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My Monthly Outdoor Family Life Update – April 2015

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Welcome to the my April 2015 Outdoor Family Life Update!

I started doing monthly updates last year, but did not follow through.  I am going to start them back up and see if I can refine them enough for it to make sense to keep them going.  As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.  If there is something specific you would like to see or do not want to see in these monthly updates, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail through my Contact Me page.

My intention is to share quick highlights of any outdoor activities from the month.  Our Spring Break Trip was a week long and fell on the week split between March and April, so I am including all of our Spring Break Trip information in this April update.

Camping

We did quite a bit of camping this month due to the month starting out mid-way through our Spring Break Trip.  The kids just want to keep on camping.  We rarely stay at the same campground twice, but this month was an exception. I wanted to take the kids trout fishing and I knew Roaring River in Missouri was a great place for us to go for this.  I should also mention that we are not really “roughing it” in our camping trips.  We have a nice trailer and our camping is more of a way for us to get out and explore new places and feel at home while doing so.

Nights Spent in the Camper – 14

Campgrounds Visited:  5

State Camped In:  3

Clear Lake State Park – Clear Lake Iowa

We stopped here for one night on our way to Missouri.  This park was not very far off the highway and the site did not need any leveling.  We didn’t even unhook the trailer from the truck that night.  It was below freezing that night, but we woke up to a nice view of the lake with the playground right across from our campsite.  The kids enjoyed the playground in the morning and a nice walk down to the lake with me before we left.

Link to my full Clear Lake State Park Review

Roaring River State Park – Cassville, Missouri

We had a really great time at Roaring River.  We arrived late on a Saturday afternoon and stayed until Thursday morning.  This was actually our second time staying at Roaring River.  This time we stayed in loop 1. Our main reason for staying here was to do some trout fishing with the boys.  I am told that it is usually really busy here, but we must have lucked out.  The campground pretty much emptied out on Sunday afternoon and we had the whole place to ourselves.

Link to my full Roaring River State Park Review

Clinton State Park – Lawrence, Kansas

This was on our way home, kind of.  The boys wanted to check off a new state on this trip, so we spent three nights in Kansas.  The park is huge and is pretty much a big recreation area.  The campground was nice depending on what site you could get.  We found a really nice site on an outer loop in the trees.  We also picked this campground because of the mountain bike trails that I wanted to try out.

One interesting thing about the park that I couldn’t figure out, was that it appeared that there was some really long term or permanent campers here that had stuff laying all over their campsites.  They would also drive through the park really fast hitting the gas hard.  I wasn’t sure if this was standard practice here or was just an early season coincidence, but definitely got to be a bit annoying.

Link to my full Clinton State Park Review

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park – Little Falls, Minnesota

This is a nice little park with some great trails for family hiking.  We camped here because I had a bicycle race near by and thought it would be nice to turn it into a weekend of camping for us.  The kids loved it.  This is a really peaceful little park that I would like to go back to again and hike the other trails and see the Lindbergh home, since it was still closed for the season while we were there.

Link to my full Charles A. Lindbergh State Park Review

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park – Nerstrand, Minnesota

This was another bicycle race weekend, turned into a camping trip.  This was probably one of the first really nice weekends of the year and the park was pretty busy.  We had a nice time and the kids had a blast.  They made some friends at the park and spent most of their time riding their bikes back and forth to the park or doing laps around the campground.

Link to my full Nerstrand Big Woods State Park Review

Biking

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Mountain Biking Season is in full season and is becoming a full family event as the kids are getting bigger.  I am amazed at how much improvement they have made since last year and the level of trails they are able to ride.  It is quite exciting for me.

Trail Systems Ridden:  3

States Ridden In:  3

Slaughter Pen Trails – Bentonville, Arkansas

While this was technically in March, it was during the week of our Spring Break trip that rolled into April.  We spent a few hours of riding here.  This is a great place to go mountain biking as a family.  There is a really nice paved path that connects all the single track mountain bike trails.  You can ride the paved trail all the way through town or take detours off onto the single track.  Lynn and I got to go off on some single track trails by ourselves while the other stayed back on the paved path with the kids.  We did find some good beginner single track trails to take the kids on as well.

Lake Clinton Trails – Lawrence, Kansas

I am not sure what to say about these trails.  There are over 20 miles of single track if you take the full loop around.  They really are some great trails, but highly technical because of the large quantities of rock gardens. I started out enjoying them, but personally got a bit annoyed after awhile of all the rock gardens.  It really depends on what you are into.  I like fast cross country trails with the typical hard climbs, roots and some rocks, but these trails were a bit excessive.  Again, depends on what your cup of tea is.  If you are into a bit more aggressive trail riding, then you might love this place.

Woolly Mountain Bike Club Trails – St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin

The Woolly trails finally opened for the season and are in great shape.  This is one of our local trail systems and we really enjoy going here as a family.  The kids can handle so much more trail this year than they could last year.  I took them back to some of the the intermediate trail sections and I was amazed at how well they did.  Now they want to race at the upcoming Woolly Mountain Bike Kid’s Race.

Hiking

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The kids like biking over hiking, but you can’t beat a nice family hike in the woods.  We tend to find short hikes at the campgrounds that we visit.

Trail Systems Hiked:  3

States Hiked In:  2

Roaring River State Park – Cassville, Missouri

Deer Leap Trail

Must do short little hike for a great bird’s eye view of the trout rearing ponds.  Just Reid and I did this trail.  It was a bit impromptu our last afternoon there as Reid wanted to see the trout rearing stations one last time before we left.

Devil’s Kitchen Trail

Nice trail with some technical sections and elevation.  It takes you by a collapsed rock sheets that legend says was used as a hide out by Civil War Soldiers.  We hiked this as a family.  We even saw a little snake while hiking that I caught on some GoPro video.

Fire Tower Trail

This is a little bit longer of a trail that I ended up just doing a trail run on.  I think the rest of the family was resting up for some additional trout fishing.

Spring House Trail

This is a very short little trail that takes you by the foundation of an old spring house once used by a family that had settled on this land.  You have to look for it or you’ll miss it.

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park – Little Falls, Minnesota

Jenny Landing Site

The wanted to do some hiking and I was interested in hiking out to the site where Charles had landed the Jenny, a Surplus World War I plane, after flying it up to their summer home in Little Falls.  I knew there wouldn’t be much to see other than an open space, but I think it is neat to put yourself back in time and imagine what it might have been like.  The boys and I had a nice little hike.

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park – Nerstrand, Minnesota

Hidden Falls

Nice little trail through the big woods down to the water falls.  The waterfalls almost look like they are man made, but they actually are natural.  We hiked down here as a family and then on Sunday morning I took a walk down to the falls with my coffee and did some meditation.  It is a very peaceful setting.

Beaver Trail

This is a short loop trail across the stream with the falls that meanders through the woods and hillside.

White Oak Trail

This is just a connector trail to get back into the larger trail loops.  It goes along the road, but is still a nice setting.

Fishing

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We probably won’t have fishing updates every month, but we’ve definitely made our transition off the ice until winter comes again.  Trout fishing was the name of the game this month.  I had gotten my 7 year old his own fly ride for Christmas this year, which led us to planning our Spring Break Trip at Roaring River State Park.  We had a blast with it.  I spent most of the day untangling and tying new leaders and tippets, but it was all worth it to see the look on the kids’ faces when they landed a nice Rainbow Trout.

Lakes or Streams Fished:  1

States Fished In:  1

Roaring River State Park, Cassville, Arkansas

We did quite a bit of Trout fishing at Roaring River State Park and that was the main reason we stayed there.  They stock the stream each night based on the amount of Trout tags sold the day before.  I spent most of my time untangling the kids’ fishing lines, but it was worth it to see the look on their faces when they caught a fish.  We’ve been to this park twice now and it has not been very busy either time.  I am told it can be extremely busy, but I never really felt any pressure from fellow fisherman and felt like we could freely fish in most areas.

Cooking

I can’t talk about the outdoors without mentioning cooking.  Of course with our Trout fishing, we have a few cooking things to talk about.

Rainbow Trout

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Open Fire

This was about the easiest way to prepare the trout and tasted fantastic.  I left the heads on and stuffed the belly with lemons.  To cook them over the fire, I used a cooking basket.  You get a little bit of a smoked flavor and the skin just peels right back.  The other thing I liked about it was that there was no wasted meat.  You could just pull al the meat right off the bones.

Pan Fried

This is a very traditional way of cooking them and probably my kids’ favorite.  This requires completely filleting the fish, coating the fillets in flour and dropping on a hot skillet with some oil.

Vegetable Mix

This one is quite an enjoyable way to eat them as well.  This also requires the filleting the fish, but you get a good flavor with the mixed vegetables.  I get a skillet going with some water and potatoes and as the potatoes cook, I slowly start adding onions, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and then finally lay the fish fillets over the top.  This is very tasty.

Pizza Sandwiches

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Pie Iron

The Pie Iron is traditionally used for making fruit pies over the open fire, but our family favorite is Pizza Sandwiches.  They are had to beat.  2 slices of bread filled with your favorite pizza toppings squeezed together in a Pie Iron and you are in campfire pizza heaven.

Summary

We had a pretty action packed month and covered a lot of ground.  This will definitely not always be the case.  I still need to write up a full report on the spring break trip specifically and will add that to my list of work to do.  I have been sharing some videos and photos and there is still more to come.  As I mentioned above, please leave a comment below or or send me an e-mail through my Contact Me page if you have any questions or comments.

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