Tuesday, August 28, 2007

it'll do

Sunday I was supposed to take Will up to the north shore for a couple of days of camping. After spending the entire day (it was a good day) in St. Cloud on Saturday car shopping and picking up those last few items for school I was beat and didn't feel like making the 5 hour drive to Silver Bay. Still, with grad school on the horizon, I've made a pledge to myself, and I guess Jeanne and the kids as well, that I won't neglect spending time with them. So while, Will was disappointed to be sure, we did manage to scrap out a little trip to Glacial Lakes State Park about 30 miles from home. We chose a back pack site out on the prairie to set up camp. For a backpack site, it wasn't too tough hauling in our gear (we did purposely pack light on this trip) and the site was pretty nice - tucked into a small grove of cottonwood trees over looking a small pond. Upon a little exploration, we found that some settlers had probably thought the site was nice as well. A few yards from camp was what remained of a rock foundation. Now, Sunday was very, very windy out on the prairie but we managed to set up our tent with little problem - we were actually quite proud of the feat! We unpacked and Will made it his job to set up the sleeping arrangements inside.

Glacial Lakes is a seldom used park. It lacks a big lake for recreation and doesn't have the big, north woods feel to it. It's a prairie park. You can climb an esker or a drumlin and see for miles and miles; across a landscape that is as open as one can imagine. I love being able to see great distances and am particularly fond of watching the waves of grasses moving like the ocean. I get jealous of the native people that lived on the great prairies of this continent and were able to see this as one large unobstructed landscape of grasses and flowers. (I get a bit angry that through our pioneering spirit found it necessary to plow up 99.99% of that landscape.) I think more people should spend time on the prairie, looking at how it changes subtly with elevation, water and lack of water. The diversity of plant life is amazing. I hope that Will will gain an appreciation for the prairie someday.

We arrived at the park, to find the office closed. (One of the pitfalls of a lack of visitors.) This wasn't a big deal except for the fact that we needed firewood! Technically, you're not supposed to collect firewood in the park, but we didn't think picking up some cottonwood branches in an area that had been burned would be a big deal. So, we scraped together a little pile of sticks and some bark. Now, I'm not an expert of fire building but can usually manage to get a flame going. But I'm telling you, cottonwood doesn't like to burn! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottonwood_tree) We bailed on the fire idea and settled down for some reading instead. Once it got dark enough we headed inside, put on our head lamps and continued reading. We talked some but mostly we just hung out together. During the night the wind stopped. The silence was eerie and loud enough to wake me up! We got up and looked at the stars and the big prairie moon. A great-horned owl settled in a tree nearby shortly thereafter and we listened to it calling to another owl some distance away. As the sun rose, it got windy again and had clouded up. We had intened to watch stars and mars, but the clouds didn't allow much celestial viewing that night. We packed up early and headed for home.

It wasn't waves on Lake Superior or waterfalls on the Baptism River. But for time spent with my son it will surely do.

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