Summer Vacation – 2021

Vacation is a wonderful time to get away from your normal life. Sometimes its just not working and other times, you get the heck out of your normal surroundings and life a temporary but different life. This year, we had trouble deciding what we were going to do. Initially I wanted to do a trip back to the Boundary Waters. Ok, I still want to do that, but things just didn’t work out. Planning vacation for 4 very active people is very hard. I don’t know how other people do it with more kiddos!

So last minute planning sent us North to Wisconsin. The major reason is because Corvin scheduled a college visit at the University of Wisconsin Lacrosse. From Saint Louis, Missouri its about 7 hours away. We decided to make it part of our vacation. Planning begun and what is below is what transpired per our plan 🙂

We begun the long drive north as all long drives go, with some sleeping in the car 🙂

Its become my preference to be a bit more random in my life. What that means for vacation is trying to stop and see things instead of performing a massive exhausting single day drive to get to a place. So our first stop for the trip is Starved Rock State Park. I’ve seen photos of this park before and the sign on the highway caught my attention. We were ahead of schedule and had time for a hike! This part has lots of dramatic views, but we would only have time to see the overlook.

A quick family selfie at the top of the rock.

A look from the  top of the rock to the Illinois river.

With a quick detour out of the way, we were on to the main attraction for the first day of our vacation, the Ozaukee County Fair in Cedarburg, WI. Why the heck are we going many hours and a few states away to go to a county fair you ask? Great question, one of Danelle’s favorite musicians is playing live, Pat McCurdy. Pat tours mostly in Wisconsin and occasionally gets as close as Chicago, so we have only seen him a few times in person. First we had to find some form of food that was acceptable as dinner. This was harder than it should be, but its hard to make 4 people happy. We got food from 2 different locations and it was enough.

Corvin managed to spend almost $4 to go down this carnival slide.

Now for the highlight of being at the county fair tonight, Pat McCurdy! Totally worth waiting till 8 to hear him play!

On first glance, Pat looks like a typical boring old man. Give him a guitar and a microphone, and you’ll be laughing and singing along! I have a feeling he would be a riot to hang out with as well!

The kids were not sure what to make of him, but by the second set, they figured it out and enjoyed the concert. It was a bit of an unfortunate venue as Pat had to content with the stadium next door that was doing tractor pulls. It got very loud occasionally and he just had to stop. Eventually the fun ended and we left the fair satisfied and tired looking for a hotel.

Each vacation, we try to plan something that is exactly what each person wants. Since there are 4 of us, we only had to figure out 4 “perfect” things. So far, Danelle had her concert. Now we were headed to Green Bay, Wisconsin. We would stay there a few days being local tourists before going all the way across the state to Lacrosse for Corvin’s thing, the college visit.

Our next day and one of the things I wanted was visiting the National Railroad Museum. At heart, I’m just a big kid that still loves to look at trains. We spent several hours at this stop looking at trains and reading about their history.

There was a full size train that did loops around the property. We enjoyed it, but had more fun taking photos.

One of my best memories of this museum was walking through an old dining car. I walked into the old kitchen and just stopped. I called Sonora to come back and hang out with me. There we imagined the sounds that would have come from the kitchen years ago as this car trundled down the tracks. Comparing the different appliances to what we have in our modern kitchen and thinking of how different it would have been.

Eventually, we worked our way out to the open space where a large tower was erected. We climbed to the top to get a view of the area around us. Of note, you can see Lambau field where the Green Bay Packers play football.

We wanted to keep this vacation more simple and had less planned for each day. After the museum we went back to the hotel to relax for the day. Back at the hotel everybody but myself were relaxed. I wanted to get more steps in to stay active and there was lots of time left in the day. I  tricked Danelle into going for a walk with me and we set off. Worst case scenario, we could call Corvin to come pick us up. During trip planning, Danelle noticed that Beach Bay Amusement Park was on the short of the bay. Her research showed that this was operated more like a carnival where there was no entry fee. Even more interesting is that the most expensive ride was 4 tickets or $1. I decided it would be a great walk and we decided to go there.

Danelle and I had a lovely walk in a foreign city. Most walks, we’re looking for something new amongst the familiar surroundings. On this walk, everything is new and its fun to take in every detail.

Crossing a bridge to get to the bay, we got the pre-sunset view of the water!

While this may look like a macro shot, its actually a HUGE metal sculpture of a dandelion.

Sometimes simple is best. This wood sculpture and flower garden is nice.

Standing on the edge of the bay.

We managed to get on the Ferris wheel just before sunset. I sure do like spending time with Danelle!

The following day, we had rather simple plans. We were going up the peninsula to visit the Door County Maritime Museum. They have an old boat to tour and a 10 story viewing tower that I wanted to visit. It was about a 45 minute drive from Green Bay, but a wonderful day!

When you don’t see bridges that open every day, you stare and take photos when they do!

Inside the museum they have a periscope that we all took turns viewing through.

We’re on top of the 10 story viewing tower. One happy family on a slightly windy day.

A view across. We were amazed at the different sizes of boats.

This is the boat we got to tour. Very informative tour and worth the visit!

Now for a visit to a nearby lighthouse to check it out on the other end of the peninsula.

A great selfie of Sonora.

Another slow day where we headed back to the hotel to relax and go slower Except, I can’t resist the urge of the amusement park. Sonora and Danelle head back out to the amusement park for a few rides. And we couldn’t resist the Ferris wheel again.

Sonora hit my bumper car so hard, even my hat went silly!

While we played, Corvin made an art sculpture out of hangers.

Our last day in Green Bay was to be our best day. I rented a sailboat for the whole day. We had the whole car packed up and we were heading back to where we were yesterday to get to our rental. About 10 minutes into the drive, I got a phone call that I didn’t want. The rental place was calling to say the weather was too rough for the sailboat rental. I decided to drive up anyway and see the water for myself. None of us were happy about this turn of events. This was a must do highlight for all of us!

When we got to the rental location, I agreed with their assessment that the water was too rough. It was a huge blow to all of us. Rather than admit defeat, I got on my phone and looked at Google Maps. I scanned the coastline around and found something interesting. Cave Point County Park looked interesting. When I clicked on it, some of the photos were familiar from the day before in the Maritime Museum’s presentation of local attractions. I figured we were close and could check out something while we were in the area.

Cave Point did not disappoint. The park was situated out on the water a it. With the heavy weather that caused the sailing to be cancelled, made this park more dramatic. Large waves rolled in from the lake and slammed into the rocks. At several points in the park, you could feel the ground move beneath you when the waves crashed. I could tell the waves had cut away the rock that we were standing on. Not just from feel, but also from the sound when the crashed under us.

We spent lots of time just watching the waves come in and hit the rocks.

Some of the waves reflected quite high, it was important to watch where you were going!

Danelle was very leery about this park. The water was super cold and the waves powerful. One miss would be dangerous. Eventually, we found a safe spot to go down and let the waves get us.

This day wasn’t over for surprises to turn around. Nearby was Whitefish Dunes state park. This park is approximately one mile from Cave Point. Here, we grabbed a quick lunch at the car and went down to the beach. There we mostly hung out in the sand. Until my crazy kids went into the cold water to swim.

No trip to the beach is complete without some playing in the sand.

Danelle mad some sort of art. Cool!

Eventually, we called it a day. Tired, we started a 4 some hour drive to La Cross Wisconsin for the next phase of our trip. The drive was uneventful and we were happy to get to the hotel to relax for the night.

The next day, our major plan was to visit the University of Wisconsin La Cross. Corvin scheduled a college visit here. I won’t bore you with the details of the college visit other than to say that when the tour was over, Danelle and I looked at each other and stated that we also wanted to go here for college (again). Here is the clock tower from the campus.

We went to nearby Grandad Bluff which overlooks the surrounding area. It was a great feel for the place.

We’re starting to get a hang of this whole family selfie thing!


The day ended with us going through downtown La Cross looking for somewhere to eat dinner. Yeah, Sonora would never let us eat here.

We ended up at a Mexican restaurant. From the moment we walked in, I had a bad feeling about it. I still can’t describe the smell, but it was just off… It took nearly 30 minutes for the waiter to come to the table for the first time. We were just about to leave (and I wish we had). Anyway, we ordered food. Danelle and Corvin shared a pineapple dish for 2. Sonora and I ordered for ourselves. Here is the food we ordered.

The pineapple dish looked appetizing. Sonora and I were both surprised when ours came out. Sonora had the red dish with mole sauce and I ordered the burrito. Sonora took one bite and was done. I offered to switch with her so she could eat the burrito. We switched and I was unpleasantly surprised when I had a taste of my new dish. I’ve never had mole sauce, but I believe the ingredients are red clay and water. I ate it because I’m cheap and hungry, but swear I’ll never go back to that place again. It got a 1 star review from me that seemed generous!

Anyway, to our last full day in La Cross, we rented a pontoon boat. I wanted my boat fix as did Sonora. We found a place with reasonable prices and set off to get on the water. We had all the supplies we needed to be on the water for the day and enjoy ourselves.

So boating on the Mississippi river in Wisconsin is way different than I hoped for. There is algae everywhere! Here we are at the dock taking a photo of the prop before we start.

It was way more work than I expected to get from the dock out to the river without fowling the prop with more algae. For the most part, the kids didn’t mind. Driving a boat is fun!

Corvin hanging out in the back.

We went from one lock on the river up to another. Because of this, we ended up rather close to this barge.

I’m sure I am telling Sonora a very interesting story.

Eventually Corvin got tired and tried to sleep across the 2 chairs.

We stopped on the shore to hang out.  Danelle took photos of muscles and checked the shore for nurdles.

We called it a day after our boating. The next day we made the drive home straight through with nothing exciting to report. Overall a fine family vacation!

Hogan Haake