It'd been almost a full two years since we left Minnesota and we hadn't been back. It felt so good! We had been toying with the idea of getting a cabin up north (sboiler alert: after our trip we're hoping to move back sooner and get the cabin after we're settled in again). Anyway this trip was so good and we all had a lot of fun, despite the insane amount of time spent in the car. The kids had Friday and Monday off from school for teacher work days. We left Friday morning after I taught a 6am Muscle Pump class at the YMCA. We'd dropped Harpo off the day before at the boarding resort - he does so well there, it's a relief to not worry about him while we're traveling.
I had made some dry erase activity books and put together 'state line goodie bags' so each time we crossed into a new state Kansas to Missouri, to Iowa, to Minnesota the kids would get a little bag of treats, the last one having a small toy in it.
Kids got their wish of McDonald's for breakfast, sun's coming up.
Stopped for lunch in Kansas City - Jimmy Johns, then right back on the road. Hit Iowa!
Then made it to Minnesota! Another helpful thing was we alternated stops with iPad time. They'd get iPads til next stop, then they'd have to spend some time off it til next stop. We did this on the way there and the way back and it worked out great.
Stopped to get gas once we got into Minnesota, we actually didn't stop at ALL in Iowa, lol. Excited to see Caribou Coffee again!
And all the signs of fall. So beautiful.
Made it to Minneapolis, drove around a neighborhood we'd wanted to check out then went to eat. The plan was Punch Pizza, the kids FAV... BUT turns out they do almost everything online order now, so they want you to order online before dining it. It was going to be an hour wait. A little heart crushing first thing, but it was good to be reminded right off the bat that things have changed. You used to not even be able to order take out or order ahead at Punch Pizza but Covid had changed everything. So instead we went to another favorite pizza place across the street: Pizza Luce.
From there we still had another two hour drive up north to Brainard. We made it about 10 or so at night.
Next morning we enjoyed our complimentary breakfast :-P Our former nanny, Emily, was driving up with her hubby to hang out with the kids for the day while Kyle and I went to look at a few cabins. We had five to see that Saturday, LOTS of driving for us since they were all about 30-45 minutes in opposite directions from the hotel, with the hotel being central.
I got a run in before the day got started. The fitness area looked over the water park which is where the kids would be spending the day.
First stop was 30 minutes east toward Lake Mille Lacs. Not ON Mille Lacs but on a little lake near it. We were early so we drove down to look at Mille Lacs.
Sheep farm across the lake from the first cabin we viewed.
Selfie at Mille Lacs:
Emily sent me these of the kids playing. She said they swam for about three hours!
Alright first cabin. We had really hoped this was the one, but it turned out to need a LOT of work. Like way more than we'd be willing to even if we lived closer. There was even a DEAD SQUIRREL in the toilet! Mom likely due to the noncompliant septic tank... since there was no signs that he was inside scratching around, guessing he came up from the pipes. So gross!
Beautiful view as they all had, but this dock was about to collapse, ha.
Second place was a treehouse another 30 minutes WEST of the hotel so we travelled about an hour drive to this one. It was a GORGEOUS view! But 1) we aren't boat people and this was a big recreational lake, we want something small for fishing, canoeing, paddle boarding, ice fishing, cross country skiing, etc and 2) it was too small.
Amazing view from inside.
3rd and 4th places for the day were somewhat close to each other. We had to travel about another 45 min to an hour NORTH of the hotel we were staying at. We grabbed lunch on the way. This place already had a contingent offer, Kyle was mainly interested in it for the land. It was more of a farm house with LOTS of hunting land, but not the one - the other guys can have it.
4th place of the day was just down the road at another lake. It again had a great view, Great Lake. It was more of a barn house, a big pole barn type structure that they'd made into a cute little cabin. It was too close to the neighbors, no driveway, and further north than we'd ideally like to be. I didn't go out on the dock, but Kyle did and said that part that jaunts over was as far as you could go, the rest was like the first in that it would probably give out at any step.
We made our way back to the hotel to see the kids, then went out to eat with Emily and Ethan at this place on Gull Lake (I think that was the name of the lake - Ernie's maybe...) Fun to visit and chat!
Sunday we decided to check out of the hotel (we were going to stay there but given the schedule we decided we'd stay in Minneapolis and have less to drive come Monday) we had our complimentary breakfast and then headed north east for the 2.5 hour drive near Duluth to check out cabin number five. Bug Creek. Now this one was another one that we had fallen in love with. It was already being AirBnB'd which is what we'd want to do and it came fully furnished BONUS! Only problem was it was HUGE over four thousand square feet so we feared it'd be more than we'd want to take on. That ended up being the case.
But we got to see amazing landscapes along the way. And driving out this way helped us learn that we are north shore people and we want to move our search to be in closer proximity to Lake Superior.
Photos just don't give the north woods the credit they need.
We arrived at Bug Creek, their own private lake :-)
Amazing room with a view!
We spent a while at this one. It was big. Really everything was perfect except the basement... that added another 11 beds. This place slept 24! Too much for what we'd want to take on. But it had a cute little sauna bunk house, a green house, it's own deck and screened in eating area. It'd be a fun get away.
Next stop was just about 20 minutes south, working our way back down. This was a cute little house that was lovingly cared for. But too small for us. More of a lake house than a cabin.
Final cabin was probably the best HOUSE we'd seen and fit all the boxes, but the lot was too small, it was too close to the highway, off I-35 and we could hear the highway from lake side. So the search continues. Oh we did drive ten minutes down the road to another that was coming on the market the next day but wasn't available that day.
I didn't get a picture at the last one.
Knowing what we learned from Friday, we called ahead and ordered pizza to go, so the kids COULD have their punch pizza and dessert pizza. AND Kyle and I really wanted world street kitchen so this way we could hit two birds with one stone. Kids got pizza and ate it in the car while we traveled into the city and ate at World Street.
35W has the BEST view of the city as you come from the north <3
View from the 35W bridge is another good one. Friday night sitting at Pizza Luce Kyle mentioned feeling like Wichita was all a dream and it's as if we'd never left. I had that feeling at this point in our trip, as we drove through downtown Minneapolis I felt a sense of home as if we'd never even left <3 that was assurance that yes we are coming back and perhaps we make it sooner than later.
Can't find these Brussels sprouts anywhere else. Amazing food!
We stayed at a Hilton Suites downtown, which was super fun and super nice compared to the place we were just at, LOL. Got checked in and learned the pool was open til 10 so let the kids have a pre-bed swim.
Thomas loved the tall buildlings (like his mama) I forget that he was only 2 when we left the city. He said "HEY Kyle look! There are cars on the roof!" :-D
Next morning we had our continental breakfast which was amazing compared to the two other mornings. They actually had fresh, hot food! Miss the healthy food that comes with a big city. Eventing seems fresher and better quality.
I was busy looking at the tall buildings myself just snapping away and didn't realize this photo until later in the day. But I just LOVE how I captured Thomas's amazingment with how tall the buildings are.
Goodbye Minneapolis, until next time!
And just like that we were headed back home for the long drive. Quick stop in the middle of Iowa at this trail entry near the side of the road for Thomas to go potty.
We stopped for BBQ in KC, naturally. Then we were welcomed back to Kansas with the most beautiful sunset.
Too broken, too small, too far, too big, too much, too busy, just TOO.
Someday we'll find the perfect one and know it :-)
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