Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Archive for New Ulm

Moving on two wheels . . . and then some

At the beginning of the summer, we outfitted ourselves with some bikes and equipment so that we could take the family out on some bike rides.  Our criteria were a little unusual, I suppose: we didn’t want to spend a lot of money since we didn’t know how it would go, and because our kids are so young and not accustomed to navigating traffic with their bikes (we live on a farm), we wanted them all attached to us.

Hubby and I each got a new bike, and we got two tagalongs and a double trailer.  (I had joked that if I got a tandem bike I could have handled all four kids by myself, but we didn’t go that far.)  Again, these were all basic models, so our outlay for everything was less than $600, and we anticipate decent resale from the taglongs and trailer in a few years.  The kids and I all got new helmets at a bike fair, they were good helmets at a bargain price.

When we ride, I have our five-year-old behind me on a taglong, and hubby has our seven-year-old on a tagalong, with the girls (2 and 4) in the trailer attached behind it.

Our first “big” trip was a trip into town.  3 miles didn’t sound so bad, even on gravel.  Funny how I hadn’t realized how hilly our roads were until that time.  And hadn’t thought about the wind being against us on the way home.  But we made it home and everyone enjoyed the ride.

Our next stop was the paved portion of the Luce Line trail in Hutchinson, MN, which runs from one end of town to the other with some nice parks along the way, as well as restaurants.  We even made a shopping stop at Shopko, which is just off the trail.

We took the gear along when we spent a week at the lake and went on rides almost every morning.  We rode through Sibley State Park near New London, Minnesota, which is beautiful; along the Glacial Lakes trail beginning at Willmar, Minnesota, which is wide and smooth and flat and very peaceful; and around Spicer’s Green Lake, which we had estimated at 6-7 miles but found out when we were done that it was closer to 12!

At the end of the summer, hubby and I got away for a rare night out and decided to see how our bikes handle without trailers and tagalongs attached.  It was so gloriously easy without the extra 50-150 pounds of kids behind!  We rode the trail in New Ulm, Minnesota, and we’re planning to take the kids along on it soon.  On the north half, there’s only one street to cross, so we may actually unleash the kids and let them ride by themselves with their training wheels on it.

We’re still novices at this bike thing, but it was a fun way to spend some family time together this summer.

 

Do you take your kids on bike rides?  What kind of equipment do you use?  Do you have any favorite trails?  How do you teach your kids road safety?  Please let us know with a comment!

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Book stores and farm shows and skating, oh my!

I had to run some errands in New Ulm on a Saturday.  Normally I try to avoid shopping on Saturdays, especially with the kids in tow, but when we’re out of milk, a trip to the store is necessary.  And if I’m taking the kids to a store, I’m most certainly going to do something else with them along the way.

We started out in downtown New Ulm by ducking into Bookshelves and Coffeecups, at 123 N Minnesota, and swapping out some old books for some that were new-to-us.  This is something I like to do on occasions when I’m in New Ulm.  There’s a great selection of used books in the store, and once in a while I treat myself to a Chai Latte while we’re there. 

From the bookstore, we walked two blocks to Subway, on the corner of Center and Minnesota, for lunch.  The walk took a little longer than expected because the stroller was missing from the trunk of our vehicle and the 2-year-old had to walk.  Fortunately for us, the sidewalks weren’t busy so my chain of children didn’t get in the way of anyone.  We spent most of the walk back teaching my four-year-old how to pronounce the word “Glockenspiel” as we heard bells.

Then we were off to the New Ulm Civic Center  for the Farm-City Hub Club’s annual farm show.  The kids enjoy the farm show, because along with the usual booths from local businesses that may or may not be agriculture-oriented, the local Runnings Farm & Fleet store always has baby animals on display.  The kids love to look at, and sometimes hold, the baby chicks, ducklings, rabbits, and more.

From the upper level of the civic center, the kids had spotted people ice skating in the other half of the building.  Smart or not, I asked the kids if they wanted to try skating.  (Keep in mind that I was outnumbered 4 to 1, none of the kids have been on skates before, and I haven’t skated in 20 years or more.  Did I mention that I was outnumbered?)  For just under $20 we paid our entrance fee and rented skates, and after the 20 minutes it took me to lace up five pair, we hit the ice.

It was a blast!  They had little walker-type frames that the kids could hang onto as they skated.  At first it was pretty slow going, but it didn’t take long before the three older kids were trying to go fast, skate on one foot, turn in circles, and even go a few feet without the walker.  The little one wasn’t much of a fan of the walker, but her balance was pretty good, and mine was better than expected, so I held both of her hands and she skated along with me.  The ice even succeeded in helping defy the laws of gravity and friction so that sometimes she did the footwork and pulled me along behind her.

We had so much fun.  I only had two regrets:  1) that I didn’t have my camera along, and 2) that my husband wasn’t there to enjoy it with us.  (I had asked if he wanted to join us for the day, but he decied to go to a meeting and enjoy a nice free meal instead.)  I had fun watching the kids have fun.  We skated for about an hour before I dragged them away, and I actually enjoyed listening to them argue about who had the most fun.

After a quick stop for groceries, we headed for home, and my five-year-old lasted until the next morning before asking if we could go back again, this time with Dad.