This post is part of an ongoing series summarizing each State Park in Missouri that our family has attended. We hope to visit each of 54 State Parks before the kids graduate from high school.
Katy Trail State Park is a 240 mile shared-use trail converted from the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. Growing up in Columbia, it’s a site I visited multiple times with my family (at the Rocheport section), but Brooke and I made multiple visits to the St. Charles section of the trail shortly after moving to St. Louis. Now that we live in Marshall, we live about 30 minutes away from the Sedalia portion of the trail, ironically making it closer than it has ever been to the two of us.
As Brooke and I are the only two in the house capable of riding a bicycle (sans training wheels…), we picked up a trailer for my bike last year that we can put the kids in. It folds up in the back of our Forester pretty easily, though by the time you put our bikes on the roof rack of the car and the front tires of said bikes in the back with the folded-up trailer, we’re mostly out of room (i.e. we can go to Sedalia, Boonville or Rocheport pretty easily, but not much further, as we don’t have room for overnight bags).
For now, the kids like riding in the trailer and we use it on trips to the local playground here in Marshall. Meg is 6, but is still relatively small, so she fit in the trailer easily last year and this year – next summer may be a different story. Hopefully, we can get Meg riding her bike over the next year, but Calvin will still be able to use the trailer for years to come.
Honestly, there isn’t much to write about here. The trail picture above is what it looks like for 240 miles. It goes through/near some small towns, sometimes there are bathroom facilities available (though usually not), some sections are shaded while others aren’t. It’s a great State Park to visit, but personally, we like biking on it more than anything else. It’s a “mixed use” trail, so we see walkers and joggers frequently, though closer to cities – the further you get from the cities, the more likely you’ll find bikers. Some sections, especially near the State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, also allow for horses, but we don’t often see them on the trail.
Ultimately, it’s a really awesome resource that’s unique in that quite a few Missourians have been on it, likely without knowing it’s a State Park. It isn’t a “single destination” like the other State Parks because it spans the entire state (as in, you can live in Kansas City or you can live in St. Louis, and you can visit the same park while only driving for 20 or 30 minutes to get there). I suspect the kids will both have fond memories of this one.
We like to think of ourselves as “outdoorsy” types and, thankfully, we’ve got a really good Department of Natural Resources in Missouri to provide us with some great opportunities around the state. When we traveled the Oregon Trail last year, Brooke and I found that many other states out that direction had some very unimpressive parks to visit, especially with regards to how much they charge to camp there relative to the quality of the facilities provided. Thankfully, Missouri has cheap rates (even for non-residents), and some really nice places to visit.
Therefore, we decided it would be cool to hit every state park in Missouri before both kids graduate from high school. There are 54 state parks and another 33 historic sites, many of which are also associated with the parks. We’ve already visited a few of them as a family of four, so if we visit a few each year, we should be able to pull it off rather easily. We’ll probably camp at most of them, but some of them like Rock Bridge State Park and Van Meter State Park, we may just visit.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be making a few posts about previous visits that both kids have been present for, so you may see some old pictures showing up. Apparently, I didn’t post about many of those trips, so I guess I need to catch up. Still, this will be a lengthy series of posts, so enjoy!
When we bought Brooke’s 2006 Scion xA new, the plan was (and is) to “drive it into the ground,” or at least as close as we can. We’ve got about 97,000 mi on it now and had almost zero issues with it. The one issue we did have was with the blower motor resistor, and I was able to fix that myself. We’ll probably end up replacing it eventually, but likely not until we’re done making payments on the Subaru.
Weeeeeeelllllll, we made it to 140,000 mi and Brooke’s 2006 Scion xA was starting to squeal a bit more. Was it just a loose belt? Probably. But we’ve been talking about it for quite awhile and Brooke’s been getting a little more cognizant of the fact that she’s the director of an agency and is driving consumers around with a car that has seen some better days.
The original plan was to keep that car for 10 years and then start looking, and that’s what we did. Brooke and I had been investigating some other options, like the Volkswagen Golf or the Ford Focus hatchback, but more and more, the Subaru Impreza seemed like the mix she was looking for. Part of this was the fact that we already have a Subaru and love it. The Forester is based on the same platform as the current model of the Impreza, so driving one is very similar to the other (though the Forester sits a few inches higher).
Back when I got the Forester in 2013, the main thing I wanted was a moonroof. This time around, Brooke wanted leather seats. When comparing the leather options on the Impreza versus the Golf or Focus, the Impreza just made more sense as, for the same amount of money, you got the bonus of all-wheel drive on the Impreza where you didn’t on the Golf or Focus. Also, the resale value on the Impreza is second-to-none compared with the Golf and Focus, especially at the Limited trim level we ended up getting.
The big reason we went ahead and pulled the trigger is because we figured we could get a decent deal on one now, while waiting a few months would force us into the brand new 2017 model. Don’t get me wrong, that new model looks pretty nice, but there hasn’t been a price announced, and with all the new features they are advertising, it would likely be more expensive than the current version is. On a related note, because the new model is coming, you can’t easily choose options on a 2016 model anymore, so if we waited until July, we probably wouldn’t be able to find this specific car anymore, at least not without having it transported across the country.
So yeah, Brooke was in Columbia last Friday morning, went by Subaru to ask them some questions and ask a few questions. She went on a test-drive of this car (that she already checked out online before going) and fell in love. The process ended up taking 3 hours, but the dealership bought her some Fazoli’s to keep her in her seat so they could close the deal. It’s the little things.
Regardless, it’s a sharp little car! It definitely feels smaller to me relative to the forester, but the back seats are just as roomy, so the kids can actually grow into this car, whereas in the Scion, they were just about as big as any person could be and still sit comfortably for long periods. She also finally has cruise control again, so with all the traveling she’s been doing recently, she won’t be quite as insane. This model also comes with the 7″ touchscreen option and some better Bluetooth connectivity than our Forester does, though we didn’t spring for their EyeSight adaptive cruise control option.
She loves it! Hopefully Calvin ends up liking this car when he gets it in 12 years… 🙂
I’ve been writing this post in my head for weeks now, but things never seemed to settle down perfectly, so I kept putting it off.
Basically, Brooke and I split time sleeping on Calvin’s floor for, like, 8 months this year. He simply did not want to sleep alone, and while you could get him to sleep, the minute he’d wake up, he wouldn’t go back down (willingly) unless someone was with him. This also made it nearly impossible to leave his room (or we’d fall asleep waiting for him to finally pass out). We tried a few things, including removing his crib because he was getting too large to lay in there without waking him up. He fell asleep on the floor one night, so we went with it and made a little “nest,” of sorts, in the corner for him to sleep on.
Ultimately, we relented and began just sleeping on the floor with him. I moved a backpacking-style air mattress in there, Brooke laid down multiple comforters, and one of us would just take turns going in sometime between 1:00 am and 4:00 am and staying with him until it was time to get up.
Finally, finally, we got sick of it. On Calvin’s birthday, we gave him a small toddler bed. We figured this would be the opportunity to start fresh in a “new situation,” where we rearrange his room a bit, put him in the bed, and make him sleep in it.
Shockingly, the process of getting him to sleep in it didn’t go as terribly as we’d expected. That first night was somewhat challenging, but even within the first few days, he was sleeping in the bed by himself for 6 hours at a time. It took us a bit to get into a routine of one of us sitting with him with books or YouTube videos before he’d let us leave his room without crying. There were some times when he’d try to follow us out and we’d have to sit there, holding his door shut, so he couldn’t escape. Early on, this didn’t happen all that often though, and he’d actually stay in his bed for awhile.
“Awhile” is a critical point, though, as 4:00 am would roll around and he’d decide “I’m awake!” and he’d leave his room. We had a door knob protector on, but those old door knobs are useless and the protector would stick in such a way that Calvin could get right past it.
Occasionally, he’d go into Meg’s room and wake her up, wanting to play.
More recently, we picked up a special alarm clock that changes colors depending on whether it’s time to get up or not. He mostly ignores whether it’s “yellow” (stay in bed) or “green” (time to get up), even though he’ll tell you what those colors mean. We think the clock has helped, to some degree, as we know what time it is so, if he’s crying at 5:00 am and wants to leave his room, we can use the walkie-talkie function on the baby monitor and tell him to stay in bed “until the light turns ‘green’.”
Overall, we’re doing much better. Both of us are getting far more sleep than we were at this time last year, and we’re getting to stay in our beds for longer on successive nights than we have since Calvin was born. Occasionally, we still need to go in there and help him find his lost stuffed animal in the middle of the night, but for the most part, he’s sleeping quite a bit better than he has in awhile!
As a brief aside, over Thanksgiving this year, Meg and Calvin slept in the same rooms for 4 nights and actually did remarkably well! We tried it once at our house a few weeks ago and it was a literal nightmare, but on the road, Meg was actually pretty good at keeping him in his room and knowing whether it was okay to get up and play or not. Since she can actually tell time, she knew whether it was okay to get up and play with toys in their room but not actually leave the room, and other policies like that. Perhaps we’ll be able to move to bunk beds sometime in 2016!
We had a few names rolling around in our heads when we settled upon “Calvin,” but while there are a few reasons why we ultimately went with it, the most obvious reference for our generation is the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. I was a relatively big fan growing up and still have multiple book compilations in my office.
Well, when the “Calvin” name was announced, the comic strip was obviously mentioned, and we were asked whether we were going to give him a “Hobbes.” Famously, Bill Watterson, author of the comic, never licensed his materials to third-parties, so you can’t buy an official “Hobbes” stuff animal. Etsy has had some recently, but when I just searched, they were no longer available, so perhaps the lawyers made a few phone calls…
Anyway, Calvin was going to turn 2 (today, as of this posting, incidentally…happy birthday, buddy!) and Brooke and I wanted to get him the stuffed animal. Brooke found a pattern at Instructables and wanted to give it a try, as the material was reasonable and the stuffed animals on Etsy were generally not (some reaching as high as $150).
She actually took care of the initial work when I was gone at work for an evening,taking care of the bulk of the work before the kids were even in bed (as the sewing machine is right outside their bedrooms). This didn’t take all that long, though if she were going to do it again, she’d watch the head a bit more closely, as it’s more round than the real thing.
She had to sew the arms, legs and head on by hand, but that wasn’t the time-consuming part: that went to the stripes. Each stripe had to be done by hand, so she spent many evenings sitting in front of the TV, sewing each stripe on. The whole thing wasn’t quite done by the time we had Calvin’s birthday party this past weekend in Columbia, so she took all her materials along to work on. Finally, after many nights of work (most nights for around three weeks?), she finished up, just in time to give it to him.
Pretty good, right?! For my part, I’m pretty impressed. It looks quite a bit like the real thing and just as good as most of the options available on Etsy (when you can find them). Brooke also personalized a little “Cal” onto the bottom of it, forever marking this “Hobbes” for this “Calvin.”
At least, to the only person that matters, he’s perfect. 🙂
Last night, Meg had a church kids event to go to. I took her, expecting to need to wait until the event got going. The organizer was there, along with a few kids, but they were going to wait upstairs for more kids to get there before getting started.
I asked Meg if she wanted me to stay for a bit.
“No. Bye, Daddy.”
Hug, kiss, and I was out the door. With Meg left in a new situation with mostly new people. Bonkers.
We’ve struggled with leaving Meg places for, oh, her entire life. Any time we’d switch to a new school, we’d have to plan for, literally, weeks of struggling to get her situated and used to the new place and new people. Every morning, we’d have to build in an extra 10 minutes or so in order to extract ourselves from the “dropping off” stage of our day. By the end of the session, be it school or some kind of day camp, she’d be just fine! But that initial “drop off” would be a huge hassle, as Meg tried to exert her dominance and ultimately would fail.
We expected the same thing with Kindergarten this year. As recently as a few months ago, it took a few weeks before she’d stay at the YMCA without throwing a fit. We had to resort to bribery to get her to do it. And last year when we started at the Lab School, even with taking Calvin along to the same place, she’d cry as we tried to leave.
Yet Kindergarten? Shockingly, it only took a day. After only one day, she was good to go. Yes, there was crying that first morning, but after she realized there were a few people she knew in her class, she did alright.
And at church last night? A place we’ve attended a few times, but never in this context and never with these kids? I was practically shoved out the door.
Likely, this was because the adult is a woman who’s also a Kindergarten teacher and who we’ve connected with on Sunday mornings. But still, this is like a whole other child. One I don’t recognize.
A big day in the Linsenbardt household! And a long time coming…
For the past few weeks, Meg has been pretty apprehensive about starting Kindergarten. Then again, we run through this every time a new school comes into play, and this has happened more than a few times to her. As the drill usually goes, on the first day, things are fine until you get to the room you’re going to leave her in, then she wells up with tears, and then she starts bawling…with a mix of a few screams… Typically, you end up just leaving her there, crying, because the teacher says “It’s okay – just go.” Eventually, she makes it through the day and you pick her up, and you repeat the same process for 2 or 3 weeks.
So far as the first day is concerned, today was no different.
Again, she’s been dreading this for a bit, telling us she didn’t want to go, that she wasn’t excited, that she was scared of going to Kindergarten. Perhaps we noticed it more because she’s been home with me (near constantly) for the past month, so it’s inescapable. Last night, when Mimi called to say “good luck,” Meg at least said she was excited, though that’s the first time I’d heard that expression from her. Perhaps the Open House on Monday night helped a bit, introducing her to the new environment, her new teacher, and that at least one or two old friends from her previous preschool would be in her class. Either way, yesterday was seeming a bit better.
Today? Well, she got up, she ate her waffles, I bribed her with 5 M&Ms to get the picture above (which totally has syrup spilled on her dress…lovely…), and then we left for school. Brooke and I both went this time, though Brooke will take over “drop-offs” from now on and I’ll handle “pick-ups.”
We got there and walked toward her classroom and were then directed toward the gym. We unfortunately didn’t make this clear to Meg that there was a good possibility they’d gather in the gym before going to their classroom, so it’s likely that disrupted her plans a bit.
Before we even hit the gym, the tears were already rolling.
To save some text here, I’ll just say that it took about 10 min for us to get out of there. Her teacher came in to help her feel more comfortable (and offer that she could help hand out name tags to her peers), and when that wasn’t quite enough, I offered to take her to Dairy Queen today after school.
That calmed her down. Bribery will get you everywhere with Kindergarteners.
Ultimately, we survived the first part of what will be a long, long story this year!
We left Portland on Saturday morning and, rather than take the interstate down to San Francisco, we opted for the coastline via US-101. Is this a longer trip? Yes. Is it much more interesting than taking I-5? Absolutely. US-101 connects up with the famed Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1), so it’s effectively the Oregon leg of that roadway. For much of the trip, we were driving along the Pacific coast, which Brooke hadn’t seen before. We stopped off at a beach or two to check it out and, believe you me, that water was cold. We saw multiple cars with surfboards on top as we made this trip and never saw a single surfer actually in the water.
It was two-lane highway for much of this trip, but we had intended this to be a day-long drive down toward California. Thus, we weren’t really in a rush or anything. We stopped off at a seafood restaurant, Mo’s, to get the “local seafood treatment” (though what I ate was just fried fish from Alaska, so not that much fresher than what I’d get at home…oh well…).
The coast of Oregon took a few hours, and then US-101 headed inland. We’d return to the coastline after awhile, but first we got to drive through the Redwood Forest (which is one of the main reasons we took this route instead of I-5).
Know what? Those trees are big. Really big. Your encyclopedia collection didn’t lie to you.
As you drive through, you marvel at how tall the trees are. Granted, I’ve seen some tall trees, so in some ways, these don’t seem that tall. But when you actually get out of the car and stand next to one of them, your perspective changes a bit. The tree above, located near a pull-off parking area, was just some random tree: it isn’t a special “biggest tree in the forest” or anything. It’s just that they’re all this big. Which is crazy.
We’d like to return here someday to do some camping and hiking. We just didn’t have the time on this trip to spend very long, but we’re really glad we passed through the Redwood Forest. It’s one of those things you can look at in pictures, but can’t truly experience until you stand next to one.
US-101 weaved back to the coast for a bit, and then continued inland toward San Francisco. We stopped in Redwood Valley, CA for the night at an Airbnb house. This was our first experience using Airbnb and we were pleased with the results. The house we stayed in had a separate apartment area with a mini-fridge, its own bathroom, a queen-size bed, a table and chair, and had its own access out of the house. I’m quite sure this was a dice roll that could have turned out poorly, but based on the reviews for the woman we stayed with, and the location, we went with it and were pleasantly surprised. I think we’d definitely recommend Airbnb again as an option for a place to crash for the night, but just make sure you look at the reviews and make sure you’re fine with the accommodations being offered (i.e. if you don’t want to stay in some grandma’s basement on her couch, don’t do it…because those places are on there and the experience will be just as they describe).
Redwood Valley, CA is less than 2 hrs from San Francisco, so we still had a little driving to take care of the next morning. It’s also about 70 mi from Napa Valley, so there are tons of vineyards along the route. And when I say “tons,” I say “you know how much corn we grow in Iowa? Well, imagine an Iowa cornfield of grapes and that’s what you’ll see.” Seriously, the vineyards in Missouri near Hermann simply can’t compare, just in sheer volume.
One thing we noticed as we made this leg of the trip through northern California was the lack of water. California is going through a pretty serious drought this year and it was evident almost as soon as we left the Redwood Forest. You can see in the picture above some healthy vineyards, but the dry grass underneath. Among the trees in the background, you can also see dry fields of grass. An errant match could pretty easily take up all those grapes in minutes.
After a few short hours, we crossed into San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a lot bigger than I expected! US-101 is what crosses it, so it wasn’t exactly hard to find. It’s 6 lanes wide with some walking/biking in the middle. Due to some construction, it took us a few minutes to figure out how to get this picture, but we eventually got to the grounds of the Presidio to take a look around.
Once the requisite pictures were taken, we found a place to park (for far cheaper than in Portland…) so we could walk toward Alcatraz. As I’m a big fan of “The Rock,” I actually kinda wanted to check out the site, but it would have taken hours to take the ferry to the island and then take the tour. In some ways, thankfully, the decision was made for us, as tours were all booked through mid-August by the time we checked in mid-June.
So, instead we walked toward the Bay so we could at least see it from the shoreline (it’s visible from the Golden Gate Bridge, too). On the way, we accidentally walked through another site from “The Rock,” the Palace of Fine Arts. We didn’t really know what these buildings were even there for (apparently they were built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition, so it’s kinda like their equivalent of St. Louis’ Forest Park and the 1904 Worlds Fair exhibits). I think I was a bit more impressed than Brooke was, but the buildings were all pretty cool and the grounds were beautiful.
Eventually, we cut through the multitude of tourists on bicycles and got to the coastline where I could get a picture of Alcatraz Island. Here is my picture of Alcatraz Island. I’ve been close enough to “The Rock” to take a picture.
Speaking of “being close enough to take a picture,” we also saw the “Full House” house. Not much to say here except yeah, we totally drove by it.
The last thing we did in San Francisco was check out The Mission district, which is where much of their Hispanic community calls home. They also have quite a few restaurants and “Mission-style burritos,” where they were obviously invented and appropriated by the likes of Chipotle and Qdoba. This area of town felt a bit “seedier” than where we were taking pictures of Danny Tanner’s fictional house, which was great because it also felt less touristy than what we’d already seen.
After that, we took off! It was early-afternoon and we didn’t have anything else we really wanted to commit to for the next few hours, so we headed east, back home. That night, we stayed at a KOA in Winnemucca, NV (after stopping off at our first In-n-Out Burger in Reno, NV), and then continued for a really long 14 hr day to Limon, CO. The next day, we had an 8 hr drive home and that was it! Though taking the interstate was far more boring than the initial trip out, it was good to “book it” home, as we were both in the mood for our own bed and consistent Wifi access.
It was a great trip! Lots of memorable moments and cool things to see along the way. We aren’t sure we’d change much about it, but I think we’d both like to hit up the Pacific Northwest again someday, perhaps when the kids are old enough to go hiking with us in the Redwood Forest, or have a beer in Portland.
Yeah, I know: we already did a “Day Five” post…but it didn’t really address Portland. Part of the genius of this Oregon Trail adventure of ours was that it would take us out to the Pacific coast, allowing us to see Portland, the Redwood Forest, and San Francisco before returning home via boring interstate highways.
We stayed at a Ramada in Portland for a few nights, getting much needed rest in actual beds with actual Wifi access (i.e. things we hadn’t really experienced for the previous 4 days…). On Friday, July 10th, we explored Portland (and visited Oregon City in the morning).
Parking was something of an issue. We tried heading up from Oregon City directly into Portland (15 min drive?), but quickly discovered that parking in downtown Portland on a Friday after 10:00 am is all but impossible for a reasonable price (or really, at all, for any price). So, we drove around a bit before deciding to head back to the hotel, where we could leave the car and hop on their light-rail system to hit downtown. Yes, it was backtracking and, yes, it took 45 min to take the train to get downtown. But, once we were there, our lives were much easier.
It appears that you can’t throw a rock without hitting a brewery in Portland and, while I would have loved to spend the day just hitting every brewery we could, that would have limited our ability to do other things (we’ll have to go back!). Thus, we stopped by Deschutes Brewery for some appetizers and a few beers. They’re a national brewery, at this point, but the stuff we tried isn’t bottled and is more limited to the Portland region. It felt a lot like Schlafly Bottleworks, though I’m sure Schlafly modeled themselves after northwestern breweries when they formed decades ago.
Near the brewery, we also stopped at Powell’s City of Books. Yes, it’s “just” a bookstore, but it’s a really big one that takes up a full city block and is a few stories tall. Just about any book you could imagine was here. We picked up a few books for the kids as souvenirs (parents of the year!), but were really just in awe of how many books you could cram into this space. Definitely worth a stop if you’re in town.
As we were in Portland, we also had to partake in local coffee wares. Much like beer, the options for coffee in Portland are almost limitless, but it sounded like Stumptown Coffee Roasters are perhaps best-known and end up providing a lot of their beans to the other coffee houses in town. In the end, it was really just a regular ol’ coffee shop, but at least we can say we had fresh coffee in Portland, right?
We walked by Pioneer Square on our way to dinner. I guess this is their equivalent of Jackson Square in New Orleans, a location where you may hear live music, where there are local street vendors with food and souvenirs, and just a general gathering place for tourists. Really, we just walked on by after seeing it…
The last thing we did was eat dinner. Believe you me, the options in Portland are wide and ranging, but considering we’d had fast food, American-style food, Italian food (Brooke did, at least…) and knew we’d have Mexican down in San Francisco, we figured something more Asian would be a good idea for a change. Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen had a lot of great reviews on the intertubes and we had a recommendation from a Portlander, so we gave it a go. The place was packed, and it only got worse after we got our table…and we were there around 4:30 or 5:00 pm. We got a smattering of different dishes (the small plates above were $2 each) for exposure to a lot of options. Good stuff!
After that, we went back to the hotel. By this point, we were ready to just chill for the rest of the night, as we’d be hitting the road again toward San Francisco shortly…