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Mud & Mosquitoes

Father's Day wasn't too long ago...and on each of these "parental" holidays...we like to pick a place we haven't gone before and enjoy a family adventure. The Sunflower Balloon Fest, Chase Lake, and Mushroom Rock State Park are some of the places that have made our list. This Father's Day we headed south to Chaplin Nature Center in Arkansas City. We pack up the sunscreen and snacks, put on our hiking shoes and hats then hit the road!

Real quick - you'll always see our kiddos in these hats by Sunday Afternoon. They're great quality, are easy to take care of, and do a great job protecting our kids faces from the sun when they're outdoors. They also allow me to avoid putting sunscreen on my kids faces - which usually ends up in their eyes, etc... Their chin straps easily break away for safety and the hats are easy to wear while laying back in a stroller. They'll last through your kids childhood and are worth checking out!

Our destination was Chaplin Nature Center (CNC) which is about an hour's drive from Wichita. It's way out in the country as you might expect, and the large amounts of recent rain made reaching our target a little challenging. Our minivan ended up looking like an off-roader. But deep in the middle of peaceful Kansas nature is a haven for kiddos. The actual building is a really neat exhibit showcasing our friends around us in nature - the birds, snakes and other animals we might see along our path. We took a trail called the River Bluff that was about a mile long and easy enough for our kiddos. It was perfect.

Great length so we didn't end up carrying our little back, beautiful scenery - we saw numerous birds and bugs (to the delight of our boys), and just rustic enough that our kids were "challenged" with some of the terrain. The mud. Ohhhh the mud - our boys loved it. Make sure to bring bug spray - especially with all the rain we've had this season. The park attendants are so helpful sharing what trails they suggest and what to look for around you as you hike. For example, ours highlighted the nest of a Great Horned Owl where a baby owl was just about ready to leave home. There are plenty of picnic tables to enjoy lunch in the Great Outdoors - which is exactly what we did. Lunchables make a great foundation to a picnic lunch, along with a few other yummies as well. While we would have loved another hike - the bugs were too much for our family so we instead headed into Ark City to find a park where the kids could play before heading home. Ark City is designated a Tree City and has beautiful huge shade trees in many of its 17 (17!!!???!!!) parks. We went to Wilson park that had both a playground AND a train - say no more. An old steam locomotive is parked there and kids can climb aboard and even ring the old bell. Perfect spot to burn off a little more energy before heading home. Mud, bugs, a picnic and a train. A great way to spend the holiday. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! We appreciate you and everything you do and have done for us!

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