Monday, May 10, 2010

Tallgrass Prairie

For Mother's Day every year it seems we always spend time visiting other mothers which is important but it always leaves me wishing for more.  Wishing for a day spent with just my family!  I am a huge "quality time" girl!  So this year, we decided to spend Saturday as a true family day.  But the kicker is we had to leave our house.  Our house is just one giant "to do" list.  Not big things, lots of little things like laundry, cleaning up the office, the garage, get the picture.  Even if we spent all day at home together, we probably wouldn't have actually spent much time together as a family.  So we packed up the kids and drove up to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City.  It only took about an hour so it was very doable with our kids.  They have several trails there from only 1.75 miles all the way to 13 miles.  With four little ones and lots of little legs, we were a bit limited.  We had a backpack for Sam, though he quickly figured out that he preferred to walk and Isabella preferred to ride on my back.  They're almost two years apart, but there is only about 4-5 lbs. difference! 

We picked the shorter trail and walked it, then had a picnic lunch and then walked the same trail again.  The kids had a fabulous time!  They saw lizards, a baby bunny (dead, but still very interesting!!), butterflies, birds, and tons of wildflowers.  Sophia is really into nature things and was constantly on the look out for "critters."  She also found a half of a walnut shell that looked like a ghost.  She was so eager to run back to the front building and tell the ranger all about the bunny and the walnut shell. 

If you take the back country trails you can even see bison.  The website warns you how to watch the bison's tail to see if they are friendly or very upset.  Next time we go I think we'll take a longer trail, but 3 1/2 miles was about the right distance for our little legs. 

Did I mention that this was all free?  Other than the gas to get there, we didn't spend a dime.  We packed lunches, the park is free.  Perfect!  I know we plan to go back more and check out the other trails.  Also, as the grass grows more and different wildflowers bloom it will be a little different visit each time.  The kids LOVED it and we had actual quality time as a family.   And we got to spend time outside in one of the prettiest areas of Kansas! 

It reminded me a lot of my grandparent's ranch they used to have.  The rolling pastures and small ponds that I used to fish are some of my best memories as a child.  So it was so much fun to take my kids to something similar.  What a great day!  Can't wait to do it again. 

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