I have certain expectations and rites that I associate with the season of summer.  My bucket list includes:  (1) a baseball game with cold beer and popcorn, (2) putting the canoe in the water, (3) sharing a late-night bottle of wine on the deck, (4) eating cherry tomatoes fresh-picked from the vine, (5) watching a sunset, (6) a bicycle ride on an early Saturday morning that includes a stop for breakfast, (7) fishing (hopefully successfully!), (8) a chocolate malt from the dairy barn at the Minnesota State Fair, (9) swimming or wading or dangling my feet in a cool lake when the temperature is scorching, and (10) sleeping in a tent.  Up until last week I’d checked off all my items except the last one, so my mission was to go camping.  We ventured off to the southeast corner of Minnesota.  Passing through acres and acres of corn and soybeans in the center of the state, we eventually came into the rolling hills and bluff country that’s to the west of the Mississippi River.  The landscape is beautiful, with two-lane highways and county roads that curve and twist and go up to the tops of the bluffs and then sky-rocket down into the valleys.  We found our way to a Minnesota State Park that’s nestled in one of those valleys – Beaver Creek Valley State Park.  The park is situated so the creek flows right through it.  Even to get to our tent site the road crossed the creek four different times.  We weren’t driving on bridges, we were actually fording the creek and driving through it.  We set up our tent at the base of a hillside nestled among the trees.  Our days were spent hiking and exploring the park and the valley, along with this far southeastern corner of Minnesota.  With all our outdoor activities, hot temps, and warm sunshine we slept well in our tent under the canopy of trees in the valley with the full moon high above in the sky.  And just across the road from our campsite we could hear Beaver Creek, babbling its way throughout the campground and the valley.

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