A Lot

Life is just a lot these days. I’m now steeped in the new job mode where everyday I learn about some new system that I was supposed to be implementing all along.

So it’s wonderful to enjoy those parts of my life where I feel helpful and capable instead of the fumbling newbie. Helping get my neighbor, Dale, to bed every Thursday has been a wonderful lifeline during COVID. It’s nice to have a weekly, guaranteed, in-person chat with someone I know well but who doesn’t live in my house.

Another lifeline has been, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, STATE PARKS! We had a long weekend recently, so we loaded up the car and headed to Minneopa State Park near Mankato.

There was an idling train there at the beginning of our walk, and we had to finally convince Henry we couldn’t keep waiting for it to leave or we’d never get our hike in. He was verrrry displeased by that, but luckily, it was just taking off as we ended our hike. How fortuitous!

Then we headed across the road to the other part of the park, which was a bison enclosure. On our first pass, we saw nothing. There was another path that took you up to an old mill, so we figured we may as well investigate. Turned out…that’s where you were able to see the bison anyway!

Afterward, we had a lovely dinner in downtown Mankato.

The next day was New Ulm! A monument we’d hoped to climb and a playground we’ve enjoyed in the past were both closed for “construction.” So, we found a different park to entertain us.

It was suuuper chilly that morning, so eventually I had to move on. I made it my mission to find us lunch in town. I found an adorable place called Lola, with wonderful food and an outdoor patio in a cool old alley. It was a cold lunch experience, but the food was definitely worth it.

On our way to the Schell’s Brewery, we hit a dead-end by accident. It turned out to be a happy accident, because we found a back entrance to another state park: Flandreau. It was a gorgeous trail along a hillside, complete with trees to climb, great views and a log bridge to tackle.

And then we headed to Schell’s. The brewery tour wasn’t happening, because of COVID, but you could still check out the grounds, and they had a biergarten set up, complete with poppy German music playing!

That last picture was Henry playing in the little stream that flows down their hill. He ended up kind of falling in an getting soaking wet. Not ideal on a cold day, but luckily we had a trunk full of clothes.

Then we found a great wooden playground with this silly photo opp.

What’s this? Another New Ulm sight?

No! It’s Henry waiting to get into a trick-or-treating event at Living History Farms in Des Moines!

This was last weekend.

We got to do a wagon ride and everything! It felt so autumnal.

Would that not make an AMAZING haunted house?! Maybe someday.

After the wagon ride, we listened to some stories being told in the barn. It was pretty hard to hear, so we had fun later trying to piece together what each of us had picked up from the tale.

And then there were lawn games!

I loved this broom guy, and think the building behind it is just SO cool. Turns out it used to be on the main street of Polk City! Fun, huh?

So yes, we’ve put a lot of miles on our car lately. Luckily, we’ve been enjoying excellent audiobooks (the Magnus Chase series), and the boys claim to love long drives. Certainly seems so!

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