Along the Mississippi River in Minnesota – May 2021 Part 2

The plan was to camp at parks along the Mississippi River, this time in Minnesota

This is the second of a 5-part posting. Each one will concentrate on a different campground that we visited during the trip. You can start at the beginning with Along the Mississippi River in Minnesota – May 2021 Part 1

The booking of a trip like this is interesting. The Minnesota DNR currently allows booking sites 120 days prior to the first day you occupy the site. With five different sites to book, the first one, Lindbergh, was booked on January 4 for May 4. Then there was a two day wait to book the site at Itasca on January 6 for an arrival on May 6. By the time we got to the last campground, Crow Wing, it was getting difficult to get a site. We substituted Gull Lake Recreation Area. This is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campground.

We left Charles A. Lindbergh State Park and headed further north, again accompanied by a stiff breeze from the west. I should not have been surprised, spring is historically kite-flying weather.

Itasca State Park

We arrived about 5:00 PM at the park and drove for 15-20 minutes inside the park to our campsite, #124. We were across the road from my sister and her husband in site #123. They also had friends join us in site #120 nearby.

After setting up, we gathered at my sister’s site for a couple of bottles of wine. Their friends used to own a wine store, so you can guess that they brought some mighty fine wine. We all went back to our trailers for dinner with an invite to gather again afterward. After we got out of the cold, we decided to stay in for the rest of the evening.

Our dinner was the leftover jambalaya and salad. After dinner we settled in to watch a documentary on the “Great American Songbook”. We got about halfway through the 3-hour show before we headed to bed.

We woke up after 7:00AM. This was too late for our workouts. Besides, the WiFi was not that good. I took Crosby for a morning walk instead. Temperatures were near freezing so our fancy breakfast of Cheerios was eaten in the trailer. We did have sunny skies, so we hoped that the temperature would warm up.

Around 10:00AM we went for a walk to the Mississippi River Headwaters. My sister had the lead and knew a shortcut. That shortcut went the wrong direction to a dead end. We had to retrace our steps to go the right way. When we arrived at the Headwaters, Crosby took his ceremonial lap (of water) and I walked across on the rocks. We pretty much had the area to ourselves for some time until a field trip from Perham arrived. By the time we walked back, I had recorded over 5 miles on my tracker.

When we returned, our simple lunch was prepared. This was a key tenet of the trip – make sure the lunches were simple. The leftover meat from the tacos the other night became the base of the taco salad lunch.

The sun was up and warming things up just in time for a lazy afternoon at the campsite. The dog even allowed me a corner of his cot to use as a hassock. The downside was the chilly breeze did not let up. So, afternoon naps had to take place inside. When I took my hiking shoes off, I found that the soles were falling apart. No wonder my feet felt wet at the headwaters. The shoes would need replacement fairly soon.

Well used hiking shoes

A recipe from an old camping cookbook was used to prepare the pot roast dinner. It used onion soup mix and an aluminum foil wrap allowed cooking on the grill.

On Saturday morning we woke to a light and clear day. That meant it was cold. We stayed in the trailer for a while to allow the sun to warm the day. We then ventured out about 10:00AM to have breakfast outside. Egg frittata and Canadian bacon. After breakfast we washed all the dishes that we had used since we arrived at Itasca.

The Hiking Club Trail was the goal for the day. After a stop at the visitors center to get a paper map of the trail (and someone insisted that she needed to shop and bought a cap and sweatshirt), we headed over to the trailhead at the Douglas Lodge. My sister and her husband rode their bikes to the Lodge to join us on the hike. We were able to store their bikes in the truck for safekeeping.

The trail was uneventful. The only complication is that the Hiking Club uses parts of multiple trails to designate an official route and it is necessary to keep an eye out for these trail changes.

Trailhead at the Douglas Lodge

The meal plan included a replenishment stop on this day. There is a small store just outside the park boundary that carries hot dog buns, milk, and other perishable foods. Lunch was hot dogs and potato chips, so the new buns were nice to have. We also had Toll House cookies freshly baked in the oven. They were a surprise to our camping companions when they came over for ladder golf.

We had a fancy dinner of pork tenderloin on the grill with parmesan egg noodles, green beans, and apple and pear slices. This was accompanied by a bottle of Cannon River Winery’s Feisty Bitch Red. After a campfire at one of the other sites, we turned in around 10:00PM.

The next morning turned into tech debugging time. The park has WiFi that covers some of the sites but not all of them. We were just out of range in our site. I brought along a WiFi extender but failed to realize that I could not connect it by wire to configure it. To get techie, the new laptop only has USB-C connectors and I needed USB-A connectors. There is a Target store in Bemidji where I decided to shop for a cable to convert between the two types.

To continue the debugging theme, the propane tank sensors stopped reading. I determined that they needed new batteries. I changed the batteries and found we had only 15% in one tank and the other was full. This was important because with the temperatures we were experiencing, we needed to run the furnace to keep comfortable.

Since we had a late Cheerios breakfast, we had a late lunch. The lunch used the leftover pork tenderloin in a stir-fry with red and green peppers and onions. After a game of Yahtzee using the lawn dice, we cleaned up and packed up to move to the next campground.

This trip will be continued in the next post: Along the Mississippi River in Minnesota – May 2021 Part 3

Hiking Club mileage

DateParkHiking Club Trail LengthCumulative MilesActual Hike LengthActual Cumulative Miles
Previous miles2.83.6
5/8/2021Itasca3.56.33.57.1

Trailer mileage

DateStart LocationStart CityEnd LocationEnd CityMiles
Previous miles1558.7
5/6/2021Lindbergh State ParkLittle Falls, MNItasca State ParkPark Rapids, MN111.0
Total miles1,669.7

Meals Planned

The meal list was designed to incorporate leftovers to reduce the amount of ingredients we needed to pack for this longer trip. We also always incorporate some stable items for backup in case the main plan goes out the window.

DateMealMenu
Thursday, May 6DinnerGeneral Tso’s Chicken
Brown rice (microwave)
Napa salad
Friday, May 7BreakfastCheerios
Blueberries
Coffee
LunchTaco salad
Chips and Salsa
DinnerPot roast on the campfire
Foil-wrapped potatoes and veggies
Saturday, May 8BreakfastHam & eggs on the griddle
Toast
Coffee
LunchBeef & cheddar sandwiches
Chips
Fruit
DinnerPork tenderloin
Green beans
Egg noodles with parmesan cheese
Salad (if ingredients still viable)
Sunday, May 9BreakfastCheerios
Blueberries
Coffee
LunchHot dogs or pork stir fry (if pork leftover)
Chips and salsa
AlternatesBreakfastCheerios
LunchGrilled cheese & tomato soup
DinnerPasta w/pesto
Homemade chili (frozen)

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