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Scenes from Interstate State Park Hiking and Canoeing to Lake Minnetonka's Big Island

I'm having surgery later this week to remove a giant abnormal mole. This weekend is dedicated to adventures since I won't be able to do much next weekend. And it could be the last nice weekend for a while.

First stop, the library for storytime.

After picking out a stack of books we were hungry.

I suggested we go over to the Broadway Bar and Pizza for a lunch buffet. Pizza and pasta? Heck yeah!

You had me at buffet.

We have been working on phonics with Meadow lately. When she got her spaghetti she said, "Ba-sket-ti starts with B!" 

We have a Wisconsin State Park pass that we really hadn't used as much as I thought we would this year. Unlike Minnesota State passes they are good for that year only, no matter when you buy it. Where as Minnesota is good for a year after it is purchased. So we decided to go to Interstate State Park on the Wisconsin side.

While Scott was busy painting the car Meadow and made leaf piles.

Just touching up some scratches so we can drive our Honda Insight forever.

Meadow could've done this for as long we allowed, but we had hiking to do.

Meadow climbed on all the rocks.

I had no idea what the Wisconsin side would be like and it definitely didn't disappoint. 

There she is making her own path. We had to redirect to the trail more than a few times.

A few times we did go off the beaten path for a better look. Meadow and I spotted rock climbers. I can't wait until she is five and can do the rock climbing program here.

Climbing, climbing, climbing. She always tells us she doesn't want to go hiking, but once we start she has too much fun.

We have only been to the Minnesota side a couple of times and didn't stay long. I'm curious how their view is.

Must. Climb. Every. Rock.

We recently hiked in Wisconsin Dells and I noticed that a lot of other rocky rover passages are called dalles. It turns out that it means rapids of a river running through a gorge or canyon. Interstate Park is located on the Dalles of the St Croix while Wisconsin Dells is the location of the narrowing of the Wisconsin River. 

I put Meadow in the Ergo for a short bit, but as soon as there were more rocks to climb she was suddenly less tired.

She really wanted to explore this island in the middle of Lake of the Dalles.

I'm pretty sure Meadow is thinking, Oh more rocks to climb!

As we walked by here I said, Hey it looks like a face.

That's because this rock formation is called the Old Man of the Dalles.

Hello St Croix. I really want to canoe this portion.

One trail ended at building ruins by the river.

Our side was way less crowded than the Minnesota side. Every time we looked over there were people everywhere.

Little stinker climbed up on her own when we weren't looking.

I have to say, I think this side is better than the other. No paved trails. Once in awhile we didn't know which way the trail went.

The fall colors were a bit muted this year. We haven't really had too many cold nights.

What a beautiful place to gaze down at the river and the falls that aren stymied by that stinking dam.

Now that we had made it to the top, we had to go back down.

Meadow was pretty worn out near the end, but we still had more to see.

We missed one lookout spot for some Team North Instagramers having a picnic.

Meadow and I found a giant pothole.

Then I spotted a giant spider and it brought me back to the swarm of spiders in the Maribel Caves.

Ha. Lucky I wasn't staring down into the glacial pothole.

Back at home we read ALL the new books Meadow got.

And we ate black bean burgers that G.G. had given us when they closed the cottage. Thanks.

Before bed Brookie and I drank some hot apple cider and brandy. This is our go-to fall cocktail.

I made a German Apple Pancake for breakfast.

Also I saved the scraps for another project. Did you know you can make your own apple cider vinegar with apple scraps?

Apple pancakes are the surest sign that winter is coming. Just not quite yet.

Today was canoeing day. We had hoped Emma could come with us so we could go in at one point and get out at another. We are limited to where we can go with having only one car.

Apparently her kids weren't up to riding today. We went back and forth on where we should go and finally settled on Lake Minnetonka.

I thought it would be fun to canoe out to Big Island and hike there. 

Canoeing around to look at mansions? Yes please!

Not really my plan, but if it makes you happy...

We had kayaked here a few years ago and there were so many boats out our kayaks were being pushed around. Today was perfect, only a few fisherman.

Brooke and Meadow ate pb and jelly while I tried some fishing. Brooke kept on claiming that she was seeing giant fish. I thought I might as well try to catch one.

The lake was so clear you could see all the way to the bottom.

Unfortunately the weeds were all taking over.

This was the most darling boat house, it also had a matching screen porch and cottage.

I think that there was an even bigger cottage up the hill.

The dock to Big Island had been brought in already. We found another not so easy way to get on.

Back in the early 1900's Big Island was home to an amusement park. Only a few original ruins remain. Here we are at the front entrance.

Too bad none of the other buildings remain. The park was only open for 5 seasons in a way to get people from the cities to take the street car to the end of the line. After the park closed it was a campground for veterans until the early 2000's. Then the city of Orono purchased the land to be used as a nature park.

It must have been a splendid place for the few short years that they ferried folks out the island.

This is the only building left from the campground days.

The colors were brilliant on giant trees.

We weren't alone out here. Lots of folks were hiking. The only way to get here is by boat. I guess the island's vacationers can probably hike or atv over, but there doesn't look to be any roads.

Up until a few years ago the Island was a park for veterans and their families. Camping was permitted then, but not to the general public. I think they should bring the camping back.

When we got to the eastern tip of the island we saw that there was a much easier place to land our boats. We'll have to swim at this beach next summer. Just not anytime near the 4th of July.

I think we should have my dad bring his boat here the next time they visit. Hint hint.

We got back into our boat and canoed around the other side of the island. Besides a few cabins, we also ran into an old buoy house.

I later read there was a grand mansion on the island. Maybe this was part of the property? The sun was getting lower or we would have explored more.

Meadow was more excited for the partial rainbow in the sky.

I guess some people are full timers on the island. What do they do when the ice is thin?

Brooke let me fish near the docks before we got out.

Meadow was more interested in snacking.


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