Checking Out Ely, Minnesota

Checking Out Ely, Minnesota
3rd Day of Camping

I woke up to the sun making glowing shadows on the roof of our tent as it passed through the leaves on the trees.  Already I could feel the sun warming the chilly air.

Since it was so lovely, we thought it would be a perfect day to explore Grand Marais.  We had a fun day checking out all of the little shops.   I would have loved to have stopped at every shop, but there just wasn’t enough time!

I got an amethyst bracelet at a rock store, Loony’s Northwoods Emporium.  Each child got to pick out a rock of their choice.   We also visited Ely’s Old Fashioned Candy where we got a bunch of rare (for us) treats.  I was thrilled to be able to visit Jim Brandenberg’s Art gallery.  At the local Goodwill, Cupcake and I got a few books, Princess got a few sweaters and a cute pair of sandals.  Nate found 4 packs of kinetic sand for 99 cents.  Mr. Awesome found a toy airplane.

In between two cute shops (Mealey’s Gift & Sauna Shops), there was a well-maintained flower garden with a waterfall and fish pond hiding in the corner.  It reminded me of the fish pond my Grandpa used to have in his backyard.

On the recommendation of the receptionist at the Brandenburg gallery, we decided to visit Kawishiwi Falls.  Since we still had some 5 Week Workout Challenge days left, I thought it was a great idea!  Plus, getting to explore another waterfall sounded like a lot of fun.

The hike was quite beautiful.  It was a short 1.5-mile hike.  There were large boulders everywhere.  Birch trees grew on and around the large rocks, their roots hugging them like cozy pillows.  Planks made paths through the low ground where it probably gets muddy when it rains.

Climbing the last hill before the falls, we could hear the roar of the water as it tumbled down the rocks.  Once at the top, the view was breathtaking.  If we didn’t have the little ones, getting closer to the water might have been a neat area to explore.

After our hike, we went back into town to see the local farmer’s market.  It was in the town’s park and slightly larger than our farmer’s market.  There was a lot of stands set up selling a large variety of goods.  For people who didn’t have cash, they had a stand set up selling wooden chips to pay vendors.  We saw candles, kombucha, fermented foods, jams, fruits, veggies, live music, maple syrup, carved wooden spoons, handmade bath and beauty products, a stand advertising the U of M dental school, and more!  It was almost like a small fair!

The kids found a painted rock and hid it for someone else to find.  We’re always excited to find rocks.  This one had a fish on one side and said Ely Rocks FB on the back.

After the Farmer’s Market, we picked up some tent sealer to make sure our tent was leakproof.  The forecast predicted rain on Wednesday and we wanted to be sure we were dry.  While there I found a cute mug that has a moose on it and the words Ely, MN.  I like useful souvenirs.  It was another fun day of vacation!

Have you been to Ely, Minnesota?  What’s your favorite thing to do there?

Check out our video!

 

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Day: Week 5, Day 1: Schaar’s Bluff
Next Day: Week 5, Day 3: Norberg Trail

Continue on to camping, day 4!
http://cisforcomfort.com/4-year-old-caught-fish/

Did you miss day 2?
Read all about it here!
http://cisforcomfort.com/locked-keys-van/

We Locked Our Keys In The Van in the Middle of the Woods

We Locked Our Keys In The Van

Camping, Day 2

After a night of heavy rain drumming our tent, I woke to the sound of birds.  Thankfully, we were nice and dry inside!  I got out of bed before everyone else to capture some nature photography before breaking down the campsite.  Cat joined me and we had fun capturing the world, damp and dew drop covered from the night before.

After Nate got up, we decided to see if our next campsite was available.  We weren’t able to get all of the days at the same spot since everything was so booked.  Usually, the whole north is mostly booked by the time spring rolls around.  If we want to pick a good spot for an entire week next year, we might have to reserve our spot within the next few months.

Cat watched the little ones while we walked across the campgrounds to take a look.  As we walked past, we noticed the people there were already packing up!  Check out isn’t until 4, so we had time to pack up our stuff and get over there.  However, we wanted to get settled in early so we could relax the rest of our day.

We packed up all of our stuff, putting all of the wet things in the back.  I was going to walk over there with the kids since it was such a beautiful day, and the van was packed in almost every seat.  Just as we were about to walk off, Nate shut the door, with the keys in the ignition and the van running.  We locked our keys in the van.

Unfortunately, my purse was in the van.  As were my keys.  There was no way to get back in.  Nate set off to find the campsite hosts to see if they could assist us.  While we waited, I took the kids down to the lake to explore.  I decided to take them over to our campsite to occupy them and give them a new place to explore.  Then I walked all the way back to see how the van situation was going.

The campground hosts were there with Nate.  They recommended calling the local police to come out and open it for free.  Nate was worried we would run out of gas if we had to wait, so he called a local tow truck to do it instead.   We ended up chatting while we waited.  Our hosts were actually from a neighboring town to our hometown!  I didn’t want to leave the kids unattended for too long, so I set off to our new site again.  It turns out, it was $90.00 to unlock our door.  Ouch.  I think waiting for the police and buying a gas can might have been cheaper.  Ah well, hindsight.

Once we got everything set up, we decided to check out the local town and also pick up some water.  Ely wasn’t what I expected.  I think I romantasized it, as I had the other towns on the drive up.  It was a pretty typical small town.  There was the main strip that went right through the center.  The shops were all mostly Mom and Pop stores, but there were a few regulars near the outskirts, like Dairy Queen and Family Dollar.  It was quite scenic from the top of the hill.

We didn’t stay too long, as we wanted to get back.  The day had escaped us.  We decided it would be good to start dinner early so we could get to bed at a decent time.  The big girls and I played card games while Nate cooked chicken over the fire.   Princess and I had gluten free grilled cheese.   For dessert, we had the camping classic, smores.  Our second day of camping was a lot of fun!

Have you had any mishaps while camping?

Check out our video of our day!

Continue on to day 3 of our camping trip!
http://cisforcomfort.com/checking-ely-minnesota/

Did you miss day 1?  Read all about it here:

Bear Head Lake State Park

Bear Head Lake State Park

Camping, Day 1

Around 1 pm on Sunday, we drove up to Bear Head Lake State Park in our RV.  The van was packed to the brim, and we were set for a fun week of camping partly because we managed to get the best glamping tents for less.  Never having been to this part of Minnesota, I looked forward to a fun new adventure of exploring. The RV was in its best shape since it had just come from the mechanics and was just installed with the new rearview camera we found on this buying guide.

The final week before camping, I was dreading camping.  Going somewhere new is always scary for me.  Adding in anxiety, severe food allergy prep, packing for a family of six for a week and prepping a home for our absence is a recipe for panic attacks.  At one point, I said that I never wanted to go camping again. I visited www.campingconsole.com to make sure I had everything for enjoying a perfect outdoors.

Also, I was worried about my Grandpa.  I didn’t want to leave him.  My parents insisted I go.  I so rarely get a break and camping is something our family looks forward to every year.  Grandpa’s health has really improved and I’m hoping he might be well enough to take him off of hospice care!

Once on the road, a large weight was lifted.  All of the hard work was done.  This was our third time camping, so I had a bit of experience for what to expect in the setup department.  At this point, I was only mildly apprehensive about exploring someplace new.

The forecast predicted a 40% chance of rain for part of the day on Wednesday.  It started raining as we left our driveway and continued to do so on and off for most of the way up north.  Thankfully, it stopped shortly after we passed Cloquet.

I had this image in my mind of what I expected the area to look like.  Deep woods, occasional small towns filled with romantic charm, stretches of roads with nothing but thick trees.  I was right about the woods and thick trees and long stretches of nothing but wilderness, but I did not expect the size of the towns or the amount of normalcy.

The city of Virginia was about as large as my town.  Along the tops of their hills were many large wind mills for power.  They had all of the same amenities that we have.  If I had been dropped there and not been told where I was prior, I would have guessed I was in a town close to the cities.

As we neared Bear Head State Park, we encountered a large amount of road construction going on.  I’m assuming they are in the process of making a single two-lane, one each way road into two roads with two lanes.  We almost missed our turn because of this.

The stretch of road into the park was beautiful and peaceful.  Tall pines bordered the road with glimpses of lakes along each side.  The cabins and homes along the way had personal name signs and cute mailboxes.  The sign for Bear Head Lake was impressive, with gold lettering and an image of a bear head.

Our campsite was in a grove of tall white pine tree.  It had a nice big space for our tent.  Getting unpacked and setup was quick and efficient.  We were located right across from the bathrooms, which was nice for our little ones.

Nate and I took a short walk to the lake to check it out while Cat watched the kids.  Once we got back, we made our dinner of hamburgers for the three big kids and Nate and gluten-free grilled cheese for Princess and me.

One of my favorite things is to sit around a campfire with my family.  We enjoyed the silence of the woods and relaxing next to a toasty campfire in the cool night air.  I let one of the kids have the camera so they could take a picture of me.  After giving them a smile, they joked about making a silly angry face.  I tried my best, but it looks like I’m blinking.  🙂

That night, it stormed and rained heavily.  Thankfully we stayed dry and warm in our beds.  It was a great first day of camping.

Have you been to Bear Head State Park?  How well do you handle the stress of packing for camping?

Check out our video!

Continue on to day 2 of our camping trip!
http://cisforcomfort.com/locked-keys-van/