Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Faux Vacation Weekend

This weekend I was supposed to be hiking in the mountains of the PNW during a girl's trip to Seattle. Obviously, the trip was cancelled. Everyone was feeling bummed because all of our vacations and getaways in March, April, and May/June were cancelled. So, I came up with the next best thing: a fake vacay. We did what we usually do for vacations: rented a vehicle, did lots of driving, hiked, spent a lot of time outdoors, and stayed up too late. Not as great as an actual vacation, but the best we can do right now as we continue to social distance ourselves!

Friday night we loaded up in the rental SUV, grabbed McDonald's (as we usually do on our way out of town), and drove around Des Moines for a couple of hours.

Trying to make faux vacay as real as possible, I had a cup of coffee (that was reheated from the morning) before heading out.

A stop at Saylorville Dam on a foggy night.

A movie and slumber party in the daycare room. 

Saturday morning we set out for Winterset, Iowa. About 45 minutes away from home, we packed lunches, a portable potty (so we didn't have to stop anywhere), hand sanitizer, and snacks. Our destinations were the Bridges of Madison County, Rippy Dumps, and Pammel State Park for hiking. It had officially been six full years since our last Bridges of Madison Country tour and the minis hardly remembered it (if at all). Just like a real vacation, there were a few "where the hell are we going?? Can't you read a map??!!?" moments, some tears, whines, and so many threats of "if you don't stop we'll make you leave this car right now and walk home." It was fun...and memorable, to say the least.

Gosh, what awesome mom packed everyone sandwiches with little messages on them? Wink, wink.

Out of everything we saw on Saturday, my favorite was going to the places we went to six years ago and remembering that trip. See tiny minis and read about that trip here.

He attempted to explain the architecture of the bridges but the minis cared more about racing across the bridges than anything else.

One place we had never been was Clark Tower in Winterset City Park. We chose to drive to the tower rather than hike. The road is extremely narrow and quite hilly. Of every place outdoors we went over the weekend, Clark Tower was by far the busiest. We had to work hard to stay away from others. 

The opening I was standing next to said Bitchcraft. I didn't notice it at first and was confused as to why the minis were stifling their laughter.

It was at this point when I nearly stepped on a large snake. I freaked and told the kids not to fall in the water because they were on their own.

We HAD to take the "rollercoaster road" on the way to the last bridge. 

We determined we should not attempt to go through the flooding in the road on the way to Roseman Bridge. Glad goodness for GPS and taking the long way around.

Elizabeth noticed this rock and said that whoever left it must have gotten the idea from us. I had to laugh because she acts like no one has ever left painted rocks around before.

Our next stop was Pammel State Park. There were a decent amount of people in certain parts of the park, but we took a few lesser used trails and saw no one on our hikes. We got in a good two miles through the woods before we called it a day, ordered pizza from Casey's, and headed home.

Drama on the drive home: Elizabeth's gum "fell" out of her mouth, got caught in her hair, stuck to her fingers, and all over her favorite blanket. The last 20 minutes of our ride consisted of Elizabeth sobbing, Harrison laughing at her, Elizabeth then screaming at him for laughing, Harrison trying to stifle his laughter, and Max rolling his eyes, while trying to talk louder than the other two and saying "just sstttoooooppppp." I could have used ear plugs.

We didn't get much of a break because we were back to hiking first thing Sunday morning. Sunday's shenanigans took us to Lake Ahquabi in Indianola. There were plenty of people fishing, but very few people on the 6.2 mile trail that goes all around the lake. It was a perfect trail for us, as we got to examine plants and bugs along the way. We also had a run in with a snake (yes, again for me): Max was walking ahead of us all with a walking stick in hand. I heard him hit the stick to the ground and saw a snake quickly slither away...with it's tail missing. Fun time on the trail again.

Eyes in the sun and fish watching.

So ready for canoes and kayaks!

The reward for hiking over 6 miles with very few complaints: playing in the lake and building sand castles. These three have yet to meet a beach they didn't like...or water they wouldn't play in, even if it's only 60 degrees out.

After hiking Lake Ahquabi, we drove through Summerset State Park, Banner Lakes area. The park looked to be so much fun, many smaller trails to hike, but it was also crowded. I'd love to head there this weekend, but if we go, we'll go early before the crowds of fishers and hikers come. 

Sunday afternoon and evening included take out Mexican food (it was still Faux Vacay afterall) and ending the "vacay" by returning the rental vehicle and cleaning....just like any other vacation. 

After the minis went to bed, I took some time to prepare for our week and took some time to reflect on our weekend. Faux Vacation wasn't nearly as fun as a real vacation, but it will have to do for awhile. My favorite thing about quarantine has been hiking all of the trails near us that we usually don't have the time for. We have to specifically make the time for those things. Our weekends have become the things we love on repeat. I can't complain at all.

I didn't particularly love learning plant cells the first time around. I nailed the word mitochondria, but I had to look up the proper sayings for half of these so it seemed like I knew what I was doing Monday morning. Homeschool life is interesting.

A highlight: Walmart had Ramen noodles!! Ramen is the middle mini's favorite food ever. He's requested it week after week but all of the stores have been out. Matt scored a big pack plus a few cups of spicy ramen. Harrison was in heaven.