Apr 19

Top Moab Mountain Bike Trails For Kids

Moab, Utah is not just for extreme and highly technical mountain bikers. Moab mountain biking is for kids and family, too. I have been wanting to go to Moab for years and never got around to it. I have always heard about Slickrock Trail and some of the other rim trails, but never about some of the shorter less technical trails. I contacted www.discovermoab.com ahead of time and they named a few trails that I could take the kids on. They were very helpful in pointing me in the right direction.

We had a great trip and my 4 and 6 year old got to do some Moab mountain biking with my wife and I. We found out that Moab is a great place for a family vacation, including mountain biking. There are plenty of trails to take the kids on from just starting out throughout every stage of their mountain biking growth. My 4 year old rode over 9 miles of single track trails while we were in Moab!

Single Best Moab Mountain Bike Trail for Beginner Kids:

Rusty Spur Trail in the MOAB Brand Focus Area

This trail is a little under 2 miles and is nice flowing smooth red dirt single track. It has a great atmosphere for riding and is very easy to access. There are 2 little cattle crossing bridges that gave the kids a little challenge and kept things interesting.

A Little Taste of Technical Moab for Kids

Intrepid Trail in Dead Horse Point State Park

Really cool trail to expose the kids to some more technical riding without over doing it. The trail is a little over a mile and has a great overlook to stop off at along the way.  My 4 and 6 year old said they liked riding over the bumps and rocks.

A Bit of Non-Technical Distance for Kids

Jasper and Agate Loop Trails in the Klondike Bluffs area

More nice riding for the kids. The 2 loops combined are just under 4 miles. This was a little too long of a ride for my 4 year old, but he managed to get through it with a few breaks. It is all nice flowing single track with a few little challenging sections for the kids.  There is one section on that I made the kids walk because the trail gets a little close to a drop off.

If you head out to Moab with the family to do some mountain biking, these are the trails that I would take them on first.  Before going to Moab, I was afraid of turning out to be just a trip for me.  It turned out to be a great vacation for the whole family.

Have you been to Moab?  What trails would you recommend for kids?

SAFETY:

AS WITH ANY OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES, THERE ARE ALWAYS SAFETY RISKS AND THESE TRAILS ARE NO EXCEPTION. DON’T LET YOUR KIDS RIDE TOO FAR OUT IN FRONT OF YOU. SOME OF THESE TRAILS DO RUN ALONG THE SIDE OF LEDGES WITH STEEP DROP OFFS. RIDE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

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Apr 12

Camping During Tornado Season And Finding Shelter

I wanted to write note about camping during tornado season, as the spring camping season has arrived.  We have experienced camping during a tornado and had to leave the camper in the middle of the night to take shelter.  Camping in bad weather can be scary, especially if don’t have a solid shelter to take cover in.  A travel trailer is not a safe shelter, when it comes to tornados.  A tornado could rip through a travel trailer like any old garden shed in your backyard.  You need to know where your nearest storm or tornado shelter is at if you choose to go camping in the spring, especially in the midwest or plains states.

We were camping at Lake Wappapello State Park, in Missouri in the spring of 2009 when a tornado touched down about 4 miles from the park.  We had just settled down to bed as the wind and rain was picking up, and the campground host knocked on the door.  There were very few campers in the park and he had remembered seeing us drive in with the kids.  He came to let us know that there was a tornado warning had just been issued, with a tornado spotted west of the park and headed our way.

We immediately grabbed the kids, jumped in the Jeep and drove up to the restroom facilities.  We figured that was the safest place to be since the building was built out of cinder blocks and pine logs.  The restroom building actually had a laundry room in the center that we took shelter in.  It was quite the experience.  We were soaked just going from the jeep to the shelter.  We had Reid (9 months old) in his car seat and Kyle (2 years old) laid on the floor in a blanket.  Thankfully both kids were tired enough to fall asleep.  We were able to get some intermittent cell service to track the weather on my cell phone.  The tornado ended up passing us about 4 miles to the north.  We stayed in the shelter for a couple of hours until things settled down and the weather forecasts were clear.

We were so thankful that the host stopped to give us the warning.  Even though the tornado didn’t come through the park, we were able to get our kids out of harms way in case it did.  We now carry a crank weather radio with us so we can get weather warnings, even if there is no cell service or electricity.  Things become a little more real and scary when your kids are with you and we have become more aware of the weather and our surroundings while camping.

At any rate, I wanted to share this story with you as a reminder to watch the weather when you are headed out for some spring camping.  Always be aware of where the nearest shelters are at and don’t hesitate to take shelter if the weather is looking scary.  The bathhouses are the most likely place that you can take shelter at in the park.  Many people have smart phones now days that will give you notifications of severe weather, but you should still get a specific weather radio.  You can’t always count on having cell service, especially enough to transmit data.  Get yourself a crank weather radio so you can get weather updates.

If you have some other safety ideas or have had the same experiences, I’d love to hear from you.  Please share in the comments below.

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Apr 05

Outdoor Family Life – March 2014

Great times were had in March and I have a lot of things to talk about.  I won’t be able to fit it all in this post, but will just give a quick overview and have to come back later with some follow up posts.  We finished off the month of March with a road trip to Moab, Utah.  We visited 4 National Parks and camped in 5 new campgrounds across 4 different states!

Lessons Learned

  1. I need to visit more National Parks.
  2. Don’t plan on being able to get a campsite at a National Park.
  3. Get to Mount Rushmore before 7:00 am and you will have the park to yourself.

Camping

We definitely got some camping in during the month of March!  We took advantage of the kids’ spring break and headed out on a road trip.  We camped each night during our road trip and had the opportunity to stay in 5 different campgrounds.  It was a great opportunity to see what some of the camping is like in other states.  I tend not to stay in the same place twice, but I will put a couple of these on our list for specific return visits.  I will also get these added to my campground reviews in the near future.

Campgrounds visited:

Lake Anita State Park – Anita, Iowa

Chatfield State Park – Littleton, Colorado

Dead Horse Point State Park – Moab, Utah

Horsethief Campground – Moab, Utah

Angostura Recreation Area – Angostura, South Dakota

Hiking

We didn’t do any extended hikes, but we did do quite a few short .5 to 2.5 mile hikes as a family.  We bought the kids their own CamelBak hydration packs for the trip to get them a little more excited about hiking and it worked.  I still had to carry our 4 year old Reid in the Child Carrier Backpack during some of the hikes, but the kids still had a good time.  We were able to hike in a couple National Parks and one of the State Parks that we stayed in.  I will post links to our GPS tracks soon.

Trails hiked:

Horse Shoe Point State Park, Utah

Rim Overlook

Big Horn Overlook

Canyonlands National Park – Moab, Utah

Upheaval Dome Overlook

Arches National Park – Moab, Utah

Windows Arch Primitive Trail

Delicate Arch Viewpoint

Skyline Arch

Sand Dunes Arch

Broken Arch

Mount Rushmore – Keystone, South Dakota

Badlands National Park – Wall, South Dakota

Biking

We did some single track mountain biking as a family while on our trip also.  My oldest Kyle is now on a 20″ mountain bike and he is loving it.  My youngest Reid has taken over Kyle’s old 16″ bike and is happy to be on a bigger bike.  The kids did great on the rides and it was nice to get out as a family on the bikes.  I was able to get a couple of rides in on my own on Slick Rock and Porcupine Rim.  Moab, was a great place to go and we found plenty of trails for the kids to ride.

Trails ridden:

Dead Horse Point State Park

Intrepid

Big Chief

Pair

Whiptail

Twisted Tree

Prickly

Sand Flats Recreation Area – Moab, Utah

Slick Rock

Porcupine Rim

Klondike Bluffs Area – Moab, Utah

Jasper

Agate

MOAB Brands Focus Area – Moab, Utah

Lazy

EZ

Rusty Spur

Cross Country Skiing

I was able to get some more skiing in this month as well.  I am pretty much sold on skiing as a winter sport and am planning to get the family set up with skis for next winter.  The kids say they want to ski with me, so we’ll give it a try.

Trails skied:

Swedetown – Calumet, Michigan

Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids – Hancock, MI

Big Rock Creek Farms – St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin

Miscellaneous Notes

On a road trip you get to see all kinds of sites and sometimes all kinds of nothing.  I really enjoy seeing what is between home and the main destination and always try to make the journey interesting.  We live in Minnesota and were able to stay in or drive through the states of Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah and South Dakota.

Here are a few other Parks and/or Landmarks that we were able to see:

Site of the first recorded train robbery by Jesse James, Iowa

Rocky Mountains, CO

Loveland Pass, CO

Chimney Rock, Nebraska

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Badlands, South Dakota

Wall Drug Store, South Dakota

We had a great March and are looking forward to this spring.  We covered a lot of ground during our March trip and was able to see and do a lot.  I will get more updates out in the near future with photos, videos and reviews.  Let me know if you have any specific questions about the trip and I will focus on those areas first.

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Mar 02

Outdoor Family Life February Review

Well, February has come and gone faster than I can blink an eye.  This month was not a very active month as we had some extreme negative temperatures here in Minnesota and we all were hit with the flu.  That being said, I did manage to get some plans together for a spring break trip and start some cross country skiing.

Lessons Learned

1)  Time flies whether you are having fun or not.

2)  We should have started cross country skiing years ago.

Fishing

We didn’t get any fishing in during February.  We had some extreme temperature drops and we all were sick at one point or another.  Plus, I had to travel for work 2 weeks out of the month.  Ice fishing is probably over for us this year as there are loads of snow on the lakes now after a huge storm that we had and we don’t have a snowmobile to get out there.

Cross Country Skiing

I tried out cross country skiing and loved it.  Kyle and Reid want to try it out as well, so this could be a new outdoor family winter activity for us in the future.  I could see us traveling around to different trail systems next year to ski, much like we travel around to different mountain bike trails in the summer.

Trips

We are getting a trip to Moab, Utah put together for later this spring.  Kyle and Reid are really looking forward to it.  We plan to stay at Deadhorse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park and Sand Flats Recreation Area for some hiking and mountain biking.  I will write a full trip report on the trip when we return.  Let me know if you have any recommendations for the Moab area.

February Articles

Breaking Up A Long Distance Road Trip

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Feb 15

Breaking Up A Long Distance Road Trip

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If you are like me, you don’t like to be tied to just your local campgrounds, especially if you can get a whole week off of work.  We love checking out new states, but super long drives can be a real drain on a vacation for kids, especially when you are going to cover distances that take more than a day of driving.  We learned a new way to break up this driving when we took our trip to Texas over the week of Thanksgiving in 2009 and again in the spring of 2010 on our spring trip to Arkansas.  I have figured out a way to plan a trip across multiple states and not be completely worn out from the long drive when we got home.  In the past, if we were going to visit a place that required major driving to get there, (more than 10 to 12 hours) we would put the pedal to the metal with a straight through drive and get there as fast as we could, then do the same thing at the end of the week coming home.

What we do now, is shorten our stay at our primary destination to the weekdays and enjoy a weekend of camping somewhere halfway to our destination and again halfway coming home.  For example, when we went to Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas, which would have been about 11 hours of driving pulling the camper.  We spent Saturday night at Lake Wappapello State Park in Missouri which was about halfway to Petit Jean State Park.  We arrived early enough to Lake Wappapello to let everybody stretch their legs around camp for the afternoon and enjoy a nice campfire in the evening.  We would have headed out Friday afternoon and spent friday and saturday night at Lake Wappapello, but the weather was absolutely horrible friday night and we opted to leave saturday morning.

We checked in at Petit Jean Sunday night and still had 5 nights and 4 full days to enjoy Petit Jean before checking out on Friday morning.  I always try to get within 8 hours of home for the last weekend stop and Roaring River State Park in southwest Missouri fit that bill.  We were able to spend Friday and Saturday night at Roaring River and enjoy the weekend at a whole new destination before driving the rest of the way home on Sunday.  This helped us avoid an 11 hour straight drive home on Sunday and we got to enjoy another park and experience.

This method of splitting up long distance travel does two things for you; you get to break up the drive and see what a couple other places have to offer.  The weekend stays are really no different than if you went camping for the weekend and headed back home on Sunday.  I always dreaded being on the road all day, two days in a row.  It’s never easy covering great distances while pulling a camper, and kids aren’t big fans of being locked in carseats for 2 days in a row.  Shortening our midweek stay to add the weekend camping on each end, halfway from home, has really helped us out.  This still gives you four full days at your main destination, which should allow you enough time to cover the main attraction and sites.  If it doesn’t give you enough time, that just means you need to go back again!

What are some of the things that you do to split up a long distance road trip?

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Jan 31

Outdoor Family Life January Review

This is my first Outdoor Family Life monthly review, so it might be a little rough.  As I make progress on this site, I will get a better idea of what I want to share each month.  I think it is important that I write up an update from the month to review any new things I learned, stuff I am working on, training activities or events.

Lessons Learned

1)  A bunch of ice houses in one place, does not necessarily mean there are fish in that place.

2)  Pop up ice shelters are no fun to set up in the wind, especially by yourself.

3)  Don’t wait till the new year to start planning trips and vacations for the year.

Fishing

I had never been ice fishing out on Rush Lake near Rush City, Minnesota and decided to give it a shot.  I went out by myself the first time to check it out and try a few different holes.  I moved around a couple times and finally found a hole that I was pulling Crappie and Perch.  I took Lynn and the boys out the next weekend and we had a riot, catching both Crappie and Perch again.  We went ahead and moved to a couple different spots and eventually found a nice hole with some pretty good sized Perch.  The kids had a ball and it was nice to get out as a family for the day.

Trips

I am planning a camping trip out to Moab, Utah for this spring to do some Mountain Biking and Hiking.  We are looking at hauling the camper out with us and camping on some of the BLM or Forest Campgrounds.  I’ve always wanted to mountain bike at Moab so I am really looking forward to it as long as we can pull off the planning in time.  It should be a great trip.  I can do some great mountain biking and take the kids on some great hikes in Arches National Park also.

Blog Posts

Great Start To 2014 With Some Ice Fishing Fun

Outdoor Activity Planning In 2014

Review Of Our Outdoor Family Fun In 2013

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Jan 28

Great Start To 2014 With Ice Fishing Fun

Kyle With PerchIce fishing is now becoming one of our top outdoor family activities for the winter.  We are just learning to ice fish in our second Minnesota winter and we are enjoying the heck out of it.  It has been a great way to get the kids outside for some fresh air in the winter and keep them active.  My kids are 4 and 6 years of age, so it can be challenging to do some serious ice fishing, but it is just great getting out there and experiencing the outdoors with the whole family. I believe it is real important to challenge your kids and put as many adventures and experiences as you can in front of them.

We started out last year with a 6″ Mora Hand Auger and a couple of cheap ice jigging poles.  We had some success with blue gill and the kids had a great time.  I ended up adding a couple of nicer ice rods to our limited gear so we all had a rod to use.  Kyle really got into it right from the get go and caught fish each time we went.  Reid was good for about an hour before getting a little antsy, but he enjoyed scooping the slush out of the holes.  We were having a great time with it, but after cutting holes through 2 feet of ice with the hand auger, we decided that we should go ahead and get a power auger when they went on sale at the end of the season.  Wow, was that worth it!  We started out this year by adding a cheap ice shelter from Menards to keep the wind off of us, which was a huge help.  For Christmas, we added the Little Buddy heater from Mr. Heater and Santa brought the boys new rods, since the original cheap ones were no longer working well.

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The first couple trips out this year, I started out with some bluegill and sunfish, then decided to go ahead and find some crappie.  My first night out for crappie, I actually found a good hole and ended up calling Lynn and the boys to meet me at the lake so the boys could catch some crappie.  We had a good time and the boys were hooked on the ice fishing again.  We’ve had good luck this year with crappie in a couple different holes.  I love perch, and we were also able to find some nice size perch on a couple of trips out.  I honestly like pretty much any fish and it has been fun learning how to catch the different fish.

We keep expanding our horizons in the ice fishing arena, looking for different fish and trying out new lakes.  We don’t have any electronics for fishing yet, but I think it is good to teach the boys how to count out the line and try to find the suspended fish the old school way.  Next year, I think we’ll try to find some walleye.  I figure we’ll take it a step at a time.  We didn’t make it out this weekend and probably won’t make it out next weekend either as we are having some extremely frigid weather here in Minnesota.  The boys keep asking me when we are going to head out again though.  Reid is doing great with it this year and keeps us well entertained out on the lake.  Kyle is real serious about it and is the one always keeping track of who caught the most and biggest fish.

The ice fishing has been great and it is always fun to add another outdoor experience to our family.  I just love teaching my wife and kids new things and learning how to do new things myself.  What are some of your winter hobbies?  Do you ice fish?

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Jan 18

Outdoor Activity Planning In 2014

I’m really excited about 2014 since we are now settled into our home.  We don’t have to focus on getting moved, even though it feels like we still have a lot to do around the house to finish settling in.  I guess there will always be projects to work on.  I really want to take a road trip this year to do some camping in some new states, hike or bike some new trails and fish some new lakes or streams.  The boys are growing fast and it is getting so much easier to travel with them and become more adventurous.

We are definitely a little late on our planning for 2014 as it kind of snuck up on us, but we are working on some potential trips as I type.

Fishing

I definitely planned to get more into the ice fishing and have been out a few times already this year.  The boys love it.  We’ve been catching blue gill, sunfish, crappie and perch.  I’d like to get into some walleye and pike, but feel like I’m still learning how to ice fish and sure have enjoyed taking the boys out for the pan fish.

I’m sure we’ll get the canoe out this year.  I do want to get back to a little kayak fishing and will probably hit a couple of the lakes around where we live.  I didn’t do any trout fishing last year, but am itching to give it another go.  The previous year I was teaching the boys how to use a fly rod and I would love to take them fly fishing.  We’ve discussed maybe taking the boys to one of the trout parks in Missouri as a way to get them started.

Biking

By all means, we plan to do quite a bit of cycling this year.  As a family, we will mostly be mountain biking as both boys are ready to hit the trails this year.  They have been talking quite a bit about mountain biking with Dad.  I can’t wait to get out and experience the trails with them again.

I will for sure do a couple of races or bicycle tours.  I’m still finalizing my race/tour plans as well, but am focused on long distance endurance events.  I’ve started another blog called Endurance Path at www.endurancepath.com to blog about my endurance training, racing and adventures.

Hiking

We don’t have any specific big hiking plans on the list for this year yet, but we usually get a few hikes in wherever we go camping.  I’d like to get back up to Minnesota’s North Shore and do some more hiking around the great waterfalls along Lake Superior, but we’ll have to see what fits into our plans for the year.

Camping

We would like to take a camping road trip this year, but don’t have it nailed down quite yet.  I am working on a couple of potential road trips.  Some possibilities are a road trip down to Alabama, trip down to Arkansas and Missouri or a trip to the southwest.  I’ll have the options roughed out by the end of January and then nail down a time frame by the end of February.

We will most likely do some camping around some of the endurance racing events that I plan to participate in, along with maybe hitting a few of the local campgrounds here in Minnesota that we have not been to yet.

Gardening

I just ordered a seed catalog from Seeds of Change so that I can start putting my garden plans together.  I intend to till up a nice section of yard out back to put in a large garden.  We are working at moving our eating habits to as much organic foods as we can and putting in a larger garden is a big part of that plan.

Hunting

Hunting is also a possibility for this coming fall.  I bow hunted for deere as I was growing up and would like to get back in to it.  This also plays into our plans for eating more organic and natural foods.

I wish we had started planning a little sooner but I’m not going to let that stop me from getting some good plans together for the year.  Maybe you are in the same boat, but just because you haven’t planned anything yet, doesn’t mean you can’t.  Use this time in January to get some ideas together.  Then set a goal for the end of February to get a few outdoor activities on the books for the year.  I personally am a little spontaneous, but I’ve learned that if I have some big  or new things that I would like to do, that I better get them planned or they won’t happen.

I will circle back and keep you filled in on plans as we get them figured out for the year.  I also intend to post articles and report out on some of our adventures as they happen.  You should look to see an ice fishing report coming soon!  What are some of your plans for 2014?

 

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Jan 15

Review Of Our Outdoor Family Fun In 2013

We did not do as much camping in 2013 as we had done in the past but we sure had some great experiences.  We had relocated to Minnesota at the end of 2012 and spent the first few months of 2013 looking for a house.  We finally found a house and moved in May.  We didn’t let that stop us from enjoying the outdoors though.  Our kids love the outdoors and love new outdoor experiences.  They get just excited about new adventures and experiences as I do.

This is a list of some of our new experiences or places visited in 2013:

Fishing

Moving to Minnesota, of course, meant that we had to get in to ice fishing.  The kids had a ball pulling fish through the ice.  The kids say they like fishing in the winter better than summer because we don’t have to paddle the canoe out.

Both boys were able to catch a fish out of my kayak for the first time.  I have been kayak fishing for about 5 years; I took the boys out one at a time in the kayak this summer while camping at Wilson State Park on Budd Lake in Harrison, MI.  Each one of the boys caught a large mouth bass.

We also took a few fishing trips with the canoe this summer catching quite a few bluegill and sunfish.  Reid (youngest) also caught a nice bass that he still talks about because he remembers it getting wrapped up in some seaweed making it even harder to reel in.

Biking

Both of my boys got rid of their training wheels this summer at the ages of 3 and 5 years old.  They are now 4 and 6, but it was great.  By the end of the summer, Kyle (oldest) had put in a couple miles on a few different mountain bike trails.  Reid even did a short trail ride before turning 4.  They can’t wait until this summer to do some more mountain biking.

I personally raced in the Chequamegon 40 Fat Tire Festival in Cable, Wisconsin and also rode in the Copper Country Color Tour put on by Michigan Tech’s Copper Country Cycling Club.

In addition, we (sometimes just me) mountain biked on 10 new trails in 3 different states this year.

Camping

Even though we did not do a lot of camping last year, we did manage to camp at 3 new campgrounds:

Pioneer Trail Park in Gladstone, Michigan

Wilson State Park in Harrison, Michigan

Perrot State Park in Trempealeau, Wisconsin

We are thinking about doing another camping road trip this year, but we will see if plans work out.  We spent quite a bit of time out in the back yard this year with our own backyard campfires.  The boys love cooking over the fire.

Hiking

We did not get a bunch of hiking in during 2013 as we tended to go biking instead.  We did get some new hikes in while camping at Perrot State Park in Trempealeau, Wisconsin.  We also visited Interstate State Park in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin for some short hikes

Outdoor Cooking

We, of course, did the typical marshmallow and hot dogs over the first but we also cooked our Thanksgiving Turkey over the fire.  It turned out pretty good even though the skin was a little charred from a couple of flare ups.  I cooked the Thanksgiving turkey over a fire in 2012 and 2011 as well.  I’d say it turned out the best in 2011.

Gardening

We found some rhubarb growing in a small garden area out back when we moved into our house and had our own home made rhubarb pie for the first time.

We were a little late getting a garden in this year because of moving, but we did manage to get a small garden going.  We had some success with snap peas, green beans, yellow beans, radishes and carrots.  The boys really enjoy helping me plant the garden and pick the vegetables.  We still need to work on pulling weeds.

Outside of the garden, but still related; we found an apple tree and grapes growing in the backyard of our new house.  We made a whole bunch of apple sauce and apple butter from the apple tree.  From the grapes, we made our own grape juice and some wine.

Wildlife

We generally see all sorts of wildlife such as Turkeys and Deere, but I had to mention a couple new wildlife sightings as it was the first time the kids saw a wolf or bear in the wild.  We saw the black bear in northern Wisconsin while traveling to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  We saw the wolf in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on another trip.  The boys thought it was awesome.  It was good to for them to see how real these animals are.

Miscellaneous

Visited the Brule River Fish Hatchery in Brule, Wisconsin so the kids could see the trout being raised.

We stopped along Highway 2 along Lake Michigan and went for a swim at one of the roadside beaches. We have driven by these beaches for years and never had the time to stop and swim.  It was great!

We also stopped and hiked down the steps at the Cut River bridge on Highway 2 along Lake Michigan.  If you ever drive by there you should stop and take the walk down the steps.  There is a great view of the shoreline.

2013 was a great year year for us and we are looking forward to what 2014 will bring us.  Stop back and see what adventures that 2014 brings us.  What were some fun outdoor activities that you did in 2013?

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