To keep things from being confusing (especially if you follow our real-time adventures on Instagram) – I’m about a month behind in blogging, here are some of our adventures from the week of July 30, 2015.
After making it through South Dakota (see all South Dakota posts here), we popped up into Maple Grove, Minnesota (near Minneapolis) where we planned to stay at least a week while we waited to get our fresh water tank fixed (read more about our broken fresh water tank here). The earliest appointment we could get for our fresh water tank was August 5, 2015 – but I convinced the service shop to take our trailer in a week ahead of time – just for a day, for a diagnostic appointment, because I had heard that if we needed to order a fresh water tank it could take up to three weeks and I wanted to get it ordered as soon as possible with the repair appointment in the future. Our diagnostic appointment was July 30 – and our fresh water tank was in fact, cracked – and a new tank ordered.
The fresh water tank was ordered July 30 – and I was to call the following week to get an estimated delivery date (we still had a standing appointment August 5, just in case). This means we had at least a week (or longer) at the Northwest Minneapolis KOA – plenty of time to explore the area and to settle in.
One afternoon we headed to the Eastman Nature Center at Elm Creek Park Reserve, in Dayton, Minnesota. It’s FREE admission to this center and we absolutely loved it!
Out in the front parking lot are they have Monarch garden that was full of beautiful Monarch butterflies! The site “provides milkweeds, nectar sources, and shelter needed to sustain monarch butterflies as they migrate through North America,” per the sign in the garden. How cool is that!?! It’s actually a certified and registered Monarch Waystation, I didn’t even know there was such a thing.
The inside of the Eastman Nature Center is state of the art! It’s gorgeous and the displays and exhibits are fantastic. We just kept saying, “wow!” as we walked through looking and learning . . .
Snakes, turtles, lizards . . . the kids loved the animals in the main room of the Nature Center.
Well hello there, turtle. . .
Checking out the caterpillars. . .
And checking out slides under a super kid-friendly microscope. . .
The kids spent a long time playing with a puppet theater shaped like a big tree. There were tons of animal and insect puppets and lots of dress up clothes for the kids – the loved this part!
Pick up a trail map inside the Nature Center and you’ll find lots of trail options through the Elm Park Reserve. We went for a little over a mile walk through the reserve and it was gorgeous. If you’re here in the summer – pack you bug repellent, the mosquitos are NO JOKE. They weren’t too bad the day we walked through, but can be atrocious.
You don’t want to miss the Eastman Nature Center Floating Boardwalk – also part of the reserve. I was hoping to see a loon up close, but no such luck. We did see some ducks!
And finally, right before we wrapped up our time here, they were having a FREE educational program on owls. The center volunteers brought out their resident owl and they talked all about what they eat, their habitat and other interesting facts.
They also goggles you could wear so you know how an owl sees the world (no peripheral vision, having to rotate neck) and things like owl poop and bones to look out. The kids loved it.
If you’re ever in the Maple Grove area of Minnesota – we definitely recommend taking an afternoon to check out the Eastman Nature Center at Elm Creek Park Reserve.
Stay tuned for more adventures in the Minneapolis area. . . .