Monday, August 20, 2018

Heading Onward and Northward

We recently took a mini vacation to Wisconsin. Not only do I enjoy traveling to faraway places, but I also love being able to take a quick trip to somewhere relatively nearby—like Wisconsin—and still see some incredibly neat things! At first my travel bug daughter (the apple didn’t fall far!) was disappointed we weren’t going somewhere farther away or more exotic, or at least somewhere we hadn’t visited several times. However, I was especially gratified when she told me loved the fact that we had visited three state parks in two days—all of them with fabulous views of Lake Michigan.

We started our Wisconsin adventure by stopping at the welcome center near Beloit, stocking up on more travel brochures than we could possibly need on our short trip. After lunch at a quaint and friendly small-town café, we motored toward Milwaukee, where traffic was remarkably heavy for a Sunday. Glad to have finally made it out of the city intact, we drove a few more miles up the road to Port Washington, a beautiful town on Lake Michigan. For once, the weather was ideal, and while my husband looked around Duluth Trading Company, the girls and I hung out at the marina, soaking up lakefront scenery. From there, we continued north, stopping at one of my all-time favorite state parks, Kohler-Andrae State Park near Sheboygan. Not only can you swim in the water and walk along the beautiful sandy beaches, but you can also hike among the spectacular dunes areas. Tired after hiking and wading, we drove north to where we were staying in Manitowoc.

 The hotel was located right on the lake, with access to a lakeside path. After dinner we took a walk and experienced the moon coming up over the water, a spectacular fiery reddish-orange color. We ate breakfast the next day on the patio with tables and chairs facing—you guessed it—the lake! For a landlubber like me, being able to experience these majestic waters is a special treat, and I don’t turn down an opportunity to soak it up as much as possible. Leaving the hotel, we headed
northward, commenting on the awesome bike and pedestrian trails that connected all the public beaches along the way. We decided to venture into the Door County Peninsula. After stops at Door Peninsula Winery and Door County Coffee, we changed our original plan and kept going to Peninsula State Park. We did not regret our decision and experienced more gorgeous lakeside scenery, but this time from along the skyline drive, with views of not only the lake but also some of the tiny islands nearby.

Since we wanted to visit another one of my all-time favorite state parks, Point Beach State Forest, we finally started southward. Though worn out from an already busy day, we still managed to find some energy to explore this park and spent time “just chilling” on the beach.
The next day started for home, taking a route not only to bypass busy weekday traffic through Milwaukee, but also to see some different scenery. Although I was sad to head inland, I was excited to visit Horicon Marsh. This marsh includes both state and federal portions and encompasses 32,000 acres. You can imagine the diversity of plants and animals that inhabit this area!  
Although our trip was too short, it gave us a chance to spend some wonderful family time together
and experience new things at some of our favorite old places. For those of you who have read any of my Nature Station Mysteries, the characters in Freak of Nature take a trip similar to this one, even stumbling upon a body at one of the stops. That’s one travel experience I can do without!