Tuesday, June 5, 2007

How did you spend Memorial Day?

We decided for Memorial Day we'd honor all the troops who have died (and are dying) to protect American foreign interests driven by the brutal inertia of the capitalist engine by not cranking up any vehicle with an engine at all. Our bikes took us on vacation. Joined by two adventurous friends, Dave and Dawn, we set out Saturday afternoon for Victoria MN, a small community about 25 miles southwest of Minneapolis. Nestled just north of Victoria is Carver Park Reserve, home of Lake Auburn Campground, where we spent three days. Everything we needed (including Sylvia) was packed into two trailers and a set of panniers. We've been meaning to explore the possibility of camping as a family from our bikes. This exploration opened up consideration of a whole realm of possibilities that might simply be overlooked when one thinks about "going camping." That phrase inevitably means getting out of the city -- way out of the city -- to the northwoods or Wisconsin. And that requires a car if you plan to pack it all into a weekend. When you think with car logic, all of a sudden everything within the radius of your own backyard can seem so mundane and inconsequential. Well, I am happy to report that we were all pleasantly surprised. We did "get out of the city," but not that far. A decade or so ago Victoria would have been a lot quieter than it is now. Urban sprawl has caught up with it, as evidenced by the multi-story condos forming a mini skyline along the opposite shore of Lake Auburn. But the dozens of other families who pulled pop-ups and drove RVs to the place thought they were getting back to nature. I have a hard time buying into that illusion, but we were treated to sights, sounds and adventures along the way that the car campers will never know exist.

Here's April's rig with the BOB trailer, a contraption she learned the ins and outs of during this trip (more on that later). We traveled 27 miles from front door to campsite. The beauty of this excursion -- all but about 2 miles was on bike trail. We caught the Midtown Greenway 10 blocks north of our apartment. That took us west to Hopkins where we jogged over to the NW spur of the LRT Trail. The LRT is the crushed limestone path I was introduced to courtesy of Hurl and his Slick 50 ride back in March. The trail has a completely different character this time of year since it is compact and smooth. (No ice slicks and constant mud.) The weather was forecast to be stormy. We had dramatic cloud cover and some breezy, cool temps, but no rain. The trail was virtually desolate. We pedaled through urban forests, across marshes and along lakes for two and a half hours and saw few other people. Sylvia amused herself peacefully in the trailer with a new jigsaw puzzle. We did make a stop at a trailside playground to stretch and let Sylvia get her ya-ya's out.

If I ever design playground equipment I'm going to give kids some bouncy toys modeled after human-powered vehicles. Incidentally, that's Interstate 494 in the background. The LRT trail is kind of just there, unnoticed by many I'm sure. Except for the major road crossings and underpasses you'd think you were in rural MN for most of this trip. The rest of our jaunt passed uneventfully except for Dave attempting to pop a wheelie on his fixed gear while pulling a Burley trailer full of camping gear. That didn't go so well, but we weren't able to get photos since he jumped up so quickly and got right back on the bike. A right turn off the LRT trail puts you on the path leading into the southeast corner of Carver Park. The trail is smooth pavement, better than any trail I've ridden in the Cities. The last portion to the campground is the best -- it is an old, dirt farm road across a beautiful field and marsh. Judging by the trail building throughout the rest of the park, I'd say it's a matter of time before they pave a spur leading across that field. I sure hope not. One last photo for this post, marking our triumphant arrival at camp. We needed a few last minute foodstuffs, so Dave and I embarked on a grocery odyssey. That's where we'll leave off for now. Tune in for the next installment ...

No comments: