Saturday, August 13, 2011

The One You've All Been Waiting For

Generally, when I've told people about our endeavor to visit all of the Sioux Falls Parks, people's initial response is, "Wow! That's so cool!" Then, after a moment to ponder, they usually say something like, "Wait. Are you even going to visit that weird Van Eps Park on north Minnesota Avenue?" Well, I can now officially say, "Yes. I have been to Van Eps Park and I lived to tell the tale."

We actually didn't start there, though. Our fun actually began when my friend, Katie texted to see what we were up to. She had just left the Target over by my house and was wondering if we were at a park or anything because they were looking for something to do. Since Grier was still napping, I suggested they come over to play until she got up and then we could go to some parks. The weather was such that it would have been a shame not to be outside.

While deciding on what exactly to do, Katie mentioned that it was the last night that Oh My Cupcakes! would be open until 6pm. Personally, it's not my favorite place in the world, but the mere mention of OMC sends my children into orbit. So, it was decided that we'd head toward some downtown parks that still needed visiting. A stop at a gas station for some beverages, Little Caesar's for a Hot 'n' Ready cheese pizza, and OMC for some Buy One Get One free cupcakes produced a super healthy picnic supper to be enjoyed at Tower Park.

I think it must be called Crazy Bread because it's crazy that something so disgusting can taste soooo good.

Leah took this picture and I think it's so cute. It would be absolutely perfect if Bo's head was tilted just enough that you could see all of Fletcher's face and then Jake's from behind Fletch. Still...adorable.

A little guest photography by Leah.

The babies crawled around near the picnic blanket, where the mamas were chatting. Fletcher and his Jake-friend played on the playground. And Leah and Bo enjoyed hiking in the woods that lead down toward the Falls. I have to be honest, my normally "let them be kids" self was a little apprehensive about this, as I had just read an article in today's paper about an appeal being made by the man (from death row) who kidnapped, raped, and murdered a little girl who was my age, only blocks from this park, 21 years ago. Even as a little girl, I remember hearing about it. I remember our moms all being super-protective and on high alert that summer. My kids are snuggled in safe and sound at this moment, but reading this story now, as a mom, I can't help but be shaken up in a whole different way.

Whew! How was that for heavy? When the kids could stand it no longer (the cupcakes were being saved for the next park), we loaded up and headed down to Van Eps Park. As you look at the pictures, you'll see why we saved the cupcakes for this park. There isn't a whole lot else to do here. It is pretty much just a city block of grass, a few trees, a park sign, and a picnic table. Although, the kids somehow managed to make even this park a fun one!

The dining facilities.

The scenery. FYI- The sign above the dumpster says, "Romantix." Maybe that guy I saw back in June, wearing the "breakfast of champions" shirt, does his shopping here.

The playground. Jake turned the curb into a balance beam and Fletcher was using a stick to swing at him.

The whole time the other kids were running and playing tag, Baby G just kept standing up and sitting down. This was more than enough entertainment for her. I think she was quite proud of herself!

Tuthill Park

Despite my less than pleasant attitude the last time Emily and I attempted to go to the park together (read: Worst. Park. Day. EVER.), she was willing to give me another try. Thursday, August 11th, we met at what I consider to be one of the prettiest parks in Sioux Falls. Even though I so readily handed out the LAP Award (Least Attractive Park Award), it is a little trickier to give out the LPA (Loveliest Park Award). Tuthill would definitely be in the Top 3.

We started out at the upper playground and then ate a picnic lunch. Before heading down to the lower playground, we walked across the parking lot for some pictures in the gardens. One thing we didn't do while we were up there, that I know my kids would have loved, was that we didn't go back on the trails that lead down into the woods. They would have been excited for another day of hiking, but I figured we could save that for another time.

They're both fourth children. They're used to sharing.

I think Ryker, peaking out at the bottom, is my favorite in this one.

"That's a huge one, Mom. That one's huge," Fletcher says of the tree.


The oldests and the youngests.

I didn't actually get a sign picture yet, but I will add it once I have one. Plus, Emily took a picture with her phone that turned out better than any of mine. It was of all of the kids trying to see if their arms could wrap all the way around the giant tree. According to Emily, it's the biggest tree trunk in Sioux Falls! By the way, their arms didn't quite reach, but I bet they would by next year, or for sure if we brought the dads along!

Menlo Park

Not a lot to say about this one either. We haven't had the sand toys out in a while, so the picture of the playground is for informational purposes only. The kids didn't actually play on it. They were having too much fun digging in the sand!

Mmm...He looks good.

Emerson Park

On Wednesday morning, we decided to check out a couple of centrally located parks. After we got our picture at Campus Park, we headed over to Emerson Park. It's located at the site of the old Emerson Elementary School. If I remember correctly, the school was located on the north end of the block, up above where those stone steps are. Not that it really matters. I was just trying to think of something to say. There isn't a lot to report about this park, so I'll just let you look at the pictures and I'll just enjoy the fact that it's another park checked off the list. : )

Loose Ends

There were a couple of parks that never got pictures taken until this week, but we actually visited them a while ago.

Back in July, Bill took the kids to Campus Park, which we've been to on many occasions before, but didn't have the camera for a picture. So, while we were doing a little tour of centrally located parks on Wednesday, August 10th, we stopped for a quick pic. Where is Leah in this picture? Take a look at the second picture. If you look very carefully, you may be able to see an elbow and a purple-legginged knee sticking out from behind the tree. Why is she mad you wonder? Look who's holding Baby G in the sign picture.

Another park that we've technically been to frequently this summer was Oak View Park. Its address is listed as 3rd Street and Bahnson Avenue. That would be same address as the Oak View Library, where we've had story time throughout the summer. Behind the library, there is a pretty little grassy area and a walking path, but nothing that jumps out and says CITY PARK. Plus, there's no sign. So, that day I stopped in at the SFPR office to ask about Kiwanis Park, I also asked about this one. The lady working at the desk confirmed that the grassy area around the library is, in fact, the park. Knowing we had another story time coming up on the 9th, we waited and took a picture then. We even had a friend with us that night!

Great Bear. Great Day.

Well, I'm way behind on the blogging again. But I'm going to do my best to get caught up here. We actually visited Great Bear on the morning of Tuesday, August 9th, but I worked a couple of overnights this week and then I was just too tired to blog on the nights I wasn't working. Anyway...No more excuses.

If you ask the kids which park visit has been their favorite so far, they will tell you, hands down, hiking at Great Bear! They absolutely loved it! How have I never been out there in the summertime before? It really was a lovely way to spend a cool morning. Leah and Bo told us they wanted to do a hard hike, no baby hikes for them. Baby G was in the Moby, so we just hoped it wouldn't be too difficult for Fletch to keep up. Nope. There were just a couple of steep spots where we had to slow down a little bit for him and at the very end, he allowed Bill to put him on his shoulders. But up until that point, he was not even interested in holding a hand. If the big kids could do it, he could do it!

I suppose if you wanted to get a workout, you could carry a weighted backpack or go a lot faster, but we were in no hurry. We wanted to "stop to smell the roses." Or as the case may be, stop to see the snakes, stop to see the salamanders, stop to see the frogs, stop to see the bird, the butterflies, the flowers, and so on and so on. The only not-so-beautiful part about hiking in town is that while the surroundings looked peaceful, and you couldn't really see anything from city life, the peace and quiet was occasionally interrupted by the back-up alarms from trucks at the nearby excavating businesses. It wasn't exactly the Canadian Rockies or anything for the majestic scenery and pristine glacial waters, but considering it was less than ten minutes from home, it was definitely worth it! The kids, and I, can't wait to go back and try the other trails sometime!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Tunnel Park

If you look carefully, you can see a little pair of legs and some green fabric behind and between Bo and Fletch. That would be Leah, who declined being seen in the picture because Bo asked first if he could hold Grier. For real. A mom can't make this stuff up.

Okay. Really it was Hayward Park, but even Fletcher noticed the abundance of tunnels on this playground. It's incorporated into the school playground for Hayward Elementary School and it's really very nice.

Bo? Where'd you go? I can't see you amongst all that yellow.

"Mom, take a picture of my crazy hair." Is it really the hair that is crazy?


We used to have these exact same sets of bars on the Horace Mann playground. I remember doing penny drops from the lowest bars on the red set (above) and I can't say that I ever remember crossing the monkey bars in the silver set (below), but I could tell you the names of the kids who could. And I can remember sliding down the fire poles, at least.

Another tunnel!!!

The other end of that bear that Fletcher was crawling out of.

What's that, Fletcher? Another tunnel!!! And I didn't even take pictures of two others. This kid was in heaven, except he's still not so sure about going down tunnel slides.

There was tons of green space and some soccer nets. A picnic shelter with no tables. Hmmm...Not sure about that one. Several different areas with equipment. And lots of blacktop with lines painted for games like hopscotch, four square, and basketball.

Glenview Park

We actually drive by this park along 57th Street all the time as we drive between my parents' house and ours. It's just east of Cliff and 57th and you really only notice the cattails and walking path from 57th, but if you look a little farther to the south, you can see a shelter and a playground too.

From now on, when people are looking for a park on the south/east side of Sioux Falls for a group picnic, this will be the one I recommend. Although it is lacking in shade trees, the picnic shelter is right next to the playground. Many of the other parks such as Morningside or McKennan have their shelters out of sight from the playgrounds. That's fine for some events, but at this point, most of the events I attend are the kind where you want to be able to send the kids to the playground but still be able to see them. And Rotary and Cherry Rock are kind of out of commission until they get all that construction done.

Loving the cattails.

Fletcher is loving tunnels these days.

Fletch says, "No Yaya. I the drivee."

Nice look, Bo, with those shorts pulled up and the shirt tucked in.

One result of all the park visits has definitely been Bo's increase in upper body strength. I still don't think he could do an entire set of monkey bars, but he can hang onto one of these zip line thingies the whole way across now.

Anyway...There was a nice playground, it's in a quiet neighborhood, and the kids loved the cattails. One of the "locals" from the neighborhood, though, said this park gets pretty soggy after a hard rain. So, don't try to go here right after it rains and you should be able to enjoy it as much as we did!