The Minnesota Files: Days 3 and 4 of Family Vacay

I bet you thought we were finished with Minnesota, no?  HAAAAA.  No, sillies.  I’m still mad at myself for not finishing out the series on Jon’s and my vacation to the US Virgin Islands last summer.  I knew I was going to circle back around eventually.  However, Jon and I, quite stupidly, stayed up waaaay too late last night, drinking wine and watching TV, and Gabbie, sensing “fun” in her usual evil way got up at four-fricking-thirty (as in UP up, not just saying hi and then going back to sleep), so I will be keeping this brief.  Well, as brief as I’m actually capable of keeping anything.  I just wasted a whole paragraph telling you how tired I was when I could have been writing about Minnesota.  Gawd–think of all the sleep I’m already missing!

Bike rack jungle gym

All right, Monday dawned bright and early, as did our children, so we quickly finished packing, grabbed breakfast at the hotel, and set out for Minnehaha Falls Park.  This was another Jon find, as I’d mentioned that we should probably find a way to waste some time before heading north to our campsite.  We decided for once to do the completely cheesy tourist thing, and we rented a little four-seater bike contraption (these have a name, but for the life of me, I can’t think of it, and I’m too tired to Google it for you.), with Jon and I peddling and Gabbie and Maddie riding in the back. We tootled around the park, until Jon and I were tired, and I’d managed to sweat through my clothes**, and then the girls and I checked out the playground while Jon took pictures of the waterfall.  What?  Oh, you noticed that none of the pictures are here?  Well, that’s because Jon, even though he has been asked FREQUENTLY has not managed to get around to editing all of our vacation pictures, and I’m crap at Photoshop, so you will have to content yourself with pictures from my phone and the few he actually did manage to edit for other purposes.  (I’m secretly hoping he’ll update this post at some point with more pictures, but I highly doubt that will happen.)  Also, in full disclosure, when I say we went to check out the playground, I mean we tried very hard to get over there.  However, we needed several pit stops for whining, yelling, and time outs before we made it.  So, all told, our playground time was probably less than 20 minutes.

Looking back, I'm not sure Maddie didn't spend half her vacation perfecting her side-eye.

Looking back, I’m not sure Maddie didn’t spend half her vacation perfecting her side-eye.

By this point, the girls were hangry, so Jon and Yelp swooped in to the rescue again, and we made our way to George and the Dragon, to fortify ourselves with English pub fare and pints (for those of age) before braving Target for groceries and final supplies for the camping portion of our trip.  (You should know that Jon and I loved this place.  Very good food, totally kid friendly, and the service was fantastic.  Plus, they had awesome art on the walls.  You should check it out, if you get the chance.)

Kathio State Park

Once the cooler was stocked, we finally left Minneapolis behind us and headed north toward Mille Lacs Lake and Kathio State Park.  Although the girls did not sleep (as I’d been hoping), we made good time, and by 5:30 or so, we were settled in, and I was making dinner while Jon manned the fire.  I decided that this camping trip I was going to try out a few new “campfire” recipes, and they met with varying degrees of success.  I mixed together all of the dry ingredients for each meal at home before we left, so it was pretty easy to cut up the fresh ingredients and assemble the meals on site.  For our first night, I tackled foil-packet jambalaya (minus the chicken because I didn’t want to buy chicken and shrimp.  Plus, shrimp cooks really quickly and kielbasa is already cured, so leaving out the chicken lowered the risk of making us all severely ill by consuming under-cooked meat).  It turned out pretty well, at least according to the adults.  I then made up for experimenting with food by letting the girls make S’moreos.  These were a big hit (BIG, HUGE), and while I do still love the traditional s’more, I’m just gonna say it: They were about 200% less messy.  I’m sold.  Before bed we hiked down to the playground and the rather euphemistically named “swimming area” before packing the girls off to bed.  Jon and I then enjoyed some quite time by the fire, sipping local brews and liberally applying bug spray every 15 minutes.  Also, I used my hoodie.  #andnowyouknow

Caution: Eagle Scout at work.

Caution: Eagle Scout at work.

It's a crap picture, but this was the end result of our first campfire, foil-packet experience.

It’s a crap picture, but this was the end result of our first campfire, foil-packet experience.

This was the swimming area. I'm making this one full size because I'm afraid if it was smaller, you'd miss it. Ahahaha!

This was the swimming area. I’m making this one bigger because I’m afraid if it was smaller, you’d miss it. Ahahaha!

Tuesday morning, after a breakfast of Dutch oven monkey bread (somewhat successful–very glad I lined the oven with foil before cooking) and fruit, we loaded into the car again and drove over to Mille Lacs (which is pronounced Milax, like relax) and picked up the (ancient) pontoon boat we were renting for the day.  We had been hesitant to reserve the boat for the whole day, but pricing-wise, it made more sense, as we would have paid almost as much for four hours as we did for a full day.  We weren’t sure if the girls would enjoy being cooped up for eight hours with very little space to roam and no access to any kind of screen.  To say that we underestimated our children is, well, an understatement.  They freaking LOVED it.  For starters, it was a perfect day:  not hot but not cold, calm water, nice breeze, and being a Tuesday in July, very little traffic on the lake.  Both of them loved riding in the boat, feeling the wind and watching the water.  They both got to “drive”, because, I mean, there was no one else out there, so what was the harm?  Maddie (and I because there was no way Jon was going in with her) got to swim in the lake, which she had been excited about since the planning stages of the trip, and Gabbie got to watch us swim, which was, apparently, almost as exciting.  The water was a quite balmy 50 degrees, in case you were curious.

Are you tired of seeing this picture yet, Facebook Too bad! You will look at it again, and you will like it! Because she is adorable, and I said so.

We grilled hotdogs on the camp stove for lunch, stopped at a little marina for snacks (and some tablet time, let’s be honest, because it was after all vacation), and then went back to meandering about the lake until it was time to return the boat.  The girls even both, BOTH, fell asleep on me toward the end of the afternoon.  My heart may have Grinched and grown three sizes that day.  When all was said and done, and we were back in Kansas, Jon and I both looked back on this day as the highlight of our trip.  It was lovely.

That's my baby--reading a book on a boat.

That’s my baby–reading a book on a boat.

Once back at camp, I made walking tacos, which were a hit with the girls (not surprising when you consider it involved very little “cooking” on my part.  Can you make taco meat and chop a few veggies? Then you can make walking tacos).  The foil-packet apple-crisp I made for dessert was less well received.  It really didn’t turn out that well, but I may have used too much butter.  The apples were mushy and overcooked, but the “crisp” turned in to something more like morning oatmeal than a dessert topping.  Oh well–you live, you learn.  We showered, we read stories, and we put them to bed again.  And then we sat by the fire some more.  I could camp all the time, if it was only about cooking campfire food and the calm that settles in after the girls are asleep.  Basically, I am totally sold on about 7% of what a camping trip actually entails.

Wednesday, we drove back.  It was not good; it was not bad.  It was accomplished, and the less said about it, the better really.  Because it was boring, and this is already long enough.

And now, I’m going to pop some pictures into this bad boy, and I am off. to. bed.  Sweet dreams, y’all.

This, my friends, is making my ovaries EXPLODE. It's too much.

This, my friends, is making my ovaries EXPLODE. It’s too much.

*It always feels quite luxurious and rebellious when you’re actually doing it.  You’re all like “Yeah.  I still got this.  I can totally have kids AND a life.” And then the next morning, you realize that you are an idiot and immediately begin planning a cup of tea and early bedtime for the following evening.

**Never forget that I am a sexy beast.