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Honeymoon But With Kids: Duluth Sailing and Madeline Island Beach Days

Day 1


Exactly 10 years ago Scott and I took a 10 day trip to Upper Michigan. While we were on this trip I said we should do this again with our kids in 10 years. Flash forward 10 years and here we are. We are following our same route and visiting the same places with a few additions.


Thankfully we had these two kids in the preceding 10 years and they're road trip pros at this point.

The start of the trip takes us to Duluth. We had planned to leave in the morning and arrive around noon. While packing up the car Scott noticed our car battery was dead. 

I asked our neighbor for a jump and we were soon back on track. We never left our dome light on in 4 years at the condo, but somehow have managed to do this twice since moving. I guess a dark garage will do that. 

Once that was fixed we had to figure out the puzzle of fitting 3 bikes onto our bike rack. By the time we were off we were getting hungry. Scott has always wanted to try Tobie's to see what the hype was all about. 

After waiting for a really long time I brought the restaurant pager back to the desk. They let us know that they had been looking for us. I guess not hard enough.

Since we'd been inside here last the diner side of the business had become a gift shop. We had no clue they had two other large dining rooms. The food totally matched the grandma aesthetic.

Theo thought it was cool that there was no glass in the windows. 

Would I go back? Probably not for dinner, but the baked goods are probably worth a stop.

Since we were going to be camping 90% of the time and only in the car a few hours a day we didn't bring any screens for the kids. They also needed the break. Mini Magnatiles for the win. 

Luck would have it that Theo broke the Nintendo Switch the night before the trip anyway. I think even us adults were excited for a good long escape from our internet addled brains.

After one more stop we finally arrived at Blake's house around 4:00. 

Earlier this summer Blake bought a sailboat. We finally got a chance to take a ride. 

How does Blake always manage to make Duluth more magical.

The kids and I sat back by Blake.


I enjoyed the views from the front of the boat. 

You know you couldn't get me to sit up front. 




Blake keeps his boat supplied with beer and snacks for his guests. 

Mmm....beer.

Blake took us along Minnesota and Wisconsin Points to Superior's Barkers Island. The kids (including the big one) spotted a playground.

We took the kids over to the Barker Island Beach. I spy the Fairlawn Mansion in the distance. 



There's mini golf on the island and the kids wanted to play of course. 

Vacation spending always gets me worried, but heck this was the longest vacation we've ever taken. We had to have fun.

The sun was starting to set so it was time to head back. 


I always wonder why we don't live in Duluth after each visit.

It would take away the magic.



Theo proclaimed that he was now Captain Theo. 

Tradition would have taken us to Thirsty Pagan for dinner but everyone else wanted Wasabi for sushi. Unfortunately I had developed a full blown migraine during the meal and was too nauseous to finish my plate. 

I probably would've enjoyed Thirsty Pagan more, but the kids love all you eat sushi.

Day 2



Since we come to Duluth frequently we only stayed for one night. 

Breakfast should have taken us to Uncle Loui's. Instead, Blake made their pancake batter french toast. Theo kept asking why it was green. No idea where you are seeing green, Theo. 

Theo was fully in support of car magnatiles for the first half of the trip.

On our drive to Bayfield we kept seeing signs for tree ripened peaches. 

I was kind of astounded that the Bayfield Peninsula could grow peaches on Lake Superior!

Once we arrived we were very disappointed to find they were shipped in from Colorado. Boo hiss. 

I guess we should've known better. 

We settled on the Manypenny Bistro for lunch in Bayfield before we headed to Madeline Island.

We maybe had bigger eyes than stomachs and ordered too much food. 

Theo only ate french fries and Meadow barely touched her buttered noodles. Ah well. Our gyro pizza hit the spot.

We weren't really sure this was going to work but after some cussing we managed to get everything we'd need for the next 2 days onto our bikes. 

I was worried that my bike or the trailer would break, but despite the weight it was never an issue.

When Scott and I biked onto Madeline Island 10 years I remember waiting with our packed bikes when a mom and her kids walked by. One of the kids pointed out that we just had our bikes. The mom responded saying, "We could do that too but we have too much stuff." I swore then that that wasn't going to be us. 

We probably had too much stuff, but it would be fine for a there-and-back trip across the island. If we were actually bikecamping we'd have had different equipment.

Here we go. 

The easy part of the adventure.

We told Meadow we would be biking on Madeline Island but didn't tell her how far it was. 

Once we started biking Theo was surprised the island had nature. I'm not sure what he was expecting.

Well, we think he was expecting Mackinac Island, which would happen later in the week.

I had little memory of biking this last time. 

I definitely don't remember biking next to Lake Superior. Maybe we took a different route.

Google Maps wanted to take us through the State Park to Big Bay Town Park. Don't do it. We wisely choose the correct road to the town park. But you can just follow the signs.

Scott was insistent on going that route and I knew that didn't seem right. Google maps has also claimed ATV trails were roads so not always trustworthy.

The curb lane was too small for my trailer. At this point in the 7 mile bike ride I started to tire. 


Theo's at the age where this is his last year in the child seat. 

We made it! I also remembered this ride being a lot harder back then. I thought it was easy and went fast.

I guess it depends if you're lugging a trailer full of  camping equipment. Ha. But honestly it wasn't too bad.
 

Once we set up camp the kids couldn't wait to play in the water. 


Meadow checked out the Lake Superior side of Big Bay Beach, but everyone mostly stuck to the outlet to the lagoon.



I can't say I was super excited for camp meals, but at least we'd be eating out half the time. Just not on Madeline Island.

These vacuum packed pasta meals work so well as camp meals. 

Day 3

We woke up and prepped breakfast. We needed some energy before our bike ride back to the ferry.

We weren't heading back just yet, we had a full day on the island to do.

Ever since our Boundary Waters trip with Voyageur Canoe Outfitters the kids have hot chocolate or apple cider with their breakfast when we camp.

Scott wasn't sure about staying two nights on Madeline Island as there's not much to do. Since this trip was going to have a lot I figured the kids would enjoy a beach day. We lucked out with good weather for the day. 

Theo stuck to the shore as he would throughout our trip.

He came in once in awhile. 

Brooke jumps right in while I take my time to get acclimated in the frigid Lake Superior waters.

It's so nice to be outside again. I feel like we've been inside so much this last year. 

I know, you loved the condo life.



Brooke had to get creative to keep the sun out of her eyes.


Meadow was determined to catch a butterfly on the beach. She kept chasing it. 

After a few hours Scott and I had enough beach time. We will never be the family that stays at the same campsite for multiple days and spends every day at the beach. 

I mean, I would totally skip beaches all together, but I give in to the rest of the family.

As much as our kids would love it I get too antsy to do something else. 

Everyday organic mac and cheese for lunch before another adventure.

I was happy to see the campground still has canoes you can rent. I remember thinking after the fact that why did we just go into the lagoon and not onto Lake Superior. 1. There's a bridge blocking your access and 2. It does say for lagoon use only.




It's only $10 to rent for an hour. Or you can rent it for the whole day. 

The lagoon isn't that big, maybe a half day if you're fishing.

The kids just wanted to get back and dip their toes in the water.

Every time we passed this Theo had to dance on top. 

Meadow begged me to take her swimming again. 


Theo and I came over after they were gone forever. The one bad thing about biking in is that you're kind of marooned at Big Bay Town Park. I mean you could walk over to Big Bay State Park. 

Now Theo wanted to play in the water, but the sun was about to set.


Theo learned to pee outdoors on the second day on Madeline Island!

This is huge for him. He only likes sitting down. 

When she's not swimming you can find Meadow in her hammock. 

Before coming over to Madeline Island we picked up Meadow a Junior Ranger booklet at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Visitor Center in Bayfield. Someday I'd like to check out some of the other islands. 

Some of the further out ones have immaculate old growth forests. Madeline Island is definitely not home to much virgin forests.

I picked up a backpacking dessert as a special treat. 

It wouldn't cook in the packet, so I cooked it in our pot. It was supposed to be a blueberry and peach cobbler but was more like a fancy oatmeal.



This building was a new addition since we were here last. They also added a solar powered bench if you needed to charge your phone. And the campground had wifi. 

The only issue was spiders on the ceiling in the mens room (and I mean many) and on this old school phone. I'm not sure I could dial 911 with all the spiders in there.

As it gets darker earlier now we hang out in our tent playing games. 

 Still not campfire people.

Day 4

The next morning it was time to pack up. 


I wonder if anyone walking by our campsite realized we didn't have our car. 

So, do bike campers not bring any food? We brought the bare minimum; basically our backpacking setup.


We took a brief pitstop before heading to the ferry.

We never biked back into town because I figured Meadow wouldn't want to bike there and back. 


We got the shady spot this time. 

On the way back we spotted one of those new Great Lakes cruise ships. I did not realize they'd be this big.

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