Traditionally we've always taken a camping trip in the fall. Being new to Wisconsin we chose to head as far north as we could go in order to check out what this state holds for us. Our destination was a camping site at Big Bay State Park, located on Madeline Island which is situated in Lake Superior. Loading up the family and gear in the jeep we took an eight hour drive to Bayfield.
Once in Bayfield we then took a ferry ride to the island itself. For Freja, it was a grand adventure! Driving the jeep onto a boat, and then crossing the bay, really made her excited. It's not a long trip, and on our initial crossing it was pretty uneventful.
Settling in the Rain
Arriving just as an evening rain began, we quickly set up our site as darkness settled around us. As we snuggled in our tent, entertaining ourselves with games and movies, we could hear and feel a rhythmic pounding through the ground. The sound of the rain on our tent was meshed with the overall roar of winds sweeping off of Superior, and of waves crashing. We had no idea what we'd find in the morning, but we were very excited for the day to come.
As we walked down the trail near our tent to the natural bay that lends the park it's name, we grew excited at the sounds of the winds and waves. Emerging from a boreal forest the bay opened before us, a thin stand of sand, bordered by grass dunes, and backed by a large bog. In order to maintain the natural beauty there are really well built board walks that meander along the bay, with access to the beach here and there.
The wildlife seemed totally nonplussed by our presence, the sounds of the surf masking our approach as we observed them. We even had an owl come into our campsite as it hunted for prey. It would sit in a particular spot, looking for an easy meal to emerge from the undergrowth, and then would fly a short distance away. Freja proved she could remain silent, not disturbing as she followed it from perch to perch for a while. She also reveled in climbing through the animal trails that wound among the ferns. We'd act all surprised when this "creature" she was pretending to be would "sneak up" on us.
Crossing in a Gale
By coincidence we'd traveled during the Bayfield Applefest. Thousands of folks descend on the town for a few days to check out the carnival, craft booths, and music. We just had to go check it out, so took the ferry over in the afternoon. It was especially fun for the kid, who enjoyed riding the dubiously put together rides, and playing with the Indian dancers. We'd planned on having dinner in town but one look at the storms coming in made us head back across the bay. What a ride! Gale force winds, massive swells, and currents all made for a harrowing trip. One of the ferries actually split its hull! Naturally, we just took it in stride, with the girls playing Animal Rummy. It's a good thing we left as early as we did too, with one ferry out of commission, later ferries were super crowded, with people having to ride on the exposed upper decks where they became drenched.
Overall this was a great trip, and we cannot wait to return someday. Perhaps we'll try a little earlier in the season, when it's warmer and we can do some canoeing the bog. If you ever get a chance to check out the island, do so!