Travel: Ledges State Park, Iowa

I was in the mood to do some hiking last week while I was in Iowa and one of my friends suggested we take a trip to Ledges State Park. I grew up close to Ledges, and even went to girl scout camp about a minute away, but had never been to the park before. I didn’t know what to expect but we had a great experience.

The first thing we saw was a swampy area.

Ledges State Park Swamp

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I personally love areas like this, as long as they don’t smell. Fortunately, this one was all good. AND there was a lovely surprise! If you look closely at the picture, you can see dozens of tiny cricket frogs sticking out of the algae.

Swamp with frogs

The following is another section of the same pond. If you look to the left of the big branch, you can see little froggie heads sticking up.

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Next we walked to the “secret lake” – not really sure how a giant green swamp is a secret, but it was lovely. Here is a pic of my friend Mikey, the wonderful guy who took me to Ledges.

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Now, the secret lake ended up being one of the best experiences of my entire life. The entire shore was covered in bull frogs and cricket frogs, so every time we moved a dozen would hop into the water.

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You can see some of the frogs in the photo above if you look closely. There aren’t as many close to the camera, but if you look further out you can see just how many were on the shore.

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This next one really worried me. Wasn’t sure if it was a monstrosity or a normal development. Apparently it’s a polliwog. I thought that was a Pokemon, but my friend explained that she is actually a scientist and its a mix between tadpole and frog.

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I never wanted to leave that area, but apparently since we were at Ledges State Park we were required to see the actual ledges.

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Here is Mike being an ~expert~ hiker. He even has a backpack with a water pouch!

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Here is me. I’m a normal hiker. I put lipstick on before hitting the trails.

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The view of the Des Moines river was quite lovely.

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This next ledge was a little terrifying. Normally I would have been a daredevil and tried to hop onto it, but apparently some guy died doing that this summer and I wasn’t super interested in following in his footsteps.

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I loved the park and had a great experience, especially the jumping frogs. What is the coolest thing that you’ve seen at a state park?

July Instagram Memories

If you were hanging out with me in July you probably saw literally all the emotions come out of me. I started the month out super stressed, was wiped out by a cold/fever for a week, and then ended the month on a super positive note. Mostly I’m really glad it’s over but also pretty worried about the fact that school starts in ONE MONTH. How did this happen??

I definitely need to say thank you to all of the amazing friends and family members who help me get through the bad and stressful times so that we can have amazing experiences together.

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For 4th of July I went kayaking with my family and Anna. We had a great time and got this super adorable picture out of it. I didn’t watch any fireworks but it was probably the best 4th I’ve ever had.

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Mid-month we went up north to hang out with Kara at her family’s cabin. It was perfect weather and we all had an amazing time. It was so great to see my bestie and float around together venting about how difficult 2017 has been. Fortunately things are looking up for us both.

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I also got to see my family in Minnesota since we brought TJ to the cabin with us, and that was lovely in and of itself.

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If you like what you see and what to see more, please feel free to follow me on instagram @jenrazzle. Hope you’re all having a lovely summer!


Comprehensive List of Places I’ve Traveled

I wanted to put together a list of places that I have traveled for myself and so that others can ask for travel tips. I love traveling more than anything else – there is nothing better than hanging out in a random cafe in a foreign country, completely cut off from your everyday reality.

United States

  1. Alabama
    1. Maxwell Air Force Base
    2. Montgomery
    3. Mobile
  2. Arkansas
    1. Ozarks / Bentonville
  3. California
    1. San Francisco
    2. Sacramento
  4. Colorado
    1. Denver
    2. Ft. Collins
  5. Florida
    1. Pensacola
    2. Niceville
    3. Orlando
    4. Naples
    5. Miami
    6. Everglades
    7. Keys
  6. Illinois
    1. Chicago
  7. Indiana
    1. North west
  8. Iowa
  9. Kansas
    1. Southwest
  10. Louisiana
    1. New Orleans
  11. Michigan
    1. Detroit
  12. Minnesota
    1.  Twin Cities
  13. Missouri
    1. St Louis
    2. Joplin
    3. Springfield
  14. Nebraska
    1. Omaha
  15. New Jersey
    1. Jersey City
  16. New Mexico
    1. Hobbs
  17. New York
    1. Buffalo
    2. New York City
  18. North Carolina
    1. Asheville
    2. Charlotte
  19. Oklahoma
    1. North eastern
  20. South Dakota
    1. Sioux Falls
  21. Tennessee
    1. Nashville
  22. Washington
    1. Seattle
    2. Steilacoom
  23. Washington DC
  24. Wisconsin

I’ve omitted a couple of states because I can’t really provide any information about them offhand.

Central America

  1. Mexico (Let’s not argue about whether Mexico is north or central America. Putting it here for grouping purposes.)
    1. Cancun
    2. Valladolid
    3. Merida
    4. Tulum
    5. Chetumal
  2. Belize
    1. Belize City
    2. San Ignacio
  3. Guatemala
    1. Northern
  4. Costa Rica
    1. San Jose
    2. Cahuita
    3. Puerto Viejo
    4. Jaco
    5. Manuel Antonio
    6. La Fortuna
  5. Panama
    1. Guabito


  1. England
    1. London
    2. Bath
  2. Netherlands
    1. Amsterdam
    2. Den Hague
    3. Rotterdam
    4. Eindhoven
  3. Belgium
    1. Ghent
    2. Bruges
    3. Bouillon
  4. France
    1. Paris
    2. St. Avold
  5. Luxembourg
  6. Germany
    1. Heidelberg
    2. Aachen


  1. Ontario

That’s all I’ve got. This list makes me feel like I need to get out and explore the world. Please let me know if you have questions about any of these areas and share your own favorite travel destinations!

Summer Goals Update

Earlier this summer I made two posts with goals for the summer. The first was travel related and the second was related to personal goals. Since the end of July is coming up quick, I wanted to check-in on my goals to see what I have accomplished, what is still manageable, and what will probably need to be pushed back to next year.

For travel, my five goals were to go hiking at Devil’s Lake, get drunk in a cabin with friends, visit Door County, explore a new cave, and visit Canada. I have done 2/5, hiking at Devil’s Lake and getting drunk in a cabin with friends. Both were lovely experiences. I will not be able to go to Door County or Canada this summer, so I will save those for my 2018 summer bucket list. I will be traveling in August so will check with friends and family to see if anyone would like to check out a cave.

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As far as my personal goals, I wanted to break even on my net worth, lose 15 pounds, spend more time with friends, read a book, and prepare to do well in school. Since this section is a little bit longer, I’ll break each one down a bit more.

  1. Break even on net worth: I don’t think that I will be able to accomplish this goal. My networth was -4k at the beginning of summer and is now -3k. I’m a little bummed out, but I am glad I have made progress. I will keep working toward this goal in August and try to get as close as I can. However, I don’t have a job anymore so there is no way that I am going to be able to pay bills, pay for life, and pay off $3k in debt.
  2. Lose 15 pounds: I have not lost any weight but I have been maintaining which is a positive. I no longer have access to a gym and would like to find a way to work out in August. I actually feel pretty good physically so I am not super worried about losing weight at the moment.
  3. Spend more time with friends: I have spent a lot of time with wonderful people this summer. I have made more of an effort to be in touch with my closer friends, and have had lunches/coffee with people who I care about. I can’t spend all my time with everyone which is a bummer, but it’s been really nice to connect this summer.
  4. Read a book: I have read TWO books 😀 – I would like to finish the book that I am currently reading and find another good one or two to read while I am traveling.
  5. Prepare to do well in school: I have been medium on this. I’ve had a lot of anxiety about starting school but am starting to get it together. Mostly I need to get started on my summer math prep class so that I don’t fail stats this fall.

Lovely lovely. How are you doing on your summer goals?