Tag Archives: Iowa

Picnicking {Spin Cycle}

Our family loves a good picnic; or as Fancy Nancy would put it, we dine al fresco! Every once in while, I’ll call Ed and tell him to meet us at the roller slide park after work. I make pizza pasta salad* and buy Cheetos, and the girls and I arrive early so that they can play on the playground before Ed gets there.

Most of the time, our picnicking happens during a road trip. I pack sandwiches, fruit and veggies so that we can stop at a picnic area to eat lunch instead of eating fast food.

Sometimes, the weather doesn’t cooperate and it’s a bit cooler than we expect. We just bundle up and eat outside anyway.

roadside picnic

Sometimes, we can’t find a picnic table. So we pull over in a turnaround on the side of the highway to Fairbanks, Alaska, and eat in the back of our rental van.

picnic in a van

alaska picnic

Sometimes, we can’t find a picnic table, so we use a rock instead.

Hiking in the Rocky Mountains, CO
Hiking in the Rocky Mountains, CO
Lunch at the Grand Canyon
Lunch at the Grand Canyon

And sometimes, there’s nothing like a hot dog in your own backyard!

hot dog

*I don’t have a recipe; I just make some rotini noodles, throw in some pepperoni, grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese chunks, onions, green peppers and black olives, and toss it all with a vinaigrette. Voila, pizza pasta salad!


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Sculpture Park

Sometimes it seems like we are always “driving by.” With two little girls in the back seat and places to be, we don’t have patience to pull over when we see something interesting. We might comment on it–“Oh, that looks interesting”–I may take a mental note that will soon be forgotten, and on we go.

Even without children, Ed and I would drive by interesting places without stopping. Once, we were vacationing in North Carolina. I saw a sign for a street full of art galleries; I wanted to stop, but Ed wanted to keep going. We’ve never been back, and I’ve always regretted it. Perhaps it would have been a tourist trap, or perhaps I wouldn’t have cared for the art. Maybe I would have loved the galleries and would have spend the afternoon drenched in beauty. I wonder.

horse sculpture

In Des Moines, there is a sculpture park downtown that we have often driven by but never stopped to visit. My aunt thought the girls would enjoy the park, and so instead of driving by this time, we stopped and parked the car. The sculptures are surrounded by wide open grassy spaces, perfect for kids to run around in. Climbing on the sculptures is not allowed, but there are plenty of tall, grassy hills to climb and run down.

The sculpture that takes over the landscape is a large white figure made from a scramble of letters. Hugging its knees, it sits nestled in a green bank.
white letter figure

The creepiest sculpture is a giant spider, tall and…well, spidery.
spider sculpture

Two figures, one black and one white, bring to mind rook pieces on a chess board. They are actually backs of snowmen, one black and one white.

Just down the street as we walked closer to downtown Des Moines is a meandering fountain. It was so hot and humid that day that my aunt promised the girls they could wade in the cool water. It wasn’t just the girls who dipped their feet into the water…the adults took advantage of the fountain, too.

An article in the Des Moines Register which features the Pappajohn Sculpture Park has details and photos of all the sculptures in the park, and we missed seeing some of them because of the heat. Hopefully, the next time we go to Des Moines we’ll be able stop and take another look instead of just driving by.

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Swim to Snow

Swim to Snow

I SCREAMED as I slid down the pitch black tunnel. I pointed my toes and leaned back so that I would drop down faster, and then I screamed again. Suddenly, I burst out into the light with a big splash. Lily was waiting for me. “Did you like it?” she asked.

“Let’s go again!” I said in reply. We held hands as we bounded for the stairs. She went up quickly, lithe as a little sprite. She was soon out of sight as I lumbered up the four flights of steps behind her, but she waited for me at the top and we went down the water slides again.

bottom of slide

We were spent the morning in the hot, humid water park, splashing, swimming, and laughing. By the time our fingers were wrinkled and pruny, we went back to our hotel room, packed our bags, and bundled up. We headed out to the parking lot. Now we were slipping and sliding on the poorly plowed pavement rather than sliding down a tube of water.

That afternoon, we headed out into the sunshine and the snow. We had arrived at Grandpa’s house! The temperature was winter-warm. The snow was just right for packing into snowmen and snowballs.

making snowmen

We searched for good snowman making materials; long, curly sticks from a willow tree, dry brown leaves and smooth gray stones, plump red berries that had fallen on the snow.

Making snowmen

It was a day of opposites; swimming, water slides, snowmen and snowballs. What fun it was!

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