Our New Tent ! Cabela’s Ultimate Alaknak Tent Review

Cabelas Ultimate Alaknac Tent Review (18 of 24)

 

 

This new style of tent has improved the zipper to a T style zipper, way better that the upside down U that we had before. The T style zipper is the way to go when you need to get in and out of the tent many times a day.

I liked that the poles were all on the outside of the tent, except for the main center pole.

Cabelas Ultimate Alaknac Tent Review (5 of 24)

We had a really small space to work with on our first adventure.

Cabelas Ultimate Alaknac Tent Review (6 of 24)

 

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Camping Food – Backyard Shrimp or Chicken and Rice Bundles

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The food is my favorite part of camping. The dutch oven spits out magnificent desserts, the fish we caught sizzling in a cast iron pan, the stress of planning before we leave…oh wait! I think I figured out one meal that is stress free, over the top delicious, and low calorie to boot. My mom and her family camp with us once a year in a remote camp in Northern Minnesota..read our adventures here www.thetravelingfour.com

Anyway, I can’t take credit for her recipe. She made shrimp bundles for the adults and a few chicken bundles for the kids, just in case shrimp were not on their camping pallet.

These were so good, I snatched the recipe right up! She did make the rice at home ahead of time as the recipe needs cooked brown rice, I think that is the best, otherwise you will have to boil water to put this all together.

Enjoy!

Camping Food – Backyard Shrimp or Chicken and Rice Bundles
 
Shrimp or Chicken Rice Bundles wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil, great for camping, or a backyard party. Easy and Delicious!
Cuisine: Backyard Food (Camping)

Ingredients
  • 1 lb fresh green beans or fresh asparagus spears cut into pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • ¾ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • ⅓ cup zesty Italian dressing
  • lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp Grey Poupon
  • 24 Large Shrimp – I pound or 1 can cooked chicken

Instructions
  1. Place beans in water, Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stir after 3 minutes, drain. Return beans to bowl, add cooked rice, parmesan cheese and tomatoes. Mix lightly.
  2. In another bowl, whisk dressing, lemon juice and mustard. Reserve 2 Tbsp of dressing. Add to bean mixture.
  3. Spoon onto 6 large sheets heavy duty foil. Top with shrimp or chicken and add reserved dressing. Fold foil to make 6 packets.
  4. Grill 10-12 min until shrimp is pink or chicken is hot.

 

Blueberry Picking Gunflint Trail

Blueberry Picking Gunflint Trail (32 of 43)

 Once we found the fishing was not so good, we put on long pants and went to try to find the famous wild blueberries that are so well known on the Gunflint Trail.

Normally, the blueberry season is early to mid July. But because we had such a long winter and it took forever to warm up, the blueberries were at peak when we were there.

Blueberry Picking Gunflint Trail (12 of 43)

We have never picked blueberries before. We had a quick lesson as to what the difference between a bluebell and a blueberry was. Pretty simple to see the difference.

We started off on a trail that looked rocky and a little overgrown. That way we knew that they would not be picked over. I was a little leery of snakes, due to the fact that your hands were close to the ground and the bushes are great hiding places for them but I never did see any.

Blueberry Picking Gunflint Trail (2 of 43)

These were all public trails, but of course we went off the beaten path.

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I mean really off…Geneva got stuck on a log.

Blueberry Picking Gunflint Trail (8 of 43)

 

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Look at those blue beauties!

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This was enough for the day, we used these for pancakes and pies!

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We even ended up with Blueberry butt!

Then a nice campfire…and clean out the leaves!

Blueberry Picking Gunflint Trail (42 of 43)

Bridal Falls Hike Gunflint Lake, MN

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (31 of 51)

Perhaps one of the things that us Minnesotan’s forget is that there is such beauty in our own state. Things you would not know existed unless you walked a little bit deeper into the woods, or a little out of the way of the beaten path.

We found one of these magical places was close to our campground at Gunflint Pines. There is no sign from the lake entrance, just a few paths that all turn into the main trail to this beautiful waterfall. We asked the owners of the resort to point us in the right direction.

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (51 of 51)

It starts here. You just pull your boat up and park it. This was actually the end of our hike, can you see the dirt? There was a lonely kayak when we pulled in. We never did see the people on the trail or at the waterfall.

The hike was very muddy. Sturdy shoes are needed. Bug spray is needed. A willingness to get dirty is needed.

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (2 of 51)

I headed up the back, just to make sure everyone cleared the puddles.

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (5 of 51)

It felt like a tropical sauna. Frizzy hair, wet clothes…

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (4 of 51)

Tons of fresh raspberries waiting to be picked. I was a little nervous we would be sharing the raspberries with a bear eating lunch. But we never did see one.

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (13 of 51)

After about a 20 minute hike, we came around the corner and found this! A HUGE waterfall that is hidden deep in the woods. Unbelievable.

The rocks were wet and slippery. But we climbed up and were able to take a quick picture.

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (11 of 51)

Then I suggested that someone stand under it, just like in the movies. I offered to stay with Geneva, who did not like the slippery rocks. Georgia and Randy were the brave one’s. Took off as many clothes as they could and went in.

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (39 of 51)

I think the pressure of the water was more than they bargained for.

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (45 of 51)

Overall, I would strongly recommend hiking this trail and visiting this wonderful hidden treasure.

It is free, just a little legwork to get there. Gunflint Lake has a National Forest Service boat landing that works for those wanting a 1/2 day adventure that are not staying on the lake.

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (23 of 51)

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (24 of 51)

Bridal Falls Gunflint Lake Boundary Waters (8 of 51)

Check out our other posts on this vacation:

* Gunflint Pines Resort and Campground
* Blueberry Picking
* Bear Head Lake State Park
* Sudan Underground Mine

 

Gunflint Pines Resort & Campground- Gunflint Trail Minnesota

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Were back from a 8 day fun filled NORTHWOODS (and I mean really north) adventure. Our backyard in Minnesota has so many gems that are unknown, even to us folks that live in this beautiful state. The resort that is featured here is Gunflint Pines Resort and Campground.

At the beginning of the year, we marked a really big x on the first week of August in our calendars. No plans could be made over these days. We did not have any particular place in mind at that point. About two months ago, after really busy soccer seasons, I realized I had not much planned for this week except for 4 days at a campground by Ely, MN. Suspense, that is the next post:)

So, I have always wanted to try camping on the Gunflint trail. A 60 mile road that loops through the woods and some private ground, but mostly protected by the boundary waters. I spent a few hours on the internet and found this family ran resort and campground, which I like over the commercial properties.

Campgrounds are hard to find here, there are so many beautiful lodges and these lodges have turned away from campers due.  I spent some time wondering why because there are so many great spots. It seems that the big animals scare some away- see the bear that we caught on camera in the tree close to our campground…

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 Yes, I took that picture with my own eyes and since I was in shock that we were so close, I have only two pictures!

This resort is located on Gunflint Lake- we chose this one because we have a large motor on our boat and we were not allowed on some of the other lakes due to conservation and lots of ROCKS in the water. Some lakes in this area are canoe and kayak only. FYI – Check this before booking.

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So, 45 miles up the trail we went to Gunflint Lake.  Gunflint Lake is a boundary lake with Canada, so you have to be careful that you do not cross the border. Fill up first, there is one gas station about half way up and you will get sticker shock. The trail starts in Grand Marais, MN. Another beautiful town on Lake Superior.

It is paved:

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This resort has about 20 campsites and 5 A- frame and some larger cabins for rent. There are about half of the sites that have lake access. They are very nice, but the spots are small and the banks are steep. Here is a picture of ours.

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See the drop off? I just about killed myself catching a coffee cup that rolled off of the table!

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My little helper, she just wanted to go swimming!
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This is our brand new tent, the other one started leaking so we have a nice review of this Cabela’s outfitter tent coming up soon.

Here is the nice organized inside, we have not slept in this yet.
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We also have a nice new ax.

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The resort offers grill grates for open cooking over a fire. We had to take advantage of this. We just happened to bring steaks along.

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The marina is beautiful. We spent lots of time canoeing and kayaking from here. If you are camping the cost to use these items is $8.00 per day. I thought I heard the cabin rentals include this. We also used it to swim a little bit, as the rocks off our beach were huge. Randy had a tough time walking..hehe!

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I should mention they also have a sauna. If you are there on a Saturday evening at 8:00, they host a smores bar. Can I just say YUM?

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The lake is so pretty at sunset.

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I had one disappointment. The lake was very deep, up to 200 feet. We tried really hard to catch a fish, any species and did not even get a bite. It was very disappointing for the kids, who love to fish. The owners tried to point us in the right direction, but that did not work either:)

So, instead we went blueberry picking. They just happened to be in season. More on that in the next post:) lots of sweat included with that. We also hiked to Bridal Falls. I will link to this when posted.

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All in all, we enjoyed the gunflint lake area. It is very unique and something one should do sometime in their lifetime. The rates were reasonable for camping, however, they charge for kids and pets, so it was a little higher than others.

We were not offered a discount to promote this resort. We picked this solely on internet research and a desire to see the Gunflint trail.

The kids and mom loved that the resort had a ice cream bar. Umm, I think we used that a few times.

 

Lake Homes Northern Minnesota

Now that it is finally nice in Northern Minnesota, I am dreaming, just dreaming of a lake home. The lake homes seem like such a nice place. Problem is Minnesota winters are brutal and the homes are so expensive to spend just a few days there.

Here are a few of my favorites (just for fun)!

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Or how about this one:

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Contemplating contacting the owners and asking if we can rent for a week??

Progression of Little Sister Winning

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Ahh… I love it when the little one gets pinned, then gets back at her sister! I happened to just be sitting on the deck, enjoying a new book, when my nice evening was interrupted with shouts, screams and MOM!!!

I just let them fight it out…not sure if that is wrong or right…

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Here come the strong legs..

 

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She’s up with the pug rooting her on in the background and grass stains on the back.

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Oh now they are friends after I had to warn them that they are the only kids on our block and the neighbors might not appreciate them screaming at the top of their lungs..UGG

I am so proud of her…youth firearm safety

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Our 11 year old is sure enjoying her first time shooting a shotgun and rifle. In MN we get the opportunity to have lots of hunting opportunities and youth firearm safety is a very important part of that. We took the opportunity of a nice day to get some target practice.

I think not having bad habits sure makes a difference. She hit the target about 95 percent of the time. Better than her seasoned ma!

Oh, check out the Dad! He just had one gun jam he had to help with..hehe

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Love it!

Rafting the Grand Canyon with Colorado River Discovery Page, AZ

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One of the things I really wanted to go when we visited the Grand Canyon was raft down the Colorado river. We had done some whitewater rafting a few years ago in Yellowstone and loved it. The only raft trips down the Colorado that are not week long trips depart from Page, AZ, where the famous horseshoe bend is located. We booked a 1/2 day smooth water rafting trip. This is the website Colorado River Discovery.

It was a really long drive from the south side of the park. The road had buckled on the normal route, so the detour was through the Indian reservation. It was a drive that did not offer much scenery and was a lot of red dirt.

The rafting trip left from the Glen Canyon dam, a homeland security sight, so all items had to be in clear plastic bags and no weapons are allowed of any kind. You travel by bus through this tunnel (blasted out canyon)

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Then when you get to the bottom of the canyon, you have to don the cute hardhats and take the walkway to the boat:

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Next up is the boats. Very comfortable. Can seat 20- we were there in early season, so there were 10 on our boat.

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We then moved into the middle of the Colorado. The water is a constant 45 degrees, negative for swimming this time of year, but in the summer, it is welcomed.

We saw a few birds, lots of ducks and a few egrets.

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We floated down the river a few miles, then stopped at a sandbar that was home to some eco bathrooms and lots of cool desert cactuses.

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There are snakes down here (ick) but it was too cold for them to be out. Thank Goodness. We ate our lunch that we picked up at the grocery store to save on meal costs on this sandbar.

Our guide was fantastic. He showed us these ancient petroglyphs that are very old. They are very interesting, Indians used to actually scale the canyon to get fresh water.

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And now for my very favorite part! This is a dinosaur track that was in the limestone. Archiologists estimate that this is over 3 million years old

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Do you see it?

Overall, the rafting trip was excellent. The kids got a little squirrely and it was a little more expensive that I wanted to spend. But, it was an experience that we will not forget.

With kids, I would not recommend the full day trip. It is a very confined space and not exciting enough to hold interest. Our half day trip was the best option.

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