Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ice Age

Last week was what is known around these parts as "M.E.A. Weekend". I don't think anyone actually knows what "M.E.A." stands for, but we do all know that it always happens towards the middle of October, all the public-school kids in the state get that Thursday and Friday off from school, and that it is probably the last time to do anything meaningful as a family outdoors before the frigid and horrible Minnesota winter sinks its evil fangs into us all for the next 9 months.

Being the crazy folks that we are, we decided to make good use of the weekend by loading up all of our kids and most of their stuff, hitching the pop-up camper to the back of the minivan, and heading out into the Great Outdoors for one last camping trip as a family of five. First we thought about heading up into the northern part of the state to check out the headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi River at Itasca State Park, but when we checked to see if they had any open campsites available, we found out that most of the people in Minnesota had the same idea as us. So we checked at other state parks. Same thing. Finally we checked at a county park on the east side of the Twin Cities, the Lake Elmo Park Reserve. Apparently we were the first people to think of that park, because the nice lady on the phone said we could pretty much have our pick of any of their campsites. Hooray, a place to go!

The weather up here in the northland has been super nice this fall - unseasonably warm, very little rain, the leaves have been gorgeous. We were super excited to get outside and enjoy things for a couple of days. When we got to the park that Thursday, the sun was shining like it has been, but the wind had started to pick up, bringing a chill with it. That was OK, since we remembered to bring our jackets with us. By bedtime that night, the chill had gotten chillier, and the wind continued to blow, with a few howls thrown in for good measure.

We decided to try out the furnace in the camper, which fired right up and made everything inside toasty warm. I could get used to this type of camping! We settled in for a long, peaceful night. The next day got colder and windier. We went for a short hike, but otherwise we pretty much stayed around our campsite, playing games inside the camper, sitting outside by the fire, chipping the ice off of our eyelids, things like that. We were having a great time. And then it happened - the tank of propane on the camper went dry! Ahh, no more heat from the furnace! What would we do?!?! Thankfully we brought a little electric space heater with, which was able to keep us from freezing to death, barely...I decided there was only one thing to do: I drove the 4 minutes to the nearest gas station and got another tank of propane. It feels good to be such a capable provider for my family. I'm sure that's what Charles Ingalls felt like, too...
We found this crudely drawn face scratched into the ice on our windshield the last morning of our camping trip. Apparently one of our fellow campers, or the local sasquatch, is a fan of the blog...


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