Ooooh, A Map!

Well it took two of us (read, mostly Dan), but we got the custom Google map integrated into the blog, so now there’s a page at the top menu (under the Beastie photo) Map of Our Journey so we can track where we’ve been. And it’s here, below, for your viewing pleasure as well šŸ™‚ While we were busy being such tech wizards, we figured we’d set Dan up with his own account, so we’re posting under our own names now.

From Prairie Lake to Prairie Lake

It was funny to driveĀ fromĀ Prairie Lake, MN, be in the car all day, and end up still at Prairie Lake (WI, though). We spent a week at a private campground right on the lake at Prairie LakeĀ Minnesota, and I had grand visions of paddleboarding every day, renting a peddle boat, sunsets over the water. Instead, I got a wicked head cold and when I wasn’t sneezing and weepy-eyed, then there were electrical storms. As the midwest and prairies got hammered, we got off pretty easy, but there were a lot of inches of rain that came down last week. I was glad to get to the laundry on Friday and get the mud and damp out of all of our gear.

Prairie Lake - It reminds me of the lake where I spent my childhood summers

Prairie Lake – It reminds me of the lake where I spent my childhood summers

But it wasn’t all rain and sniffles. We found an amazing paved bike/hike trail, the Mesabi Trail, which runs for about 70 miles (130 miles once complete). Dan got our bike’s flat tire fixed in Grand Rapids, MN, and were were off hiking and biking. And of courseĀ Jesse got to spend lots of time in the water, even if I was land-lubbered. I did manage to spend lots of time sitting on the dock, looking out over the lake in the morning and evenings, and reminiscing aboutĀ my childhood spent at our family cottage on a lake not unlike this.

Jesse meets a cousin on the Mesabi trail

Jesse meets a cousin on the Mesabi trail

From there, we headed to Prairie Lake WI, where we had a fun overnight in a county park, again right on the lake. I’ve never seen so much algae in a lake – nope, no paddleboarding for me! That water was ggggreeeeeeen. We did have a nice bonfire on Saturday night, followed by the usual downpour, and then woke up to sunny skies and a beautiful morning. I took advantage of a short driving day to lollygag around camp most of the morning.

Dan and Jesse enjoy the bonfire

Dan and Jesse enjoy the bonfire

That's the greenest lake water I've ever seen

That’s the greenest lake water I’ve ever seen

We crossed the MN/WI border in Duluth, birthplace and early stomping grounds of Bob Dylan. We didn’t see him (or his statue, which is in the works via a kickstarter project), but played lots of Bob over the weekend in his honor. We did catch our first glimpses of Lake Superior. Wish we had time to make the loop around the lake, but will have to save that for another trip.

We’re now set up at Lake Wissota, WI. Dan says it’s his favorite spot so far on the trip. It’s pretty awesome, and I FINALLY GOT PADDLEBOARDING today, huzzah! There are great trails all around, some following along the lake, others through forest and prairie, as well as excellent biking, swimming, a boat/paddleboard launch, and lots of little inlets for paddling in calm water. Looks like a good week ahead! And then we do a big push over July 4th weekend, as we cross WI, IL and IN in one weekend.

Jesse exploring around the shore

Jesse exploring around the shore of Lake Wissota

View from this week's office

View from this week’s office

Travels from North Dakota to Minnesota

Not far outside of Minot,ND, we came across a monument that stated that we were in the geographical center of North America, east to west and north to south. I posted this on Facebook as a status, and funny enough, cousin KC commented that he’d been to the gas station across the street, and my aunt Rose then posted that she’d eaten in the restaurant next door. Who knew that Rugby, ND, populationĀ 2,800, was such a hotspot! We felt like we’d hit a milestone, though, and as soon as we left, it felt like the east coast – going to 100% humidity and 80 degrees the next day.

At the Center of North America

At the Center of North America (Canadian Flag Hidden Behind Post}

We spent a week at Turtle River State Park, ND; to be honest, my first take was not impressed: flooded campgrounds, poison ivy everywhere, starting right outside our camper door, ticks, and mosquitos with a vengeful streak. I thought we’d descended into the second ring of hell. Well it was all that, but I quickly changed my tune as I sat in the lounge chair in the evening, listening to the wind rustling through the aspen grove right at our campsite. Is there a more beautiful sound? The sun created shifting, dappled pattern through layer of forest, giving an incredible depth to the view. The prairie grass rippled in waves, not so unlike my beloved Pacific, as I watched the wind dance across the giant expanses of grass. That flooding – well, after a couple of days of torrential rain, I learned the power that water has to change the course of an environment in quick flash. I stood humbled and corrected, and learned my lesson – I can wallow in the surface inconvenience, or appreciate the incredible beauty that is Turtle River SP. Thanks life for the little lesson šŸ˜‰

Camping at Turtle River State Park, ND

Camping at Turtle River State Park, ND

Our campsite floods (and that lush foliage... it's poison ivy)

Our campsite floods (and that lush foliage… it’s poison ivy)

Now HERE'S a campground under water

Now HERE’S a campground under water

The flattened grass shows the path of the river as it flooded and receded

The flattened grass shows the path of the river as it flooded and receded. It must have been about 10 feet difference overnight!

Playing in the sunshine

Playing in the sunshine

We’ve set up camp just a few miles from Grand Rapids, MN, at Prairie Lake. I’m looking forward to a week of paddleboards, recovery from a head cold that’s had me weepy and dull for the past 5 days (thank goodness for Dan coming to the rescue and picking up so much slack, as I wallowed in my Kleenex box!), and after 9 loads of laundry, a clean and mud-free camper interior. Here’s to a week at the lake!

Prairie Lake, MN

Prairie Lake, MN

Family Time in Minot, North Dakota

From Medora, we then stayed outside of Bismarck at Cross Ranch State Park, right along the banks of the Missouri River. My big ideas about paddleboarding the Missouri were quickly dashed as I realized how huge the river and powerful the current. The sites were lovely though, and we had a space that was bigger than most back yards, backing onto the river. Beautiful hiking trails surrounded us, and I heard that the following weekend the park hosted a big bluegrass music festival… something to remember for next trip!

Along the Banks of the Missouri

Along the Banks of the Missouri

Dan enjoys a little quiet time after a long day's drive

Dan enjoys a little quiet time after a long day’s drive

We spent two lovely weeks in Minot, ND, staying with Uncle Dennis, Aunt Sunny, Cousin Elena and our fabulous cousin/niece, Phoebe, and the dog-cousins. Jesse was happy to have other fur-friends around, and ecstatic to be able to lounge on carpets and couches, and have a little girl to throw the ball. We all enjoyed being able to expand a bit in a house, and it was so wonderful to spend time with the family. We were torn between having such a good time and imposing ourselves for such a long time.

Dan went on a tour of Minot AFB, where both Elena and Dennis work, we went hiking through a beautiful reserve area (a brief hike in prairie-land, that was followed by the removal of about 40 ticks between all of us… poor Phoebe got it the worst, being so close to the ground, but Dan was a close second. We learned that the beautiful grasses blowing in the wind have some hidden hitch-hikers. I don’t remember reading about this in my ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books…).


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Here's what 10 pm looks like in North Dakota. I've had to swallow my pride and go to bed while it's still light.

Here’s what 10 pm looks like in North Dakota. I’ve had to swallow my pride and go to bed while it’s still light.

It was also nice to be inside during some of the most incredible electrical and hail storms I’ve seen. We’ve been hammered with storms across the plains, missed a few big ones by a matter of miles, but these were by far the most dramatic. It was like a hose in the sky was turned on full blast, followed by pelting hailstones. And the vibrations from the thunder would come up from my feet, they were so intense. We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for smooth weather after this!



We left on Father’s Day and Iliana/Sunny’s birthday, to continue our trek across North Dakota and the prairies, with a clean camper, lots of laundry done and the bug spray at the ready. It was sad to say goodbye to family, but it was time to continue the adventure!

Beautiful North And South Dakota


View from Maah Daah Hey trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

Just a quick update with many photos. Although we got some serious weather one night while out here in North Dakota, it’s been smooth sailing for the last couple of weeks. – Dan


Yet another view from Maah Daah Hey trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.


Yet another view from Maah Daah Hey trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.


Yet another view from Maah Daah Hey trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.


Bowman North Dakota.


Keystone South Dakota.


Abandoned mine in Keystone South Dakota.


They have space for Obama on the left šŸ™‚ Just joking around.

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore


Our campground in Keystone South Dakota.


Kimberley working in Custer State Park South Dakota with loyal doggie at her beck and call