Guesthouse “Camping” at St. Croix State Park

>> Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Ten days ago, we tried something new at a MN State Park: we rented a guesthouse. It’s basically a house in the state park that you can rent for $210/night. With 6 bedrooms, the arrangements can be cheap if you bring lots of families. We went with my wife’s sister’s families (so with all taxes and fees, it was $78/night/family).

“Herp” bingo in the interpretive center. (Frogs, lizards, snakes, etc., not STDs.)

The ugliest fire ring we’ve ever had at a state park.

Pizzas for Jon and me cooking over the propped-up grill.

They look “normal,” but they were extra smoky and delicious!

The kids eating inside.

Jon and I enjoying “Dad talk” by the fire (cooking round 2 of pizzas).

Starting to gather outside. (Note how extremely we had to prop the fire ring to get the grill to work.)

Checkers with the cousins.

Ready for s’mores. (My wife is wearing a
Smokey the Bear scarf I won for her at Herp Bingo.)

Marshmallow time!

Steph brought BIG marshmallows!

Our backyard opened up to a unused ball field (to the right back there).

The back of our guesthouse.

The front, with people at the fire ring visible to the right. The stairwell
space (right side of the house) was clearly added on to turn 2 units into 1.

Henry with a s’more.

Bedtime in the boys’ room.

Annie and Matt arrived after dark.

A rainbow over the neighboring guesthouse when I got up for a run on day 2.

Slap Jack.

I went for a run down a recently re-paved bike trail. I came across a lot of fresh poop in the middle of the trail (weird animals out there), some birds, and 1 deer. Four of the other adults went out on a workout a bit later, and I took this video showing more about the guesthouse:

Direct link:

Then we got the boys dressed for the day, and Steph and I took them on a short hike as the other adults were getting ready after their workouts:

Crossing a rock dam on the way to the St. Croix River.

Through the grasses on the shore of the St. Croix.

Fire tower views! (We could see the water tower of the town
where I stayed for my “photo lighting” grant earlier this summer.)

Henry wasn’t sure he wanted to climb (AS ALWAYS), but had a great time!

Group selfie at the top! My wife was still on her long run.

Matt walking down in front of Charlie. (Always an adult below a child in case of a trip.)

Steph’s family (with Annie) nearing the bottom.

The Kettle River along another hike.

The kids up a cliff from the river.

River to the far left.

They shared a walking stick.

SOOO many jokes about Henry and the clam he found.

Sarah made it back from her long run in time for lunch!


Henry and I played cribbage as everyone else napped.

Jon: “I’m just going to read a bit.” Two pages in, and he was napping too.

We geared up for an evening swim at Lake Clayton. Charlie found a friendly dog and swam with him all afternoon:

Charlie and a dog.

Running into the lake.

Three cousins, a new friend, the dog, and an old lady in a tube who slowly drifted away.

Playing in the sand.

He wanted to pose like this. ?!?!?!

Classy: boxed wine in a plastic coffee cup.

Also classy.

Evie had a loose tooth that she WANTED to get out! Henry tried...

... but Annie was the one who got it out!

Supper from Jon: burgers, beans, and fruit.

More s’mores. Of course.

The Longs.

A big fire to use up our wood.

The little kids playing games on Matt’s phone, while the big kids played cribbage.

Helping Evie at cribbage. (As Henry makes a face as he sees a double run in his hand.)

The next morning, Annie and I drove back to Hinkley (about a half hour) to get rolls from Tobies. IT WAS WORTH IT.

Kids and sugar.

A snakeskin necklace project in the interpretive center. The boys loved this!

A final hike to the St. Croix River.

Trying to catch crawfish.

Playing in the river.

We had a picnic lunch just up from the river by the “nature store,” and then hit the road for the 2 hour drive home. Only it was closer to 3 because of some construction along I35. (Seriously, it took 34 minutes to go 6 miles on the way to St. Croix on Friday afternoon, and it took LONGER to get through that stretch on Sunday afternoon heading home. Brutal.) We enjoyed the ease of a guesthouse so much (especially when it rained twice and having access to a full kitchen) that we already booked a trip for farther up north next year with Steph and Jon’s family in another (smaller) guesthouse.


Unknown 9:23 AM, August 15, 2019  

Herp bingo, eh?! :) - Kim K.

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