Wednesday, October 8, 2008

And it Rained All Night

Turns out it's pretty hard to find a boat rental around Voyageurs National Park in October. The park is open year-round, but the visitor centers close up shop in September, so there was very little information to be had. In the frenzy of packing and moving, we didn't have time to research all of this beforehand, and felt a little like the Griswolds arriving at Wally World. Sadly, there was nary a hint of a John Candy-like character who we could force at gunpoint to give us a tour.

We ended up camping at Woodenfrog State Forest Campground, which was pretty sweet, and I'm sure about the same as camping in the actual park. It's just that it's on the shore, instead of on a tiny precious little island. We were right on the water though, we had an incredible view, and once again we had the place to ourselves.

The forecast was grim (all rain, more rain, rain forever) but we were lucky our first day there and stayed completely dry. We took a little hike on this cross-country skiing trail. When there's no hill it doesn't really feel like a "hike," but that's what the sign called it. Anyway, it was really pretty and very, very quiet.

During the summer you can rent these big houseboat things and motor slowly around the park, spending the night at various campsites. Or docks maybe. I don't know. The biggest one is about $1800/week or something and holds around ten people.

Anyway, we had a good day and evening at ol' Woodenfrog, finishing it off with some mulligan stew (that's hobo food for you non-campers) and cans of Leinenkugel.

We decided to leave the next morning because it had started raining really hard in the middle of the night. Without the ability to get into Voyageurs, and with foul weather making more exploration a little daunting, we figured we'd seen what we could of the area, and would be better off allowing ourselves more time in the West.

We drove through some interesting small towns such as Blackduck.

Minnesotans are really serious about their Halloween decorations. This one was really cool.

They also seem to like larger-than life statues. I tried to convince Emily that we should epoxy one of them to the roof of the Jeep but that was a non-starter.

The senate race between Al Franken, incumbent Norm Coleman, and independent Dean Barkley is really heated and there are signs all over the place. We heard part of their debate when we went to buy groceries in International Falls. Of course we already knew Al Franken was funny and well-spoken, etc., but the way he brings his style to running for political office is very effective. You'd have to be some kind of wonk (I guess…?) to care about some other state's Senate race. Regardless, I recommend checking it out here.

Next stop: Fargo, North Dakota.

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