Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Last Crusade

The final chapter of our camping trip involves the activities that we enjoyed while trying to get away from it all. And since 'it all' included electricity, Number One Son valiantly battled his video game withdrawal. It wasn't until the second day that he started asking how he could recharge his game using pine needles and acorns. He made the mistake of asking me as I was going to the well to pump some more water into our cooler. "Here's the pump game, N1S. You get a point for each pump. See if you can get the high score!", I cheered.

"What do I get for high score?", he asked with suspicion.

"Bigger arms and a pat on the back.", I offered. It must have been enough because he filled the cooler.

"Next time, can we get a camp site with electricity?", he pleaded.

Since we were in the woods, there were a few nature trails that the kids and I wanted to explore. One morning N1S asked if we could go on a trail close to the beach. N1S, Sweet Pea and I found the sign at the beginning of the trail and entered the forest. SP thought of a game to collect one thing to match each color of the rainbow. Green was pretty easy since everything was green. Red and yellow were found pretty quickly too. Blue and purple were going to test her. We walked quite a ways and SP's collection was growing too large for her to carry so we made a birch bark basket to hold it all. She had found red, orange and green leaves. She found yellow, white and purple flowers and even found a bright pink leaf somehow. As my legs started to tire we came to a bridge that had a wild blueberry plant with two tiny blue berries. She actually found blue in the forest. They were the size of two shrivelled peas but she found them.
The longer we walked, the more I thought, "I really should have found out how long this trail is before we started." SP's legs were Jello-ing and N1S was sweating. Then, just over the hill, we saw a sign. Finally, the end! But the sign only told us, This trail is 2.5miles long and does not loop. Does not loop! Why wasn't this sign at the other end of the trail? As both kids howled their discontent I could swear I heard their call answered by a pack of wolves miles away.

So now I had to convince the kids that going back the way we came was the only way to get home. We hadn't planned on a five mile hike this morning but that's what we got. The whole way back the kids would ask me, "How many more miles?" "Almost there.", was my favorite lie. Luckily, we made it out of the woods and were welcomed by Lady Di and a big egg, bacon and flapjack breakfast.

If hiking to the next state and back wasn't enough, we also burned some calories kayaking around Lake Superior. We actually didn't go all the way around Lake Superior but found a nice lagoon to see turtles and toured some caves along the shore. Number One Son and Lady Di paddled one kayak and Sweet Pea and I were in the other. For some reason SP and I drew the slow boat. It may have had something to do with our uneven weight displacement. With me in the back, our kayak quickly filled with an inch of water at my end. SP felt great glee in telling everyone she saw that her dad's pants were wet the whole time we were in the kayak.

LD and N1S's kayak must have had a motor on it. As soon as we hit open water, they left us in their wake. They took off across the lake to the caves, two miles away. SP and I got about half way before we stopped in the middle of the water and started making up new verses to 'Row, Row, Row your Kayak'. Most of my verses included a muscle ache or bruise.

And camping wouldn't be complete without wildlife. We were fortunate to see and sometimes interact with the locals.
On one of our bike rides this doe bounded through the woods beside us. She had a fawn with her but I couldn't get her in the picture.

We had squirrels chittering every morning in an alarm clock fashion. Every night we had raccoons visit our coolers to check if they were shut or not. LD and I could hear them at night so we shined our flashlights on them. They would look at us, finish scratching at our coolers and move on. They were pretty smart to only check the coolers and didn't stay long when they couldn't get in. We also had a few less cuddly visitors to the campsite. Each campsite had a numbered post at the front and ours housed a hive of honey bees. And as if that wasn't enough, N1S made a friend in the grass just to the right of our post.

If you can't make it out, N1S is holding a small garter snake. It even bit him a few times. He said it didn't hurt, but felt like a little pinch. LD said she could feel it and ran for the tent. We suffered very few mosquito bites and almost no injuries. Only one stick wound above N1S's eye had to be attended to.

Well, those are the highlights of our trip to Madeline Island. Hopefully, you don't feel too itchy or dirty from so much camping reading. If it sounded fun to you, it was. We would like to go again next year. Lady Di started out firmly on the anti-camping side but I think after this trip, she has changed teams and is even looking for deals on camping equipment that we had to borrow this last time.

Thanks for joining us on our adventure.

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.