This post follows a previous one that sets up the first part of the journey!
The next day (Tuesday), was beach day on Lake Superior. Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island has a relatively lengthy beach to enjoy, with an expansive shallow(ish) area for kids to wade out in. Meg was tall enough to touch for a solid distance out (30 yards?), but Calvin wasn’t quite big enough. We had both kids’ life jackets along just in case, but Meg probably would have been fine without it. Still, it was fun for her to float out on Lake Superior, especially when a big boat would come by to push her back toward shore.
We spent a good 5 hours or so at the beach that day, and it ended up being the nicest day for weather during the whole week. The water was really cold, but when you’re 3 and 7, that doesn’t much matter.
The first night’s sleep went surprisingly well. It didn’t get all that cold that night (mid-50s, maybe?) and we were all pretty tired, so we all got a lot of rest. We went to bed earlier than intended because of the vast number of mosquitoes swarming around. Brooke didn’t really feel like staying up and battling them and, while I stayed up reading for a little bit, I had to turn in earlier than I intended as well.
The next morning, after breakfast, we prepped for a hike near the lake on the the boardwalk. This is the same hike Brooke and I did 10 years ago but, due to the short legs in tow this time, we went a bit slower. Calvin still fits in the Ergo, so we had him in there for awhile, but he wanted to get down for the last half of the trip out. Overall, the hike is very flat and clean due to said boardwalk, but you get to see some of the local flora and fauna.
During this time, rain was heading into our general area, so we didn’t stay out there much past lunchtime. We headed back to our campsite as clouds continue to get dark, just after noon.
That afternoon was on-and-off rain. It got heavier at points but, at least then, the tent was doing a great job keeping the water out of the clothes, sleeping bags, etc. We had some card games in case something like this happened and, for a time, the kids were pretty well entertained. We enticed them with an ice cream trip to town for later in the afternoon, though that trip was really playing “double duty” for our ulterior motives…
Our internet connection was virtually non-existent at the campsite, nor did we have any phone service, so text messages, phone calls, etc. couldn’t get to us. Going into down, we were able to check and see whether we were going to get to go on the cave tours we had scheduled for Thursday morning. As we couldn’t really check the weather forecast either at the campsite, we also were checking such things while we entertained the kids with ice cream.
At the time, we (and the tour company) were hopeful that things would clear up for Thursday morning, so we proceeded expecting that we’d still get to go. We had a deposit down on the trip and hadn’t paid the rest of the bill yet, so the spots were reserved. After the ice cream, we went back to our campsite for awhile.
Around this time, the rain let up enough to get dinner done. We still had the kids play in the tent while Brooke did the heavy lifting, as the site was quite muddy now and we didn’t want Calvin rolling around everywhere.
I should note that Calvin was actually really good about taking showers on this trip. Up until now, he’d taken a few showers at our house, but any evening I wanted to go (which was every evening…), he wanted to go with me, so he and I stayed pretty clean, all things considered.
Meg and Brooke, on the other hand…
We set up a “living room” in part of the tent after the rain started to pick up. I’d also noticed that a puddle had formed near the side of the tent where the kids were sleeping, so we moved our air mattress over to the other side, so the kids could sleep on the “living room” side, just in case water started to seep in.
Ultimately, we made the right call, but for the wrong reason. That night, it felt like the skies opened and Niagara Falls fell from the sky. We later found out it was only, like, less than an inch that was recorded, but it sure felt like more than that on our tent (perhaps it was more on the island that was recorded in nearby Bayfield?).
Still, as it had been raining nearly all afternoon and into the evening, water began to seep in from the roof of the tent over Brooke and I (so it would have hit the kids, but we had changed places!). It was coming in along a length of the tent, but not specifically along a seam. My only guess is that so much rain fell, it just pooled and seeped in through the tent.
Brooke and I moved down to where the kids were, but as they were sleeping sideways relative to the rest of the tent, we were kinda “scrunched up” while the kids were stretched out. Needless to say, without the air mattress and while in the fetal position, we didn’t sleep all that well. It only rained until 1:00 am or so, but it was enough to make our lives difficult.
The next morning, we went to town, but it was still raining, and more was coming in. We’d already decided that if the tour was canceled, we were just going to head on back toward home, as rain was scheduled to continue and it wasn’t going to dry out before Thursday night (you know, when we’d like to sleep on said air mattress again).
Sadly, the tour was indeed canceled. It was canceled before we even got there, but as we didn’t have phone service, we didn’t know that until we got to town. Still, the company refunded our money in full, so while it was disappointing we didn’t get to go, we at least got our money back.
After returning to the campsite, we left the kids in the car while Brooke and I packed up. It took us a few hours (in the rain…) to pack as much as we could and shove the wet tent into the car-top carrier. We were going to stay in Cedar Rapids that night and Brooke had called ahead to make sure we could just move our reservation date up a night and they said the could do it.
We made the trek to Cedar Rapids, leaving Bayfield a little after noon (after crossing on the ferry, which was more full than usual due to trucks and campers), and finally got to Cedar Rapids at 10:00 pm that night. It shouldn’t have taken 10 hours to make that drive, but spotty rain showers and the lack of highways slowed down our progress.
Regardless, it was nice to sleep in a great bed again and take a shower…
The next morning, we got up and swam in the indoor pool for a bit after breakfast before loading up the car again and heading into Swisher, IA to see the old house (it’s still there!) and visit Kava House for some coffee. Sadly, Jazzy Chestnut wasn’t “on tap” that morning, but we brought 2 lbs back for Mom and Dad while we were there.
A little after 1:00 or so that day, we made it back to Marshall! Though we had to cut the trip short, it ended up being nice to pick up Edie from the “doggie hotel” a bit early, we got to dry out the tent (and everything else…) really well, and we had a full Saturday and Sunday to acclimate to “the real world” before work on Monday.
We had a good time! We’ll have to make another trip up north someday to get those cave tours done. But next year…we have other plans…