Taylors Falls

I'd wanted to explore the Taylors Falls area for some time. The last time I spent any time there was when Jesse and I went Canoeing down the St. Croix before Riley was born... so at least 9 years ago? My hiking challenge seemed like a good excuse to go and when a co-worker started talking up the area, I knew I needed to make a plan.

So the weekend after Madeline Island, on Memorial Day weekend, we planned to go up for the day for a hike near the Potholes and then check out the nearby Franconia Sculpture Park. Then, a day after we returned a night early from Madeline Island because it was too cold, we decided we should camp in Taylors Falls. We checked the weather and decided 80 was much better than the week before. But, within a couple days the weather forecast jumped up to 95 and we joked that we'd find ourselves skipping out of camping this time because it was too hot.

So Sunday morning, we got up early and headed to the MN side of the Interstate State Park to hike before it got too hot. But it was too hot, even at 80 degrees. Jesse and Riley showed signs of crabbiness, and my face turned bright red. Jesse took one look at me and saw the danger sign of an imminent migraine. We cut the hike short and enjoyed a moment in the air conditioned truck deciding where we'd go next. Neither one of us said it at the time, but I'm fairly certain that we were both thinking that there was no way we were going to camp that night.

Before we totally gave up on the day, we looked at our list of things we could do in the area and headed over to Wisconsin to visit Fawn Doe Rosa. I'd heard about this place, and wanted to visit, but had no idea how great it would be... and it wasn't just because it was ungodly hot and this place offered a lot of shade. By the way, before we went in, Riley and I poured water over our necks and heads to cool down. This would be the first of many times we would do this to cool down. I totally envied Jesse's bald head while I walked around with my thick, dark hair - which is similar to wearing a wool cap in the summer.

At any rate, Fawn Doe Rosa is really well maintained, the staff was friendly, and there are freaking deer that walk right up to you... or bound over a fence right in front of you. We saw a bobcat named Bob, a baby fox, and baby goat, fawn, chickens, cows, ponies and so much more... so worth it coming here. 

I can't wait to go back.

But not when it's 95.

After frolicking with all the animals, we drove back to MN and over to The Drive In, formerly known as the Frosty Top. This was recommended by my co-worker and it did not disappoint. I had the burger, Jesse the Bison burger, and Riley a hotdog which she ate in record time. They make their own root beer, but we all opted for malts instead... because... so hot.  I've already decided to come back for the root beer when I come back to hang out with the deer at Fawn Doe Rosa again and hike the Wisconsin side of the Interstate State Park.

At the Drive In, you can sit in your car or sit in the plentiful seating on the side and back of the building. We sat out back and looked out over the mini golf place behind the Drive In. It was a no brainer that mini golf was our next adventure on this trip. Of course, hardly anyone was playing while we ate, but once we decided to play, it got busy which caused some traffic jams, but it was still super fun. I can't tell you the last time I actually played this game.

I'm guessing it was about 1:30 or so when we wrapped up the game. We were in the thick of the heat and while it was delightfully cloudy for a bit, we knew that we needed to make a decision. I don't remember who spoke up first, but Jesse and I collectively agreed that we would be miserable camping in this heat. Knowing that we were less than an hour from our air conditioned home made that possibility so appealing... and easy. Riley was a little disappointed with our decision, but I also think she totally got it.

But we weren't done yet... we still wanted to visit Franconia Sculpture Park. This is yet another place that I wanted to go for years and never made happen... until the great heat wave of 2018. Luckily, it looked like it was about to storm which was soooo welcome at that moment. We pulled into the parking lot, and knowing that we didn't need to save our water for the campsite, I completely soaked my head and Riley as well. It brought us some relief... and let me just say, I can deal with 95, but I don't regulate heat well, and when I push myself too far (hiking that morning), it was really hard to come back from that.

Back to the park.... for those that have never been, Franconia is basically a bunch of random large sculptures that you can view, interact with, or even climb on. Sometimes there are artists working on the grounds, and tours are provided at specific times. We went off on our own, Jesse telling Riley not to climb on things and me telling her to totally climb on all the stuff. Such a confusing day for this girl, I'm sure. We saw much of it, but not all of it. It finally started to sprinkle a bit, and we decided to call it for the day. 

We made it home around 3:30 which seemed ridiculous that we had such a rich, full day and were still home by the afternoon. We unpacked in record time and decided to call it a win for the packing/unpacking for a camping trip practice alone - even if we completely skipped the camping part.

Now if we can just get the weather to cooperate with our next camping trip.