Each summer Shannon's dad, the kids' grandpa Bill, is nice enough (or crazy enough, depending on how well you are acquainted with said kids) to take our whole family on a summer vacation. This summer we went up to the Bemidji, Minnesota area, to a resort called Pimushe Resort. We each wanted something a bit different: Shannon wanted to enjoy nature, Lee wanted to relax, Caleb wanted to go birding, being especially eager to see loons, Corbin wanted to fish, Nora wanted to go swimming, Alex wanted to do it all, and Rosa and Anna just wanted to get out of the van already! This was one vacation that didn't disappoint!

The cabin we rented for the week was more like a house. Full kitchen, 2 baths, and all the comforts of home. The kids had a loft room with 4 sets of bunk beds in it! Here is a view of our cabin from the dock:

Our cabin

And a view of our dock and Lake Pimushe:

The dock and lake

After we unpacked and somewhat settled in, Caleb came down from the loft all excited. "I see a loon!" he cried as he ran out to the dock. And sure enough, a loon was just a stone's throw from the end of the dock. Caleb sat on the dock bench, and he and the loon sized each other up. The loon softly yodeled and cooed back to Caleb's soft quivering voice. It was truly an awe inspiring scene.

The loon Caleb on the dock bench

For the rest of the week, the calls of loons lulled us to sleep each night and awoke us each daybreak. Often they would fly overhead, their calls echoing all around the lake.

Right next to our cabin was the resort's playground area. The boys enjoyed playing some basketball...

The boys playing basketball

while the girls loved the swings, slide, monkey bars.

The girls playing on the jungle gym

Anna would swing all day if she could!

Anna in the swing

Rosa and Nora spent many happy hours playing "cats" in the little fort at the top for the jungle gym.

Rosa pretending she's a cat

By far the biggest draw was Lake Pimushe itself. The kids would have been content to never leave the resort, with all the water toys they offered! The sandy beach had loads of sand castle making supplies, the swimming area had a slide, teeter-totter, big climbing ball, and trampoline, as well as paddle boats, bike boats, kayaks, canoes, and funboats, which can squirt out water!

Here's Anna hard at work making sand castles on the beach.

Anna with a shovel on the beach

Anna and Caleb on the beach

Anna on the beach

Corbin and Nora especially enjoyed the slide.

Corbin at the top of the waterslide

Alex enjoyed being the only one brave enough to swim out to the trampoline.

Alex on the trampoline

Anna loved "swimming," which involved her wading in the water and scooping up fist-fulls of water and drinking it faster than Daddy could stop her.

Anna in the water

Rosa was rather funny. She loves pretending she's Ester Williams the famous movie star swimmer, but with one minor difference. Rosa doesn't like actually getting wet. By the end of our week long vacation, though, she was willing to get her feet just a bit wet.

Rosa in the lake

The boys loved chasing each other around in the fun boats and bike boats.

Corbin on a fun boat

Caleb on a bike boat

Alex was kind enough to even let Nora have a go at using the squirter on his fun boat.

Alex and Nora on a fun boat

When the kids weren't allowed to get wet, (by their mean mother, who didn't want them growing gills) they discovered that the nearby weedy area made for some great frog, minnow, and other critter catching.

Nora was especially found of "her" frogs.

Nora with a frog Nora squeezing another frog

The boys went for the more practice route of putting their catches in a bucket.

A bucket with frogs in it

Caleb even found a turtle!

Caleb holding a turtle

Rosa wanted nothing to do with that whole messy business, and was horrified when a dragonfly decided her toes looked like the perfect resting spot. She kept screaming and kicking it away, but it would land right back on her toes again. I finally convinced her to just hold still enough for one picture, then I would help it find a more suitable landing pad.

Dragonfly on Rosie's toesies

A true highlight for me was the nectar feeder right outside our cabin window. Hummingbirds were everywhere! One day we had a bigger visitor:

An Oriole at the feeder

The boys went out fishing with Grandpa several times. While no big "keepers" were caught, they had a blast.

The boys on Grandpa's boat

One of their catches:

A northern fish

The girls also got a ride in Grandpa's boat, but they thought it a bit windy.

The girls on a boat ride, hair blowing madly

Corbin was very annoyed he didn't get to fish while the girls were on board.

Bummed Corbin

He cheered up, though, when he lost a tooth later on that day.

We even roasted marshmallows and made some s'mores one evening!

The kids roasting marshmallows

S'more eaters:

Eating s'mores

We did manage to get away from the resort and do some other fun activities. Itasca State Park was our destination one day. We hiked several awe inspiring trails.

The kids with a scenic overlook behind them.

Caleb brought his binoculars, bird book, and birding list. He was eager to find as many birds as he could.

Caleb the birder

We walked at a nice slow pace. Anna didn't want to miss a thing.

Rosa and Anna holding hands on a trail

One trail to a small lake had us a bit confused, though. It started at the top of a long, steep staircase, with this dare-you-to sign:

Sign says walk or drive down The long staircase.

Here we pose in front of gigantic remains of a fallen tree.

The family in front of the inside of a huge tree

The kids were all very excited when they spotted (and caught) a small garter snake.

The snake

The big draw of Itasca State Park is the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River. Alex, Caleb, Corbin, and Nora (with Mom's help) all walked down the middle of it for a bit. They thought it was really cool that they were transversing such an important waterway!

The 4 kids in the Mississippi

Here's a neat shot of the "mighty Mississippi" in it's infancy.

The small humble start of the mighty Mississippi

Rosa walked over the Mississippi by foot with Grandpa.

Rosa and Grandpa on a bridge

We finished our day at the park with the kids splashing and frolicking in the headwaters area.

Nora splashing in the water

Another smaller state park we enjoyed roaming was the Bemidji State Park. It's right in town, but you'd never know it once inside hiking the trails. The kids somewhat protested Mom making them hike more trails, but they really enjoyed walking along the shore of the big lake. On the trails, Alex was on the bug hunt, and was rewarded with a big green caterpillar.

Alex holding a green caterpillar

The girls were being a bit crabby, so when I saw this sign I jumped at the photo opportunity.

Nora and Rosa pose under a caution sign.

Even this tree surrendered when the girls approached. (Alex, too!)

Alex and a tree with their hands up

Once we went rock hunting along the beach the girls cheered up and had fun. Here's the gang on a log:

The 6 kids posing on a log overlooking the water.

Caleb was so excited to find 2 feathers that were black with white spots. "Loon feathers! I'm sure of it," he cried happily.

Caleb holding feathers

The girls enjoyed visiting Paul Bunyan Animal Land much more. First we had to stop and ask Paul if it was okay to see his animals.

The gang with a giant Paul Bunyan.

We got there right when it opened, and the owners were just about to bottle feed the baby deer. They gave the kids each a bottle so they could try. The kids all loved it!

The kids bottle feeding the baby deer.

The girls got especially attached to one adorable fawn.

Nora and Rosa hugging a fawn

The park had bears, raccoons, camels, and trout, just to name a few, but the kids liked feeding the free roaming deer the most.

Caleb feeding a deer

Nora feeding a deer.

Some of them got down right pushy!

Deer begging for Lee to feed them.

Grandpa thought the whole thing a bit silly.

Grandpa making a face.

Before we knew it, our week of fun was about done. The last day was cold and rainy, so we headed to the Headwaters Science Center for some fun. We all had a blast! Nora got all her sensory needs met by touching every critter there. The museum worker was impressed, to say the least. Here's Nora with a rabbit,

Nora holding a rabbit

a handful of snakes,

Nora holding a bunch a small snakes

a cockroach,

Nora holding a cockroach

and helping Rosa with a huge boa constrictor.

Rosa and Nora with a boa constrictor.

Even Caleb wanted a turn with that big one!

Caleb with the boa.

Nora also held a walking stick, and even let Alex have a turn.

Alex holding a walking stick

Rosa found a sandbox with dinosaurs, and had a blast playing in it.

Rosa playing dinos

The museum also had many hands on fun labs with bubbles, sound, echoes, and strobe light shadows.

I will leave you with the kids posing in front of the Pimushe Resort's sign.

The kids by the sign

We all had a truly wonderful time, and will look back on the fond memories for many years to come.

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