Summer Trip to the North Woods

Hi!! I recently saw my blog’s renewal come through, and I realized it’s been forever since I’ve written (so says bloggers everywhere at some point during their blogging life).

I decided to share some beautiful photos and a few highlights from our camping trip in Wisconsin’s pristine north woods.  We ventured to Northern Highland – American Legion State Forest – the largest state forest in Wisconsin, spanning three counties and over 200,000 acres.  Our campsite was near Crystal Lake, north of Minocqua and Woodruff.

Just look at these huge trees around the site.

tall trees Northern Highland American Legion forest

My crew looked very happy before leaving on our hike. You can just see the hammock and our tent in the background.  We had to walk a bit from our car to access our campsite.

Happy hikers Go Mama O

Here’s a view of from our hike around Fallison Lake.  Simply Gorgeous.  Needless to say after 2.5 miles, my crew was not as eager to finish hiking.  Fortunately, we hiked with a bigger group of extended family, so the kids kept each other going, while the adults spaced out to accommodate different speeds.

Fallison Lake

View from the trail around Fallison Lake

After our hike, the kids enjoyed swimming in Crystal Lake, a small, peaceful lake without the noise of boat motors whirring across it.  Daddy O. and I borrowed kayaks from a family member and had fun paddling around.

In St. Germain, a short jaunt from our campsite, we spent time with a big group of family, enjoying numerous pot luck dinners and time to catch up.  On our way back from one such gathering, Daddy O. and the kids fished on a small pier.  We were the only people on the lake!

Fishing near St. Germain

Sunset view on a small lake near St. Germain

I read my book and took in the solitude of the evening.  We all watched a few mama ducks cross the lake with their babies in a long line behind them.  One baby duck let out loud squawks, upon being left behind, so mama duck and her babies circled back to rescue the lost baby.  The duck siblings seemed to celebrate his or her return to the line-up – a sweet scene. Fishing wise, there wasn’t much luck: only Big Sister caught one small fish.

We ended up spending some time in the city of Minocqua, eating at Minocqua Brewing Company and Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty.  The shanty was kitschy with red and white checked table cloths, up-north cabin decor, and all-you-can-eat family, style, hearty breakfast food.

Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty

Giant Paul Bunyan outside of the cook shanty.  You can’t miss it! 

One morning we grabbed some coffee at a place in Woodruff.  We sat outside on their back patio, savoring the view.

View from coffee shop northwoods

Another lake in the North Woods

All in all the camping trip and family reunion up in the north woods was a huge hit. While tent-camping for three nights IS a lot of prep and work, our family really has a lot of quality time together on these kinds of trips.  As our kids grow older, it may be more difficult to get away between sports and activities, which makes this time together even more special – just look at me and my sweet girl!

Mama O and Big Sister in the North Woods

Mama O. and Big Sister in the north woods

Cheers to summer, family-time and exploring together!

 

 

 

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Life Lessons from Camping in the Rain

We spent the weekend camping as a family, and most of the time it rained except for small breaks on Saturday and all day Sunday, when we were packing up to leave. As one can expect, the weekend had some highs and lows, but all in all I’d still call it a good one. When I thought about it, there definitely were some life lessons that could be gleaned from camping in the rain:

  1. Life’s Messy – you’re GOING to get dirty, especially at a muddy campsite that has soaked up rain for 15 hours! We have this screened in entry way into our tent, and it just had puddle and mud from our shoes all over. I kept trying to wipe a bit up with towels, but just had accept that it was going to stay dirty until it could dry out. Fortunately everything DID get cleaned up, multiple loads of laundry later. So go ahead and accept the dirt! There will always be a load of laundry to do.
  2. You’re not in control – This is a big one for me, as someone who loves to plan. I look at my lists and pack as best as I can for camping, but you certainly cannot plan the weather, as much as we’d like to. We woke up to rain Friday night that continued practically ALL day Saturday. This changed our hiking plans, and so we found a small coffee shop, where we grabbed breakfast, hung out, and later drove to meet my parents for a visit and lunch. We found joy and fun in the unexpected, reminding me to embrace whatever life and weather brings!

    beautiful latte

    When it rains, go enjoy a latte! This one was so pretty & delicious.

  3. Good Things Take Time – Everything takes longer when you’re camping, and in preparing meals, this is so true. Some of our most memorable meals are when we’re camping. This summer we grilled salmon and red potatoes over the fire. We’ve had elaborate breakfasts – omelettes, fried potatoes, bacon & toast over the fire or on our camp stove. Plus there’s nothing like a perfectly toasted marshmallow on a s’more! It’s all so good eating al fresco and well worth the wait!
  4. Unplug – We didn’t really occupy ourselves or our kids with electronics the entire weekend, even with the rain. My daughter and I enjoyed coloring pictures together at the coffee shop and in the tent. Daddy O. and the kids fished in the drizzle. We played games as a family and took a hike when the sun finally came out. We hung out around the fire. It was good, quality time together as a family….and not that we didn’t have our “moments” when the tent became a time-out location because we did. Cram four people into a tent and moments will teeter between harmony and discord. It just happens.

    Mama O and family camping on a sunny day

    One our our first camping trips as a family. We were on a nature hike in this picture and loving the sunny day in the great outdoors!

  5. Appreciation for Non-camping – We came home last night, started unpacking and cleaning up. My shower felt so luxurious compared to the 3 minute shower I took at the campsite. We slept great in our own beds without a 3am wake up and walk outside to the bathroom. I returned home with a thankful heart, feeling blessed for the time with these precious people in such a beautiful setting.

Though we’ve only been camping for the last three summers, I know it’s something that we will continue for years to come because it’s such a valuable, relaxing time to be together as a family. Simply put, it’s good for us all, mind, body, and soul.We always walk away thinking, “Next time we should pack that,” or “let’s try this camping spot next summer,” so we will be at it again with new places to explore and more memories to make together.