Wisco Caves, An Apple Fest near Appleton, Bay Beach and a Nephew Dedication Weekend

Thursday
My sister invited us to a dedication for our nephews Harvey and Brayden. Since we hadn't been to the Fox Valley since March, we figured, why not? My dad was out of the town for the Father-Son Weekend at the cottage. My mom had to work all weekend so it was pretty quiet at home. Meadow was super excited to play with new toys before she went to bed..

Friday
And  a new-to-her swing in the morning.

After breakfast we decided to meet my sister Brittany at Once Upon A Child for the coat event. Meadow has tons of hand me down/gifts from Amanda coats at home. We found new winter boots for Meadow instead.

Afterwards we decided to head over to Manitowoc County to check out the Maribel Caves. A former classmate of mine had been here a few weeks ago and posted photos on Facebook. I'm surprised we had never heard of this place.

This area used to be a resort for tourists as far as Chicago. Because of the natural springs in the area a hotel was built for use as a spa. The spring water was also known to be medicinal and was bottled.

Turns out it had high levels of magnesium. That's the key ingredient for laxatives. Whoops.

We took a slightly different route than Brittany and Jeff. So, we got some swing time in before they arrived.

When they arrived Brittany found a little frog. Marina was super brave.

Some of the deeper caves are only open during monthly tours. There were still a few that we could climb in. Meadow thought this one was just for kids and kept crawling through.

Everyone was brave enough to go through the little cave tunnel. I couldn't do this one.

It was a tight squeeze for adults.

I love that we drove through flat farm land to get here and out of no where these bluffs show up.

We all gave the little cave tunnel a try.

Except me.

The next few caves were more to my liking.


She just kept on going back in.

I thought she would be too scared to go in.

We all headed inside this one with our cell phone flashlights. I guess we should have brought our headlamps. We quickly left when Scott noticed a swarm of spiders.

Next onto Pancake Cave.

I couldn't get much further than here.

We climbed rocks instead.


The girls found the "springs".

Mmmm...laxative water.

We spotted a suspension bridge in the distance and decided to try and find it.

What we thought was the way to bridge brought us to a much cooler surprise.

The building in the distance was the hotel that once housed all the tourists.

We saw the building in the foreground first, then Scott told us to keep walking. The ruins were on private property so this was as close as we could get.

The bottling house for the mineral spring water was on park grounds.

We then decided to keep hiking along the creek.


We eventually turned around when we realized the bridge was in the wrong direction. Instead the girls rode their bikes together. Marina is already on a two-wheeler peddle bike.

We decided to drive by the hotel again. I guess most of the building was still standing a few years ago before a tornado came through.

This building was used as the hotel until the 20's when it sat empty for awhile. It was a bar until the 1980's when a fire burned the inside.

We had to head back home to go out for dinner with my mom.

I was really craving El Jaripeo.  I guess I wasn't the only one.


Saturday
The next morning we met up with Donna, Malcom and Pippa at an Applefest nearby.

It was super chill and not even a little busy when we arrived.


They did have apple and cheese samples.

The kids were excited to see each other and then didn't play much.

Typical toddlers.

We all thought there would be pick your own apples. That wasn't the case. Malcom got the okay for us to walk around the orchard at least.

It was a nice consolation and a chance to catch up with the Hills.

When we returned there were soda and hard cider samples.

Meadow decided the pumpkins were more interesting.

Pippa picked a bunch clover in the orchard, then gave one to everyone she saw.

Where's Meadow?

We were talking about going somewhere for lunch when we lost Meadow. Apparently she was going to drive.

We settled on Culver's with the Hills. Pumpkin malts and butter burgers ensued.

Donna brought up Bay Beach in one of our conversations and we decided to go there for the day. I haven't been here in, probably, 15 years. Almost everything is exactly the same, including the price of tickets. We got $10 worth of tickets, which was probably way more than we needed.

Meadow wanted to ride the carousel first.

The trains have changed, but are still fun.

The conductor has to squeeze inside the tiny cabin. It's quite comical.

Then Meadow and I rode the helicopters. When we were all the way up she said, "Whoa we are so up high, high in the sky!"

I knew Meadow would love it here.

In the distance we saw this up-down ride.

It's actually called the Bay Beast. It's only like 30 feet tall.

Meadow said she wanted this one. I saw other little kids on it so we checked to see if she could go on. She just barely reached the minimum to ride with an adult. Look how tiny she is in there.

I don't think she realized what it was going to be like.

It definitely was more extreme than I'd expected. I can't imagine how she was so brave.

She never cried, but definitely looked scared. She said it was too scary and tickled her stomach. We talked to her about how sometimes things that are scary are fun too.

Poor kid. Now I feel bad.

Next we went down the big slide. After riding the Bay Beast ride Meadow said this was also too scary.

It's was really just boring. I think this was my first big slide that I can remember.

It's so funny to see her ride on the rides I rode on at her age.


We took a bathroom break and saw that there was a drum contest in the old dance hall.

Meadow put her head down for this ride. She later said she didn't want the other boys to look at her.

We thought she just didn't like the fake gun sound that the ride made. It was a-nnoy-ing.

Next we rode the ferris wheel. I hated this ride as a kid. Apparently I hadn't grown out of that because it was still too scary for me.

Meadow also didn't like it at first.

After riding a few times around Meadow loved it.

Brooke, on the other hand, couldn't look ahead.

I was braver near the end, but Scott wasn't allowed to move when we were up top.

And got mad at me for taking some aerial pics.

We had a few more tickets left to go on the carousel one last time.

We could've stayed here all night long.

Back at home we had pizza by ourselves. I looked through old photo albums to see if I could find any old photos from Bay Beach.

Sunday
The next morning we went to Chelsea's church for Brayden and Harvey's dedication. I had no idea what it was until we were invited.

Huh. It's an evangelical take on baptism. Except apparently baptism is like confirmation for these folks. 

Instead of being baptized as babies they are promising to bring them up in a Christian household. When the child is older they can make the decision on when they are ready to be baptized.

Brayden looked really excited. I think he was the oldest one.

Meadow went to Sunday School while we were in church. When we went down to pick her up there were kids everywhere. We eventually found her reading books in the corner.

After the sermon of the century we went back to the house, picked up beer and snacks and figured out a way to bring them over to Chelsea and Dan's new place.

Meadow wanted to take the scooter over to Chelsea's house.

I rode too.

We brought guac and beer.

We drank the beer and ate the guac with chips.


Nolan was ready to eat some slow cooked pork.

It was worth the wait. Dan's pulled pork was pretty amazing.

The kids played together in the backyard after eating.

Most of the adults watched the Packers game.

Nolan had a lot of fun toys to play with.

Then we had to scoot back to Minneapolis.

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