Steele County Free Fair in Owatonna Minnesota. We spend 5 hours there today and are possibly going back this evening as a family.
I grew up going to our County Fair every year as part of 4-H but coming to this one here in Owatonna Minnesota is quite a change. The sphere is huge and the only larger Fair in Minnesota is the Minnesota State Fair.
The fair started yesterday and will go through Sunday so you have plenty of time to go check it out. Today we took my son and his friend and my daughter. After years of going to this fear I have a good idea of where the Cheap Eats are at this fair. I look for those boots and food carts every year to see if the price is the same or went up.
Here are some of the things we buy every year : $1 snow cones, $1 Dole Whip cones, $2 cotton candy on a stick ( no coupons for that this year like they have done in the past 😞), $2.50 corn dogs, $3 mini donuts ( it used to be $2 but then they try to up the price every year and end up going back to $2 so we'll see what happens this year), $1 popcorn, $1 lollipops, and don't forget you can go to the information booth and get the coupons that appear in both newspapers. Those usually help bring the cost down or get you a free beverage with an entree.
There are tons of free things to do as well. There are 5 different stages with entertainment other than the grandstand the stage entertainment is free. It is always free to go look in all of the animal barns as well as the baby animal barn and the exotic animals zoo there.
You are too late to get the wristband that is good for the entire length of the fair for rides but if you go to their website you can learn about the days that have wristband deals. I bought my kids season passes to Valley Fair and we went there yesterday and we'll go again this weekend in lieu of going on Midway rides.
There is fun and free interactive things the kids can do at the fair as well. Every day at 1:30 there is a lumberjack camp and the kids get a free t-shirt for participating and get to try out log rolling and sawing logs. My kids look forward to this every year and we made sure to do it on the first day so they could get their wristbands and not have to wait to get signed in on other days. Today was the first day they offered this and there wasn't a ton of kids so they got to try log rolling a lot.
The other display that they can be interactive with his inside the art Exhibit building where the Owatonna Arts Center has a table set out for them to color. Outside that building is the national Taekwondo Institute where kids can and try out breaking boards and punching and cooking the dummy. There is also a ton of opportunities to see animals being shown by kids. Today we watched cattle being shown because one of my daughters friends was doing that. We also watch the Owatonna cheer program which featured three of my daughters friends.
We didn't have a chance to watch the pig races but we will get to that before the week is over. We also hope to watch the magic show and the human Cannonball. Both of those things are free as well as the pig races.
Also we like to go check out the tractors that are on display as well as two or some of the buildings in the village of yesteryear which offers free tours during the fair. There is also an auto museum and a fear Museum which are free to to her as well while you are there. There is also a group called enticing entertainment which appears to do some kind of fire juggling of some sort, we have not seen that yet so that might be something we try to check out as well.
So that is the lowdown on the Cheap Eats and the free entertainment and activities at the fair. You still have plenty of time to go check it out.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Before you go on the tour you have to go through a space that is the same size and shape as these doorways to make sure that you can go through the submarine.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
I had not been back to Noah's Ark in Wisconsin Dells since I was an early team. I knew it was something I wanted to do with my kids but I needed to wait until my son was taller than the magical height of 48 inches. At 48 inches he can go on everything at Noah's Ark. 48 inches seems to be a magical height for most things as he can also go on the majority of the rides at Valleyfair now as well. Luckily he is almost 50 inches so there is no question that he is over 48.
This was also a good location to be able to meet other family add so they could spend time with their cousins as well as do one of those memory making trips.
Our cabin we rented included going to Noah's Ark as part of our fee. We went all day on Saturday and then Sunday for a few hours.
I didn't bring in my phone or a camera because I just wanted to be in the moment and spend time on the rides and not worry about taking pictures or making sure everything stayed dry or didn't get stolen. So all I have are pictures from the outside of them and what it looks like.
For the most part they loved it and went on most every ride & slide they could. Going 2 days was really a good idea because we couldn't possibly do everything in one day unless we wanted to stay even longer which would have meant really grumpy kids. As it was we had grumpy kids towards the end because they were just getting hot and tired and had been in the Sun for quite a long time.
We were there with my middle sister who goes every year so they are a bit seasoned at knowing where to go at what time. Each day we picked our most desired ryde that has long lines to go on first. That worked out well and we got on almost everything at the park. I even went on the ride called point of no return which was pretty exhilarating. I wasn't quite brave enough to go on the Scorpion but my brother-in-law did. I am thinking next year I will just have to do it. Yes there will be a next year. The kids loved it and it was a nice way to spend time as a family and with extended family all while having fun in water.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
We are actually on vacation right now in Oregon. But I was looking at some blog stuff and noticed that I had a huge spike in hits yesterday. I know I have typically posted on this blog on Wednesday but had not since I did have the capability to really share it very much but obviously there are people still coming even if I don't share it across my social media sites.
Anyways, our first stop when we arrived in Portland was for lunch at this place called Shut Up and Eat. The sandwich and fries are really as good as they look comma perhaps even better. I did order a bloody mary because I really do like Bloody Mary's but I wasn't all that impressed with this one. Maybe I should have had an Italian soda there instead. The sandwiches there tend to be Italian in nature and tasted awesome.
I had put my husband in charge of finding a place to eat lunch when we first arrived there. Since he is in Portland often for work he has eaten at a variety of places but typically he is without a vehicle so he is usually within walking distance or have something delivered to him.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
This is the outside of Cedar Lodge and Settlement cabin number 29. Obviously, this is that night. All of the cabins have these lights on them which look pretty neat. Cabin number 28 and 29 are both two bedroom with a loft cabin. Each of the bedrooms has a queen bed and the Loft has two queen beds, plus a sleeper sofa in the living room.
The cabin rental did include passes to go to both Noah's Ark and the water parks at Chula Vista Resort for our entire State. We did go to Chula Vista to the indoor waterpark the first night then we went to Noah's Ark the next two days. The inclusion of these wristbands help offset the cost of the cabin which was quite a bit. The cabin next door at the other place seemed to be cheaper but did not include the passes. Had this not been a waterpark intended trip I may have looked at the place next door instead which we may do in the future. It also included passes to go to the Big Cat Rescue but that look to be almost a half-hour away in the opposite direction of where we were going to be heading when we go home.
The place also did have a pool but we never got a chance to use it because we were busy doing other things. We thoroughly enjoyed having the use of a full kitchen and 2 bathrooms. We stayed there with my sister and her family so there were two families in the cabin.
One thing I didn't care for was that we were required to remove our own trash. It's not a big deal but when you pay $400 a night, you expect them to remove the trash. I also found it to be quite Dusty on the lights and light fixtures and underneath the beds. If the kids weren't playing hide-and-seek and came out covered in dust bunnies we probably would not have noticed but I expect it to not have so much dust.
Overall though, it was a nice place to stay and the inclusion of passes was awesome. They only required a two-night stay which is why we chose this place where as a lot of other places in the Dells require a three-night stay in the summer.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Having access to an indoor water park was nice. We went to the Chula Vista Indoor Waterpark for 3 hours the evenings we checked in. Anyone traveling with kids should know the magic height is 48 inches and they can go on everything.
Like most big water parks they have the customary huge bucket that fills and dumps on everyone playing in the climbing area with smaller slides. There is also a roller coaster slide and a couple of body slide a couple of tube slides and a couple of Matt slides as well. There is a hot tub indoors, a basketball playing area comma a smaller kids Splash area, and a lazy river.
Like a lot of lazy Rivers it really is not so lazy. They allow kids to be in it without tubes and they are pretty much running through the Lazy River the entire time. One of my favorite rides there was one that is like a toilet bowl where you circle around until you get flushed down a hole. I thought the roller coaster water slide was quite jerky and was not as fun to go on as some of the body slides and mat slides. I did not think the lifeguards here we were very attentive. They seem to let a lot of stuff go except for in the hot tub I noticed they would make sure anyone under the age of 12 wasn't in there unless they had an adult with them.
It was nice to have an indoor option 4 something to do when it was getting cooler. They do have other outdoor pool and water park areas at this hotel but we did not go to them.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
The kids decided to do swimming and snorkeling while we were at this Lake. It was quite clear so snorkeling was actually possibility.
These top two photographs are taken on Bay Lake. Don't let these pictures for you, we managed to find a quiet spot on the lake but the rest of the lake was extremely busy. We had to drive around quite a bit trying to find something that was not filled with boaters pulling tubes and water skis or a place where we would not bother fisherman.
This next picture was taken at East big rabbit Lake. We decided to get out early to go to being before a bunch of other people arrived. We just want to be safe with the kids in that have too many other boaters and other two hours to watch out for. It was a pretty perfect morning and early afternoon to go tubing.
These two fishing pictures are taken on West rabbit Lake. You access both East and West rabbit Lake from the same Public Access area but there is a channel between the two Lakes we had intended to go tubing on the 4th of July but it was cloudy and a little windy and felt a bit chilly. So we decided to go fishing instead. Obviously, both of these fish in the picture we're not Keepers but my son did catch three that were later on.
These last two pictures work taken on-loan Lake. It is a little bit of a drive Kama probably 15 to 20 minutes but is one of the closest beaches that we have to go to. Usually we like to take the kids to be not this week because the water seems a little warmer here and there seems to be a lot of families on the lake. It does not have a very big but it does have a roped-off swimming area and has a Sandy Beach for them to play at. Sometimes they just want to play in the sand.
Monday, June 27, 2016
It has been about three years or so since I have been to the Minnesota Zoo. We were really hoping to do the new playground they had their but water levels were too high and it was closed. They still had fun at the water splash area and the park with the beehive.
Being that it was summer the Aveda butterfly garden was back and that is always a hit with my kids. We didn't see all of the butterflies and moths that were on the sheet butt we did see quite a few and it was fun to get up close to so many of them.
The one thing that is really awesome about the Minnesota Zoo is that the enclosures can be quite large but on the flip side for those of us visiting that means a lot of walking. I really enjoyed seeing some of the animals and creatures we have not seen in any other Zoo before period I wish I could remember the name of the street at in the picture Kama I will have to Google it, but it sounds like it is comparable to a sloth. Maybe slightly more active but not too much more. I had never seen one of them before. A lot of the animals seem to be pretty alert when we were there first thing in the morning. The zoo opens up at 9 a.m. and we were shortly there after that.
My son was quite small the last time we had been here so he doesn't really remember anything from the zoo. Although he has not been deprived of Zeus, we have gone to many and often we go to zoos when we travel. I decided that this summer we would get a Zoo membership. It will be a full year membership but I am hoping to get there once a month for the summer. We usually do memberships to zoos and museums and rotate which ones we do. It has been a long time since we have had this Zoo membership and I figured we were due.
This is a picture of the big aquarium in the tropical encounters Wing but there is a huge area of aquariums if you go to the other side of the zoo. That is also inside. I didn't take any pictures they are this time, or at least not with my phone. I am sure when we go back there sometime in the winter I will get more pictures.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
I received these Postcards From the Owatonna Chamber of Commerce. I really like the top one titled marvels of Minnesota. I thought it would be a neat sort of bucket list as we make our way around to different parts of Minnesota. The Louis Sullivan Bank is in Owatonna and featured on here. On the way to our cabin we passed by the big walleye in Garrison.
We have seen the some Broda Covered Bridge, the spoon and Cherry in Minneapolis comma and I have seen the Jolly Green Giant before it was moved but the kids have not seen it. I have been to the Spam Museum in Austin but it just reopened in a new and much larger location so I will have to take the family to see that sometime soon to. There are a lot of things on here we have not seen. Most of them are just oversized statues.
Why does my phone turn the picture when I had it right side up. Ugh.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Let me tell you a little bit about She Is. It is a nonprofit organization that plans outings for women to do as a group. This is my third year going to the she is spring women's weekend. They do have one coming up in the fall but it will be hard for me to know whether or not I can attend that one because of when my kids might have swim meets.
The spring weekend is held at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro Minnesota. When you register for this weekend you will pick out classes in your order of preference. Each person will get for classes but you rank 10 of them in your preference order. I think there was about 25 classes to choose from so there is a wide variety of things to do outside and inside. I tend to gravitate towards the ones where I can be most active.
The above picture is me on the ropes course and the zip line. I have done this class each of the three years I have gone. I find it to be such a thrill.
We also had an optional Saturday morning yoga class for the group that I did with my friends. It was before breakfast so not everyone is interested in getting up early to workout. But I was and am glad I did. Next year you should join me at the spring She Is weekend!
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Villa Bellezza. It is in Pepin Wisconsin. We had no idea what to expect from this place when we drove to it because the ad was very basic in the Guidebook and did not have pictures of the facility. But when we got there we were surprised to see that it was just gorgeous and looked like a mini Napa right in Wisconsin. Who knew? I will have more pictures of the grounds of this place in a wordless Wednesday post on Save Green Being Green in July. There was a wedding going on in the reception hall but we could walk around the grounds and see what they had their including a fountain and big Plaza area separate buildings for wine making and a lot of vines as well as a tasting room and they were in the process of construction of a restaurant on site. It is a pretty neat place. We did the wine sampling for $5 that includes your choice of three wines. And you also get to sample the wine of the month for free.
Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery. One of the owners who was on site distributing free samples. They sell their own cider and wine as well as wines from other Midwest wineries. They also have a little gift shop there as well. The wine and cider tasting they offer for free includes five different samples. Since we were there we only wanted to try the things they made because we could try wines from other wineries at their location if we wanted to. We ended up buying a few bottles at this place.
Red Wing Brewery. We needed to get some food in our stomachs and the Red Wing Brewery is also a restaurant as well as growing their own beer and root beer. My husband tried a couple of the beers and I had the root beer. They were okay not spectacular, but what we really enjoyed was there homemade pizza that they use brewer's yeast in the crust. This is definitely something to check out if you are in Red Wing Minnesota.
Cannon River Winery. This place actually stays open quite late compared to all of the rest so we were able to go here and buy a sweet red as an after-dinner drink. Here we bought a bottle and had it while we were there. We have been to Cannon River Winery a couple times before and have done the same thing so we didn't feel the need to do it again. It was quite busy when we were there with a wedding upstairs and lots of groups of people enjoying wine on the main level. This is in Cannon Falls Minnesota
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
A couple weeks we decided to spend the afternoon out at Rice Lake State Park, which is just outside Owatonna, Minnesota. It is not a huge state park, but has manageable trails for hiking with kids and ample opportunities to observe a variety of different kinds of water fowl. They do have a couple of displays up that tell what typical water fowl visit Rice Lake and how to tell the difference between males and females. I am not really a bird person, maybe when I get older, but I can see why people find bird fascinating.
There were plenty of spring wild flowers in bloom. We were hoping to spot some morels while we were here, but were not lucky.
They do have an old school playground here that the kids like. So many playgrounds are big colorful plastic things, that these old ones are a bit more interesting.
They do have camping here - some campsites even overlook the lake, but we only came for the day. We have a State Park sticker on our vehicle (actually, we bought 2 so we have them on a vehicle at home and at the cabin) so we can just drive in for no additional fee, but otherwise it's only $5 for a vehicle admission.
They have quite a few canoes to rent here and 2 kayaks. We have been canoeing here a couple times and it is best to go in the spring or early summer, but late summer and into fall the reeds are too thick that it is hard to get out there.
This is not a deep lake, I think they say it is 3 feet deep across the whole thing. So there is no swimming here. But there is only one property on the lake besides state park, so it is very quiet and you will enjoy the serenity. In the winter they have groomed cross country skiing trails here and year round there are hiking club trails here.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
My husband recently had a milestone birthday and to celebrate the kids went to the In-laws and we had a weekend to ourselves. Today I am going to share with you a couple of things we did on the east side of Minnesota. Next week I will share with you the three wineries and one brewery that we went to on the east side of Minnesota and west side of Wisconsin. We also did those that same weekend.
The first thing we did was actually go trout fishing for a while at a designated trout stream just outside of Zumbro Falls. This was actually the first time we have ever gone stream trout fishing. Just so you know, you do need a trout stamp on your fishing license in the state of Minnesota, which we have. The stream was incredibly clear and we could see a lot of these tiny baby trout swimming around down the stream. However, I didn't catch anything. Maybe next time. It was a beautiful stream to fish in and see the beginning of Spring.
We also went to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha Minnesota. It is wonderfully affordable attraction that is a nonprofit organization. If you do go to this, make sure you plan enough time so you can watch the show, that is really the highlight of the center. We went there in the spring obviously but they said if we were to come back in the winter there are as many as ten times as many Eagles that call this stretch of the Mississippi River their winter home that fly self to Minnesota from Alaska and Canada. We want to take the kids back there sometime in the winter so we can see all of the Eagles there. It was still pretty amazing to see the half-dozen we did flying overhead as we were crossing the bridge from Minnesota to Wisconsin.
They do have their own resident eagles that no longer able to be in the wild because they no longer can fly because of injuries. They have them in a room and you can see them and only be about six feet away from them. It is pretty neat to be up that close to them. We have also seen and Eagle at the Zollman Zoo in Byron. At the National Eagle Center they had two bald eagles and one golden eagle that were for viewing. They brought in another bald eagle for the class presentation. Plus they mentioned a few other eagles that they must have housed somewhere else in the facility. The building is beautiful and they have a fountain that wasn't on but I can only imagine looks gorgeous once it is running. The national Eagle Center overlooks the Mississippi River which is an awesome site.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
The Roasterie Air Roasted Coffee factory tour was one of those Hidden Gem Vines that I had planned for our group of four on our girls weekend to Kansas City. This is in Kansas City Missouri. The tour is free to do and you can make a reservation for the tour on their website. I recommend making a reservation if you are hoping to do this as they do fill up and ours was pretty close to full.
It is a very nice looking building on the inside and the outside. It appears they have the facilities to host some private events there as well. We each bought several bags of coffee and walked away with so much more knowledge about coffee, The Roasting method they use as well as the method they use for decaffeinated coffee and how to brew coffee as well as the shelf life of coffee then we ever thought we would know.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Coming from Minnesota in mid April to the Kansas City region of Missouri and Kansas brings the treat of seeing a lot more green on the trees on the ground and colorful flowers.
We went to the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden as part of our fifth annual girls weekend. We had never been here before and this was actually the first time I can claim to have been to Kansas because our other trips here have kept us in Kansas City Missouri.
We are just hanging around with Monet. He is a pretty nice fella. Obviously, it is just a statue, and one of many statues within the Botanical Garden.
This is one of the displays in the train garden. The train garden is one of the big specialty gardens they have there. This is the larger of the display but the other one has a train that will run under the sidewalk you are walking on and you can see it below. There is also a Big Caboose there and a ticket station for kids to play in. There is also another area near this that allow kids to be Hands-On and play in the dirt.
Like I mentioned before it was a treat to see these flowers in full bloom. When I returned home from the trip, which was just a few days ago, I see that my tulips may be ready to open at the end of the week or sooner.
These two sculptures are called Dancer I and Dancer II. I just thought they were beautiful and looked so graceful.
I thought it was interesting to see the root structure of this tree along side the creek. You can see how low the creek is right now. They must really need water. Although when I drove by the river that run through our small town, it is looking pretty low as well.
They have a very handy visitors guide to help guide you through the gardens and on the handful of wood trim trails. We went on one of them along the creek but because we were wearing ballet flats and sandals we didn't walk all of them. Admission is only $3 for an adult which is quite a deal.
I just love this fairy garden made into a lot. It gives me an idea of something that would be fun to do with my daughter up at the cabin.