Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tough questions in Maple Grove

Camping equipment cash magnet REI has a terrific new store in the "Fountains" shopping center in Maple Grove, MN. Before yesterday, I didn't really even know that Maple Grove existed. What once was cornfields is now a shopping complex. One big difference though from the classic cookie-cutter Mall Land was the wind turbine spinning lazily away in the background. Plus, instead of more mall-lets just beyond the Fountains, there is a massive gravel operation, with tall piles of multi-hued rock that looked for all the world like a North Dakota badlands scene.

I did a program at the REI store last night, on camping and exploring the North Shore. What fun to get a group of North Shore fans in a room and talk about cool things to do on the shore! But there were some tough questions, mostly about how to get a campsite when you don't have a reservation. Two of the parties were headed to the shore for Memorial Day weekend and did not have a campsite reserved. One party could leave late Thursday, one was stuck in the Cities until Friday evening. What to do?

There are almost always open campsites to find, I opined. Maybe not at your first choice campground. And maybe not on the shore proper. Go inland, I suggested. Try Ninemile Lake, or Two Island Lake, or maybe Indian Lake outside of Brimson. They have a bunch of site that are only seldom taken.

But also, I preached a bit, don't worry. You're on vacation. You'll find a campsite. After the tent is up and you've got a fire going, it will feel a lot like home. If your campsite isn't right on a lake, or The Lake (Superior), walk around and explore.

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