Northern Wisconsin Daytripping – Part One

Yesterday David, Cameron and I took what is becoming our annual end-of-summer day trip. The original plan was to drive up to the North Shore of Lake Superior, past Duluth, Minnesota, but we’ve already done that many times, including last year. So I poked around the internet and came up with a couple of spots in that place that Minnesotans love to hate. Our neighbor to the east, Wisconsin.

So off we went, and approximately five minutes into the drive, David and Cameron had their first argument. Was Jason Heyward a rookie last year? I don’t remember who took what side, but it resulted David texting his dad, who came back with the definitive response of, “I’m not sure.” And so the debate played on.

I’ve repressed most of the drive. All I know is we made it in one piece, and Penny had trouble settling down. Which is probably why she threw up in the car when we stopped at a rest stop. And again when we stopped at the next rest stop.

Rapids Riverside was not exactly a happening place on a Wednesday afternoon.

The guys had fond memories of a place called the Rustic Inn near Castle Danger, Minnesota where we stopped and had lunch last year. They have amazing pie. We wanted a repeat of that experience, but Superior, Wisconsin is not really the touristy place that the Minnesota side is. We settled for the Rapids Riverside, which was decent, and they were really nice and offered to let Penny sit on the deck with us while we had lunch. But not even a dessert menu.

Oh well, off we were to Amnicon Falls State Park. I don’t like the word Amnicon. It’s hard to remember, awkward to say, and sounds like some evil force to be reckoned with on Battlestar Galactica. According to park literature, it’s Chippewa for “where fish spawn.” That’s not helping. The PR people at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources need to re-evaluate this tout suite, as some of those early French fur trappers who combed the region might have said. It’s a really beautiful, easily accessible area.

Upper Amnicon (not the name of a Transformer) Falls.

Don’t be alarmed by the dirty-looking appearance of the water. A lot of rivers in the region are stained this sort of root beer color. It’s from non-dissolved organic material from native tree roots and plants called tannins. The water is actually quite clear and clean. Penny enjoyed some nice cool slurps of it here and there. Cameron and I drank a handful too. It’s tastes decent, if a little mineral-y, nice and cool.

We hiked around the surrounding trails, and discovered different falls and rapids all over. It was not overrun with tourists like some of the more popular Minnesota natural areas. We encountered maybe a little over a dozen or so people around the beginning of the trails, and as we hiked deeper into the park, didn’t see a soul. On our way to some of the remoter areas, I did have to lose an odd guy who was a little overly concerned about Cameron climbing down some rocks, and offered to go get him for me. He was probably okay, though quite socially unskilled, but if I hadn’t seen him with his wife and daughter earlier when he was asking me questions about the tripod I was setting up, I would have pegged him as a total creep. Even so, he still bugged me and wouldn’t stop asking weird questions so we hiked deeper into the woods and lost him, which, in retrospect is a key plot element of about two-thirds of all slasher movies, so maybe that wasn’t the best idea.

I would have let Cam risk going down this rock face before letting our weirdo stalker help him.

My favorite part of the hike was a shady area right next to the water, maybe twenty feet from two different sets of falls, one upstream, one downstream. We sat on a big boulder, and Cameron went exploring everywhere. It was peaceful, secluded, noisy from the rushing water, yet quiet.

My favorite area of the falls. Harsh shadows from abundant sun made photography tough.

Cameron posing on the big boulder we liked that was positioned over the river.

David und der Wanderhund.

And really that ended the serene part of the trip. The rest wasn’t terrible or anything, just…interesting, as life always is for us. Stay tuned for the rest of the story tomorrow!

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

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