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Random thoughts, rants, raves and photo opportunities

2014 - Big Bay State Park, La Pointe, WI

We spent Memorial Day weekend camping at Big Bay State Park. Located near La Pointe, WI on Madeline Island, the park has all of the amenities that interest us such as a swimming beach, paved bike trails, paddling, hiking, and geocaching. We spent four days trapped on the island and enjoyed the company of family and friends.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2013 - Myre-Big Island State Park, Albert Lea, MN

For our final camping trip of the season, we spent MEA weekend at Myre-Big Island State Park. Located in Albert Lea, MN, Myre-Big Island offers hiking, biking, and paddling opportunities. The fall colors were gorgeous and the Hiking Club trail had a pretty good mix of scenery between its prairie and deep wood views.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2013 - Red River State Recreation Area, East Grand Forks, MN

On a weekend road cruise to geocache the state parks in the northwest corner of Minnesota, we used the Red River State Recreation Area as our base of operations. On this cold and rainy weekend, we parked the camper here for lodging as we geocached the weekend away at the northern parks and the greater Grand Forks area. The location of the campground was both a blessing and a curse. It was nice being located in downtown East Grand Forks, MN, on such a nasty cold and rainy day. It provided us with places to hang out while the rain was falling. Though, the noises of town late at night and into the early hours of the morning left most of us restless in bed (traffic, sirens, train whistles). I probably would not camp here again.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2013 - Scenic State Park, Bigfork, MN

Our gang spent five gorgeous days last week camping at Scenic State Park. Located near Bigfork, MN, on the Edge of the Wilderness, Scenic State Park is literally one of THE most gorgeous state parks in Minnesota outside of the northern shores of Lake Superior.

The park is very nicely maintained and the park staff were very busy keeping the park clean and picked up. The park offers hiking, paddling, fishing and a swimming beach. We managed to take advantage of just about every feature this park has to offer. The only issues we experienced were fairly minor. The swimming beach is not far away but just far enough away where the kids couldn't wander down to swim on their own. The mosquitoes weren't bad but the biting black flies were out something fierce. In spite of the beach and the flies, I would definitely return to this park to camp again.

I managed to snap a couple hundred pictures. Here is just a sample of our experience.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2013 - Maplewood State Park, Pelican Rapids, MN

We spent Independence Day week camping at Maplewood State Park. Located six miles east of Pelican Rapids, MN, Maplewood State Park offers paddling and hiking opportunities. The park is nicely maintained and the park staff were very friendly. But I have to admit, I would probably not return here a second time. While the actual campsite was very nice, it is unfortunate that the beach is over four miles away and the hiking trails are just too steep for young children. But our gang made the best of it and spent our time paddling in the lake, visiting nearby parades, and repairing flat tires.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2013 - Mount Mitchell State Park, Asheville, NC

Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Getting to the summit from Asheville, NC, via Blue Ridge Parkway, is easily one of the most gorgeous drives I've done to date. Anyone driving through this area should put Mount Mitchell State Park on their must-visit list.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2013 - Collier Seminole State Park, Naples, FL

We finally managed to accomplish our goal, which is to hike Collier-Seminole State Park to find Florida's oldest active geocache. Located near Naples, FL, this was the southern most point on our excursion. For those of you that don't understand Florida geography, Naples is located on the northwestern corner of the everglades. There are so many dangers in this park that you are required to check in at the ranger's office, even for a day hike.

Alligators, snakes, panthers, mosquitoes, the heat, and many other dangers lurk here, any of which can really ruin your day. Even having hiked the swampy side of the park, the only issues we encountered during our hike were the swarms of mosquitoes and the heat. Once we checked out of the park and explored further south, we finally encountered a 10' long man-eating gator.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2013 - Power Island Beach Party, Traverse City, MI

As an avid geocacher, I am not so much interested in finding the typical urban geocache but love finding geocaches that take you on an adventure. One of my goals as a geocacher is to find as many of the oldest, original, stashes that were hidden back during the early days of the activity. One such geocache is located on Lake Michigan's Power Island (originally known as Marion Island), appropriately named, Power Island (GC35). It was hidden July 16th, 2000, and is Michigan's oldest active geocache that is only accessible via boat.

When I began planning my itinerary to Power Island, I thought it would be a nice idea to host a geocaching event. It would give others that share my goals the opportunity to complete the adventure and to join in on the camaraderie and fun of geocaching as a group. I listed the event as the Power Island Beach Party (GC462H4) and really didn't expect more than a handful of interested adventure seekers. How bad did I underestimate the interest of the event? By the time the event concluded, there were seven boats in the armada consisting of over 45 known individuals that signed the log, not including some children and canine companions.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2013 - Palisades State Park, Garretson, SD

On weekend trip to Sioux Falls, SD, Laura and I wanted to do a bit of rock climbing. We drove a few miles north of town to Palisades State Park, which is located near Garretson, SD. I'd heard of the park in the past as it is known for it's Earthcaches within the park that highlight the sioux quartzite spires and cliffs, but I wasn't prepared for how gorgeous this area really is. This park is now on our shortlist of camping destinations.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Grand Portage State Park, Grand Portage, MN

Following our stop at Grand Marais, we decided to drive the 40 miles to Grand Portage State Park to view Pigeon Falls. Located on the border between Minnesota and Ontario, only the primary falls on the Pigeon River was flowing today. Low water levels left the secondary falls to the left at a mere trickle and the secondary falls to the right were non-existent. We still marvelled at Minnesota's highest waterfall and enjoyed the history lesson provided by state park signage.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..