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To “The Lake”!

July 3, 2011 by Hailey Goplen

When I first moved to the Midwest, I always heard people referring to “the lake”.

“I’m heading to the lake this weekend.”

“What lake?” I wondered. Was there a specific lake that everyone in North Dakota and Minnesota knew about? Where was it?

Not a bad campsite location.

It wasn’t too long before I realized that there wasn’t some specific lake that everyone flocked to on the weekends. Instead, it was one of the 10,000 lakes throughout Minnesota and many in North Dakota. (By the way, how were the 10,000 Minnesota lakes formed? Well, by Paul Bunyon and Babe wandering around in a snow storm of course). Why the lakes aren’t referred to by a specific name or location, I’ll never know. All I knew was that everyone seemed to go to the lake on the weekend and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. With 4th of July weekend approaching, I decided it was time to find a lake of our own.

With the original plan disrupted due to the Minnesota State Parks shutting down, we quickly re-Googled and landed on Campers Paradise at Lake Belle Taine in Nevis, Minnesota, about 20 minutes from Park Rapids, Minnesota. The drive was a short two hour drive on the Minnesota Scenic Byway through Lake Country. At first we occupied our time by playing “who can find a lake” game, but it got slightly repetitive the deeper into Lake Country we went.

Soon we arrived at our destination: a private island campground on a beautiful lake. No sooner had we unloaded the car that the swim suits were on and into the water we went. I was blown away at how clear and warm the water was. Before the Midwest, I had only really swam in rivers, oceans and pools. Lakes were new to me. It didn’t take me long to realize what all the fuss was about. Lakes are awesome. We spent our camping trip kayaking, swimming and biking. Blake even caught his first fish… ever.When I mentioned that to the friendly family that let us borrow a pole, they said, “Wow, you guys must not be from Minnesota.” Is it that obvious? We even had a chance to visit the Park Rapids’ Zorbaz and enjoy pepperoni, peanut butter and jalepeno pizza. Yum.

One of the best parts of the entire trip was the phenomenal sunsets over the lake. The neon oranges and beautiful purples seemed almost fake. At

Sunset bike ride on the causeway.

night, when the sun went down, I felt like I was back home in Maryland. There were frogs chirping and fire flies flickering and even the sticky humidity was a nice reminder of home.

Only downfall of the entire trip other then the down pour one night? The mosquitos. Holy cow Midwest, you have got some intense mosquitos. I thought people were joking when they would tell me the state bird of the ND/MN is a mosquito. Before our trip, the hippy in me decided to buy some deet-free “natural” bug spray. I figured it would be beneficial to avoid unnecessary chemicals. A few minutes camping and I knew I had made a mistake. Thank goodness we had backup: deep woods bug-spray with serious amounts of deet. Problem solved.

All in all it was a fabulous first trip to “the lake”. Happy 4th of July!


  1. Laura G. says:

    YES! Another great post Hailey! I love the part about the bug spray!

  2. […] this wasn’t the first time we had gone camping since moving to the upper Midwest, but is was the first time we had visited a state park in the […]

  3. […] I did have the opportunity last summer to go camping at one of the many lakes in Minnesota, it wasn’t quite the “lake” experience that […]

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  5. Kathy says:

    Ok,for us non-North Dakotans, what on earth is a giant tiger muskie? And should you really be swimming in a lake that might have one?

    Your concerned mother in Maryland

  6. chris says:

    The louden pizza at Zorbaz is the best! So glad you tried it and loved it! i make them at home now and can’t wait to get back to Zorbaz and enjoy the real thing again!

  7. Beth says:

    Love your blog! I grew up in Wahpeton, ND (you need to check out their zoo) and have started post-grad life in Wisconsin. People ask me all the time where my ‘accent’ comes from. Thanks for a nice reminder of home.

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  9. Katherine says:

    I went to undergrad at Bemidji State (right on the lake) and grad school in Chicago (glorious lake Michigan) and our little Patterson Lake in Dickinson, while very nice and I love the recreation area, is nothing compared to THOSE lakes. If you guys get a long weekend, head over to Duluth and go hiking and camping in that area. If the state parks ever reopen, that is…

  10. Oh … did you see the giant tiger muskie in in Nevis?

  11. Yeah … When it comes to MN mosquitos, just coat yourself in gasoline, light yourself and get it over with. In the end, you’ll have a better evening. :-)

  12. Jan Olson says:

    When I was growing up “to the lake” meant only one thing: We were heading to my uncles’ cabin at Caribou Lake outside of Duluth. My uncles owned a small cabin, but it was amazing how many family members could pack it on any given weekend. Later, my parents bought a cabin on Island Lake north of Duluth, and “to the lake” always meant a short 40 minute drive to our little piece of paradise. Fortunately for me, when I speak of “to the lake” now it refers to my 40 year home on Park Point. My life has always been blessed with the fresh waters of the Midwest.

  13. Joe says:

    Visit Seaplane City in Tavares Florida

  14. Terr says:

    The mosquitos are the worse I have ever seen and very painful. Your pictures are great and I love your blog!!
    Aunt Terri

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