This past weekend my family said “Goodbye to Summer” and “Hello to Fall” (Not just because we turned on the heat for the first time either).
In what is becoming a yearly family tradition we took a hiking trip in a state park which allowed us to enjoy some beautiful fall foilage. I understand that in some parts of the country it is no big deal to look at trees, but here in the northern plains it is. Such a big deal in fact, that we are willing to drive 90 min (one way) to get there.
As a kid, my family also did this. We would join up with my uncle’s family and have a fun-filled day hiking through the woods, finding snakes, collecting leaves, and trying to cross the stream without falling in (My cousin would fall in every year).
The best part of the trip was that we’d get to go to Ike’s Chicken Shack afterwoods. It was a buffet, but it also had a zoo, an arcade, and a old-time movie theater(3 Stooges, Laurel & Hardy).
Add all of this up and it made for a super fun day full of wonderful memories!
So of course I’d like to treat my family to the same kind of fun. Sadly Ike’s closed down a while ago, but the hiking trail is alive and well. So for the last couple of years we’ve been packing up and hitting the road on the first weekend of October.
This year we added a picnic to the mix and the kids were SUPER EXCITED! Who would’ve thought a thermos full of tomato soup and some stale crackers could garner such feelings?
I’m glad they were extra excited. Because the weather wasn’t ideal. It was cool and there were off an on light rain showers all day. But we didn’t let that stop us. In fact the foul weather kept the crowds away (yes, we get crowds in South Dakota) so we practically had the place to ourselves.
It was great!
It was a little early to catch the full beauty of leaves changing color, but that didn’t stop our good time. My wife took some super fun photos (something that you can never have enough of) of the kids & I pretending to explore a hidden jungle while on the lookout for dangerous creatures.
It didn’t even bother us when our picnic got rained on. In fact we took a vote and declared that we’re going to do this every year. Of course that means every year until the kids get too cool to hang out with their parents.
But that’s not all…
Our “fall family weekend” wasn’t over yet though. The next day we went to a pumpkin patch that our town puts on. We heard about it before, but never went. Boy were we missing out!
It’s not a real pumpkin patch, but still really fun. Let me explain:
1000 pumpkins are shipped to the fairgrounds. Then different local groups team up and set up games and events for the kids to do (story time, face painting, train rides). Of course, the main attraction is that they get to pick out a pumpkin and decorate it.
Did I mention, that it’s FREE!
We had so much fun that we decided that we’d try to combine these two fun fall activities every year. The best part is other than a $6 park fee and a half-tank of gas, this was a pretty cheap weekend.
Which makes sense, most traditions usually are affordable. It’s all the other stuff that costs money.
And what do we remember? The traditions!
Last holiday season I mentioned some of my family’s Chistmas traditions or at least the ones we’d like to have. Well, we’re always looking for some more, so imagine my gratitude when a couple of weeks ago REAL SIMPLE had an article with some fun suggestions for new family traditions. Here are the ones that my wife and I thought that we’d try out to see if they stick:
- Happy Half-Birthday Celebrate a half-birthday with hamburgers and hot dogs sliced in half, half-filled glasses of soda, and a half-chocolate/half-vanilla cake. In the middle of the party, belt out “Happy Birthday,” but stop singing halfway through the song.
- First Snow Festival
The first snowfall of the year merits a warm bowl of “melting snowman soup” (potato soup with mini carrot noses and olives or peas for eyes).
- Thanksgiving Turkey Parade
After hours of waiting (hungrily), announce your bird’s grand entrance with a parade. March the turkey through the house, with your eager young guests trailing behind. Musical pots and pans optional but encouraged.
- Santa’s Toy Swap
Along with cookies and milk, leave old toys under the tree on Christmas Eve for Santa to take back to the North Pole, where his elves can repair them for other children.
While all of these sound fun, the one we’re really excited to try is the Santa Toy Swap. As mention earlier, my kids have too many toys, this sounds like a great way to “thin the herd.”
How about you? What are some of your fun family traditions? Any off the wall ones?
Until next time,