Category Archives: Iowa adventures

Mini cycle-venture

Sometime in the frozen depth of winter, Joe and I agreed to report and write a story together where we’d spend a day cycling one of Iowa’s trails. Sounds like fun!

Then the reality of my burgeoning belly and the tiny window of time between the thaw and the article being due set in and we scrambled to find a semi-decent weekend to explore the Wabash Trace. (Emmett hung out with his grandparents in Council Bluffs while we biked, which was a total bonus!)

We made it last weekend — about 35 miles of the 63 mile trail –which isn’t exactly a day of RAGBRAI (per my 30 before 30 goal list), but was as substantial a ride I’ll likely get for the next year or so!

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I’ll link to the article when it’s finished, but I’m having trouble even putting a word on the page after reading the beauty that is Tim Paluch’s  essay/story on fatherhood for dsm. Another tear-jerker.

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Filed under Iowa adventures, Side projects

Bike expo fun

Spring starts to feel like it just might be around the corner when the Iowa Bike Expo rolls around. Especially on a more than 50-degree January day!

Joe was working the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation booth as part of his new job, and Emmett and I met him down there to explore a bit. INHF was launching the Android version of their Iowa By Trail app, which is pretty cool. Thus, the crazy eyes.

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Iowa By Trail allows users to geolocate their position, find points of interest, share their adventure, track stats and more. Right now, they’re mostly central Iowa trails, but the goal is to add the whole state, with hiking, biking and even water trails. Joe’s always coming home with sweet biking swag these days. Crushing hard on the high trestle bridge jersey.

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If RAGBRAI isn’t in my near future, I left inspired to do a Wabash Trace overnight bike trip with Joe sometime. His parents live in Council Bluffs, so we could use that as a launch point for a trip down to Imogene where you can camp next to the town watering hole and shower in a converted grain bin!

 

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Filed under I love Des Moines, Iowa adventures

Des Moines’ wilder (G-rated) side

We’re into a pretty set routine with the little dude, but have managed to take advantage of summer sun (and missed a few naps) to take some kid-friendly mini adventures lately. Here are a few ideas for enjoying fresh air with a little family:

Splashing at Des Moines’ West Coast, AKA Raccoon River Beach. Go! 

IMG_20140708_192810My niece turned four last week, and we had a picnic dinner and played in the water at Raccoon River beach and adjacent splash pad. There’s a great playground in the park, too. Anyone else feel slightly rebellious putting your suit and going to the beach on a school work night?

Paddle boating on Gray’s Lake. Go! 

We were going to meet friends to go bowling, but then it was gorgeous, so I convinced everyone to attempt paddle boating with toddlers in our laps. Ha.

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Our kid-free friends played it safe and opted for the canoe. Emily and I totally sang a favorite girl scout camp song in their honor.

Adventure Days at Blank Park Zoo. Go! 

Joe and some guys had a softball game planned, so Emmett and I met up with a few friends at the zoo. The new African exhibit is pretty cool.

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It was my first time taking E (my college friends gifted us a membership for his first birthday!) and Saturday also happened to be “Adventure Days,” so there was live music and a few more activities. I fell in love with the baby camel and want to go back for a date night at Zoo Brew soon.

 Jester Park Bison Watching, Natural Playscape and Trail Ride. Go! 

Joe gifted me a sweet little trail ride for Mother’s Day and since he had plans to golf up there this weekend, Emmett and I met him after his round. The lakeside trail was washed out, but it was still nice to be out in the woods, smelling the trees and the horses.

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We swung through Jester Park to check out the bison viewing area, which is adjacent to the “Natural Playscape” geared toward young kids. There’s a big sand area, and water feature and some other simple activities. The bison didn’t get too close, but it definitely felt like a break from the city!

 

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30 before 30: Hoop there it is

Number 13 on my “30 before 30” list is: Learn how to get a hula hoop twirling from my arm to my waist. Weird and random, I know, but I have a girl crush on all of the hippie chicks who show off their hypnotic moves at music festivals. I am pretty decent at the ultra basic schoolyard hooping (I can walk and hoop at the same time!) but lack coordination/flexibility, so that’s where my skills end.

When I saw a “Foundations of Hooping” class for beginners on the Des Moines Social Club calendar, I knew I had to check it out. It was just $5, an hour an a half on a Saturday and I didn’t even have to bring my own hula hoop! Plus I was excited to finally get inside the DSMC, which will have its grand opening May 10.

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The instructor, Leah, was laid back and funny and started us out doing some stretches and “isolations” with the hoop. I think we had about eight women total in the class, including two girls who were out on a run and peeked in and then decided to join the class on a whim.

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Everyone started out with the ability to twirl a hoop around her waist and arm, and a few got a little more advanced than that, but I didn’t feel like a total dweeb. Although I do tend to wig out when I’m in any group class with a bunch of mirrors because I get super distracted and feel like I’m a step behind everyone else. I just closed my eyes sometimes to get into my own rhythm.

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I figure I won’t ever get pulled on stage at a Flaming Lips show, but I might be able to get good enough to impress people at a random backyard barbecue. Party tricks! Hooping was actually a pretty great core workout. I broke a sweat and was already sore later in the evening. It was also one of the most fun exercises I’ve done in a long time. A good mix of being goofy and trying new things, concentrating on my body and trying to just relax.

I’m not sure hooping is going to be my hidden talent (ha), but I think that with a little more practice I can totally achieve my goal. It sounds like there’s a pretty active little hooping community in Des Moines (the DMSC also hosts an intermediate/advanced class) if you want to work up to something. My little gif is not at all a representation of how cool hooping can be, so check out some of the videos on hooping.org to see some all-star moves.

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Filed under I love Des Moines, Iowa adventures, What I'm into

Art appreciation with tiny ones

I don’t think I’ve been to the Des Moines Art Center since June, when I was overdue with Emmett (huge/cranky) and my mom and I walked the nearly two-mile distance from my house in an unsuccessful effort to induce labor.

Technically, Emmett was at the Art Center in utero twice, with the first time being for the Pollock Ball — before I was ready to announce his existence. He got the full experience today when we visited with cousins Caroline and Norah and aunt Ellen. He typically hangs with those ladies four days a week, but for me to tag along on an adventure was a treat.

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It felt like a very grown-up day with the tiny ones because we timed things about a half hour off and were forced to hang out at La Mie for a few minutes before the Art Center opened. (Woe is me, right?) I can’t stop laughing at Caroline’s expression in this photo:

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She loved the sweets, but apparently loathes the dreaded sticky hand syndrome that comes with snarfing danishes.

I was so impressed by how patiently the kids wandered the galleries with us. Emmett quietly chewed on the Ergobaby strap the whole time and seemed mesmerized by the colors and the natural lighting that streamed through the halls. Caroline delights me with her perspective on the world.

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Every one of us was in awe of “Gravity and Grace,” the fantastic exhibition by El Anatsui, which runs through Feb. 9, 2014. (Details here.)

Image via Huffington Post

Image via Huffington Post

Photos aren’t allowed in the exhibit, but this Huffington Post article gives some insight into the work when it was installed elsewhere. There’s even a little area to watch a video about the artists’ process and for kids to get creative. Caroline and Norah both got right to work on mini masterpieces.

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If you have a tiny, live in Des Moines and are looking for a way to beat cabin fever, the Art Center is hosting a “Baby & Me Gallery Talk” series 11 a.m. – Noon on Wednesdays Jan. 8, Feb. 12 and March 12. It’s free and drop-ins/strollers/babywearing are all encouraged.

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Sometimes on the days I’m home with Emmett the only thing that saves our sanity is to gear up and go somewhere. Although you all really should have seen us this morning. I thought maybe I could put the baby in the stroller and walk the dog in freezing temperatures in the 10 minutes before I had to leave for a meeting. Not so much. I’m surprised nobody driving by the screaming child, skittish dog and frenzied mother trailing six yards of scarf didn’t call us in as loonies.

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Sixteen pounds of pumpkin

Saturday was the perfect fall day in Iowa, my mom and aunt were in town and Emmett was back to giving smiles, kicking with gusto and insisting we hold him in a standing position (his current favorite activity). All signs pointed to a pumpkin patch outing.

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I’d heard good things about Howell’s, and so we headed that way. Let’s just say I really wanted to be about 6 years old again. There was so much for kids to do, but pretty much all you can do with a four month old is dress him up like a pumpkin. Which we did. Oh, did we.

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We stayed long enough to pose for some photos, pet a goat, have Emmett stand on a pony, shoot a corn cannon, introduce my fam to the concept of walking tacos and purchase a pumpkin. But boy, I can’t wait to make this a family tradition.

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Look up! Sunrise at the National Balloon Classic

We waited in the pre-dawn chill for the balloons to wake from their seeming slumber in the field.

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DSC_0590It was as if they’d drawn in a deep breath of the July day and thought to themselves: Yes, this is how it’s meant to be.

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We waited to send them off with a wave into the rising sun.DSC_0629

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They lifted into the sky, exhaling with fiery roars across the horizon.

Awhile more we sat, contemplating the treeline, scanning the blue for colorful dots that would become larger, sailing toward us and looming above us, carried on the wind.

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Our heads tilted to the Iowa skies; we smiled again and again.

(Look up!)

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