Historic Fort Snelling

5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 4, Day 2
Historic Fort Snelling

Today we visited Fort Snelling.  My parents, my sisters Shannon and Liz and Liz’s boyfriend Jimmy had a lot of fun!  We’ve been here many times and every time I find something new to enjoy.

Although I’ve always visited Fort Snelling as a tourist, my Dad visited as a child, before it was restored as a historic landmark.  When he was a child, his uncle and cousins lived here!

Fort Snelling has always been one of my sister Liz’s favorite places.  Since she was a child, she’s always loved the cannon blast.  That might be because, when she was little, my Dad used to tell her that they set it off just for her.

After hearing the cannons go off, we went to get root beer and cream soda for the non-allergy people.  Then, we practiced walking on stilts.  My Dad was the best, to everyone’s amazement.

We checked out some of the usual buildings, like the tower and the schoolhouse, but my favorite was the medical rooms.  There were some new displays that I haven’t seen before.  I especially got a kick out of the weather diary.  The climate here was judged “the most excessive among all military posts in The United States.”

Liz, Jimmy and the kids had great fun making star wands in the arts and crafts building.  Liz has always excelled in making a four-sided star.  In usual tradition, she gave her star to the youngest in our family, Princess.  Jimmy was kind enough to give his star to Mr. Awesome.

After we were done for the day, we cooled off inside the gift shop and art gallery area before heading to our cars.  This year’s exhibit was a display of beautiful photography by Paul Kitagaki.  Accompanying the portraits were moving stories of families and people who had lived through the Japanese internment.  There was also a fascinating display of old clocks.

Later that night, we met up with my friend Joleen and her son Drake for fireworks at our local golf course.  It was a lovely evening.  The fireworks were beautiful and seemed to be right on top of us.  It was the perfect finish to a fun day.

Have you been to Fort Snelling?  What is your favorite part?  What historic sites are near your home?  I’d love to hear about it, share a link to your blog post in the comments!

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5 Week Workout Challenge
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A Park Merges Rich History With Green Design

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

Spring Lake Park is one of my favorite places to take walks with the family.  The views are breathtaking, the trails are very well maintained and there are bonfire pits at several locations throughout the park.

Spring Lake Park has an interesting history.  There are native american artifacts that show evidence of villages and campsites dating from 1000 B.C to A.D. 1400!  In the 1930’s, a dam was built, flooding the river basin and spring lake merged to join the Mississippi.  In more recent history, Schaar’s Bluff was a family farm that was eventually sold to Dakota County.

Since then, the park has been working on providing a place where visitors can learn about American Indian history.  Nine years ago, the park opened Dakota County’s first net-zero-energy building.  The Gathering Hall gets 90 percent of it’s energy from an onsite wind turbine.  This spring, it opened it’s recently expanded trail to merge with the Mississippi River Trail.

We had originally planned on hiking a hidden trail we hadn’t previously explored.  Upon arrival, we saw that the new trail had been completed.  We were really excited to check it out.

We enjoyed seeing the beautiful prairie, full of wildflowers.  As we progressed on the trail, we could see several newly planted oak trees and strips of wheat bordering the path.  We took time to rest at the picnic tables overlooking the river and planned a future picnic.  The kids enjoyed climbing the rocks in the newly carved limestone wall.  The huge bridge crossing a ravine was an interesting design of plain lumber and rusted metal that made the kids question it’s age and safety.  I assured them that it was new and probably quite safe.

I have a feeling that we’ll love visiting and walking the new trail just as much as we love the old ones.  I really recommend this park for anyone interested.  It’s great for biking, hiking, picnics, outdoor gatherings, photo shoots, weddings, playing at the park, and watching the sun set.

Have you ever visited Schaar’s Bluff?  What is your favorite spot?

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