Moving north in Minnesota, our next spot for three nights was Mabel Lake Campground in the Chippewa National Forest. This campground has no hookups, but at a cost of only $7 per night (half price) with Barry’s Senior Park pass, it was a nice change from expensive and mosquito-ridden Crow Wing State Park.
We hadn't boondocked (i..e., dry camped, which means camping without any hookups, electrical, water, or sewer) much, so this would be a good time to try out our systems and make sure we could get by without hookups for several days.
The campground consists of one loop with 22 sites, and the exterior sites are nice and large. Some sites face the lake, but these were all taken when we arrived on a Thursday afternoon. We chose site 3 away from the lake but on the exterior. We were happy with this site as it provided plenty of privacy, with plenty of woods and understory all around.
We got to set up our new screen room for the first time at this campground. What a wonderful addition to our camping gear this was! We should have gotten one long ago.
Since our site was not right on the lake, we had a nice walk to the public access and day use area to get there. We walked down every night and let Paisley take a short dip, which she loved. It wasn't busy there at this time of day.
We really enjoyed our stay at Mabel Lake, and there were many fewer mosquitoes than at Crow Wing. The only negative about this campground is that there is no dump station or trash facilities at all; you have to pack out all your trash (including doggie poop bags!)
Because of the trash issue, we wouldn’t want to stay much longer than the three nights we stayed. But for this length of time, it helped us gain confidence in our boondocking abilities. Sure, there are some inconveniences: making drip coffee with water heated on our propane camp stove instead of our electric coffeemaker, only charging my laptop once a day with our inverter on, not watching much if any TV, not using the microwave, and so forth. But our 12-volt power system running off the house batteries means that we have lights and running water inside the rig, and the fridge runs just fine on propane. And we can always run the generator occasionally if we really need some of the other AC appliances -- or to charge the house batteries during a longer stay.
I think we see more boondocking in our future!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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