Saturday, May 27, 2017

Gans Creek Hike

I am so happy to be writing this post. I'm happy because I've been sitting on several blog posts that I've wanted to finish but have been just so incredibly busy with end of school events for both the boys and me. I'm especially happy to be writing this post in particular because it means that we are finally all done with the school year. My classroom is packed up and cleaned out. Lex and Eli finished 1st grade and kindergarten respectively. And we are ready to hit summer hard. 

I've been too busy to write, but we haven't been too busy to hike. We've actually been to some really cool places. We recently revisited Gans Creek Trails, a part of Rock Bridge State Park.  We've hiked here several times before. We went on a winter hike here in 2016 which I wrote about here.  We also went in at a different trail head and had an amazing hike in which we completed one of the loops. I wrote about that one here. We've completed several of the loops on this trail system and always love the views. 

So in early May, we ventured out to explore a new loop. It had literally just rained for what seemed like 40 days and 40 nights and we were done with it and ready to hike. 

Always the climber, Eli was perched on this rock before we even left the parking lot. 

And Lex was getting one last rest in before we took off.

The rain made everything full and green. But since the temperatures are still cool, we didn't have to worry about bugs!

This trail is so well maintained, as are the majority of trails we have hiked in the Missouri Conservation System.

You may have seen a trend in my last several hiking posts. Eli is always, always, always in the front. And Lex doesn't even fight him on it. It's like Eli has assigned himself to be permanent line leader on the trail. Occasionally, after a stop or something, someone will get in front of him, and he will run past us to resume his position.

So that's why his head is in every picture.

Whoops. Wrong way.

Two paths diverged in the woods...

According to my Geotracker App, we were starting to curve back towards our starting point on the loop when we heard the sound of water and saw a little overgrown trail offshoot leading towards it. Well of course we followed it and spent a little while in the amazing spot by the running creek.

It took no more than 1 minute flat for the boys' shoes to be off and for them to be in the water. 

In went Eli.

And Lex soon followed. Though there is no picture representation of him actually in the water, I promise he was in there.

The current was moving so much that Jeremy could drop in a piece of wood and the boys could stand on rocks downstream and try to catch it and then run back up the rocky shore to give it back to him. That was entertaining for quite a while.

What an amazing location. Probably mid 70's with a perfect balance of sun and shade.

The boys could have stayed there all day.

Mid spring is the perfect creek season. No bugs, warm sun, and perfect water temperature.

But soon enough, we were back at the trail heading back towards the parking lot.

Here are our Geotracker stats. 

Gans Creek Map

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Top Five Tuesday

Happy Tuesday Blogosphere. If you're new here, welcome, and feel free to look around. We have sure been busy around here recently. Here are my top 5 from the past couple of weeks. 

1.) Eli's First Music Recital

For quite a while now, we have been talking to Eli about whether he wanted to pick a musical instrument to learn. I kind of assumed that he would take piano lessons just because that seems to be a good first instrument to learn, but he just didn't show interest. When he was  5 1/2 (the same age that Lex was when he started piano), I asked Eli to pick an instrument - any instrument - and we would try it out. He picked guitar. I called around and found an amazing studio that suggested that he start with ukelele, mainly it would be easier for him to play. Later on, they will help him transition to a guitar. Eli loved the idea of playing ukelele and so it all began. 

Fast forward a couple of months... Eli's studio performs a spring recital at a local Farmer's Market. Eli worked for a week to finalize this adorable outfit. Even the morning of the recital, he was making adjustments (shirt untucked, no suspenders). 

We got there early to look around. I just love farmers markets.

I love how he puffed his chest out for this picture. So proud!

Here's the video of my little rock star!

And because I can't resist a picture with a brick wall backdrop.

So that's what's up in the music world.

Which brings us to

#2) The Basement Remodel.

We've been sitting on this project for a couple of years now. We just couldn't decide on exactly what to do with the space. And then my brother came for a visit. He is an expert at all things construction, and gave us a great idea for the floor AND he offered to help us get it installed while he was here. You've got to love little brothers.

Here they are sanding and prepping.

Here is our flooring and paint selection.

We've painted the walls and trim, installed the floors, and, stained the stair treads (below). Still to do... install the stair treads, nail in the trim and put the outlet covers back on. But so far, I am loving the transformation! Can't wait to move furniture in so we have a cozy hang out spot... and by "we" I probably mean the boys and all of their friends.

That's what's up on the remodel front...

#3) Kylo

Oh my goodness. Kylo, Kylo, Kylo... We love him so much. Even though he is still eating our shoes and socks, and ignores the command "down" 80% of the time. He is so perfect for our family.

#4 Packing! 

No picture for this one... but definitely in my top 5... I have been packing up my classroom - at least trying to. I won't be teaching next year for the first time in 10 years, and am now faced with the decision of what to keep, what to pack away, and what to get rid of. Ugh! But I'm so excited about my new job that I'm trying to just see the big picture.

#5 Outdoors! 
We have had so much rain here, but the second it stopped, we ran for the outdoors.

We've had several trips to the park.

Fun in the mud in our backyard...

And an amazing hike to Gans Creek. More on that soon.

 I love seeing my boys in the outdoors!

So there you have it! Our Top Five for Tuesday!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Three Creeks South - Kylo's First Hike

I'm not going to lie. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Missouri winter we've had for the past 2 years. I have barely broken out my winter coat and we've enjoyed year round hiking. Forecasts of bad winter weather are usually grossly overrated and underwhelming in reality here in Central Missouri. I'll take the temperate weather and all the outdoor activities that come with it.

So back in February, I wrote all about when we brought home our new puppy Kylo. When he threw up the entire way to our home that first day, we just assumed he had overeaten, was scared, or a combination of the two. We soon learned however that Kylo is just one of those puppies that gets car sick. Anytime we drive more than 2 minutes. Poor thing. The vet says that maybe he will outgrow it and maybe he won't.

We were most bummed by this development because we desperately wanted to be able to take Kylo hiking with us. The very weekend after we brought him home, before we realized the extend of his car sickness, we did attempt to take him for a hike - to Three Creeks of course! It was the first really nice day of the spring - the kind when you don't need jackets, and everyone seemed to be going outside to play. Kylo's first hike!

I've written before about the steep slope to the creek from this trail. It's pretty much straight down. Which means pretty much straight up when we go back to the car. But we love it down there.

We rarely see anyone else on this trail, but on this particular day, we saw probably a dozen people, all out enjoying the nice sunny day at the creek.

Lex was able to sport his new Minecraft sunglasses, a party favor from a birthday party the previous day.

It was no time at all before pant legs were rolled up and we were all getting our feet wet.

The great thing about this creek is that there is just so much space to explore, wade, climb, build with rocks, sunbathe... Once you get down there, you can just park it for as long as you want to play.

It is so pretty everywhere you look.

And then there was Kylo, exploring the water, getting ever so close, without getting in. He has grown so much since this picture was taken.

The boys explored all over.

Before too long, Kylo finally tipped his toe in and then got a drink from the creek.

We criss-crossed back and forth across the creek whenever we found a stone bridge to cross.

At one point, for whatever reason, the boys didn't want to cross the creek. So Jeremy carried Eli across first.

Then went back...

And carried Lex across too. Daddy to the rescue!

And there's Kylo again, so little and so curious.

But because he wasn't feeling to well from the car ride and was exhausted from all the exploring, he eventually just found a pile of leaves to rest in.

He fell fast asleep and slept so long in that one spot.

We wanted to give him some time to rest, so we just explored around this area.

When we had first arrived at the creek, we saw a group of people who were rock climbing. They appeared to effortlessly scale this rock wall and disappeared out of sight.

So I thought to myself, we can do that! Up Eli went.

And then Lex and me too. We got pretty high up pretty quickly.

And then I looked down and got really nervous because I was actually further up than I had thought.

The boys didn't seem to mind too much.

Somehow, we all made it back down.

We begrudgingly headed back to the car after several hours at the creek.

And has for sleepy little Kylo, I ended up carrying him back up in the backpack like a baby carrier. He actually didn't seem to mind it much at all!

Kylo hasn't been out hiking since this one back in February because of the car sick thing... but the rest of us have! So stay tuned for more of our spring adventures!