Paul and I headed north of the Twin Cities on Wednesday to St. Croix St. Park, located fifteen miles east of Hinkley, Minnesota.
St. Croix is the largest state park in the state, with over 34,000 acres and two great rivers: the Saint Croix River, a National Scenic Riverway, and the Kettle River, a State Wild and Scenic River. The park has miles of trails for hikers, horseback riders, bicyclists, snowmobilers, and cross-country skiers. Campers can reserve drive-in, walk-in, backpack, and horseback campsites.
We set up our campsite
and after exploring the campground and surrounding area on our bikes, we made dinner.
As the sun set, migrating sandhill cranes
flew into the surrounding marshes for the night. We would look forward to this sight each evening
as we prepared our dinner.
We spent the better part of Thursday and Saturday enjoying the paved trails
and paved roads within the park on our bikes.
On Friday morning, we woke to rain. It felt like a
so we brought out
and spent the morning locked in a game.
We played quite evenly until Paul had a 52 point turn and left me in the dust. I was an amazingly good sport, I thought. I didn’t even make him play until I won (note how I have evolved, Kent.)
In 1934, 18,000 acres of St. Croix area (poor) farmland was purchased, and in 1935, became the St. Croix Recreational Demonstration Area.
A major CCC camp was set up on this site, housing over 200 men. Under the direction of the National Park Service, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), set out to transform these lands into group camps, roads, and campgrounds, with all the necessary buildings and structures. The initial installment of recruits arrived by train to nearby Hinkley from North Dakota. These young men were given a salary of $30 a month with $25 of that amount sent home to their families, taking them off the relief roles of the U.S. government. Given the 25% unemployment rate in the country at that time, it was a welcome job for these young men. They remained for at least two years in the camp. Most of their efforts remain in use today, with many of the buildings and structures listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Interpretive signs throughout the former CCC campsite describe the lives and work of the CCC's in the St. Croix RDA, which in 1943, became St. Croix State Park. We enjoyed our break from the bike trail as we viewed this interesting site.
There were just so many beautiful sites we discovered as we explored the park.
Whether by bike or car or hiking trail, we thoroughly enjoyed every view.
We saw lots of deer on our hikes, as well as numerous ruffed grouse,
several bald eagles,
and even one black bear!
This park has extensive horse trails. In fact there is a campground designated just for horse campers. We drove through this area and discovered an entire cross section of campers we have never experienced. People actually share a camper with their horses. Literally, they sleep in the front of the trailer and the horse has a stall in the back.
To each his/her own. One must get used to the smell, that’s all I can say.
On July 11th, 2008, straight-line winds affected more than 420 acres of forests in Saint Croix State Park.
As a result of this blowdown, a major forest restoration has begun to eventually restore the overall quality of the pine barrens and oak savannas in the park. The transition will occur over several years and involves logging, prescribed burning and exotic species control. Despite the severe damage to the forest, it was still a beautiful sight.
This has been an incredible six weeks for Paul and me.
We are aware we have been fortunate to have this extended amount of time relatively care free. This feeling, however, does not come naturally to us.
And, we also know our economics is a house of cards.
We are grateful we have had the ability to get out and enjoy the fall. Who knows what the next few weeks will bring?
We hope to travel to Florida in January, but have put our plans on hold for now.
As we put our camper away for the cold months, we plan two more short trips without it. We head out with Jayne and Tom on Wednesday to Fountain City, Wisconsin for two days and then will head up to the Red River Valley to visit the Rantanen’s and then head to Fargo to see our nephew, Jeffrey, play football for Fargo North.
We will keep you posted!