Part 2 of our 6-Day State Parks Trip

>> Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Here was part one. I left off when we were at Itasca State Park (our 27th state park overall, and the 7th out of 11 on this trip). We got back to our campsite at Lake Bemidji and hit the beach. The boys fished for a while:


In a tiny bay for fishing boats.


On the fishing pier.


Mama and Charlie fishing from the top of the little bridge.


Charlie got bored quick and hit the lake.


Henry did too.


Cozy back at the campsite.

We slept well our 2nd night in our camper cabin. I woke up early and started packing up a bit of stuff on the porch. I sat and relaxed for a moment as everyone else was still sleeping. I heard some rustling, and then I spotted a little red squirrel trying to run off with a wet pair of Henry's underwear:


PERVERT! (Note the wet clothes in the background of the previous photo from the night before.)


Charlie on one of the 2 rocks on the edge of our campsite.
(The other rock we called "the pee rock." You figure out why.)


Breakfast over the fire was fried ham and eggs with toasted english muffins.



My folks and my sister's family wanted to stop by for a hike and a meal. We were all 4 hours north (well, 6 hours north for my folks) for my cousins wedding which was going to be that night. So since they were nearby, they figured we could all hang out for a bit:


Crossing the highway behind our campsite on our hike to the bog.




A few kinds of insect-eating plants in the bog: this one is "sundew"
and traps bugs in the sticky drops at the end of those hairs.


The final 1/4 mile or so was all boardwalk as to not disturb the bog.


A shallow pond across the bog.


Insect-eating pitcher plants. ("Pitchers" filled with water that trap bugs.)




My butt with the kids.


Charlie getting a piggy-back ride back to camp by his cousin.

Then it was lunch time. I'd been soaking sweet corn in water all morning. We put that on the grill first. After turning it every few minutes for 30 minutes, it looked like this:


Looks burnt, but 95% of it is edible.


Then I made 2 ham steaks and 2 batches of garlic green beans. My sis is cutting it up here.


Corn, ham, beans, and lots of veggies! A good campfire meal!


Cousins eating.


Charlie showing Grandma some of the hot salted naan he's having for dessert.

We hit the road and headed toward my cousin’s wedding, making a state park stop along the way:


Eating crunchy carrots while everyone tries to sleep isn’t a smart idea.


A big muskie?

STATE PARK #28: Schoolcraft. This one was small. This was a 2-way road through the trees:




On the edge of the (still tiny because we’re close to the headwaters) Mississippi River.




Charlie ran up to Henry and fell in just 2 seconds after I warned him he might.


Ironing our clothes at our hotel for the night before my cousin’s wedding.


The boys got cozy and got to watch their first cartoons in many days.
(Note our hitch-mount cargo carrier in the corner.)


Dressed up family!


Silly cousins.


What did I say in the previous post of photos from this trip about
Henry’s favorite “silly face” being “pretending to be asleep?” Goofball.


Cuties. My wife is a babe.


At the reception.


A cute family pic!


The Dale Stenzel family.


Love this.








Dancing cousins!






My folks!


My cutie and Henry.


Charlie was “zippy” all night!

We had a good night in our hotel room. My wife woke up early to go for a long run on a trail north of Grand Rapids (Mesabi Bike Trail), and she wasn’t too far in when she spotted a small black bear on the trail in front of her. She’s not one to swear, but he exact words were “oh shit!” It ran off and caused her no trouble. The boys hung out with Grandma for a few minutes as I headed out for a few miles myself. Then we had 2 more state parks to explore that day.

STATE PARK #29: Hill Annex Mine. We had seen on their website that they had tours on Fridays and Saturdays. But we were going to be swinging by on Sunday. YOU CAN’T PROVE THAT WE SLIPPED THROUGH A LOCKED FENCE BECAUSE WE DIDN’T KNOW THE PARK WOULD BE LOCKED UP.


In an old mining scoop.


The flooded mine.


Some mining equipment in the distance across the lake.


Loading up after a quick stop.


It’s a good sign when my “adventuring” hat is sitting on the dash.


Cutie.


Henry slept for over an hour with his blanket on his head.

STATE PARK #30: Savanna Portage. We had planned on staying here overnight. But we got a call just a few days before leaving on this trip saying they had a big storm and we weren’t able to stay in our cabin. We ended up getting a room in a small hotel in a nearby town instead, which changed the dynamic of the trip: it went from being mostly camping (a night in a hotel, 2 nights at Lake Bemidji, a night at another hotel for the wedding, and a final night at Savanna Portage) to mostly hotels. Oh well. We were SHOCKED driving through the park at how many fresh trees were down - it was quite the storm that had gone through! We were with my sister’s family, and we decided to try a hike around a beaver pond:


Downed trees on our hike.


One of 2 beaver lodges in this pond.


The kids climbing through more storm damage.


We had to turn around. The trail ahead was unpassable.



We came across a park employee walking back to the office to get a chainsaw - another tree had just fallen down ahead and trapped a few cars in the park. My brother-in-law Dave and I got out to help:


Me and Dave on the left. We were breaking off branches until the tree was light enough to move.


Pushing the tree JUST far enough off the road to make a lane.


My wife took this selfie as a joke: the boys were working hard, and she was sitting in a bug-free A/Ced car.


Goofy cousins in the car.


More storm damage just off the road.

We tried one last hike. There’s a continental divide in Savanna Portage: everything to the north heads towards Lake Superior and the Atlantic, and everything to the south heads to the gulf of Mexico. So we hit that trail. It wasn’t too long before the bugs drove us out:


RUNNING back to keep the bugs off us.


Selfie with my Sis before leaving.

We drove into McGregor for the night. We had a lovely view from our hotel room:




Cousins in the pool.

We had a weird night in McGregor! A storm came through and blew out a transformer just behind the hotel around 10:30. So the hotel had PARTIAL power: some rooms weren’t that affected. Some had AC but no other power. Some had no AC but everything else was OK. And some were completely dead. Our AC would turn off and on, and finally wouldn’t turn on any more. It was starting to get warm. There was an electrician staying upstairs, so him and I went around and checked the hotel’s breakers (they were fine - only 1 was tripped, and it wasn’t for our room). My wife stayed with the boys but she knew I wouldn’t sleep in this situation. So the hotel told me there was a room with a working AC down the hall, so I passed out in there for 4 hours. Before doing that, here were the boys from around midnight:


We’ll never forgot our stay in McGregor!


More pool time in the morning! The power came back on fully around 2 a.m.


Playing at the playground in town.




NICE playground for a small town!

STATE PARK #31: Father Hennepin. This was our last state park on the way home on day 6! We knew it was just a small one along Lake Mille Lacs, but it ended up being a pretty and fun one.




Charlie was pouting for some reason.


Our hike took us right along the lake. It was breezy and wonderful!


The view from “Pope’s Point.”


LOTS of crayfish for the kids to try to catch!


Of course Charlie would be the one to enjoy having a crayfish pinch his finger.






Cousins...


... and our family...


... and my sister’s family!






Charlie making a dead crayfish wave “hi.”


Walking back.




We jumped off the trail to head back along the beach for the last part.


Again, LOTS more crayfish.


A pic from my Sis of all the kids with my wife and I back there.

We accidentally discovered “Happy’s” fast food drive-in on the way home. It was a fun final stop before the boys napped the rest of the way back to St. Paul:


Playing inside as we waited for our food.


Malts and cones!


A final pic before heading home!

Here are a few video clips from a few of the parks:

If you missed it, here’s the post with photos from the first half of this trip.

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