Voyageurs National Park | 34/59

We were preparing for the ice age when we got to northern Minnesota in mid-October. We were behind schedule by at least two weeks and thought for sure it would be freezing. We were pleasantly surprised to find beautiful autumn weather and not another soul in sight.


Voyageurs National Park is named after the French-Canadian fur traders who traveled these same waters starting in 1688. It’s always interesting to me to picture myself in the shoes (or canoes) of people in the past and try to imagine what their life was like here in these exact place. I would bet that our fun, family kayak adventure with our cat was nothing compared to the beaver hunting expeditions of the era.


We are so grateful that places like these are restored to their natural beauty and protected to benefit the environment, plant and wildlife populations. And it makes us humans happy too!


We got to explore the little islands scattered throughout the Rainy Lake region.


One island in particular was marked “graves” on the map, so obviously we had to go scope that one out. We unfortunately couldn’t find a single grave. Actually, I was totally fine with that, but Cees was disappointed. He wanted to find buried treasure.


Kitty accidentally took a little swim, but his adorable life jacket kept him afloat and he paddled to shore safely. He really does enjoy kayaking, but getting wet isn’t his favorite. I felt bad for him, but he didn’t seem too mad, especially since it was his own fault for falling in.


We were so lucky to time our visit just right as the fall leaves started to turn. I LOVE fall!


It’s a miracle this sign picture even happened at all. Imagine trying to line up two kayaks, not block the entire sign, wrangle a tired and wet kitty, AND trying to take a selfie with all three of our heads in the photo and not drop the camera. Miracle, I tell you.



Before it got too dark we raced to the nearby Oberholtzer trail located right off the Rainy lake visitor center parking lot to do a little hike and stretch our sea legs.


It made my heart happy crunching through the fall leaves on the trail.



The next day we pulled the bikes down and hit the Rainy Lake Recreational Trail with the kitty.



It was just a paved bike path, but it was fun to get out and pedal around and see a bit more of the park.


Feast your eyes on some super old rocks. I mean SUPER (1-3 billion year-old) old rocks. Voyageurs National Park happens to be right on the Canadian Shield, with the rocks averaging between solid 2.5 billion years old. Formed in the early days of Earth, the rocks of this area were compressed, and then folded under a loooot of pressure. Then lava flows came in through the layers creating a mosaic of various gneiss and granites.  It’s awesome that we can see such old rocks right on the side of the road! Geology ROCKS.


The way this kitty rides bikes just cracks me up. He perches like a little parrot and just observes everything with the wind tickling his whiskers.



Vladimir Kitten is the only one who actually looks tough in our mean-looking biker gang.


Voyageurs National Park is a really cool place with a lot of layers of intense history. This land has been through a lot, it’s natural resources striped and pillaged for centuries. First the beaver hunting in the late 1600’s, then mass logging, then the gold rush, afterwards settlement and recreation, and finally commercial fishing dominated the region before it became a protected National Park in 1975. As we gain more knowledge over time, we gain better appreciation for the earth and our responsibility as stewards over it. That’s why we love our National Parks so much! Places like Voyageurs that have been previously exhausted of its natural resources find rebirth and safe haven with a little love and care from human friends.


By the we got pulled over twice within one week and received warnings for a broken headlight, so we had to go take care of that in town. Sometimes it’s hard when we’re traveling and don’t have access to stores and resources to fix things in the middle of nowhere. P.S. can you tell Cees is trying single-handle to bring back summer with his jorts, tie-dye tee, and homemade visor?


Also, this is what road life looks like a lot of the time. Starbucks is our go-to wifi best friend. We usually scout out good wifi and try to catch up on the blog about once a week if we find ourselves in a civilized place. Of course while I was typing like a fiend and uploading pictures like crazy for hours, I peek over Cees’ screen to find that he’d been watching the Cubs’ playoffs the whole time! What a stinker. We don’t care about sports unless it has to do with the SF Giants or the Cubs (we were a bit of a house divided this round with both of our teams in the playoffs!)


  1. Susan Caird

    I just found your blog/website doing a little research for my own family adventure and LOVE it! I am from Central Minnesota and was glad to hear you visited “Up North”! 2016 was a very mild Fall and you were blessed by Mother Nature indeed, we were in shorts until the 1st week in November! We can at times have several inches of snow by October and had a horrible blizzard around Duluth in 1991 with so much snow the drifts were over 6 feet in areas. I love your references to geology in your blogs….I took a Minnesota Geology course in College and was FASCINATED by what Minnesota has undergone in its “growth and change”. Congratulations on your newest addition to the family. Teddy Roosevelt would be honored by your choice in names AND the respect in which you treat the Parks. Thanks for all the great insight and shares. I am not a hiker…..but am gonna change that with all the beautiful pics you have shared! Thank you!

    • Cees

      Oh man! Thanks for your kind words! It really was amazing weather last year – such a bonus. We are loving our adventures with the new little guy. What family trip are you planning?! Hopefully you’re headed to the parks!

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