Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer’s (Almost) End

Subtitled: An All-Too-Short Stay at the St. Croix St. Park

Surprise! I did go camping after all, having driven up to meet my family after my meeting on Saturday morning.

This is how I felt when I arrived:

St. Croix VIII

It was heavenly to be back with my family and to spend the rest of the weekend in the buggy great outdoors.

Only three of us got stung by a bee! We did well.

This is where we were:

St. Croix II

Quick, kids, what’s the Minnesota State Tree?

How about the Minnesota State Flower?
The Minnesota State Bird?
The Minnesota State Muffin?

(Answers are in the com box.)

(And aren’t I nice to care about your kids’ knowledge of state symbols?)

We went camping with two other families. Here’s a photo of our happy group:

St. Croix VI

Aren’t we cute?

We do a lot of group camping. In fact, if it weren’t for my friend Tina organizing all these outings, I don’t think I’d get my backside out the door at all.

(It’s good to get one’s backside out the door now and then.)

(Especially mine.)

St. Croix XIII

Tina’s really good at camping. Still, I’m thinking there has to be some rule against looking this good while “roughing” it.

At least I obey the rules.

St. Croix XIV

Would you believe that I straightened my hair that morning? Of course you wouldn’t.

(I include this photo in all humility.)

Another good thing about group camping is that there’s plenty of slave labor.

St. Croix XV

Though when you have six children, you’re pretty much always group camping.

Here is a photo of our camp site...

St. Croix XI

...including the most important part.

St. Croix XII

I like to tease my husband about being the Camp Gestapo. He’s always making sure that things get done correctly.

St. Croix I

You can see that Baby Anthony agrees with his father’s directives.

Anthony did well on his first tent camping trip, by the way. He was quite the little trooper. (It helped that there never a shortage of older kids to hold him. I think I saw him maybe twice the whole weekend.)

St. Croix XVIII

See what I mean? This is Tina’s daughter Kaylee. She is destined to be a really great mom.

Here is a typical conversation between Kaylee and me:

Me: Do you want me to take the baby back?

Kaylee: No.

I love Kaylee. I want to keep her.

Now I know that many of you are thinking, “I could never camp, let only with a 3-month baby.” I know you’re thinking this! You’ve said it!

Well, you know what? There are things you see when you go camping that you never see when you stay home.

Like bears.

And skunks.

And bees that sting.

What? That’s not a totally convincing list? Okay, how about this? I go camping to see the stars. The night sky is amazing when you get out of the city—just amazing, and breathtaking, and absolutely unequivocally beautiful.

We saw the biggest Big Dipper we’d ever seen. We saw the Milky Way. We got a crick in our neck from staring up and still we stared.

So cool.

Another of my favorite things about going camping, and about state parks in particular, is that there is almost always an “Interpretive Center” on the premises.

Hi, my name is Margaret and I’m a geeky homeschooling mom.

St. Croix V

According to this display, I have the wingspan of a Canada Goose.


I am happy that this display measured the span of my arms and not my hips.

Hey, here’s an interesting bit of trivia for the kids. Did you know that the length of your arm span is pretty much the same as your height?

St. Croix IV

St Croix III

It’s true.

These are the things that you learn at Interpretive Centers.

St. Croix IX

Ellie the Dog likes state parks, too, and thinks that they smell really good. She looks like she’s panting happily in this photo, doesn’t she? She is really saying, “Let me go. Let me go. Let me go.”

St. Croix XVI

Here’s my husband again. He’s a gear geek.

I don’t mind that he’s a gear geek because, like my friend Tina , he’s really good at camping.

And plus he got me, like, the warmest sleeping bag ever for this trip. It almost made me forget those bee stings...

St. Croix X

...while getting this photo totally did.

Getting photos like these makes camping worth it, and I just know that you agree.



All for the greater glory of God,


  1. The Minnesota State Tree is the Norway Pine.

    The Minnesota State Flower is the Showy Lady's Slipper.

    The Minnesota State Bird is the common loon, and the State muffin is blueberry.

    How'd you do?

  2. That camping stuff almost looks fun ... almost ;)

    I'm glad you had a lot of helpful people camping with you. Looks like you had a wonderful time!

  3. Looks like great family fun; not so sure if our family would have that much fun, but I can dream. I love the geeky homeschool mom pic- we gotta do what we gotta do. You go camping and I go to tomato farms and get excited about produce.

  4. I can't even believe what a good woman you are. Really.

    How 'bout some of those Minnesota muffins?

  5. I've been camping twice - hated it both times. Although the stars almost make it worth it ...

    Looks like you had a great time though :)

  6. I wonder if we'll go camping in HI? Probably. You're a trooper for certain. YOu know, I learned that arm span/height fact yesterday at Office Max. We were looking at an office desk and asked for it to be measured. The gal squatted down and spanned the desk, saying, "Well, your arm span is the same as your height and I'm five feet five inches so, this desk is about five feet six inches or so. I can get a measuring tape if you like." Funny, huh? Not to mention, there was a product flyer my husband spotted after she squatted and measured . . . that had the measurements in it . . . and she was CORRECT. Hilarious! I'm 5'4" - am I a honker, too? You just look like you might be petite like me.

  7. Elizabeth M12:41 PM

    It looks like you all had a lot of fun. I was never brave enough to camp with such a little one though!
    We just did our first group camping (well, first non-Scout) last week. It was a lot of fun too. We had nice enough weather that we left the rain fly off the tent and I was able to lie in "bed" and look up at the stars. So what if the cicadas and whippoorwills were a little loud...
    Hanging out with friends in the outdoors was terrific!

  8. You are the bravest. I am a camping wimp. As you know. But it might be fun to go with people who know what they are doing. At least you make it look like it would be!

  9. Elizabeth M1:06 PM

    How'd it work having Ellie with you? NJ state parks have recently added a few pet-friendly sites, but we haven't attempted it yet.

    So this inquiring mind wants to know about camping with a canine!

    Is Ellie a wonderfully quiet dog so you didn't have to be concerned about barking at every passing walker or neighbors in the next sites? Or nighttime noises?
    Did she stay on a leash the whole time? Where did she sleep?

    Sorry for the questions, but I'm curious about how to camp with a dog!

  10. Such great pictures, Margaret! I love seeing you have so much fun with the ones you love most. Life is good. And baby Anthony is too, too cute for words!

  11. Ellie was a peach, Elizabeth. The rules for the state park were that she stay on a leash, which she did. Our group campsite was pretty big, though, and on the last day I let her stretch her legs a bit. She was very good about coming back when called.

    Ellie's barks occasionally but she didn't bark at night, thankfully. She slept in her kennel which we had placed in the vestibule of our tent.

  12. O.K. I've lived in MN my entire life. But I never even knew we had a state muffin. Is this for real? Do we have state hotdish too?

  13. Fun! Glad you made it out and have such a well-prepared and rugged group of campers. ;) I've wondered how brave I'll be when the time comes to camp with little ones, we love camping! Thanks for sharing the photos.

    It would appear that not all states are lucky enough to have a State muffin, although some have a State cookie! North Carolina has neither...

  14. How fun!! You are a hoot..geeky homeschool mom and all! Love it. And excuse me, but you look quite good in your 'humble' me, if I ever went camping it would take A LOT to look that GOOD!! Just had to mention it!
    Thanks for sharing photos of your family camping trip. Almost makes me wanna go. Almost.

  15. love this!!! pics are beautiful, made me want to camp---and that baby has some gorgeous lips!


  16. My husband wishes I was like you and would get my hind end camping with him.

  17. You do camp A LOT! Camping is not something I do well or often. Although I have been camping with a young baby in the past, so that doesn't throw me too much. I just really like the comforts of home. Besides we'd have to drive to get anywhere near as 'outdoor comfy' as what I see in your pictures!!

  18. Looks like you guys had a blast. Now I'm really bummed we had to turn down Tina's invite to join you. We were on our vacation that week in a condo at Giant's Ridge on the Iron Range...just a bit different as far as accomodations go compared to you guys. Maybe next year we'll be able to tag along!

  19. OK I've said it before, but you are GORGEOUS! Wow!
    And your husband is a looker. :)
    These shots make me want to go camping....with a cabin.

  20. I love camping! Minnesota just offers some of the best places to see and explore.

    We have always camped with babies. Not a big deal. I like to pretend I am Ma Ingalls!

  21. Lori, MN Mom too2:34 PM

    You'll have to come camping in my backyard. Seriously. I've got 70 beautiful acres 50 miles out of Duluth, and the night skies are so much more than even in the St. Croix area. Besides, your boys especially would love to "explore" our woods. My oldest two boys (now out on their own) LIVED outside when they were younger..... the only time I saw them was when they were hungry. And my 9- and 8-yr old girls want to meet your girls.

    Anytime... just email me and we'll set up a date!! Really.

  22. I'd love to email you, Lori, though I'll need your address to do so!:)

  23. I am new to reading your blog. A friend of mine sent me your way. I too have a three month old. We are going to attempt our first tenting trip in a few weeks. It is good to see we aren't the only crazies out there! :o)

  24. If only you'd made it way up to Gooseberry, you could have visited with s'daughter Shelby who is working at the campground.

  25. I love your humor! I am glad you had a good time! You are a stronger woman than I...I have never camped with my kiddoes. You DO look wonderful!! And my Peter James has the same blanket as your ds...only yours looks...well..cleaner ;o) LOL!


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