Sunday, July 31, 2022

July 4th Weekend

 This four day weekend was perfect. We did all of the things and more. Of course, because it's us, the weekend started rather rough when Hubs injured himself at work and earned himself a sprained ankle. He was laid up most of the weekend, so it was up to the minis and I to make the weekend memorable. We began our long weekend with the last day of swimming lessons, the last ever lessons for the oldest mini who will go onto lifeguarding courses. The middle mini will continue with lap swimming (distance swimming) and perfecting strokes, so he can take the lifeguarding course in three years. We celebrated the successful swimming week with soda floats. 

Saturday morning we left Hubs at home to ice his foot and we did some state park hopping in southern Minnesota. Our first stop was Minneopa State Park in Mankato, MN. Most people were ecstatic about the bison refuge at the park, but to be honest, we live in Iowa. We can see bison anytime we want. Yeah, they're huge, but they don't fascinate us as they do others. We focused on the waterfall. The trail is only half a mile long, but we hiked off of the trail to the waterfall itself. There was quite a bit of climbing over large tree roots and the area was very crowded. Pretty, but too many people to fully enjoy the area.

I've noticed the roped hiking trails in several of Minnesota's state parks. When we first saw it at Nerstrand Big Woods, I assumed they were regrowing plants. Then I realized it's so people don't go off the path of the more crowded trails, which prevents harm from vegetation. For the most part, I've seen everyone on the trails respecting the roped areas and kept on the trail.

After we grabbed a quick lunch at Five Guys in Mankato, MN, where they are clearly obsessed with roundabouts, we attempted to hike at Sakatah Lake State Park. The drive to the state park is where things got weird. Someone was driving down the highway squirting cars with squirt guns. We saw someone pull out of their driveway just to do donuts in the middle of the street only to pull back into their driveway and go back inside (what I assume to be) their house. In the state park, we were swarmed by mosquitos and ticks despite our spray. We only hiked a third of the trail before turning around, pulling ticks off of us, and quickly driving away. I have no plans on returning.

We had a MUCH better experience at Myre Big Island State Park in Albert Lea, MN. We hiked the big island loop and came across a small swimming hole just off of the trail near the campgrounds. There were a group of people there, so we didn't stop, but made note of it for future stops. It's a gorgeous park and the middle mini said he could see us camping there sometime. The campgrounds had a homey feeling, with what appeared to be campers moving in for the summer.

Sunday the minis got to hang out with neighbor friends, followed by our annual Independence Day celebration (a day early). The minis did the giant slip n' slide, there was grilling, laughs, and our very own (toned down) fireworks display. This is one of our favorite traditions each year.

Zeus saw me packing up the car and waited patiently by the door. When he sees bags of any kind, he assumes we're going somewhere....and that he gets to go too. That is the only negative thing about having a dog that's used to road trips. He expects to go everywhere with us. The picture below is the sad face we get when we tell him he needs to go in his kennel. Also, please notice his leash that he brought to the door with him so we didn't leave him behind. Our poor puppy dude was fully disappointed.

We had the most laid back 4th of July that we've likely ever had. With our celebration and fireworks done the night before, we spent the afternoon at our local pool. The minis showed off their new swimming skills and the oldest made us smashburgers for dinner.

He didn't even want to wait to change out of our swimming suits. I helped cut up vegetables from the middle mini's gardens and then the oldest took over in the kitchen. The smashburgers were amazing!