Tag Archives: Itasca State Park

An up north vacation

It was more of a long weekend than a vacation but still enjoyable. A post coming soon on our summer vacation in August but for now I’m trying to catch up on posts I intended to create but didn’t. Here we go!

We spent a long weekend at the family cabin in Akeley at the end of June. Once again we timed it so that we could see Minnesota’s state flower in bloom, the Showy Lady’s Slipper, at Itasca State Park. We did a similar long weekend in 2020, the exact same weekend, but this year we missed the peak of that lovely flower due to the drought. We did about the same trip to Itasca and drove the Wilderness Drive again. It was just as lovely but this time I didn’t spot any flowers along the road like I did last year, likely because it was past peak. We stopped along the way so that I could capture the water lilies in a pond. We also stopped on our way into the park because all the views of the lakes along the way were so still that I had to get some photos of that loveliness! We hiked down to a good vantage point and here are a few of those photos, so peaceful with lovely reflections:

While at Itasca it is obligatory to check out the headwaters of the Mississippi River even though we’ve been there dozens of times. It’s still fun to see. After the morning drive we had a little lunch at Douglas Lodge, which wasn’t open last year due to the pandemic. It was so nice to eat there again!

The lady’s slippers are just down the hill from Douglas Lodge. There was something different on this year’s journey down the stairs to view the flowers: a contraption to pull water from the lake if needed. I’m including a photo of that since that’s something we’ve never seen before. I don’t know if they ever did pull water from the lake but maybe so as the drought lasted all summer and continues today as I write this.

We happened to be in Akeley for their annual festival, Paul Bunyan Days, so we walked to town to check it out. There was no festival last year due to the pandemic so this was a welcome sight this year! Akeley is the town where my mother-in-law grew up and there is a museum that contains many items that she donated. We stopped by the museum as we hadn’t been in several years. It’s always interesting and we always check out both hubby’s mother’s as well as her sister’s class graduation photos. There are a couple of walls dedicated to these graduating classes. I noticed a plaque on the wall that we also have in the cabin, the first snowmobile in Akeley. Rather, it is entitled “Akeley claims first snowmobile”. The volunteer sitting at the entrance heard us speaking about the plaque and asked how we came to have one. Turns out this woman grew up across the street from my mother-in-law and her sister and she said she inherited some of their toys as she was younger than the two sisters. So interesting!

There was another car show at Paul Bunyan days, about a half a block long across the highway from the other festival goings on. It wasn’t quite as big as Back to the 50s but still interesting and we got to choose our favorite car. I chose the oldest car, from 1930, the one with the rumble seat. I took a couple of photos of the giant Paul Bunyan statue but apparently forgot to capture the front of it. There is a photo of it at the link above for the museum and some interesting Akeley history too!

Here’s a gallery of other stuff we saw at festival including the car show.

Lastly I will close with some sunset photos from the cabin.

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Filed under Minnesota, Travel

A morning at Itasca State Park

I always try to plan a trip to the cabin while Minnesota’s state flower, the showy lady’s slipper, is blooming in northern Minnesota. I believe they’re in bloom for about two weeks around the end of June and beginning of July(more information about our state flower and a little more information ). Itasca State Park is 40 miles from the family cabin and we went there the last weekend in June seeking the lovely orchid during our three day stay at the cabin. We hoped our timing worked and it did! The blooms seemed very much at peak. Score!!

There’s a spot near Douglas Lodge within the park where there are many lady’s slippers so we always walk down the many steps then back up again just to see their loveliness. But they also grow throughout the park and we drove around the entire park searching for them. Here’s a link to the map for perspective. We did find one small group of lady’s slippers, drove right past them and then I exclaimed “there’s some!!” so we backed up and I got out to photograph them. They really blend in with the scenery so are kind of hard to spot in a moving car but I did find one patch!

No trip to Itasca is complete without visiting the headwaters of the Mississippi. Yep, the mighty Mississippi River starts in Itasca which is a huge tourist draw. My first gallery contains general park photos as well as the headwaters.

In this next gallery are the photos I took of the group of lady’s slippers that we found on the Wilderness Drive. To me, it looks like this group is further along than the blooms near Douglas Lodge.

And here are the photos from the large group of lady’s slippers down the hill from Douglas Lodge. The colors on these flowers are more vibrant than the previous gallery, wouldn’t you agree? Very curious. Maybe it has something to do with sunlight or lack thereof.

I’ll close with some sunset photos from the cabin which is the most relaxing place on earth. If you’re planning a trip to Minnesota, or if you live here, do plan a visit to this fabulous state park. There is something for everyone there.

I like that there’s still enough sun to form shadows in this one:

I think this is my favorite of the ones I took between three different nights(sans shadows):

And this is 15 minutes later than the previous photo. Look how much the colors changed in just 15 minutes:

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Filed under Gardening, Minnesota