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?

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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

Europe

  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

Canada

  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!

Travel: Top 5 things I want to do this summer

I am a big fan of getting away as much as possible and I’ve gone on more than my fair share of weekend trips over the last few years. Unfortunately for me (but fortunate for my wallet) I have taken on a weekend babysitting job that lasts from 6am-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays for almost all weekends of the summer. My grandpa is also in hospice in Iowa and I would like to spend as much time with him as possible. This means that my weekend trips will be few and far between this summer. Knowing that, there are still a BUNCH of things that I want to do this year. These are my top 5.

1. Hiking at Devil’s Lake: I went to Devil’s Lake often as a teenager and I have never had a bad experience. However, as a kid we went for the beach and swimming, and now I would like to go for hiking purposes. I can’t wait to get up on the rocky cliffs and look out at the beautiful water.

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Just beautiful.

2. Get drunk in a cabin with my closest friends: Listen, I’m an adult, and if I want to safely get drunk in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with my favorite people, that’s allowed. I’m the one who has to suffer the consequences of the now unavoidable multi-day hangovers.

3. Visit Door County: A few years ago I went to Sturgeon Bay for an event and really fell in love. The city was beautiful, the shops were adorable, and I absolutely want to go back. I haven’t been further up the peninsula, so this is the number one weekend trip that I want to make happen.

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I now have a mission to find this building, hiding somewhere in Door County.

4. Explore a new cave: I absolutely love caves. I don’t think anything in America will compare to the absolutely incredible experience that I had in Belize (there were SKELETONS) but I am hoping there is some sort of beautiful cave within driving distance.

5. Visit Canada: Considering that I only live six hours from Canada, I have not been there enough. My passport only has another six months on it so I would love to head up to Canada for a long weekend. I went with my family years ago and found this beautiful place called Harmony Beach РI would love to go and spend a day or two there.

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He kept trying to splash me, so I picked him up and nearly dropped him. Love my little brother!

There you have it! The top five things that I want to do this summer. What do you have in mind?