Minocqua, Wisconsin – The North Woods

When Chris said he wanted to go to the North Woods of Wisconsin I thought, ok, sure, is that like a day trip? Boy, did I have that all wrong! Where has the US been hiding all of these beautiful woods and lakes and rivers? Why aren’t they being advertised more to people in the south or in the Southwest? Maybe the Cheeseheads are trying to keep it a secret?? I don’t blame them! It is so stunningly beautiful here and the weather couldn’t be more perfect!

Our setup at Lake Patricia campground

We left our family in Minnesota and headed towards Wisconsin. We had hoped to stop at at Harvest Host (the Black Bear Casino outside of Duluth) and then get up early and spend the day in Duluth. As we’ve learned, things don’t always go as planned. We got up the next morning to find the generator not working (see blog post “Wishing I Were Handier”) and that really delayed us. We spent most of the morning in a Walmart parking lot changing the oil on the generator.

We ended up stopping in Duluth at a cute park in the harbor, made quesadillas in the motorhome while the kids played, and then went on our way. We also stopped in Bayfield to see the Apostle Islands. The ferries were all closed due to COVID and, truly, our planning in this area of the country hasn’t been stellar so we will DEFINITELY be returning here sometime soon. We ate dinner at a cute restaurant (that had outdoor seating) called Manypenny’s and then walked down to the laksehore to see the Apostle’s from there. We then got back in the car and drove to Minocqua.

Holly with the Apostle Islands in the background

We stayed at Patricia Lake Campground. This is a rather big campground right on Lake Patricia. Turns out, this was the most perfect lake we could’ve stayed at for our family.

As an aside, let me give you a little insight into how we decide where to stay. Typically, when we make reservations for places we do a little research: a) we ask friends and family who may know the area or have traveled to the area; b) we ask people in the Fulltime Families group on Facebook; c) I google a location and read copious reviews on campgrounds and, finally, d) I end up booking the only place that has an opening in the general area because everything is SO busy right now. Seriously, google it, RV sales are through the roof and people are traveling around the country. Our original plan to “play it by ear” as we traveled got tossed out the window once we couldn’t find campgrounds to stay. I’m even having trouble finding places in OCTOBER and NOVEMBER!

The reason that this lake turned out to be the ideal place for us is because they don’t allow motorized boats in it. It is a small lake. Very small. So, the kids could go out and paddleboard, kayak, swim and we could see them the entire time and knew that they were safe. Amazing! The kids spent a lot of time on the lake and Chris got in some fishing time as well (I even chauffeured him on the paddleboard one evening).

This is Holly paddling Chris around the lake as he fished.

We also took our bikes out on the Bearskin Trail one morning for a bike ride and then finished with lunch at the Thirsty Whale on Lake Minocqua. The town is so cute. We even went for ice cream afterwards before heading back to the campsite.

The kids were truly disappointed to leave this location! As for Chris and I, we are usually ready to move on and see something new after a couple days.

Copper Harbor, Michigan

We got to spend one beautiful day in Copper Harbor, Michigan. If you’re not familiar, this is in the area called the Upper Peninsula (or UP) of Michigan. It is very far north and directly on the water of Lake Superior. We are staying at an RV park on Lake Fannie Hooe, which is just a few hundred feet of land away from Lake Superior (check this out on a map- it’s super cool).


Anyhow, here we are in this beautiful place with the most perfect weather.  When we arrived the evening before we made a quick dinner of sous vide salmon (which we had prepared and frozen in Texas before we left), rice cooked in the pressure cooker, a tomato/avocado/garbanzo bean salad, summer squash and dried sea weed. We buy the dried sea weed in bulk at Costco because my kids love to eat it anytime we serve rice. We made a fire and cooked s’mores. It was a beautiful night. I read the chapter 13 of Stuart Little (the book I’m currently reading to the family) and we all hit the hay.

This morning we let the kids sleep in a bit and Chris and I enjoyed a cup of coffee while strolling near the lake. I fried bacon on our indoor cooktop (though I cooked outdoors) and then fried eggs for the kids. They ate this yummy breakfast with toast at the picnic table at our site. We purchased a cute small, yellow toaster from Amazon before we left on this trip and we are so glad we did. We use it almost every morning.

After breakfast we tried out our first mountain bike path. We were lucky enough to borrow a few bikes from Chris’ sister when we stopped for a visit in Minnesota. A few of us were a bit more cautious than others but we took the mile and a half path to the Fort Wilkins. This is a restored Fort from the 1840’s. Typically in the summer they have actors reenacting life at the fort. Due to COVID this is canceled but we all really enjoyed the exhibits and walking through the different buildings of the fort.

From here we rode back into town and ate lunch at a glorified lunch truck that served local caught fish tacos. Yum! From here I did a little shopping at the Laughing Loon shop and got a cute Christmas ornament (I collect them from everywhere we go) and a couple shirts. We went down to the harbor and found a little bakery from which we ordered coffee and some amazing fresh baked cookies. The s’more cookies was SO good but we also loved the chaos cookie which seemed to have a little bit of everything in it, including some pretzel sticks on top!

We all headed back to the RV and the boys went for an additional bike ride down a more difficult trail. Chris took each of the boys separately so that they could have special time together. I took the girls to the beach and we stayed there for hours as the kids swam, played on the paddleboards, made shows for us and Patrick created a giant “pyramid-like structure.” His words, not mine.

Wrapping up today we made sous vide chicken, rice, sautéed local spinach and, of course, s’mores. We reflected on what a great day today was. In fact, as I’m sitting here typing this on the couch I am loving listening to the family playing Trekking the National Parks. Truly a wonderful day.

Holly

RV Park Review:

Lake Fannie Hooe Resort & RV Park is in Copper Harbor, Michigan. The sites are a little tight. Our site, #50,  has what we wouldn’t consider “full” hook-ups. We’ve realized that we don’t really need a sewer connection as long as the park has a station to empty it out when we leave. However, we do need 50 amp power and water. This site has 30 amp power. This hasn’t been a problem for us because the weather has been cool enough that we don’t need to run the air conditioner. This is also fortunate because we had a little mishap on the way to Copper Harbor and one of our air conditioning units isn’t working properly (see recent post titled “Not a very ‘little’ mishap”).  They do offer a number of sites that have full hook-ups. They have a dump station in the middle of the park as well as a water fill station. The bathrooms are older but have a lot of stalls and four showers that have great water pressure. There is a grassy area and a playground in the middle of playground. There are also three areas to enter the lake right from the property. One is grassy and two are sand (and you get one by taking a short dirt path to the water which we all loved because it felt like a secret beach). You can ride your bike into the center of town and have access to an unlimited amount of mountain bike trails. We highly recommend this campground!

Wishing I was ‘handy’

Chris

Husband, dad, driver of the RV, AM walker of the dogs

Time for an oil change

I really wish I was handier. I try, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. The picture above represents the latest issue that we have had during the RV adventure. We could wax poetic on how romantic it is to have left our conventional life, but that would not be realistic as when you drive a home on wheels – stuff moves and breaks. The latest was the generator kept shutting down when we tried to start it up. When we first started, I would have likely panicked and started sweating profusely (partially because we have been in hotter places than northern Minnesota).

The first thing I had to figure out was how to actually access the generator. Its silly, but the YouTube videos skip things like “how to take of the cover”. Once I messed around and was able to get at it – sure enough – oil wasn’t empty, but it was dark and it was not full. Sigh…

That’s when the work begins. I’d go through all of the steps and how I had to talk to the Fram guy about oil filters while sitting in the automotive aisle in Walmart, to the miracle of finally finding the right filter at the Napa store, to finding a place to wash my hands in order to get rid of the massive amount of oil covering them. But I get frustrated just reliving the experience.

Something happens every day to disrupt perfection. I know this from my professional life and I am learning how to better adapt that same mindset to our new lifestyle.