Signs of Spring

The signs of spring are finally appearing!  Just this week alone we have had rain, hail, and then snow.  With everyone being cooped up inside and unable to do much due to the coronavirus, it is good to get out in nature again.

The ponds at Methwick are no longer frozen, and the koi fish look beautiful in the clear water.  With people not out and about so much, water sources are less polluted right now.

Koi

Along the top ridge of Shawnee Park, deer love to play in the woods at dusk.

Deer

The daffodils in full bloom at Noelridge Park, just in time for Easter.

Daffodils

Tree budding in Noelridge Park.

Budding Tree

A tree budding at the Dairy Queen on Johnson Ave. NW:

Dairy Queen bush

Shakespeare’s Garden at Ellis Park:

Tree in Spring

What places have you visited this spring?

A Day in Dubuque

Note:  This visit to Dubuque occured before the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020.  Please note many of these places may not be open to the public for a couple of months.

The City of Dubuque is only about an hour from our home in Cedar Rapids.  We spent a day there visiting some unique sites.

We started out by attending a vintage market. The Antique Spectacular Show is held in Dubuque, IA, twice a year in March and November.

Event Show

The market is located at the Grand River Center at 500 Bell St.  The event is produced by Kimberly Schilling, who also features shows in Cedar Falls and the Quad Cities.  Admission is $8 for adults; children under the age of 14 are free with a paid adult.

More information and $1 off admission ticket coupons may be found at www.antiquespectacular.com

Our kids did not want to believe we could go to 3 states in 15 minutes!  No, they said, it would take at least a day!  So we just had to cross the Mississippi River bridge into East Dubuque, IL, and drive across the Wisconsin border to show them it could be done!  Here is the view of the Mississippi River coming from Wisconsin back into Iowa:

View from Bridge

Backwater views of the river:

River

A quick stop at the Veteran’s Memorial Park in Dubuque gave us a chance to pay our respects for those who have served our country.

MemorialHelicopter

We putzed around downtown for a little bit.  We had to check out the Ice Cream U Scream shop at 198 Main St. and the Candle Ready Cakes bakery which now has gluten-free items at 197 Main St.

Candle Ready Cakes

After walking around downtown, we decided to stop for dinner at the Barrel House, 299 Main St., for burgers, pizza, and tacos.  Many gluten and soy free choices for the kids here!

Food

Off the beaten path, we found this fun little indoor flea market called Shaggy’s on 175 N. Crescent Ridge.  Whatever you can think of, they have in there!  It is worth the stop to check it out!

And finally, on our way out of town, we stopped at the Mines of Spain Recreation Center.  It was really muddy out, so we were not able to do much there.  We will definitely have to go back another time to check out this park!

The trail leading up to the Julien Dubuque Monument was closed, so we were not able to get a very good picture.  We’ll come back to hike up there during the summer.

Mines of Spain3

The Mines of Spain is about 1400 acres of wildlife area next to the Mississippi River.  Canoeing, kayaking, hiking, hunting, snowshoeing (in the winter), and fishing are all popular activities here.

What areas have you visited this spring?

City Bike Trails

Now that the chilly, gray winter is over, our family FINALLY! got out to ride our bikes on the south side trails in Cedar Rapids.  This day was extra special because all four of our kids were able to join us!  You see, our oldest boy turns 21 in a few weeks and will be moving on in the world.

Local Pour

Our first stop of the day was at the new restaurant at 302 3rd Ave SW called Local Pour Street Food. The poutine here is delicious! The corn dogs are literally a foot long, the gyros are fantastic, and everything is exactly what you would expect to find from a food truck. Ask them about their secret menu….

Next we rode over to Czech Village and caught the trail over to the Cedar River.

ConstructionConstruction is in progress to expand the Cedar Lake area.

Bridge

We were excited to see signs posted announcing a new pedestrian bridge that will be built in the near future to allow access across the river.  Check out Project Connect CR here to learn more about the “Sleeping Giant” that will be a magnificent addition to the riverfront.

Mt Trashmore

Mt. Trashmore rises in the distance…..

Critter

Critters on the trail going out to Tait Cummins Sports Complex.

kickstand-e1527820483348.jpg
Photo Credit:  JR Lauritsen

All this riding made us thirsty.  Gotta stop at Kickstand for a Smith and Forge Cider at 203 14th Ave SE for the adults.  (Water and pop for the kiddos!)

After a quick stop at Quentin’s Bar and Grill at 450 1st St SW for some of the best wings in town, we ended our day at Blue 42 (629 Ellis Blvd NW) for burgers and pizza.  Seven hours later, we arrived home.  Tired, sore, and already planning our next outing.  Where should we go next?  Leave your suggestions in the comments!

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

SaPaDaPaSo Sign

The SaPaDaPaSo Parade is an annual event by the Cedar Rapids Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Society.  Each year, the downtown streets are a sea filled with green, no matter the weather.

Skater Wearing Kilt
An Irish Skater in his flashy green kilt

The Irish Colleen is selected each year from a local girl of Irish descent.  This year’s Colleen is Jayden Faille.

Colleen

Some of our favorite parade entries:

Green Car
A classic green car.  “Old Guys Gone Wild” won 2nd Place for best vehicle entry.
Bar Camper
A bar on wheels…….
Hawkeye Tailgate
Hawkeye Tailgating with an Irish twist
Fire Truck
We love our firemen!  Thank you for your service!

Our absolute favorite entry, which won an honorable mention for the best Walking Entry, was “The Irish Strike Back”.

May The Irish Force Be With You
“May the Irish Force Be With You”

Irish Star Wars

The Irish Strike Back Gang