Over the weekend, we headed up nort’ with some friends. Given my lack of enthusiasm for camping, it might surprise you to know that we went camping in Itasca State Park. I have to admit, it was lovely. Really lovely. The first night was a little on the chilly side, but the majority of the family had very warm sleeping bags and no complaints (thanks, Anna). It seems the effort of getting long underwear and wool socks for the kids was not a waste. (Frankly, given the estimated price of heating this winter and the resulting low temps set on our thermostat, the kids will definitely get more use out of those!)

For our city kids, it was a weekend filled with wonder. The stars alone made the trip worth it. The kids were trying to count the stars and quickly gave up. They looked for constellations and made up a few of their own. I think Joshua’s involved a rocket ship coming from Orion’s belt.

Lizzie’s internal clock, which is set ridiculously early, gave her (and Brad) the privilege of witnessing the mist on the lake at sunrise.

We heard owls at night. We saw and heard loons in the morning. We saw trumpeter swans. Sarah broke the quiet sunrise moment by proclaiming, “DUCKY! WATER!”

We climbed to the top of the Aiton Heights Fire Tower and enjoyed an amazing view. How often do you get to see fall foliage from 100 feet up? I wasn’t sure if I could stomach the trip to the top, or more accurately the trip down, but the view was worth all 100 feet. Brad took Sarah up with him and she was pretty excited. Joshua managed to go twice (no wonder he slept so well).

We also went to the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. As a native of Memphis, I was blown away by the fact that Old Man River starts out so small. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to go across since I was busy trying to keep Sarah out of the water. Once again, Joshua managed to go across twice (that kid is nothing if not enthusiastic).

I almost forgot to mention the apple and pear crisp cooked in a cast iron dutch oven on the camp fire. Oh my, it was yummy!

Good friends, good food, and a gorgeous setting. I guess camping isn’t so bad, after all.