Today was shaping up to be even more unbelievable than yesterday in terms of weather, so this morning Ben told me to put on some workout clothes and hop in the car. We were going somewhere!

15 minutes later we arrived. Raccoon River Park?


Raccoon River Park is home to Blue Heron Lake, where my friends and I used  layout, swim and play two-ball at for hours on end in high school. Two-ball is just a game of catch played with…two balls…in case you were wondering. :)


Why though, would I need workout clothes to visit the beach? And WHY were we visiting the beach on a Sunday in October? (Nevermind the fact that there were people laying out and swimming in the 80+ degree heat!)


Turns out, Ben knows best. There’s a walking trail around the lake that I never knew existed, and it ended up being probably the coolest trail we’ve been on in town!


First of all, the crunchy gravel that lined the trail made it feel like we were on more of a nature hike than a normal walk on a paved trail. It was a nice change of pace from our usual outdoor adventures.


Second of all, a good portion of the trail was completely canopied by huge, colorful trees that made me feel like I wasn’t even in Iowa for some reason!


At one point the trail starts to run parallel to the Raccoon River, and Ben got the itch to go explore its banks.


He navigated down a steep, rocky path to the shores, and I followed.


I didn’t get very far as I stepped foot onto into the muddy bottom. D’OH!!!!


My foot came right out of my shoe as the sticky mud held it in place 5 inches below the surface, and I even made another step in my sock before I figured out what had happened.


Why would you step directly into the mud??? Ben so helpfully asked.


Why would I… Are you kidding me?! The nerve! ;)  

IMG_0490 IMG_0496

Ah well, my shoe dried soon enough, and about an hour later we had come full circle. 


Along with some muddy kicks, I also brought home this stem of perfect red leaves. I plan on framing it after it dries, pressed between the pages of a big, heavy book. Viva fall crafts! ;)


Now it’s no mistake that Dairy Queen is located 2 minutes away from the park, which is where we headed next. A sweaty hike certainly deserves a reward in the form of a Mini Pumpkin Pie Blizzard, no? First one of the season!


This puppy was loaded with pie crust and the pumpkin pie spice mix was spot on. Ugh, yes. YES.


The rest of the afternoon was spent prepping a few dinners for the week, before I whipped up a light and fresh Lemon Fruit Salad for an early supper.


This salad was off the hook and I give all the credit to the homemade Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing from Our Best Bites that I drizzled on top, and also used to marinate chicken breasts in before quickly cooking on a piping hot grill.


A sweet mixture of fresh lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil and sugar is spiced up with fresh onion and garlic, then accented by tons of poppy seeds. Even Ben liked it and he doesn’t usually like sweeter dressings!


The rest of the salad combined a hand-picked golden delicious apple, red bartlett pear, fontina cheese and salted cashews. It was a fab, fresh, fall combo. :)


Second dessert (just a small slice) was blueberry pie for Ben’s birthday. I had one baking in the oven on Friday, his actual birthday, but half way through the freaking power went out for an hour! Not only was my pie just sitting in the oven half-baked, but the microwave timer also went out, so I had no idea how much longer it needed to bake.


Thankfully Mrs. Smith and her delicious frozen delicacies came to the rescue tonight. ;)

Hope you had a wonderful weekend everyone!