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?
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
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!