The holiday isn’t over yet.
So before I tie a bow around 2015 and charge fully into the new year, there’s one more post I want to file.
Tom and Matt head out for the BSA Troop 228 Katy Trail trek.
Kate, the kids and I had some great outdoor experiences in 2015, and during each of them I made a mental note to share them on Kansas City Runner. But life got in the way.
Then, while I was running the other day, the idea of writing a year in review struck me. It would allow me to share a great run or two — along with some fun cycling and paddling (and hiking, which I also love but can’t fit in the Kansas City Runner masthead) outings.
The Troop 228 guys prepare to hit the Katy Trail.
Voila! And while I didn’t get out as much in 2015 as in previous years — certainly not as much as I would have liked — our family did notch some great outdoor experiences last year.
In April, Boy Scout Troop 228 in Independence, Mo. spent a great weekend on the Katy Trail. The Missouri trail runs 237 miles from Clinton, Mo. to St. Charles, Mo. across a portion of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad.
We camped at the Katy Roundhouse Campsite in New Franklin, Mo., which was ideally located just 50 feet from the trail. We rode a total of 30 miles, heading east to Rocheport, Mo. and back to the campsite.
Tom and a buddy on the Katy Trail just west of Rocheport, Mo.
A few weeks later, I had to travel to London for a meeting on Saturday, May 2. I arrived the day before and, after settling in, decided to go for a run in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, which were nearby.
As I left Kensington Gardens and turned up Embassy Row to return to the flat I was staying in, I passed several guys in suits, one of whom looked vaguely familiar. A few steps later, it struck me.
A grainy shot of Prince William and one of his grips. I was on Embassy Row looking back through the Kensington Palace fence when I snapped the shot with my trusty BlackBerry.
I quickly stopped and pulled out my phone. I’d seen the prince — that guy who married Kate. But in the excitement of the moment, I couldn’t remember his name!
I took this selfie — complete with geotag to prove I’d seen Prince William on May 1 in London — after returning from my run.
I turned to get a shot of him as he turned into Kensington Gardens from Embassy Row. When Kate and William are in London, they stay in Kensington Palace, which is in the gardens.
As it turned out, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge was born the next day. I suspect Kate and William were in town preparing for her birth.
In June, I finally decided to scratch the solo canoe itch I’d been resisting for years. I love to paddle, but our canoe is a tandem, which makes it difficult to navigate without a paddler in the bow.
The Royalex Wenonah Wilderness loaded and ready to go.
I got on the Kansas City Paddler website and discovered the store had closed several months earlier after its founder’s untimely death. After reading more closely, however, I learned the store was selling its inventory by appointment from its Peculiar, Mo. location.
The Royalex solo canoe ready for her maiden voyage.
I e-mailed Gary at Kansas City Paddler, who’d sold me my tandem canoe more than 10 years earlier. Within a week, Kate and I met him at the store … and drove home with a Wenonah Wilderness strapped to the top of the car!
Matt’s first catch from the new canoe. A small fish … but a good fighter!
I enjoyed the solo canoe several times in the summer and fall on nearby Lake Jacomo. I look forward to getting it on a Missouri river or stream in 2016.
We shoved off in July for our Yellowstone National Park family vacation. We took four days to get there, taking in some beautiful sights along the way.
Joe, Maggie and Tom at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Our first stop was at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, S.D. Several friends recommended it, and we were glad we took their advice. It was fun exploring the falls and rocks.
Badlands National Park.
We made it all the way to Badlands National Park on our first day on the road. We arrived about an hour before sunset and enjoyed several quick hikes.
The next day, we spent several hours at Mount Rushmore National Park, which we’d never seen as a family. It was spectacular, and we enjoyed hiking its trails and learning about the amazing effort and commitment of those who created it.
Mount Rushmore was amazing.
We took our bikes on our summer vaction, and day three marked our first trail ride. None of us had ever seen South Dakota’s Black Hills National Forest, and to say it was breathtaking is an understatement.
Our ride on the Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills National Forest was spectacular.
We spent about three hours on the third day logging 16 miles on the George S. Mickelson Trail. We started at the Burlington Northern Hill City Trailhead and rode toward Mystic, turning around to return to the trailhead after about 8 miles.
Maggie’s ready to go!
On day four, we stopped at Devil’s Tower National Monument on our way to Cody, Wyo. We spent two hours learning about and exploring the breathtaking natural wonder, which didn’t disappoint.
A family shot at Devil’s Tower National Monument.
The fun continued during our week in Yellowstone. We stayed at the WorldMark West Yellowstone, which — less than a mile from the park’s western entrance — I highly recommend.
Joe and Maggie at Devil’s Tower.
A high point of our time in Yellowstone were our cool bike rides. Our research ahead of the trip indicated family cycling trails were limited but growing in the park. We decided to throw the bikes on the car and use them as our primary mode of exploration.
Kate riding the trail to Mystic Falls.
It turned out great. It’s a strategy for seeing less-frequently-visited parts of Yellowstone I’d highly recommend to families and those who enjoy a little physical activity.
On our first day in the park, we took in Old Faithful. Where else to begin, right?
Joe, Maggie and Tom in front of Lone Star Geyser.
Later that same day, we logged several great rides. First, we headed to Morning Glory Pool. Afterward, we logged a longer ride to Mystic Falls. Both were spectacular.
Kate and Matt pose for a quick selfie on the return ride from Lone Star Geyser.
Another great ride was to Lone Star Geyser. The trail was covered by tree canopies and less crowded than other parts of the park. The geyser did not disappoint, and the ride out and back just made it more memorable.
Joe, Maggie and Tom in front of Kepler Falls.
After the Lone Star Geyser ride, we took the short hike to Kepler Cascades. We were all fairly tired from the long ride, but the quick walk was a small price to pay for the spectacular views of the falls.
Perhaps the longest ride of our trip was to Grand Prismatic Spring. It took us over some breathtaking terrain.
A spectacular shot — compliments of my BlackBerry — of Grand Prismatic Spring.
We started at the Nez Perce Creek Picnic Area and rode the 12-mile roundtrip route to and from Grand Prismatic Spring. Once there, we climbed a steep trail and took in a spectacular view.
Tom getting ready to zipline.
West Yellowstone, Mont., has plenty to offer in its own right. One evening, Joe, Tom and I went ziplining while Kate and Maggie took in the shops.
Yellowstone Zipline Adventures was fantastic. After learning the ziplining basics, we spent several hours enjoying the park’s features and building our confidence and skill.
Joe chilling on the zipline landing pad.
On another evening, all five Beems took in a live rodeo. Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo is the real deal, featuring local riders hoping to move up the circuit. It’s an experience I would highly recommend.
Joe, Maggie and Tom after the Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo.
All in all, not a bad year! We had a lot of fun in the outdoors and enjoyed some new experiences in 2015.
I hope your fitness and outdoor activity plans for 2016 are coming together. Share them here for us all to enjoy.
Kansas City Runner