Of Fish, Firsts, and Bonfires

This Memorial Day weekend we – me, D, two of my brothers, my sister-in-law, and two pooches – spent time living and enjoying the things that,  blessedly, our veterans past and present have fought and worked to defend and preserve – family, freedom, and the great outdoors of backyard America.

Our travels took us to the Brainerd lakes area – popular during this busy holiday weekend, but being the first getaway of the summer that wasn’t much of a bother yet. We set up camp in Crow Wing State Park and settled in for a respectable mix of relaxation and leisurely activities for the next couple of days.

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The first day we were accompanied with that annoying, non-committal kind of light rain. We tried not to let it dampen our spirits, however. We enjoyed good conversation around the campfire, and filled our bellies with s’mores and – a first for Adam – taco-in-a-bag.

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John and Becca had brought their boat along for the weekend, so after supper four of us went out for an evening cruise on the mighty Mississippi, while D stayed back at camp with the dogs.

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It was an adventurous start to the weekend. We failed to hook any fish, an ever sneaky submerged rock left a mark on the boat propeller, and we beached head on onto a sand bar in the river. Stuck solid. Of course, we all slightly panicked. Here we were, stuck on the river nearing dark along the banks of a state park where there is unlikely to be any passersby to lend a hand. Upon further assessment of the situation, we found the water we were stuck in to be warm and not even a foot deep. Becca bravely jumped over board to test the sand bar, which was thankfully (ironically) solid to stand on.

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Adam went over next, and with the combined efforts of pushing and rocking the boat and putting the motor in reverse, we successful rectified our situation. At the lowest speed possible, to avoid further missteps, we high tailed it out of there.

No more Mississippi for us.

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The next morning  greeted us with more rain. But…we made the most of it anyway. Becca and I were up long before the boys, tending to our early risers, Patrick and Rue. They have become fast friends, so while they tussled in dirt and had a grand old time,  we enjoyed hot French press coffee and sister time.

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This was Patrick’s first camping trip. He enjoyed himself immensely. He has thankfully been a very good traveler so far! This was also, surprisingly, D and I’s first camping trip together ever. Hopefully we get a few more on the books this summer.

As the rain eased up and the sun started trying to peek through, we made our plan for the day to split up the group. Me, John, Adam, and Rue took the boat out on Gull Lake for some traditional fishing, while D took Becca and Patrick out to Whitley Creek to introduce her to fly fishing.

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The creek wasn’t huge, so it wasn’t home to any keepers or monster trout, but it allowed for some great first exposure to the basics of fly fishing. D took Adam and John out to the same spot the next day. It was the first time for any of the three on a fly rod and I think, in the same way D and I got hooked, it will go down as the start of wonderful past time for each of them.

Fishing went well out on the boat as well, with Adam taking the lead with three respectable small mouth bass (and a little throw back perch). John brought in a decent  Northern and kept popping Sunnies out of the water at the end. I had apparently left any luck somewhere at home and did not successfully reel in a gall darn thing.

Day three, we split up again, with D, John, Adam, and Rue out at the creek and Becca, Patrick, and I leisurely strolling down the street in cute downtown Nisswa, window shopping and coffee drinking. The morning was beautiful and warm, sun shining. An enjoyable time.

After packing up our site on a now nearly deserted campground, Becca and John left for home, while the rest of us decided to head back to Nisswa for a late lunch – lounging outside and filling up on amazingly delicious local pizza and beer. We too then made our way back home.

It was an enjoyable, easy start to the summer. It helped to also spark the conversation of what further adventures the season may hold for us, so let’s see where it leads us next!

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