Over the 4th of July weekend, we took a family road trip and went hiking as part of our summer bucket list! Instead of detailing the weekend in a traditional post, I thought it would be fun to share favorite memories from our time away. So here goes! My top 11 favorite memories from our road trip and hiking adventures!
1. Lindstrom Bakery, Water tower and Downtown
Down the road from our hotel, we found a cute little scandinavian-themed town, Lindstrom, Minnesota. The downtown was delightful and fun to walk with the kids. They had a sweet teacup water tower, and near it was a quaint scandinavian bakery. We oohed and aahed over the tasty delights in the bakery, but unfortunately never got anything because we’d just eaten lunch. If we ever go back, we’ll definitely make another stop for some tea cakes and sugared doughnuts at the Lindstrom Bakery!
2. Highway 8 Chairs
The kids loved these oversized Adirondack chairs! Apparently, there are five brightly-colored chairs spread out across a 10-20 mile touristy stretch of Highway 8. The kids sat on two, but we saw four. Next time, I’d like to catch all five!
3. Franconia Sculpture Park
We had an amazing time at Franconia Sculpture Park. A Lindstrom local told us about the park, so we thought we’d stop by. It was enormous, fun and much more impressive than we would have ever guessed! I’d estimate we saw 40 large-scale sculptures by various artists. As with any art piece, we each had our favorites. My favorite was this old house suspended in the air. It was super cool. For some reason, I really connected with this piece. I took a few pics with the family, and then let them walk ahead while I took the opportunity to take a bunch of photos of the house insides and outsides.
4. The Drive-in Restaurant
Taylors Falls, Minnesota, has an amazing Drive-in Restaurant. We’d been referred to the drive-in by the Lindstrom local, and she was spot on! Had I known my BBQ pulled pork sandwich was going to be SO amazing, I would have gotten a picture before I started eating it. I couldn’t stop talking about the sandwich. It was honestly the BEST thing I’ve eaten in a whole year, since the amazing BBQ mac and cheese I had in the Wisconsin Dells last August. The sandwich was so good, I had my husband and daughter take a bite and they agreed whole-heartedly. At the end of the meal, the server asked how everything was. I told her the BBQ pork sandwich was amazing and she said she has one every night at the end of her shift. Guess I’m not alone on loving that sandwich! (Did I tell you it was amazing?)
5. Mini Ice Creams
The first day of our road trip was my birthday, so we wanted to end the night with some cake and ice cream. But when we went to the store, we realized it wasn’t so easy to buy small scale cake and ice cream as on-the-go travelers. So we ended up buying one of those cheap (but very good) Pepperidge Farm cakes and teeny single-serving buckets of ice cream for the kids. We ate everything back in the hotel room and the kids loved it. Not the traditional birthday cake and ice cream I usually have, but this was a fun change of pace, especially for the kids.
6. Marking the Trail
We started the second day of our road trip with a hike at Interstate State Park along the St. Croix River in Taylors Falls, Minnesota. Near the beginning of the hike, there was a short part of the trail that led us along Highway 8. Our youngest found a stick and began “marking” her way along the path with backwards 7s. We didn’t realize what she was doing at first, but after about 20 backwards 7s, it was hard to ignore how cute it was. We were growing a little impatient waiting for her to make a backwards 7 every two steps, but ultimately, it was worth the wait. And wouldn’t you know, within seconds of completing her trail, she threw the stick over a huge cliff without a sign of distress!
7. A Family Picture
I loved this moment because it was the only family picture we got the whole road trip. Let’s be real. When mom’s the photographer, there aren’t many mom pics. Thank God for the man who volunteered to take this one! Gotta love it.
8. Walking in the Deep
I took a ton of pictures during our hike. We walked as a family, of course, but I had enough independence that for the most part, I was able to photograph freely. I have a lot of good photos from our 3-mile hike of Interstate State Park, but the one I captured of my husband and our three kids is one of my favorites. I especially loved the youngest on my husband’s shoulders most of the second half of the hike. (Bless the man’s soul, I would have been a lot more worn out than he seemed to be.)
9. Rock Throwing at Canal Park
Shortly after we arrived at our next stop, Duluth, Minnesota, we made our way to a major tourist destination, Canal Park. We walked the boardwalk and stopped for quite a while to sort through rocks and toss them in Lake Superior. I’ve lived in Minnesota 37 out of 39 years of my life and I’ve visited Canal Park more than once, but for some reason, I’d never sat on this very popular all-rock beach before. It was fun to watch the kids sort through the rocks and find flat ones to toss and skip across the lake. They had a great time. We let them throw until their hearts were content. They even waded in the water a bit, which was a hot day bonus for them!
10. Time at the Family Cabin
On July 4th, we spent time at the family cabin. The properties have been owned by my father-in-law’s side of the family for quite some time, so we typically visit once a summer. The kids had an amazing time jumping on the water trampoline and waterslide, both new this year!
11. Nursing Home Visit
Before we left for the cabin on the morning of the 4th, we visited a nursing home with my mother-in-law. She volunteers there every week, so knows the residents quite well. We visited several elderly as they were sitting and wheeling through the hallways, but we also went into a handful of rooms. We talked with one woman, a former teacher, quite extensively. Our conversation with her delighted my soul and made the visit all worth it. After everyone else had left the room and it was just me and our youngest wrapping up a little conversation, the woman said to me, “Well this visit was worth a million dollars.” I, of course, don’t have a photograph of this moment, but it’s my favorite.
Road Trip & Hiking.
Total Cost: $275 (hotel, snacks & beverages, meals, birthday cake & ice cream, state park fees)
Mom Lesson: Sometimes moms just need to get away.
Kid Lesson: Sometimes kids just need to get away.
This post is part of a summer-long series titled Summer Bucket List. This is my first summer home full-time with our three children. My hope for this series is that it will challenge me to adventure out of my mothering comfort zone, will provide opportunities to live and write simply, practically, beautifully and meaningfully, and will stimulate some some fun ideas for your summer as well! To check out the entire series, click here and you’ll be directed to the introductory post where all the posts are listed and linked for easy reading. Enjoy, friends! And have a blessed summer.