It has been a glorious seven days.

We got to have backyard funtimes at the Novaks’, which included some seriously social distanced frisbee from porch to yard below.

Then on Friday, the boys and I enjoyed a day at the beach in Clear Lake. I actually love that the pandemic has encouraged all of life to be outdoors!

Eating ice cream outdoors is the best way anyway. Check out this beautiful raspberry-vanilla twist cone!

Unfortunately, there was a guy fixing the air conditioner right behind us, so there were some pretty loud, awful noises that happened. Here’s Henry trying to plug both ears while holding a cone.

It made for some drippiness, but when you’re in a suit all day, who cares?!

Before hitting the highway to head home, we hit the Iowa Trolley Park.

It was not at all what we expected (trolley-themed playground), but ended up being a pretty cool experience.

There is a circular railroad track that this diesel engine tools around. The boys were even able to operate the train while it was running. It was super loud, so that was the big negative of the trip, but you can’t exactly mute a train!

In addition to getting to control the speed of the train, they learned how to switch track points, and each got to do it themselves.

But all of that was pretty overwhelming with the size and noise. When it was shut down, though, and the hand-car came out…THAT was when the boys got amped up and loved pumping that thing down the rails.

Charlie then had a million questions about all of the crazy contraptions and old machinery around the place, so the man running the place got to share his passion and knowledge with someone truly interested. I think he had as much fun as Charlie. Here’s an old streetcar that was there.

Normally he wouldn’t let people go in, but we promised we’d be careful!

Saturday, two of our friends were scheduled to run the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. Obviously marathons aren’t happening right now, but they kept up with their training and created their own route around town. Friends provided water stops for them, us included. Here’s one of them back on his way again! They both finished at or before the times they were hoping for.

Once they were both past us at mile 17, we were free to roam the creek as we pleased. Joe looks like he’s explaining how something works.

We were curious if we could reach all the way around this tree holding hands.

We weren’t even close! It was way too big.

Under the interstate

We tend to linger in this nice spot, because it has sand, water access and logs to climb over.

That day we took it to another level, actually getting in the creek. Luckily, I still had stuff packed from our Clear Lake trip that we never used, so we were able to change and enjoy.

It felt delightful, and the boys immediately started telling a collaborative story in which they were mining the sand to create alternative fuels. Then I would test the fuels in my imaginary car and tell them how it ran.


Eventually, I just plunked down and started playing with the mud myself. It was delightful.


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