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Monday, August 12, 2019

Free Fun Activities and All Close To Home

We live in an unincorporated part of our county, but I would not exactly classify us as rural, or suburban, but something in between. Leo, IN is just a couple of miles south of our home, it is a small suburban community, it has many nice sub-divisions, a number of businesses, is well run by it's council, and with a good tax base it is a great community with a couple of really nice play parks for children. Each summer over a weekend close to July 4th, Leo puts on the Freedom Festival, there is a 5K run, food trucks, vendor booths, bouncy castles and other child friendly activities, live music and the finale is an awesome fire work display around 10 pm. As a family the fireworks have become a tradition, we all go, it is a fun and enjoyable time. And throughout the year the park hosts a number of festivals that are all well attended.

A couple of miles east of Leo is Grabill, another small town, again well run, with many amenities including a small grocery store, bulk food store, hardware store and our doctor's office. There are two nice play parks and a branch of the Allen County library, and a large antique mall. Each September the town hosts Grabill Days, a community festival with lots of good food, lots of craft booths, and live music, the festival is very well attended, it began in the about forty years ago and is still going strong. 

The road that connect Leo to Grabill, a distance of 2 - 3 miles, has an awesome bike/walk path running beside the road, it is in constant use with walkers, joggers, and cyclist and a very nice amenity for the local residents.

Just south of Leo there is Metea Park. The 250 acre park run by Allen County has trails, a swimming beach, a nature center, and a nice woodland with the Cedar Creek running through it. The park does have an admission fee, but instead of paying each time I visit I decided to purchase an annual pass for Dave and myself and the grandchildren. At 55 I am considered a senior, so it only cost $25, that seems quite a good deal and is good at all Allen County run parks.

A few weeks ago I took Ralph and Masen to one of the Grabill parks. As a community project some years ago a long wooden train was built at the park, it has an engine, and six or more carriages, it is a wonderful attraction for small children,  perfect for their size and all children love playing train. There are picnic tables, mature trees, softball diamonds, slides and swings and climbing frames. Off to the side of the park is a paved trail that meanders a mile loop around a recreated wet land, and prairie land. A recent walk along the trail, on a beautiful summer day was so enjoyable, butterflies were enjoying the wild flowers, crickets chirped and other than insect sounds it was peaceful and so beautiful.  Ralph and Masen enjoyed the walk, it was a prefect distant for them.

Picnic at Grabill Park

Standing by wild flowers on the Grabill Park trail

Last week I took six grandsons to Metea park, we spent about an hour "hiking" on the trails in the woods. Again it was a beautiful summer day, low humidity with a pleasant breeze. We went up hill and down hill, and looked a the creek, and the boys collected acorns, it was a very relaxing and enjoyable time. When we finished our hike we stopped at the play ground for a few minutes and then headed home for a cold drink, and the boys all enjoyed an ice-cream sandwich treat.

The fun begins with a nice downhill trek

Enjoying the woods, they all wanted to find a stick to carry

Enjoying the view

Last Friday we took a trip to Leo to visit the Splash Pad and Rock Creek. What a glorious place for kids to play. The boys love the Splash Pad, and once they had their fill they moved on to the Rock Creek, a fun place to climb over and feel like you are having quite an adventure. Once finished with rock climbing we moved over to the play area, they went down the slides, played on the swings and dried out as they played. Then over to the music garden, a lovely area, with over sized instruments to play with. There are chimes, bells,a xylophone, and bongos, a fun area for kids and adults.  After our fill of music making we walked along the trail, it winds around the park and along the side of the St. Joseph river, towards the end of our walk the boys took a rest on a bench by the river. Afterwards we headed home for a cold drink, and again they enjoyed an ice-cream sandwich.

And, sometimes, after a fun afternoon out we need to take a little nap to recuperate. Little George made it almost five minutes into the movie we chose to watch, The Sandlot.

It is so nice to have a variety of fun activities to do that are all withing a few miles of home, and it breaks up the day for the kids, they can have lunch, a nice afternoon activity, and then home for a snack and a movie, or nap, and then it is time to go home. But most importantly are the memories made, and the fun I get to have with all of these wonderful kids.

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