Thursday, July 14, 2016

Whirlwind of City Parks

I say 'City' parks, but mean little county or town parks too.  On this trip we've found a few nice city parks with camping.  Many times they are very nice, and usually a little more off the beaten track.  Sure, not usually with some huge scenic attraction like a national park, on the other hand sometimes in a cute town to explore.

The last week or so we've hit a number of them through SD, MN, WI and MI.  Suddenly we feel like we need to make miles to get back to New York, for family reunion time, after a year away.

Near the middle of South Dakota, just about 2 miles off the big interstate, we found Lake Byre park.  A great free stop for going across SD.  A nice warm lake about 40 acres in the middle of rolling prairie, with cows grazing on the other size, and plenty of room to park anywhere.  It was really windy most of the time for the two nights we stayed.  




The lake bottom was soft mud and shallow along the edge, and I experimented with water starting the windsurfer (having the sail pull you up out of the water to start, instead of standing on the board and pulling up the sail).  I didn't get it yet, but it was good sailing.  Elliot got some pictures of me taking off and crashing once.
video
The second day there the wind shifted and was blowing broadside to the trailer.  It was strong enough and gusty, that it was repeatedly blowing out the refrigerator burner.  We put a board and a plastic bag over the lower vent door outside to block the wind.  The wind died back down in the evening again.


Another fun part of city parks are sometimes the people you meet.  At Lake Byre, there was a young couple from Ohio, traveling in a van for a while.  After dark the girl got out an LED hula hoop and practiced twirling and throwing it, it was pretty neat.  I missed getting a picture of us all laying on the bed watching the show out the window.


The next day we stopped at a down to earth county park on Lake Benton, in Minnesota.  The park has a lot of long term sites, and a dozen regular sites.  The lake here is nice, good fishing probably.  There's a beach and playground, and it's big enough to get some wind across it.  I sailed across and back in the afternoon on the windsurfer.  There was a fair bit of algae in the lake.

The side roads here and back in SD were good gravel roads, with no traffic, great for bike rides.  Usually in the morning Elliot & Annie go for a ride, and sometimes I go along.

Passing through Minnesota, we made a tradition of stopping to see the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota, again.  It was just a year ago we were here.  We were listening to the song as we drove up, blasting it out with the windows open.  I had to laugh when I realized the song predicted that we'd be back again.
In the morning we were on our way home again
But we really didn't want to leave, that was perfectly clear
I said, "Folks, I can tell you're all sad to go"
Then I winked my eye and I said, "You know, I got a funny kind of feelin'
we'll be comin' back again next year"

last year:


this year:

this year Weird Al photobombed us.



We stayed another single night at Schroeder Park, on Cedar Lake, MN.   The lake and beach was really nice, clean and clear water.  Not so much wind on the lake, and the campground was full of those two legged things, what are they called?  people?  So we just stayed one night.

We started seeing these funny looking travel trailers with odd tall square wheel wells, small vinyl double pane windows, and bay windows on the back.  It took me a little figuring to guess what these are:  We're in Minnesota, it gets real cold here.  The trailers say Ice Castle on them...  Ahah!  drive 'em out on the frozen lakes, drop the trailer down on the ice, open the floor, cut your hole, have a beer, watch the game on TV, make fish dinner in the kitchen, and use the loo too!



Next we made a two night stop in Wisconsin;  Hines Park in Park Falls, WI.  Cute little town, a little run down with the lumber and other local industry, but very nice.  Right by a little lake above a small hydro-electric plant, and a big paper mill downstream.  Great for paddling.  There is a bike path into town, where there's a nice big newer library.

And one last county park in the streak, Pioneer Trail CG just outside of Escanaba, MI.  Nice park and by a nice river, but it was pretty well packed and we just passed through.  People all over again....



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What do you think, where should we go next?