LOCATION: Near Albert Lea, Minnesota in south central part of state
CAMPGROUND: White Fox Campground in Myre-Big Island State Park. Electricity only. Central water and dump station. Nice bathrooms, but closed (more to follow). Firepit and picnic table. Level, gravel site. Sites a bit close together for a state park. Not too much shade. Way too expensive at $47/night 2 stars out of 5
WEATHER: Very hot and humid. High 93
DRIVE: 2 hours all on Interstate 90
We awoke about 5:00 with sunshine streaming in our open windows reflecting off Round Lake at the Harvest Host winery. Then we went back to sleep!
It was a stunning and cool morning. The winery’s bistro was closed (only open for dinner) and I sat on their patio next to the waterfall enjoying the scenery …..and their superb internet.
Winery and farm employees bustled around. The owner stopped by to chat with me. He told me that sometimes they have as many as 10 Harvest Host campers staying with them. Their 23 acres of grapes cannot keep up with the demand, so he told me they import grapes from California and Washington to make their wine and/or to blend it with their own grapes. In addition to the bistro and winery, they do a lot of events, especially weddings.
The drive to our next location was brief but unpleasant. Almost the entire segment of I-90 was under construction, very bumpy, and with lanes shut off.
Someone had told George about tonight’s park and the reviews on the website were glowing, so our expectations were high.
We were disappointed. This is the most expensive and least desirable campground we have experienced this trip. Can’t win them all!
First, it is way too expensive for a state park. In addition to the camping fee, we had to pay $7 for a day pass. It had been difficult to make reservations because the park had been totally closed due to Covid-19.
We got our day pass and went to our campsite. It was still occupied! Check-out time is not until 4:00, and the occupants belligerently told me that they would be there for another hour. With an hour to kill, we thought we would drive around the rest of the park. There are two separate campgrounds in the park. We went to check out the 2nd one. We entered it, only to encounter a roadblock saying the campground was closed (due to Covid-19). There was no place to turn around, so George had to back up a long way. He is really good at this; I could never do it in a million years!!
We found a place to park Joy in a picnic area and took a hike. The park has two fairly large lakes. They are very shallow – about 4 feet and grassy. Motor boats could not navigate this. There was a smell of dead fish in the air. We don’t see the allure.
In the picnic area, George headed to the restroom, only to discover they were closed….due to Covid 19, with instructions to use a pit toilet. (Why would this be more sanitary?)
An hour later, overheated from waiting out in the sun for more than an hour, we returned to our campsite and were able to set up. Oh no! There is only 30 amp hook-up, meaning that we can only run one air-conditioner.
While Joy was cooling down, I checked out the restrooms. The women’s and men’s restrooms are closed (Covid). However, there are two handicapped-accessible ones open – individual units with showers and toilets. With a lot of tenters, these two remaining stalls are quite popular!
A bit of a rant here…..We take precautions with Covid 19 and respect rules to contain the virus. BUT – how can closing one campground and keeping another one open help? I would think it would be wiser to open both campgrounds here, and spread people out….maybe only allowing every other site to be occupied? With everyone in one campground and only 2 toilet stalls available, it seems like we are cramming people together. Why close some restrooms and keep others open? End of rant.
We have great TV reception here – about 10 public TV stations, including ones from Minnesota and Iowa. We watched a good show on PBS about our national parks and their highway development.
This Facebook photo popped up today. It is from a house-sitting assignment in southern Yorkshire, England 4 years ago. The house is an “old vicarage”. The backyard is a graveyard full of tombstones from the 1700s and 1800s. It was eerily beautiful.
DINNER: Asian stir-fry. Time to finish up all the veg before a shopping trip tomorrow. Bok choy, onions, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, leftover diced pork loin all stir-fried in sesame oil with a bit of soy sauce and chili peppers. Served over some ramen noodles. Oishikata, as they say in Japan!