Day 14, Sunday, July 29, 2018 – Day 16, Tuesday, July 31, 2018
After the Corn Palace and lunch at a Taco John’s (this was on the recommendation of a friend – I wasn’t that impressed), I stopped at a rest area. I did some Googling and found a small state park in the middle of nowhere, not far across the border in Minnesota, and near my next destination of Pipestone National Monument. A call to the state park reservation line revealed that they had a site for the next two nights. Score! I was going to decompress and just relax for a bit! Instantly, I started to feel better, knowing the pressure was off.
I made my way there, driving down back roads by farm fields, and heading off on a gravel road to the park. I was a little unsure, thinking there surely couldn’t be a state park here. But soon enough, I arrived.
Split Rock Creek State Park is on a man-made reservoir that was created in 1938, when the Works Progress Administration (WPA) dammed the creek in order to provide a lake and recreational area to fish during the Great Depression. It was small, and beautiful. My little tent site was right on the lake, with a dock that I could walk out on, and lay on to enjoy the sunshine. The fish there were so plentiful that they were just jumping out of the water.
I took a nap when I got there, to shake off the fatigue that I had been feeling all day. Then I set up camp and checked out my surroundings.
Split Rock Creek State Park is small, as state parks go. There was an RV area and a tent area and a total of 55 sites; the tent area had no more than 10 sites. I liked my site a lot, as it was just steps away from the lake and that little dock. The lake had a little trail that followed the lake for a while, and there was a swimming area that was completely deserted the entire time I was there. In fact, there was very little going on here; there was only one other tent camping family for the first night of my stay. I never saw the camp hosts the entire time. The busiest creatures there were the muskrats, which seemed to be plentiful. I saw at least four during my stay.
The dam is made from Sioux Quartzite, a red rock that is local to the area. The dam and a nearby bridge made from the same Sioux Quartzite are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
I spent two quiet and relaxing days there. I didn’t say much more than hello to a soul there at the park. I set up my tent to have a respite from the mosquitoes and the periodic rain showers, but slept in my car. I wrote in my journal, relaxed on the dock, and took walks by Prairie Lake.
I enjoyed watching the muskrats working on their lakeside homes, cutting down reeds to build. I loved seeing the fish jumping out of the water to catch bugs, even though I was never able to catch that with my camera. I watched a snapping turtle checking me out from the middle of the lake, even though I couldn’t see what he was until I blew up the photos from home. Deer ran in front of me while I was walking, I saw lots of bunnies, a woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Mourning Doves, and a Great Blue Heron. It was peaceful and quiet, a true oasis tucked in among the farm fields.
I watched the sunsets each evening from the little dam over the creek. Those sunsets were stunning!
Watching the sun sink lower in the sky, shooting rays in every direction, reminded me of the purpose of the trip. To let go of the hard parts in my past, to be renewed, and to find joy. And I did find joy there, tucked away in that tiny little oasis in a corner of Minnesota. More than I possibly could have ever known.