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Discovering Serenity Across Minnesota

Life has a way of changing our course unexpectedly. For Campinawe owners, Travis and Miriam Hardesty, their plans for a dream road trip through Canada was put on pause due to a family emergency, drawing them closer to home for their anticipated August road trip.

Their trip started off with great luck. Traveling north from Missouri, their first stop in Centralia allowed for a chance to connect with friends before making their way to Des Moines, IA to stay at Saylorville Lake. Upon arriving, they found themselves a free night stay at Bob Shetler Camper, a gift from a departing couple.

Next, a stop to Minneapolis, MN where Travis discovered his dream canoe, a Greyduck Vision 17, which also happens to be manufactured in Minnesota! The next day Travis was able to test out the canoe on Lake Nakomis and felt that it paddled really well, and satisfied his desire for a lighter, more stable boat.

Keeping things moving, by their third day, they were well on their move to Carlos Lake State Park, just north of Alexandria, MN. This state park offers a lot of great hiking trails and lakes to paddle, which is exactly what the Hardesty’s set out to do on this trip.

Their first real leg of the trip took them 8.3 miles, which covered five to six different lakes that all offer easy access - which means no portaging! This day of paddling offered low winds and lovely weather in the mid-80s.

By the fifth day, it was time to get out and explore hiking trails. Still at Lake Carlos, the Hardesty’s had a great 4.5-mile hike and worked up an appetite for a local restaurant, Zorbaz. At this point, the couple was enjoying their time and decided rather than continue driving long distances, they would finish out the remainder of their trip in Minnesota.

This is what makes the Campinawe a perfect trip companion. With the comforts of home easily towable to wherever the Hardesty’s want to go, they could make quick adjustments to their trip without causing a headache. Instead, they took a couple of days at Lake Carlos to have fun planning where to head off to next, and work in a few more paddles on the lake.

Their next destination was Scenic State Park, however before they arrived Travis discovered that Lake Itasca was on their way. This lake is special because it’s the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi river, which leaves Lake Itasca and flows north before making its way east and south to New Orleans. The couple’s 5.6-mile paddle was beautiful and well worth the sore arms and backs the next day

Part of any road trip is experiencing something new. For the Hardesty’s, that was catching a glimpse of the northern lights! The timing was perfect, for early September is the beginning of the northern lights season in Minnesota.

Finally arriving at Scenic Lake State Park, they found a lovely picnic area on Sandwick Lake where they were able to tune in via Zoom to a Church session, overlooking beautiful views. This offered a great start to a much-needed rest after six full days of hiking and paddling. That said, it didn’t stop the Hardesty’s from going out on a smooth sunset paddle on Sandwick Lake that evening.

As we near the end of the Hardesty’s road trip, Travis and Miriam made their next stop to Fall Lake campground in Ely, Minnesota, which is on the edge of the Boundary Water Canoe Area. After a day of paddling, the weather had different plans. The rainy day offered an opportunity to go “on the grid” and travel into downtown Ely and check out their local restaurants and shops.

Over the few days at Fall Lake Campground, the Hardesty’s found scenic vistas but also unexpected camaraderie, which is always a welcome surprise on a road trip! Meeting a fellow paddler, an 80-year old retired professor from Washington State University, they chatted while he showed Travis and Miriam the way around Lake 1, which travels around a large island with three short portages. 

Lake Hegeman was the next lake to paddle where along the way they got to see pictographs and enjoy the beautiful sunny day. This was a perfect last experience at this stop before heading to the north shore of Lake Superior to camp in Superior National forest.

The Hardesty’s return journey was marked by more scenic points from Lake Superior, back to Saylorville Lake in Des Moines before finally reaching home.

“This was a great trip, it was good for us to be away for a couple of weeks to relax and rejuvenate,” Miriam shared.

For us here at Campinawe, this is exactly what it’s all about.  Discovering new sights, creating new memories and having the freedom to go where you want to go, and camp how you want to camp.

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