Monday, August 12, 2013

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park Camping

This past weekend we went camping for the first time this summer. Last year we managed two camping trips, within a few weeks of each other. BC (before child) we would get quite a few camping trips in, but somehow this summer got away from us. Could be all the excitement of Kyle being doing with school. Anywho, we made the reservations for this weekend's camping trip a year ago, yes you read that right a YEAR ago! That's how fast this state park books up. Actually all the state park campsites along the north shore book up fast. We fortunately got to stay here many years ago (blog is here - 4 parts) by chance. We snagged up one of the first come first serve non-reserveable spots and immediately fell in love with this location. They are cart-in sites, which is awesome because you don't have to fully backpack in, but you are far enough away from the other camp sites it feels like you are at a backpack site. We are also learning that it's okay to pack more than you would when you backpack in. Over time we have become minimalist when it comes to camping, which is nice, but we allowed ourselves a cooler this time to make life easier.

Kyle took Friday off work and attended music class with Isaac and I. Then we had lunch, finished loading the car and headed up north. We have managed to make it to the north shore at least once a year since we've moved here. It is one of our most favorite places! Isaac did pretty good on the way up, took a short nap. He doesn't nap in the car as good as he used to, been about 45 min tops lately.

Once we arrived we checked in, loaded up the cart and hiked to our campsite.

Isaac being strong:
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Random bug that landed on our cooler as we walked.
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Don't worry, Kyle did do ALL the work alone, I did carry my own pack.
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The view was amazing!!! We had two look out spots right there at our campsite.
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Our food locker:
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Family photo, minus Harpo:
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It was five-ish and we knew we needed to get the fire going to get dinner started. Our plan was to have walking taco's the first night and red beans and rice the second... when Kyle went through the cooler for the hamburger he realized we left it at home! Looked like our plans were changing a bit. So we cooked up the red beans and rice Friday evening. We thought mosquitoes were going to be our biggest issue but surprisingly there were a ton of flies around.
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Isaac must have been pretty excited about camping because it took him quite a long time to fall asleep the first night. I wanted to get up the first morning to capture the sunrise, but since Isaac was up til 2:30am-ish an early rise didn't happen. And I didn't hear my watch alarm go off. We did learn that Isaac is ready for his own sleeping bag. Last year it worked for us all to sleep in our double bag; this year not so much.

Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful morning, we were afraid it was going to be chilly given that the low was in the 50's but it felt great. Kyle got a fire started and we cooked up some eggs, coffee, and toast. Unlike last time we stayed here, the food locker shut tight (we made sure of it) so no little rodents got to our food overnight.
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Isaac playing while breakfast was cooking
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Couldn't get enough of our overlook. The water was so clear that morning.
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Looking at the other overlook from the main one:
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The second overlook had a tree that was in the middle of the view, so I wasn't as much of a fan of it.

Even enjoyed hearing some loons (mom this is for you)
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Our plan for the day was to roll the wagon in, in hopes to put a little more air in one of the tires, refill our water and take a car ride to the town over to get some hamburger for the evening. Walking back to the car was a hike in itself. It went fast when Isaac was riding in the wagon, but after two rides he was done and ready to explore. Between the quick sprints and slow meanders his little sponge brain enjoyed soaking EVERYTHING in.
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After we put the cart away, we walked out to Pebble beach which was a short walk from the parking lot to the water.
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Pointing at the airplane overhead
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Running around, then catching up
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Finding rocks
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And back to the parking lot
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Run, run....
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Walk, walk....
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 We drove down to Gooseberry Falls State Park, and like always it was packed so we just did a loop around the parking lot. Then headed north as Isaac took a short little nap in the car on our drive so we drove around while that lasted. We ended up stopping at the grocery store in Silver Bay and I picked up some hamburger, a fly swatter, some fly traps, dish soap, and macaroni salad for lunch. Isaac woke up with that stop so we headed to this little marina for lunch. PB&J's and macaroni salad. We ate in the picnic area:
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Then walked down to the marina. We didn't stay but a few minutes and didn't walk far down because we had the hamburger in the car that we wanted to get back to the cooler.
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Isaac had no care for this fact, of course and took his time :-P
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We picked up some more firewood and ice at the park office when we entered the park then got our wagon at the parking lot and made the long walk back to our campsite. Like I mentioned Isaac was done with two wagon rides so this time he wanted to walk and that in itself was a long hike as he had to stop at every grass blade to observe. It was cute though. Oh and he had his fair share of falls, he'd run and run then trip over a rock. Luckily he's a tough boy and just shakes it off and goes about it again.

He had to 'help' dada by pulling the cart with him.
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We attempted to have some rest time in the tent but it was in the sun and very warm and after 10 minutes we were all sweaty and Isaac was not relaxing so we decided to go on a mini-hike. We loaded Isaac up in the carrier and did a short loop, probably not even a mile. Made us miss how we used to go miles and miles at a time, but it's not that easy anymore.

This tree was cool, it was growing around the dead trunk in the center.
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We went up a ways to a nice little view.
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Then had a heck of a lot of stairs to go down.
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We cut through on trail and took the paved trail back
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Can't pass up a daisy :-)
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Even though Isaac wasn't napping he was resting on dada's back.
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We stopped at a little area near camp to go down by the water. This spot is halfway between our campsite and the parking lot. And was just off the area where the day trails meet up with the campsite trail.
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And Kyle taught Isaac a 'lovely' skill.....
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Which didn't come in handy while we were at the stone/landscape store today and Isaac found all the rocks in the water features.....

He throws good with his left hand:
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As we left we noticed little rock formations that were set up by someone else before we arrived.
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On our walk back I went ahead to site number 19. It was empty and I wanted to see their view. I liked ours better.
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When we got back to camp Kyle started on the fire for dinner. There were two little squirrels that were having a hay day with Harpo's food. They had eaten all his breakfast while we were out on the car ride. And even when we were there they were brave and going for it as we stood and watched. Harpo paid attention every once in a while, but not really giving a darn. He did do a stealth attack once which was quite entertaining, that seemed to wear him out as he just went to the grass and slept it off. A couple chipmunks later joined the squirrels and they would laugh together in the bushes.

Meanwhile, I'm still taking photos of the SAME thing :-) But hey it looks different in different lighting, heehee. I ended up with almost 60 photos of the lighthouse... it was just so gorgeous.
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After a little bit of a struggle, we were able to get Isaac down about 8:00. Kyle got him to sleep as he knows it means business with dada. It was nice to relax by the campfire together and rest without chasing a little monkey around. And snuggle with Harpo, who sometimes feels neglected:
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And watch the sun set (well watch the water as the sun set behind us)
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I also got to play around with my camera. There was a meteor shower to take place Sun-Mon night, we were hoping to be able to see parts of it, which maybe we did. Kyle counted nine shooting stars and they were cool ones with tails. They were all going in the same direction which made us think they were part of the meteor shower.

Star trails. These photos take a LONG time to capture so I only got one :-( If I wasn't so tired I might have messed around and taken another. But the shutter was open for 20 minutes. Then it takes my camera another 10 min or so to process.
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So instead of another long star trail photo, I did a 1 minute photo with high ISO. LOOK! at all these stars! So amazing!
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I still didn't hear my watch alarm, but we happen to wake up about 5:30. The sky was already light so I had missed some of the sunrise. Kyle could see the clouds from our tent, but I wanted to get out anyway to check it out. Isaac had to come with, but luckily he was fine snuggling in my arms so I didn't have to worry about him tripping.
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We went back to the tent and rested for a bit while Isaac used our bodies as a jungle gym and read his books. Oh and took a few pictures:
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But wouldn't let me take one of him. That forehead bump/scrape was from the night before when he toppled off the picnic table.
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Then got up and warmed some coffee (with my moka pot!) and had bagels and cream cheese. We packed up camp and headed out. We wanted to stop in Duluth on the way home and get back at a decent time so we didn't really hang out much on Sunday.

We got to Duluth about 10:30 and walked to Canal Park in hopes of seeing a big ship come in. The bridge was up as we pulled off the highway. We drove by the train museum first, thinking we might check it out. On the way up we saw the train go by and Thomas the Train was on the end. Turns out he was there for one of four weekends and it was sort of a big deal (according to our lunch waitress). But we didn't want to pay $12 a piece when we weren't really sure what the museum was all about in the first place.
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Of course he wanted to get in
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Once we made it over to the canal, the big ship was coming in. It was 1,000 ft long, one of only 13 1,000 footers on the great lakes, and was the biggest ship of the day to come in. It was called the Presque Isle and the only tug-barge unit in service. We had timed it just right.
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Isaac was pretty impressed, it was rather crowded so we stood back on the grassy area so he could see good. When the fog horn blew, Isaac's eyes got very big and frightened as he ran into Kyle's arms. Then his fear turned into amazement as he pointed and waved.
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We stood there til the ship went in then walked over closer to the bridge as it lowered. Then we went and had an early lunch at Grandma's, beating the crowd. Our waitress made a good point about heading to the cities earlier to beat the weekend rush. We left Duluth about noon-ish and luckily didn't hit any real traffic until road construction 10 miles within home.
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Kyle wanted me to share this photo he took at the restaurant:


Lesa Herrmann said...

What a fun trip! I am pretty sure Parker wouldn't tolerate camping (or Jimmy for that matter!)

Laura Butts said...

I'm so glad I found your blog! After reading your post, I'm reserving spot 18 for a future camping trip. Did you find the distance to the bathroom challenging to hike with your then toddler? We love camping & so do our little ones (4 & 18 months this summer). We borrowed a hiking backpack last summer so hopefully we can borrow one again because that looks like the ideal way to go hiking again. Thank you for sharing all of your amazing photos!

Daisy said...

Hi Laura,
My son was not potty trained so we didn't have to worry about him running to the bathroom. Thank you and glad you enjoyed the blog.

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