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Brooke's Brithday Cabin Weekend: Soudan Undergournd-Lake Vermillion State Park Edition

It was Brooke's birthday cabin weekend. We were going to the brand new camper cabins at Soudan Mine-Lake Vermillion State Park, but decided to break up our drive in Duluth.



Remnants of Boubville still stand in Blake's backyard.

Scott and I wanted to get breakfast at Duluth Grill but the kids won with their request for Superior Waffles.

The place is pretty good to be honest.

Blake has made progress since we were here last. He said he was trying to get it all done before Easter and was then disappointed to learn we wouldn't be coming for Easter this year.

Sorry Blake and Daniel. If we had more room in our Roadsufer campervan rental, we'd bring you along next month.

This years birthday cabin brought us to Lake Vermilion State Park. My original plans was to go to Winnipeg, but knowing this mild winter, we didn't think that would work. We even talked about going to Arkansas. With a spring break trip coming up we decided to stay close by.

The Minnesota State Park camper cabins are about as affordable as you can find. Hipcamp is also a great choice, but we didn't find anything we adored.  

We stayed in the Biboon cabin which is Ojibwe for winter. 

The cabins are named after the Ojibwe names for the seasons and the cardinal directions.

I didn't realize these cabins were pretty new. These cabins are very modern compared to the other state park camper cabins we stayed in.

There were two beds in the loft, one below and the couch pulls out into a bed. I loved that there were lots of hooks and a counter space with shelves.

Apparently Theo needed help taking his shoes off when we arrived.

All campsites should have a cooking station.

When booking I didn't realize each cabin had one. These are great and provide added privacy.

I got a new car camp stove for a Christmas, but ended exchanging it since it was smaller than I thought. I got this slight upgrade to the classic Coleman camp stove

Theo was psyched to be back out camping.

It was nice enough to eat our soup outside.

The cabin we stayed in also had a balcony, but no chairs. I guess you should bring your camp chairs.

Near our cabin was the Onamani Overlook Trail.

When we booked this cabin back in January I thought there would be more snow. I'm sure this time last year there were at least 8 inches. 

More likely 40 inches. Do you remember how snowy it was last winter?

No snowshoeing this year.


The kids decided that they should be statues every so often. I can't explain why.


There's Theo or is it just a bronze sculpture?

If it had been a tad colder we could have brought our ice skates.



Being here really makes me want to go the Boundary Waters again.

The park is basically at the edge of the BWCA and the Iron Range.


There's the famed overlook.

Yeah, Theo, it is spectacular.

Back at the cabin the kids played games until dinner.

We were going to wait to eat when Blake and Daniel got here but I was getting hungry.

Funny that the cabin sleeps 8, yet there's only 4 chairs at the table.

The kids loved the loft space.

Theo and I built his PLUS PLUS set that he got for Christmas from Meadow. Think flat legos you interlock.

Blake and Daniel finally arrived. Time for Scattergories. Even anti-board game Scott played with us.

I even won a couple of times. I guess I'll forgive the Romeneskos for not letting me use "Niners" as an answer last time I played.

Theo played Mega Man with Daniel on his funcle's laptop before it was movie time.

Daniel brought his good short throw projector and we watched the next Ghibli film: Porco Rosso.

That's one way to sleep Theo.

That's how you get bed head.

Isn't that everyones dream hair or just mine?

Just like how my hair used to get.

In the morning the kids had pastries and banana bread for breakfast.


So glad we got this new cook stove. Made cooking breakfast a lot easier since you can use bigger skillets.


Hash de Brookie.

Never the same twice. Always good.  


Then we went over to the Soudan Mine part of the park to do the hiking club trail.

The beginning of the hike took us to the Soudan iron formation.

Look at the rock. Almost as good as an old growth tree and much, much older.

I love when a hiking trail also included history. We then walked by the Alaska Shaft. Crazy to think there are lots of tunnels underneath the trail.


Just off the trail there were the remnants of old shafts.

This looked super creepy.

Bears or bats? Still curious.


We could see the Smoke Stack and Compressor House in the distance.

I like the new hiking club signs that also include information on the password.

Information, that's a good idea.

Snowball fights were had.


Across from this shaft was an old mine car that Theo somehow climbed into.


Near the end of the hike we passed the main mine buildings including the still functioning mine elevator.



Blake came here a few years ago with my parents. I couldn't believe that you still enter the mine the same way the miners did through the shaft. I'm not sure I want to take a tour here anymore.

Lol. When did Brooke become a fraidy cat.


We had the whole grounds to ourselves to explore.


We were surprised at how little was gated off.


We even went in the ore conveyor.



Daniel got real excited and said he had a sticker he had been waiting to find the right place for. Welcome to our roof box little Joel.

Looks kind of like 6 year old me with glasses.  

Some of us were ready for lunch. We headed to the Boathouse Brewpub in Ely.

Apparently this is where the cool kids go. I think that title goes to Insula just down the block.

Quality pub food. Good beers. Would do it again.


We walked by the Ely "castle" exactly 10 years ago and it looks exactly the same.

Still strange to see no snow.

We walked down the main drag and checked out a few of the open stores.

Then somehow we ended up at DQ again.

I got a cupcake and then the kids said they wanted one too.

The dye in the frosting was a bit much.

Ok, hippy.

We finished the night by watching Pom Poko. This might be my favorite Ghibli movie so far.

The view from up top.

The four Tuskas watched from the loft.

The Mesabi Trail runs through this park. That would be a cool bike ride someday. In fact we probably could have brought our bikes along this time.

Time to pack up while I made pancakes for breakfast.

On the way home we tried to stop at the Hull Rust Mine and Hill Annex Mine State Park but both were closed for the season.

We were finally getting hungry and stopped at the Joint Tavern and Eatery just north of Mille Lacs.

Scott and I both couldn't pass on the broasted chicken special.

It's an upper midwest tradition.  

We stopped at Father Hennepin State Park to do another hiking club trail. Meadow was so mad.


This would be a quick one. Of course I promised ice cream. Maybe I need to cut back on that.


We let the kids play on the swings near the end of the trail.

I thought we'd see a few brave fisherman out on Mille Lacs.

More snowball fights. At least whenever they could find the last bits of shaded snow.

See you later Northern Minnesota.

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