High Cliff State Park, WI

July 28

High Cliff State Park is a lovely place, although their maps are quite confusing. But along with the water sports, for which most of our neighbors were there, campers will find lots and lots of walking/hiking/biking trails to enjoy. 

 

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Being in the woods, and having a relaxing day on our hands, I tried to photograph a couple of our insect neighbors.

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We had thought to take a ride, touring the paved roads and taking “every left turn” so we wouldn’t miss anything, but then remembered my bike chain.

Jack dug out the serious bicycle maintenance tool kit he carries in the truck, and with a couple of pairs of pliers, he fixed it right up. When we tried to find the bent link, it was impossible to discern from the others. 

I greased up both chains and took a test ride to see how the fix would work, and voila! Back in bike business. So we began by exploring our loops, and found what would be the perfect site for next time we’re in the neighborhood: #109 on the electric loop. It has good space between it and both its neighbors, is beautifully shady, and has a multi-use (unpaved) trail off its back.

We rode that trail through the woods and although we had many roots and rocks to avoid, it was fine, until we joined up with the horse trail.

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That part was choppy and rutted, and mostly came out of the trees and through hot, sunny, buggy open meadows. Between the mosquitoes and the chopped up terrain, I thought I would lose my mind and my fillings.

Still, we persevered, hoping that the “Overlook Trail” would take us to an overlook where we could see precisely how high these High Cliffs are above Lake Winnebago. But no. There was no overlook available, until we (mistakenly) rode our bikes onto a part of the Red Bird Trail that discouraged bicycle use, and there were short paths toward rocky outcroppings, but there was hardly any view at all due to the thick tree growth from below. In the image at the top of this post, you can see Lake Winnebago through a small window I was able to catch along the Red Bird. Jack actually walked up to one of the edges, but I could not go that close without some sort of barrier keeping my vertigo from tumbling be over the edge.

So we rode back as the sky darkened and threatened, but we only had to deal with sprinkles. 

Bike Stats:

  • Ride time = 56 minutes
  • Distance = 7.3 miles
  • Average speed = 7.8MPH

Every day our battery charged, but we continue to feel there is a problem either with the monitor, or some of the other wiring that sends solar gain into the battery because it seemed that the charge did not last as long as it should, given the sunlight and the relatively small draw (refrigerator, primarily) on the resource. The cross-breeze was such that we only had the vent fan running at the hottest part of the day, when the sun was full on the solar panels. 

That is something we’re going to have to continue to research and test.

After a simple meal of grilled hamburgers and chips, we called it a day and readied ourselves for the trip to Madison, WI, only a 3-ish hour drive southwest.

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Ferry Across Lake Michigan

July 26-27

We got up at a leisurely pace after our exertions of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, because it was a mere hop-skip to our one-nighter near Luddington (where we were scheduled to catch the SS Badger ferry to Wisconsin). 

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The Mason County Campground was actually quite nice, and although many sites are “RV Park” style, right next to one another, our site (#4) had some space between both of our nearest neighbors. 

The bath house was up a small hill, with a main “entry hall” to get to both the men’s and the women’s areas—clean and tidy and roomy.

We had some small trouble getting Roomba level without unhitching—and since we had to leave by 7:30-ish to be in line for the ferry no later than 8 (but it was only a 15-minute drive), we definitely did NOT want to unhitch. Likewise, our setup was minimal, and we unpacked next to nothing.

So we leveled left-to-right, but the front-to-back was too high in the front (on the hitch), so we tried to sleep in our bed with our heads the opposite direction from our normal, so our heads would be higher than our feet.

We didn’t even want to cook and have to clean up, so we found a pizza shop with delivery service to the campground, and ate our pizza with beer around 7:30P.

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Not much sleep was enjoyed, unfortunately. Jack was unable to stretch fully out, being wrong-way-to, and having gotten used to dangling his feet over the bed’s edge during some of the sleep phases. I had trouble freeing my hot feet from the sheets when they were where my head usually is.

But part of it might have been anticipating the ferry—the most disconcerting part of which is that we knew someone other than ourselves would be driving Roomba aboard. Jack worried that the task would fall to a 17-year-old whose summer job was to get the vehicles on the ferry—and we’d been told that the trailers are all backed onto the boat, to boot.

While the campground owner assured us that they do this all the time, and not to worry, that none of the summer kids would be backing Roomba into his slot on the vehicle deck, we still worried. And, of course, as is usual with me, I was worried about seasickness.

In the end, it was a bit stressful, watching the older fellow, who had obviously backed trailers most of his life, reverse our camper onto the boat—happily, we were at the dock early enough that Roomba was the first aboard (and the last off, of course) so there wasn’t anything our backer had to avoid to get him situated.

I’d dutifully taken my Dramamine an hour before we got underway at 9, and I also stayed as much as possible on the deck, although it began pelting with rain shortly after we’d cast off. I nevertheless had some time to take pix of the harbor at Luddington. One fellow out in the water fishing brought in an enormous fish, which a fellow next to me said was a salmon.

When the rain started, we tried to get to a place where I might be able to see the horizon, and face forward, which always helps ease my nausea. But while I could face forward at a table, it got hot and stuffy with everyone else on the boat also out of the rain, which is not at all good for nausea.

It finally stopped raining, however, and I took my rain gear and my growing headache outside, where I shivered in the seriously gusting winds for a while on the bow deck. Eventually, Jack came to fetch me for a seat on the (mostly) leeward side, where plastic chairs were available for some to sit beneath the life boats. The fresh air was glorious, and when the sun came back out, we both felt drowsy, even though the lifeboat we sat under was dripping water from one of the underside drain holes.

After 3 or 4 hours we began to come into Manitowoc Harbor, which was a pretty place. Jack had watched a video about the process, and without using any extra “side jet engines” (whatever they’re called), the ferry pilot did a 180 using his rudder and anchor to swing the back end of the SS Badger around to offload the passengers and cargo. It was pretty amazing.

It was not long, although a bit chaotic with everyone awaiting their vehicles, before Roomba came driving out of the Badger’s maw. We hopped in and headed to our stop for the night: High Cliff State Park in Wisconsin, on a high cliff overlooking Lake Winnebago. 

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We checked in and set up for a two-night stay in lovely woods without power, but with what we believed would be a decent amount of solar gain during the day. We were both so tired, we found it difficult to function. It was a pizza leftovers night (thanks, Mancino’s!) and we hit the hay very early with no agenda for the morrow.