Camping at Whitewater (and Visiting Carley and John Latsch)

>> Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Friday through Sunday, we were in a "camper cabin" at Whitewater State Park. My wife's family was in a cabin right next to us, so the boys got lots of cousin time. Here are a handful of pics from our trip:


Fun in the park office.


Driving up to the cabins: the vault toilet on the left, then our cabin, and Steph's cabin on the right.


Hauling stuff.


"Don't run in the grass because there are nettles" we say.
And then this happens 2 minutes later. Of course.


Paninis being cooked on the fire, cousins playing in the distance.


HAZY sun (from Canadian wild fires).


Ham and cheese paninis.


Cousins.


S'MORES!


Wes, Jon, and Steph.


A live, big fox snake in the visitor's center.




Fake sleeps.


Playing catch in the bunks before bed. These bunks were a good
18" higher than previous cabins. (These cabins were only 13 months old.)

I woke up before 6 the next morning and went out for a run. It was foggy in areas, but never so bad I felt like I was in danger. I ran 9 moderate miles at 6:55 pace through this:


Pic once I got back.


Bacon!


Eggs!


Put together: toasted english muffin with bacon, egg, and cheese.

Then we drove to Carley State Park. It was only about 10 minutes away. We knew it was small (about a 1/2 square mile), so we didn't know how amazing it'd be. The boys were first thrilled by a big smushed toad:




"Driving" through the park.


On Mama's lap.


Hiking down to the river.


The boys LOVED this river crossing! (I did too.)


On a trail as the boys played on big downed trees.


Lots of ferns.


RUNNING. For no good reason. (I guess that's the reason I run too, so I should shut it.)


The park was cool and moist. Lots of moss and ferns everywhere.


Back across the "bridge."




Big hike back up.


He needed to rest next to the road back at the top.


Selfie before leaving!

Back at Whitewater, we wanted to hike to Chimney Rock. Steph's family had done it once already, so Evie helped show me the way. (I think they ended up doing that hike 3 times!)


Jon and I and the kiddos.


Evie (not pictured) and I leading the pack.


Oh good. More stairs. (And Wes is flexing to show his muscles used for stair climbing.)


Steep drop to the right. Kids on the left.




Evie on the edge of the world!


Group pic!

I didn't realize until I saw that last photo just how divided our families are: we are a "full brim" family, and they are a "baseball cap" family. Ha!


Hiking down a bit to Chimney Rock.


Chimney Rock is a tall freestanding rock with a small tunnel in it.
On the far side, you're looking down over a sheer cliff!


The kids inside and under Chimney Rock.


Chimney Rock in the background.


Down 170 steps (someone told us).


Again, steep on one side. Kids to the inside.


The youngest ones resting on the way down.


Family pic on the dam that makes the swimming beach.


The Borscheids!


A quick lunch...


... and then it was time to head back to the swimming beach!


The beach from the bridge.

Whitewater is known for being mosquito-free. It's down in a valley, and most of the valley is filled with cold natural streams that are too cool for mosquito larva. So the beach was beautifully sandy, but the water was chilly:




Splashing.


In the "hot tub" on the beach (as they called it).


Mermaid Ev.


Lots of little pools dug on the beach.


The boys dammed up water and let it out.


My view at nap time: I did the lunch dishes and then rumble rolled my legs.


Zonked out.

Before supper, we drove just 3 miles to Elba to hike up the historic fire tower. I ran past it on my run that morning, but it was so foggy, I didn't actually see the tower. (Just the parking lot.) We learned that there were a LOT of steps just to get TO the tower! It was on a big bluff. Someone in the Whitewater office told Jon that it was 1400 steps, but that might be on the high side. But it was A LOT:


View from the bottom.


Kiddos in a line.


I went ahead with Evie and Henry.


View from the top!


Down that road (around the bend to the left) is the State Park.


More of the Whitewater River. I crossed it 5 times on my run. It winds a lot.


Selfie with Henry at the top!


Everyone else shouted up that they weren't going to come up, so I had
to get a selfie with the 3 of us who made it all the way up! Nice job, kiddos!


Pic from Mama at the base of the tower when we were nearly back down.
One of the freakier things about fire towers is how they get narrower and narrower at the top.


Down the bluff.




Lots of steps.




Lemon pepper green beans.


Ham steak. (Always a fav because it's hard to mess up.)


THIS was my favorite meal. Partly because I was pooped and so hungry from that hike!


Eating at the Borscheid's campsite.


Oiled and salted naan for dessert.


Naan time.


Running around after their showers.


Toad catching by lantern light.


Everyone brushing their teeth by the water faucet.


Morning on our last day.


Leftover ham steak with egg and cheese on a croissant.


These cuties. (With more naan.)


Henry named him Harry (or maybe "Hairy") and
didn't want to let him go after playing with him all morning.


Snuggles.


Goodbye camper cabin!


My wife's last pic.

Then we drove 30 minutes to John Latsch State Park along the Mississippi River. This one was BIGGER, but when I was researching it, it basically only had 1 trail. So it was just protected land with 1 thing to do. When we got there, we had to take a selfie by this sign, because this was IT - there was no camping, no office, just a parking lot for a few cars and this sign:


Charlie's showing off his handful of acorns.




OH GOOD. MORE FREAKING STAIRS. 641 to be exact.


Henry RAN up them. He didn't complain about these 24 hours of stairs at all.




More running.




Getting closer to the top...




At the top: highway 61 and the Mississippi.


Bright selfie.


A few steps back is a big drop.


Headed back down.


A pic of me and my boys. Holding those hands TIGHT on the edge of that cliff!






Running down just as he ran up.


Henry way down there.


Mama and Charlie still way up there, working their way down.


After a final stop for pizza in Red Wing.

I have a few video clips I need to put together to share as well. I'll get that done soon. I the meantime, I'm taking it easy this week as I'm racing a triathlon on Saturday!

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