Monday, September 26, 2011

Escape and Explore!

Upon returning home from a week in New York City, my own rural home on the Ten Acre Wood wasn't enough for this country girl. Saturday morning Dale and I packed up the pickup truck, loaded up the pooch, and headed north in search of a quiet campground and some fall color.

After a series of disappointing phone inquiries (we were a bit silly expecting to find a good campsite on a Saturday afternoon), we landed in the last possible campsite available in the electric loop of Banning State Park. As you can see, we were right next to the bath house with flush toilets and showers. At least it didn't smell like a pit toilet. It was a bit more noise and traffic than we prefer, but Cribbage games and a campfire with an amazing starlit night were worth the trip. I'm glad we packed the propane heater, too.

On Sunday we slept in, had brunch around 10, and set off for a hike. Banning has a self-guided trail along the Kettle River where pink sandstone was quarried at the turn of the last century. It was pretty fascinating. And we learned about the geology of the area while scrambling around on the rocks of the Kettle River, peering through potholes, and helping the Jack Russel Terrorist improve upon her Mountain Goat and Portuguese Water Dog imitations. We viewed Hell's Gate and Dragon Tooth rapids. Kayakers were enjoying the challenge. We stayed high and dry. Well, except for the dog.

I managed to get myself onto one ledge about 25 feet off the ground with a sheer cliff below me and no footholds low enough to climb back up to the trail. After handing the dog up to Dale, I needed him to lift me part way up so I could get purchase with my feet and haul myself up to the trail. Arthur could have pulled himself up with his fingertips. I still can't do a pull-up. But I am working on it.

The fall color was just starting with a few early maples displaying their fiery yellow and red. I'm thinking we may have to travel north again next weekend. We'll see.

Mostly I'm grateful that the State Parks are open so we can enjoy our traveling home away from home whenever we so desire.

And I'm grateful for a husband of 24 years who still likes to go outside to play. Thanks for the guided hike, Dale. I'll never forget what a Horst is, and I think there are still a whole bunch of Minnesota State Parks that we have yet to explore. Whatcha doin' next weekend?

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