The Great Northern Adventure 2012, Days 11 and 12.

PENINSULA STATE PARK, DOOR COUNTY Wisc. – Day 11 was a fresh new day and one Michelle had long anticipated, for Michelle intended to go to the place with the goats on the roof.

“Al Johnson’s!” She exclaimed. “I’ve waited on this for months!”

Al Johnson’s is a Swedish restaurant with goats on the roof. Sure enough, folks.

“Don’t forget the Swedish food!” Michelle chimed in. “Lingonberries and Swedish pancakes and MEATBALLS FOR BREAKFAST, wheeeeeee!”

So up they got and away they went for a late breakfast and when they got there they looked for the goats and they saw this:


“Goddammit!” Michelle exclaimed. But she wasn’t the only one.

“That just pisses me off,” Greg repeatedly grumbled. “It’s like, you know, their THING, the goats on the roof, but there aren’t any goats on the roof. Pisses me off.”

But what about the food?

“Oh, the food was good and fun,” Michelle said. “I had pancakes with lingonberries and meatballs, and Ethan began a fascination with fresh fruit. He didn’t order it for that meal, but he knew I intended to return for a lunch or dinner meal at some point later in our stay, and every time we mentioned it Ethan was all, ‘FRESH FRUIT! I WANT SOME FRESH FRUIT!”

And who can complain about that, honestly?

On the way back to camp, our group decided it would be a Very Smart Thing to work off some of those pancakes (“or eggs benedict, in Greg’s case, because you know – at a Swedish restaurant with all kinds of interesting Swedish foods, you should order EGGS FRIGGIN’ BENEDICT for breakfast” Michelle taunted).

“Leave me alone,” Greg rejoined.

As they wound their way through the park they stopped at Eagle Tower, and this reporter is quite sure it would be Greg’s turn to laugh, because several years prior as they built this little shed right here, Greg had to rescue Michelle off the roof. She had suddenly discovered a fear of heights and ever since that time she’d been a little wonky when climbing.

“This is true,” Michelle noted. “It is about all I can do to climb the fire tower down in Hillsboro, but for whatever reason – Swedish meatballs and pancakes as fortification, perhaps – this didn’t bother me so much.”


Climb they did. 101 steps later they looked out on this:


And this:


Look at that little bitty truck!

Soon after returning to the campsite (and establishing new boundaries for Ethan’s bicycling), it was time for a program up at the Nature Center.

Now, our family’s children dearly love camping, and one of the best reasons for this is the nature programs. Some are great, some are not so great, but they love them all. This one was on making wampum bracelets, and Michelle figured they would be super cheap materials, but no. They were not.

“It was actually pretty cool,” Greg said, “They used real leather and, sure, synthetic sinew but I guess you have to accept some limits somewhere, right?”

But here is the weirdest thing of all.

Are you ready, dear readers?

As the family was there in the Nature Center, a full 575 miles from their little home in Missouri, Laurel comes rushing to Michelle and exclaims, “Mom! That girl over there is from my school!”

“What?” Michelle asked, stunned. “Are you really very sure about that? She doesn’t just look familiar?”

“Yes, I’m sure!” Laurel cried. “She even waved at me!”

“Wow…that…that is really amazing,” Michelle responded.

And sure enough, folks, what are the chances that Laurel would run into someone who not only is from St. Louis – because our family has found that is really not so odd – but from her very school, who participates in her very Fiddlers group?

So the families had a nice little chat while the kids finished their wampum bracelets and soon after, returned to their campsite, awed once again by just how small this little world is.

Day 12 started with a Michelle-sponsored event: A 10-11 mile bike ride.

“YAY!” She exclaimed. “PHYSICAL ACTIVITY!” And the family needed it, for lo, they had been subsisting on high-calorie, high-fat foods for much of the trip.

“I just call those foods tasty,” remarked Greg.

So away they went. Peninsula State Park has a lovely bike trail. It was a cloudy day, but the family met the challenge with verve. Just look at the verve on the faces of these kids:


It was, admittedly, a long trek for our crew, but it ended at the very same lighthouse where Ethan sheltered just a couple of days before during his big solo adventure. The family took a tour and then rode the remaining half-mile or so back to camp…


…whereupon Greg left to go make another conference call and do some laundry.

“It was super!” he exclaimed. “I got up to the laundromat and found they had canceled my call. Sweet!”

Meanwhile, Michelle took the kids to the bay for a swim.

“Yeah, good times getting back on that bike seat after a couple of hours off it,” she said. “Also, Ethan wanted to take his boogie board and although Laurel assured me she could ride one-handed and carry the boogie board in the other, I knew better, so guess who got to carry it? Whee!”

The bay was choppy and the kids had fun jumping the waves, but Michelle kept her eye on the sky. She has exhibited an uncanny knack in the past for knowing just when a storm will hit and she was nervous.

“I waded back through the bay to check radar on my phone, and there it was, all lit up in red,” Michelle said, “so I estimated the kids had 5-10 more minutes before we really HAD to get out and get back to camp unless we wanted to get caught in the rain.”

Naturally, the kids moaned and groaned about the Injustice of it All, but were convinced by the angry red of the radar app. So back upon their bikes they climbed and they raced back to camp. They were within the borders of the campground when the storm started, and were within their own site before it got bad.

“Score one for the former country girl,” Michelle gloated.

The storm passed quickly and Ethan went back out on his bike for another ride with the radio. Greg returned and, not long after, our family decided to visit a nearby cherry orchard and then just have pizza and call it a day.

“So we get to the pizza place and they tell us it will be a 45-minute wait,” said Greg. “No matter, though, they had a full menu of craft beers and the kids had their DS systems with them. It’s easy to pass the time that way.”

It’s so easy to pass the time that way, in fact, that our family didn’t even hear their name when called. Oops. But not long after, they realized they’d been skipped and were promptly seated, served, and fueled.

A good end to a good day. Except for the conference call thing. And the storm.

Oh, well.