Today we headed to the always engaging Tamarack Nature Center. It’s a fantastic, free, county park that features rocks to climb, caves and tunnels to explore, an extensive stream and sand area (great for building huge dams), and a massive demonstration garden. Although we’ve been many times in the past, this was the first time this summer, and it’s very adventuresome.
Today’s adventures were constructed around Sarah and Andrew’s dental adventures. The main excitement was at Nicollet Commons Park in Burnsville, about 20 minutes south of Saint Paul. It’s a free “splash pad” style park, with an extensive set of pools, waterfalls, and fountains. It’s another new park for us — we read about it in a magazine highlighting local water parks.
Click on a picture to see an immersive slideshow.
Our first mini-adventure in the Dungeon of Costco, populated with gargantuan bears. (Which we did not buy.)
For our second daily adventure this week, we sailed to Cascade Bay, a water park not far from here. We’d never been before, and it was a home run. Griffin was allowed on all the slides — his first time having 100% access to everything at a mixed-age park. And he’s a strong enough swimmer now that he can get himself out of the pool (even the deep one) unassisted. This makes all things watery soooo much more relaxing. We only have to worry about one kid drowning if we blink our eyes.
Maggie loved the zero entry pool with its mini-slide and was very brave, going down the slide without holding hands and jumping into the “deep” end. She was sad not to go on the slides, but understood that they might be scary, “like the tilt-a-whirl.” (Ding! I hoped there would be a positive lesson from yesterday’s mistake.)
We stayed for a solid five hours; fun for all of us. Alas, no personal pictures from the park — the one above is from their promo site. 1) It’s a water park, and our camera doesn’t like water. 2) We locked my phone in the locker. 3) I would feel like a creep snapping shots with my telephoto lens in front of a million kids in swim suits. (And I wouldn’t like the guy on the next lounger doing it either.) So you just get to imagine the fun. But we did get a pic of Maggie collapsing on the couch afterwards, moments after proclaiming, “I not tired!”
Today is the first day of Adventure Week. This, as everyone knows, is a week when you don’t already have lots of summer plans, so you go on adventures every day. (Yes, I know that I call just about every outing an adventure, but the kids don’t yet roll their eyes at my hyperbole.)
Our adventure today was heading over to Como Town, a little amusement park not far from here. It’s popular, but not mobbed like a real amusement park; this one is aimed at a younger crowd. Griffin is now tall enough for almost all of the rides, and there are lots that work well for Maggie too. And they don’t charge for chaperones if you need to go on a ride with a younger kid. (Lots of places do… grrr… I love paying double for the tea-cup ride.)
The only fail was the Tilt-a-Whirl. Maggie basically screamed like she was dying the whole time, while Griffin howled with glee right next to her, and Sarah and I attempted to not throw up on both of them. (In retrospect, I wish I’d pulled out my phone for a family selfie.) Maggie recovered quickly, though she may be burdened with a lifelong fear of spinning, lurching hemispheres.
This weekend we went down to Courtland to celebrate Grandpa Jeff’s birthday and visit with family friends. But I didn’t take many pictures of all that good stuff (oops). Instead, my camera usually came out when we were outside, playing in the sprinklers, checking out the nascent tree house, and, of course, riding around on the mini-ATV from Uncle Bruce.
As always, click on the pictures for an immersive slide-show.
New tree house platform (Griffin is doing a happy dance).
Griffin was very generous about sharing his favorite ride.
Idyllic day around the lake.
Many exciting sights (frogs, monarchs, geese, ducks, and many cool rocks to collect).
It’s our first day of driving back to Minnesota. It’s been a hard push. We have fewer days to cover the miles this time, and we hope to rendezvous with friends at Rocky Mountain National Park tomorrow night. After nine hours of driving, we finally pulled off for dinner in Wendover, at the Nevada/Utah border. Nestled between the casinos and gas stations was an awesome, old-school playground and picnic area. Not only does it have tons of cool playground equipment, but it has freight rail tracks right next to it. The kids had front row seats to a massive train roaring through. Some local kids were celebrating a piñata birthday party and welcomed Griffin and Maggie, playing with them while we got our food organized and then bringing over some cake to share. A glorious end to a long slog. (Technically, we’re still slogging to Salt Lake City as I tap this out, but the kids are asleep and the 100 degree daytime temperatures are behind us.)
If you find yourself in Wendover with kids in the car, skip the slots and chill out at Scobie Park.
At the end of our California trip we flew from SF to San Diego to spend a few glorious days with our dear friends, Liz and Kevin, and their son, Gabe. (Plus adorable Buddy.) We hung out at the beach, went on leisurely walks around the neighborhood, spent a day at the zoo, and played with Buddy in the yard. Below are photos from many of these adventures. (The zoo photos were hum-drum, so we’ve left them out. It’s a great zoo though; you should go there.)
Kevin, among many other things, is a brilliant photographer. We always treasure the shots he takes on his camera. All of the photos below that are marked “-KM” are Kevin’s. The rest were taken by Sarah or Andrew.
Remember that you can click on a photo to see the set in a full window slide show — they look best big!