Geowoodstock to TBEX: Into the Land of Leopold…

So when I last left you in the tale of our Geowoodstock to TBEX expedition dear readers, Camp Granola was exiting Indiana. As I mentioned back in May, George had a “No State Left Behind” policy for our travels. And since we had to grab Michigan, we figured we might as well slip a little further north which is how we found ourselves in…

Oh Canada…

Originally I’d set ambitious sights on Point Pelee National Park. Well, as road trips go sometimes, you have to make adjustments. It became clear we simply weren’t going to make it that far, much less get be able to get camp set up at a decent time. So instead of pushing hard to Point Pelee we opted for a quick overnight stay in Windsor, Ontario which would give us a little more time in the Dakotas later on.

George’s excitement for caching can be contagious. He just gets so giddy about filling in his geocaching map.

With barely a dip of our Camp Granola toe into Canada, we blasted out our first international caches, much to George’s delight. We chose to explore a park that was ripe with caches and in true geocaching form, it was a great choice. Malden Park was a delight of lake and trails and we would have passed right by if not for our geocaching quest.

In addition to getting an eyeful of exotic-to-us trees and plants, we got a very quick education on Canada’s mosquitos-of-great-size-and-voracity as we searched for a cache near a lushly-vegetated creek. Roadschooling at it’s finest folks! Why read about the insects of far-off places when you can actually go there and get a real experience. (Pass the cortisone cream please…)

To the Land of Leopold…

With the road calling us westward, we flitted back out of Canada and pushed through the great states of Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, our sights on Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin. A journey to the Land of Leopold seemed quite appropriate for our lengthy expedition. Having never set foot in the state before, I was very intrigued to experience the place that inspired Aldo Leopold to pen . Call it a sort of tree-hugger pilgrimage if you will.

Devil’s Lake State Park…

In spite of the endless tolls and traffic through and around Chicago we managed to make it to camp at a decent time…which is good because Devil’s Lake is one of Wisconsin’s most popular parks and we didn’t have a reservation. This is the camper’s version of living on the edge. There were simply too many variables about when we’d make it to Wisconsin to set anything in stone. The way our trip was going, I wasn’t sure we’d arrive that night even though we were making a beeline for it.

Our best times in Baraboo were taking it easy around camp…

We did make it there, however, and all of the stress of the previous two-days of playing road warrior instantly evaporated as we entered the park and were treated to a fabulous view of Devil’s Lake. Not that I took any pictures mind you…you’ll just have to take my word for it. Or go see for yourself.

Anyway, we were pleasantly surprised by the soft, inviting grass campsites and knew this would be a great home for a few nights. Our grass-covered campsite made for wonderful tent-pitching and sleeping…so soft and lush. Of course, a nearby playground with a dash of a few other kids meant Fred and George gave me their pleading eyes to be let off the hook for camp chore duty. Sucker that I am I agreed. They’d been pretty good troopers through those two blitz days and I figured they earned a break. (See, I’m not a total taskmaster!)

Overall Devil’s Lake was an excellent park but we didn’t actually dig in to all the possibilities there. Sure we grabbed a few geocaches on some cool trails, but by-and-large we explored outside of the park or just loafed around camp to offset the hecticness of the previous legs of our trip. There were quite a few kids around during our stay and since the boys were content to get some play time with people their own age…and who aren’t their mom…I used my window of opportunity to pluck away at the keyboard in a fabulous, relaxing setting.

On the Baraboo town square.

A groovy Devil’s Lake bonus was that our campground loop ended up being perfect for a rare road-trip jogging session. Fred and George have a tendency to loaf around in the tent in the morning so I jumped on my chance to get in a quick 5K before they began clammoring for breakfast. The C-Loop at Devil’s Lake was fantastic because I could be in sight of our tent as well as check in with the minions as I trundled by. It was also a big-enough loop that I didn’t feel like I was running in little circles. Certainly I’d prefer a nature trail but you just have to take what you can get right?

So our time at the park was fairly low-key, but that’s not to say there weren’t few extra-memorable moments. Like the night of the howlers. See, with Fred, George, and Dobby bedded down for the night, I settled into my usual perch in a chair at the back of Big Agnes to get some work done. I was trying to compose posts through the swarm insects attracted to the warm glow of my laptop display. Keep in mind this is harder than you’d think given the sheer volume of summer insect-life Wisconsin has to offer! I finally managed to find my writing groove when some fellow campers at the far end of the campground decided to partake of a late-night howling session…presumably at the moon, but it wasn’t even full at the time so I can’t be certain. Chalk that one up to yet another bizarre camping experience and an extreme test of my ability to concentrate.

Baraboo…

One of the places that required exploration outside of the park was the town of Baraboo. While our tendency at Camp Granola is to stick to parks, it doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate urban education, especially inviting small towns.

Oh Baraboo, you made it so hard to love you.

Baraboo is entirely cute and friendly but we did struggle there a bit. I loved the presence of the Baraboo River meandering through the city. It certainly gets granola points for that. But we couldn’t find a restaurant with an open patio to accommodate our furry Camp Granolan, a definite loss of granola points. We were all weary of camp food by this point and just wanted some good pizza!

In the absence of patio dining, and weather too hot to leave Dobby in the car, we opted for take-out. We’d seen plenty of parks so a picnic seemed in order. I grabbed a pizza from the uber-friendly folks at Mama Mia pizza in downtown Baraboo and headed to our picnic destination, Ochsner Park. Except when we got there, we had a rude awakening because dogs weren’t permitted…at a park! By then, the pizza was getting cold, our hunger was getting the better of us, and frustration was approaching meltdown proportions for everyone…including the dog. So our fabulous picnic idea turned into divide and conquer situation. I set the kids up at a picnic table and ate my pizza in the parking lot, leaning on the back of the car with Dobby.

Feeling slightly recovered with some food in our guts, we cut our losses in Baraboo and headed to a curious little place outside of town where we’d seen some cool metal sculptures. I thought Fred and George would get a kick out of it and I knew I would. Wouldn’t you know it, the place was closed and would be for the duration of our stay. So we didn’t get to venture into Dr. Evermor’s but we at least admired the few creations that were along the road. But it was hot, we weren’t entirely recovered from the foibles of the first half of the day, and we all realized it was time to head back to camp to relax.

Just a hint at what’s inside Dr. Evermor’s. So wish we could have explored this fascinating place.

Final thoughts…

Part of our travel style here at Camp Granola is to just see what we can as we explore. We’re not much for scheduling activities. It adds so much pressure if you have a rigid agenda. Not only does this take the fun out, it also removes the possibility of discovering something by accident or something more interesting than what you originally planned. While that typically works in our favor, there are times it doesn’t. This was simply one of those times. I wish I could say I’m such a savvy traveler that nothing ever goes wrong but alas…not so much.

The disappointing part is that I think I’d really like Baraboo under different circumstances but our time there was just unfulfilling. Not rife with tragedy or anything but definitely not worth the time and energy. That isn’t exactly what you’re going for on a cross-country adventure to say the least but not every minute is going to be fabulous. You just have to regroup and move on. Which we did of course. Stay tuned.

So make me feel better. Share your trips-gone-meh stories…

And now for your moment of green…

Finally got to see Canada geese…in Canada. Are they just “geese” here?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *