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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Canoeing at Bernard Park in Lansing

Several months ago when we knew that our time in Arizona was drawing to a close, my wife and I talked about some of the things that we hoped we would find in our new community.  I do have to admit, one of the greatest wishes for me was water for fishing and canoeing.  A nearby trout stream was crucial therapy during my teenage years, and I admit that for several years I sought therapy multiple times a week.  I tell my wife that she is my true love, but that fishing was my first love, and one of the amazing things about my wife is that she understands.  She calls it my obsession, or one of them. She enjoys fishing too, but as "part of this complete breakfast" of fun things to do outside. 

One of the things we enjoy doing together is canoeing.  We had the Green Monster, our first canoe, when we lived in Fort Collins, Colorado.  It was an old fiberglass canoe that I found for $50 on craigslist.  It had a few cracks and holes in the hull after being brutalized by falling branches from a windstorm.  It wasn't pretty when we first got it, but the price was right for our newlywed budget.  A little bondo and some fiberglass cloth and epoxy made it seaworthy and a great vehicle for our enjoyment of Northern Colorado outdoors.  We took it to several of the ponds and lakes in Fort Collins for afternoon paddles, floated down the Poudre River on it, and even took it on an overnight canoe trip.  Our first child loved standing up in the front as we paddled along, then slept on a blanket spread on the bottom for naptime.  We had some great times and have some awesome memories in that old beater canoe.  We sold it when we left Colorado for a new job and didn't quite know what our living arrangements would be. 

After we got settled in Utah, we started to miss our canoe, so I looked around and found a red canoe that was a little newer and a lot nicer.  We had some good times taking it to the several ponds in the county, as well as hauling it up to the Bear River for a few day trips.  The oldest still loved going out on it, but #2 would get nervous from the rocking boat and the restrictive life-jackets.  Still, it made for a great afternoon whenever we'd load the canoe up and go for a paddle.  A hiccup at work forced us into re-evaluating my career path,  so we sold the canoe and moved to Arizona.  We knew there wouldn't be many places to paddle, and thought we could find a canoe there if we needed to.

After we got to Arizona, I missed fishing, and we missed having a canoe, but we sure had fun running around in the desert.  There just wasn't anywhere close enough to justify buying a canoe.  Deep down though, we both knew that we weren't done.  Another canoe was waiting for us somewhere.  I started to put plans in place to build one. 

The way forward proved to be a career advancement that required yet another move.  We uprooted our growing family and moved to the Midwest.  We'd never lived far from the mountains before, but better opportunities were here, so we picked up and moved.  We hadn't been here long before I started looking around for a canoe.  I found one for a good price, and bought it and hauled it home late on Christmas Eve.  The kids sure were surprised when they saw the yellow boat sitting outside on Christmas morning! 

We took our newest canoe out for it's trial voyage in late December at Kenneth W. Bernard Park in Lansing.  There is a small pond there that wasn't frozen and was open for a paddle.  We had a blast paddling back and forth from one end to the other.  It wasn't an epic canoe journey, but it didn't need to be.  I'll take open water in December!  I think future canoe trips here will include fishing poles and we'll take the opportunity to float around and try to catch a few fish. 
Bernard Park is a great little outdoor playground.  We've discovered a lot there on our several visits.  There's a network of hiking and mountain biking trails that loop around the park in addition to the pond.  We've been back since and taken the trails back into the woods and along a couple of small creeks.  There's a few scraggly looking blackberry plants here and there along the trail that I hope will have juicy berries on them this summer.  An osage orange tree really had the kids wondering why the round balls looked like rotten oranges.  The kids wondered if any animals lived in a hollow log.  We really like Bernard Park.  Even when we haven't done a big walks or explored, the kids have had fun just playing on the playground.  As the weather warms up more, we'll definitely enjoy visiting it in the different seasons. 

Nearest City: Lansing, KS
Location: 4-H road, west of Lansing
Time Needed: varies
Difficulty: easy
Kid Friendly: yes
Additional Info: Lansing, KS Webpage

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