Thursday, July 30, 2015
This past weekend we enjoyed what I would consider a perfect summer Saturday. One of my absolute favorite things about living in our part of the world is that even though I've spent my whole life here, we're still discovering areas of our hometown that we didn't know existed. And I love that these spots are hidden treasures to most. They aren't touristy, they aren't on the covers of travel magazines, and in fact, many that live here don't even know they exist. (I am proof of that). Indeed, Iowa is not just flat lands and corn fields with some small towns thrown in the midst of it all. There is so much nature to explore, so many watering holes, rivers, lakes, streams, forests and beautiful sights that aren't always easily visible or accessible to those just passing through. I think that's why they call it God's country. God created it, man has let it be.
It was to be a very hot day, but I didn't want to spend another afternoon at the pool. I wanted to get our boat out, we wanted to try something new, and Cody's dad, after having bought his own little fishing boat earlier this summer, had found this area of the river that is much less traveled and much, much less busy than the popular spots near George Wyth Park and East Lake. This secluded park and river area has plenty of sand bars along the way and is the perfect spot for those wanting to just leisurely float down stream or enjoy a quiet day on a Pontoon.
We decided to head out to the park early in the morning in our van just to explore a little bit. We wanted to see what was out there, find our way around, and release our beloved little pet turtle Crush into a new home. We loved having him in our house and feeding him shrimp bites and watching him grow (although he didn't grow much!), but it was time to set him free. So in navigating the camp grounds and all the different playgrounds scattered along the way (where we also found a perfect new private spot for all those future family park grill-outs!), we also found a new swampy home for Crush.
One last "family" picture before saying goodbye. See Crush? He's in the little bug carrier in Cody's hands. ;)
Little guy immediately swam into the water, appearing quite happy to get some sun and go exploring himself. However, as Cody, Jaden and I were getting back into the van Brandon called out to us that Crush was trying to say goodbye. Sure enough, Crush had resurfaced and had popped his little head up out of the water to stare at us for a little bit. It was sort of as though he was saying farewell and "thank you.". ;)
Can you spot him? :)
After some more exploring and finding the boat ramp, we knew we wanted to make a day of it. We headed back home to hitch up the trailer, change into our swimming suits and pack up the coolers. We called Cassi and Tim and made plans for a family day, inviting everyone along with us. I'm not sure who was more excited - the kids - or the adults. (Although we did decide as the day wore on that we would need to re-visit our favorite sand bars kid-free sometime). ;)
Waiting at the boat ramp...
We put two boats in the water, all the kids riding on ours. And as soon as we were on the water, we immediately fell in love with what we'd discovered. Though there were plenty of people out enjoying the day with us, we were one of the only groups with boats, making for a relaxed atmosphere and wide open river. It was fun and entertaining to watch all the tubers float by us, many with coolers and boom boxes or speakers tied to rafts floating alongside them. Cody cranked up the speed on the boat and we just cruised for a while.
After boating for a while, we found a really large sand bar that we floated up on to and unpacked our camp. Cody made a fire on the beach with some sticks and wood, the kids had a blast with our beach toys and swimming in the shallow waters amidst the hundreds of minnows at our feet, and the adults drank beverages with our feet in the water while roasting hot dogs and keeping an eye on our very happy kiddos.
Our fun day... mostly in pictures. I could probably do this every weekend.
Brandon collected tons of unique and beautiful shells and all the kids made a pile of clam shells that they wanted to bring home with us - but there were just too many!
Waiting for us when we got there - the perfect spot to hang our clothes. ;)
Hot dogs for lunch, made by beach fire. Toes in the water, butts in the sand. The. Life. :)
The river was so shallow that Cody and James walked all the way out to its center - beers in hand of course. ;)
After spending quite a bit of time here, our friends called Cody and told him that they had come out to the river with their new pontoon and wanted to join us. We packed up our things, motored up stream and found their group in the middle of the river. We led them back to a different sand bar we'd found along the way, and we all set up camp again on a spot we liked even better than the first one. This one had a little bit of shade, much softer sand, and we spent the rest of the afternoon watching all of the kids play together and take turns jumping off the side of the pontoon into the water.
Jaden was so good with little Ben.
It was the best day, and made even better by the fact that it's 15 minutes from home. I know there will be a lot more memories made here. In fact, the Fall lover in me already has plans for an October boat ride back to the sand bar after the leaves change, with sweatshirts and flannel blankets and all the fixings for s'mores on the beach.