Tag Archives: iowa

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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lake manawa

it’s been an extremely hot and humid summer in omaha this year, and one weekend back in june particularly miserable – we decided the only was it would be tolerable would be to be in the water. we looked into a couple of local pools, but ultimately, decided to make the 15 minute drive to lake manawa over in council bluffs, IA. we picked up some sandwiches on our way, packed a cooler full of beer, brought along some reading material, and were on our way!

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i’d been to the lake one other time back in college, so didn’t remember it much. i think we paid $3/each to get in for the day, and although it was fairly busy, we didn’t have any trouble finding a place to set up on the beach, and still had some privacy from other groups. we spent most of the afternoon just laying out in the sun, drinking, and of course, some good old-fashioned people watching. after awhile, we kept seeing people with various tubes and floaties, and were wishing we’d picked one up on our way there, but then realized they sold them there. we thought they’d be pretty pricy on-site, but we actually scored a double-seater tube with a small cooler in the middle for $30! SOLD. we spent the rest of the afternoon floating around on the lake in our tube like the rest of the cool kids.

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a super fun afternoon – it’s not the fanciest lake and doesn’t have many amenities, but it’s nice that it’s so close and we can just pop in the car on a whim and head over there for a few hours. looking forward to taking our floatie out for another spin soon!

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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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sunday funday in the loess hills

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we’ve had so many fun adventures lately, and i’m so behind on blogging! a few weeks ago we bought our first ever brand new car, a 2016 subaru forester, who we have named susie. the next day, we were itching to take susie on her first adventure somewhere, so we decided to head out to hitchcock nature center, because being outdoorsy is just what you do once you own a subaru. it’s a non-negotiable.

hitchcock is awesome because it’s only about a 20 minute drive from omaha but feels like a whole other world. it’s full of great trails that range from easy to difficult (just steep, not technical). we set out to hike for about 2 hours and ended up going around 7 miles (we mixed in a few minutes of trial running), stopping for lots of pictures, water (in our new camelbaks!), and snacks, obvs.

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iowa is so green and gorgeous in the springtime.

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we had tentatively planned on visiting a nearby winery after our hike, but decided we probably needed some lunch beforehand. we drove a few miles back into town (crescent, IA) and found a great diner called Henry’s, where we enjoyed some delicious breakfast food.

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after our stop at Henry’s we headed just a few doors down to loess hills winery. nebraska/iowa wines are typically nothing to write home about, but we like trying new places and supporting local businesses, so we gave it a go. we tasted a few different wines and landed on a “dry” red called the sbr, which we got a bottle of to enjoy outside. we grabbed a blanket out of our car and spent the afternoon laying on the winery lawn!

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all around, a lovely day in the loess hills area and a great first adventure with susie the subaru! if you’re looking for a quick getaway from omaha sometime, we highly recommend hitchcok nature center, henry’s diner, and the loess hills winery!

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des moines half marathon.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetlast sunday kevin and i ran our sixth half marathon. we signed up for this one with only a couple months to train, and weren’t sure what to expect, since we didn’t have time to train on or even drive the course before race day. we’d heard great things about this race from other runners, and it definitely did not disappoint. super flat, well-organized, lots of crowd support along the course, plenty of aid stations throughout, nice medals and race t-shirts, a great pre-race expo, and – let’s be honest, the things we really care about – awesome post-race food options (red vines! spoonfuls of peanut butter to spread on cookies! walking tacos!) and free beer.

the weather was perfect – a little chilly to start, but full of sunshine and plenty warm by the end. we were so grateful to have kevin’s cousins watching for us around mile 10 – having cheerleaders really makes a difference. i surprised myself with a new PR, and kevin came very close (maybe if he hadn’t stopped to take so many snapchats?). i think we’re done with distance races for the season, but we’re looking forward to the springfield turkey trot 5k for thanksgiving! a few photos from race day…

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