2017 was a year of travel and adventure for us! We made so many new memories and explored so many new places, even new places close to home. Our ultimate goal was to spend more time outdoors and that goal was definitely accomplished. Here are a few stats from the year.
- Camped or traveled to seven different states: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota.
- Hiked 51 hikes and 103 miles together as a family
- Slept in the Fancy Nancy 39 nights this year.
- Visited 2 new Iowa State Parks and 9 new Minnesota State Parks
- Completed 25 miles of the Minnesota State Park Hiking Club.
- Camped as far away as San Antonio, TX and as close to home as 6.5 miles from home
- 6 National Park Junior Ranger Badges earned
- Camped at 17 different campgrounds
Highlights from the Year
This past weekend while we were traveling to Branson, we chatted about some of our favorite memories or places from the past year. We each came up with our top 3. In no particular order this is what were our favorites:
- Maquoketa Caves
- Our whole Badlands/Black Hills Trip
- Sioux Falls Trip
- Maquoketa Caves
- Sylvan Lake
- Badlands National Park
- Jellystone Park-Hill Country-our first experience at a “resort style” campground
- Maquoketa Caves
- Mount Rushmore (she said Mt. Rushmore and then said it was the whole trip).
As you can see, Maquoketa Caves was a highlight for all of us. Just a few hours from home, this new to us state park was a hit. Elsie loved the caves and I really enjoyed the trails. I even challenged my fears a little on one of the trails and left feeling rather adventurous. The campground was wonderful and it was just a nice relaxing weekend.
At the beginning of 2017 we set some goals of what we wanted the year to look like, things we wanted to accomplish, and places we wanted to go. Here is the post if you’d like to see what we thought the year would look like. Overall, we did pretty well at accomplishing the things we set out to do, although we didn’t make it to all the places we thought we would at the beginning of the year.
30 Nights in the Fancy Nancy
We ended up with 39 nights in the camper this past year and most were done by the 4th of July. My brother ended up visiting the majority of August through Labor Day and although we did get out one weekend all together, we stayed with him and his family at my parents most of that time. It also meant we cancelled our 4 night trip to Indiana Dunes over Labor Day. It was a good trade off though since we could spend more time with my brother and his family who is stationed overseas. Also, our 4 night December trip was cancelled last week due to the frigid, sub-zero temps here in the midwest. So I would say we did pretty good getting out this year.
Trips we planned
At the beginning of the year, we said we had planned to make it San Antonio, the Badlands and Black Hills, Itasca State Park, and the Amana Colonies as well as a few other local places like Maquoketa Caves and we made our way to Lanesboro like we hoped. We made it to all but the Amana Colonies, which can happen another time. These are all the campgrounds we did stay at this year:
- Wellington KOA in Wellington, KS
- Midway Park, Waco, TX
- San Antonio KOA in San Antonio, TX
- Jellystone Park-Hill Country in Canyon Lake, TX
- Kansas City East KOA in Kansas City, MO
- Big Sioux State Recreation Area in Brandon, SD near Sioux Falls, SD
- Dakins Lake County Conservation Area in Zearing, IA
- Itasca State Park in Park Rapids, MN
- Spring Lake State Park in Jefferson, IA
- Mitchell KOA in Mitchell, SD
- Cedar Pass Campgrounds in Badlands National Park-Interior, SD
- Rafter J Bar Ranch in Hill City, SD
- Maquoketa Caves State Park in Maquoketa, IA
- Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in Preston, MN
- Hickory Grove Park in Colo, IA
- Ledges State Park in Boone, IA
- Mille Lacs Kathio State Park in Onamia, MN
Which brings it to a grand total of 17 different campgrounds this year!
12 Months of Camping
This didn’t happen this year but we did camp in 9 of the 12 months. We missed January, February and December. We are hoping to reach this goal in 2018.
We are so close to finishing our goal of 52 hikes. Our completion day is January 15th so we have two weeks left to get in two hikes. The cold temps are making this difficult so to finish we are just going to have to tough it out. I am guessing these next two hikes will be under 2 miles each to keep them shorter depending on the weather. I will have a seperate post highlighting our experience with the 52 Hike Challenge once we get in our final two hikes.
Like I said above, our main goal was to get outdoors more and that definitely happened. But not only that, a love for the outdoors has grown in our children as well. Elsie doesn’t always just for joy when we say we are going to go for a hike but she tells me it is one of her favorite hobbies and Evie loves being at the campground although at the end of the day I believe, and Elsie has told me that her favorite part of this all is just that we are together as a family.