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Published: July 24th 2018
Camden State Park, Lynd, Minnesota
We broke camp yesterday morning and drove around 380 miles southwest to this State Park in southwestern Minnesota. Our original plan had us spending a couple nights in St. Cloud, but we canceled that stop to add time to our Voyageurs stay. We both think that was a good idea, although it would have been better if we could have been at a better campground - we aren’t very happy with Arnold’s and Joan gave it a pretty poor review. But you don’t know these things when you make early reservations, and there really weren’t too many options available up here anyway.
We are now done with Voyageurs and although it was a long drive, we managed it OK. We picked up US 71 right in International Falls and just followed it all the way down through the middle of Minnesota until we got to Willmar. There we picked up MN 23 and took it southwesterly past Marshall and Lynd to the State Park. Interestingly, we stayed at this park before, four years ago when returning from my college reunion. After leaving here, we headed west to the Black Hills area of South Dakota and it was there, at the Badlands, that Joan got her first taste of what a National Park experience could be like. Shortly after that, we developed the bucket list and our traveling adventures began in earnest.
One of the ways we managed to travel so many miles yesterday was that we got out early - all of 8:30, which is nearly two hours earlier than normal. By postponing breakfast and me not writing a travel blog, we saved quite a bit of time.
We ended up stopping for breakfast, an our or so after heading out, in Northome, Minnesota. We had to leave the road a bit, but Joan found us a restaurant, The Shining Light, that sounded good and it was just a mile off the road. This town had pretty much busted, but this woman decided to open this cafe because the town didn’t have one. She bakes fresh bread and pastries every day. My multi-grain toast was excellent but so was the western omelet and hash browns it came with. Joan had sausage and eggs and hash browns. The food was terrific and the waitress and owner both talked to us about our travels - very welcoming. If near there, take advantage of the opportunity.
Much later in the day, we stopped at a local chain restaurant called Grizzly’s in Willmar - another big surprise. Their specialty is roasted chicken. I had the ‘wildfire’ half-a-chicken version which came with an interesting sauce that was kind of a combination Jerk and BBQ, served over a very rich creamy Parmesan pasta. Joan had a different version of the roast chicken and it came over cheesy hash brown potatoes. Both were very good - an unexpected treat. According to the waiter, there are a couple other Grizzly restaurants but they are all in Minnesota. Too bad - a good find.
After driving nearly 400 miles, we have definitely left the Great Lakes region. You could see the differences in the landscape as we continued our drive south. Pines and evergreens were first replaced by hardwood aspens, birch, and other eastern forest trees. Then, the forests themselves became intermittent patches. Instead, rows and rows of corn emerged - we were back into agricultural land - trees seemed to define plots of land, or surround farmhouses, but weren’t part of forests any more. We’ve left the northern arboreal forests, gone through a band of transitional temperate forests, and emerged back onto the Great Plains. That will be our eco-region for the rest of this trip.
We are headed home, of course - any direction south or west gets us closer. So we made some good headway yesterday in that direction. But we aren’t quite done with the sightseeing yet - Minnesota has one more park on my bucket list and, after a down day today, we will be going there tomorrow. The trip is not over yet.
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