Speaking of Route I-90( Yes, that is the same Mass. Pike that winds up in downtown Boston), it was an interesting drive from western South Dakota to Minnesota.
Coming east out of the Black Hills, the land reminds you a little of Utah, but not totally desert. It is not long before the fields start turning quite green with fields of beef cattle as far as you can see. Some herds by the highway are hundreds and into the thousands with plenty of good grazing land.
Then the grass becomes much higher and the fields become mostly corn fields. There are many shiny silos at each farm. Jan counted more than 20 silos at one farm. Driving through some towns we see the cooperative grain elevators. One town had a large tank labelled Ethanol. The gas stations have a separate pump for extra percentage of ethanol( only for flex fuel cars).
Also noted on I-90. Very little traffic. And after a number of miles, we both realized that we were not seeing any trailer truck traffic. No Trailer Trucks!! Not sure why. Must just not be a preferred route.
Entering Minnesota and heading north towards Itasca State Park we note that the farms are becoming smaller and the hills rolling and closer together. By the time we reach the park, the landscape looks much like northern Maine.
Always happy to stay at state parks. We do note, however, that Minnesota and others seem to charge a camping fee in the $20 range and then add on a day use fee of $3 to $6 dollars. Out of staters do not get discounts.
We usually opt for dry camping sites. They are quieter and most often larger than the electric sites.
Above and to the right are pictures from Camden State Park in Minnesota. Some nice trails were found and good sized campsites.
Another example from the Civilian Conservation Corps. President Roosevelt in the 1930's created the Corps to put men to work who had lost jobs to the Depression. We have seen many strong, sturdy state park buildings and walls all across the U.S. still being used today. Not only long lasting , but very pleasing to the eye and fitting to the outdoor feel of the parks.
Another nice site, this time in Sibley State Park.
Without hookups, we are in a very quiet section. The electric sites here were very close together.
Hard to get road pictures while moving. On this road there was no break down lane or turnout, so moving pictures it was.
This was a typical farm from the west central part of Minnesota. Towns were quite far apart.
So glad we headed for Itasca State Park!
Having seen the Mississippi River in New Orleans and camped beside it in West Memphis, Arkansas; we decided it was a good idea to see where the river gets its start.
Once again, we opt for a dry camping site. Very woodsy with lots of privacy.
And sure enough, there is a trail to take us to the Mississippi Headwaters.
Seems it took a while in the 1800's to determine where the river actually began.
2,552 miles of river. It's hard to imagine that this 3rd longest river in the world could find its way from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.
It manages to drop an average of 3 feet every 60 miles.
Actually, if you enlarge the picture to the left, you will see that it drops much of its elevation before it leaves Minnesota.
And there they are!!!
Jan and Bruce are wading across the great Mississippi River.
On a hot humid day, it was actually quite refreshng.
Some of you might remember this picture from the Spring of 2010. We were camping in one of our favorite campgrounds, Tom Sawyer, in West Memphis , Arkansas. The picture is out the back window of our 5th wheel trailer. We remember this stay, because we had to leave the next day . The water was rising and the river would flood. Within a week, our campsite would be under 10 feet of water. A common occurrence at the campground, but unusual for us.
This was posted at the park office.
In case some of the campers were reluctant to leave, the 31 foot level was quite firm. The campground closes!
Itasca had something for everyone. Beautiful , large swimming beach. Rental canoes and boats. And even bicycles.
Lots of trails.
Also, lots of deer flies and mosquitoes.
Itasca is the oldest state park in Minnesota. It was another good decision by forward thinking officials to save and preserve the natural spaces and woodlands for future generations.
Without their preservation, the park would have fallen to the lumber interests in the 1800's, and then to private owners.
Jan is standing in front of the oldest white pine tree in Minnesota, about 300 years old.
Sometimes, this area is referred to as the land of the tall pines.
We always like seeing the lodges at the parks.
This living room space at Douglas Lodge is looking so comfortable.
We did have a late lunch at Douglas Lodge. Two glasses of Minnesota red wine, some appetizers of fried Walleye and Sweet Potato fries, and a slice of Blueberry Pie A La Mode.
Besides the Walleyes, Minnesota is also known for blueberries.
It is also know for its state flower, the Ladyslipper.
Looks quite different from those we have in Massachusetts.
Minnesota is also the land of 10,000 lakes.
We believe it. On the way to Lake Itasca, we saw lakes on both sides of the highway for miles and miles. There are so many campgrounds and resorts, we had a hard time imagining that they could all be full at any time.
In Douglas Lodge was a poster commemorating the 1991 Centennial Wagon Train. 16 days, 279 miles,40 wagons, and 200 saddle horses; the wagon train traveled from the state capitol to the Mississippi headwaters in Itasca State Park.
We liked the saying next to the picture of one of the participants.
You might not need a horse, though. Take your RV or camping equipment and visit the national parks, state parks, and national forests across the United States.
We stayed an extra day at Itasca while the rains moved through.
The plan was to head to Wisconsin, but how could we not stop at a National Forest campground on a lake.
We are doing our best to be sure we arrive on Cape Cod for family camping August 10th.
Not an easy task when we have these $7 per night spots right on a beautiful Minnesota lake!