Morgan Comes to Minneapolis and We Go to Southern Minnesota

I went to the monthly North Minneapolis Bicycle Advocacy council meeting while Brooke, Meadow and her friend Morgan went kayaking.

It's a good excuse to meet up with some friends and have some honest debates about getting the best bike infrastructure on the Northside.

We may not agree all the time, but I think we're doing some great work for the neighborhood.

My friend Morgan came to stay with us for a few days on her way back to Washington. Emma had been asking to come over to eat on our new picnic table so we made grilled pizzas for everyone.

The neighbor wanted some pizza too.

We made the Fialas bring some beer. Thanks guys!

Some other neighborhood kids took Meadows Radio Flyer scooter while we were camping. Brooke was the first to notice. I asked them nicely and the said they had lost the wheels. I just can't figure out what they did with them.

They also ripped off her handle bar streamers. Jerks.

We cooked the pizzas on our new-to-us grill. Our neighbor Wes was upgrading to a new one and offered it. I couldn't say no to that. I'm going to put it to great use.

The next day was Morgan's last day here. 

I made veggie omeletes for everyone. I don't make them much, but these turned out great.

She offered to take a photo of the three of us. Hi.

That's us.

Meadow loves her play fabrics from Aunt Brittany. Just don't put them under my hat.

Meadow loved having Morgan around. 

We have a random A B C book about Washington state from Tyler and Emma. I thought it seemed fitting for Morgan to read it to her.

Minnehaha Falls is just one of those places you have to take out of town guests.

Everyones a tourist at the falls.

The creek was refreshing on this hot summer day.

Minneapolis kids aren't afraid of letting loose in the creek.

Hey it's me and my shadow.

It's a little deep and slippery for Meadow.

We made our way toward the Mississippi slowly. This guy was bow fishing. That seems difficult.

We took another break for Meadow to throw some rocks. She wanted to walk or should I say run the whole time. Every once in awhile she would want to stop to do something.

A family ran past us through the creek.

Meadow wanted to show the bow fisherman how to do it like a normal angler.

Then we made it to the river.

I probably should have worn different shoes for the day.

Morgan didn't seem to mind.

We noticed a paddle boat in the distance and decided to wait for it to watch it go through the locks.

It ended up turning around before going through the locks. Boo.

We took the trail on the other side of the creek back. I had never been over this way before.

Once back we spoiled our dinner with homemade Oreo-berry ice cream.

By Meadow's bedtime it was time to drop Morgan off at the Union Depot. I hope she visits us again.

I think it's our turn to visit her in Washington.

The next day I had to drive out to Willmar to tour the old state hospital turned tech campus.

Hopefully I'll be photographing the campus for Google Business View in the next few months.

Meanwhile Meadow and I took the Glacial Lakes Bike Trail. Meadow saw a playground so we had to stop.

 I was surprised to see no one at the beach.

They must know something you don't.

We hopped back on the trail and then the lake path split off. The whole thing was really confusing there wasn't any signs directing you where to go, you just had to guess. We went one way and happened upon another playground.


Then we passed the Kandiyohi Historical Musuem. Meadow was excited to see "Thomas."

The trail then cuts through downtown Willmar. That's where Scott caught up to us.

This place is really diverse for a small town. There's a large hispanic and East African community.

Hey North Minneapolis. This is how you paint a mural.

Zing...

We were supposed to eat some food we'd packed, but we decided to eat at Rosita's instead. We got the family combo and a quesadilla for Meadow.

I don't think they really wanted us to go behind the counter for the sodas. That's false advertising. Good tacos nonetheless.

Since we had to drive 2 hours out to Willmar we decided to check out some more free camping sites. 

This one in Olivia (just to the south of Willmar) felt a little awkward. It was right next to the highway and really close to a bank parking lot. This would have been perfect if it were late and we needed a place to stay. 

They did have a very nice giant corn on the cob picnic shelter.

Olivia is the corn capital.

Since we don't get out to southwestern Minnesota very often I talked Scott into letting us drive a little further south to Walnut Grove. Having just seen Laura Ingalls house in Wisconsin, I thought, "Why not see her home in Minnesota?"

Meadow was excited to see a covered wagon even though she had no clue what it was once used for.

We walked around the gift shop. I didn't realize there were so many different books about her.

On our way to Walnut Grove we tried looking up the location of her dugout home. We had no luck. Luckily we passed the museum in town that had directions. There is a $5 per vehicle fee to go see it. I said, "Hey if we bike that means we don't have to pay."

This street wasn't very bike friendly, but at least only two cars passed us.

Don't be a wuss. Meadow was up for some road biking.

The Ingalls homestead is on private land. Make sure you bring a donation for the friendly farmers.

We did end up giving them some money since they are so nice to allow people to go on their land.

Meadow and I sat along the creek just like Laura Ingalls. I can't wait until Meadow is old enough to read the books so we can go on our Laura Ingalls tour.

Perhaps we should wait on this? 

 The current owners are also working on restoring some of their land to what the land looked like when she lived here. The vast prairie was beautiful with all the wildflowers.

Meadow loved running around the dugout house site.

Only the impression from their dugout home remains. It's so cool to see this in person. Now I really want to read all her books again.

Even if you don't care about Little House this is a great little hike.


There is a short hiking trail through the prairie that is fun to wander around. The camera doesn't capture all the colors of the wildflowers that we saw in person.

Meadow didn't appreciate the beauty as much as Brooke and I.

It's too bad that more of corn country wasn't prairie. I guess we have to "feed" America.

We drove about 10 more minutes south to our campsite for the night.

South Dutch Charlie Creek is just north of Westbrook and southeast of Walnut Grove. 

We were the only ones here and enjoyed the solitude.

You could tell this campground must have been great in it's heyday. It still was nice to have the place to ourselves.

Other than missing swings it is pretty great right about now.

She thought the teeter totter was the bees knees.

She also insisted on pushing us on the merry go round.

I'm starting to think old school playgrounds were just better.

Our campsite was right along the creek. Couldn't ask for a more picturesque campground.

We have been so lucky this year with our water front campsites. Being along the creek made me feel like Laura Ingalls.

Can you tell that Brooke really likes Little House?

This time around I made some combined canned chili and Annie's mac and cheese. The one with the squeeze packet.

Not bad for easy camp food.

When we read the reviews of this place someone commented on how a lot of the wildlife will come right up to your tent. We were worried about leaving any food traces behind. Meadow kept spilling her mac so we moved her over to a log.

I'm not sure that this helped, but she looked darling eating here.

I need to do more research on cooking and cleaning while camping without running water. I have just been wiping out our used dishes with a towel. There has got to be a better way.

I think that this might just be a OK. People haven't always had soap on hand.

After dinner we went back to playground for a while. I had hoped to go for a bike ride, but it was already getting dark.

We went back over the bridge to see if it really didn't go anywhere. We can't figure out why it's here. The other side of the creek must have had something in the past.

Right now it's just overgrown grass.

We went to bed early and I actually slept pretty well. The only noises we heard were of cows from a nearby farm. 

Oatmeal. What? Did you think we were going to make scratch pancakes?

Our tent was all dewy. While it dried in the sun we went to play on the playground one last time.


Meadow didn't want to leave.

It's been nice to have mostly-to-ourselves campgrounds this year. But it also gets lonely. Hey friends lets go camping.

It's funny I actually like getting away from it all when camping or going to cottage. I loved walking under the oak trees with just me and my loves.

So long South Dutch Charlie Creek.

On the way back to the cities we wanted to stop by a few more places. One such place was Jeffers Petroglyphs. My phone told me it was closed and I couldn't figure out why. It turns out that they aren't open for tours on Tuesdays. I had to drag Brooke along to the petroglyphs.

The Jeffers Petroglyphs is a sacred sight that has been used by different cultures for thousands of years. You can see symbols and hand prints printed into the rocks.

Scott made the comment that if they didn't want anyone to see them it wouldn't be accessible from the outside. It's true the path does go around the building. It felt wrong to me, but then we saw another vehicle pull up and do the same thing.

It may be just me, but places of historical importance should get enough funding to make them open to everyone. Ten bucks here and there maybe nothing to many, but making history unaffordable is not good for an educated society.

I was kind of surprised to see this out in the open to the elements. You would think if they wanted to preserve something so old they would have it protected it from the wind and rain.

We then continued on through land of king corn toward New Ulm.

There are so many Dairy Queens in small towns. We stopped for a snack and ordered ice cream cones from their new $1 mini menu.

Cheap and ice cream are two things we're good at.

Last time we were in New Ulm was our first camping adventure together. We went to the Herman statue and we think it was free. This time they wanted some money, so we skipped it this time.

We played on the playground instead. Meadow has been on quite the playground tour this summer.

Lucky girl.

We made lunch in the park using the trusty camp stove. Brooke ate some strange precooked thing.

It was some quinoa and artichoke thing. No cooking needed. It was alright, worked for camping.

We then decided to take the New Ulm Bike Circle Route to the Schell's Brewery. I'm so glad we brought our bikes this time.

Kayaks are fun, but bike's are way more useful.

We went too far and ended up in a Target parking lot. This was in fact part of the tour.

After a brief detour we'd made it to Schell's.

We were hoping to get a beer and walk around their gardens, but I guess they only allow that on the weekends. The next tour was still an hour and a half away.

Instead we checked the deer and the gardens. The peacocks were nowhere to be seen.

I wish we could see inside the house. I still think it's awesome that family still lives here.

A lady offered to take our picture and we obliged. I didn't realize we were standing in the dark.

I think Meadow liked the Schell's Brewery better than most playgrounds.

Meadow would have stayed here all day.

She just didn't want to leave, but neither did I.

I got bike shorts for Christmas last year and I've been wearing them on my bike trips all summer. Now that I have them I can't believe I waited this long to get them.

Bike shorts are for nerds.

No way man!

The bike circle seemed to take you on the less interesting parts of the city. Mostly through industrial areas and suburban homes.

I liked the industrial area, but could've skipped the tiny sprawl.

On the way back we nearly stopped at a drive-in somewhere west of the cities. They only accepted cash sadly. Sorry rural drive-in.

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