We did it! We not only managed to squeeze in a vacation the last week of summer, but we were able to get the camping in that we had talked about doing all summer! Score one for us!
Mike and I each had last week off and we were hoping to do some fun things with the kids before they headed back to school. We thought camping would be neat and something we could easily manage for a couple nights. We left last Sunday.
Generally, we are overly anal on most things. Big trips require excel spreadsheets. However, little trips and little outings rarely get a moment's thought. We didn't consider this a big trip so it didn't get much planning. We also had our neighborhood party the night before we left; we were easily up until 2am. We hadn't done ANY packing beforehand, though Mike had thought to pull our camping gear out of the attic.
That said, we woke up Sunday, asked each other if we were really going to do this and got ready. We had decided to head to the North Shore to see Lake Superior and try to stay at Gooseberry Falls. We picked up our kids from my parents who graciously agree to keep our dog while we were away, we headed home, and we packed. About an hour before leaving I started feeling really awful; bad headache, awful stomach ache. I was suddenly exhausted and snuck in a few quick rests on the bed between packing trips. At one point Mike said, "Geez - you look awful," and I told him I felt awful. But we packed up and headed out and stopped at McDonalds to eat lunch on the way. We anticipated about a 4+ hour drive and it was already pushing 1pm when we left. I took one bite of my cheeseburger and packed it back up. Then I realized I was going to need a plastic bag shortly and started to quickly unpack some snacks that I had thankfully put into a gallon zip-lock. And sure enough...as Mike was driving down the road, up came everything I had eaten that day. After the first round Jake said, "Do you feel okay, mom?" Mike advised him to just be quiet for a little bit. Mike veered in the direction of the gas station, I got out, threw away that bag and got back in the car where Jake said, "Well, do you at least feel better now? I don't like to throw up, but MAN! do I feel better when I do." I told him I actually did feel better, then I passed out and slept until we reached Duluth. Not the best way to start a vacation. I can only think it was a little stomach bug; the same thing had happened to Maddie two nights before.
But we did make it to Duluth. We got out at a rest stop to have a look at the view and collect some information on the area.
Maddie and Jake thought this thing was awesome...
It probably would have been cooler still if we'd had any change and they could have looked through it.
Maddie took no less than five pictures of Mike and I until she felt she'd gotten a good one - but she succeeded.
There were a bunch of rocks to climb. I think they were more for landscaping than fun, but it didn't stop Jake and he asked me to take his picture. Aaaahhh...the days of my kids asking to take my picture - I'm sure they are dwindling.
We got back into our car and continued north. We arrived at Gooseberry only to discover that there were no available campgrounds that night, but that we could return the next morning to see if any were opening or at least to get our name on a waiting list. The ranger advised us to drive even further north to a campground called Eckbeck where there were probably some openings.
Eckbeck is about 30 minutes north of Gooseberry so we were getting nervous we were going to run out of light to put up the tent. We arrived and managed to get the tent up without instructions in time to also make dinner before it got too dark.
Eckbeck is considered a "primitive" campground: there are no frills. The toilet is a hole in the ground covered by a "throne" surrounded by a wooden box. This is far fancier than we had when we had our canoeing outings with Tracy, Rob, and Dad a couple years ago. But...it took a little getting used to for Maddie and Jake - especially the smell. At night, Maddie was very happy to hear that I would stand with my back to her and the flashlight behind me so she could see. I told her girls had to stick together in these dire situations. All in all though, Mike and I were completely happy with these accomodations and decided that we could easily camp our two nights there if we didn't get to stay at Gooseberry the next night.
And with that the first night came to a close. More to come...