Outdoor Recreation, Social Distancing and…Ticks! | Pokegama Lake, Minnesota

Hello friends, me again. The one who took many social-distance-friendly trips this summer and is just now sitting down to share them with you. Join me as we travel back in time…

Memorial Day Weekend last year, I took my first camping trip of the season to Big Myre Island State Park in Albert Lea, Minnesota but with campgrounds (and basically everything else) still closed or restricted over MDW this year, we altered our approach and booked an Airbnb cabin on Pokegama Lake in northern Minnesota.


Pokegama Lake

Pokegama Lake is located in Itasca County, Minnesota and is 6,710 acres and 112 feet deep. It’s popular for fishing and boating and there are quite a few resorts and rentals in the area for summer tourists. I can’t say I would recommend the cabins we stayed in so I’m not going to link to them but we did have everything we needed, a picnic table, fire pit, bed, shower…..and a mouse.

We recently purchased fishing poles and fished from shore at a couple spots on the lake. I’m in the process of teaching my boyfriend how to fish (hell yeah for breaking traditional gender roles!) We had quite a bit of success, catching lots of bass, bluegill and pike. But watching a grown man try to bait his hook with a leach for the first time was my true reward.


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Just down the road from the lake is the town of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. We drove into town a few times to sample the local cuisine and do our part to stimulate the local economy. ;) My favorites were the incredible pizza from Sammy’s Pizza and pasties from Pasties Plus.

Joyce Estate is located on Trout Lake

Joyce Estates

On the recommendation of one of the locals, we drove into Chippewa National Forest to hike to Joyce Estate. Joyce Estate was one of the “most expensive, extravagant resort estates in northern Minnesota” and a summer destination for wealthy Chicagoans built from 1917-1935 and used until 1972. There were cabins for the guests and caretakers, a garden and greenhouse, and a recreation area that included a volleyball court, tennis court, trap house for skeet, 9-hole golf course and apparently no WiFi (we checked).

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The hiking path hugs the shoreline of Trout Lake was well maintained. Of course, most of the buildings no longer exist today but a few have been restored and maintained by the Chippewa Nation Forest. It was a fun area to explore and imagine what it once was.



The Year of the Tick

I have to dedicate a section of this post to ticks. My least favorite bug on the planet. I even hate them more than centipedes. And I really hate centipedes.

Let’s time travel back a little further to last year. 2019 was my first summer in Minnesota. I’ve lived in the midwest my whole life and I always keep my dog Audi on a flea and tick preventative but apparently not all preventatives are created equal!

Last year, after Memorial Day weekend at Big Myre State Park, we found lots and lots of ticks on Audi. It was a few days after we got home that I started to notice them. This was my first encounter with ticks and I was horrified and upset (Audi did not seem to mind her little stowaways as long as I was attending to her belly rubs).

After taking Audi to the vet to get checked out, my vet informed me that she should be on a flea and tick preventative that covers a wider range of ticks. Frustrating to learn that some tick preventatives don’t do that. So I’ve had her on a combination of Heartgardand Nexgard ever since.

Fast forward to this year. Health and insect experts are calling 2020 a perfect storm for a tick population explosion. I’ll refer you to this article on PestWorld.org that explains how and why we are seeing such a high tick population as well as tips on how to prevent tick bites. I urge you to check it out, especially if you live in the Upper Midwest and own a dog!

We found so many ticks on Audi after our hike at Joyce Estates. I even had a son of a b*!$# hitchhiking a ride under my hat! I was able to take most of them off but I did notice a couple purple welts on Audi’s belly where she was bitten. So far we’ve been extremely lucky and she hasn’t gotten any illnesses but let this be your warning – always, always, always check your animals and yourselves for ticks after you’ve been in the Minnesota wilderness.

This has been your tick PSA.




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