Northern Adventure

Last week my family set out on a mini vacation to Northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  We visited this neck of the woods about 6 years ago and absolutely loved it.  So, we decided we must go again!   My dad mapped it all out and found the most beautiful landmarks to stop and see….Check it out!

We left Sunday after church and started on our voyage up North.  Jamison was hysterical per usual, and he had all of us guiltily giggling as he ripped on the very unpopulated territory we drove through.  After we’d gone through an entire bag of Twizzlers, I’d finished a book, and Alaina finally decided to start taking a nap, we had made it to our first destination:  Copper Falls.  What an incredible sight!  But soon after we began, Jamison decided he wanted a better view.  He had one leg over the fence, and then…PARK RANGER (the only one we saw the whole trip)…back over the fence he came!  From then on, we stayed on the correct side…until all rangers were out of sight (heeh!).falls

fam Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 11.22.59 PMWe made it to Ashford that evening, found a Family Restaurant, and watched Alaina sit on the stairs of the pool for the rest of the night.  It was almost too cold for her, which means it was definitely too cold for us!  In the morning, we woke up at what seemed like the butt-crack of dawn (it wasn’t), and drove a half hour to Bayfield.  On the way there, we told Laina that we were going on a Ferry Ride.  She was so excited: “Hayden has a fairy too!”  That is when we realized the power of a good homonym.  Even though it probably wasn’t quite what she expected, she enjoyed every second of the FERRY boat ride.  IMG_4454The ferry took us to Madeline Island–one of the Apostle Islands on the top crest of Wisconsin.  After making it to the calm side, we met our hippie/teacher/theologian/kayak-enthusiast/instructor, Ed.  He tried to teach our group of 11 the proper form for paddling, and pointed us where (and where not) to go.  My mom and Jay each took a single, and my dad and I took a double so we could fit Alaina in the middle.  And here, folks, is where I lucked out…

Slowly, very slowly, we began our trek.  The other people in our group must have had some prior kayaking experience, as they shot out of the gates like American Pharaoh.  We had some good laughs as we struggled to set a steady pace…or much of a pace at all.  As we gradually moved along, the other groups became smaller and smaller dots, and my family (not including myself) became increasingly more wet.  All of us, became increasingly more pessimistic.  This excursion is where the statement, “Is this vacation or fat camp!” was used.  Ha!

The purpose of the kayaking was to make it around a pointe, so you could go under and through sandstone caves.  But then we reached a “trouble area”.  The waves picked up and the sun went under…just like a scary movie.  Nervous that we’d all tip over (especially with Alaina), we decided to play it safe and head back to the hot, sandy shore.  As we got out of our kayaks, everyone realized how lucky of a seat I had.  Unlike the rest of the clan, my seat was raised a good 6-10 inches from the bottom of the kayak, keeping my booty safe and dry!  My “princess” seat, as they deemed it, had served me well!  My dad, on the other hand, had a slopping wet behind.  But that didn’t last for long.  He was the only one to not bring extra clothes along, so Jay ever-so-kindly, let him borrow a pair of shorts.  In the mean time, my dad hung his shorts and undergarments out of the van windows and let them fly.  There we were in the North Woods of Wisconsin with undies hanging from the car! #KeepinItClassyScreen Shot 2015-07-30 at 5.40.55 PMNext, we set out in search of the sandstone caves that we chickened out on seeing in the kayaks.  Alaina was exhausted from all of the vigorous kayaking she did (sarcasm), so she had found her way on my mom’s back.  The boys kept going off the marked path to climb on the rocks, and I decided I wanted in on it too.  The view from the rocky edges was absolutely beautiful.  And climbing the stones rocked (that’s a pun)!  We finally made it to a 15-20 foot cliff where there had been some people jumping in.  Jay was itching to try.  After watching others give it a whirl, Jay figured it was now or never…so he did it!  Obviously, I couldn’t let my little brother one-up me…so I followed him in!  The water was a balmy temp. of about 54 degrees.  BRR!!!!!  But we got videos of us jumping in…so it was worth it (the jump).Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 6.02.05 PMTuesday morning we woke up, packed up the van, and headed toward Michigan.  We made it to the WI/MI border in Hurley, which sits directly next to Michigan’s Ironwood.  The boys went golfing, so the girls were left on our own.  “Surely we can find a beautiful park or beach or cute little shops or a place to get our nails done!” we thought.  How naïve.  We spent our time unsuccessfully searching through the historic downtowns of Hurley and Ironwood, for something to do.  All we could find were almost out of business businesses, lots of bars, and lots of “dancing” joints.  We were, quite displeased, to say the least.  We finally found a park where Alaina got to play before it was time to pick up the boys.  I can tell you one thing, people, I will never live in Hurley, Wisconsin.  Harsh, I know, but just being honest!Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 6.02.18 PMAfter our “adventure” and the boys golf, we continued onward to find some Falls.  It was a huge success.  14 miles down Blackriver Scenic Byway, and after a 3/4 of a mile walk, we made it to the 1st of 5 waterfalls on the stretch: the Great Conglomerate Falls.  The boys and I ditched the path, and began climbing around, wading our feet through the rushing water.  We also did some hiking along the river.  Mom, Dad, and Jamison each took some long, rocky stretches with Alaina chillin’ on their back, and they didn’t mind it a bit!parents
Time for Falls #2 and #3!  Potawanami and Gorge Falls were very close to each other.  These were unique to the 1st fall, as they had steep, steep drops from the lookout.  Instead of risking injury or possible death…we chose not to go off the path and simply enjoyed the beautiful view.  IMG_0779I think I speak for all of us when we say that the 4th Fall was our favorite, Sandstone Falls.  All 5 of us made our way down from the path, jumping rock to rock (or passing Alaina from spot to spot).  The rest of the day we went on and on about how we could have spent ALL day there.  We LOVED it!fallsss Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 6.02.41 PMThe path back to the van required climbing up a bagillion steps.  And guess who conquered them ALL by herself?!  Miss Alaina climbed up probably a hundred huge stair steps.  Laina was born with low muscle tone, so this tough feat was especially admirable.  We were all so proud!  After the wicked staircase, we were all beat, so we mutually decided to call ‘er quits for the day.  Sadly, that meant skipping Fall #5.  Guess that just means we have to go back again sometime!  (:

Our next destination was Minocqua.  We ate at the Home of the Butterburger, where we saw more people than we had the whole trip combined!  Our little fishy did some swimming in the hotel pool and slept like a baby!  In the morning, we woke up and visited some family friends who had recently made the move up North.  We spent time in fellowship, toured their new home and church, and said our goodbyes…We were homeward bound!  We stopped at Subway and won free food (wassup!), and also at a beach near Iola where dad visited as a kid.  We made it home safe and sound Wednesday afternoon.Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 6.08.23 PMTo put it simply, the trip was awesome.  It will probably be one of the last trips with just the five of us, which is something that is bittersweet.  We shared so many laughs, had wonderful conversation, and embarked on new adventures and explorations together.  Praising God for my family and such a wonderful vacation!

Sorry for the extremely long post, but I want to remember this trip forever!



  • Nancy Smits

    Not too long… I loved traveling with you on your summer vacation!