With summer winding down in the next week and the weekend calendars filling up, Cody and I woke up this past Saturday morning and decided to take a little drive out of town with the boys and see where we'd end up. Backbone State Park is only about an hour from home so we made that our destination, and we ended up enjoying what turned into a full day of exploring and discovering with our little family.
Having never been there myself, but always hearing so much about it, I was eager to get my own taste of Iowa's oldest state park. It turned out to be the perfect, most beautiful day for a little excursion like this. Not too hot, only a slight breeze, and full sunshine all day long.
The boys are always up for trying new things and seeing new places, and the car ride there was full of good moods, fun gas station snacks, and we easily filled our drive with an hour-long conversation centered around what they're most excited about in our upcoming vacation that will be here so very soon. The car ride might have been one of my favorite parts of our day. The eager conversations, the excitement for the day and the month ahead, and my three people all in the best of moods.
But Backbone itself didn't disappoint either. We spotted the lake as soon as we got close and decided to make that our first stop. We climbed and explored the castle-like structure to get a good view from above and made our first discovery of the day when we looked up to the ceiling and found all. the. bats.
They didn't scare the boys. In fact, Jaden kept going back for more looks. :)
Though Cody and I were geared up to hike first, Brandon had his heart set on the paddle boats, and when he gets his mind fixated on something, he's like a little puppy with a bone. So we quickly got our life jackets out of the car, rented two boats to hold all of us and partnered up for a "leisurely" ride on the lake.
It actually turned out to be very relaxing for me! Brandon wanted to be my boating buddy and quickly decided that he would NOT let me lift a foot to the pedals. He operated that boat all on his own our entire time out on the water, and whenever I would sense him getting tired and offer to assist, he adamantly refused to give in to my offers. He kept saying he wants strong legs because he wants to be a faster runner. :)
Cody ended up having a pretty relaxing time, too! After a while, their boat started taking on water on one side since the weight distribution was a little heavy to the left, and Cody ended up having to sit in the middle of the boat and force Jaden to operate the pedals all by himself, too. ;)
He could barely reach the pedals so he had to sit on the very edge of his seat the whole time!
Just a little bit of a tilt to the right. ;)
After we returned the boats and visited the nearby playground, we got back in the van to find our next stopping point, and almost immediately we came across this beautiful and wonderful little trout stream.
We decided the best way to see it all would of course be by foot so we immediately took our shoes off and dipped our toes in the water. And it was COLD water!
This journey was another favorite part of our day.
We saw lots of minnows, a few trout, and loved the feel of the super soft sand beneath our feet. After a while the water felt more refreshing and less cold, and this is when Brandon started thanking me repeatedly for bringing him to this spot.
After our stream explorations, we got back in the van to climb further up the trails and discovered a Cave sign for our next stop.
The cave itself was long but narrow and would have required Cody and I to belly crawl half way into it so we didn't go in too far, but the boys loved exploring this area, and since the day was starting to warm up at this point, the very cool air coming from the mouth of the cave was another welcome refresher.
After more exploring and searching, we made it to the Backbone trail itself. The trail would conclude our journey, but what a view from the top!
Higher than the trees. :) (Jaden only made me nervous up there about a dozen times or so).
When we reached the end of the trail, we found this heart waiting for us in the sand.
We entertained the boys on the long walk back with tails of Big Foot and got their hearts pumping a bit as they tried to decipher if we were teasing them or being serious. ;)
It was a full and fun day. By the time we got back to our car to make the trip home, I was receiving messages from the Graham's that they were eager for a dinner, wine and fire night. We got home just in time to order a couple of pizzas to our back deck, started the fire at about 9:00 later that night, and let the kids roam in and out of the house together until finally calling it a night at 11:00 and forcing all the kids to bed.
It was a long but full and good day. I love adventuring with these two.