Earlier this summer, we took a rendezvous trip to Madeline Island, one of the many that make up the Apostle Islands in Northern Wisconsin. Lake Superior is full of mystery, and one of those mysteries I plan to explore is that of Isle Royale. That will come later, though.
Austin and I woke up to a week off of work, no plans, and a sort of dread hanging around us. A dread of our souls being dead for choosing to spend vacation at home! Sure, we live in a campground and are always surrounded by vacationers. What we needed though, was adventure.
A tissy I was in, Monday night, looking for any sort of thrill to beat the boredom blues. I remembered the waterfalls near Lake Superior, so I started there and looked for free campsites. Wisconsin does have dispersed camping, though it is not as easy to find or as prevalent as the land out west of the Mississippi, but it is there. This would be where we'd stay (or so I thought). Later that night, I announced to Austin we were going on a trip and needed to go to our storage unit to pick up our camping gear. Surprised, he was, but knows me well enough that it was to be expected, so we drove the 40 minutes to our unit and 40 minutes back around 9 p.m. that Monday night.
As we arrived at the free campsite the next day, we realized... this wasn't going to work. The mosquitos up yonder are the size of birds and swarm anything breathing. One waterfall we were able to visit, called Potato Falls. Less than thirty minutes in, we were out, and drove north another hour until we hit a town called Ashland. Funny, this rendezvous, bringing us to a town named after me... There we would find a quaint city campground nestled in the forest nearby the lake. Surprisingly, it was cheap to stay, so we showed up, pitched our tent, and settled for the night.
For the fourth of July, it wasn't that busy. Since the 4th fell on a weekday, we lucked out on our quest for personal independence and had it most of our vacation. The next morning, birds twinkled in our ears the rising tune and we drove north an hour to Bayfield, WI, where we'd take the car ferry out to Madeline Island.
"Dunk! Dunk!" the wheels sounded as we shimmied off the ferry and on to the island. First stop was the state park to hike with the dogs. As we swatted mosquitos and ran down the path, we spotted a tranquil spot out on the edge of the land and lake, a faery spot perhaps, where selkies and slyphs lay on the rocks like mermaids.
The turquoise clear water called me into it. I couldn't resist. I stripped to my birthday suit and my inhibitions released as I launched into the water on blind faith, failing to remember my deep fear of swimming in deep waters...
Perhaps it was the shock of swimming for the first time this year, or that deep fear I spoke of. I couldn't stop wailing and laughing hysterically at what my body was experiencing. Beyond the rocks sprawled hundreds of miles of deep, cold water. With a lake like this, who knows what creatures creep amiss under its surface... and the thought of being washed out to sea freaked me out! Maybe it was also the feeling of being alive, a merging of my ethereal self with my physical self, something that doesn't happen much these days. Bottom line, it felt good, and my smile proved that fact.
Despite the intense reactions, I was able to take in my surroundings. Some sort of sandstone maroon in hue lay sprawled from land's edge into the water. Crevices and hidden hollows mazed through the edge of the rocks under the water, potentials for aquatic critters to make homes in. The color of the water truly shocked me, how could it be that the water was so turquoise here? It didn't seem real being in the Midwest, so clean and clear. Piles of poop lay scattered on the giant boulders, an animal's indicator that it liked to lay here. Strangely enough, three types of butterflies came to visit the dung, perhaps to have a summer sip of water out of it or maybe it had some nutrients? Upon looking them up I found out they were admiral butterflies. Later, we'd witness thousands of gypsy moth caterpillars falling from the trees, the theme of this trip seemed to be about transformation and change.
Austin promised he'd jump in too after me, so he stripped down to his shorts and did a front flip in. We all laughed having the same reaction. Water activities aren't our highest excitement, clearly! Yet doing this every once in awhile is needed. The dogs scoffed at us in their harnesses on the rocks, so of course we tossed them in the water to get a taste of the thrill. We must have been here just an hour, for as soon as we dried off we climbed back up the tree root rock wall and back onto the trail, headed back to the car to see what the day would entail.
On a search for a beach to rock hound, we did the entire loop around the island. The east edge had most of the attractions on it, people ended up occupying most empty space. Since all four of us get triggered by too many people, we searched for a more quiet space to settle down and have lunch. On the west side of the island, residential properties used most of the land. One sliver, though, was labeled as forest land with a trail down to the shore. Austin pretty much had it with me and trekking through mosquito forests, so I told him I'd run down to the shore to take a picture and come back. My feet merged with the earth and little pops hit the leaves around me. I didn't know what the noise was until one hit me, and I saw the gypsy moth caterpillar, one of many, that we're eating away at the trees. I found this comical, raining caterpillars? And laughed the rest of the way, stopping for mere seconds to take a picture with my camera before a mosquito whimpered in my ear. At last, I came to the shore and was thankful I came alone. It was a pier with the tide almost flowing above it, a boat ramp, and violent lake waves crashing where ever they could.
More butterflies silently fluttered around us as I approached car. Swallowtails of all sorts, admirals, monarchs. With the island being a protected wildlife area, it was no wonder so many butterflies lived here. And rightfully so, the lupines and sunflowers covered most of the forest floor.
After failing to find a beach on the island, we took the car ferry back to Wisconsin and looked for a beach on the state shore. The GPS guided us yet another hour west to a beach supposedly famous for finding agates. And luckily, upon arriving we found a little patch of beach that we could tie the dogs to a driftwood log while we searched beneath the lapping waves for stone treasures. Agates are always the easiest to find, being clear and colorful. Usually in these waters one can find unakite, jaspers, and dragon stone. Searching for a few hours reaps such treasures, which I take home and make into pendants for friends to wear. It also blows my mind to be able to find stones that I'd usually buy at a crystal store for its metaphysical & spiritual properties.
The next day, we drove home, of course stopping at the skatepark along the way. A short vacation it was, but just what we needed to get through the rest of the summer until we leave in the fall.
Below you can find the photo gallery of the trip. There's just something so magical about practicing photography with a DSLR camera. I'd love to continue on doing this, especially when we start moving around this winter back out West.
Thanks for reading friends, I hope you have a peaceful remainder of your summer!!