Camping The Driftless

Last month we went to a birthday party at Choo Choo Bob's Train Store. Since then Meadow (or should I say Scott and I) have been hooked on getting Meadow more trains and tracks. I found this awesome deal on Craigslist for a giant bag of trains for only $20.

The best part of being a parent is getting to live out your childhood dreams. Craigslist makes that a lot easier.

My rhubarb plant is really huge this year. I needed to trim it down a bit.

Isn't that what rhubarb does?

Brooke told me to make chocolate rye pancakes. So I did exactly that.

Check out all that 'barb.

We also went out and did our daily strawberry harvesting. I keep checking farms to go picking, but it seems that we are the only ones with ripe strawberries.

While this occurs Meadow sneaks a few. At this point she's clever enough to go for the red ones.

Also notice my giant band aid. Last week I had surgery to remove a mole that had grown back. They went in deeper to remove it entirely which means I had to get stitches. It also means no lifting, no biking and no kayaking. What a great start to the summer.

She also likes to borrow the next door neighbor boy's bike. She doesn't like to get off said bike.

Here she is crying and yelling for the bike. Her birthday can't come soon enough.

Whiny kids ruin a really great thing.

I made the pancakes into different shapes with cookie cutters.

Meadow loves moose.

I think she was a little weirded out to be eating a moose.

Since strawberry picking was out of the question, and any other fun activity thanks to my arm, I remembered that it was a free weekend for the Wisconsin State Parks. I convinced Scott to go camping. We seem to always plan camping trips last minute. 

We don't typically eat canned soup or cliff bars, but this all seemed easy.

Driving through Ellsworth, Wisc. I noticed some old homes that looked like they were ready for demo. I imagine this home had vinyl siding covering it for years, but now look how beautiful it is. 

I peaked inside since we always say we should when on road trips. Drop ceilings...


We decided on Merrick State Park in the Driftless Region. Our free entrance to the park didn't exactly go as planned. Since we would be staying the night we still had to pay for tomorrow. We decided to just go ahead and get a Wisconsin State Park pass this year.

I have a Wisco fishing license so I figured it was good pairing. We're just as close to Wisconsin parks in Minneapolis anyway you shake it.

The ranger let us scout out the sites first. There was only one other tent camper here so we had a lot of choices. We went with one on the Mississippi.

Not just on the Mississippi, but on an island. It also had an absurdly large parking lot.

I thought it would be a good idea to take Meadow for a ride in one of the carts.

This wasn't as fun as Meadow thought. 

Meadow found some toys in the dirt. Where doesn't she find free toys?


Our campsite was a cart-in site. Meadow was all for hiking in herself. She suddenly thinks backpacks are really cool.

That sleeping bag backpack that we got in Florida is really cool.

I tried to pick the one with the best fishing spot. 

I have been itching to take Meadow camping this year. She loves to be outside as much as she can so I knew she was going to love this. 

Meadow and I went for a walk while Scott fished from our campsite.

I mostly fished for the those damn branches.

We ate a couple of cans of soup for dinner.

Afterward we walked to the playground.

Meadow insisted on stopping every few hundred feet.

I had to pretend to race her to get her to keep going.

We saw many mama turtles digging holes to lay their eggs. At first I thought they were just stuck and needed help getting up a hill.

We learned our lesson.

This marshy park reminded me of the bayous of Florida and Louisiana.

She loves these rockers. The squeakier, the better.

She also loves climbing just about anything.

Meadow ate PB and J while I attempted to start a fire without anything but a few logs.

Luckily I had brought my ax and created some kindling for said fire. I'm damn proud of myself for starting a fire without newspaper or some sort of a fire starter.

Next time you need to try it without a lighter.

She took her time eating that sammy.

Fire!

Once the fire died down we headed for bed.

"Rise and shine mama and papa."

Best alarm clock ever.

In the morning I warmed up a few leftover chocolate rye pancakes.

Here's Meadow's toys that she found. She carried them around with her everywhere.

I was supposed to watch Meadow while Brooke washed the dishes, but she ran to mom instead.

Meadow got bored and set up shop near another mother turtle. She sifted sand through her hand like an hourglass.

Then we packed up and headed to another state park nearby. I want to return to Merrick with our kayaks.

I'm in.

Perrot State Park was more crowded and was more typical of the Driftless Region. We hiked all the way to the top of one bluff.

Ferns! I want some of these for our front shade garden.

Meadow was not having it.

Just for a little while. Once she saw the views she was a OK.

Our map said to look out for rattlesnakes in the bluffs and that it's a rare treat if you see one. I wouldn't call it a treat.


Almost there.

A really beautiful place. I love the juxtaposition of low and high lands. 

The almost of mountains of the Driftless can be quite the trek.

Everyone and their camp guide took a break at the top of Brady's Bluff.

I was surprised at how busy it was being that it was a Monday morning. Then Scott reminded me that it was summer vacation.

We took a less treacherous path back down and let Meadow walk this time.

She made it almost all the way back by herself. She started getting too distracted by everything so Scott put her back in the Ergo.

This little camp stove is becoming a great use.

We also brought ramen along with us. Can't get much easier than this.

Mmmm, noodles.

While they finished their lunch I cast a few times into the Trempealeau Bay. Meadow joined me for a bit of father-daughter time before we started the ride back home.

On our way down to Merrick State Park we noticed people outside eating ice cream. Of course we had to stop on the way back.

The Nelson Creamery was just too perfect inside and out.

The ice cream was so cheap too. Mine was only $2 and Meadow's was $1. Beat that McDonalds.

This was Meadows first cone by herself and she finished it like a champ.

BEST DAY EVER!

We made another pitstop for my inner child. I didn't even know you could see Laura Ingalls first house until a few years ago and I've been wanting to go since.

We tried finding the house on a previous Driftless road trip, but gave up on it before we could find the homestead.

I think hopped-up-on-ice-cream Meadow was just as excited as I was.

This of course is a replica of what their original home looked like.

What??? I thought it was the real thing...

After seeing where her home was in South Dakota I dreamed of having children so I could take them on a tour of her homes. I had forgotten that she lived in Kansas for a little bit. Looks like this is going to be an awesome road trip for Meadow and I some day.

I'm not sure the bread basket of America makes the scenic byways list.


They had bonnets and aprons for the kids to wear so we let Meadow run around looking cute. 

Until next time, Driftless.

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