Mystery Cave Camping Trip

The first weekend in June, we headed south with our friends, the Knoblauchs, for our first camping trip of 2011. We had reservations at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park, just south of Rochester, MN. The weather forecast was perfect, and while we were all excited for a weekend of fun, nobody had any idea just how eventful the trip would be!

When we got to the campsite, the first thing I noticed was that Rae's shoes were missing. Her ONLY pair of shoes. It didn't take long to realize that the shoes had probably fallen out of the car when we stopped on the side of the rod for her to go potty. We put her in socks and sent her on her way. Then I realized that MY shoes were also missing. Thankfully, they were not my only pair! We later found my shoes at the ranger station -- they had fallen out when we stopped to check in.

Once we got out of the car in into footwear, we found that the Knoblauchs (who had beat us there) were having car problems. Their security mechanism had somehow been triggered, and the key would not turn to start the car. James and JP spent most of Saturday morning rigging the car up so that it could start until James could fix it properly at home.

The campsites were lovely, and there were hardly any mosquitoes. Perhaps the best part about the site was a huge, fallen tree directly behind it. Rae is part monkey, and she was in climbing heaven!
Rae loves to climb, and she's good at it!
Our friend, Ezra
All of the kids spent the majority of the time at the campsite playing on that tree. However, what the park lacked in mosquitoes, it made up for in biting flies. Being in the woods, the kids were attacked the worst, and all of them had big, bloody bites all over their heads and necks. Even sweet little Rosie had bites (but she kept on smiling!).

This happy camper even cut her first tooth during our trip!

After the guys fixed the car, we decided to head to the Mystery Cave. We hadn't gone far when JP had to slam on the brakes as two deer jumped out of the tall grass and onto the road, just a couple feet in front of our car. We were almost relieved until we saw what happened next.

One of the deer, in its panicky effort to make it across the road, made a giant leap. At the height of its jump, the deer smashed directly into the windshield of an oncoming vehicle. The windshield crumbled, tires squealed, and with huge pits in our stomach, we pulled over as quickly as we could. We thought for sure the passengers of the car would be severely injured, if not dead.

JP snapped this photo on his phone

Thank God, besides some minor cuts and scratches, neither the couple in the front seat nor their two young children and dog in the back were hurt. The deer had landed in the wife's lap! She literally had to slide out from underneath it to get out of the car! We were thankful to be there as "first responders" with a big water jug and first aid kit on hand to help however we could.

After that adventure, we continued on our way to the cave, but we had to stop in town to get some more ice for the coolers. Since the suspected site of the lost shoes was near there, we went on a shoe hunt as well. And can you believe it -- we found those darn shoes right on the side of the road, just like we had thought!

I didn't get any pictures inside the cave, but it was cool (and cold -- 48 degrees!) and the kids loved it! This was actually the second time we had been in the cave; we camped there once before with my family when Rae was just a baby.

On Sunday, we visited a historic town called Forestville. It's a restored village from the late 1800's that is now operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. Many of the original buildings are still in tact and available for tours, and the guides are all dressed in character as actual people who lived there in 1899. We did take the tour, but the kids favorite part was exploring the old barn and chasing the chickens in the hen house.

The kids meet a costumed guide -- "oh my, your ankles are showing!"
The Knoblauch family in front of the old barn
Rae in the barn
Checking out the chickens
I love this photo! Ruby on her horse, watching in wonder as the real horses go by.
Cute baby!

We headed home after visiting Forestville, and by the time we reached the edge of the park, the girls had already collapsed with exhaustion from the fun and eventful weekend. Camping with three kids plus dogs isn't necessarily relaxing, but it sure is fun!


bruce said...

Sounds like it was a great trip full of memories. The Knoblauch boys are big enough now to have great adventures and I am sure RaeRae tagged right along on every one of them.

Too bad about the flies. Horses = flies.

Sarah D said...

Wow, what an adventure, sounds like fun!

Erin said...

Glad you guys are okay! The camping sounds like a ton of fun.

Deb said...

Ew about the deer story! Sounds like a great trip though!