Friday, August 20, 2010

Our Version of Survivor: Camping 2010

Hi everyone. It's Starling again.

I am not a huge fan of camping. I like the outdoors and hiking, even canoeing, but sleeping with mosquitoes and rain and cooking in the elements with small kids--not so much. After all, didn't people move toward building permanent housing for a reason. But I am in the minority in the household. Plus its the only vacation we can afford, we went to Kathio State Park near Lake Mille Lacs!
First we stopped at Jackrabbit's family home on the way...and went to Murphy's Landing one afternoon. This is a historical education spot, with houses, farms, schools, and a small town from circa 1840-1870 in Minnesota. They have interpreters and a horse drawn vehicle to the landing site. It really is pretty cool (well, actually it was hot, which should have served as warning about the upcoming trip). Our pictures didn't turn out, but here is one of Jaybird curtseying to the teacher, as she was told she should do at the beginning of school, in the recreated town hall.

Then off to Lake Mille Lacs! This is a huge fishing lake in central Minnesota, and we chose to go there because 1) we could rent a very basic cabin and avoid freezing to death like last year, and 2) its somewhat nearby (4 hrs from Winona), and we do have a baby traveling with us, and 3) it seems like everyone else has been to Lake Mille Lacs. Why not us? So, two firsts: we went to Lake Mille Lacs and Mudpuppy chowed down on corn on the cob. He loved it.

This was our late night dining room. S'Mores are a requirement to get me camping. The kids indulge me that way.

Here's a pastoral picture of Bear fishing on the Rum River. Sadly for him, he didn't catch anything. But he got a new fishing pole because I accidentally broke his in the packing extravaganza. So he tried that out gamely.

This gives you a better sense of where our cabin was. The area is very wooded, although it is somewhat new forest--the park is a reclaimed farm from the 1920s. For the record, we did eat real non-sugary food too....

One of the cuter moments was on our last night, while it was POURING rain, we sat in the cabin (thank goodness we had a cabin) and Mouse wrote a letter to future inhabitants about what we did there. It went along the lines: "We had a great time: we swam, we hiked, we fished, we did everything! My dad even saw a porcupine!"

On the way to the observation tower to see the Lake and valley. You get a sense of the "newer" forest here. Very pretty though. Granted, I sat in the van with a sleeping Mudpuppy for this one.

Making beaded bracelets and headbands at the Mille Lacs Ojibwe Museum. The reservation is literally right next to the state park and lake, and they have a fantastic museum. Really, this was the highlight of the trip for me. The history of Native Americans in Minnesota is rough to say the least, but it is heartening how this group is trying hard (and it appears successfully) to preserve their heritage and create a healthy sovereignty on their reservation.

It was hot hot hot, and humid, and doing anything is four times harder than being at home. But we also get to be together in a way that is without distractions. I like the North Shore much better, but this worked out for this year.

And I'm glad we're home.