Sunday, July 10, 2011

We ♥ Camping!

To say that we love camping is an understatement... which is probably why we had our kids out camping as soon as we could. Brandon, being a December baby, was sleeping in a tent at 4 months (April) & Melanie, being a May baby, was out at 5 weeks old. They seemed to take to it quite easily... guess it is in their blood!
Since we also enjoy canoeing & bought our own the year we got married, we also got them out early on for that as well & they have done amazingly well pretty much from day 1.

So it is only natural that with our love of canoeing & camping, the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) was one of our favorite camping spots prior to having kids. It is an area that borders northern Minnesota & Canada & is an area that you canoe-in & camp (kind of like backpacking in a canoe). Obviously with that kind of camping, one can’t bring all the luxuries that one can stuff in a car... so all things are pared down from the camp “essentials” to food (no cooler & generally dried stuff is lighter & packs with minimal space). Some people do insane trips where they paddle & portage daily, putting lots of miles on & finding new camp sites every night. We always took the more sane (or lazy, some might say) approach & had a couple lakes we liked that were 3-5 miles in, mainly paddling & only a small portage (if any)... we would set up camp & stay in one spot, fishing the lake we were on & doing day trip exploration to others if we felt the need. Generally there are only a few designated campsites per lake & it is amazing how peaceful & quiet it is with no motorized boats, no electricity, no running water or facilities... just nature! It is an awesome place to take in amazing star-filled skies, all sorts of wildlife & the northern lights if one is lucky. 
Given that these are the types of lakes I grew up with in NM (left, Cochiti Lake near Abq, NM), I'm still in awe of how green & beautiful the lakes of Minnesota are.

When Brandon was not quite 2, we had a longing to get back into the BWCA & since he was such a good little canoeist, we decided to give it a go.

It was a fabulous trip & we got a great spot on one of our favorite lakes... and Brandon quickly learned the word WALLEYE! And by the end of the weekend we were all tired of eating fish! (a very good problem to have!)

Us & our gear... getting ready to load up the canoe & paddle out.

2 years ago, we were again missing the BWCA but weren’t sure we were ready to try that adventure with both kids just yet & instead found a little “loop hole” to the whole trip & discovered there are some very rustic camping spots on the fringe of the BWCA but that one can drive to & then did day trips into the BWCA to explore & fish... much easier with 2 kids!! It still has most of the benefits of the BWCA since the campgrounds are so rustic (i.e no showers or water) & only have 3-5 sites but the bonus is you can drive right up. This time we targeted a different favorite spot & once again had phenomenal fishing. There is a chance that Brandon might never again experience 2 days of fishing THAT good!

Last summer, we had a unexpected hiatus from camping... partly due to mishaps (Melanie got the stomach flu the morning we were supposed to head out for Memorial weekend, followed by Mike & I later that day) & partly due to all we had going on with house building & temporary living in downtown Minneapolis. I can honestly say that I missed it... & was very much looking forward to making up for lost time this summer! So as soon as Brandon was done with school in early June, we planned a long weekend to head back up to the BWCA for some camping & fishing. We got a great spot right where hoped to be & then only had a 3 mile paddle in during the day to fish one of our favorite lakes.
Our campsite

A perfect view of the lake! ☺

Melanie would disappear into the tent to periodically to feed & take care of her dog Bella that she had brought along!

The boys enjoyed a litte late evening fishing

From our site, we had about a 3 mile paddle into our secret fishing lake.  The kids like going through all the lily pads in the river that is between the lake we were camped on & our "honey hole". 

The fishing wasn't "phenomenal", but our standards are pretty high... we had good enough fishing to have 3 meals of fish. Guess you'd call that pretty good fishing!

Melanie gathered lots of lily pads & flowers & made a nice arrangement with them.

Brandon likes to saw wood... & let's just say, Mike doesn't mind sitting back & not having to cut firewood.

Melanie caught a fish while her line was barely out & was just floating in a crevice between 2 rocks... she thought that was pretty funny!
We had an awesome time camping in one of our FAVORITE areas!

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