Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rice Lake State Park and RAIN!

Day 2. Woke up in the car around 5:30am. I slept pretty well. Lorrie did not. She was playing on Facebook on her phone when I woke up. Poor thing! We got the dogs and our stuff and went back into the tent. Somehow having a lighter sky felt safer. It had rained a little but was just a sprinkle at that time so it wasn't too difficult. I'm sure the dogs were slightly confused by this whole thing! lol But they were good sports.

Once in, the downpour started. We slept on and off the rest of the morning. The dogs didn't like the thunder so Emma Blue curled up between us on her sleeping bag and Tori was scratching at her camping kennel to get out. So we let Tori out and she curled up next to me... and then behind me on my pillow. lol Very cute!

When it was clear that the rain was going nowhere, we decided to make a run for it and take down camp. We waited until it seemed like there was a break and then moved. Fast! Lorrie took care of the tent and what was inside it. I packed up the dogs and started sticking what was outside into the back of D'Azul. We didn't actually get that wet. Good teamwork!

So we headed into Owatonna for a warm breakfast! In a downpour. As an aside, Owatonna is pretty dead on Sunday! But we found a Perkins-like place out by the interstate and ate well. Then home for warm showers, cleaning up, and vegging on a rainy day!

Upon reflection, we both felt a little silly for sleeping in the car. BUT... we also agreed that if something *did* happen, when people read the news story, they would inevitably say, "Well, what did those two girls think they were doing going out there all on their own?" And no one likes to be the cause of questions like that! Well, no one that I know anyway.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rice Lake State Park

We slept in but were able to get things packed and ready pretty quickly. Of course, we forgot a few things and just had to toss those in on their own. We recently switched from using the big plastic tubs to using a fabric cargo container with 4 bintos. Each binto has its own theme... blue = dogs, green = cooking, etc. We wanted to test that out and see if we felt more organized. We stopped at the Co-op for some organic mac & cheese in a box, yogurt, almonds, Lorrie's favorite spicey trail mix, and some drinks. It's only 1 night so it's not like we needed to plan for much food. And we already had hot dogs and eggs in the cooler. Off we went. We took I-35 straight down to Owatonna and then followed the signs to Rice Lake State Park from there. SO easy! We drove through the 2 loops and decided on Loop A because no one was there yet and there were a few RVs with families in Loop B. Then we chose A13 because of it's view of the lake and because it was a little higher than some and we were expecting rain. Back to the Information Center where we paid for the site, got some wood, and were told where Lorrie could go to have the best chance to see a Pileated Woodpecker (the one Woody was based on). Then back to our site to set up.

And then we commenced our relaxation! I was going to hang my hammock but (tmi) I was PMSing and didn't think I could deal with all those little intertwining strings. I'd not put it up before so I figured I should wait for a time when I wouldn't toss it in a lake or rip it apart! BUT... I did have my new Slackline and there were some perfect trees for that. So we did get that up. I got a little frustrated with the whole ratchet system but Lorrie was there to figure it out. That wasn't PMS... that was my lack of mechanical skills. (= So we got that up and played with it for a little while.

The rest would be quite boring to read about so suffice to say there was playing with dogs, playing with fire (not at the same time!), reading, cooking, eating, talking, and just general good energy relaxing. A nice night!

So then... we decide it's getting a little cold and it's time for bed. So we're covering things up with the tarp. I was brushing my teeth and I saw a car driving around to Loop B. Then Lorrie saw something else and said, "Get Emma and get in the car" in such a way that I was not about to ask questions... though I had them. Eventually she got in the car too. And we watched as flashlights danced in the woods around us. It was a little strange. Could have been people on a hike. But they were only out there for about 10 minutes. The stranger part was that there seemed to be more flashlights going out and fewer coming back.

Okay, so I'm a big chicken. Sometimes I can't believe how much I like to camp because I often have a very vulnerable feeling and a dangerous imagination. When I'm with someone else, that decreases significantly. But Lorrie doesn't get scared. So, because she was freaked out too, we slept in the car.

Jennifer - Slacklining... or "Slacker Lining" as we say
(see more photos at my Flickr site)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lake Maria State Park and St. Cloud OUT Film Festival

Woke up from deep sleep around 1:30am. Freezing! The mattress was situated so the breeze went right down our sleeping bag. Made the 0 degree bag worthless! We were too disoriented to change the mattress around. lol So we put on hats instead and I put on my Mexican sweater and some socks. Then we hunkered down. At some point in there, Emma Blue made her way in the sleeping bag with us. More warmth!(= I put another blanket in for Tori too. Awake every 2 hours or so until we got up around 8:15am. Around 5am a great drizzling rain started that lasted about 2 hours. We liked that! Got up and packed before our 9:30am goal. A first!

We went directly back to I-94 so that we wouldn't get lost. Well, except that we did get turned around at one point on our way to the interstate. lol We stopped at Nelson Brothers outside of St. Cloud for an awesome breakfast! Then got cleaned up at the next exit rest area. Perfect! By then it was about 11:30am and we had to hustle to make our 12pm movie in St. Cloud. That was the whole reason we were in the area so it would have been bad to miss it! We got there with 5 minutes to spare... after getting a wine and a coffee. lol Gotta like a movie theatre like that! Except that it wasn't a movie theatre at all. It was a Playhouse/Music venue called Pioneer Place on Fifth that they'd rearrange to play movies for this festival. So we saw Training Rules about Rene Portland who was a homophobic coach at Penn State for about 25 years. It was part of the St. Cloud OUT Film Festival. After the documentary, home. No stops! 3pm. It took the expected 2ish hours this time. Phew!

So we got to have a nice afternoon at home before going back to work tomorrow. Good start to our camping season!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

First Outing of 2009 - Lake Maria State Park

We got a later start than usual. A "serious talk" kept us occupied in the a.m. Packing took little time before we headed out. But we had to stop at the Co-op for organic beef hotdogs, organic chilimac, and some Izze drinks. Then a stop at Caribou for road coffee and a quick detour home to pick up a couple things we'd forgotten before *really* heading out. It was noon. A stop at Target in Lakeville for yet another air mattress (this one with built in air pump) and we were *really* *really* off. We were headed for Sand Dunes State Park. Mainly interstate. When we were about 20 miles outside St. Cloud, I asked Lorrie to pull out the Mapquest printout. Oops! We had passed our exit. We're wanderers so we decided to give it a shot without turning back. That was our second mistake. Before setting off further, we stopped in Monticello to share a huge burger and some fries. Then we were ready to find our site. But... as there usually is a but... we were detoured very slightly because I saw one of my trucks in a parking lot. For sale! And unlocked. So we got some photos of that! Back on track... sortof... Birkoff, my phone navigation system, led us very far astray and we ended up in some small city park in Big Lake, MN. I think that's where we were anyway. A police officer, who we agreed was cute, saw us pass by a couple times and then stopped to ask if we were looking for something. We told her and she radioed in for directions. It's a huge park so the fact that she didn't know offhand was pretty telling about how far off we were. Those directions were errant as well. lol Lorrie finally pulled out the antiquated folded paper map and we used that. To find nothing! lol Because it's Sand Dunes State Forest now. So we found that and we found the Reserve that it's a attached to. There was also our back up plan campground, Ann's Lake Campground, which actually did end up being within Sand Dunes State Forest. Very confusing! According to our handy dandy book, The Best in Tent Camping: Minnesota: A Guide for Car Campers Who Hate RVs, Concrete Slabs, and Loud Portable Stereos, the campground is open all year. Wrong! Closed until May 1st. Arrgh! All that driving around.

So, on to our backup backup plan. We usually aren't this prepared with backup plans so this is a good thing! Maria Lake State Park was the destination. We used the paper map though still got turned around slightly at one point. We got there safe and sound. It was self check-in and all hike-in/backpacking sites. We drove to the parking area for the site we paid for (B3) and walked to it with Emma Blue. We decided it was way too long for Tori to walk or for us to carry her. So, though we paid for the walk-in site, we set up in one of the group sites near the parking area. Tori was able to walk that distance pretty well.

We got Lorrie's tent set up then she took care of inside the tent (mattress, sleeping bags, dog beds) and I started a fire and dinner. Hotdogs over the fire and then cut up into our chilimac. Yummy! Then we chilled, talked, played with the fire, etc. Seemed like it was going to rain so everything went back to D'Azul or into the tent. 9:30pm and in we go.

An early night after taking about 4-1/2 hours to complete a 2-hour drive today! Crazy!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hiking at Rice County Park

We needed to get outside and the dogs *really* needed to get outside. So we took a little hike just outside of town. Not many leaves on the trees yet so it looked pretty barren. But the weather was awesome and it was just nice to be outside. Emma Blue was thrilled to be out! Tori could only be out around the car as she can't walk well enough anymore to hike. But she seemed pretty happy to get out too!