A new camper!

Well, it’s official. We just sold our camper on Craig’s List, which is exactly where we bought it exactly 2 years ago. After watching our kids grow taller and taller and hiking around campgrounds seeing the options, we upgraded and pick up our new camper this week.

Farewell, Jayfeather. Thanks, really, THANKS for times we will forever remember. You helped us figure out we are a camping family. You were forgiving and patient and so comfortable.

Happy Trails to you with your new family. PS/ They say your first trip is back to the Old Barn. Lucky you!

Summer Camp World Cup

The C Crew: Caroline, Counselor "Chuckles," Cousin Allison

Cousin Camp

Our little Caroline, age 6-and-eleven-twelfths (!), just completed a week at day camp with Cousin Allison. I picked her up Friday afternoon. She looked different, standing on “stage” for the family campfire program: Very suntanned. Very dirty. Very tired. More confident. And so incredibly happy.

The girls attended Camp Tanadoona, but they may as well have been in England, New Zealand, Scotland, Columbia or Israel. Those are just some of the home countries of their international counselor staff members. “Chuckles,” above, is from South Africa. Here is the girls’ other cabin counselor, “Sticks,” from England (they all have camp names; he plays drums):

The day camp was all day, every day, with an option to stay overnight Thursday. The girls did that, of course, and they’d have stayed every night if it was an option!

Before Caroline fell asleep on the ride home, here’s what I got out of her out her camp favorites:

Allison She loved the dedicated time with her spritely cousin. We don’t live super close, but the girls have always had a neat bond, and this time surely solidified it.

The songs! Nothing like a rousing “repeat after me/do as I do” song. They performed several songs and skits for us Fri afternoon, and she’s taught her friends so we’ve had several performances a day since then.

The water trampoline

Caroline really is a fish. She’s been confident and adept in water since she was tiny, and the waterfront was a great place to play and stay cool since it was a steamy week at camp.


Hikes in the gorgeous woods yielded neat discoveries for the campers.


The week was the watershed of World Cup soccer, with the final 16 teams being determined. Amidst energetic young people from around the world, soccer permeated free time, chants, cheers and celebrations. “I learned a lot about soccer, mom,” Caroline reported.

My favorite? Camp built her confidence, independence and enthusiasm for friends, smiles, songs, outdoors–and an appreciation for our very, very big world.

“Race you up the hill, mom!”

That’s our happy camper. I missed her desperately during the days and especially Thurs evening. Her siblings also admitted to being lonesome for “the little sister and her wild story-telling.”

Overall I highly recommend summer camp. You? Your experiences?

Old Barn Resort Camping Trip

“You have to camp at The Old Barn Resort.” “You really should go to The Old Barn Resort.” We heard it from colleagues and hockey parents who also camp, so we listened. And we’re thrilled we did.

The Old Barn Resort is off GPS in the southeast corner of Minnesota, surrounded by glacier-carved bluffs and the Root River.

First impressions:

Swallows! Caroline wondered: How do they know which one is their nest?"
Ah, the things this door has seen…
The barn’s history, according to the resort’s website: In 1870, Milwaukee entrepreneur Edward Allis, founder of the Allis Chalmers Machinery Co., decided that his playboy son, Jere, should settle down. Edward purchased the land and the wheat mill. Jere farmed, ran the mill and raised Poland China hogs, then purebred Holstein cattle–which is why he built The Barn. Jere later added 20 race horses and a tack room to the barn, plus two private race tracks to the acres. Word is The Barn was a center for dances, basket socials, ball games, then winter ice skating and skiing. The socializing must have gotten out of hand because Jere and Emma were divorced in 1889, the same year his father died. Edward didn’t leave the farm to his son, but Jere and his second wife, Gladys, eventually gained control of the farm, then were forced to sell it in 1906 for a mere $15,000! Vernon Michel purchased the farm in 1988, just before the Root River State Trail (biking) opened, restoring the barn to its former glory and developing a campground. We’re thrilled he did!
Highlights of our time there:


Instead of cooking at our site this time around, we savored dinners at The Old Barn’s restaurant. Saturday afternoon, Julia and I sat at the bar and watched World Cup soccer, er, football! (We were the only ones. Everyone else was watching golf. America’s heartland, indeed.) Above is a view of Friday’s sunset through the original barn windows, which was pretty much all we saw of the big, red fireball all weekend.

Items we forgot this trip: Matt swimsuit, Mollie's leash. Nothing a WalMart stop can't cure.
Dam in nearby Lanesboro, of the most lovely towns I’ve ever seen More on this quaint village
Auntie Terri joined us Fri night and all of Saturday!


"Mom, I'm going in!"
The kids were fascinated by the Amish culture (the area is home to about 100 Amish families, who settled here starting in 1974. We saw some at the Farmer's Market, intrigued by their craftsmanship, ancient German dialect and of course different appearance. I'm envious of their simple lifestyle.
Perhaps I was a tad crabby, because Greg steered us into a winery. Terri and I sampled and shopped!
Incredible biking trails include bridges with real character and every level of biking challenge

Julia with Terri's little guy, Riley Julia with Terri’s little guy, Riley
Matt tries out his new fishing pole and gear. The area has terrific river trout fishing, plus this bass pond right in Lanesboro. Did I mention it's a lovely little town?
Cleverly hidden (REALLY hidden) is Mystery Cave State Park. We found it in time for a 1-hour tour underground. We hear Niagara cave is also impressive.

 A+ Geology Students

Turquoise Lake
Artwork at Mystery Cave Visitor's Center - we didn't see any bats as they only reside in the cave in winter.

 As we headed home, we started making plans for our next visit to the area. An Amish tour, more fishing and biking. Matt says he’ll remember (at least one of) his swimsuits. Meanwhile, we all have happy camping memories of the area around The Old Barn.

Have you visited the Lanesboro/Harmony/Preston area? Must-sees?