Tag Archives: camping

lake anita state park

oops, didn’t mean to not blog for 9 months. of course, a lot has happened since then! i ran that marathon i was talking about the last time i blogged (october)! we went to europe for christmas! i ran another marathon this spring! and a million other things big and small in between. lots of these events will warrant their own blog posts, but in the spirit of not getting even more behind, they’re going to be out of order. onward…

this past weekend marked our first camping trip of the year! we really intended to get in more camping this spring, before it got too warm, but marathon training, work travel, and vacations all got in the way (in a mostly good way). we had plans last friday night in des moines, so decided we’d make a little weekend of it and camp on saturday evening somewhere between des moines and omaha. lake anita state park is pretty conveniently located about halfway between des moines and omaha and is only a few miles off the interstate. we weren’t able to make a reservation online as holiday weekends require a 2-night minimum, but we had no trouble getting a walk-up, non-electric tent site upon arrival ($11, cash only, exact change).

after securing our spot, we dropped off a few items at our campsite and then headed to the other side of the lake for the “beach area.” we chose lake anita over a couple of other options because we wanted somewhere that had a beach/swimming area as we wanted to lounge in our ridiculous two-person floatie that we got last summer at lake manawa. there was indeed a beach/swimming area, however, it was much, much smaller than i anticipated and we felt absolutely ridiculous blowing up and using our floatie. (didn’t stop us, but we felt ridiculous). it is super shallow in the swimming area and frankly, the water was kind of gross, but the weather was perfect and we had cold beer, so, we adapted.

the rest of our evening was pretty low-key. since our camping plans were fairly last minute, and we weren’t 100% sure we’d get a spot, we opted not to bring our camp stove or any of our own food with us this time, so we headed into town and picked up a sandwich and a few snacks for dinner/dessert. once back at our campsite, we began our prayers to the camp gods that our neighbors (a family with three toddlers to one side, a group of 10+ twenty-somethings with motorcycles and lots of booze to the other side) would not totally ruin our experience. we went for a leisurely walk around the lakefront trail, (attempted to) set up our new eno couch, did some of the NYT crossword, and had whiskey and oreos (a decent smore’s stand in, tbh) around the campfire.

we slept decently and got up around 7 or so and decided to take a ~2 mile walk into town to check out the local cafe. we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and crappy diner coffee before making the walk back. on the way back, we discovered a nature trail that we thought might be a shortcut to the park — it wasn’t much of a shortcut, but it was much more scenic, and we even stopped for a little swinging session at the playground nearby.
we packed up pretty soon after we got back from breakfast, as some rain and storms were just starting to roll in. overall, we really enjoyed lake anita — it’s a very easy drive from omaha but still felt like a nice getaway. it’s a fairly no-frills park, but perfect if you’re just wanting to relax for a night or two, or if you have your own boat/kayak/canoe that you can haul there. at $11/night and no day-use/park fee, camping is especially affordable here. we’ll definitely be back another time!

camp: lake anita state park
eat: the weather vane cafe
gas/ice/wood/snacks: casey’s general store

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memorial day weekend

this is so belated, but it’s been such a wonderful summer (which is why I’m behind), and I want to make sure to document all of our adventures! back around memorial day, we had just bought a bunch of new camping equipment for our june trip to colorado, and were hoping to test it out. we waited a bit too long to book something, though, and most of the nearby state recreation areas were full. we contemplated a walk-up site, but then there was rain in the forecast, and we had second thoughts, so decided to stay home. of course, after all that, it ended up being perfect weather and we were bummed we’d missed out on the camping opportunity…so we decided to post up in our own backyard!

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cheesy, yes, but it was actually a great, low-stress way to practice putting up our tent, trying out our sleeping bags, and figuring out what other gear we might still need. this was actually my first time ever camping in a tent, so i appreciated being close to home in case we got too hot/cold/out of drinks.

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we spent most of the evening poring over colorado maps planning out a few hikes and places we wanted to see during our winter park trip. and of course, drank some beer – i was super happy to find evil twin’s ‘ryan & the gosling’ at our local bottle shop (beertopia); aside from having the best beer name ever, it was also very good.

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other than that, we just spent some time reading and talking and generally enjoying life under the twinkly lights. i’m sure we must have looked totally ridiculous to our neighbors, but it was such a fun experience and i’m so glad we did it!

the next morning (sunday), we woke up to another beautiful day and wanted to do something outside. at this point, we were on a little break from a running plan before starting marathon training, so decided to go for a bike ride. i mapped out a ride that was about 17 miles – across the south omaha bridge, along the trails in iowa for a bit, then back over to omaha on the pedestrian bridge, and home.

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once we got going, though, we were loving being on the iowa trails and started seeing signs for a few other destinations on the trail, so we decided to keep going. our first stop was big lake park in crescent, just a few miles north past the pedestrian bridge turnoff. the lake is small, but really pretty!

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on our way to big lake park, we started to see signs for the lewis & clark monument and park – we’d heard of it before, knew it existed, but wasn’t sure exactly where it was or how to get there. it was just a few more miles past big lake park, so we decided to trudge on and see if we could make it there. the next few miles getting there were beautiful and super scenic, but basically all uphill – our quads were definitely not prepared for that kind of climbing, but we eventually made it! the views were more than worth it – it was a super clear today and we could practically see the whole city from up there. definitely looking forward to riding (or maybe driving…) up there again sometime soon.

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we’d brought a few snacks along for the ride, but were working up quite an appetite at this point, so once we got back over the pedestrian bridge and into downtown, decided to stop at local for a beer and some brunch. we’d gone about 25 miles at this point, and figured that if we went back the long way (back over the bridge and along the trails in iowa), we might be able to get close to 40 miles for the day.

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we did it, but those last few miles up L street were kind of a strugglefest. all in all, it was a great three-day weekend…and i’m already dreaming of cooler weather so we can camp in the backyard and go for long bike rides again!

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