Aug 3, 2012

Pot Holes

Our latest adventure took us looking for pot-holes.  That just doesn't sound right, does it?  But it's true.  There is a beautiful area called Taylors Falls on the St. Croix river where the bluffs are as abundant as the rocky terrain.  And amongst this rocky terrain are the area's most famous feature, their pot-holes.  But these aren't on their roads, they're in the rocks.  Apparently, this area of Minnesota used to be covered by glaciers ions ago.  When the glaciers receded, the swirling waters left these fascinating geological features imbedded deep into the rock.  It looks as if someone took a giant drill and made a perfect circle, 10, 25, 60 feet down into the depths of these rocks.

The pictures just don't do them justice.  One pothole was so large, they built stairs going down into it so you could get a better feel.  They are amazingly smooth and perfect circles.  Most are filled with water (naturally), but some have pumps running to keep the water out so you can see how cavernous they are.  Truly a natural wonder and one I've never heard about until now.  We also made this destination our camping site for the next two nights.  No, we didn't camp in the potholes, but the state park one mile south of them.  This was our first camping trip in Minnesota. The weather was phenomenal for late July - only 80 degrees with a light breeze.

This was also our first time with a "kids only" tent and a "mommy & daddy only" tent.  It was wonderful!  Another first, we also had air mattresses.  Let me tell you, camping is such a joy now.  We actually slept and didn't wake up with bruises from the hard-packed earth.  Chloe so graciously organized all our shoes between our tents.  One big difference between camping here and down in Texas is...we didn't have to check our shoes for spiders before we slid our feet into them.  That, and there were no venomous creatures around to keep ever vigilant of where we stepped and climbed.  Speaking of climbing....we did ALOT of it!

We climbed up...

and up and up.

Only to be rewarded with views such as these:


We also climbed down after climbing up, but I was too busy holding on for dear life to take any downhill pictures.  The precipices were so tall and there were no guard-rails anywhere to be found.  So I spent alot of time leaning into the side of the cliff/hill hoping upon hope that my sheer will would keep me attached to the ground and not tumbling over the edge to an early demise.

 An example of one such cliff...from the bottom it's gorgeous, from the top, life-threatening...at least if you're me.  However, around the campfire later that afternoon, while relaxing from our miles of hiking, we were discussing what our favorite hike so far was.  I answered, "Believe it or not, the one that was the scariest, the Sandstone Bluffs Trail, was my favorite.  I guess the adrenaline hit me after the fact.  I guess if I'm not scared, we're not having an adventure."  That last sentence has since become our family tag-line for camping/hiking/adventure/thrill-seeking.  There's nothing more exhilarating than conquering your fear and having fun despite your wobbly legs and a fast-beating heart.

Speaking of campsites...this was ours.  Another funny story.  See that blue, vinyl square in the background?  Our neighbor gave us this mosquito-like net to use.  It's big.  It came with no directions and about 57 random pieces of metal poles, all with different numbers and shapes.  It was so funny to watch the boys all staring at it trying to figure out how to put it together.  Chuck even made a drawing to represent what it should look like upon completion.  Apparently, nobody except him understood the drawing given the blank looks on everyone's faces upon reviewing our new 'plan of action'.  We sat and stared at it for a long time.  We attached random pieces of poles together and attempted to put them on/around/through/under the big, blue square.  After an hour and a half and zero progress, we deduced that none of us are engineers and just don't care that much whether or not we get eaten by mosquitos.  At one point, we even thought our neighbor might be trying to play a joke on us, giving us this impossible puzzle to figure out knowing he didn't give us all the pieces.  Thankfully, the mosquitos had mercy on us.   
Another wonderful thing about our campsite was our proximity to the bathrooms.  One might think that this would be a negative point.  But oh, contraire!  These were the Taj-Mahal of bathrooms.  Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but they were spic and span, no creatures lurking under lids or behind doorways and no odors hovering around the structure.  Clean is the name of the game at this campsite.  And since we were right next door, we took full advantage of going to the clean bathroom whenever nature called.  Chloe even went in by herself!  That is huge people, huge!  And get this...we even showered there.  Never before have we felt the need to clean the camping effects from our personage.  We just stayed "woodsy"/ "natural" if you will.  There was no way I or anyone in my family were going to end up in their birthday suit in some of the bathrooms we've encountered.  Staying dirty was the best option.  But not here.  We smelled fresh and clean.  An experience I've yet to encounter while camping.  It gave me hope for future endeavors.
When we weren't hiking, we were either sitting around the camp fire reading or playing games.  The kids play hours of Yuh-gi-oh together. 

And each night ended in a competetive game of nertz.  The big challenge of this particular game was that our cards were on a sliding surface since the tent wasn't exactly sitting on flat ground.  Our cards kept sliding down towards Chloe giving the game that much more of a challenge.  Good times.

 
Lastly, one of hikes took us into the near-by town of Taylors Falls.  We passed this teeny tiny pink building that was just so adorable, I had to take a picture of it.  Once we got closer, we saw the sign announcing that it was a public library.  Well, of course we had to go in.  Our curiosity was piqued.  Plus, if there are books anywhere close by, we are there!  

Of course there was a retired, old school teacher who was the librarian.  She was so sweet to sit and talk with us and give us the history of the building and let us ohh and ahh over the gorgeous architectural features and touch the spines of books from eras gone by.  Come to find out, we were in the oldest library in Minnesota.  It has been operating as a library for over 100 years.  

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, as did our mini vacation.  Out of no-where on our last night, at around 1am it started raining.  We waited it out in the car for about an hour thinking it was going to be a nasty storm.  Of course the nasty storm never materialized and we woke everyone up for nothing.  So, we all sleep-walked back to our respective tents only to hear the pitter patter of rain drops on the tent roof and walls all night long.  Air mattress or not, that was not a good night of sleep.  We were packed out and driving away from our weekend of fun by 8am the next morning. 





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