Monday, April 17, 2017

Greens Coulee Park and Preserve

Today, Noelle and I left Sierra with Grandma and went for a hike at Greens Coulee Park and Preserve in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Probably the most difficult part of the hike was finding the trailhead, which is situated in a neighborhood of new (and expensive) homes. Once we found the trailhead, we parked and hit the trail
Noelle hikes
ascending the steep Pierce Path.
still climbing
Parts of the trail were so steep that there was a rope one could use to make your way up when muddy.
uphill with rope
There were lots of spring wildflowers in bloom. More pasque flower,
pasqueflower
along with Dutchman's breeches,
closeup of DBs
violets,
violets
bloodroot,
better bloodroot
and others.
flower closeup

Soon we came to the top of a ridge.
climbing with bluff
We followed a faint path out of the park and into the woods and preserve. Views started to open up over the surrounding blufflands. Then, we found ourselves at Mushroom Rock!
Mushroom Rock
We continued past Mushroom Rock to some really awesome views of the neighborhood down below and a distant view of the mighty Mississippi River.
view from overlook
We turned around at the end of the ridge (and trail)
Noelle at overlook
and headed back into the park.
Noelle on descent
More views abounded from within the park at its high point.
elevation
view 2
After attaining the apex of the park, we started our descent, following the Clearwater Trail back to the car.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Holland Sand Prairie Preserve

Happy Easter! After an egg hunt
i found one
and visit from the Easter Bunny, Noelle, Sierra, Grandma and I headed out for a short hike at the Holland Sand Prairie Preserve near Holmen, Wisconsin. After our arrival at the preserve, we headed off, following an obvious trail into the prairie.
start of trail
In an area of shrubs we found a bird's nest
birds nest
and shortly thereafter, some pasque flowers.
pasque flowers
We would find plenty of pasque flowers throughout the remainder of the hike. Soon, we came to a fence line and some signs marking bell's vireo habitat.
bells vireo sign
We followed the fence line for a while
hiking fenceline
and found what might be a badger burrow in the soil.
badger hole
We found a bench on top of a small hill to rest at
bench on hill
and then continued on.

Sierra was in the mood to expend some energy and so we let her run a little ways ahead.
Sierra runs up hill
We looped back to a section of trail that we had already hiked and split into 2 groups. Noelle and Sierra started back towards the car, while Grandma and I headed to hike a section of trail that followed the fence line on the other side of the preserve. Eventually, we all met back up at a concrete structure that I'm guessing is the remains of an old barn foundation.
in between concrete
Then it was a short walk back to the car. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Garvin Heights Park

Today seemed like a good day to get out of the house. A little research online for a place to go for a short walk that's not too far from Galesville, turned up Garvin Heights Park in nearby Winona, Minnesota. After a short visit with Grandpa at work and lunch at Culver's, we made our way up the bluff to Garvin Heights.
Garvin Heights plaque
The views from the park were as good as advertised.
girls at top
Mom admires view
I saw a trail headed down the bluff and talked Noelle into letting me walk down to the lower part of the park.
trail
She agreed and so I made the short, but steep,
stairs to top
walk down the bluff to Lower Garvin Heights Park.
Garvin Heights Rock
I beat them down and did a little exploring while I waited for them. I found this old, rusty water pump in the woods.
water pump

Friday, April 14, 2017

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

We had a pretty uneventful stay in Des Moines last night. This morning we hit the road and headed east to West Branch, Iowa and the home of Herbert Hoover.We started our visit to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site with a stop at the visitor center, then we headed out past some blooming pasque flower
pasque flowers
to the actual birth cottage of our 31st president.
birthplace rock
The home is very small,
Hoover birth home
and after a short, 3 minute visit,
crib in birth home
we were in his back yard and ready to use his privy.
outhouse
Not only has the National Park Service helped to preserve the president's home, they've also preserved some of the other buildings in his West Branch neighborhood.
Noelle and Sierra in street

We visited the blacksmith shop, a reconstruction of the shop that Herbert's father Jesse ran.
blacksmith shop
We then headed over to the one-room schoolhouse,
school house
where young Herbert attended 3 years learning.
inside school house
After that we walked the rest of the closed off street, past some really interesting homes that have been preserved by the park service.
home on street
We wandered into downtown and found a pizza place, Herb and Lou's, to eat lunch as it rained outside.

After lunch we headed back outside to a very light drizzle. We checked out the Quaker meetinghouse,
quaker meetinghouse
inside meetinghouse
a statue of the Egyptian goddess of life, Isis,
Isis
that had been donated to Herbert Hoover by the people of Belgium as a thank you for his humanitarian efforts during World War I. Next, we headed past the site of another Hoover home, the Maples,
Maples site
and then past the presidential library to Herbert and Lou Hoovers' grave site.
graves
We paid our respects and headed off into the prairie in a light rain for a short walk. 
headed to prairie
hiking in prairie with umbrellas

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Kansas City, Missouri

After our exploration of Cave Springs Park, we were hungry. We decided to get lunch at a barbecue place. After a wild goose hunt using my phone led us to a closed Arrowhead Stadium, we decided on a local place called LC's Barbecue. We ate a delicious lunch and then headed into Downtown Kansas City to do some exploring. We found a free place to park near the National World War I Museum and Memorial and then set out to explore. The memorial itself is pretty impressive,
P4130088
and there are some great views of the Kansas City skyline from it.
P4130090


Next we headed over to nearby Union Station.
P4130091
We wandered around a little bit and stumbled upon a free model train exhibit that we all enjoyed. Then we headed outside and walked around for a bit before finding a stop on the free streetcar line.
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We rode the streetcar to the City Market where we did some more exploring. Then took the streetcar back to Union Station and walked to the car. Our final stop on our Kansas City Tour was the Boulevard Brewery. Noelle and I sampled some brews. (Despite this photo, Sierra did not!)
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We also took advantage of the free camper/photobooth.
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P4130099
After our visit to Boulevard, it was time to hit the road and start making our way back north. We made it to Des Moines, where we are spending the night.