Biking trails in Sioux Falls

A few years ago, I moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to accept a job promotion.

I knew absolutely nothing about the city and had no friends or relatives in the area.

The parameters of my job don’t make it easy to meet people. While I was amazed by the beauty of Sioux Falls, I was extremely lonely. I finally bought myself a bike and decided to explore the extensive network of trails. My first day on my new bike took me to the Big Sioux River Greenway Trail. This path stretches along the banks of the Big Sioux River and the views of the water, wildlife and lush greenery are truly incredible. The trail is wonderfully well-maintained, making it ideal for my novice skill level. After fully traversing every mile of the Big Sioux River Greenway Trail, I moved on to Falls Park. The trail winds through the park, passing by the iconic waterfalls, historic ruins and colorful gardens. The views are truly stunning. It took me forever to complete my ride because I kept stopping to admire new landscapes. I often ride this trail without playing music, just so that I can appreciate the sounds of cascading water from the falls. Once I built up my strength and stamina, I was ready to tackle Legacy Park Loop. The trail encircles Legacy Park, where there are sports facilities, playgrounds and green spaces. The loop is paved and well-marked and a favorite of walkers, joggers and cyclists. It offers a diverse landscape of open fields and wood sections. I eventually discovered Great Bear Recreation Park, which offers a trail that blends challenging terrains with serene stretches. Another favorite is Arrowhead Park Trail. Located on the southwestern outskirts of Sioux Falls, it provides a scenic route with views of grassy meadows, a tranquil lake and dense woodland. It’s a fairly easy ride but always a pleasure.

 

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Dining options in Fort Worth

When making a visit to Fort Worth, Texas, most people think about the cowboy history and cultural heritage.

The wide open landscape, sunshine and blue skies are certainly attractions.

However, there is a diverse and thriving culinary scene that is worth exploring. I’ve lived in Fort Worth for nearly eight years, and I’m still discovering new restaurants to add to my list of favorites. Whenever friends or family stay with me, I make sure to introduce them to the vibrant dining landscape. The local steakhouses are a Texas tradition. Cattlemen’s Fort Worth Steak House and Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House are not-to-be missed. From perfectly seared ribeyes to delectable filet mignons, they are a meat-eater’s paradise. Another local staple is Tex-Mex cuisine. Tacos, enchiladas and tamales are amazing options at places like Joe T. Garcia’s and Salsa Limón. The blend of traditional Mexican flavors with Texas flair is something everyone should experience. In just the last few years, local food trucks have gained incredible popularity. From savory barbecue to all types of tacos, the trucks are found all over the city. I like to make the commute to Clearfork Food Park to check out a rotating lineup of food trucks. The food is fast, relatively inexpensive and typically delicious. For fine dining, there are lots of wonderful choices. While the expense is definitely higher, the rewards are worth it. Ellerbe Fine Foods, Saint-Emilion and Grace are higher end restaurants I love to visit when I feel like getting dressed up and pampered. Something fairly new to the restaurant scene in Fort Worth is a number of breweries and gastropubs. Along with craft beer, they offer some especially tasty pub grub. Rodeo Goat, Martin House Brewing Company and HopFusion Ale Works are a few of the spots I frequent.

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Features of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

A trip to Birmingham, Alabama, isn’t complete with a trip to the Botanical Gardens. Home to over 12,000 different plants, this beautiful attraction attracts visitors from all over the world. Established in 1963, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens has grown into a 67.5-acre haven for plants, commitment to preservation of species and source of education. The area was founded by the Birmingham Botanical Society and serves as a living museum, featuring a diverse collection of plants, flowers and landscapes that epitomize the region’s rich biodiversity. There are a variety of themed gardens that cater to different plant species and landscapes. The Japanese Gardens offer koi-filled ponds, meticulously pruned bonsai trees and traditional Japanese architecture. This area offers a serene setting, ideal for appreciating the intricate beauty of unique plants and structures. The Southern Living Garden celebrates the unique flora of the southeastern United States. The Dunn Formal Rose Garden includes a stunning array of roses in a wide array of colors and varieties. This carefully curated space is a sensory delight of fragrant, timeless blooms. The Fern Glade and Tropical House support a lush, green escape with an impressive collection of ferns and tropical plants. While the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are ideal for leisurely strolls and a peaceful afternoon, it also offers a range of educational programs, workshops and events catered toward all ages. Nearby schools often bring students on field trips for a hands-on learning experience. The Gardens programs cover plant biology, ecology and conservation. There is also the opportunity to attend lectures given by experts in botany and horticulture. The Barber Alabama Woodlands, an extension of the Gardens, opens up access to native plant species and insight into the importance of protecting local ecosystems.

 

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Visiting the Lowry Park Zoo

Every year, my family takes a trip to Tampa, Florida. It’s such a pleasure to get away from the snow and cold of our local area. Even in the middle of winter, Tampa is warm and sunny and a wonderfully family-friendly destination. One of our favorite attractions is the Lowry Park Zoo. The zoo offers a wide array of attractions that interest adults as well as kids. From thrilling rides to interactive exhibits and up-close encounters with exotic animals, it’s easy to spend a whole day discovering something new to do. One of the most fascinating exhibits is called Primate World, where orangutans, chimpanzees and lemurs swing from tree to tree, play with one another and offer a look into their complex social structure. The Manatee and Aquatic Center showcases the endangered manatees. Visitors are given the opportunity to see these gentle and graceful creatures up close. Educational displays provide insight into manatee conservation efforts. The Aquatic Center also features other aquatic species native to Florida. Safari Africa transports visitors into the heart of the African savannah. My kids just love watching zebras, giraffes and rhinoceros in their natural habitat. The animals are roaming free rather than contained in cages. We can even watch feeding sessions. My favorite section of the zoo is the Florida Boardwalk. From wetlands to coastal habitats, this area is centered around native Florida species such as alligators, otters and all sorts of birds. For our youngest kids, Wallaroo Station is perfect. This Australian-themed exhibit introduces little ones to the wonders of the Outback. They get to see kangaroos, wallabies and kookaburras. The petting zoo and play areas are always a big hit.

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Looking forward to the summers in MN

I look forward to summer all year.

  • In Minneapolis, MN the summer season is quite short.

It comes almost at the end of June and it is already getting old by September. I don’t even bother with AC in Minnesota. It just doesn’t get warm enough. What I do is turn off my equipment and open the windows. I love letting a fresh breeze roll in the house. Did you know that our indoor air quality is 2 to 5 times more polluted than the outdoor air? Isn’t that crazy? Due to that fact I get our heating equipment regularly serviced. I also have the ductwork cleaned once a year. The moment I don’t need the heater, it gets turned off and I introduce a fresh breeze in the house. Everything smells and feels better. I sprip the bed linens, curtains, and pillowcases and wash them. I then dry them on the clothes line. I rented a carpet cleaner to scrub teh rugs. I get the windows professionally washed and I wax the tile floors. It really makes a difference in how my household feels about being cleaned. Most states wouldn’t be able to open their windows like mine. I guess that is a perk to living in Minneapolis. I am able to rely on no cooling. It is almost better this way. It gets quite expensive to rely on heating for most of the year, owning an air conditioner would simply be too much. For about eight weeks I get to enjoy low energy bills, a fresh breeze, and a clean house.

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Work from home in Lowell is the best

I lucked out getting a work from home job in Lowell, Massachusetts. I love that I can work online from the comfort of my house. I also have flexible hours. It is wonderful since I have a newborn to take care of. My son constantly is changing his schedule and I just change around with him to give him the best possible care. I also save a ton since I don’t have a nanny or daycare. It is better for my boy anyway. I really enjoy that I don’t need to set an alarm, get dressed in the morning,and drive to work. In Lowell, Massachusetts it is cold and snowy most of the year. I would spend half the time brushing off the car, melting the ice from the windshield and driving super slow to work. Then pair in rush hour. Half of my life would be messing with the car. Instead, on snowy days I just stick close to home. Sometimes I bundle my son up and we head outside to see the snowflakes. Then we go inside and enjoy our perfect heating system. We have a woodstove in the middle of the living room that on very cold days works. We throw some wood in the tree and feel the power of the fire. The rest of the time the gas furnace is running to keep the home to a centralized, warm temperature. Since I am at the house a lot, I invest quite a bit in my indoor air quality and heating service. I don’t want to have my son breathe in polluted air or experience no heat suddenly.
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Lakeland winter season is my favorite

Since Lakeland, FL doesn’t really have a harsh winter season, I spend all my time prepping for the summer. In the winter is my time to take a break from cooling, heat, and humidity. In the wintertime I turn off my HVAC unit, open the windows and enjoy a fresh breeze. I also do a bunch of outdoor work, typically do a remodeling project, and anything that has me working up a sweat. Once the heat comes in Lakeland, then I am really in trouble. I then have to fire up the AC system and just linger around inside. That is when I start gutting a bathroom, scraping popcorn ceilings, or redoing something inside of the home. I miss being outside and doing yard work. The heat is just too intense. You either need to get up super early in the morning, go outside late at night, or just give up altogether. What I do is just look forward to the cold times all year. It isn’t really cold, but it is the best we have. I own radiant floor heating to combat the chillier times. That works just fine for my household. I have tile flooring throughout and the heating system warms it through electric mats under the floorboards. It is silent, electric based and the heat doesn’t rise. It also doesn’t stir up dust or create hot and cold spots due to the electric heating. It works perfectly for colder temperatures. In the summer I make do with a high velocity cooling unit that works to chill my entire house for months on end.

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I ended up really liking Elgin, Illinois

My place of work goes all over and sends workers.

If you are willing to move and transfer to a different branch, you can make quite a bit of money.

I recently got offered a big promotion and huge pay raise if I was willing to move to Elgin, Illinois. I was a bit concerned. First off, there isn’t much to do in Elgin, Illinois. Also, the weather scared me. The winter season is long, brutal, and gets below freezing. Snow, ice, and cold aren’t my friends. I realized that if I wanted to make the big bucks, I had to. I decided I would only live there three years and then ask to move again. Just enough to get my raise and not cause any red flags. I have to say, I like Elgin, Illinois. I like the small town vibe that it gives off. If I want to do stuff in the city, I just need to hop in the car and drive 40 minutes and I am in Chicago. I also like the cold weather. I used to live where we got no snow and severe heat most of the year. It was so nice to wear pants and a jacket. I liked that I could easily burn a fire or turn on my heated flooring system. It was simple. The cold looked good from the window. My kids also loved playing hockey, ice skating, sledding, and snowboarding. I was able to afford a huge house with a big yard in Elgin, Illinois. So my three year plan is moot. I am hoping we stay here for a very long time. I really like where I am now.

 

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