Tag Archives: biking

An afternoon at Big Creek State Park

Joe and I celebrated our fifth (!!!) wedding anniversary this weekend, without any big plans. The weather was wonderful so while we sat sipping coffee on the porch we brainstormed a few ideas to spend the day outdoors.

Big Creek Park and Shelter

Joe had the idea to head to Big Creek State Park, which is in Polk City adjacent to Saylorville Lake – about 30 minutes northwest of Des Moines. I had never been, but he bikes through with his brothers-in-law each April on a guys trip, and it turned out to be the perfect place to celebrate with our little family!

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Swimming: I can’t really call what we did swimming, but I can attest that a toddler will be able to amuse himself for quite some time repeatedly dumping buckets of water and sand at the shoreline. And, at least compared to some other Iowa watering holes I’ve dipped my toes in, Big Creek (which was created by the Saylorville Dam) felt relatively clean. I’m not sure it’s because we went so soon after flooding, but the beach looked like it had been freshly plowed (?) and was somewhat difficult to walk on, but tidy.

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Picnicking: I was impressed by the array of shelters available. There are several huge family reunion style shelters up close to the beach/main parking area (and several other older shelters at different spots along the lake), and a bunch of small group or single-family mini shelters scattered throughout, too. There are a few little bathrooms in that area, too.

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We just grabbed one of the numerous picnic tables in the shade, though. We packed lots of snacks, but wound up ordering hot lunch from the concession area, where the grill was going. They also have ice cream treats and snow cones available.

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Mega park: I seriously wanted to be about 8-years old again when we saw this park. I love huge, castle-like wooden parks and this one had lots of towers and turrets and tires.

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Emmett is currently obsessed with Baby Einstein, and there’s an episode where a knight gets locked in a castle that we had to reenact about 30 times. I can’t wait to go back with all of his cousins, because it’s got tons of cool features without being high-tech at all.

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Biking/boating: I didn’t realize you can rent not only canoes but pontoons (from the announcements they were making, it sounded like they had them as big as 12-passenger!). Boating didn’t happen for us because by the time we’d hit the beach, eaten lunch and played at the park, Emmett was starting to melt down. Joe had packed our bikes, though, so we did a handful of miles along prairie paths while Emmett conked out in his Burley trailer.

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The super cool thing is that it’s possible to take the Neal Smith Trail from downtown all the way up to Big Creek (about 28 miles). Don’t forget to download Iowa By Trail before you go!

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We capped off our anniversary celebration with a kid-free dinner date to Skip’s and to see “Inside Out” because we never get to the movies these days! 

P.S. I still stand by this post I wrote awhile back on “magic words for a happy marriage.”

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Filed under Des Moines Dates, I love Des Moines, 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