BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
March 24 2023
Entry Point 23 - Mudro Lake
Number of Permits per Day: 5
Elevation: 1166 feet
On the Water- Monday July 20th-
On the water late considering how far we need to go today. Up the Horse river to the falls by 6pm. Started raining and NO campsites available. Mudrow-Alruss-Tin can Mike-Horse Lake-Horse River-Basswood. 13 miles by water. (not counting portages)
Tuesday July 21st-
Rain all night, all morning and all day. Went north by petroglyphs, table rock and the the Crocked Lake Narrows across Thursday bay to campsite. Basswood-Crooked Lake-Wednesday Bay-Thursday Bay. 11 miles in the rain.
Wednesday July 22nd-
Up early and calm winds to take advantage of, considering the big water we have to cross. Found beaver dam to lift over and did a portage from hell between Pandos lake and Chippewa Lake. VERY steep and slippery after rain. Many mud holes. Then the mile portage after Wagosh Lake to Gun Lake. Never saw another soul in a canoe or campsite the entire day! Thursday bay-Friday Bay-Pandos Lake-Chippewa Lake-Wagosh lake-Gun Lake. 11 miles by water.
Thursday July 23rd-
Finally had a dry night. got everything dry!!! A few portages today to Fourtown Lake campsite. Easy day by comparison. Gun Lake-Fairy Lake-Boot Lake-Fourtown Lake. 6 miles. Put the long miles at the first of the week for a buffer for contingencies!
Friday July 24th-
Last day. Stormed last night bad. A few portages today with one bad one between Fourtown Lake and Mudrow lake. To entry point by 1pm. Ready for a hot shower! 4 miles
45 miles by water
13 miles by portage (3 trips each)
58 miles total.
Mudro Lake on Labor Day- First Time in BWCA
September 01, 2012
Number of Days:
Originally I thought that we would just buy all of the gear and rent a canoe. However, to make sure we did everything right the first time, I decided to use an outfitter. This would give us a good start to know what we would need on a future trip. I think it was June when I finally booked my trip through Cliff Wold's. For the longest time I thought it was Cliff's World but it wasn't until I got an email from them which I thought they misspelled their name when I finally realized I was calling it by the wrong name. While using an outfitter would take a lot of the planning out of the trip, I continued to plan as if I was doing it all on my own. At least once a week I would also check the permit availability to see how many of the 6 daily permits were booked. Throughout the summer I would get excited to go and then lose interest in wondering if everything would go as planned and that we would have a good time. A few weeks before the scheduled trip, I got the menu and final trip details worked out with the outfitter. It was time to go.
We ended up driving the new 1997 Ford Explorer that I bought so that we would have plenty of room for our gear and also have the flexibility to get to and from our entry point. What better thing could you do with a vehicle you just purchased two weeks before than drive it 800 miles to Minnesota and hope you didn't buy a lemon. It would take more gas than the corvette but we wanted the option to be able to stay an extra day and if we had a scheduled pickup time, we wouldn't be able to do so. This would be the first time since my original annual trip 6 years ago that we wouldn't drive the corvette.
We ate at McDonalds in Stuart, Iowa if I remember correctly and headed on our way. As we pulled up behind a car in the parking lot, I had to humor myself. The car had a sticker on it of the local dealership where it had been purchased. I acted like I knew what I was talking about and told dad, ?This is the town where so and so Chevrolet is located.? Dad looked at me like he didn't know how I could know some small town dealership in Iowa. I drove all the way to Ely but we stopped in Minneapolis around 8 that night to stay. On the way up, dad was calling the motels to see how much they would be. After about 20 calls, we found that the Motel 6 in Minneapolis was the cheapest at around $75. Many others were either too high or full because of the Labor Day weekend and state fair. I would have loved to be at the Kiss and Motley Crue concert that was at the fair that previous Wednesday.
Even though we had GPS, dad had me turn off on the wrong street and we were in downtown St. Paul. It didn't take too long and we were back on the correct road. When we got close to the motel, I told dad that the area looked very familiar. When we saw the McCarthy Ford dealership, we knew that we were headed to the same motel that we stayed in last year.
Since we didn't eat much the day before, we decided to go to a breakfast buffet. The Country Buffet was near the motel so we ate there. Once again I remembered this place as one we had ate at a couple times 6 years ago. Dad couldn't remember it at first but once we got in the building, he started to recognize things. The breakfast was $9 but was very good. Nothing beats a good breakfast. I had an omelet, fruit, sausage, bacon, orange juice and a bunch of other food. I was full but couldn't keep up with all the other fat people that were there eating. That's one thing I hate about buffets, the constant reminder of what you will look like if you continue to eat there. From there we headed up the road straight to Ely. Along the way we stopped at a really neat rest area that was almost like a campground. We took a different way to Ely this year instead of going to Duluth and up the Lake Superior highway like we did last year. The new way was a little shorter and passed by towns we went through on our way home last year. We went by the Quad Cities of Soudan, Tower and past Lake Vermillion. This way wasn't as secluded as last year when we took Highway 1 and were practically the only ones on the road.
We arrived in Ely at around 2 with plenty of time left to do some things since I had told the outfitter that we would be there around 4. We decided to go to the Dorothy Molter museum on the east side of town. I read the book about her but it was still interesting but probably not worth the $6 admission since I had read the book. Dorothy was the last person to live in the BWCA and lived there for about 50 years. One interesting thing I learned was that on the 30 mile stretch from Ely to Knife Lake where she lived, there were forty resorts. The BWCA must have really been a busy area before the government bought everyone out and made it a wilderness. The museum consisted of a small welcome center where you listen to a short video about Dorothy and a woman who actually knew Dorothy tells you a little bit about her. From there you go to Dorothy's two cabins which were moved to town. They were cozy cabins filled with many of her personal belongings. It was like stepping back in time and was pretty cool from a nostalgic point of view. The wood stove was even there which Dorothy died beside when she was 77 or around that age. It was said that the people who came to check up on her knew that she had died because they didn't see any see any smoke coming out of the chimney. She died in 1987. The tour took us about an hour and we left through the Ely cemetery which is an open area on a hill near the museum. The Wolf Center is also near the Dorothy Molter Museum but we didn't go to it. Instead we thought we would go to the Ely and Winton Historical Center which is located inside the Ely community college. It was closed because it was Sunday.
The day was hot at around 85+ so instead of sitting around, we decided to go to Cliff Wold's Outfitters. When we got there, a younger guy, Ryan, in probably his mid twenties, greeted us at the counter. Our gear was the only gear set out so I knew that we were the only customers from the day. Ryan had the gear all ready and neatly packed for us and reviewed some things with us. We also added a water filter and left out the cooking stove. The only reason we got a filter was because I asked how we were supposed to get clean water. Ryan said that most people just drink it from the center of the lake and that it is never much of a problem. The filter just filtered out all of the larger particles and was more of a peace of mind item to have. We then watched the short video on the BWCA while Ryan got some final paperwork ready. When we went over our route, I wanted to make sure that it was ok that we stayed an extra day if we felt like it. Ryan said that it was no problem and that we wouldn't be charged. This kind of puzzled me but then he said that he owned the place. It turns out he had worked for Cliff Wold since high school and bought the business from him before he died. Ryan was a really nice humble guy who is the kind of person you would want to be friends with. Once we had all of our gear loaded and the canoe on top, we headed to Rock Wood Restaurant. We ate at this place last year too. It is good food but a little pricey. The building used to be the old Hardee's in town. There aren't really too many fast food restaurants in town except for Subway as most of the eating places are regular restaurants. I had a mushroom swiss stuffed burger and dad had another kind of stuffed hamburger. They were very good burgers and fries but cost $12 each.
From there, we headed to the outfitter's campground which was about 4 miles east of Ely. It was a really nice campground with plenty of parking and some neat bunkhouses. We stayed in one that had four bunk beds in it. The shower and bathroom facilities were really clean so either they keep them like this all the time or we happened to be there just after they cleaned them. Since the showers were community showers with no stalls, I took a shower while dad got some of his gear organized. I did the same when he took his shower. We went over our gear one last time and sorted through what we thought we would need. It turned out that we should have gotten rid of a bunch more personal stuff because we would not use it. The lights went out a little after 9 and we planned to get up around 6:20 to leave. We didn't have any bedding for the beds so we just slept in our clothes. I actually slept pretty well but woke up around 5:45 and decided that we just as well start going. We thought that we were getting a good jump on the morning and would get the first big portage out of the way while it was still cool. Too bad this wasn't the case.
After a few fig newtons and granola bars, we hit the trail to Mudro Lake entry point 23. The map we had showed that we were to head north at Winton but we couldn't find it. We asked a guy how to get to the correct road and he told us to go north at Sam'z Place Bar. We were on the trail and ready to get going when all of a sudden we reached the end of the road. The map looked like we should be able to go farther north but the road was at a dead end. We figured that we had just missed the entry point and drove back to find it. Still nothing. After driving back and forth about 4 times, we were really frustrated. I even picked up a signal with my phone to pull up the satellite map to see where we were actually at. My phone also showed that we should be able to go north further. I had studied the satellite photos plenty of times before and knew that we shouldn't miss the parking lot because it was right along the road. I was just plain mad at this point and we decided to head back into town. Along the 6 mile or so trail back to town, we saw a guy jogging and asked him for directions. He said that we really were lost and that our map was old and incorrect. The man said that we needed to go all the way back to Ely and get on the Echo Trail to head north another 20 miles to the trail. It turns out that the road we thought we could get through on was left to grow back up to trees and a new road was cut to Mudro. By now it was getting warm and was about 10:00. So much for getting an early start. This would be a sign of some things to come.
When we got to the entry point, we had to park up the hill in the overflow area because the parking lot was going to have some work done to it. The lot had about 20 cars jammed in it and I found about the last spot that was available. We unloaded our gear near the start before I parked the vehicle. At the same time, there were another couple groups going in and coming out. It turns out that 10:00 is the busy time to get going. We dropped all our gear at the trailhead and I was concerned at first about it being in the way. I had read that you shouldn't just drop your gear out of respect for everyone else. I was probably just paranoid since we didn't know what we were doing. We weren't really in the way. Anyway, dad grabbed a pack and took off before I hardly even knew where he went. I was kind of ticked off because our packs were heavy and it would have been nice to have him help me get one on and lift the canoe up. I told him when I met up with him to wait up until we get things figured out. Normally you would just have to walk about 20 yards down the trail to put the canoe in but the river was so low that you had to walk it another 20 yards.
On that first small portage I was already wondering how we would survive the trip. It was 85 degrees, hot and the gear was heavier than what I had thought it would be. Where we put in was a guy about my age and his girlfriend. He said that he had been to the BWCA 7 times before but this was the first time with a girl. With the river being low I knew that our feet would be getting wet and I just jumped in the water to load the canoe. The river only had about 6 inches of water in it and we had to pull the canoe about halfway down the river until we were able to get in and push our way to the end. It wasn't paddling, just pushing because it was so low. The river was also very muddy because everyone was stirring it up because it was so shallow. Along our way, we passed a few groups who were on their way out. In one canoe was a man and woman probably in their late 20's. This woman was looked amazing. As good as she looked after being out in the woods for a week, I would like to see what she looked like all fixed up. I'm not sure if the guy in the canoe was her husband or boyfriend but he is a lucky man. I guess it should make sense that there are good looking women in the BWCA. Any woman that is going there needs to be in shape and is probably fit and in shape. I noticed a few other women on the way in and out that were pretty good looking also. Maybe I should hang around Ely for a summer.
Towards the end of the river near Mudro Lake, there were about two rocky pinch points where we had to get out and pull the canoe over. When we got to Mudro Lake, I was tired but we followed the two canoes in front of us to the next portage. This portage was 30 rods long and not too bad except it was rocky. There wasn't much elevation change though. After another short paddle of about 200 yards, it was time to take on the long 141 yard tough portage that I had been warned about. We each took a pack and went on our way. From the start there was a steep incline and from there it continued up and down elevation changes with some other steep areas. If it would have been wet, I'm not sure how you would safely have made the portage. Along the way I unknowingly twisted my left knee. I actually think it was my LCL ligament that is on the outside of your knee. It wouldn't completely start to bother me until later in the day. At the end of the portage is another steep decline. It actually didn't seem as long as I had expected although it was long enough. It probably took 10 minutes to pass it. On the way back, we passed a guy who was carrying a 24 pack of beer. As long and hard as this portage was, I can't figure out why anyone would want to waste time packing in a bunch of beer. On the BWCA message boards it surprises me how many people do take beer into the BWCA. Dad was still way behind me so I headed back and got another pack. I had originally thought we would be single portaging but there would be no way we could do it with all the gear we had. After I had returned the first pack, or maybe I carried two at once, both of us went back for the canoe. On the first portages I had been the one to carry the canoe by myself but as tired as we both were, we decided to both get under the canoe and carry it. This proved to be almost more difficult than doing it solo. The thing seemed just as heavy and you had to made sure the both of you went at the same pace which was hard with the rocky steep trail. The hot weather had me almost completely worn out by now. Again I thought to myself that this was going to be a miserable trip because I wasn't in as good of shape as I had thought I would be. I'm only 30 but after working in a bank for 8 years, I'm not as strong as I used to be growing up on the farm. When we finally got all of our gear to the end of the portage, we took a short 5 minute break which I was happy to do. We probably would have stayed longer but there wasn't much room on the landing and there were three other groups there. It was about noon by now but we still had one more portage to make before we would get on Fourtown Lake. Unfortunately, we would have another portage after paddling about 50 yards. The next portage was maybe 10 rods but did have one steep incline. The landing was congested with other people as well so when we got there, we just kept going. I had read that this short portage had a steep drop off where people have to lower their canoe into the water. Maybe it is different when the water is high but I don't see why you would need to drop in to the east of the landing where it is steep. On the way back out we did see a couple guys going down this slope but again, I'm not sure why.
When we finally got to Fourtown, there was quite a bit of vegetation in the water but it didn't slow us down much. Where the lake opens up is where I realized that these lakes would be much bigger than what I had been studying for the past 6 months on Google maps. We were running in a pack with a couple other canoes trying to make it to the first portage on the west side of the lake. I know we were making pretty good time but with the lake being so big, it seemed like we weren't going very fast. The 150 pounds of gear didn't help either. It was past noon by now and while we were hungry, we wanted to keep going to get to our camp and then take it easy. Lunch was supposed to be ham and cheese sandwiches. The landing we came to was a wide one with plenty of room for canoes to park. This was a neat area of Fourtown because looking back east were three small islands. I'm sure that I have seen plenty of other pictures posted from this exact location. The north island looked like it had been burned. I would like to know if it was from lightning or from a person. The portage from Fourtown to Boot lake was 48 rods but didn't seem like it was nearly that long. Perhaps this was because it was a flat easy portage compared to the ones we had just done. It was also easier on me because I let dad carry the canoe because my leg was so stiff now that I could hardly walk. The packs were much easier for me to carry. I would carry one on my front and one on my back from here on.
On Boot Lake we canoed beside a guy about my age who was in a kayak with a dog. He was making pretty good time but he wasn't sitting in the water near as deep as we were. Before I forget, I couldn't believe how many people bring their dogs into the BWCA. I bet we saw 4 groups of people with dogs just that morning and would see a few more by the time the trip was over. A dog isn't something I would want to take along but I guess if you weren't in a hurry it wouldn't be as big of deal. It did get on my nerves though when we were trying to portage and there would be a pack of dogs running around your feet. I like our own dog but other people's get on my nerves. On Boot we were trying to get to a camp site that the outfitter had marked on the map. Unfortunately the group ahead of us had already claimed it and this was where the guy with the kayak was also going. It was a large site facing the west and I didn't really see what was so good about it. Just to the south of this campsite, I thought we might upset our canoe after getting hung up on a rock. We got high centered and couldn't get off of it. I think we were only is 4 or 5 feet of water so it wouldn't have been as bad as if we were in the center of the lake.
After another long paddle on Boot, we got to the portage going to Fairy Lake. This one was 15 rods and started with a steep climb. Dad carried the canoe again while I strapped on two packs to save time. Fairy Lake was more the kind of lake I was looking for. It was smaller with an island to the north and only had two campsites. In looking at the map we planned on going to the east campsite. We found the one on the north side by the portage first and decided to make this our home for the next 3 nights. From this site, we could tell that someone was already at the other site. Our new home had a nice rocky slope heading up to the tent and cooking area. It was easy to unload our canoe here and the rocky area was nice to have to dry off and not get dirty. There was a nice flat tent spot and another flat area on a large rock where you could camp if you didn't want to stake down your tent. This spot had about an inch of moss covering the rock which would make for a soft place to sleep. I was plenty happy with our campsite but the kitchen area was a little small and there weren't any flat rocks around to sit anything. Someone had stacked some rocks up to make two small monuments. I read a trip report where someone else mentioned something like this but I'm not sure if it was this campsite or not. Who knows how long those rocks have been stacked up. They are still there if anyone else happens to camp there. I would guess that it was about 5 in the afternoon by now and we were completely shot. We both just wanted to take a nap but we needed to get camp set up and fix supper. The A frame tent went up very easy and camp didn't take too long to get set up.
Supper that night would be fresh hamburgers, vegetables and a desert. We got the fire going in no time and before long we were enjoying our first meal looking out over the lake. The only people we saw the rest of the day were our neighbors to the east. The meal tasted so good especially since we hadn't eaten all day. I can't remember all of the side items we had to go along with the burgers but we were more than full. Food was a concern of mine going into the trip and we brought along plenty of granola bars, nuts and other quick foods to eat. This would turn out to be mostly unnecessary because of how much food Cliff Wold's sent along with us. Next time we won't be taking along ? of the extra food we brought. It ended up just being extra weight. By now we had drank up all of the water we had brought along and needed to filter some. Our filter was just a gravity bag filter that you fill up in the lake and then take back to camp to let filter on its own. The water had a little bit of a taste to it but it wasn't too bad. We got used to it and water wasn't an issue. I think I casted a line a few times before it got too dark just to see if I could catch anything but I didn't catch anything. I was tempted to canoe over to our neighbors and see what their story was but ended up deciding not to bother them. It's hard to say if some people want to be bothered when the goal is to get away from people.
We turned in for the night around 8:30 knowing that we would need all the rest we could get. Both dad and I slept surprisingly well. The sleeping pads that we were given were definitely worth it. I am going to buy one for future camping trips. Normally I don't sleep very well on hard ground because I'm thin and don't have much padding between me and the ground. Total distance on portages for the day was about 274 rods or 1507 yards and 7 miles of canoeing.
The next morning we woke around 7 or whenever the light started to come up. I actually got up a bit earlier because I wanted to enjoy the fresh cold air and take some pictures. The sun was just coming up and I got some good pictures of the lake. I wish my camera was a little better so that they would have looked a little sharper. There was no wind at all this morning and the lake was smooth as glass. Things couldn't be much more peaceful. I also got out my fishing pole to try catching some of the fish that were flopping around in the water next to camp. Breakfast that morning was fresh eggs and sausage links. There were three eggs apiece and plenty of bacon. It didn't take too long to get the fire going and we were having breakfast in no time. A breakfast never tasted so good. It would take a few days before we would halfway get on to the most efficient way of cooking with the fewest amount of pots and pans to use. We also needed to learn where all of the food was in the pack. It seemed like we would lose things as soon as we set them down. Another problem we had was that our pots were completely black from soot when we cooked over the fire. Supposedly you can coat them with soap to make it wash off easier but we didn't have very good luck with this method.
After getting camp cleaned up, we decided to canoe to the east of our lake near the other campsite to fish. Our neighbors had left early that morning so we were now the only ones on the lake. The place we fished was between an island and the shore and looked like it would be a great place to catch fish because they would be halfway trapped. We couldn't get a bite. At least it was still calm and nice out. After fishing for about an hour, we decided to move on. The portage to Gun Lake was 50 rods and was about average as far as elevation and obstacles. Dad carried the canoe this time and most of our portages this morning because my leg was bothering me still. Gun Lake was also much bigger than I had expected. We paddled almost straight north to the portage that goes to Gull Lake. Near the portage I saw a northern pike in the water swimming around which was nice to see if nothing else to let us know that there were fish around. One thing I remember about this portage is that it was easy to spot because a tree was turning bright red right near the portage. This portage was 32 rods and had a good incline at the start and then descended but at a much more gradual pace.
Once on Gull Lake, we paddled along the south shore and fished in the shade until the sun came up higher. Along one rocky cliff I decided to switch to a 5 of diamonds spoon and on the first cast I caught a small pike. On the second or third cast I had another hit by what I think was a smallmouth bass. He really fought but got off when I started to reel in. This seemed like the place to fish so we drifted the shore a couple times. The wind was blowing 10-15 mph so it was much harder keeping our distance from the shore. Dad did most of the paddling while I fished. We drifted a little farther when dad got a strike. He didn't get him reeled in though. At the same spot where dad had a hit which is at the west end of Gull near the marsh was a large boulder where someone placed another large rock about 20 inches in diameter. The rock would have been really heavy to move there but somewhere are a couple guys who are still probably talking about the time they moved that large rock to the middle of the lake.
By now it was about noon so we decided to find a camp site for lunch. There were supposed to be a campsite nearby but we couldn't find it. If it is there, it isn't used much because the grass was tall everywhere and we didn't see a fire grate. Instead, we pulled up on a landing which turned out to be where a 272 rod portage to Home lake is. We ate our lunch meal which was the ham and cheese that we were supposed to eat from the day before. We also had a Butterfinger I think. Dad wanted to take it easy for a few minutes so we laid on the rock for about 15 minutes. I was in an adventurous mood and wanted to keep exploring but dad said that he would be happy just taking it easy. He gave in and we decided to go exploring more. Our next portage was a 43 rod portage to Mudhole Lake. It was a fairly flat and easy portage. This lake would have been a nice sized sandpit sized lake in Nebraska but looked like just a small one in Minnesota. It took maybe 5 minutes to paddle across it to reach the 61 rod portage to Thunder Lake. This portage had a few more elevation changes and I could tell that dad was tired after carrying the canoe on all the portages for the day. Thunder Lake was exactly the kind of lake I think of in Minnesota. It was narrow in places with some fingers, had trees, cliffs, islands and lots of character to it. I would have loved to camp at this lake. We also hadn't seen anyone else since Gull Lake. Beartrap lake was just a short 5 rod portage from Thunder so we walked over to look at it. We couldn't see much except an island from the shore and took a few pictures of it. I wish all portages would be this short. Since it was about 4 in the afternoon, we decided that we had better get going. I wanted to fish Thunder Lake but it wouldn't be possible because it looked like a storm was rolling in. On Thunder was a neat boulder that was sticking up out of the water that we got out and took a few pictures on. Dad took some nice panoramic pictures but I had my pants cuffed up really high and look like a dork in them. With the clouds getting darker, we headed on our way. Something we found out later was that there would be a fire on Beartrap Lake from a lightning strike that happened that day. It only burned a few acres though. Looking back we should have realized there was a fire because planes kept flying overhead. We thought they were just taking people into Canada but later found out that they planes have a large scoop on them and they pick up water in the lake to dump on the fire. We even saw a helicopter which I assumed was pulling someone out of the woods who got hurt. This was actually more likely someone scouting the fire.
The clouds and wind seemed to be rolling in faster so when we got the the end of Thunder on our portage back to Mudhole, I told dad that I would carry the canoe the rest of the portages. From here on, I would carry the canoe while dad carried the heaviest pack and then I would go back and carry the remaining two packs. One thing that I should mention is that bungee straps are very useful for tying fishing poles and other gear to the canoe when you portage. It frees up your hands for carry other things. The whole way back to camp we were paddling as hard as we could. It would start to sprinkle which gave us more motivation to paddle harder. A couple times I got on my knees to paddle even harder. I don't know how hard dad was paddling but I was putting everything that I had into every stroke and even though my muscles were on fire, I kept going. Even if dad was paddling at half my speed, he had to have been just as tired as I was. When we got on Gun Lake it seemed like we were almost home and that there wouldn't be as much to worry about. It was here that the rain started to cut loose on us. The wind was only blowing slightly and the rain wasn't that cold so we didn't bother to put our rain gear on. We just got to the west end along the shore and tried to wait it out. The whole time, some people camped nearby were probably watching us and wondering why we were just sitting there in the rain. After about 5 minutes we decided that there was no point just sitting in the canoe getting rained on when we could be paddling. We continued to the portage back to Fairy Lake when the rain stopped. The rain made this portage much more difficult and I was surprised how wet the portage got just. The rocks were slick so I took my time. It was good to be back at camp and even though we knew we had to get supper ready, I felt relaxed already. I estimate that we paddled 6 miles and portaged 186 rods in an hour. That may not seem like much but that canoe was flying through the water.
Mudro Lake, Fourtown Lake, Boot Lake, Fairy Lake Mudro Lake,Gull Lake, Mudhole Lake, Thunder Lake, Beartrap Lake
We both took a dip on the water to clean off which made us feel better. Each night except the last, we tried to clean off at least a little bit. I felt clean enough even though you can't use soap in the BWCA. There was a nice 4 foot deep area in front of camp where I would bathe and dad was on the other side of camp cleaning off. I didn't need to see his half naked self taking a bath. The water was cold at first but once I was in it, it wasn't too bad. I can't imagine how you would be able to get in the water in May and June after the ice had thawed. I remember having to be extra careful getting in and out of the water because wet rocks and bare feet make it very slick. I didn't want to slip with my bad leg and hurt myself even worse. My water shoes would have come in handy but I didn't think of that until just now. Another thing I remember how white I looked out there. I know I don't get much sun but I looked like a ghost. After drying off, we went to bed. I did hang some of my wet clothes out to dry for the night. This would be all for nothing because I let them hang during the day and it rained again on them. Total distance today on portages was 372 rods or 2046 yards and 7 miles of canoeing.
We both slept well again that night but I could tell that I was getting stiffer and sorer as the trip went on. On our third day which was Wednesday, we had blueberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Things were going good until we lost track of the pancake batter and let it bake a little too long. The batter was starting to set up and we had some of fattest pancakes I have ever seen. They were still good though. Today we planned on making our way to Moosecamp Lake and see how the river looked. This time we would be heading down the barrel of Gun which I remember someone saying was very long. When you look down the stretch of water, it doesn't seem very far but when you start to paddle it, you start to see how long it really is. This stretch made me think that I was paddling down the Missouri River because it was so wide and long.
The portage to Bullet Lake was only 10 rods but had some decent elevation to it. In coming up to the portage you would think it would be a short easy one because you could see Bullet Lake easily from Gun. Bullet Lake consisted of two small lakes that were connected. They were also fairly shallow. On the east end of Bullet was a rocky cliff near where the portage to Moosecamp was. I decided to throw my lure and on the first cast I caught a small pike about 15 inches. The second cast I had another bite. It seemed like we were really on to them here. Every other cast was either a strike or a landed fish. I caught about 8 pike but none were much larger than 15 inches. It was fun to have some really good action though. The wind was blowing fairly stiff so we had to make quite a few passes up and down the shore. After maybe 30 minutes, I couldn't get any bites so we took the 44 rod portage to Moosecamp. This portage was pretty easy except for a few sharp turns in the trail where you had to make sure you didn't hit your canoe on a tree. The landing to Moosecamp was fairly small but since we knew there was no one behind us, we took a short break and some pictures. We had been told from Ryan at the outfitter's that some people had actually seen a moose on Moosecamp so we hoped that we could see it too. We headed directly south of the portage to what looked like a rocky cliff area to fish. The water was actually very shallow along here. We continued east along the shore and made an occasional cast but the water just seemed too shallow. On the very east end was where the Moosecamp River started. We had been told that it was shallow but I had also read trip reports that it was a very scenic area. Knowing that we wouldn't have much time to fish if we went very far down the river, we turned around. It did look low and there was plenty of vegetation coming through the water.
One thing I noticed on the lakes in the BWCA is how there are big logs just out in the middle of the lakes. They evidently get waterlogged and you will just be floating along and there will be a big log just below the surface. We weren't on Moosecamp for over an hour and decided to head back towards camp. While on this lake, I pictured the Google satellite maps I have looked at many times and figured out what the landscape would look like from the air. The wind had already started to pick up to maybe 15 mph so it made for a hard paddle back to the Bullet portage. My muscles still hadn't recovered from all the paddling we had done the previous day so it didn't take long for me to get tired. In heading towards the portage, dad still had to ask where we were headed. I never could figure out why the whole time he couldn't locate portages even when we had just passed through some. Maybe I just had a better sense of direction and knew from my time studying the maps where they were. It still wasn't too hard to see where there was a dip in the tree line or where it got thin where the portage was.
Once we got to Bullet Lake, we decided to take a 15 minute lunch break. Lunch was sausage sandwiches. There was some cheese that was still back at camp that I told dad to bring because I thought it was for the sandwiches. It irritated me that he forgot to bring it when I had it setting out. Later I realized that the cheese wasn't for the sandwiches anyway. I'm not exactly sure if it rained on us while after we finished lunch or when we were on Bullet Lake earlier but it did rain. It didn't last too long and didn't amount to much.
On Bullet we decided to fish the same spot where we had caught all of the fish earlier. I think we caught a couple fish but it wasn't like it was the first time around. Now that I think of it, I think it was raining on us when we were on Bullet Lake in the morning and perhaps that is why the fish started to bite. We then headed to the barrel of Gun to try fishing the long rock face that is near the Bullet portage and the long 300 rod portage that heads up north toward Friday Bay. From what I could tell from the terrain in the area, the portage might have been fairly flat. The wind was blowing pretty good still as we tried to fish the barrel of Gun. It would have been nice to have some kind of anchor to hold us in place. While we were fishing, a light tan canoe with two guys in it were paddling towards us. Their canoe was very sharp looking. I had talked to a guy on the BWCA forum earlier in the week that said he would be up there the same time we were and that he would have a unique light colored canoe. I would almost bet that this was the guy but I didn't want to just yell over and ask him. I thought they were probably headed to Moosecamp but they just checked out the 300 rod portage to Friday Bay and turned around to go back west on Gun. Since we weren't catching any fish, we decided to take the long paddle back to camp. Gun seemed like a really long paddle.
Tonight's supper was beef and gravy over mashed potatoes. It was again almost more than we could eat but was very good. I never would have guessed that dehydrated and powdered food could be so good. After supper we paddled around Fairy lake and tried to fish. Nothing was biting so after taking a few pictures of the lake, we went back to camp. I wanted to dry my socks out so I sat by the fire roasting my socks. I still had an extra pair of dry ones but wanted to be prepared. They didn't get completely dry but they were good enough. We went to bed around 8:30 again that night. Total portage distance for the day was 208 rods or 1144 yards and 8 miles of canoing. I carried the canoe and two packs over each portage.
That night, we got lazy and didn't put our food pack in the tree. A ground squirrel must have gotten into our pack because we had a granola bar that something had chewed in to. Thursday morning we had a terrible time getting a fire going. All the wood around was still damp and even though we cut into some logs to get dry wood, we couldn't get anything going. It was very frustrating because right when we thought we had a good fire going, it would go out. Once we did get the fire going, we had french toast and bacon. Another excellent meal. By the time we got our tent and gear packed away and all of the soot washed off the pots, it was almost noon. This was a little frustrating because I wanted to get going much sooner. It didn't really matter though because we were only headed to Fourtown anyway. I kind of hated to leave camp because this had been our home for 3 days. It also reminded me that my time in the BWCA would be coming to an end soon. I also got to thinking how I will probably never see this place again because while I hope to go back to the BWCA, we will probably take a different entry point to see something different. I guess many vacations are this way.
On the portage back to Boot Lake, it started to rain. The nice thing about the rain in the BWCA while we were there was that it didn't seem to last more than 30 minutes. We crossed the portage and tried to wait out the rain. It wasn't coming down hard but just enough to get you wet. We were too lazy to put our rain gear on because we knew the rain would pass soon and then we would have to pack up the rain suits. I'm not sure what to think about rain gear. I read on the BWCA forum that good rain gear is a necessity. We could have taken light ponchos along and saved us some weight and bulk but we didn't want to be caught in a set in storm and not be able to do much. I probably should have trusted the forecast more which only called for slight scattered showers the week we were there. Next time if the forecast doesn't look too bad, we might just take light ponchos. It's not like I haven't worked in the rain before out on the farm. I've worked in rain when it is much colder and managed, so I'm sure we would have been o.k.
We tried to wait out the rain but after a while we decided that if we weren't going to put our rain gear on, we just as well get wet out on the lake fishing rather than on shore. We fished near the portage along a rock face but didn't get anything. Today would be a bad fishing day without even a bite. I just wish we knew how to catch fish in the BWCA. If this was the Valentine Refuge, we would have hammered the pike. The wind was blowing about 10 mph which wasn't that bad but just enough that you had to work to get where you were going and couldn't just sit in one place to fish. We made our way south on Boot and would fish a few places without any luck and then move on to another spot. North of Fairy Lake we hardly saw anyone but Boot had about 3 different groups on it. It just seemed like we were back in civilization as we headed south. Near the south end of Boot near a marsh area we decided to fish because the outfitter had this marked on our map as a place to fish. There was also a large rock in the lake where we took a leak on. It was near a camp site but I guess I didn't care. Now that I think of it, this probably wasn't the nicest thing to do because perhaps someone would get water there.
Today was actually cloudy most of the day. With the wind and poor fishing, it didn't seem like a very fun day. Knowing that we would leave the next day didn't help either. We made our way back to the portage going to Fourtown where I took some video footage of me carrying my packs over the portage. I thought I probably looked pretty tough carrying two large packs, one on my front and one on my back, going over the portage. With my knee still stiff, I just didn't want to have to cover the portages any more than necessary. Once at the Fourtown landing, we decided to eat a quick lunch of peanut and butter sandwiches along with a little bit of everything else we had. From that spot, dad tried taking a bunch of panoramic pictures of which only a couple even turned out very well. At the landing I spotted what I thought was a broken pole that someone left there so that they didn't have to carry it around. Upon paddling closer to it I noticed that it was a brand new Shakespear 4 or 5 foot pole. Someone had evidently unloaded their gear and forgot their pole. I stood it up along a rock hoping that the owner would come back and see it. If the owner happens to read this and found his pole, please let me know.
It was maybe 3 in the afternoon and since we didn't have any place to go, we decided to take it easy paddling across the lake. We passed by the burned island and the campsite that is to the north east of it. We then cut across to the east side of the lake to find a campsite. Fourtown seemed like a city compared to where we had been earlier in the week. I suppose this doesn't bother some people but it seems that if you had the ambition to cross the hard Mudro portages, you just as well take a few more easy ones to get away from people. We headed across the widest part of the lake when the wind started to come up. Once we got near the eastern side where you head to Horse Lake, we pulled to a small cove near shore to let the wind die down. After a few minutes, it let up and we decided to continue along shore to the south. We ended up staying at the middle campsite of where a large island splits the lake on your way back to Mudro. Fortunately the site was open. With all the people around, I was starting to wonder. It turns out that the next group of 3 campsites even closer to Mudro would be open also. The site we chose had a large rock incline to get to the tent and kitchen area. I think I liked our little spot on Fairy better but this spot would be nice if you had a larger group and needed a bigger camp. One thing I didn't like about this site is how used it looked. People had cut down trees and branches, left trash in the fire grate and carved stuff in the trees. It was kind of disgusting to think that people would do this. Fairy Lake, Gun Lake, Bullet Lake, Moosecamp Lake
I fished a few more minutes and then we went back to camp to get it set up. We set the tent up quickly and organized our gear. Tonight we wouldn't get our sleeping bags our of the compression sacks because we had a terrible time getting them in the sacks earlier that morning. We found out later that our sleeping bags were a little longer than the ones that normally go in the sacks so this would explain it. The plan was to put on all of our jackets and use a tarp as a blanket. After that was all organized, we ate a quick supper which was more leftover bread, jelly, breakfast bars and candy bars. It wasn't as good as how we had been eating before but it was enough to get us by. Besides, we didn't want to pack out all the extra weight. It was kind of nice sitting there looking out on the water for the last night. If I wasn't so tired, I would have just sat there.
Before it got too dark, we wanted to get some pictures of us together which was easier to do since there were some big rocks that we could set the camera on. None of the pictures turned out very well because the flash reflected against the rock that it was sitting on and bleached out the pictures. The air was getting cooler but the wind was calm. I knew tonight wouldn't be the most comfortable night because of the cold and it would be made even longer knowing we would be leaving in the morning. Total portage distance for the day was 63 rods or 346 yards with 4 miles of canoeing.
When the sun finally came up, I got up because I wasn't sleeping well anyway. I walked along the shoreline which was covered in rocks an boulders. It was kind of fun to be up at the crack of dawn walking along the shore as the sun was just coming up. There was another camp site just to our south and I walked out on a rock to see if I could see any activity there. Not much going on so I walked down a trail that connected our camp site to theirs. I didn't go very far before I turned around and started walking the shore in the other direction. Along the way I saw a very round boulder about 8 foot tall. I decided to stage a photo of me trying to push it into the water. After a couple tries, I finally had one that I liked. I also took some pictures of the fog on the water and some video of what things looked like from our camp. The battery on my camera was getting low but it didn't matter so much because I wouldn't be taking many more pictures. Dad bought an extra battery for his camera so that we wouldn't run out. Unfortunately our cameras don't come with normal AAA batteries to replace easily. You have to buy a $50 small flat battery if you want an extra otherwise they just expect you to charge it.
I must have wandered around for 30 minutes before dad finally woke up. We ate some more breakfast bars and got camp packed up. We didn't hang our food pack this night either and we would pay for it. Dad brought along a family sized bag of sunflower seeds, which we didn't even open. A ground squirrel had found his way into our pack and shelled out almost the whole bag. Every shell was neatly cracked with the seed missing. That gopher must have had a stomach ache or else he brought along his friends because that would have been quite a meal. It was maybe 7:30 when we finally had everything packed up and ready to leave. No one else on the lake was up yet as we headed back out. When we got to the first of the portages to Mudro, we saw a couple guys in their 20's or 30's that were headed in. They must have gotten up very early to cross the long portage and be on Fourtown by 8. I guess this was my original plan if we hadn't got lost on our way that first morning.
The portages this morning didn't seem nearly as bad as they did coming in. We knew what to expect and it was about 40-45 degrees which made it nice. I should mention that the last portage out of Mudro was the first time since the first day that I would be getting my feet wet. I had managed to portage for 4 days without having to step in water. Dad lost his balance the day before and got his feet wet. An aluminum canoe can be nice because you can get it closer to the bank an not get wet. There is no way you could have a kevlar and not get your feet wet with as low as the water was in some areas. On the long 141 rod portage, we met a couple guys who were from a suburb of Chicago. The guy told us how he had done construction but when the economy started to slow, his business did too. They were headed up to Friday Bay to catch walleye in 25 foot of water. These guys sounded like they knew how to catch fish. After the first leg of the portage I saw these guy's gear there and thought about taking it back over the portage on my return trip. I didn't do it though partly because I was sore and my leg was stiff. I also didn't want to intrude on them, not that they would have cared if someone carried their pack. When I got ? of the way back over the portage, here came the two guys carrying our packs. I now wished that I had carried theirs. I wanted to take both of the packs but they only let me take the one. Dad was heading back on the return trip and I'm not sure if he took his pack or the the guy continued to carry if for him. It was fun talking to them and it sure did make the portage go much faster.
When we had all of our gear across, a group of 4 college aged guys from Ohio State had also finished the same portage and were right behind us. They had been up to Friday Bay but hadn't had much luck fishing. They must have been packing light and were in shape because they were flying through the portages. They must have just single portaged as fast as they were going. I could probably go that fast too if I would have only had a 40 lb kevlar canoe instead of a 65-70 lb one. With a light canoe, you could easily carry one pack or maybe two over the portages. On the last portage, they passed us and we didn't see them again until the parking lot. At the last portage I also talked to a guy going solo who was from South Dakota. He was going to be out for 2.5 weeks. The man said that he needed to come up here just to relieve some stress. This would be the place to do it at. I told him that Thunder Lake was where he should go and that is exactly what he had planned. He had 3 packs and said that he wasn't going to get in any hurry and just take his time. If you were going to be out for as long as he was, you could definitely do that. Too bad I didn't know how his trip turned out.
Mudro Lake was bittersweet because it was nice to be done but yet I didn't want to leave. What I had planned for an entire year was now over and I will have to wait another year to take another vacation. It seems kind of pointless to have to work a whole year just to take one short vacation.
As we continued to the south west end of Mudro where the stream is, we passed two canoes with people just sitting in them wondering what they should do. They looked a little lost as far as what to do next. Even though this was my first time in the BWCA, I now felt like a Mudro Lake expert compared to them. The one gal in the canoe was also dark haired and good looking. Probably not as good as the one we saw the first day but still pretty impressive. A woman who isn't afraid to rough it is hot. Just up the stream a little way was a couple in their 50-60's who looked like they were clueless. The stream was too narrow to pass so we just waited for them to pass. They decided just to get out and carry their canoe over a rocky pinch point so I got out of our canoe to guide it through the area. I thought I was in just a foot of water until I fell in a hole up to my waist. This wasn't a big deal until I got my camera out that evening at supper and realized that it was ruined. I should have had it in a plastic bag but I had made it this far and thought I was good. I didn't even think about the camera being in my pocket when I got in the water. My camera was ruined but at least I was able to get my pictures. This would be a sign of things to come.
The couple we passed had to be from the city the way they were acting. The woman didn't have any idea what to do and the guy, who was talking like he was an expert, didn't have much of a clue either what to do to get around the rocks in the stream. Dad got out of our canoe and helped them get their canoe up and around the obstacle. I hope those people don't read this if I post it on the BWCA forum. Just up the stream we met another canoe of two larger women maybe 200-250 lbs who were in their late 40's or 50's. That canoe was riding low to say the least. I thought to myself that there is no way that they will make it over the portages going to Fourtown Lake. Maybe they were planning on staying on the one campsite on Mudro. I just don't see how they could make it. It would be nice to see how their trip was. We met a few other groups coming in and I think I counted enough to be the 6 daily limit for the permits. I think the same entry point also offers 6 more permits with no camping on Horse Lake so maybe there were more to come. Irregardless, we continued up the stream which was now only a few inches deep. The water had really dropped just since we had entered. We ended up dragging the canoe the rest of the way to the takeout point. Total portages for the day were about 200 rods or 1100 yards with 4 miles of canoeing. Overall we did 1117 rods of portaging or 3.49 miles and covered around 30 miles as the crow flies. This distance doesn't count all of the canoeing we did back and forth getting water, fishing etc. We more than likely paddled 40 miles and maybe up to 50.
When we got to the parking lot, the construction crew was working on the parking lot just as we had been told. It was Friday and they made a lot of progress since when we went in on Monday. With the crew working, we carried our gear down the road and set it down. Also waiting for their pickup were the group of guys from Ohio State. I went to go get the vehicle so that we could pack up and leave. It was around 11:30 so we could either spend some time around town or get a good start on the road. As I walked up the hill to the overflow parking lot, I noticed that the left rear tire was flat. No big deal, I had checked the spare before we came and it was good to go. I walked to the right side of the vehicle and the back right tire was also flat. Now we had a problem. We were 20 miles from town and I was ticked. What are the odds that we could have two flat tires? I looked at the other vehicles in the parking lot and no one else had flat tires. How were we lucky enough to pick up two nails on the same trail everyone else had driven on?
I told myself that we would get this figured out because at least there was the construction crew and the guys from Ohio State around in case we needed help. On my way back to tell dad, I asked a construction worker if they happened to have an air compressor. He said that he didn't think so but would check with someone. After telling dad the situation we walked back to the vehicle and talked to the guy who must have been the crew chief. He was probably in his upper 30's and seemed like a nice guy. He said that if they had some hose adapters, they could hook into the air brakes on a truck to fill our tires up. No one had any though. Luckily he knew the guy at the service station in Ely and said he would give him a call and take care of everything for us. I can't thank this guy enough. This guy told us that people get flat tires all the time but mostly from rocks cutting tires. He also told us that he has lived in Ely his whole life. This explained his northern accent.
After an hour a tow truck driver showed up who was probably in his 50's or 60's. While we were waiting we also had another minor panic. To hide our wallets, we took off a panel in the back of the Explorer and hid our wallets there. When I opened it up, I couldn't find mine. We thought it somehow fell forward over the wheel well and was somehow stuck inside of the vehicle where we wouldn't be able to get to it. After 15 minutes, we finally found it.
The tow truck driver might have been the one who owned the station or at least ran it. We aired up one tire and changed the other. We also packed up all our gear and let him follow us into town. The whole way I could tell that the canoe wasn't riding right so I took it easy. The straps were tight but it just didn't seem to be riding right. I was happy when we finally made it to town. The service station was at the west end of town and was your typical 50's type station. It sat on the corner at an angle and looked like a typical old small town station. My kind of place. The guy fixing our tire said that he was originally from Illinois, I think, and that he fell in love with the area and moved there four years ago. He also said that he loved to fish so that was another big reason for him. He was missing a few teeth but seemed like a nice guy. We talked some about how to catch fish and he told us a story about how he almost landed a huge pike. He was fishing and caught a small fish when this big pike latched on to the fish he just caught. They fought him for 10-20 minutes and when they finally had him to the boat, the pike let go and was gone. While I was waiting, I also noticed that the guy who drove the tow truck was filling an older woman's car with gas. Perhaps this was a full service station too. You don't see too many of them these days. I also remember a picture in the office of a guy driving a snowmobile across a lake. It looked like it was during some kind of race. You would have to have confidence to do something like that.
After about an hour we were ready to go. AAA paid for everything except for the tire repair which saved us probably $100. The tire repair was $40. The guy that fixed our tire recommended that we eat at Britton's but it closed at 2 after Labor Day so we were to late. He then said to try a place that was located north west of the service station that is off the beaten path. He said it is a little pricey but you get your money's worth. We might have to try one of these places next time.
From there we headed back to Cliff Wold's to turn in our gear. Ryan asked us how things went and if we had any issues with the gear or service. Nope. I told him that we may have lost a couple tent stakes but he didn't act like it was a big deal. I might have mentioned this earlier but since we didn't know exactly how long we were going to stay in the BWCA, he said we could stay an extra day and he wouldn't charge us. That's good service that will bring us back when we go back up. We went into the office to finish settling up and talk about the trip. We then got a couple pictures. One with dad and I in front of their sign and another with me and Ryan so we would remember who our outfitter was. We even got a certificate that shows that we have conquered the BWCA wilderness. I can't say enough about how impressed I was with this place.
Our next stop was the campground to get showered up. I have read many trip reports that tell about how good it feels to take a shower after being out for a week. I didn't feel very dirty because I didn't sweat much with the weather being cooler and I also took a few baths in the lake which made me feel cleaner. The shower didn't disappoint though. Dad took the first shower and I repacked some of our stuff and threw out some trash. While I was organizing stuff, some people came up and asked if I knew where the waterfalls were east of town. I didn't even know there were any or we might have stopped by just out of curiosity.
The shower felt good just to know you were completely clean. When washing my hair, I specifically remember scraping either skin or grime off my scalp. It's kind of gross but was kind of cool too. I remember looking in the mirror before taking a shower thinking how I almost hated to give up my grizzly mountain man look. I had a week old beard, had worn the same pants the whole time and looked like quite a mess. As they were before, the showers and restrooms were very clean. Maybe we just happened to be there after they cleaned them but the facilities were excellent.
It was around 4:00 and since we hadn't eaten yet, we went to Rockwood again to eat. The sign said that they weren't serving supper meals for another 30 minutes or so but the waiter told us we could order whatever we wanted. We decided to spend a little money and get a walleye meal. The total bill was $45. It was good but I actually got filled up more when we ordered a burger and fries earlier in the week. It was when dad said that we should get a picture of the restaurant that I realized my camera was ruined. Today just wasn't my day. A ruined camera and two flat tires will make it a memorable trip though. After eating, we went to the park where they were having a harvest festival. We missed the lumberjack show but walked around looking at all the different craft booths. There were some really neat pictures and furniture pieces there. Dad bought a picture frame from an indian to give to Hannah for Christmas. I really wish we wouldn't have had our flat tire because we could have spent more time looking around. Since it was around 5:30 and we didn't have much else to do, we headed for home. Rick called me just as we were turning around in the parking lot of the grocery store east of town by the visitor's center. From there we headed on the 13 hour, 820 mile long trip home.
While I did drive the whole way up to Ely, I also drove most of the way back. I think I ended up driving 1400 of the 1700 miles we drove. At Floodwood, MN we were supposed to keep heading south to Hermantown but the GPS sound was turned off and dad missed telling me which road to stay on. This would take us 20 miles out of the way to Duluth. At least we would miss the big gay convention that was the previous week. That was quite an experience last year. Anyway, it didn't bother me too much that we were going to Duluth because I didn't mind seeing Lake Superior and the town again. Duluth is a regular man town with all the mining and shipping that goes on. Kind of reminds me of Billings, MT with all the man type jobs. When you drive by the harbor, you realize how important this port is on the world stage. Once on the interstate in Duluth, I was pretty sure I knew where I was going. I was in the lane that had the big signs overhead saying to stay in this lane to get to Minneapolis. Seemed simple enough to me but not to dad. There just as well have been flashing lights to tell me to stay in the lane but dad insisted that we needed to turn off and get on a different road. Not only did I know I was right, but the GPS also confirmed it. At dad's insistence, I turned off and immediately knew we were headed the wrong way. I guess we would take the 'shortcut' to Nebraska by way of Wisconsin. This irritated me because now it would take us another 10 minutes getting back on the interstate. Once we got on the correct road, it was easy. Dad got in the back of the Explorer and took a nap while I tried to stay awake.
At Hinckley, I was too tired to go on and let dad take over while we got gas. He drove all the way to Owatonna while I tried to sleep. One thing I should mention about dad's driving is that driving through big cities like St. Paul and Omaha are always an adventure. Dad is so busy watching the road that he completely ignores the speed limits. We will be driving through downtown just flying by cars at 10-20 mph over the speed limit. I even play dumb and ask him what the speed limit is when we pass a sign. After a while I just have to give up and let him speed. I figure I did my part so if he wants a ticket, that is his problem. By the time we pulled into Owatonna, it was midnight. Dad had already called some motels so we had an idea where we would stay. The cheapest was one right off interstate called something like the Super Motel 6. Whatever it was called, the name was partly ripped off from a regular motel chain. As we drove by the place, we saw the owner, an Indian or Pakistani, peek out the window at us. We had been spotted so I would now feel guilty if we just drove away. I didn't have a problem staying there because it was the cheapest at $60. If I were traveling alone, I would have just stayed in the vehicle and saved the money. One thing interesting about this motel was that it was half motel and half liquor store. I've never seen anything like it. You could buy your booze on one side of the building and rent a room on the other. On top of that, it was right next to the adult novelty store. I'll always remember this place. The room was clean and it had a simple continental breakfast of just cereal and rolls but it was better than nothing. We were probably on the road by 8.
At some town in Iowa I let dad drive. At the Casey's gas station I felt like I got ripped off. They were advertising two Powerade's for $3. I didn't really want to and figured just one might be $1.75 or something. One Powerade ended up costing me $2.50. I should have told the cashier to hold on while I got another one but I didn't and just complained on my way home about it. We got home about 5 in the afternoon which was just in time to watch Nebraska play UCLA. What another disappointing end to my vacation. Getting upset 36-30 by a team that shouldn't have been able to put up a fight against us. Oh well, that just fits in with all the other stuff that went wrong on our trip. I still had a great time and can't wait to go back. It would be awesome to take Kyle or Rick because it would be party time up there. Total cost of the trip was around $1313.