when we realized we had a two day layover in wisconsin in our schedule, i reached out to some friends we met on the road who have recently settled in the area, to see if they wanted to meet up and/or if they had any hot tips for things to do. they answered yes and yes.
they pointed us to devils lake state park, so we snagged one whole (semi-expensive) night, which gave us two full days to explore what turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise in the middle of so much farmland. our arrival day was a sunday, and we had it on good authority that the parking lot would likely fill up by 9 or 10, so i dragged the kids out of bed (after getting in pretty late the night before), and off we went to meet up with fellow former full time rvers.
we strolled around the lake a bit to find a good spot to scramble up rocks, but only the other mom and i were willing to make the scramble. the kiddos preferred to stay in the water. isaac and their oldest even opted to swim all the way back to the main beach area when the rest of us made the trek on foot.
the kiddos all hit it off and swam in the lake or played on the beach all morning. we had a picnic lunch together. treated the kiddos to ice cream. and then we had to part ways. i unfortunately didn’t get many pics, as often happens whilst visiting friends. we checked into our extremely unlevel spot and hit the showers, which were greatly needed by all after our time in hot chicago with no hookups, and then all the sand and lake water. 🙂
the next day, while derek worked, the kiddos and doggo and i opted for a hike around the lake. the crowds on monday morning were decidedly smaller than sunday afternoon. the first half of the hike was relatively easy and level, winding through rocks and boulders on an asphalt path.
once we were on the other side of the lake, we sort of had to walk out to the road and back in, which was boring and hot. and then i rolled my ankle in a weird hole on the side of the road. because of course i did.
i hobbled along, with our ultimate goal being an off-leash dog beach. we got there, plopped down, and the kids and rubes got busy enjoying the cool, shallow waters.
we stayed for quite awhile. the kids even made a few friends. but eventually, we had to get a move on, because we still had to hike back, along the more treacherous side of the lake, and then still drive to our next campground. so, we had our little snacky lunch, and off we went.
after we walked along the other beachy end of the lake, the trail pretty much heads straight up. like straight straight up into the sky. isaac was a total champ, taking on ruby duty, so i could focus on not making my ankle any worse. she can be really annoying on rock scrambling types of hikes.
we took lots of breaks. things started to get grumbly. but we continued up soooooo many rocks and stairs. there were plenty of stunning lake views along the way.
near-ish to the top, we reached balanced rock. one of many balanced rocks we have encountered in our travels. :). i made anna and hazel stand in such a way as to block out a couple of hikers who decided to take an extended break in the middle of all other hikers photoshoot. and then, more uphill…
things were not going well. there was about to be a mutiny. but, we were far enough along that we didn’t want to turn back. not to mention, so steep that it would have been sort of treacherous going in the opposite direction. we were close. so close. just a break before the final ascent. a break with good views, only to be enjoyed by the least grumpy (and smallest) lidkid and myself, while the rest “regrouped”.
and then we climbed. but, unlike other epic pinnacles, the final push just got us to a random split in the trail. no cool overlooks. no fab views at all. just the top of the climb and a decision to be made as to our return route. obviously, we picked the shortest one and headed back down. there were a lot of great views along the way, but also still a LOT of grumbling…
i mean a lot. later, we would discover, that anna was wearing shoes that were THREE sizes too small. i feel like a bad mom, but in my defense, they wear slides a LOT and when we packed for the trip, she never said anything about them being too tight. we rectified the situation at the next spot. sheesh.
anyways. we all survived and made it to the beach end of the lake where we were parked. there was another off-leash dog area, but it was really gross and rocky and had no shady spots. we didnt’ last long at all.
isaac took ruby to the car, while i took the girls to the more lovely swimming area from the day before. then the sun disappeared behind the clouds and we were all super chilly, so we made a quick change into warm clothes and treated ourselves (not including myself) to a giant ice cream cone, picked up some stickers and a t-shirt from the gift shop, and hit the road.
we met up with derek outside st. paul, minnesota, where we promptly all conked out immediately.