Baylor beckons: Camping in central MN

We left home to go home.

See, Baylor Regional Park Campground was the very first spot we ever camped as our family of 5. That was a few summers ago. We’re much better prepared campers now, but the spot still feels as familiar as home. It’s tough to get in, with only 50 sites, so I got online in February to book a prime site. The entire park is full of huge old oak trees that offered welcome shade during the steamy weekend.

Deep roots

Actually I have a family connection to the park. My mom’s family once farmed there, and the home and barn remain. I like thinking of them milking cows, growing corn and probably a huge garden, weathering the winters and beginning each spring with renewed hope.

The barn still stands (now the campground office)
Matt, Caroline, Greg, Julia and of course Mollie (I doubt my ancestors had a labradoodle on the farm back then, God help them)

Wild life

The boardwalk hike is one of the fun hikes around Baylor. The boardwalk, surrounded by cattails, attracts garter snakes, which are fun to watch. Two ponds hold “millions of froggies,” according to Caroline.

 
 
 
 

view from our campsite; our old lab Kasey dove in for a swim here and now that she's in dog heaven, I like thinking about her while I'm perched here

 

The pond above was our “backyard,” so the kids had fun finding frogs, toads, crayfish and other little friends. But the wildest life of the weekend was cousin Adam, who joined us to camp. He and his mom Janelle, my dear sis-in-law, came down from Grand Forks. Dad Curt (Greg’s brother) stayed home to keep finishing things to get their home sold before a fall move to Fargo.

Friday night, my mom, aunt and uncle came for a campfire visit. Aunt Carol and Uncle Rich live in Arizona and it was lovely to catch up and laugh with them. 

Friday night gave way to a rainy morning, which dispersed the all-night partiers with “not mom-approved language” (Matt).  I love the sound of rain on the tent canopies of our camper, and I’m always happy to find our camper has no leaks. Watching the tenters hang up everything to dry, I’m reminded what I don’t miss about more rugged camping…

Breakfast at a very exclusive restaurant

Saturday, we had the only reservations accepted at a wonderful restaurant (otherwise known as my mom’s home, just a few minutes away on the other side of Eagle Lake).

Grandma Donna and her famous buttermilk pancakes
fresh blueberries, of course
Jules, Caroline, Adam, Matty
Matt mans the grill; he's becoming an excellent cook this summer and I think he wanted to show off his skills to Grammy
Viewing Grandma's photos from her recent Alaskan Cruise

Clear skies

What a wonderful way to spend a dreary morning. As we headed back to camp, the skies cleared for a hot, humid day. We spent the afternoon at the beach, paddle-boating, fishing, swimming and just relaxing.

If summer was a person, it would look like this. Caroline, full of bug bites, sunkissed, bleached hair, sandy toes and pure joy. (apparently I was really relaxing at the beach as this is the only photo I snapped...)

Bullseye!

One of the coolest advancements in camping is the programs offered at campgrounds. Saturday evening’s feature was an Archery Session with great teachers and not many students, so our kidlets had ample opportunity to try out their bows and arrows.

Go Adam Go
Julia was really rockin' this sport
I'm going to have her meet Katniss in The Hunger Games books now, who is a master archer

Even Matt got in on the action after a killer game of croquet with Greg kept them back at our campsite

Wickets rule
At the last moment while packing on Thursday, I grabbed a long-forgotten Pottery Barn Kids croquet set and packed it. When Julia and Matt were little, we played it four hours in the backyard. It was a neat addition to the weekend. Matt still has to be green; Julia still has a left hook. To me, they are still 2 and 4, carefully planning their shots. Happy memories.
We ended the night with more croquet, critter-searching by lantern and flashlight and of course s’mores.
Sunday morning, it was time to leave home and go…home. Another lovely weekend in the great outdoors.
Camped Baylor? I’d love to hear about your camping adventures in central Minnesota.
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