Willow River State Park

We spent some time at Willow River State Park (WI) today. It’s a pretty sweet park, and barely an hours drive from the cities. I’ve written about it a couple times before. As usual, Willow Falls are the highlight of the park, and they were packed with people swimming, wading, and jumping in the water.

Willow River State Park.

I even jumped in myself!

That’s a gold medal right there.

We also took the canoe out on the lake for a bit, and here’s a tip: right across the lake from the beach, there’s a cool rope swing for jumping into the lake.

Willow River State Park.

If you live in the Twin Cities and you’ve never been to Willow River State Park, I recommend you check it out. It’s a pretty cool place to spend a saturday.

Willow River State Park

I told y’all about how last Saturday Mel and I tried to go bike camping at Willow River State Park but our plans changed after it rained on us all day.  We woke up on Sunday feeling a little bit defeated, and we also didn’t really want to go sit on hard metal chairs for two hours, so we decided just to drive out and see the park instead – We weren’t disappointed.

Willow River State Park is located just across the Wisconsin border – and it’s an easy 1 hour drive from the heart of Minneapolis.  There’s a dam along the Willow River in the park, so it creates a large, beautiful lake.  There’s also some pretty manicured lawns and a little beach area (and a full playground – not exactly wilderness out here…).  The most spectacular feature, however, is Willow falls – pictured above.  The falls are much larger in person than the photos suggest.  It’s definitely worth seeing.  There’s also a set of stairs up to the top of some rock bluffs where you can look out over the falls and the lake.  The view is pretty phenomenal.  Check out the photos I snapped along the way:

After we had finished checking out the State Park, we decided to check out downtown Hudson, WI, a cozy little town along the St. Croix River.  We decided to stop in for lunch at The Winzer Stube, a German restaurant that was apparently voted the 17th best German restaurant in the US and received a “10 beer stein” rating (ahead of South Minneapolis’ beloved (but pricey) Black Forest Inn, which was unranked and received only 9 beer steins) in what I’m sure was a very scientific and unbiased evaluation.

Anyway, that’s what I did Sunday.  What did you do?  Ever been to Willow River State Park?  How about the Winzer Stube?  What did you think?

[edit: we decided to check out Willow River State Park after reading about it here.]

Adventure: Biking to Stillwater

Saturday morning, we set off to conquer a new horizon – we wanted to go bicycle camping.  We chose our destination – Willow River State Park in Wisconsin, we loaded up the bikes, and prepared for our journey.  We were camping “light” – meaning we weren’t really bringing any food with us – we’d just buy food as we got hungry along the way, but we wanted to carry our own tent and sleeping pads with us and stuff.  So here we are with our loaded bikes:


Notice that I’m using the sweet new bags Mel made me for my b-day.  This will be their first real road test.  We brought along Netflix with us, just to drop it off in the mail on our way out of town.  We’re hooked on Dexter and can’t wait for the next disc to arrive!



The weather forecast on weather.com said there was a 30-40% chance of rain all day.  We knew we were taking a risk when we decided to make the trip anyway – especially when we started feeling the raindrops before we even left the driveway.  Here is Mel, making an earnest appeal for blue skies to Zeus, God of Rain.

And here we are ready to start our adventure:

The first order of business was to drop off our Netflix movie so that we can hurry up and get our next dose of Dexter:

Good times on the Midtown Greenway:

By the time we made it to the Mississippi River, it was raining enough that we had to put on our rain gear (frown):


We made it to the Gateway Trail, and it was still raining:



We hate rain:


It kept raining the entire trip to Stillwater!!!  We were soaked to the bone when we stopped in for lunch at Nacho Mama’s (click on this link if you want to hear some really, really bad MIDI music that sounds like it was made back in 1997 by some kid in his basement on a pirated version of Cakewalk).

Here I am in the restaurant looking like I’ve never seen a cell phone before:

“Hey Reuben, let me take a photo of you with our burrito.”

“OK, I’m ready.”

“I can’t fit all of you in the photo.  You have to get closer.”

“I can’t get closer. I’m scrunched up as far as I can go.”

“No, you have to get your face closer to the burrito before I can take a picture.”

That’s how you end up with photos like the following:

Mel looooooves nachos:

After lunch, we decided that we were soaking wet enough that we weren’t gonna have fun if we stuck with the original plan to camp.  So, like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, we chose to just turn around and ride home – we’d try camping again some other day.  Here’s soaking wet Mel on our way home:

Here’s the best part.  After we rode all the way back to South Minneapolis, as soon as we were on the Midtown Greenway, a mere couple miles from home, the sun came out and it turned into an absolutely lovely evening – but we were too tired to go outside and do anything.