Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Across the Mississippi...

Last year I took my mom and the kids up to Big Bog State Recreation Area--a beautiful park, minus the spring bugs. This year my mother wanted to go again and we went to Maplewood State Park. We waited too long to get reservations in the camper cabins so we were happy to see the one here open. It was an older cabin and lacked electricity, but in the summer time that isn't too much of an issue.

We got to enjoy a couple fires and roast some marshmallows. The second night we ran in a little before planned because the raccoon that had been at our site the night before was back. He made it clear he wanted us out of there. We decided to comply and hit the sack since it was getting late anyway.

Maplewood is a beautiful park, great for hiking. However, my mom really isn't up to a lot of steep climbs anymore. Her balance never has been too great, but it has gotten worse over the years. Itasca State Park was a couple hours away, but it was worth the drive. There is an incredible amount to do there. We saw an old sawmill, we crossed the Mississippi at its headwaters, visited the old and new visitor centers, replica of the original store there when the area was being settled and an old sled used to haul logs during the timbering days. It is a beautiful park and we really enjoyed going back there.

Mom just stayed by the river. It is about a quarter of a mile hike each way and we were sure to take pictures. The headwaters marker they are standing by has been there for a while--visitors have been taking pictures here for decades. It is a great place to feel connected to the past.

We also climbed the fire tower--well my oldest son and I did. Mom stayed down with my other two kids. It is an intimidating experience--but what I am willing to do for a picture!! We returned to Maplewood. Getting back there was almost as much of an experience. We returned the way we came to avoid the construction...so we thought. The road crew had moved further down the road, closing the entrance to the park from the direction we had come without detour signs. All the roads at the closure were dead ends because of the lakes in the area and we had to call the sheriff to get help. Thank you Otter Tail County Sheriff's Department!! On the way we also had to call back because there were cows out of their pasture. We did find the poor woman who was house sitting and let her know too. Never know what excitement camping in the backwoods will find!

We only spent two nights up there. I don't think my mom could handle much more than that anyway. We did stop at Glendalough State Park and look the lodge there. It is used as a conference center now, but it once was the summer retreat for the Minneapolis Star Tribune owner. Both Nixon and Eisenhower hunted there. The area across the lake had now defunct resorts. Since the lake has never been developed it is restricted to historical fishing and camping activities. I have considered camping there before, but always thought it wouldn't be worth the hike in--as it is not a traditional campground. Even after visiting it last time, I wasn't sure. We had to find a fire ring for a picnic and the rangers allowed us to use the first site for an hour to have lunch because the picnic grounds were reserved for an art group. Both the art and the campgounds were beautiful--I am sooo ready to camp there now...Can't wait!

We also stopped by Cuyuna State Recreation Area right before bringing Mom home. It wasn't too far from her house and she had never been to the mine. The old mines have been allowed to fill with the water that naturally seeps out. It is truly beautiful. The water is so deep that there are scuba divers that go down there. The lakes have also been stocked with fish. A rustic campground has been developed, but I am unsure if they are going to do more or not. Still a great view and worth the effort to get there!

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