Eight State Parks in Five Days (Part 2 of 2)

>> Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Yesterday, I posted the first part of our “8 state parks adventure” that happened last week. This post picks up where that left off. On the morning of day 4, we packed up at Hayes Lake and hit the road. We ended up an hour to the west at Lake Bronson:

Inside the visitor’s center. The “viewing tower” seen
in the pic above the boys was closed for repairs. Dang.

The boys playing at the nice park!

Lake Bronson.

Again, another “practically the whole park to ourselves” adventure!

The boys loved stopping at the dam (that made the lake 80 years ago), and they
thought it was fun we were able to drive over it going in and coming out of the park.

A dam selfie.


My wife’s post:

Day 4: Lake Bronson: this was a sweet little park, and you can tell it’s a hot spot in the summer. The beach was too chilly for us to stay long, but they had a great playground that we had to peel the boys away from. The dam was a favorite. The water was really fast and foamy like we’ve never seen!

Ten minutes away was Halma (population 61) with a restaurant called “The Frog Pond.” So we stopped there for lunch. I passed up the new appetizer recently added to the menu:

Waiting for lunch!

The bathroom stall door.

It had some seriously good food. The chicken in my patty melt was perfectly grilled, and then the bread was perfectly toasted. Nice place! From there, it was less than 30 miles to Old Mill:

Henry with one of his MANY Wikki Stix creations during our car trips (a guy in a chair with a hat).


Lots of history here.

Charlie sprinted down this hill, and rolled the final 20 feet. Unintentionally.
(That’s the “swimming hole” off in the distance. Too cold for us to enjoy in Oct.)

The far side of the swimming hole.

The cute stone bridge over the small river.
Reminds me of a mini swing bridge from Jay Cooke.

Bridge selfie with my cutie.

Henry got a boot pulled off by playing in the mud along the river.

Sarah nearly stepped on a garter snake!

Before loading up. Cute pic!

My wife’s thoughts from her post:

Day 4: Old Mill. The history was kind of lost on the boys, but I had fun reading about the ingenuity and perseverance of the family that first set up the mill. The boys loved playing on the shores of the pond and river there, and of course Henry got his boot sucked off by the mud. Just before we got back to the car, mama amused everyone by letting out a startled shriek. The boys loved to see their first garter snake in the wild!

Then everyone napped for the hour drive into Grand Forks SD. Our last night of this trip was going to be spent at a hotel.

On that drive, we started seeing more of the predicament that farmers from the NW corner of the state are in. They got something like 8 inches of ran over 2 days recently, and their crops are stuck ready to be harvest in the fields. There’s little corn up there (unlike where I’m from in the southern part of the state), but there were dried bean fields as far as the eye could see that were stuck underwater. And sunflowers and sugar beets.

Soybean fields (and WATER) on either side of the road.

Sugar beets under water.

Selfie in the pool!!

Tricks for Mama!

A state parks trip is NOT complete without a stop at Pizza Ranch!

Goofing around (in a LARGE and comfy bed).

Seriously good hotel breakfast the next morning.

The grandpa-of-7 who set up breakfast took a ton of pride in his work. He had a whole table that was his “healthy” table with foods with no added sugar, artificial colors or flavors, etc. It was legitimately the BEST hotel breakfast I’ve ever had. (Fresh pressed juice blends, waffles, omelets, sausage, bacon, smoothies, rolls, etc.) Thanks Hampton Inn in Grand Forks!

We had a quick drive to park #7 of this trip just back across the river in East Grand Forks. It was the small (often flooded) Red River State Park:

And guess what? It was closed to cars and flooded.
Those 4 big trees in the distance should be on the banks of the river.

Another great playground ALL TO OURSELVES.

Selfie as the boys played.

Flooded campgrounds. It’s very much an “RV park” set up in formerly residential streets.

My wife’s 2 cents:

Day 5: Red River: this park, appropriately, was flooded. We couldn’t drive in due to the flooding, but we could walk in. Steve and I read the story about after Grand Forks’s big flood in ‘97, the homes that were destroyed here were leveled, and this urban state park was formed. The boys were more interested in the great playground, though I think Henry was able to comprehend how high the water actually got.

Now it was time for our longest drive of this trip (not counting getting out there or getting back): we had just over 90 minutes to Buffalo River. We crossed over about 15-20 temporarily super muddy stretches of highway as semis were pulling out of INSANELY MUDDY sugar beet fields loaded with muddy beets:

Highway caked with mud.

Charlie turned into a bear as he was over-tired and was fighting naps. He FINALLY started to rest.

A picnic lunch at Buffalo River eating all the leftovers from our trip so far!

The river a few hundred feet from where we picnicked.

We love bridges.

Under the bridge.

Hiking our way to an overlook.

A nice young woman with a dog said she'd take our photo if I could take one of her with her pooch.

A big bend in the Buffalo River.

Racing back!

My wife's thoughts about Buffalo River:

Day 5: Buffalo River: Our 8th state park in five days. We soaked up some sunshine with a picnic lunch. Then we re-enacted The Three Billy Goats Gruff under the foot bridge. We hiked up to a river overlook. Charlie ditched his boots and asked to race all of us through the prairie. A beautiful end to a fun trip. Love these guys.

Then it was time for a long car ride back home. After driving for 20 minutes, it was depressing to hop on I-94 to see a sign that said "St. Paul: 220 miles." The boys slept for a bit, and then played for a bit. We were happy to be home!

Our basic counter-clockwise route to hit these 8 state parks (blue Xs).
4.5 hours up to the first one, 3.5 hours home from the last one.
The longest drive in between was 90 minutes (between #7 and #8).

1,080 miles once we pulled into the driveway after dark on Saturday.

Here's part one if you missed it.


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