Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Are you looking for a fun new place to hike and you’re interested in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park?  Maybe you’re looking for a waterfall to check out, or maybe you want to have a challenging hike for a good workout.  Read on to find all about it!

Last year, we had a lot of fun doing a 5 Week Workout Challenge.  For 5 weeks we visited a bunch of parks for hiking and also did a couple indoor workouts.  It was a lot of fun!

Although I’d love to try another challenge this year, I’m not sure what yet.  I have a few fun ideas already!  This year though, we have already started visiting new parks!   Our first new park was Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.

We’ve seen some amazing images of the waterfall at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.  We also noticed on the website that they had a campground.  Since we love camping, we decided to check it out.

The drive out to Nerstrand was about 45 minutes.  We weren’t disappointed by the scenery,   There were lovely rolling hills of farmland broken up sporadically by patches of woods and walls of rock cut through the hills.

I found it amusing that a place called Big Woods could be found in the middle of so much farmland.   So many times, I could see nothing but fields as far as the eye could see, and I couldn’t imagine how a huge forest could be hiding somewhere.

As the fields turned to denser and denser trees, we all became excited at the newest adventure before us.  Driving up to the park, we noticed a huge solar panel, awesome!  Thankfully our state parking permit was up to date.  If you don’t have a state permit, you can find current prices here.

We drove through the campground to check out the sites to see if it seemed like a place we could stay at.  The campgrounds are a thinly wooded area and are moderately spaced apart.  Some of the spots did not look like they could fit our large tent.  Many did have adequate room, given it is an RV friendly park.  So if you’re tenting, make sure to check the tent ffot print.

We parked at the entrance to the walking trails and checked out the map.  The park was huge.  Hidden in the dense trees, I could almost forget we were surrounded by farmland and miles upon miles of fields.   On the map, the park looks like a little green dot in the middle of nowhere.  In the park, you find yourself in a precious oasis of trees and trails.

We chose a shorter hike since it was our first of the season.  We decided to head to the waterfalls one way and back another.  Both were listed as extremely difficult.

I found out that the difficulty was most likely related to the incline.  Down was easy, up, was not.  Unrelated to the map, we also had to navigate the mud and puddles left behind by the winter melt.  I think this was probably the hardest for our family.  Trying to keep the kids from playing in the mud!  Ha!

The day we came was incredibly busy.  Everyone else must have been equally excited to get out of the house.  Everywhere we turned on the way down were people and dogs.  People in front and behind us.  Given that most Minnesotans are cheerful folk, we had a lot of small chit chat and friendly greetings.

The falls were beautiful.  There was still snow and ice all around.  I can only imagine how they must look frozen over.  The falls themselves aren’t very large.  I wasn’t worried about the kids drowning in the creek, should they fall in, just that they would get wet and make a mess.  I did have to constantly reign them in due to the pent-up excitement of being outside.

Our way back was pretty not so crowded.  Although we could hear the gleeful sounds of children echoing throughout the park intermittently.  I had to have Nate drag me up one steep hill, but other than that, the rest was a relaxing stroll.

We really enjoyed our visit.  We might have to come back another time to check out some of the other trails and to see what the park looks like when it turns green!  Or maybe even come back in the fall!  It looks like they get a lot of beautiful color!

Have you been to Newstrand Big Woods State Park? What is your favorite hiking trail in Minnesota?  Let us know, we’d love to check it out!




Check out our video!

 

52 Project, Week 31: Love

52 Project, Week 31: Love

I had been having a rough few months.  The stress of my grandfather’s failing health and death.  Regular life chaos and work.  The return of the school year.  Sending my oldest two back to school, which has always made my heart break from sadness and the beginning of homeschool work for my youngest two, which has its own amount of work and struggles.

On a regular grocery shopping trip, I stopped to smell the roses while passing by.  I always try to stop and smell the roses.  They are so beautiful and they smell so lovely.  It’s a brief moment of joy in my day.

A day later, Nate ran some errands alone.  I went to open the door for him since he had his arms full.  He asked if I could please grab something from the trunk.  I immediately went out to help and paused when my eyes caught sight of a beautiful bouquet of red roses.

I couldn’t help but laugh with joy as I hugged my flowers to my chest and took a deep breath of its fragrant perfume.  Nate knew just the way to make me feel better.

I enjoyed trimming my stems and leaves and arranging my flowers perfectly in my favorite vase.  Princess enjoyed smelling several of the flowers herself and happily played at my side as I worked.  Once my bouquet was just so, I cleaned the table well so that it was worthy of the beauty that graced it.

For the next week, I enjoyed gazing fondly at my roses as I washed the dishes or helped the children with their homework. I stopped often to smell them, enjoying the butterfly soft caress of the petals on the tip of my nose and my lips.

It wasn’t just the beauty of my lovely roses that warmed my heart.  It was the thought and love behind them.  Nate saw the joy that stopping to smell the roses brought me in the store.  He remembered it and took the effort to surprise me with some.  A grand gesture in a melancholy week.

As for love, it isn’t always big grand gestures and flowers that make love so sweet.  It is the little things, like helping carry in groceries, cooking dinner together, helping with homework, a hug, a kiss, and time well spent together.  Love makes life worth living.  Sometimes a rose is a great reminder of that.

52 Project, Week 31: Love

Previous Week: glitter
Next Week: silhouette
Main Page for 52 Project

Check out my video with my roses:

What does love mean to you?
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Checking Out Ely, Minnesota

Checking Out Ely, Minnesota
3rd Day of Camping

I woke up to the sun making glowing shadows on the roof of our tent as it passed through the leaves on the trees.  Already I could feel the sun warming the chilly air.

Since it was so lovely, we thought it would be a perfect day to explore Grand Marais.  We had a fun day checking out all of the little shops.   I would have loved to have stopped at every shop, but there just wasn’t enough time!

I got an amethyst bracelet at a rock store, Loony’s Northwoods Emporium.  Each child got to pick out a rock of their choice.   We also visited Ely’s Old Fashioned Candy where we got a bunch of rare (for us) treats.  I was thrilled to be able to visit Jim Brandenberg’s Art gallery.  At the local Goodwill, Cupcake and I got a few books, Princess got a few sweaters and a cute pair of sandals.  Nate found 4 packs of kinetic sand for 99 cents.  Mr. Awesome found a toy airplane.

In between two cute shops (Mealey’s Gift & Sauna Shops), there was a well-maintained flower garden with a waterfall and fish pond hiding in the corner.  It reminded me of the fish pond my Grandpa used to have in his backyard.

On the recommendation of the receptionist at the Brandenburg gallery, we decided to visit Kawishiwi Falls.  Since we still had some 5 Week Workout Challenge days left, I thought it was a great idea!  Plus, getting to explore another waterfall sounded like a lot of fun.

The hike was quite beautiful.  It was a short 1.5-mile hike.  There were large boulders everywhere.  Birch trees grew on and around the large rocks, their roots hugging them like cozy pillows.  Planks made paths through the low ground where it probably gets muddy when it rains.

Climbing the last hill before the falls, we could hear the roar of the water as it tumbled down the rocks.  Once at the top, the view was breathtaking.  If we didn’t have the little ones, getting closer to the water might have been a neat area to explore.

After our hike, we went back into town to see the local farmer’s market.  It was in the town’s park and slightly larger than our farmer’s market.  There was a lot of stands set up selling a large variety of goods.  For people who didn’t have cash, they had a stand set up selling wooden chips to pay vendors.  We saw candles, kombucha, fermented foods, jams, fruits, veggies, live music, maple syrup, carved wooden spoons, handmade bath and beauty products, a stand advertising the U of M dental school, and more!  It was almost like a small fair!

The kids found a painted rock and hid it for someone else to find.  We’re always excited to find rocks.  This one had a fish on one side and said Ely Rocks FB on the back.

After the Farmer’s Market, we picked up some tent sealer to make sure our tent was leakproof.  The forecast predicted rain on Wednesday and we wanted to be sure we were dry.  While there I found a cute mug that has a moose on it and the words Ely, MN.  I like useful souvenirs.  It was another fun day of vacation!

Have you been to Ely, Minnesota?  What’s your favorite thing to do there?

Check out our video!

 

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Day: Week 5, Day 1: Schaar’s Bluff
Next Day: Week 5, Day 3: Norberg Trail

Continue on to camping, day 4!
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Did you miss day 2?
Read all about it here!
http://cisforcomfort.com/locked-keys-van/

If At First, You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 5, Day 1
Schaar’s Bluff

After getting sick, we missed week 5 of our workout challenge.  Rather than give up, I thought it would be best to try again.  I’m using the old proverb, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  I don’t like to give up. I’m the type of person who will tackle a goal over and over until it’s accomplished.

We set up a playdate with some friends at Schaar’s Bluff.  It was a beautiful day.  The weather was perfect, there were a few fluffy clouds in the sky and a mild breeze to cool us off.  We enjoyed exploring the trails and seeing the wildlife.

We walked to the park to let the kids play for a little while.  I think my favorite part about play dates is having another adult to talk to, for a little while.   Being surrounded by children 24/7, it can get lonely.  Usually, when Nate gets home he’s too tired to do much else except sleep.

I know that someday the time when my children are little and dependent on me will pass.  Someday, I’ll miss these days terribly.  Having a teenager, I already know how fast little ones can grow.  So I’m soaking up as much time with my children as I can.  Someday, I’ll have the rest of my life for adult talk.

Lately, Nate has been watching The Great British Baking Show.  While I was on my walk, he was inspired to bake.  He decided to make me a gift of a gluten free, corn free, chocolate cake.

While the cake was cooling, we made a trip to visit my Grandfather.  He was doing amazingly well!  Talking, wide awake and joking around.  It made me so happy to see him so well!

After visiting Grandpa, we made a trip to Gander Mountain.  They’re all closing and having sales as a result.  We got some lures for fishing and a few new work shirts for Nate.  Princess was especially fond of all of the lures.  She picked out so many we had to put two-thirds back!  She is really excited to try fishing!

After dinner, we gave our cake a try.  It was so beautiful, I couldn’t wait to eat it.  Before I even sat down, I took a bite and immediately turned around to hide my puckered lips.  Nate asked me how it was.  I think I gave him an “Mmmmm!”  as I gulped down some water.

I waited for Nate to take a bite of his own before commenting.  I laughed as he grimaced.  He told me he thought he forgot the sugar.  It wasn’t horrible, but the cocoa powder was really bitter without any sweetener.  I can’t help but laugh at the memory.  It was so sweet of him to make a cake.

Has a goal ever gotten away from you?  Did you pick back up and continue?

Check out our video!

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Week: Week 4, Day 4: Afton State Park
Next Week: Week 5, Day 2: Kawishiwi Falls

52 Project, Week 20: Favorite Color

52 Project, Week 20: Favorite Color

My favorite color is purple.  It has been for as long as I can remember.  I’ve had rotating secondary favorite colors as well.  Pink, black, blue, green, deep turquoise blue, aqua blue.  I love jewel-toned colors, bright colors, earthy colors.  I love cream and brown in combination with any of my favorite colors.

Funnily enough, I also have a color that I extremely dislike, yellow.  I’m not a fan.  Yellow is one of those colors that make me grimace.  Strange right?  You’d think a color that seems sunshiney would be likable.

Now, I’m not going to go crazy and banish all yellow from my life.  I just won’t go out of my way to purchase or create something yellow.  Plus, yellow isn’t always awful, some flowers look lovely with a touch of yellow in their centers.  Sunflowers are incredibly beautiful and they are very yellow.  Yellow leaves in combination with reds, greens, and oranges in the fall are also pleasing to the eye.

When I was very young, I loved rainbows.  My whole room was done in the Rainbow Bright theme.  Color, and lots of it, was wonderful.  So although I love purple as my favorite color, truly, I love a wide range of the whole rainbow.  My house is filled with color.  My wardrobe is organized by rainbow in my closet.  Yes, I wear almost every color, except yellow!

Despite my love of a variety of colors, I always seem to pick purple flowers for my garden.  When the garden center is having a sale, I can’t be as picky with what I end up with.  By the time the sales roll around, most of the flowers have fallen off.  This ends up being exciting for me, seeing what colors will bloom when my plants are nursed back to health.

This year I got a fantastic find with a lovely purple datura.  I managed to get a large amount of purple alyssum, some more pastel, some a rich, darker purple.  I also got pinkish purple petunias and dark purple salvia.  Everything else was a surprise color.

It always amazes me how many different shades there are of one color.  I love seeing all of the beautiful variations in flowers.   I have only seen a small fraction of the flowers in the entire world!  I would love to see them all!  I can only imagine the joy that God had in making them.   I feel so thankful that he created this beauty for us to enjoy.

What is your favorite color? Join us in the photography challenge! We’d love to see your images!
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Previous Week: 52 Project, Week 19: Jewelry
Next Week: 52 Project, Week 21: Simplicity
Main Page for 52 Project

Hastings Rivertown Days 2017

Hastings Rivertown Days 2017
Every year we go to Hastings Rivertown Days.  One of our favorite things to do as a family is to go to The Dime Carnival.  The kids play games to their heart’s content and win tickets to pick out fun prizes.

Every year, it always seems as though it’s on one of the hottest days of summer.  Since the carnival is in a parking lot, the heat is reflected up off the asphalt, making it feel even warmer.  This year was no exception.  Not about to let a little heat ruin our day, we enjoyed the carnival and hid out inside the prize area to cool off when needed.

Princess has always loved picking ducks in the duck pond.  Mr. Awesome loves the jumpy house.  Cupcake loves all the games.  Cat is starting to get to an age where the carnival is too young for her.  She loves helping the younger kids play the most.

After cooling off at home, we went to the library to drop off some books and pick up some more.  As soon as I walked into the library, my eyes started itching.  Cat said “Oh look Mom!  A beautiful dog!”  I turned to see a huge white dog near us walking across the library.  It must have been a therapy dog.  Unfortunately, because of my allergies, I left the building while the kids had fun picking out books with Dad.  Outside I enjoyed photographing the library’s beautiful garden.

We stopped at Walmart for a few necessities and I got a contact case and solution so I could take out my contacts ASAP.  My eyes were burning so much I could barely see.  After I removed them, in the middle of the aisle at Walmart, I felt such relief.  Although I was now blind.  I had to hold Nate’s hand through the rest of our Walmart trip.

My vision is -8.50 for contacts.  I’m not legally blind with my contacts (legally blind is a legal term used to sort out those who can apply for medical benefits.  Anyone who can not see with corrective lenses after a certain point is considered legally blind.  I am very thankful that corrective lenses work for me.  I will never be able to have perfect vision even with them, but it’s still a blessing I am thankful for.).  Without them, I am blind.  I can’t see definition, I can only see basic blurry shapes.  I can see colors, dark and light.

What You See
What I See

As you can tell from the image above, I can not see very well.   We stopped to get the kids ice cream at our local dairy co op, then checked out the craft fair at the LeDuc mansion across the street.  Since I couldn’t see, Nate took my hand and led me around.  He described what was around us and what was in each booth we passed.

I heard a familiar voice call out to me.  My friend’s Katie and Dusty from our Kingdom Hall were there!  I got a chance to check out an amazing card booth with them.  The cards opened up into intricate pop-up scenes all made of colorful paper.  One was a ship, another a camera, others were scenes of various places around the world.

Although I am blind from a distance, I can see up close.  I mean extremely up close.  Whatever I’m looking at must be a couple of inches from my eye.  What I do see from that close is detailed almost microscopically.  I can see the tiny details that the normal eye can’t see.

With the cards, I could see the fiber of the paper, the tiny cuts and details.  It was like stepping into a new world where fantasy and reality collide.  I intended to go back and purchase some cards after I got my contacts in, but sadly that was the last day.  Perhaps I’ll get the chance to see them again next year.

We purchased some sheets from a vendor and then went home to enjoy pizza and family night.  Thankfully I was able to put in a fresh set of contacts to see.  After that, we walked down to the river to enjoy the Hastings Rivertown Days fireworks.  It was a busy and fun day.

Check out the video of our day!

 

4 Year Old Adventure

4 Year Old Adventure
5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 3, Day 4

The big kids went to the drive in with Grandma and Grandpa, so Princess and I decided to go on an adventure.  We went on a walk downtown and along the river.  It was the perfect evening for a walk and we had a lot of fun!

Princess LOVES going for walks.  She is a little outdoors girl.  If we could live outside, she would be so happy.  One of her favorite activities is camping.  She’s always asking me when we can go play outside together.  I let her lead us on this 4-year-old adventure.

I’m naturally a home body.  I love hiding inside.  I’m always looking for ways to motivate myself to go outdoors more because the outdoors are beautiful and they always make me feel closer to God.  Doing this exercise challenge has been a great way to do that.  I do love to explore new places too, but it’s nice to have a little girl who pushes me to do so.

I hope we’ve been inspiring you to get outdoors too if you are naturally a home body like me.  Exercise doesn’t have to be gruesome and horrible.  Getting outside, exploring the world and all of the wonders that God created for us to enjoy is fun and exciting.  The person who moves slowly on the trail is still moving faster than the person at home on their couch.  So get out there and get some fresh air!

Have we motivated you to get outside this week?  Do your kids love to go outside as much as my little outdoor girl?

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Week: Week 3, Day 3: Covered Bridge Park
Next Week: Week 4, Day 1: Morning Workout