Huge State Parks Trip

>> Wednesday, July 11, 2018

On Monday, our family got back from a 6 day trip where we drove more than 1,000 miles. We hit 11 state parks (numbers 21-31 in our MN State Park “Passports”), fished with my mother-in-law at her cabin, and went to my cousins wedding. This is too much for 1 post, so I’ll probably post the second half next Wednesday.

Our large cooler all loaded up.

STATE PARK #21: Crow Wing. We didn’t stay here long. Charlie and I had 30 mosquitos in the porta-potty with us when we first got there. Then my wife got a photo of us RUNNING off up a trail because the mosquitos were so bad:

Henry’s shouting “SEE?!? I told you this was a bad idea! We should have stayed in the car!”

A view of the Mississippi River.

Direct Link:

I got 16 mosquito bites running through that park. If you look closely in that video, I have a big welt on my forehead, with a mosquito right next to it ready to give me another one.

STATE PARK #22: Cuyuna Country. This had a lot of small lakes and a LOT of mountain bike trails! I’m excited to go back when the boys are bigger to ride. We just played in one lake for a while:

Clear water! There were 6 dirty hippie mountain bikers swimming just off to the left.

Catching crayfish.

Then it was nap time in the car.

LOTS of rain in parts of MN lately led to some wet/soft areas!

Driving through parts of the Chippewa National Forest.

Visiting Grandma Mon at her cabin on BIG Lake Winnibigoshish. That’s Henry and Charlie
on the dock (along with Mama, her sister, and their Mom), and 2 of their cousins in the lake.

Heading out to “the floaty thing” with Charlie.

Henry and Evie came too.

The 4 of us out there (with another kid in the foreground).

Goofy cousins.

Supper outside of Grandma’s cabin.

S’mores by T and J’s trailer.

I want Lauren's pants.

Julie was a hit with the large bubbles!

The kids got in on the action.

Our first night was at a place called the “Gosh Dam Place.” No joke.

Morning of day 2 at the Gosh Dam Place: Henry’s still
passed out on the cot, and Charlie’s stirring on the far bed.

Breakfast with Grandma Mon in her cabin.

Charlie “helping” sweep up.

Ready for fishing on the dock! (On a WINDY day!)

Finishing with cousins.

Big waves being blown in.

Grandma with the kiddos.

Direct Link:

STATE PARK #23: Scenic. We hung out in the big lodge by the lake and played with the sunfish:

The boys being moose.

Luring sunnies to their toes.

About 10 sunfish in this photo.

A big lumberjack in Bigfork, MN.

At “The Pizza Parlor” for lunch.

Henry was proud of his ketchup handiwork.

STATE PARK #24: McCarthy Beach. Of COURSE we went swimming here. It was breezy and cool, but the sun was hot.

Note the water color change way out there: it was pretty shallow for 200-300 feet before it dropped off.

The boys playing.

Henry made a friend (2 boys on the left), Charlie’s in the middle,
and a group of 3 are going way out there to play football.

Selfie on the beach with my cutie!

Driving through the pines on our way to Lake Bemidji.

More of this. (We obviously planned our longer car rides around nap time.)

STATE PARK #25: Lake Bemidji. We rented a camper cabin here for 2 nights. We LOVE those cabins: they are 12’ x 16’ with 2 sets of bunk beds and a table. That’s it. You do all your cooking outside, have to use a vault toilet, and get to sleep on (thin) mattresses.

From the small lot by our cabin. L-to-R: our toilet, a cabin in the distance,
a water faucet back there, and our cabin on the far right.

Our cabin, with its really private picnic/grill/campfire area in the distance.

Hauling our stuff (and the boys) with a little cart.

Supper was paninis over the fire.

Dang good!

Grilled naan flatbread (oiled and salted) is a treat for dessert. Like a super soft hot pretzel.

A final snack (chatting about something).


And a final marshmallow.

A selfie by the lake.

And a silly one. Henry’s “go to” silly face is pretending to be asleep. :)

A little foot bridge over a small channel for fishing boats.

Looking out onto Lake Bemidji.

The shower/bathrooms were dated, but clean and nice.

Charlie helping me drive back to our site. He told me he wanted to hit a van.


I got up at 5:20 the next morning and went for a long run on the Paul Bunyan Trail. I saw 2 sets of wood ducks, watched a beaver swim in a lake below the trail, scared a deer into the woods, and had a bald eagle soar just above the tree tops. I got in 8.2 miles consisting of 1.5 miles easy, 2 miles moderate (6:30-6:40 pace), and then 3 miles hard (18:06, or 6:02 pace) before a 1.7 mile cool down. I finished my run just as the sun was starting to hit our cabin:

Starting breakfast: the first round of bacon.

Eggs fried in the bacon fat.

The first of my 2 bacon, egg, and cheese english muffin sandwiches.

Bacon first.

Photo worthy.

A stop in Bemidji to see Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

Charlie WANTED me to take another photo, but then he just ran away.

STATE PARK #26: La Salle. This was a quick stop on the way to Itasca. This small-looking lake is one of the deepest in MN at over 200 feet:

STATE PARK #27: Itasca. This one's a winner. Obviously. We will go back here and do a lot more someday. We started by taking a 5 mile scenic drive along Lake Itasca to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The boys and Mama took the rocky 50' trek across the start of the Mighty Mississippi:

This is something everyone has to do when at Itasca.

Nobody fell in!

Coming back across on a tiny foot bridge.

They decided to hike down the river a ways.

What makes this so amazing is that here in St. Paul, the Mississippi is huge, and down by
La Crosse where we cross it to go camping every year it's SPRAWLING, but here it's just a creek!

Mama decided they could swim down it. We had extra clothes in the car.

Under a little bridge, and off towards another bridge (not far around that bend).

Back at the headwaters again.

They wanted to take one more trip down the river!

The very start to the far left, with Henry jumping in off the small foot bridge.

Floating on his butt all the way down.

In dry clothes, looking out over the lake down the hill from the Lodge.

Some gorgeous stone steps leading up to a historic Lodge.

A great cinnamon roll after lunch in the Lodge.

On a 2.5 mile hike to and from the fire tower.

Up a 100' fire tower. Charlie was nervous (you can tell).
Only 6 people can go up at once, and it got SHAKY up there in the breeze.

Looking down at people waiting.

The view high above the tree tops.

Charlie getting a ride part-way back.

Sun's out guns out. (Henry using his shirt to bat at bugs.)

Then it was back to Bemidji for another night, before a night at my cousins wedding and then 3 more state parks. I'll be back with those photos once I get them all fixed up. (Probably next week Wednesday: Friday will be "Friday Funnies," Saturday will be some workout updates, Monday will hopefully be a 1 mile race report, and Wednesday will be more state park photos.)

UPDATE: here's part 2 of our trip up north.


drdave 10:18 AM, July 11, 2018  

Can't beat an egg fried in bacon fat.

Looks like a good time was had by all. Nice post.

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