Today is officially the first day of autumn, and outside it's sunny with the crispest of breezes. I'm usually unapologetic about my indifference for summer, but this year I'm actually sorry to see it come to an end. I'm fairly certain it's all because this year was our first summer with Annie. After a long cold winter, we got to enjoy the Minnesota summer as a family of three, and we took full advantage.
Camping along the St. Croix River
This was the view from our campsite at Interstate State Park. It was our first time taking Annie camping, and it had the overall feeling of a new tradition and the first of many memories to be made. We only stayed for one night, and I got eaten by mosquitos, but our time by the river and morning hike up to the the Glacial Potholes were the perfect way to kick off the summer. We didn't rent the canoes that are available adjacent to the campgrounds, but now that we know they are there, we're even more excited for our next camping trip there!
Strawberry picking at Pine Tree Apple Orchard
So. Many. Strawberries! The strawberry fields smelled absolutely delicious and our big box of warm, ripe strawberries reminded me of the strawberries fresh from the field you could buy on the side of the road back home. We made Chocolate Strawberry pie by (the same recipe I used for my mini tarts), the sweetest strawberry pie with my grandma’s crust (and topped with a pile of whipped cream), the best strawberry ice cream I’ve ever had (we didn't add the liquor), and we still have some left over! Next summer, we need to look more carefully for more pick-your-own farms and farmer's markets in our area. Minnesota Grown will be our go-to resource for finding new places to visit.
Swimming at Lake Elmo
While the lake by our house is excellent for summer evening strolls, it's not the kind of lake you go to for a swim. Perhaps that's why we fell in love with the Lake Elmo Swim Pond. The water is clean and shallow and the park maintains beautiful beaches around the whole perimeter. We sat under the shade of the blue and white sun shades and felt like we had discovered what summer is all about. The pond also has lifeguards and concessions, bathrooms and a park--it's an idyllic little place to take your family, and we're going to go back a lot more next year!
We never made it to the Como Regional Water Park, but I think Annie will enjoy it more next summer anyway. And the great thing about Como is that it's right in our neighborhood!
Minnesota State Fair
As I've said before, the state fair in Minnesota is kind of a big deal. It's known as the "Great Minnesota Get Together" because everybody goes. People around here don't ask if you're going- they ask when you're going or if you've already been. School doesn't even start until after Labor day because that's when the fair ends. No joke. It's such a great last hurrah as summer starts to wind down, and although we've been every summer, once again, it was Annie who made this visit our favorite so far.
My regret this year is that we didn't do our homework about the food before we went. We got cocky after our success last year. We got our usuals (Tom Thumb mini donuts, deep fried cheese curds, Sweet Martha's Cookies, All-You-Can-Drink Milk, ice cream, cold apple cider, and apple cider pops), but when it came time for dinner (everything else was just a snack :), we panicked and just tried a few unnoteworthy items. I'm still sad that I didn't know about the new BBQ Split and that we didn't try the famous Duck Wontons or the Turducken Sausage Sandwich at Giggles Campfire Grill. I'm filled with such regret that I can't even think about it! Next year can't come soon enough!
The rest of the summer we spent with the windows open as much as possible, working in the garden, swinging in the hammock, and going out for ice cream. Our favorite place here is Nelson's because their flavors are incredible and the amount of ice cream you get for the price brings a smile to your face. It closes soon for the winter season, so we'll have to go get one last taste of summer before we start in on apple orchards and chili.
Will time always go this fast now that we have a daughter to gauge the time by?