It was with a touch of madness that we embarked on our 2,200 mile glamping trip to Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin last year. There were things we needed to be in the area to do, baptisms, wedding celebrations, family visits, so why not turn it into one big old glamping trip?! And our first big trip after buying the Airstream just a couple of months earlier. So off we went, two adults, two children (our youngest was 18 months), and two 50+ lb dogs (one of whom had a torn ACL).
Thinking about a two week camping trip really intimidated me at first. How would I meal plan? What about packing clothes? Then I remembered, there are these things called grocery stores and laudromats, and they are all over the country. Oh, right. Glamping doesn’t have to be self contained. In fact, it’s better and more relaxed when you venture out and take in your surroundings. I’ll write more about planning long trips in a later post.
After spending a few days street glamping in the Twin Cities, we shoved off for Duluth and the north woods of Minnesota. We were not in Oklahoma anymore.
We camped at Jay Cooke State Park for three nights. The park is a lovely piece of north woodland just outside of Duluth, MN, making it ideal for getting both time in nature and city exploration. The campsites are private and lovely, but are not designed for larger (30’+) rigs. Though you can get a site with electrical hook ups, there are no water hook-ups, however, there is potable water available to fill up your freshwater tank. The St. Louis River rumbles through the park and is affectionally known by many as the “root beer river.” River water is a orangey brown color attributable to the area’s geology and tannins from watershed trees.
Kids love it. Because our daughters were so young when we took this trip, our glamping was very simple: do some small” hikes”, throw rocks into the river, make campfires, throw more rocks. The park was perfect for us and we got pretty zen.
We spent a day visiting the very kid-friendly Duluth. Again, our plans were modest. First stop was Great Lakes Aquarium which was a great way to learn more about the freshwater ecology of the Great Lakes region for a couple of hours. There are many tanks–one that is two stories high and very impressive–and neat hands-on activities. Our oldest brought along her “field journal” and did her best to draw pictures of the fish catching her eye.
We lunched at Fitger’s Bewhouse, a perfect refueling stop for both parents and their over-excited kids. Fitger’s makes amazing beers and offers pub food with local ingredients, the complex includes a few restaurants and some nice local shopping.
Then we checked out the Lake Superior Train Museum. There are several cars and engines you can check out in this old train depot, and there were train afficiandos who were having a good time discussing the differences of the engines. It’s a small museum, and we were done in a little over an hour, but it was a nice place for the girls to climb around on things and stretch their legs.
Another joy of glamping is being able to travel and meet up with old friends and not smell like you’ve been on the road for a week. We had a lovely pizza dinner with friends of mine from high school. How great it was to reconnect in real time, have actual conversions, and see our growing families together! Girls, you are awesome!
Northern Minnesota is a quiet and throughoughly charming place. It’s also an excellent place to spend time just throwing rocks into the water.
Do you have a favorite quiet place to retreat?