs are still there.

082_1The bridge was not what we were expecting, as you could cross the bridge, but there wasn’t the structure Dad remembered.

083After leaving the bridge, we discovered, with the help of Google, that the bridge was damaged due to flooding and fell into the river. It is now in storage (ha!) in Michigan, with the hopes of getting it restored. You can see a picture of it and read a ton of history at this site here.

So, all that trespassing for nothing! We still checked out the bridge and enjoyed the scenery.


084_1We then ventured to another old bridge, in Mahaska County. It is still there!




098_1We finished our tour by stopping at Great Grandpa Van Utrecht’s house. It was a fun day!


Sunday Hike #9

Date: August 17, 2014

Location: Lake Miami (Monroe County)

Distance: 2.44 miles

Critters Spotted: Turkeys, sweat bees, a bumble bee, elk, butterflies, toad and dragonflies. We did not spot, but had evidence of, either a wasp or hornet that stung Mom on each wrist.

We spotted our first critters just outside the park. A bunch of turkeys crossed the road in front of us.

010We arrived at our destination and got our customary photo of the park sign.

011“Do you think you could get a little closer to the sign, so I can get a better picture?” Mom asked.

013Yep, that should do it.

We drove to an overlook and ate lunch in a picnic shelter nearby.

015There were tons of sweat bees around at lunch. Andrew decided to make one a pet. He named is Gerald.

018After lunch, we hit the playground.

017Next, we went in search of more critters.



023After the elk viewing, we drove over to the lake to start our hike. Paige was being silly.

024We were surprised to find several ponds in the area.

029_1Back by the lake, we could see across to the park sign in the background on the left and the picnic shelter where we ate lunch on the right (there is a concrete pad in the gap between the trees and our shelter was near there).


034The trail was not maintained very well, so the girls were annoyed with the tall grass hitting their legs. It was also a warm and humid day, so there was some grumpiness that was detracting from the pretty views.
036Everyone smile after climbing that hill!

037We weren’t sure where the trail was going or how far it might go, so we decided to turn the grumpies around and head back the way we came. First, we hit a shortcut and got covered in little friends.

038Dad was trying to be patient with us pokey ones.

photo 2 (2)Once we finished our hike, we were going to check out the dock by the lake. We had been there once before a year or two ago, and we had great memories of our time there. This year, the dock was a bust. The lake was lower and the dock barely touched the water. Mom was going to check it out when she got stung by the evil wasp or hornet, so we threw a couple rocks from the boat launch instead and then headed out.

We were attempting to reenact our previous trip. As we were headed to our next destination we made a pit stop when we saw a cool playground in Bussey.

040_1This place has some fun slides!

041On the way to the restroom (which were the nicest I’ve ever seen in a park), Paige got on the stage and said, “Take my picture!”

042The park had some old-school equipment, too.

photo 3 (2)


043_1Morgan was disappointed one horse was missing.

044Thankfully, her sister shared.

046_1After our detour, we headed across the mile-long bridge at Lake Red Rock. We then headed to a lookout tower we have been to before. We forgot you need quarters to get into the tower, as they have a turnstile thing that only moves if you put two quarters into it. We only had one quarter. So, we left without taking any pictures.

Our final stop of the day was for ice cream at Jersey Freeze in Monroe. (A stop that was very close to not happening due to some poor choices made my people who shall remain nameless, but were sitting in the back seat. 😉 )

photo 1 (2)

photo 4 (2)This concludes our Hike #9. Hike #10 will potentially take place Labor Day Weekend, as we skipped hiking Sunday, August 24, because it was very hot and we were invited to swim at Uncle  Tim & Aunt Amanda’s pool, which sounded like a much better way to burn energy on a hot day.

Sunday Hike #8

Date: August 3, 2014

Location: Downtown St. Louis

Distance: Approximately 2.5 miles

Critters Spotted: Lots of people in red, Cardinals T-Shirts. 😉

We were in St. Louis August 1-3 for a little getaway. We didn’t technically “hike,” but we did get a lot of walking in. On Saturday, we walked several miles around the Missouri Botanical Center and at Forest Park in the park and at the art museum and the Science Center. On Sunday, we walked around downtown. We’ll call it our Sunday Hike #8. 🙂

We started at the Arch. It’s a cheap place to park, and we always enjoy the walk. I mean hike.

119We checked out the new Ballpark Village, but determined it wasn’t open yet.

120So, we walked to Citigarden.

123Paige hiked up her capris to wade in the water.

121We told the kids they could NOT get soaked, because we still had to grab lunch in a restaurant. They were good and followed directions. They got a few sprinkles, but no one was soaked.

122We then walked toward Kiener Plaza — I just learned its name via Google — where we explored some more treacherous waters.

127There are moments you are glad your child is being brave and also equally wishing your child wasn’t being so brave. 😉

128No one got soaked, so we walked to lunch. Our choices were Hooters or Hardee’s, so we went with Hardee’s. After lunch, we walked back to Ballpark Village and checked out the festivities. It’s like a mall food court on steroids. (I’m sure they will want to use that phrase in their marketing.)

132Our next stop was the stadium, where the kids were given Build-a-Bear Clydesdale horses as a giveaway.

133We then hiked (literally) up to our seats in the nosebleed section. The good news is we were in the shade. The other good news is that it wasn’t 110 degrees like it usually is when we go to a game in the summer. The other good news is the Cardinals won!

We ended our hike by heading back by the Arch. I wonder how many pictures we have of the Arch?

142That concludes our Sunday “Hike” #8. More on our St. Louis trip tomorrow!


Sunday Hike #7

Date: July 20, 2014

Location: Russell Wildlife Area

Distance:  1.92 miles

Critters Spotted:  Birds and bugs and 10 million mosquitos. I’m sure we saw more specific things, but when you blog about a hike more than a month later, you have a tendency to forget what you saw.

Everyone grabbed a walking stick.


043A certain someone managed to get out the door in flip flops. Not exactly the best for hiking.

045The wildlife area has a variety of places to see, including prairie, woods and ponds.



050We were getting along pretty well until this bridge, where we suddenly got attacked by swarms of mosquitos.

051Two kids scratching arms and one getting carried. It might be a good thing there is no sound for the picture below. 😉




058There were two paths that led back to the starting point. Two kids went one way and the grown ups and one kid went the other way. Can you spot the two kids in the picture below?

060And, that was the end of our hike!

We skipped hiking on Sunday, July 27. The kids had been at Grandma and Grandpa Baumer’s the days before, and were excited to have some time at home. Mom and Dad had been getting the house ready for putting it on the market, so they were happy to rest for the day also.



Sunday Hike #6

Date: July 13, 2014

Location: Walmart

Distance: 0.7 mile

Critters Spotted: Um, I better be careful on this one! 😉 Morgan spotted a Lego Creator set with a kitty and a $50 Fur Real cat she would really like. (Mom said, how bout you just get a FREE cat that is REAL when we move to our new house?!?) Andrew spotted a jug of red liquid and pretended to drink it. After looking at the label, it was actually hummingbird food.

So, today we decided we all just needed a day spent mostly resting at home. We went to church and then did something we rarely do on a Sunday: we went shopping. We took the Birthday Boy first to Game Stop and then to Walmart to spend some of his birthday money. Dad turned on his mileage tracker, and we walked about 0.7 of a mile from the parking lot and all around Walmart! Crazy!

The big purchase:


Cause you can never have enough Legos. Apparently. (Although, they are one of my more favorite things for the kids to play with.)

We should be back to a regularly scheduled hike next week, but I can’t guarantee that, because we’ll have a Birthday Girl who might get to call the shots for that day.

Sunday Hike #5

Date: July 6, 2014

Location: White Oak Conservation Area

Distance: 1.4 miles

Critters Spotted: Dragonflies, butterflies, a deer, geese and a turtle. (And we didn’t hear many cicadas!)

Additional Info: We really liked this spot in Mahaska County! We’ve never been here before, but will have to return, for sure! We had a picnic lunch and almost blew away with the wind, but we were thankful for the breeze on a very hot day. We also did some extra activities after our hike to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our first date! Can’t believe it’s been that long!

055There was some “old school” playground equipment near our picnic shelter. “Let’s spin on the merry-go-round BEFORE we eat lunch!” Paige said.


059There is a man-made lake with a trail all around it. Below, the kids on a floating dock.

060The trail had numerous bridges, which was fun!




“Look, guys!” Paige said. “A resting spot!”

“We don’t need to rest, yet, because we haven’t gone very far,” Andrew said.


069The kids got a ways ahead of us. “Warning! Warning!” Morgan yelled. “Danger ahead!”

“I wonder how they got through this?” Dad said, looking at the danger pictured below. “Maybe I don’t want to know.”

072Dad snacked on a few berries.



075This view was beautiful!


081Can you find the turtle in this picture? 🙂

082The sign said 1.2 miles, but Dad’s phone said it was 1.4.

085After our hike, we discovered the picnic shelter we should have had our picnic in. It has a more appropriate name than the “Robin” one we found first.

086There was also a playground near the Cardinal shelter.

088While at the first playground, Dad spotted a small raspberry plant growing in the mulch near the swings. We figured it would appreciate a better home, so we scooped it out and brought it out to our new property. 🙂 Hopefully, it enjoys it’s spot nestled between some other raspberry plants. While there, the kids had fun on the equipment.


091Then, we headed home for some water to drink, because we were out. After that, we went mini golfing. On our first date, we went to Hickory Park for ice cream and then mini golfing. We thought we should re-enact our date in Oskaloosa.  Today, Dad was king of the course. (He won on our first date, too, but I’m sure Cori let him win. Or not.) Both Mom & Dad won a free game on the last hole, so that was cool!

photoTo complete the re-enactment, we got ice cream at Frosty Udder. We should have taken a picture of kids covered in ice cream. Just imagine Andrew & Paige with pink beards and pink hands from their watermelon ice cream melting all over. Morgan was the smart kid who got a dish. 🙂