I didn’t have any plans heading into Memorial Day Weekend. And what do I do when I have nothing do? Camping.
You might think that camping trips take a lot of prep work and aren’t something you can pull off at the last-minute but I have a minimalist camping checklist that’s easy to throw in the trunk of my car. The only issue this time around came when I started looking for campsites on Thursday and realized that everyone else had planned their MDW camping trips well in advance. Virtually everything was booked but as I kept searching, I found one spot available at Myre-Big Island State Park in Albert Lea, Minnesota, close to the Iowa border. It was more of an RV-style camping set-up than I usually prefer but last-minute planners can’t be picky.
Myre-Big Island State Park was an easy hour and thirty minute drive straight south from Minneapolis. We arrived early in the morning on Saturday knowing that there was no one in the site the night before. We had the two-person tent set up in no time. This would be the first trip using my cozy tent with both my 6ft boyfriend Glenn and my medium-sized dog Audi. It was a tight squeeze but we all fit!
Myre-Big Island State Park is very hiker friendly. There were tons of trails to explore and some well-kept bike paths as well. This early in the year, mosquitos were not an issue but a lot of the trails were wet and muddy from the late-spring showers.
Being a holiday weekend, the campground was a little crowded and noisy so we took our first hike from the White Fox Campground out to the Big Island and found a quiet spot to set up our hammocks near the water.
The next day, we successfully toasted bagels over the fire and made coffee in my camping French press. Boiling water over a campfire is a guaranteed struggle but the coffee is much more satisfying when you make it caveman style. If cavemen had coffee.
We tried to rent a canoe from the State Park office but they were sold out for the morning. It was a little frustrating because there weren’t any canoes on the lake, people were just able to reserve them for 24 hours even if it sat at the dock most of the day. We decided to go for another hike and check back on the canoe later.
The views did not disappoint.
And Audi was having the time of her life.
A little before 3:00 p.m. we got a call from the office that a canoe was ready. We quickly gathered our “supplies” (a.k.a. beer) and headed to the boat launch.
It was a perfect day to be on the water and there were hardly any other people around. Our only company were a bunch of big white pelican-looking birds. Audi was very concerned about these “flying water squirrels” but overall did pretty well in the canoe and only made us feel like we were going overboard a couple times.
We spent our final night at the campsite toasting marshmallows, playing gin rummy and drinking wine out of my new favorite mug.
Rain was in the forecast for the next day so we packed up as much as we could and made plans to quickly throw the soon-to-be wet tent in the car. The storm hit around 4:00 a.m. and my small tent never felt more flimsy. She held strong though and kept us dry.
We drove back to Minneapolis sleepy, slightly damp and smelling of campfire. All signs of another successful camping weekend.