Chilly Roadside Adventure

Even though we are still experiencing winter in Iowa, it doesn’t mean we need to skip outdoor adventures! My guest columnists recently shared their outdoor adventure which reminded me of a fun roadside stop the girls and I found while on an adventure late this fall.

This dino is waiting for a visit! Can you name his ‘bones’?

We happened to be traveling along Hwy 141 on our way home from Des Moines. Instead of taking the most direct route home, I opted for the longer, scenic route. One that also just happens to go right past my parent’s farm. There are always many perks to scenic routes!

Instead of driving by the sculpture park near the golf course on the edge of Coon Rapids, IA, we decided to stop and stretch our legs a bit. Although the day required hats and mittens, and our bodies weren’t quite use to the cold fall/winter air, we stopped anyway. We were in a seize the day kind of mood!

We hopped out of the car, and started to explore right away. The girls immediately ran to something that looked like a merry-go-round. When I finally caught up to them, I discovered that this piece of park equipment was made from recycled farm machinery. It turns out that old tractor seats, complete with seat belts, and a manure spreader wheel make a pretty cool merry-go-round. The seat belts made the girls day and the expression on their faces when I explained they were on an old manure spreader wheel made mine!

This little gal loved the seat belts on the merry-go-round. We all giggled when we found out she was on an antique manure spreader wheel!

We explored each piece in the park. They were all so different and unique. Each sported a plaque with name of the piece, the artist’s name, and the year it was created. This park has been collecting new sculptures for over 10 years. Although we were there after the leaves had fallen and flowers had frozen, I could imagine the beauty of this tree-lined roadside park. Quirky birdhouses hung in the trees, and a picnic table and benches dream of visitors on warmer days.

Getting a close look at an antique tractor. Get ready, Grandpa, these two will be helping you on the farm soon!

Along with many fun pieces of art, the sculpture park is also home to a boat ramp, Paddlers’ Trail, and a bird watching platform overlooking the river. We followed the gravel path to the bird watching platform. Had it been a warmer day, we would have spent lots of time looking for the birds and river animals pictured on the platform. The girls thought it made a pretty fun stage, too. We spotted a pair of cardinals as our noses started to freeze and decided it was time to continue on with our adventure.

We made plans to explore Coon Rapids again in the summer. Along with the golf course and sculpture park, Coon Rapids is home to the Carroll County Fair grounds, a frisbee golf course, aquatic center, trail system, and Whiterock Concervancy. Whiterock has been on my bucket list for awhile, but that will be saved for when we have a full (and warmer) day to explore.

Checking out the birds and animals native to the area. While she would have loved to see the snakes and otters, we did enjoy watching a pair of cardinals.

The girls and I enjoyed our scenic drive and impromptu adventure. We ended the day visiting our favorite farmers before heading home.

The next time you take the scenic route, stop and explore a bit at a roadside park. You never know what fun you might find. Those cold, mid-winter, outdoor adventures can be just as fun as the summer ones!

We found this guy working on the farm and had to ride a few rounds before heading home! A great way to end our girls’ day adventure!