Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Summer Bucket List - A Final Look

I think we can officially say that summer is over (or at least it feels like it!) and it is time to think fall.  Before I share my Fall Family Fun Bucket List (stay turned for it later this week) I'd like to share how we ended up on our 2013 Family Summer Fun Bucket List:

  1. Go to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines (and invite my Grandma J/LP's Great-Grandma to come along)
  2. Ride the Train at the Boone Scenic Valley Road (and invite my Grandpa & Grandma K/LP's Great-Grandparents to come along)
  3. Go to the County Fair
  4. Go to the State Fair
  5. Visit a New Midwest Town/Landmark
  6. Go Camping at Pine Lake with Friends
  7. Go on a Family Vacation
  8. Sign-up for the Summer Reading Program at our Local Library
  9. Participate in the Latimer Fun Day 5K Run/2 Mile Walk
  10. Go Swimming at the Swimming Pool
  11. Go Golfing
  12. Go on a Nature Walk at Beeds Lake
  13. Have a Picnic at Clear Lake's Beach
  14. Watch Fireworks for the 4th of July
  15. Have Family Dates (Mom & Dad, Mom & LP, Mom & MP, Dad & LP, Dad & MP)
  16. Go to a Baseball Game
To finish out the summer we went on our first family vacation to Chicago!  And we stopped in Dyersville, Iowa on the way and visited some Iowa landmarks we had never been to before.  You might be wondering with how busy our summer was how we fit in a family vacation?  Well, we went the week after Labor Day.  It was really the perfect time.  We all needed a break from the house, the farm and just needed to relax and just be the four of us.  We had a great time and can't wait to make going on a vacation a tradition and go on our 2nd Annual Family Vacation next year.  After some of our travel this year I learned that My Farmer hasn't seen very much of South Dakota, so I think we'll be traveling over to South Dakota next year!  (My Farmer always says I like planning for the future way too much, I think starting to plan your next family vacation a year in advance probably shows an example of that...)

Our family vacation was a nice four day, three night getaway.  On day one we drove about half way to Chicago and landed in Dyersville, Iowa.  We have driven by and through Dyersville countless times but had never ventured out to the "Field of Dreams" movie site.  This was a great place to stop at to not only break up our trip and let LP run around, but also so we could mark off visiting a Midwest landmark off our Summer Bucket List.

"Is this heaven?  No, it's Iowa."
The farm and baseball diamond made famous by the 1989 movie "Field of Dreams"
LP is ready to go explore the baseball diamond
My Farmer and LP ran the bases a couple of times
"If you build it, they will come."
LP and My Farmer standing in the corn
(It took awhile to get this photo because both My Farmer and LP
were more interested in scouting the corn then taking a photo...)
After touring the "Field of Dreams" movie site, we went into the town of Dyersville and went through the National Farm Toy Museum.  This was obviously a big hit with LP!

LP checking out a tractor display
My favorite tractor display, showing the different
sizes of model tractors made
Then we hit the road again and made our way to Chicago.  By the time we made it to the city we decided to just check into our hotel and eat some supper.  We stayed at the Hyatt in Deerfield, Illinois (a northern suburb of Chicago).  This was a great place to stay.  Our hotel room had a nice living room with refrigerator and separate bedroom, which was nice for the whole family.  Also, we couldn't beat the price due to the 25% off discount they had for residents of Illinois and surrounding states!  And the best part was that it had FREE parking and we could get to any Chicago attraction in a half hour or less.  (If you've been to Chicago before you know how big of a deal free parking is, and if you've never been before, believe me, paying nothing, let alone less than $25 to $50 to park anywhere is a great thing!)  During our vacation we had scouted out a few places for foods we wanted to be sure to eat while visiting.  One of them being - a Chicago style hot dog.  Our first night we went to Superdawg - a great, classic Chicago drive-in restaurant known for their hot dogs.  Now, I'm not a big hot dog fan, but their Superdawg hit the spot for me.  And their service was great!  If we go back to Chicago, we'll be stopping at Superdawg again!

Superdawg in Wheeling, Illinois
You can't even see the hot dog under all the great toppings on their
classic Superdawg!  My favorite topping was probably the pickled tomato!
Day Two was our big tourist day.  We started out the morning by going to Shedd Aquarium.  Our favorite parts of the aquarium were going to the One World aquatic show where we got to see seal lions, dolphins, beluga wales, penguins and dogs, and going to through the Caribbean Reef exhibit.

LP and My Farmer checking out the aquariums in the
Caribbean Reef exhibit
LP enjoying the Penguin Slide in the Pacific Northwest exhibit
An added bonus of going to the Shedd Aquarium is that you get a great view of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.  We did a lot of picnicing during our vacation and enjoyed a picnic with these great views on Day Two.

View of Chicago (Shedd Aquarium is the round building to the far left)
Our family enjoying the beautiful weather with Navy Pier in the background
LP had a great time trying to catch the seagulls near Lake Michigan
Enjoying a picnic along Lake Michigan
We wrapped up our Day Two by going to Navy Pier and eating supper there.  We also went on a Chicago Architecture River Cruise.  We really enjoyed the boat tour.  It gave us an in-depth look at Chicago and we learned a lot.

Navy Pier
View of Chicago from River Cruise
View of Chicago and the Sears/Willis Tower on the River Cruise
View of Chicago on River Cruise
My Farmer and LP taking in the River Cruise
On Day Three of our vacation we went to the Chicago Botanic Garden.  This space was spactular.  It was really quite amazing how many acres of gardens there are at Botanic Gardens.  LP really enjoyed the Model Railroad Garden.  This was a neat garden for all ages.  The garden has 18 model trains, 26 bridges and 1700 feet of track. I personally really enjoyed the Landscaping and Vegetable & Fruit Gardens.  I came home with some great ideas for our acreage!

Our family taking a little photo break on one of the
garden's many trails
My Farmer and LP in the Model Railroad Garden
LP was sure to check out every train the garden
Following our trip to the Botanic Gardens we traveled to 2 Toots Train Whistle Grill.  This was a fun place for us to eat, where your food comes out to your table via a model train that runs on a track that goes around the entire restaurant.  While I wasn't a huge fan of their grass fed beef burger menu, I did enjoy their shakes and brownies, which included a souvenir train whistle on top.  An added bonus was that the town where this restaurant was located was having a carnival so we spent some time going on inflatables.  We ended Day Three by swimming at our hotel and eating some Chicago style deep-dish pizza.

On Day Four we took a different route back home, taking two-lane roads throughout Illinois and Iowa.  We crossed the Mississippi River from Savanna, Illinois to Sabula, Iowa, Iowa's only island city.  This was a fun route to take home where we got to see lots of the country-side and got to visit some good friends who live near Lost Nation, Iowa on the way home.  We had a great time on the vacation and like I said earlier, I can't wait to make this an annual tradition.

So we didn't quite accomplish our entire list but this being our first try at something like this, I think we did pretty good.  We love to go camping and I can't believe we never went camping this year!  The one time we were going to it got late and then rainy.  So next year we'll have to keep camping on the list.  As for golfing, My Farmer and I both enjoy golfing but since we got married have found it hard to make time to golf for fun besides being in a couple tournaments each summer.  This too will have to stay on next year's list.  We need to all go golfing some Sunday after church and not just go to the golf course to eat dinner...  And going on a nature walk at Beeds Lake.  This too didn't get done this summer but I'm planning on putting it on our Fall Bucket List.  Lastly, family dates: sure there were times we split up the kids between the two of us but we didn't really go on any official family dates.  This too will be on our Fall Bucket List.

What was your favorite thing you did this summer?  What are you looking forward to doing this fall?


  1. Looks like a wonderful vacation! I really enjoy drive-in restaurants. The nearest one to us is called Dog n Suds, with amazing homemade root beer.

    We had a wonderful summer, but I think our favorite was our fair. This fall we are looking forward to our Halloween Walk.

    1. Tell me more about your Halloween Walk - what is that exactly?

  2. You did a great job on your bucket list! I haven't even looked at my list for the year, but I know I'm not doing the greatest!

    1. Thanks! There are still a few months for you to work on yours!

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