Tuesday, July 13, 2021

3 NE Iowa State Parks


We took a two month hiatus from our State Parks tour, but we were back this weekend! The weather definitely put a dent in our plans. I had hoped to get in some of the state parks around Spirit Lake, Iowa, but rain kept us away. I kept an eye on the weather radar (and future cast) and determined NE Iowa would be the best area to visit on Saturday. I guess I know how to read the radar because we kept dry all day long and fit in George Wyth State Park, Cedar Rock State Park, and Pleasant Creek Recreation Area. All of these are within the Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids area and are easy drives from each other. 

Starting our day with McDonald's breakfast. That seems to be our go-to on our day trip days. Their blueberry muffins are amazing in that nasty, amazing kind of way. They're soft, dense, sugary, and likely from a frozen package warmed up, but it goes wonderfully with a black coffee.

We arrive at George Wyth around 12:30 p.m. and parked near the paved trail. The minis got to choose where we walked on the trail and chose to walk by the river in the park. The trail is a mixed use trail: cyclists, hiking, etc. There were a good amount of both, but the trail wasn't crowded at all. The only negative about this was that the cyclists were not great about announcing when they were coming up behind us, nor were they mindful of any walkers/hikers on the trails. I wanted to give one of the dirt trails a try, but I noticed they were also for cyclists with zero room to go off trail so we could let cyclists pass. We walked about a mile, but the minis asked to leave when we tried to go off the trail a bit and were swarmed by bugs. I realized after brushing off hundreds of beetles that the river was supposed to come up to the trail. There's such horrid drought conditions in that area of the state that the river had receeded quite a bit. So, where we were was techinically riverbed, which explains the swarms of bugs. Still gross for someone who does not like bugs!

I packed Nutella sandwiches and snap peas for lunch. We ate in the car on our way to Cedar Rock State Park. This state park is unique in that it's a house. A house designed by Frank Llyod Wright inside and out! You can schedule a house tour (by appointment only), but we had the dog with us, so that wouldn't have worked. We enjoyed the short hiking trail near the house and looked inside the house from the yard. It was a quick visit.

When we were done with the short trail, we realized we never got a picture of the park sign. Elizabeth claimed a picture with the sign, so I had her sit on Harrison's lap while we drove the few feet to the sign. This was the easiest thing to do since she sits in the third row and couldn't easily climb out for a picture. It wound up being the highlight of her day!

By the end of our quick visit to Cedar Rock, the minis determined they were starving. We stopped at McDonald's (yes, that's twice in one day) and then went to our last park of the day: Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area. This place was interesting. The beach confused us because it's completely fenced in. We weren't sure if dogs were allowed on the beach or if it was even open. Instead of swimming, we drove around the park and camp grounds (all wonderfully well kept), and hiked a nature trail. Apparently there's a trail that winds around the lake, but it wasn't well marked. I didn't feel the need to get lost with three kids and dog on this day!

We braced ourselves for an interesting drive home, as we got word of severe weather near Des Moines. Thankfully, we got zero rain until we hit the metro area. Saturday was busy, so Sunday was "slow." We did a lot around the house, including ordering breakfast from Buzzard Billy's, seeing friends, and the usual weekend chores. We only have around 20 state parks left to visit! The middle mini asked to return to Pleasant Creek for kayaking and to check out the beach (probably sans doggo). I doubt we manage to fit that in this summer, but we'll keep this in mind for future kayaking and swimming trips.