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 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!

RV Beginning

In the beginning of our RV adventure, I was simply a dreamer.  I’d spent years saving, researching, planning and searching.  I have always wanted to travel the world, starting in our own backyard, the U.S.A.  I’ve dreamed of opening my children’s eyes to the love of the great outdoors.  I want them to breathe fresh air, run through the woods, bask in the sun, dance in the rain, climb trees, swim like fishes, and be FREE to be children.  I want to explore new places with them,develop and quench our thirst for knowledge, bond as a family, and grow intellectually.

IMG_1882-2After several RV’s that we had planned to purchase fell through over a 2 year period, I felt defeated and decided to take a break.  On a whim, half a year later, I pulled up my search on Craigslist on my phone.  As soon as I saw the ad, I immediately emailed them.  This one, had all the features I wanted, plus something I’d never seen before, 4 bunks in back.  How perfect!

The only downfall was that the price was more than I had saved. Nate and I decided to use our both our savings.  We theorized that this RV didn’t need any immediate repairs, so the extra costs we had planned on spending on a possible fixer upper, made this a savings in the long run.

I reviewed all of my questions to ask and only asked the most important ones over the phone.

Were there any issues with the engine? No
Did the air conditioner work? Yes
Were there any leaks or was there anything wrong with it structurally? No
Was everything in working condition in the interior? Yes, but they’d never used the furnace for heat, so they didn’t know if that did.

At the meeting I had to stifle my giddiness and try to remain calm and professional.  I brought Nate, the kids and my parents with me.  My sisters also came along to help watch the kids.  Unfortunately, since it was so late at night, the ATM had a limit of what we could withdraw from our accounts.  So we were $500 short of their asking price.  After asking a bunch of questions, we informed them that we would take it, and explained that we were short on cash.  I asked if we could take it tonight with what we had brought with.  They said no, there were a lot of offers and ours was the first.  Well, darn.  We decided to return the following morning.

I had only been able to view the inside for a quick tour.  Since they had dogs, I couldn’t breath very well inside.  They were kind enough to air it out overnight so that I was able to check it out inside again.  Having already decided to purchase and all the questions had been answered satisfactorily, I didn’t think to go poking around.  I wish I would have.

Once we got home, we brought out our air purifier.   I vacuumed and removed the curtains to wash.  I scrubbed EVERY surface. Doing so, we noticed the front mattress had black mold on the bottom that had eaten into the mattress and down into the plywood.  Disappointed, I knew we would have to toss the mattress out and replace the wood.

Then it rained.  I went out to the RV to stock it up with a few things the following day and I noticed the carpet was wet in places, the front mattress was sopping wet and there were weird black tar spots on the counter.  Our RV was not as leak free as they claimed it to be.  Nate and I thought that perhaps it was just because we had gotten a lot of rain and that water had leaked in through the air vents.  I made sure the air vents were secure and use towels to absorb the water.  The next rain did not result in wet carpet, so we put it out of our minds.

I can't wait!
I can’t wait!

As the weeks rolled by, I prepped our RV in every way possible.  I printed check lists and put them in a binder.  I stocked food and emergency supplies.  We put sheets on the kids beds and let them bring out one or two small things.  I eagerly anticipated our first trip.  Having drained our funds on the purchase, we had to wait awhile before we could head out on the road.  The waiting was incredibly hard, but all good things are worth waiting for.