Day 5: One More Hike

I have an unparalleled passion for walking, as you may recall.  Shane’s passion for walking ranks somewhere between his feelings for running and Hello Kitty: tolerable mostly because he loves me.  You’d think that by now, Shane would’ve learned that we have different opinions on what construes a reasonable walking distance.  I have – more than once – accidentally taken family and friends on several mile walks when they were expecting a stroll around the neighborhood.

As a result of this, I try to be very clear about the actual distance we are going to be traveling. Five blocks to a restaurant.  A mile and a half to the coffeeshop.  A parking spot literally around the corner.  Or, in the case, of this morning’s hike, about five miles.

We’d had breakfast and a morning campfire. We’d packed up our campsite. We had nothing between us and Madison except hours and hours of beautiful daylight. Why not go for a long hike?

Firemaker

Morning Fire

Oh yeah, the hills. Or rather: the East Bluffs. Lots of uphill climbing. Lots of sweating and also rock formations that looked like an elephant’s butt.

Elephant Cave

Elephant Rock

Then a tough descent down the Potholes trail:

Potholes

We emerged on the south side of the lake with only, you know, half a lake left to circumnavigate. We had already agreed not to take on West Bluffs, but we still had the south side boardwalk and Tumbled Rocks ahead of us. I’m pretty sure that Shane was ruing the day he agreed to go on vacation with me. I didn’t point out that our distance was less than half of the distance I’ve ran in two races this year. That would NOT have been helpful. I did, however, encourage him to carry on with the possibility of ice cream, beer, and fried green beans when we returned to the north shore.

Hard-Earned Lunch

This is the face of a man who has earned his lunch. Thanks for the good times, Devil’s Lake. We can’t wait to come back.

Total moving time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Total elapsed time: 2 hours, 17 minutes

Average moving pace: 22:23 minutes per mile

Elevation gain: 612 feet

Elevation loss: 613 feet

Maximum elevation: 1,468 feet

Minimum elevation: 957 feet

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Day 3: On to Devil’s Lake!

Given our failure to make drinkable coffee, our first stop after packing up camp was Kavarna Coffeehouse in Green Bay – yet another example of the sort of place I wish existed in Ann Arbor.

Photo by paul goyette

Good coffee, a delicious-looking menu, and ample seating on two levels for those wanting to put in a couple of hours of work, catch up with a friend, or catch the occasional local band. We just needed a quick caffeine and internet fix, and Kavarna did just the trick.

From there, we made a quick stop by Lambeau Field, literally jumping out to snap a picture, then jumping back in the car. I’d show you the pictures, but they’re basically what you’d expect given the circumstances. Neither of us have any particular love for the Packers anyway.

Vince Lombardi Statue

Photo by jimmywayne

Let’s not talk about our side-trip to Oshkosh. A consistent theme of our days in Wisconsin was driving on ripped up, formerly paved roads, and Oshkosh had many of them. It also has a totally nondescript, exceptionally boring Brooklyn/gangster-themed restaurant, and a coffee shop with almost adequate sandwiches. We couldn’t get out of town fast enough.

Fortunately, our next stop was our destination: Devil’s Lake State Park. I’d been to Devil’s Lake a handful of times in high school and college, and had very idyllic memories of hiking, the lake, and failed attempts at rock climbing. I was concerned that it wouldn’t live up to my memories, but we loved it right away – that is, once we stopped to imagine ice age glaciers.

Shane Imagines Ice Age Glaciers

Oh, and once we popped open a few Wisconsin beers:

Campsite Beer

Unfortunately the beers didn’t help with the tasks ahead of us. In addition to all the other things we forgot, we didn’t have a mallet with which to drive in the stakes for our tent – or any sort of fire-starting device beyond our trusty, running low on fuel aim-n-flame. No matter: a helpful campground neighbor took pity and loaned us his axe; he also came back with the axe and some very dry wood to help us get a fire started. In the meantime, I made dinner: mushrooms, onions, and ham in a cream sauce – yes, a cream sauce in a cast iron skillet – served with a salad and English muffins. I would’ve made pasta but, well, you’ve seen what I was working with.

First Camping Dinner

We happily sat by the fire until it burned down – and even more happily turned in early.

Day 3: Novice Campers

I realized when we were preparing for this trip that this would be the first time we’d just gone camping. We’ve done group campouts. We’ve done festival camping. What we haven’t done is the two of us in a tent with no friends along for the ride, no structured activities, no plans.

Let’s be clear: we’re not talking back woods camping here. We had our back woods adventure with the note on the dashboard and the mosquitos and the panicking. We’re talking about car camping, the sort where you roll your car up and pitch your tent ten feet away. A greener, more rustic parking lot.

Car Camping First night of camping

Our first night of camping was spent at the perfectly serviceable Holtwood Campground in Oconto, Michigan. The campground is dominated by RVs that suck more power than our apartment – but there’s a nice space away from the RVs for tents only, and the entire campground is along a lovely river. The campsite manager recommended Crivello’s for dinner, where our steak dinner set us back a whole $12 for a 10 oz ribeye, soup, salad, breadstick, and choice of potatoes (we went with “pinecones”). While we were on the other side of the river, we picked up a few groceries for breakfast – and some essential missing kitchen infrastructure.

Campsite Kitchen

See, we’re novices at this whole camping thing. Shane has done his product research for backwoods camping, so I assumed that he’d have the gear entirely under control. I think he assumed that I would vet his packing and make sure I had everything I needed to cook on the campstove. Neither of these things really happened, and so we embarked on our campground cooking adventure with the following handicaps:

  1. We brought coffee and our French press, but we didn’t adjust the grind on the coffee so that it would work in said French press. The Jetboil did an amazing job with the water, but that doesn’t mean the coffee we made with it was worth drinking. This was remedied by a stop for coffee in Green Bay, then by the purchase of instant coffee. Yes, you read that correctly.
  2. We had no knife. Of any kind. I’m not sure how we were expected to defend ourselves against bears or, you know, slice anything. I’m also not sure how neither of us checked on this. Regardless, we picked up a cheap serrated paring knife, and that did an adequate job on everything from onions to watermelon.
  3. We had about 5 paper plates, and no other surface on which to cut or from which to eat. We picked up durable plastic plates at Target for $1. Problem mostly solved.

With our kitchen stocked and dreams of bacon and eggs dancing in our heads, we cuddled up in the tent as our neighbors shot off fireworks. It rained in the night, but we stayed comfortable and dry, and woke to an absolutely perfect morning. While Shane worked on coffee, I put together breakfast:

Killer Breakfast Sandwich

Sauteed mushrooms and onions, bacon, fried eggs, and pan-toasted English muffins. Shane added salsa to make a killer sandwich, which he swears was one of his favorite meals of the trip.

Breakfast Sandwich Breakfast Chomp

A great start to a great day. We availed ourselves of the pay showers – 25c for 4 minutes, up to 15 quarters accepted – broke down the campsite, and hit the road towards Devil’s Lake by way of Green Bay.

vacation update!

Exciting adventures:

Breakfast in the sun

Kasey’s going away party

Showering outside at Mel’s Memorial Day party.


Going to a Cubs game with Shane and some long-missed Chicago friends (Heather is sad because she can’t have cotton candy).


Shane is growing a beard in a bad beard contest. I don’t think it’s so bad.

Things I have read in the last month:

Things I have watched in the last month:

  • Shopgirl
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Hustle & Flow
  • Prime
  • Hero
  • The End of the Affair
  • Wonderfalls – 1 DVD
  • 24 – last 4 episodes of this season
  • Twin Peaks – beginning of season 2
  • The X-Files – end of season 1

Friends that are moving/moving away:

  • Kasey to Philadelphia – already gone
  • Sam & Brian to a new! house! in Champaign
  • Sarah & Greg to a house! (albeit rented) in Champaign
  • Nicole to Texas – this weekend
  • Erin & Ben to St Louis – June 10
  • Karin to Philadelphia – June 17th-ish
  • Ryan to St Louis and Americorps – end of the summer?
  • Angie & Chris to parts unknown – TBA

It’s been a lovely summer already.