Wednesday, July 18, 2018

National Parks: Voyageurs

Voyageurs National Park was the 2nd time I ever camped. We didn't have much of a system down yet, but we had a tent and a government provided bear locker. What more do you need? Well to camp Lake Kabetogama in Voyagers you also need a boat.

Some National Parks are starting to implement a reservation system, but the vast majority of sites in all the parks are first come first serve. We got to the lake, checked in at the rangers station, loaded the boat with all our gear and launched. We spent a good deal of time on the water enjoying the ride and looking for an open spot. Even though many of the sites were already full, the lake is big and you will feel pretty isolated.

After several attempts we found an island that was unoccupied by human or bear. Yes, we did see a black bear at one open site, but I was too slow with the camera and we decided to let him/her have it.

We eventually found a rocky site with a tent pad that over looked the lake. The sun was shining so we left the rain fly off. We did have a bit of dew in the morning, but looking up at the stars every time I rolled over was worth it! We didn't get to see any Northern Lights, but if you are planning a visit here be sure to check the Aurora Forecast since it's common to see them this far North.

Having already seen a bear we gladly stowed all our food in the bear locker. Did you know that you should also put your toothpaste, soap and other toiletries that have an odor in there as well?

This trip we got a lot of "I'm bored" from the kids. so we taught them how to skip rocks, and to look for small animals along the shore. Look at this cute little guy.

I now have a well stocked camping equipment tote, and the kids have learned how to have fun exploring nature. I'm glad I didn't give up after the first few times. 

There are plenty of busy commercial campgrounds with tons of fun kid activities. Those book fast and usually cost a bit more, learning to enjoy nature has many benefits beyond the obvious cost savings.

** I may get paid for links that you click on this blog. Any posts that include free or discounted services or product in exchange for reviewing are plainly stated within the post.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

MN State Parks: Baker

Baker Park is part of the Metro's Three River Park district and not technically a "state park". That just means it is less rustic. They offer electric and non-electric sites, large well maintained bathrooms with attached outdoor dish washing stations help to keep the campground clean.

This Campground is large with lots of camp sites.Great if you are going with a group, not very quiet if your looking for that. It gets pretty smokey in the evening when everyone gets their fires going, and all the people and a not to distant train track add to the noise level.

It is a busy park for good reason though. Miles of paved trails make it a bikers dream. You can see in the photo "biker gangs" are a common site. Don't those kids look tough?

A short walk brings you to a lake with a beach and boat launch. Along the shore there is also a large play structure with a super fun zip line.

This park books quickly. The Camper Cabins are usually gone a year in advance! That is how much fun this campground is. Our kids favorite is to build "stuff with sticks" in the woods.

** I may get paid for links that you click on this blog. Any posts that include free or discounted services or product in exchange for reviewing are plainly stated within the post.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Finding Fun Inside the Box

As you know reader, we are always looking for fun and educational things we can do with our kids. My Vet ran across a monthly subscription for Kiwi Co. a few months ago that we finally decided to try. (Thanks eerily, accurately, targeted ads.)

They offer a variety of categories for all ages of kids. We couldn't decide between Doodle, that we knew the kids would like, and Tinker that mom and dad liked. So we got both.

The first (Tinker) box arrived earlier this week. Today a crazy heatwave had us finding refuge in the air conditioning instead of playing outside, a perfect day for a box of fun.

Step by step illustrated instructions are thorough.

The box was a self contained project. The only tool that wasn't provided was a pair of scissors. (I think most of us have those around the house.) The blueprints were easy to follow. I don't think the kids thought building a circuit board was as cool as dad and I did though. They were more interested in finishing so they could use it.
That small circuit board connects the motor to the battery pack. The kit has the kids moving the wires and testing how the resisters affect the motor speed.
After the kids finished playing I sat down with the booklet so that I could better understand it as well. I have a not so secret desire to understand circuit boards better so that I can improve my Dancing Christmas Light Display. Who would have thought that this toy could help me?

My kids quickly assembled the project and then had fun playing with it. I'm glad I looked through the booklet though, because in addition to information on centripetal and centrifugal force they offered several other activities you could do using household objects like cups, balls, hangers, straws, and water. We'll get to those another day.

My 9 year old. is excited to open the next (Doodle) box, My 11 year old said she was only building it because she "had" too, and then anxiously elbowed her sister out of the way so that she could have a go at playing with it.

At about $20 a month (price varies depending on how many you purchase) it is a good value for the amount of entertainment and learning. My kids are at an age where they don't ever want anything for birthdays or Christmas. A subscription would be a great gift idea.

We paid full price, but right now you can save on your first month by use the code FLAG at checkout and pay just $9.95 for the first month.

** I may get paid for links that you click on this blog. Any posts that include free or discounted services or product in exchange for reviewing are plainly stated within the post.