This past Saturday, the Kelly boys and I ventured out for a hike at Minnehaha Falls Park for the first time this calendar year. Last year we went nearly once a month, but the cold and snow have been brutal enough here in Minnesota that we had not attempted our trek in some time.
We do the same route when we hike. We start at the top of the falls.
Darian (my little one, black hat), usually has a stick to use for a weapon/walking stick/thing to point out interesting things and this time was no different. Kimathi (Darian’s older brother literally from another mother, rocking the Charlie Brown hat) will occasionally grab a stick, but he never keeps the same one for all that long.
Check it out! It was in the 50s or 60s, and there were still giant chunks of ice in the falls. Then, we go down the looong stair case to the bridge below the falls, where everyone else is taking pictures, but we rarely do.
Then we start hiking down the path, towards the Mississippi river. Not pictured is the stop for peanut butter sandwiches and strawberries as the boys sat on a fallen tree.
We hike, and we hike, and we hike until we get to this long path that kind of floats above the more marsh-y parts of the creek. The boys run ahead of me, until we get to the more fun, less path-like path.
The tree roots are kind of like steps in some places, there are large rock-steps in others, and some of the path is downright precarious.
The boys are pros at navigating the trickier parts of the trail. They run ahead at all the right times, then wait dutifully at the parts of the path they know I want to cross as a group.
Shortly after we make it through the more Mountain-Goaty part of the trail, we can see the might Mississippi river! There is is just past the bridge. Up and to the left of Kimathi’s Charlie Brown hat if you’re having a hard time locating it. Most all the benches at this part of the trail are more sculptural than functional. Beware of rusty screws.
Oh, and there are the sandstone cliffs.
There is tons of “graffiti” scratched into these cliffs. The boys always add their own bit, and do a pretty good job ignoring the more adventurous additions put there by some young adult. They couldn’t ignore the large naked lady though, it was about my size and must have taken ages for the artist to carve. If it’s still there next time I’ll take a picture!
Darian always finishes with the sandstone before Kimathi. Here he is making a break for the Mississippi. The water was quite high this year- usually there is a large sandy stretch to the right of that bridge.
But The Tree is still exposed! It’s one of my favorite features of the Mississippi river front after our hike. The roots are all exposed and climb-able.
See how much use that stick is getting? It’s been about ten different things at this point in the hike. I love these boys.
Now we’re at The Other Tree, which I always force them to go climb into for a picture. There are five different trees all growing together. Thanks for putting up with all these photo ops, kids!
I keep taking pictures, even though they have no time to pose for me. Which makes me incredibly happy, by the way.
There! They’re peeking out for a smile. I like that they’re so into what they are doing, that posing isn’t a priority. Sometimes the second a phone comes out they yell Cheeese! and stop what they’re doing. There is not of that nonsense on these hikes.
Later on the walk back from the Mississippi river, we found a rock to rest against. This is the part of the hike where they inevitably regret going as far as we did. Fun fact- I was told by their father that those are gang symbols on that rock. I’m glad that even hoodlums get out and enjoy nature.
Here’s the last picture of our hike before my phone died. You won’t get to see the wading area, where in years past they frolicked in the dry creek bed. Or the massive, steep stairs that can only be climbed if it’s turned into a competition about who can get to the top first. Or the odd “Easter Event” that the park was hosting that day.
I love this picture for so many reasons. When Kimathi (now 8) was Darian’s age (5), I often called him “Captain Caution” and had to encourage that he take even the smallest risks. Now, he walks across fallen trees. Then jogs across them. And my heart bursts with love and pride. Darian had to be severely encouraged to make it across the log, and he crawled on his hands and knees the entire way. He was so proud when he made it across that I could almost talk him into trying it again. But not quite. Next time!
Now, as per usual, here’s my stab at this week’s menu.
- Monday Burrito bowls: Ground beef seasoned with salsa & cumin, pre-fab rice, black beans, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, and salsa. Not necessarily in that order. Garnished with a few tortilla chips. Carrot sticks on the side for the picky kid who doesn’t like fresh tomatoes.
- Tuesday Sticky orange/teriyaki chicken drumsticks (baked then coated in the thick sauce just before serving), fried rice, potstickers, green beans.
- Wednesday Junk food night because it won’t affect the kids! Darian is over at Kimathi’s house for dinner, so we’re having frozen pizza, nachos, and salad. And probably Easter candy for dessert.
- Thursday Baked fish & shrimp, home made tartar sauce, creamed spinach, garlic bread made with leftover rolls from Easter feasting
- Friday Sweet chili chicken, terikayi/peanut butter rice noodles with mixed veggies, sauteed broccoli, quick pickled cukes, carrots, and onions on the side, cilantro for garnish. Inspired by my beloved lettuce wraps from The Cheesecake Factory, but made at home to avoid the expense.
- Saturday Date night! My sweetie is taking me out somewhere, he just doesn’t know it yet. If that fails, I’ll probably make coconut chicken curry again. I could easily eat this twice a week, and there won’t be any kids to complain when I make it as spicy as it should be!
- Sunday Fancy Italian-American style dinner:
- Cheese tortellini with pesto
- Baked chicken “parmesan”: chicken thighs sauteed, then topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a mix of panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, italian breadcrumbs, and melted butter. Broiled on low til breadcrumbs are golden
- Fresh baked bread, served with garlic/herb infused olive oil for dipping
- Sauteed Brussels sprouts with garlic
I’m sure by Saturday I’ll be itching for another adventure with the boys. What’s your favorite way to get out and do something in the Spring?