Saturday, November 18, 2023

Voyaguers National Park

Harper and Sophie on a Hike

Sunday September 24

Saturday night it rained, long and hard. We desperately needed the rain. We got over 3 inches, a month’s worth of rain in a single night.

We had the RV mostly packed and the rain stopped, letting us finish packing and get on the road by 10.

It’s a long drive to Voyageur's, way up north on the Iron Range, up by the Canadian border and International Falls, the “icebox of the lower 48”. It was overcast and drizzly, but the rain had stopped, mostly.

It took us about 6 hours with stops to get to our RV campground. Cathy and JA arrived at almost the same time. We are right on the shore of Lake Kabetagama, but not actually in the park. I took the dogs on a walk while Lee got things set up. It was wet but not too muddy. We walked up to an overlook and back down and then sat outside with Cathy and JA. 

We put the dogs in the RV while we sat outside for dinner, but Sophie was really on a tear, getting into everything she shouldn’t, chewing up a rug and one of Lee’s eyeglass cases. Too much time in a car for a puppy going through another teething phase!

Cathy made Italian wedding soup for dinner, with my homemade bread and Lee’s fruit crisp for dessert. Delish, but I was so tired. The dogs went out one more time and then to bed.

The dogs get a treat and their meds before bed, but I mixed up Harper and Heather’s bowls, so Harper got Heather’s Rimadyl and Heather got Harper’s Pepcid. I give the dogs another treat when I get up to pee (so Harper’s acid stomach won’t act up) and I couldn’t wake her up! That’s when I realized I’d mixed up my dogs. And it was confirmed when Harper woke us up by throwing up at 4:45 am. Oh well. I’m focusing better now!

Views Along the Rainy Lake Bike Trail

Monday Sept 25

In the morning we had a leisurely breakfast. Then I went for a short run while Lee took the dogs for a walk. This resort has its one hiking trail so I ran on that, two loops. That’s where Lee and JA walked the dogs as well.

We drove over to the Rainy Lake Visitors Center, explored the Center and then took the dogs on a hike on the paved bike trail. They’re not allowed on any of the other trails in the National Park. Lee took Heather back to the truck after a 1/2 mile; Cathy and I walked Harper and Sophie about 3 miles total. The bike trail is nice. I’m hoping to go back and ride the entire thing one day on this trip. 

After lunch at the nearby Thunderbird Lodge, we headed back to the RV to relax. We are figuring out what else there is to do. We could rent a boat, check out other trails, go biking, go to International Falls. No more rain, and it’s supposed to clear up too. Stars and an outside chance of seeing the northern lights.

Tuesday September 26

It was a little chilly last night so we ate dinner inside Cathy and JA’s RV. It’s a Scamp, smaller than ours but the dinette is pretty roomy. Lee made chicken satay with an Asian salad, rice, and watermelon. It was good! I was very tired so I didn’t stay up long. And I slept great, didn’t wake up until almost 6!

Lee was still asleep so I drew the curtain that separates the sleeping area from the rest of the RV, got some coffee, and started my breakfast. He was up by 6:20 and he’s back to taking the dogs out first thing, for which I am grateful.

Today Cathy and I took our bikes and drove back to the park headquarters in International Falls to ride the Rainy trail to the visitors center and back. It was a great morning for a bike ride! I started out wearing a windbreaker but I got rid of it halfway through the ride. 

It’s an interesting trail. Sometimes it was on the shoulder of the highway and sometimes it meandered off into the woods. I don’t know why it wasn’t a completely separate trail, but it probably has something to do with money. At about 6 miles Cathy decided to turn back. Her bike seat was bothering her. She wanted to explore the little town of Rainy and told me to go ahead.

Without Cathy I speeded up some. There was a headwind all the way to the visitors center, about 12 miles. I stopped at the visitor's center to use the restroom and eat the rest of my energy bar. Once I got going on the way back I really flew! I ended up averaging 12.2 mph for the entire ride, and a lot of the time on the way back I was going around 16 mph or more!

Now it’s sunny and relatively warm. Time to relax!

On Our Boating Adventure on Lake Kabetagama

Wednesday September 27

We had smoked pork chops from Green Machine Farm for dinner. Boy were they good! Once the sun started to go down it got chilly quickly. It’s been kind of hazy so not much in the way of stars, but the moon was beautiful last night, big, yellow and bright!

I went for another 3 mile run around the hiking trails at the RV park. Now Cathy and I are lazing around while Lee and JA go fishing. We have rented a boat for the day and when they get back, after lunch, we will all go out exploring.

Ellsworth Rock Garden

Thursday Sept 28

Around 2:30 we all headed out in the boat. It was cloudy and grey, and pretty choppy. It was a small fishing boat with 3 seats, so I sat on the front. It was chilly and the chop made the ride pretty rough. We were trying to go across the lake to Ellsworth Rock Garden, but first we went the wrong way so it took awhile to get there. There are lots of islands and rocky outcroppings we needed to get around too.

Finally we were on the right track. When we got close to the shore we could see the campgrounds on the lake in the National Park. They are only accessible by boat and they looked pretty cool. There were a few people camping but not a lot, it’s almost the end of the season.

The rocks gardens were really strange. From 1947-1965, Jack Ellsworth made this sculpture garden at their vacation cabin, with lots of flowers and weird little sculptures. When he died the property became part of the National Park. It fell into disrepair and was swallowed up by the forest. Gradually they are trying to restore it. It’s just really odd looking now, the sculptures are crumbling, and many of the flowers are gone. 

The return trip in the boat was much better. We went the right direction right away, and the chop was gone. I swear, I should just get a prescription for Xanax for any time I’m on a small boat. I’m terrible.

We had gumbo for dinner, pretty wonderful. We were all hungry. Lee thought we would have leftovers but there was hardly any left.

Again the moon was bright and beautiful but hardly any stars and no northern lights. This morning we are heading home. Time to winterize the RV and put it away. We’re not taking it anywhere this winter.

This was a nice trip. It’s a beautiful area, but unless you have a boat you can’t really get to most of the national park and any camping in the park itself is strictly primitive. My days of doing that are long gone. There are houseboats you can rent however. Maybe!

We Travel Well Together!

Monday, November 6, 2023

The Big Woods of Nerstrand State Park

This was back in mid September.

 We are hanging out in the RV for a few days at this state park. It’s very pretty. We drove down yesterday afternoon, only an hour and 20 minutes from our house. Parking the RV was a challenge but Lee got it done. The spots are narrow and there are a lot of trees. Once we were set up we took the dogs on a short walk to the Hidden Falls. Because of the drought there was only a trickle of water in the falls but it was still pretty. There were lots of steps to get to the falls and Heather struggled. We had to carry her down a few of them. We went back a different way, rocky and hilly but no steps. She was pooped by the end.
In the morning we went on a hike after a very nice breakfast. Scrambled eggs with bacon, green onions and corn. Yummy! First we did a shorter loop, then came back and left Heather at the RV. Then we took the other two dogs and hiked a bigger loop through the woods. It’s really beautiful. The leaves are just starting to turn. We hiked about 4 miles total and even Sophie was tired by the end.
The rest of the afternoon we just hung out. Lee did some mushroom hunting, while the dogs and I relaxed. The next day I needed to do a longish run. It was supposed to be 8 miles but I figured about 7 on trails was probably equivalent. I’m much slower on trails, the grass and rocks and roots slow me down even if it’s not very hilly. I did part of the outer loop of trails, through woods and a prairie restoration which was very pretty.
Then home we went. It’s so close, we were home before lunch. It was a nice little trip. Next up, Voyageurs National Park, up by the Canadian border, wayyyy north.


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