Our Own Backyard

A little less than a mile from our house is a great, quiet little park/playground. Now lucky for us, the playground backs up to a wilderness park which leads to the Outdoor Campus. The Outdoor Campus is a beautiful but non peta friendly building maintained by South Dakota Game Fish and Parks where kids can learn about the outdoor habitats and animals as they play. Everything in the building is hands on (though the snake is still in the cage) and there are classes that children of all ages can sign up for, while we were there on a Sunday afternoon there was a children’s archery class (suction cup arrows) going on in one of the rooms. Outside there is a fish stocked pond, a swamp area filled with cat tails, a 3 story “tree house” look out tower, a mud kitchen for kids to play in and a large nest to take a break in.

We went on the walk to explore and we were surprised not only with the beauty that laid back there but also, as a parent of young kids, we loved all the activities there were for them. It’s great to go somewhere that truly welcomes kids, because then we parents could really relax. Willem didn’t even have shoes on because I didn’t think he’d be out of the sling at all.

Harper had a blast in the mud kitchen. He learned the lesson of fake eating after he real put rocks in his mouth. Oh the imagination in that child is wild.

So glad my sister could come with us. Besides wing a huge help and playing with the boys non stop, we actually had a family photo thanks to her. This only happens when we pay someone usually.

Yellow leaves, red leaves, warm temperatures, fun walks, exploring the world and all this just down the street from us. We probably belong here.

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Hiking Elk Creek

This weekend we went to Elk Creek, only 20 minutes from our house. It was a perfect day and a perfect walk for Harper because there was water to play in and rocks to climb on. Chad had fun with bouldering, we spent a lot of the walk looking for rock climbing routs and wondering why there weren’t any bolts to be seen (I think because it was sandstone but still, couldn’t you put bolts deep enough to make sandstone safe?), there are some perfect cracks and climbs up there. Harper didn’t climb high but we did teach him about hand and foot holds and he practiced a little, he ended up settling for climbing the boulders on the ground which is still good for us.

The trail is 2.7 miles before a turnaround where it meets the centennial trail. We stopped about a mile short because Harper was tired and we were getting a little hungry. It wasn’t a hard or strenuous trail at all but we spent most of our time playing, climbing and talking with Harper so we had been out a while. Hiking with small kids isn’t as easy as walking but it is much more fun. When we first arrived at the trail head there was only one car and it wasn’t parked anywhere near us. When we got back we had a laugh at being surrounded by other subarus, guess we live slightly similar lifestyles.

Be honest, it’s pretty great out here isn’t it? Add milk 70 degree weather in mid October and we have nothing to complain about. The trail itself was very well maintained, people and dogs we saw were friendly, we didn’t see any garbage and it was never past the difficulty of a 3 year old so it is ranked pretty high on our list of favorites. If this is the last hike of the year I won’t complain (though it would be nice to get more hikes in, schedules and weather may not play along).

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Out and About, Spearfish Style

It has been an interesting summer. We’ve moved, fought illness, tried to settle into a new home and routine. In all of the stuff we’ve been stuck doing we haven’t had much time to get outside. Being outside is one of the things that makes Chad and I tick so when we get stuck doing things or even being outside separately we just don’t feel like we are living life how we truly want to. Therefor, even though Chad had been under the weather Friday, I was adamant about getting outside on Saturday. I’m pretty sure Harper hasn’t been for a hike since I was (very) pregnant with Willem and we were all missing out because Harper LOVED the “walk” so much that he actually never walked but instead ran the entire trail of Roughlock Falls in Spearfish Canyon. The only time he stopped was to hide on the side of the trail in order to scare me.

Roughlock Falls is a little over an hour away from our house in Spearfish Canyon, a local attraction that is normally pretty popular this time of year for all the changing colors. The trail is fairly short and excellent for small children. Even around the falls and the water walk out there is railings that are 3 year old boy proof. The end is pretty to look at also.

After a quick lunch in the back of the Subi we headed over to my grandparents new place. Willem is getting better about not needing me, even went on a walk with Grandpa.

Then we went to the Spearfish pumpkin patch. The patch has some great activities for kids, a hay jump (stacks of hay piled high with old mattresses at the bottom for cushioning. This must be a midwest thing because I had never heard of it until we moved here), a corn sand box which is great for playing with tractors and dump trucks, and a little jungle gym made of old tires and ropes. Both boys had a blast. The pumpkins were not the best price or quality but they are actually grown right there and hay (haha), you pay for the experience of it all right?

When I asked Harper later what his favorite part of the day was, he said going for a walk. I guess that means we will be heading out somewhere new shortly, especially while we still have mild temps here.

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