When you hear “Wisconsin”, what’s the first thing you think about?
Cheese, cows, curds, and beer all seem to be classic answers.
How about the beach though?
Does splashing in the waves, boogie boarding, and walking along the shore come to mind?
It most certainly did not for us, but after attending a family wedding in Madison, we were willing to give the coast of Wisconsin a try. In fact, we turned what could have been a short wedding weekend, into a full week mid-west vacation.
From Madison, we made our way north to the small “beach” town of Two Rivers on Lake Michigan. Normally we choose to stay in town and close to the action of restaurants, cafes, and local shops, and while we weren’t far (just 2 miles), this time a comfortable retreat that was closer to the water was more important to us.
Happy to support Wisconsin’s state parks system, we chose Point Beach State Forest to be our first spot of exploration, and minus a break for lunch and Bergen’s (2 years old) nap, we made the most of the entry fee and spent the majority of the day here.
First, we decided on a leisurely (though long) walk along the water with Bergen beginning and ending in the backpack carrier. He also started off with regular clothes, changed into his swimming gear when it became evident that we wouldn’t be shy about the water, and was back in his dry clothes as we made our way home.
We nearly had the beach to ourselves and took our time taking in views of the lighthouse, stopping to investigate the differences in the lake shore verses ocean shore, and giving Bergen plenty of time to throw sand and rocks into the water and chase butterflies.
After a while, we saw a blue tent set-up in the distance and made the goal of reaching it for our turn around spot. We planned to then take the forest trail back to get a different perspective of the park.
As we approached the group at the blue tent, the people were friendly enough, but they were skeptical. Like us, I think they were enjoying their deserted beach time, and weren’t sure about this family of three encroaching on their fun.
Behind them, we started up the walkway, to find the forest trail that would lead us back to the park entrance. Here we ran into even more people, and discovered that we actually were invading these vacationers space! After following the walkway, we found a set of rustic cabins (available to rent from the state park) and quickly realized we needed to get out of their hair before they started thinking were some sort of weird intruders.
A couple of the campers were nice enough to lead us to the trail and we were on our way. Unfortunately, we didn’t last long. Being the spoiled Pacific Northwesterners that we are, it didn’t occur to us to bring the bug spray (that we packed, but left at the rental) along with us. Before stepping foot into the forest, we didn’t even think we’d need it! Isn’t bug spray just something you slap on at night while enjoying some outside time? Not even close.
The mosquitoes literally consumed us. And poor Bergen in the backpack carrier was defenseless. He couldn’t even reach down and swat them away. We were back to the beach in a hurry, which is a shame because I was really looking forward to getting to know more of the woodsy parts of Wisconsin that we had heard so much about.
I guess we should have been more prepared. The girls who helped us get to the path originally must of assumed we were smarter, because they made no mention of the pests. All they said was what a great time we’d have hiking!
After this experience and even more fun later on in our trip, we are a couple of believers in the Midwest beach! Calm water, soft sand, beautiful views… Just stay clear of the forested areas unless you are well-equipped and ready to defend yourself.
These suckers were certainly not the worst pests we’ve encountered, but bad enough. Where have you run into the worst bugs in your travels?
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