Tag Archives: Wild River

#21 Hmm, what’s that sound?

19 Sep

All week I’d been watching the weather forecast for the weekend. Is it going to be nice? Is it going to rain? Since winter in Minnesota is right around the corner (seriously), I knew I was running out of time to go camping with Zooey.

So, when the sun came out on Saturday afternoon, I grabbed my gear and hit the road. (Note to self: Next time check gear before departing.)

Our destination was Wild River State Park north of the Twin Cities. I’d never been there before, but the description of forests and prairies along the St. Croix River sounded good.

An hour later, we were pulling into our campsite – a perfect little space tucked away in the woods.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but the last time I’d slept in the tent was about seven years ago! No problem. I had the whole campsite set up in about 15 minutes.

Before dinner, I decided to take Zooey out for a nice 3-mile hike around the park. After an initial diversion down a trail that wasn’t actually a trail, we found our way to the St. Croix River. Followed that south for a while before veering west through the forest and prairie. It was a perfect late afternoon for a hike! (Photos below)

We arrived back at camp around 6PM with just enough daylight to fire up the Swedish cookstove and make some dinner. Gotta love the Swedish cookstove! That thing is amazing and so easy to use. I actually ate really well – black beans and rice with fresh avocado and tomato. Tasted great going down… with the emphasis on going down. More on that later.

Zooey was terrific the whole time – just hanging out and enjoying the sites and sounds of the forest.

After dinner, we went over to the amphitheater for the evening ranger program. I’m such a sucker for ranger programs. Good times!

Back at camp, I started another fire and just chilled out for a while.

That’s when things started getting crazy.

I was sitting there thinking, “I had a great day hiking, setting up camp, cooking dinner, going to the evening program… but now it’s only 8:45PM… should I just go home now? Hmm, sleeping in my own bed sure sounds nice.”

So, I put Zooey in the car and took down the whole camp in the dark! I was down to the last tent pole when I turned off the flashlight and stood there for a moment in the moonlight.

“What the hell am I doing?” I don’t know if I said it out loud, but I was sure thinking it. “I wanted to go camping and now I’m standing here packing up. This is ridiculous.”

So, I took everything back out of the car and set up camp – AGAIN – in the dark! Yes, if you think that sounds crazy that would be a fair assessment. 🙂

Around 9PM Zooey and I ducked into the tent to go to sleep. I knew it would be a pretty chilly night, so I tried covering her with a blanket. She was having none of it. She was up and down and up and down for about 15 minutes before finally settling down for the night.

As soon as I lay down, I heard a noise.


“Damn it! The air mattress has a hole in it!”

Now, it’s only a two-inch thick mattress, but it sure helps when sleeping on the hard ground. How do I know it’s hard ground? Because after 10 minutes the air had gone out of the mattress and I was laying on it.

Nonetheless I thought, “I came out to go camping and damnit I’m gonna camp!”

After trying to get comfortable for what I thought was 20 or 30 minutes I grabbed my phone to check the time. 11:15PM.

“OK, that’s it. I’m outta here.”

Yes, at 11:30PM I broke camp in the dark – AGAIN!

Zooey and I got home at 1AM and I have to tell you, my bed never felt so good! (And no, I don’t feel bad at all about bailing in the middle of the night. Makes for a better story anyway.)

P.S. I don’t know what it is about me and beans from a box, but it’s a good thing I decided to drive home in the middle of the night. My stomach was not at all happy this morning. Talk about The Bighorn Chili Incident Part 2. 🙂

Photo: Hitting the trail.

Photo: “T” in the forest.

Photo: The scenic St. Croix River facing Wisconsin.

Photo: Taking a break on the prairie.

Photo: The Swedish cookstove in action.

Photo: Exhibit “A” – beans and rice from a box.