Week 13 – Cotton, MN

IMG_6867We’re writing you from our third Monday in a row up at Jim’s folks’ cabin in Minnesota. We arrived here two weeks ago yesterday and it’s been such a wonderful time enjoying family and summer on the lake. We’re up early this morning to get Betha into a transmission specialist so we can (hopefully) hit the road again this week with a good-as-new RV!

What an incredibly full week it’s been, our cups runneth over. Last Monday we were also up at the crack of dawn to start the journey to the Boundary Waters. We got the gang of 10 people (including a 14 month old!) with all of our gear loaded up into the trucks and drove for about 2 and a half hours north toward the spot we would enter the water in our rented kevlar canoes. We split the 20160801_194340.jpggroup up into 3 canoes (we took Jim Sr as our third canoer and navigator, he’s been coming out here since he was a kid) and tried to split the gear and food up evenly as well, then we started paddling east. We had pretty good luck on the way out as we had the wind to our backs, making paddling that much faster and easier. We had one portage during this journey, meaning we had to unload the canoes and carry everything over land to the other side, where we then load it back into the canoe and continue paddling. After about 7 miles, we found a camp spot that we decided to call home for the next few days. Everyone got their tents up, we set up the common area, and then everyone settled in for an afternoon nap 20160804_195450in our hammocks…ahhhh the bliss of sleeping in the trees out in wilderness. This trip is a Burho tradition and since Jim Sr and Sheila got their summer cabin up here about 7 years ago, the siblings have turned this into their family reunion. Apparently, this is one of the warmest trips yet, which was a little rough for the paddling but it was glorious for lake swims and evenings around the campfire. The rest of Monday was spent getting settled in and having an amazing dinner thanks to sister Farren – she planned the entire menu ahead of time and wrapped it all up in aluminum foil. We had black bean and sweet potato burritos on Monday followed by banana boats for dessert (warmed bananas in the campfire with marshmallows and chocolate inside!). We knew there was a storm predicted for the evening so we packed everything up before bed and put the fly over the tent, which was super sad because we had to cover up the sky of endless stars that we could see from our sleeping bags.

20160801_193555Tuesday was a wonderfully relaxing day spent at the campground. We slept in, the morning still wet from the night before, and eventually drug ourselves down to join the group for breakfast. Again, thanks to Farren, we had a delish breakfast of omelets and fruit. How she managed to plan and prepare meals for 10 people while caring for a 14 month old is beyond us, but she did an incredible job. Everyone loved having baby Elliot with us on the trip, she did such a great job camping and just loved covering herself in dirt. After breakfast, we decided to go for a nice long swim across the lake and sister Jamey came with us…those Burhos sure can swim, Heather had a hard time keeping up! The rest of the day consisted of hammock reading and napping and the boys defending our precious food supply from the chipmunks sneaking around looking for a free meal (their seemingly innocent demeanor was no match for cousin John’s slingshot). That evening we had another gourmet meal of pork chops and veggies and were able to turn in for the evening with the tent open and sky full of stars, it’s those magical moments that make being out in the wilderness so rewarding. Jamey is far more hardcore and actually slept outside of the tent, she was rewarded when she woke up to bright lights in the sky and discovered it was Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights! We were so jealous of her.

20160803_145115Wednesday we decided to go on an outing for the day, well the baby and crew decided to stay back at camp and relax while the rest of us ended up exhausting ourselves with an 8 mile paddle. We headed out further east into the Boundary Waters, zigzagging back and forth through Canadian and American waters. It was another warm day and we had mostly empty canoes this time, making portaging and paddling nice and easy. We paddled for a few hours before pulling over onto Canadian land to have lunch and rest for a bit. It wasn’t an ideal spot to set up our hammocks so we backtracked a little after lunch and the 6 of us set up “Hammock Island”. Everyone set their hammock up and we had a good hour and a half rest before jumping back into the canoe to head toward camp. Jim Sr had caught a nice wide mouth bass earlier in the day and everyone was looking forward to cooking it once we got back (it was hard to watch the poor fish being dragged behind us all day before we ate him though). On the paddle back, Jim Sr noticed a bald eagle over on the shore, he was perched really low to the ground and was just massive! We slowly tried to get a little closer but eventually he up and flew away…though upon getting closer, we noticed it must have been the mama watching over her juvenile, who was still there! We paddled quietly and slowly and were able to come within a couple of feet of the juvenile, whose head had yet to turn white,20160803_170437 while he was devouring his dinner right before our eyes. He must have been 2-3 feet tall, both birds were just majestic and so big! Eventually, we let the bird finish his dinner in peace while we headed back to camp. The crew had dinner going so Jim Sr cooked up the bass as an appetizer; fresh fish a’la Jim is incredibly delicious! It was our last night at camp so of course, we had to have s’mores before the camping was over. Jim made a two-pronged roasting stick and made some extra delicious marshmallows, he’s a very patient roaster making sure the marshmallow is 20160803_204217ooey and gooey without burning it. During our day trip earlier, we ran into a lady who warned us of a storm that would be coming that evening, we had no idea there was even rain in the forecast. Thank goodness for her, we storm-proofed everything before bed again and set the cover over the tent, wondering a little if it would even rain. Around 3:00 am we were woken by loud crashes of thunder and what sounded to be very close lightning hitting the ground! A man was recently killed in the area during a storm when a tree fell on him in his tent, that story and the incredible decibel level of storm made us just a little bit nervous (it was probably the loudest lightening and thunder we’d ever heard but baby Elliot slept right through it somehow!). The storms during the trip only came at night, leaving the days sunny and warm again, we certainly felt lucky to have had such nice weather during the day!

20160804_194917Thursday morning we were set to depart and head back to the cabin. We had a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee before everyone started working to break camp. It took a couple of hours but we were in the canoes with all of our gear around 11:30am. Turns out, we chose the windiest possible day to canoe west…we’re talking sustained winds of 15+ mph blowing straight at us for all 7 miles. We pulled over a couple of times to rest, once as a group to have some snacks and refuel for the rest of the journey into the wind. A few hours later, around 3:00, we finally reached the outfitters where we had started the journey. We got the canoes unloaded as quickly as possible (many hands make light work) and beelined it for Dairy Queen. It’s amazing how good DQ tasted after the harrowing paddle back to civilization. We got back to the cabin, took long luxurious showers, and enjoyed a wonderful home cooked meal by Sheila while we shared our favorite parts about the camping trip.

20160806_145555Friday was a nice low key day around the cabin with the whole group still here. Most of them went out off-roading during the day but we chose to stay behind and rest, we were pretty beat after the camping trip! We did a lot of eating and drinking and ended the day with a family game of girl vs boy Guesstures. It got intense but it was a lot of fun and the girls ended up taking home the win! Saturday was more of the same, quality family time and trying to fit all the fun activities the cabin has to offer into a couple of days. Saturday was the also the day of the big yard-golf tournament. Jim Sr has a pretty impressive 18 hole set up around the cabin for this very occasion. 20160806_221759As much as the rest of us put of a good fight, we couldn’t beat the guy with the home field advantage. Saturday evening baby Elliot, Farren, and Wolfgang were the first to depart the week of reunioning as they headed back to Connecticut. The evening then ended with scotch on the porch and a few trips from Jim Sr’s custom built outdoor sauna and the lake (3 trips to the sauna and 3 trips to the lake, that’s the proper way to do it).

20160807_113658-PANO - EditedSunday we were up relatively early to see Jamey and cousin Jerry off as Jamey headed back to Guatemala and Jerry to the Twin Cities. Then there were 6. Once they left, the group wanted to go do some shooting so we took the truck to a nearby area, set up the targets, and spent a few hours learning, practicing, or just blowing things up, depending on individual skill levels. After lunch, cousins John and Jen headed out as well, leaving just us and the folks. Poor Sheila has been cooking her little head off all week feeding 11 people, so we decided to go out to dinner at the local dive before calling it an early night.

20160801_202846Truly, our hearts are full after spending so much quality time with Jim’s family and being up at the cabin. It’s lush and green up here with no shortage of things to do, the weather has been next to perfect every day and the sunsets have been absolutely stunning. We’re excited to get back on the road this week but will certainly be sad to leave at the same time.

Stay with us as we sail into the sunset and through a few new states in this upcoming week. Keep your fingers crossed that we get Bertha running with no more problems and thank you again for reading our story!

Total RV Trip Miles: 5,743



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