The Minneapolis Chain of Lakes

Lifejacket promoThe best lake adventure in the Twin Cities for three reasons:

1. Diversity – There are all kinds of people of all ages paddling a variety of sea craft, including sailboats, rowboats, paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, surfboards, and old logs. A few turtles and egrets will show up as well, despite all the boat traffic.

Brownie Cedar tunnel2. Urban-ness – You’re basically downtown, surrounded by bike trails, houses, and roads. The kids (that includes me) were impressed by the different bridges and tunnels between the lakes. The section between Cedar and Lake of the Isles is one of a kind – with a shady canopy of trees, fields of lily pads, and an old wood train bridge that could fall at any moment.

3. Activities – Besides propelling yourself around the lakes, you can propel yourself around the paved lake trails, go fishing, have a picnic, or people-watch.

Kids in canoe        Kids in canoe

Here’s a Google map for all the local readers.

Raw Shampoo

baking soda shampoo emblemIf you find traces of white powder in our sink, don’t be alarmed. We’ve been brewing our own shampoo, or, as some would say, we’ve gone ‘poo-less.

The white powder is baking soda, the only ingredient in our homemade product besides water. And rather than brew it, all you do is stir the two together. I use about 1 part soda to 16 parts water, or 1 tbsp to 1 cup.

For people with shortish hair, I highly recommend it. For those with longish hair, the transition might be more difficult (i.e., more oily) as your head has to adjust to the sudden absence of detergents and other evil things. Whatever your hair length or type, it’s definitely worth trying. Here are a few reasons.

1. Saving Money

On average, I’m guessing that a 16-fluid-oz bottle of store-bought ‘poo costs around $4. For that price you can make 96 bottles of regular strength baking soda shampoo.

  • $1 = 3 cups of baking soda
  • 3 cups = 48 tbsp
  • 48 tbsp = 48 cups of soda shampoo
  • 48 cups = 384 fluid oz
  • 384 fluid oz = 24 bottles at 16 oz each

2. Packing

I only wash my hair two or three times a week, so I wont get rich off my store-bought ‘poo savings anytime soon. But it’s also nice on trips because all you’re packing is powder. It’s ultralight, portable, and minimalist. But expect delays going through security checkpoints.

3. Multi-use

Like duct tape, the applications are numberless. It’s good for hair hygiene, oral hygiene – as a horrible tasting toothpaste – and as an odor-eater.

4. Saving Plastic

Assuming the average United Statesian washes their hair every other day and gets 40 servings from a bottle, that comes to about 4.5 bottles per person, per year, or 1.35 billion bottles annually for our population of 300 million.

5. It Works

Honestly – I tried it because I’m cheap. But there’s a growing number of ‘poo-less baking soda advocates out there who present a convincing argument (e.g., here, here and here). People talk about chemicals and split ends and whatnot. They’re all women, to my knowledge, and they’re much more concerned and knowledgeable about hair than I am. So don’t just take my word for it.

The History of Shampoo

Apparently, regular old soap used to suffice for cleaning our mammalian cranial protein filaments, until hard water came along. Now, long story short, we’ve been enslaved by the conglomerates and corporations, brainwashed into thinking our hair needs exotic extracts, dew of the ginko leaf, and other secret compounds found in remote regions of the rain forest. Turns out all our hair needs is a pinch of leavening agent.

State Forest Campgrounds

Frog huntBack before the shut down of our state government and DNR, a huge crew of us dads and kids spent a night at Kruger campground, just off the Mississippi on the Zumbro river. With our uncoordinated efforts combined we probably had a hundred hot dogs and enough marshmallows to sculpt a life size Micheline man. As should always be the case when car camping, it was a veritable smorgasbord.

Campfire at KrugerAfter the food frenzy we went on a night hike in search of frogs and fireflies. Then, we spent a few hours around the campfire. The younger kids started getting delirious, begging for bed, around ten o’clock. The dads were spent, from chasing mallow-fueled children and from finishing off the hot dogs. My son and I pushed it to midnight – the last ones to hit the sack.

Anyway – here are three things about state forest campgrounds that make me a happy camper:

  1. The price is right – the going rate is $12 per night per non-reservable site. State parks range from $20 to $30.
  2. There’s more space – a site typically maxes out at 8 people in 2 tents, though we fit 18 people, 6 tents, in 2 sites and the ranger didn’t mind. State parks usually draw the line at 6 people, 1 tent.
  3. Fires are ablaze – you can gather wood, and it’s usually in abundance.

S'moreeseoKruger is one of many MN state forest campgrounds. The DNR refers to them as primitive, where only the basic needs are met – a picnic table, fire pit, tent pad, and toilets. Usually there’s access to potable water as well. Besides hotdogs and s’moreos, maybe a s’moreeseo or two, what more do you need?