Thursday, June 30, 2016

Urbandale Parks Challenge: Jeff Harm Park


We're out by the cornfields! On our way home from Days Run Park, we decided to check out Jeff Harm Park, which is only a few blocks away. It's located right next to Webster Elementary School in Urbandale. It actually looked like it was OK to park there over the summer to have access to the park, but we parked in the nearby neighborhood.


It had two playground areas. One is probably intended for slightly bigger kids, while the blue playground looks great for toddlers.


The ground is made of that soft rubber stuff, which is actually kind of nice. I like it better than woodchips, at least!

Oliver was checking out some of the unique climbing equipment at this park:


There's basically no shade at the park, except for some provided by the rooftops on the play structure. The slides that faced east were quite hot when we were there, but the kids did fine.


One of the best features of this park are the low swings. I don't think kids bigger than about 5 feet would be able to use them, but they were perfect for Jo! She could sit on them herself easily, and she practiced learning to swing.


             

Jeff Harm Park was #16 out of 32 parks for us. We're halfway through the Urbandale Parks Challenge!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Urbandale Parks Challenge: Timberline East Open Space and Days Run Park


We originally set out to walk through the Timberline East Open Space as one of our parks, but then I spotted a playground in the distance. It was Days Run Park, so we got two parks for the price of one today! This means we finished up parks 14 & 15 in our Urbandale Parks Challenge.


Days Run Park was busy! I think there were 3 other sets of families there, so the kids got a chance to play with others and be social. There are a lot of homes that back to this open space, and plus it has wide open views from the homes. So, it felt like a very safe park to let the kids kind of play on their own. I should have brought a book!


There was a bit of a castle on the playground, plus a dinosaur. It wasn't an especially big playground area, but they loved it just the same.


As far as shade goes, it was moderate. There were some trees to provide shade for parents hanging around, and a small section of the playground was shaded.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Urbandale Parks Challenge: Golfview Park

After checking out Cross Creek Park, we walked over to nearby Golfview Park. It's park #13 for us. 19 more to go in our Urbandale Parks Challenge!


The trails made for an easy walk. As we got close to Golfview Park, the area became forested and we could see the small creek in the ravine below.


Here's the path we took:


Oliver started complaining about the hike near the end, and I started to wonder if we'd made a wrong turn. I told him we'd walk for 100 more steps, and if we didn't see the park, we'd turn around. It didn't take long for us to round a bend and spot this playground:


So, on the other side of the playground is actually a neighborhood and homes. So, it's really not that remote, but it sure feels like it is after hiking through that bit of forest! I think the kids kind of felt like it was a secret park, too.


The park was very well shaded. It was 95 and sunny out, but we felt much cooler at this park with all the shade. The kids played for a good while!


They even had low-hanging monkey bars, which made the kids feel brave enough to try them out.



This was really a fun park! I kind of liked how we hiked into it. And, of course, I liked all the shade. To me, this park is definitely worth driving a few miles to Urbandale for.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Urbandale Parks Challenge: Cross Creek Park


The weather is still hot, so I had to psych myself up to get the kids outside today. We decided to check out two parks because they're really close together: Cross Creek Park and Golfview Park. We turned west on Aurora Avenue from 86th Avenue. Shortly after we drove past 92nd Ct, we spotted the park from the road.


It really looks like a great park with a lot of slides and things to climb on. Plus, I like that shade awning! But the equipment was still super hot from the sun. The kids wouldn't go down the slides or anything, so we left to check out Golfview Park, which ended up being very well shaded! It's nice to know there are a couple options in the area. Cross Creek Park would be great on a day that isn't 95 degrees and sunny.


This park was number 12 for us on our parks challenge. We still have 20 to go!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Greenwood Park Splash Pad!


Today was opening day of the new splash pad at Greenwood/Ashworth Park. It's official name is the "Dan and Mary Kelly Family Sprayground." I think it's gorgeous! The kids had the best time.


The ground looked like it would be slippery, but I didn't see any kids slip. In fact, Jo kept climbing on rocks and jumping down without any problems. It must be well textured (I didn't venture in to find out), but I'd probably be a little more cautious with younger kids.


When we first moved here, I thought this park was kind of hard to find. So in case you're not familiar with it, you turn south on 45th Street from Grand, almost as if you're going to the Art Center, but don't turn into the Art Center's parking lot. Keep heading south. You'll drive through a bit of forest and reach a big pond. As soon as you're at the pond, turn left and head east. It's a small road that winds up to the park, shelter, and new splash pad. I circled the spot in blue where it's located:


It's easy to turn on the splash pad. There's a stand right in the middle with a big, yellow button on it. When the kids pushed the button, it seemed to last about 10-15 minutes before everything turned off, and they needed to push it again.


More pictures of the kids having fun at the splash pad:





In the background of this next picture, you can see the shelter house. During the school year, they hosted a lot of after school activities for kids there, like bird classes and even snowshoe hikes.



There are plenty of picnic tables, made in the same design as the splash pad structures. They aren't shaded, and neither is the splash pad. However, in the background you can see the playground area does have a lot of shade--which is why it's one of my favorite parks! There's also a picnic shelter for shade, too.


This playground was already one of my favorites, but now that they've added in this new splash pad, I think it's going to be our go-to park this summer. It's just so lovely, and the kids had a ball playing there. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Urbandale Parks Challenge: Donald J Brush Park

This afternoon, I took the kids to Donald J Brush Park. It's our 11th park toward completing the Urbandale Park Challenge.  Unlike some of the other neighborhood parks, this one was very easy to find, right off of NW 128th Street. When we pulled up, the kids were excited because we found the adirondack chairs again!



This park was about average, as far as playgrounds go. It did have a digger, but Oliver said it was too lightweight and couldn't dig down into the wood chips very well. I think the kids were a little cranky from the heat, to be honest!



They mostly climbed on stuff, like they did at Colby Woods Park yesterday.


A trail runs near the park, and I saw a number of people ride by on their bicycles. There weren't any kids at the playground, though. The kids got a little bored and hot, so we left after about 15 minutes. Like a few of the other parks, I'd say that this park is a nice one to stop at if you're in the area, but I can't imagine driving any distance to go here.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Urbandale Parks Challenge: Colby Woods Park

Not to be confused with Des Moines' Colby Park on 34th St, Colby Woods Park is in Urbandale, off 78th St. It was a harder park to find because the only way to access it was by trail. Google Maps will get you to the closest intersection, but you need to be able to figure out where to go from there. I highlighted the trail in red that will take you to the park:



So, the way we got there was by turning north on Colby Woods Drive from Hickman. As soon as we crossed Roseland Drive, we saw the trail. We had to find parking on some side streets, and then hiked over. The walk was actually lovely. The homeowners had really beautiful gardens, and Jo loved looking at someone's fairy garden that was near the trail.

And then, we arrived at the park! There weren't many trees around the actual playground, so shade was minimal.


The playground equipment was very interesting and unique. Our kids were a little too young or timid for some of it, and some of the equipment just puzzled us. We weren't really sure what it was for (doesn't that sound odd?). Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of what I think was a balance beam. It's kind of like a balance beam, but has waves up and down. It also has hinges, so some of it kind of sinks as you step on it. It's definitely not anything I'd seen before! Jo tried it out and thought it was fun to walk across, but Oliver wanted nothing to do with it!

Andrew helped them out with the teeter totter:


See the green slide looking thing behind Oliver in the photo below? It's not a slide, but some sort of thin ramp. We couldn't figure out what it was for. Maybe for racing Matchbox cars?


Colby Woods Park seemed like a nice, little neighborhood park. It's not something I could really picture us driving out to in the future, but it's a nice stop off the trail. I liked the uniqueness of it. Maybe the kids would have been more innovative and explored it more if there had been other kids around. I'd be interested in hearing how other kids use some of the equipment!

This was our 10th park in the Urbandale Parks Challenge. We still have 22 to go in less than a month! Time to get serious with our park visits--Wish us luck.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Urbandale Parks Challenge: Charles Gabus Memorial Tree Park and Gardens


This park is located right next to the Urbandale Library on 86th Street. Just a heads up, it doesn't have a playground. Instead, I'd describe it as a place to reflect. There are plenty of benches, fountains, and sculptures. A trail runs through, so there are also people on bikes passing by. It's very peaceful!


Jo enjoyed being able to explore a bit.



She was interested and a little uncertain of the statues. I thought it was cute when she tried to hold the girl's hand.


Because of the flags and memorials, I think this would be a good park to visit on Memorial Day. There's a shelter that looks good for picnics!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Urbandale Parks Challenge: Sharon Heights Park


We've visited our 8th park in the Urbandale Parks Challenge. We drove up north past Meredith Drive to check out a neighborhood park called Sharon Heights Park. So far, it stands out as one of my favorites in Urbandale (along with Walker-Johnston Park and Walnut Creek Regional Park). 


(OK, somehow that picture came out looking like a miniature)

It's a neighborhood park, tucked back behind houses, but the trails were busy! We saw families ride by on their bikes, and elderly couples going for a stroll. Some homes didn't have fences, and they had their gardens right out beyond the borders of the park. We walked by rows of corn!


The playground was fairly typical (I don't want to make it sound too extraordinary!), but it did have one fast slide, a cool climbing wall to get from one section of the playground to another, and a line of mushrooms to climb on. There was also a tire swing in addition to standard swings.


I enjoyed all the beautiful, healthy trees growing around the park. I sat on a bench for a bit and watched the kids. It was relaxing! Then I decided I wanted to try walking across the mushrooms, just because they looked too cool to not investigate.



After I took a picture from on top of the mushrooms, the kids insisted I take their picture on the mushrooms, too.


A couple more views of the park: