If you told me 5 years ago that I would love camping, I would have laughed! I grew up in a huge city and always thought of myself as a city girl. However, since graduating college, getting married, and embracing intuitive living, I've discovered how much I love getting out of cities and being in nature. Every time I go camping or hiking, I feel stress melt away and I feel happy and present. I think this is why I dream of either living in a camper van or tiny house for a time. I cannot believe I'm saying that, haha!
My first camping trip ever was the summer after I graduated college. I went with a couple friends and even though I had no idea what I was doing, I had a blast. I didn't go camping again until probably 5 years later after I got married. But in the in between time, Blake and I made several trips along the North Shore of Minnesota (or Up North as we call it), including our honeymoon, and it has become one of my favorite places in the world. Lake Superior, the evergreen trees, the culture, and the reverence for nature, make my heart sing!
Blake and I really got into camping this past fall. After living in Philadelphia, we missed the North Shore and being in nature, I went camping 3 times this fall! I can now say I'm officially hooked! It's such an inexpensive way to get away and relax. I always feel so refreshed after camping! My favorite Up North camping spots so far are Tettegouche State Park and Scenic State Park.
Recently, we filled out our camping supplies so we don't have to borrow things, and we took our first camping trip of 2020 this past weekend. I told Blake I wanted to go Up North before we moved to Madison and it just made sense to go camping for our 4th wedding anniversary! Here's a little peek into what we did, and of course what we ate because I love having fun with camp cooking!
Blake chose the state park (Temperance River State Park) and the campsite. A lot of campsite were booked out, which is pretty common for Minnesota state parks, but especially because of the current situation. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our campsite had this little shaded "cove" for our tent - I should have taken a picture, but blanked on that - And was just a hop, skip, and jump from a gorgeous overlook! I brought my coffee out there each morning to breathe and look out at Lake Superior. I just get chills thinking about how beautiful it was! Below the overlook was a little waterfall and cove where people were fishing and swimming. We definitely jumped into the water after our long hike on Saturday!
While this wasn't my all-time favorite camp site (our spot was close to the road, which you could hear, and there weren't as many trees as I'd like), it was still great! We has an awesome fire pit and the camp office sold ice and firewood. Probably the best part of this state park is its proximity to amazing hiking trails, including the Superior Hiking Trail.
WHAT WE DID AND ATE
We left the Cities Friday morning and made a stop at Target to pick up some essentials (a french press for coffee, snacks, and propane gas tanks for our cookstove) and then our traditional stop at the Dunn Bros Coffee shop in Duluth. On our latest trip to Duluth, we discovered the Duluth Coffee Company and would have gone there, but sadly they were closed.
We made it to our campsite late afternoon and pitched our tent and got everything set up and scoped out the grounds. It was warm and there were TONS of mosquitoes, and guys, North Shore mosquitoes are huge and ruthless! So, that was a little distracting, but I did find a non-toxic bug spray that did actually work really well! Check out Badger Anti-Bug Spray (affiliate link) if you need a good, non-toxic bug spray.
That first evening, we cooked dinner, ate outside in our new camping chairs, and then retreated to our tent so we could read without getting eaten alive, haha. For dinner, we had tacos. I had cooked up some taco meat ahead of time, which made dinner prep super easy. I used Mikey's cassava tortillas as my base (actually super good) and topped my tacos with cheddar, spinach, tomatoes, sautéed peppers, and hot sauce. For dessert, I had baked some brownie sunbutter cookies (recipe coming soon).
One of my favorite things about this trip was sleeping without the rain tarp on the tent! We could see the stars at night and then the sun rise in the morning. Granted, I also woke up to about 30 mosquitoes on the other side of the screen close to our heads, haha.
Saturday morning Blake made coffee, using coffee he roasts himself (love it!), and I made breakfast. One of our last camping trips we made scrambled eggs with spinach and cheddar cheese, and ever since then we've called them "camping eggs."So, we had camping eggs, fresh fruit, and a banana oat coffee cake I had made ahead of time. It was all so delicious! I swear, food tastes better when made outside.
After cleaning things up we set out on a hike that Blake had planned. We remembered our waters, sunscreen, and bug spray, but forgot a snack which was a big mistake. We hiked by some waterfalls, but then joined the Superior Hiking Trail and the going was tough, but I loved it! Blake surprised me with the destination point - Carlton Peak. The views from this peak were well worth the effort! After resting a bit and taking in the views, we hiked the 3.5 miles back to our campsite.
Needless to say, by the time we got back to camp we were very thirsty and hungry! Thankfully lunch was super easy since I'd prepared a turmeric chicken salad ahead of time which we paired with veggies and crackers. Sufficiently hydrated and fueled, we jumped into the cove to cool off and get the sweat, dirt, sunscreen, and bug spray off our skin. And since the bugs were bad, we drove to Grand Marais for the afternoon and sat on a rooftop deck with drinks (white wine for me) and a bag of potato chips because I needed more salt and carbs after our hike. It was a perfect afternoon.
For dinner that night, we grilled chicken brats over the fire and I made fried potatoes and veggies to go along with it. This night, we put our picnic blanket inside our tent and enjoyed dinner away from all the bugs.
Sunday morning we were worn out from our hike, so we made coffee and breakfast - similar to yesterday but boiled eggs instead of camping eggs because we ran out of cooking oil. Then we set up our camping chairs in our tent and read for a couple hours. I feel kind of lame hanging out in the tent, but to be honest it was so lovely! We had a beautiful breeze and didn't have to worry about bugs. Side note: I love our tent! I probably said this ten times on our trip because I love it so much! It's actually an 8-person tent that we were given for free. I never would have thought about getting an 8-person tent, but it's been perfect because we can invite friends to camp with us and it gives us plenty of room to hang out in in we need to.
We left camp around noon, and stopped for lunch at another park on the way home. I loved our drive home. I was so peaceful and relaxed and I enjoyed silence and looking at the beautiful scenery. Whenever we go camping, we turn our phones on airplane mode which I love. So much of my daily life is on a screen, and while I love what I do, it's nice to get a break. I find myself feeling more present and more connected with nature and others. After this trip, I have been thinking a lot about how to bring this type of presence and connection to my daily life and so far this is what I've come up with:
Turning our phones on airplane mode on Sundays and not using our computers.
Getting outside every day and going on hikes outside the Cities when we can
Not getting on my phone first thing in the morning, and instead getting back into my morning routine that includes meditation, prayer, journalling, and Bible reading.
I cannot wait for our next camping trip! Do you love camping? Where is your favorite camping spot?