Camping Trip #4 with the Boys This Summer

>> Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A week ago, the boys and I went to William O'Brien State Park along the St. Croix River for a few days. Here are some photos of our trip:

Loaded up Tuesday morning!

Not long after the first photo. And it wasn't even nap time.

Running through a sweet tunnel that was for people (right) and
a creek (left) in Interstate State Park outside of Taylors Falls.

Selfie by the tunnel that the boys loved.

At Interstate, it said that we should go to the other part of the park to the "potholes." I didn't know what that meant, but we went to check it out. It turns out the potholes were formed thousands of years ago by glacial melt and high water where swirling eddys carved down into the rock. The boys were AMAZED:

Three big potholes covered in duckweed.

A deep one.

Selfie in front of a pothole.

Then we hopped back into the car and drove 15 miles to William O'Brien. We found our little "camper cabin" which we would call home for the next 3 days:

Very much like our Camper Cabin when we were at Jay Cooke.
The front 1/3 is porch, and the back 2/3 is 2 bunks and a table.

VERY private wooded fire pit area behind our cabin!

Boys on the bunks.

View from the vault toilets with the water spigot close by (to the left). Nice set up!
There were 2 other cabins to the far left and right as well.

Cartoons on the porch during his brother's nap.

My experiment this camping trip was to see if biscuits would turn out on the fire.

Biscuits (using an old pizza pan as a cover) and cheeseburgers over the campfire.

Biscuits turned out how I expected: pretty good, but with
totally crisp/burnt bottoms that we had to peel off.

Nicely cooked. Still super hot.

Supper on day 1.

S'mores. Of course.

Awkward like his Daddy.

"Minion" marshmallows. PERFECTLY done. If you like them darker, you're wrong.

Kitchen utensils drying/cooling on our porch. It was too perfect not to photograph.

Swimming in Lake Alice near the St. Croix River in the park. BEAUTIFUL water.

Baby sunfish ALL over! I cranked the contrast and counted fish in this photo: there are 78.

They liked to nibble on my ankle.

My boys.

They had benches along the beach in the water so you could wet your toes.

62 sec video of us hanging out at Lake Alice. So peaceful. Direct link:

After some (surprisingly nice) campground showers, we had a snack on our deck before bed.

Bedtime around 9 pm: Henry and Charlie on the left, and my bed (with the
box fan pointed right at it) on the lower right.

I knew there was a chance of storms that night. But my phone told me not to be worried. However, I woke up at 2:40 a.m. to the sound of driving rain and lots of lightning. At 2:49, we lost power. It started getting hot in our cabin. (No AC to begin with, but now we had no air movement either.)

After we lost power, I found Charlie sleeping like this:

Note the pillow where his head SHOULD be to the far right. And his ACTUAL head to the far left.

Charlie was up at 6:30. Henry still looked like this at that time.

Charlie annoying/waking up his brother 10 minutes later.

The power came back on for about 30 seconds at 5:30 a.m. but went right back off. Our kindling, wood, and everything outside was soaked, and we had no power, so we drove into Scandia (just 3 miles away) to go to a little cafe for breakfast...

Cute main street Scandia, pop. 3900 (so a raving metropolis compared to my wife's or my hometown).

... but none of Scandia had power. And trees were down EVERYWHERE. Part of town was roped off. Restaurants had tables and chairs blown everywhere. There were SNOWPLOWS out clearing debris. Have you see Bobcats with the "sweeper" thing on the front for clearing snow? Well THOSE were being use to clear leaves and branches. The boys loved seeing everything, and they didn't understand how potentially scary it was. We heard guys talking about entire groves of trees that were all tipped over. Yikes.

So we drove into Forest Lake, which was about 20 minutes away (as the boys counted fallen trees). MOST of Forest Lake was without power, so we weren't sure what we were going to do for breakfast! Finally, the far side of Forest Lake still had electricity (we saw a gas station in the distance with a light-up sign that was ACTUALLY lit up). So we stopped at McDonalds for hot cakes, sausages, and eggs:

We had planned on going canoeing around some islands on the St. Croix River, but the state park office was without power, so they were closed. No ice, firewood, or canoeing. Dang.

We were PLANNING on canoeing around the island on the left to get to this long
beach in the middle of the river right on the MN/WI border (dotted line).

Instead, we went back to Interstate State Park to do more exploring.
The same currents that made the potholes rounded off all these rocks!

This paddleboat captain waved at Henry.

Views of the St. Croix.

Oh yeah, MAMA had the day off, so she came to visit and hike with us!!!

The boys on a little natural bridge.

My wife posted this saying "Charlie hiking near high cliffs is mostly terrifying..."
You can't really tell, but it's a 20 foot drop off that cliff.

Henry loved crawling through this - he could squeeze through and come out the other side.

View from the top of a small climb.

Wetting hair after a hot hike.

He liked his wet head.

At "The Drive In" in Taylors Falls for lunch!

Mama took off and headed back home, and the boys and I headed back to our campsite. We STILL DIDN'T HAVE POWER. So the boys took a short nap in the hot cabin, and then I made supper:

Perfect grill marks. (You can't screw up ham steak on a campfire.)

Ham steak, hot dogs, grapes, strawberries, pears, and juice boxes for supper.

We planned on staying one more night, but it would have been a
miserable night, so we packed up and headed home. Note the 3 fans on the

Goodbye hot "Marine Mills" camper cabin. You were fun, but I kind of hate you.

Selfie before leaving the park.

It was appropriate to see this sign as we were leaving the park early
because a bad storm came through and knocked out our power.

We saw 3 crews still working in the area to restore power. Note the tree on the power lines here.

As the title notes, this was our 4th camping trip this summer. First was Jay Cooke in May, then camping with my wife's family in WI in June, and then camping July 4th in the Chippewa National Forest.


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