Thursday, August 18, 2011

Camping at Itasca

It is amazing how much coordinating and packing were required in order for two families to be able to camp at Itasca State Park. The planning has been in the works since last year and then in July, when the MN State Parks shut down because of budget problems, we thought our plans were going to have to wait until 2012. Luckily, with some intense coordination, we were able to get a couple of days to work out and we are ever so glad we did!
Steve ended up getting a carrier for the roof of the van so we could have some moving around room in our vehicle and actually fit more than our usual 4. The bike rack was able to hold our 4 bikes, but it took us almost a half of a day just to get our gear organized. I am ashamed to admit that it had been 2 years since we had even set up our tent.
We were able to get adjoining sites and set up three tents for our group of 4 adults, 6 kids and 1 dog. Kippy & Madi had the smallest tent and they also claimed Bella as their bunkmate. Those three were happy campers to be together. Next we had a large tent for Miranda, Abby, Dani & Kami. The adults stayed together in the largest tent complete with two queen sized air-mattresses, but I'm thinking Derek would say theirs was mostly an airless mattress. Ha!

As soon as we had the campsite set up and our bellies filled with some excellent grilled brats and dogs, we headed to the Mississippi headwaters.  Since it was nearly 7:00 PM, on Sunday, August 14th, we practically had the entire place to ourselves.  Madi, Kami & Kippy had their swimsuits on and immediately decided to get wet.

One of the funniest experiences was watching Kippy & Madi come up with games to play with their swim towels and the stone pillars.  Here they are showing off their "guns", which eventually morphed (as games tend to do) into them putting on a show in unison with their best muscle moves, then morphed into balling up one of the towels, tossing it back and forth like a hot potato and finally playing keep away.

Unfortunately, there was one little snag in the game playing which occurred when Madi tried to throw her shorts up over the beam and got them stuck.  The dads were called in to help out and Steve ended up using a towel to snag the shorts and save the day.  Campfire s'mores finished out our fun day or so we thought...

Just when we finally we all tucked into our respective tents and sleeping bags, a gang of raccoons came to visit.  Soon they had finessed the lid off of our Rubbermaid dry food container and were fighting viciously over the loot they had discovered.  Derek and Steve had to go out and chase 4 raccoons away, but not before they made off with a bag of crackers and a sack of buns.  We discovered in the morning that their dirty little paws had tried and tried to open the cooler as well.  Apparently they wanted more to go with the buns and crackers.  Luckily, those clever buggers couldn't pop the tight fitting top off of the cooler.  The Huberts were more prepared for the opportunistic predators and kept all of their food safely locked in their van.  We will be smarter next time (I hope).

Monday, August 15th was our activity day.  After picking out 6 bikes at the rental for the Huberts, we hit the trail.  I got to be the line leader while Steve & Derek picked up the monkey tail.  I totally had an ulterior motive for being in front - it was so I wouldn't have to listen to any crabbing and fussing!  The route we took was rather challenging for some of the oldest kids (think teens), but Dani and Madi were more than willing to keep the speed going with me!  The bonus of having a mix of 6 kids is that they can encourage one another and the Parental Units can tease and laugh at them all.  tee, hee

I can't recall how many miles we ended up going, but by the time we hiked to the Fire Tower, the kids were seriously starving, full of bug bites and not very joyful.  Luckily, the Parental Units didn't care at all about the crab-fest.  We paid a nice lady to use up almost all of her bug rub and then proceeded to climb the tower. Heather made her maiden voyage to the top of the tower.  She was thrilled and it encouraged Kami to give it a try as well and they were successful!  WTG, Girls!!

After getting back to camp and getting the blood sugar back up for the tired little campers, we went back to the Headwaters for some cooling off.  It was a such a wonderful time and I hope we can do it again next summer without having to plan for two years!

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