Thursday, August 27, 2009

Time off work + Family Camp = Ahhhhh

I returned to work on Monday after a great trip to Madeline Island, off the southern shore of Lake Superior, near Bayfield, Wisconsin. Our vacation week actually started the previous Saturday in Birchwood, WI, with a surprise 60th birthday party for my brother-in-law, that became even more hilarious than expected when we learned that he had known of the surprise for at least a month, and never told anyone. Nevertheless, the party was a huge success, with family and friends getting together, having a good time.

On Sunday, Pat, Schroeder and I packed up the trailer and headed north, not really sure where we would spend the next couple of days. We found a very peaceful National Forest campground, north of Drummond, that gave us a chance to catch our breath from the busy weekend, and relax a bit. We were the only campers there.

Our next stop was Bayfield. We toured the town, treated ourselves to an ice cream cone and visited a couple of art galleries (one of my favorite things to do when away from home). Then, after checking out a small city campground just outside of town and discovering all our favorite, lakeside spots unavailable, we decided to board the ferry and start our island adventure a few days earlier than originally planned.

Big Bay State Park was our destination, on the eastern shore of Madeline Island, and though we had campsite reservations for later in the week, we assumed it would be no problem to snag a spot on a Monday. Little did we know that the campground was booked solid! (Fact: Big Bay has the highest nightly occupancy rate of all Wisconsin State Park campgrounds, according to a park ranger.) It was only because another camper had just canceled that we were able to settle into a site early.

The weather was beautiful during the early part of the week, and afforded plenty of opportunity to enjoy the beaches and tour the island. (Opinion: Housed in a former schoolhouse, Madeline Island has one of the most charming public libraries around!) I snapped some research photographs for future paintings, and spent a little time sketching some of Madeline Island’s landscape. Rain moved in Wednesday afternoon, and continued through Friday, but in between raindrops we hiked, and biked, and geocached, and read, and ate, and just enjoyed having free time. On Thursday, we moved to our reserved site in anticipation of Family Camp, our annual camping trip with our three “kids,” son-in-law, and the boys’ girlfriends. Camp was a great time, as always, and included some competitive games of Catch Phrase and Ladder ball, a round of golf, great conversation, a surprise visit from friends, campfire stories, moped riding, bicycling, a stop at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe, and delicious food in large quantities. It’s amazing to me how well we eat when we are on our camping trips!

By the time Sunday rolled around, everyone was sorry to see our time together come to an end. One at a time, each couple packed up and headed for the ferry. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, with calm water in Lake Superior, and several sailboats sharing the channel. A few of us met again on the mainland, and spent some time driving around in search of pie, eventually finding some wonderful apple and blueberry turnovers at Coco, in Washburn. We sat outdoors on Coco's colorful Adirondack style chairs, enjoying our treats, while bakers, Nick and Jim, popped a few more turnovers into the oven so we would have a supply to take home.

To a certain degree, I believe we were all delaying the inevitable. We knew we needed to hit the road; it was already 4:30 p.m. but no one wanted to see the trip end. Finally, amidst more hugs and good-byes, we each headed our separate ways.

I can’t wait until we can do it again.

Family Camp, 2009


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had a fun and relaxing vacation and I hope you'll share your drawings with us. I love the Bayfield area! And pie! We'll have to stop in Washburn the next time we're up that way. Nice picture of your family!

mamamouseiam said...

Nice blog. And, regarding Catch Phrase? We LET you win! ;-)

Jamie said...

That sounds like a great time...and how nice to get all the family together amongst busy schedules I'm sure, and still make necessary family time. I love it!