Sunday, July 5, 2009

A weekend "Up North"

We had a fun filled 4th of July weekend camping up north. John and I both grew up spending summers on the Whitefish Chain. John at a camp on the chain and me at my grandparent's cabin. We both love the area and were both saddened with the rest of my family when my grandparent's decided to sell the cabin about a year after Jake was born. While we have been there a few times since then, Jake attended the same camp as John several years, it just wasn't the same and I always felt in a little funk for a day or two afterward. So we quit going up there. It has been about 5 years since we were there but it was calling to us and we decided to head up again this year. I think 14 years must be the mourning period for loss of a cabin because this trip I went up and just enjoyed the experience. I didn't wish for the cabin memories but enjoyed creating our own memories. And in doing so it turns out we were able to easily experience many of the same things, sitting on the dock with my feet in the water soaking up the sun, swimming in the lake, walking on wooded paths, shopping in Nisswa. And we added a few of our own, canoeing down Pine River, eating Ice Cream almost every day at the Chocolate Ox, a candy store that wasn't around in our day, running a 5K on July 4th morning with the whole family and swimming in a pool the first night up there because the campground was full and we "had" to stay at a very nice lodge across the street.

The day before we left I bought a new camera for the Africa trip and so we had fun learning to use it this weekend.

Pictures from The Whitefish Lodge where we stayed our first night. Noted for my parents and sister who might want to stay there if we ever do a family weekend up there. I know they don't camp. :)

Finally set up at the campground Friday morning. The site was so nice, very private with just the right mixture of sun and shade. With our van parked in the entrance we really couldn't see any other camp sites from ours. And should we ever have a boat there was a little path right out to the lake from our site. We haven't been camping since Isabelle was a year old so we were a little rusty but felt like we pulled it off quite well. John and Jake were the master camp kitchen managers and did all the dish washing and most of the cooking and food prep. It was a wonderful treat.

This outfit on Isabelle might be deceptive. This was getting ready for the fireworks. It was sunny and in the high 70's the entire weekend. We couldn't have scripted better weather.

Our Friday plan was canoeing. We considered several locations on the lake but because it was such a busy weekend we didn't want to be fighting alot of boat traffic and decided to put in at a river. Our initial idea was to canoe upstream and then float back when we were tired. However the Dam at the top of the river wasn't letting alot of water through so we were really scraping the bottom. We decided to go downstream toward a lake at the other end. We didn't have to go too far before we were comfortably floating along without hitting any rocks. However, eventually we were going to need to get back. Once we got to the rocky area it became obvious to John and Jake that there was only one solution...walk back up the river dragging the canoe and Kayak. John referred to it as his recreation of the Panama Canal. Isabelle and I enjoyed our ride back. And in case we might be lost it was fun to find all the rocks we had scraped our canoe on going down and left a little aluminum mark. John and Jake did great and we all enjoyed the experience.

Of course we did not bring the new camera on the water so this was taken with Jake's phone:

But I grabbed the camera out of the van as soon as we got back:

The up side of walking a river bed is you get to find interesting things in the water and stop to pick them up. Jake found this jaw bone in the river. I wonder what it is from.

And in case you are wondering how we brought 2 boats on top of our van here is the answer:

First you get out your power drill and loosen one of the bars in your canoe:

And then you simply slide your Kayak inside:

Isabelle loves canoeing and is fun to have along. Her highlights include naming the croaking frogs we could hear "Bill" since that is what she thought they were saying, I bet you all thought frogs said "ribbit". And seeing dozens of turtles sunning themselves on floating logs. I was excited to float by a duck I had never seen before. After consulting my Birds of Minnesota book I believe it was a female Hooded Merganser. Or it might have just been a Common Merganser. I wasn't able to photograph it to remember the details.

On the way back to the campground this happens to a little girl who has spend several hours on the water enjoying the view.

After an afternoon of pulling your wife and daughter up a river there is nothing any red blooded american man would want to do more than go chop up firewood at the campground wood pit. Right?

John enjoyed playing with the camera and got a great shot of the sunset:

And tried to capture some fireworks, those little lights at the bottom are all the boats:

Saturday morning we got up early to head over to the Crosslake community center for "Grandpa's Walleye Run". A 5K they hold every year. Isabelle did the kids run which for her age was running around the baseline on a ball field and Jake and I did the 5K.

Jake's high school friend Nika was also up there for the weekend at her family cabin. The two of them had been texting back and forth trying to figure out how to meet up at some point. As they chat it turns out Nika will also be at the run that day. When we get there we discover that Nika's grandmother is on some board that organizes the run and her family helps with it every year. What are the odds? So Nika led Isabelle's group on the run around the bases. Here she is getting the kids organized. Note Isabelle's very fashionable pink plaid running skirt.

And around they go, Jake is in the brown tank running beside her:

Jake has been wonderfully running with me this summer. I am slow but he holds back and I enjoy the slightly more challenging pace he sets for me. However, I told him for this race he could go all out and see what he could do. Unfortunately he wasn't paying attention when they announced his time but we are thinking it was around 24minutes. 8 minutes per mile. Not bad.

I am slower than Jake but hoped to do a 10 minute mile. I finished at 30:09 and felt great about myself. I promise I am running in these pictures. I look more like a power walker.

It was a great weekend which we hope to do again next summer. Now that we know we can make our own memories in Crosslake I hope we are able to spend more summers there sharing it with our children.


  1. Yea!!! You went camping!!! And you are true campers, not like our pseudo camping we do. :) It looks like you had a nice time. How fun to take a canoe ride. Especially nice that the men folk are giving you a break. :)

  2. Wonderful post Mel. Lots of fun!!

  3. Oh, that looked like so much fun! And it sounds like the weather was beautiful! Great post!