Sunday, August 21, 2011

Enjoying the End of Summer

Confession: I'm not ready for summer to end. I know plenty of parents are ready for the kids to be back in school and be on a regular schedule (that part I'm looking forward to), but their end of summer means my end of summer. And I'm not ready for that yet.

And since it's near the end of summer, I'm trying to make the most of it without making too much of it and wearing ourselves out. I intend to be outside as much as possible in the week ahead.

Today we went for a drive to explore some parks and have a picnic (we have church in the evening, so it was nice to have a relaxed Sunday morning to head out and explore). We have a good system of parks in the west Twin Cities metro area that are part of the Three Rivers Park District. We've always had a good experience with their parks, so we thought we'd explore some new ones.

We first went to Lake Minnetonka Regional Park. We found a huge (20,000 sq feet) playground for the boys to explore. There were nice shaded picnic tables right next to the play area. While the park is on Lake Minnetonka, the only lake access is a boat ramp. For swimming there is a chlorinated swim area with sand beach and bottom. It does cost ($3 per person or $5 for a season pass), but we had season passes from using the same sort of "pool" at Elm Creek Regional Park and the passes are good at both places.

Then we drove to nearby Gale Woods Farm. We had been before, but it is a fun stop. It is a working farm that tries to be as sustainable as possible. You can see chickens, cattle, sheep, turkeys and pigs in the outside pastures. The garden is enjoyable to walk through, and right next to it is a "maze" made from round hay bales (it's easy to get through, but the boys love running on top of the). It's just good to get outside in the fresh air. And it's good for kids to see where food comes from and how it can all work together (the chickens fertilize the growing areas while eating bugs and weed sprouts).

We also made a stop at Carver Park Reserve to check out the campsites (I'm hoping to take the boys camping this week at another park in the district). They were nice--no running water in the bathrooms, but that's not a need. Hopefully we'll be able to tell you more in a few days.

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