We finally rolled into Detroit Lakes a few days early since it seems the weather is improving earlier than expected. We spent 2 days at Country Campground, then on to Woodland Trails, about 30 minutes NE of Detroit Lakes. The campground is about 160 acres, of which about 20 acres are used, and they are spread out along Strawberry Lake. Strawberry is a 1,500 acre, spring-fed, all-sports lake that is in the top 1% of all Minnesota lakes for cleanliness and clarity. You can actually see the bottom in water between 15 and 18 feet depth. There is also excellent fishing with sunfish, crappie, bass, northern pike and walleye. We have use of a small boat with outboard so we expect to do some fishing in our off-time. Tom was able to catch a few small sunfish and bass one evening. Can’t wait to go out for the “big ones”.
Our duties here are fairly simple: Tom is responsible for cutting and trimming grass throughout the camp; Mary tends the lodge store on Saturday and Sunday. This gives us Monday through Wednesday to explore the area. The camp owners, Dan and Dawn Sullivan, have been here for about 16 years, and are really pleasant to work for.
Since we are really “out there”, TV and Internet are a challenge. There is Internet in the lodge which we can “boost” with a range extender. It’s not fast but we can get email, Facebook and look stuff up online. TV is over-the-air only and the stations are in Fargo so it too is a bit erratic. However, we really like it here and we enjoy venturing out, so we don’t want to trade where we are and the unique summer ahead of us for faster Internet and cable TV!
One of our first day trips was to Lake Itasca State Park and the Mississippi River headwaters. This is where the Mississippi starts its’ 2,552 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Discovery of the headwaters was claimed by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft in 1832, but many people knew about it before then. In reality, there was an Indian guide named Ozaawindib who took him to it. In any event, the site was pretty cool and very interesting. Fun fact: the Mississippi starts at Lake Itasca and actually flows north and then east before heading south.
We also went to the city of Bemidji where we saw the 18 Ft. tall Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox statues. Bemidji is the first city on the Mississippi. We didn’t have a lot of time there, but we will definitely return later this summer. Also on our list are Duluth, Fargo and maybe even Canada. Stay tuned.
We left Iowa by way of Illinois where we met Mary’s niece and her family from the Chicago area in Moline, Il, for a nice but short visit. We hit the road for the longish drive to Prior Lake, Minnesota, just outside Minneapolis. We are at a lovely RV site at the Mystic Lake Casino/Indian reservation.
We have been here for a week having a wonderful time. We discovered the “light rail” Metro will take us from Mall of America all the way to Target Field (home of the Twins), and from there all the way to downtown St. Paul. Some of the sites we saw from the train were Fort Snelling and the National Cemetery that is said to have 70,000 grave site. It is so big, it just goes on and on filled with uniformed white markers.
We went to St. Paul Cathedral where we had a great tour by a man who did his homework and made it very interesting. The State Capitol is closed for much needed repairs, but we did visit the Science Museum, Minnesota History Center, & Foshay Tower.
Some of this was a trip down memory lane for Mary as she used to visit this area to see family as a child. We also visited the cemetery where Mary’s grandparents and other family members are buried bringing back even more memories.
We did a fair amount of walking in Minneapolis and St. Paul to and from the train so we got to see a lot of the two cities divided by the Mississippi River. We even drove out to Chanhassen to see Paisley Park, Prince’s estate. Lots of memorials left, lots of people milling around. We also stopped in the charming village of Jordan for breakfast and to take in the local sites. A highpoint was a visit to Minnehaha Falls that Mary had visited as a young girl with her parents.
As we toured the area of the two cities we were impressed by how clean it was and the public transportation was awesome. The bike trails are endless, filled with riders everywhere. Even the trains accommodate riders with stalls to put their bikes. We were also amazed at the construction going on especially in the Minneapolis area which includes the new Viking Stadium being built by U.S. Bank. It is huge. We missed the Twins as they were out of town. Along the way we have met lots of nice folks who either spotted us as tourists or we stopped to ask directions, talking to us and offer up places to visit. A very friendly area indeed and one we will pay another visit to this summer. Sunday we are off to our final destination for the summer near Detroit Lakes. We are looking forward to it.