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Camping at Lake Wissota State Park

After staying one night at Devil’s Lake State Park to kick off our Summer 2015 vacation, we hit the road for our next destination — Chippewa Falls and Lake Wissota State Park.

Lake Wissota may sound familiar to you if you’re a fan of the movie Titanic. Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Jack Dawson, called Chippewa Falls home and had a nasty ice-cold water experience on Lake Wissota (although it’s man-made and didn’t exist at the time of the Titanic’s sinking. Details …).

Our campsite at Lake Wissota was awesome! We had a U-drive, so we could just pull through with the camper and position it so it blocked the view of the road. Trees surrounded the rest of the site. It was the perfect amount of privacy.

Campsite 88 at Lake Wissota State Park in Wisconsin

This was the first time we set up a full campsite with the camper. We put out the awning and created a dining area under it.  The first evening was spent just relaxing at our campsite. It was perfect!

Jason relaxing at our campsite at Lake Wissota State Park in Wisconsin

The next morning, I needed to get in a half-marathon training run. (Yes, I ran a half-marathon in September, and I’ll definitely be writing about that experience.) The campground we were in was shaped like a figure eight, so I just ran several laps around it. It started to get hot and humid at about the halfway point, so it was a struggle to finish … especially when I kept circling past my eventual finish line.

After my run, Jason and I headed out for a hike along the Lake Trail. A spur trail leading to the Lake Trail was right across the road from our campsite, bringing us to the mid-point of the trail. We first hiked down to the beach area.

Beach at Lake Wissota State Park in Wisconsin

After we checked out the beach area, we hiked the full trail in the other direction, which ended with a great lookout over the lake.

Laura at Lake Wissota overlook in Lake Wissota State Park in Wisconsin

I am assuming that’s a bird in flight right behind my head!

Neither Jason nor I had ever been to the Chippewas Falls area before, so we spent the rest of our day exploring the town. First up was a must-visit — the Leinenkugel’s brewery.

Leinenkugels Leinie Lodge in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

This was my first brewery tour (shameful for a Wisconsinite, I know) as well as Jason’s (because he really hates beer). It was interesting, and we both appreciated the rich history of the brewing company. Ironically, the beer-hater of our duo paid enough attention on the tour to win a prize during our post-tour quiz. And we scored a major victory when Jason declared Berry Weiss “not terrible.” I’ll take it.

Leinenkugels brewery tour in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

Our other stops in Chippewa Falls included Irvine Park and Zoo and another supper club, High Shores Supper Club. We dubbed this our camping and supper clubbing vacation!

Two nights, one and a half days. Our time at Lake Wissota was short but sweet.

Camping

Obsession Perfection: The Airstream Pendleton Special Edition Travel Trailer

Anyone else as excited as I am over the 2016 Airstream Pendleton Special Edition travel trailer?

Two timeless American brands, Airstream and Pendleton Woolen Mills, have come together for the first time to pay tribute to our nation's parks and to great outdoor adventure. Coinciding with the centennial of the National Park Service, Airstream proudly introduces the 2016 Limited Edition Pendleton National Park Foundation travel trailer. (PRNewsFoto/Airstream)

Two timeless American brands, Airstream and Pendleton Woolen Mills, have come together for the first time to pay tribute to our nation’s parks and to great outdoor adventure. Coinciding with the centennial of the National Park Service, Airstream proudly introduces the 2016 Limited Edition Pendleton National Park Foundation travel trailer. (PRNewsFoto/Airstream)

This partnership is so perfect, I can’t believe it hasn’t happened before now.

Airstream and Pendleton Woolen Mills are two outdoor classics. Both have built distinctive brands that are not only recognizable in and of themselves, but that are synonymous with camping and our national parks. This is why it’s so fitting that the two companies have joined forces to celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service … beautifully, I might add.

Two timeless American brands, Airstream and Pendleton Woolen Mills, have come together for the first time to pay tribute to our nation's parks and to great outdoor adventure. Coinciding with the centennial of the National Park Service, Airstream proudly introduces the 2016 Limited Edition Pendleton National Park Foundation travel trailer. (PRNewsFoto/Airstream)

Two timeless American brands, Airstream and Pendleton Woolen Mills, have come together for the first time to pay tribute to our nation’s parks and to great outdoor adventure. Coinciding with the centennial of the National Park Service, Airstream proudly introduces the 2016 Limited Edition Pendleton National Park Foundation travel trailer. (PRNewsFoto/Airstream)

The Airstream Pendleton Limited Edition is truly limited — they’re producing only 100 of these travel trailers (paying tribute to 100 years of the National Park Service). For each unit sold, Airstream will donate $1,000 to the National Park Foundation (the National Park Service’s official charitable partner), and they’re throwing in a one-year America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreation Land Pass.

I’ve been obsessed with both Airstreams and Pendleton blankets since I started camping with Jason. The wool blanket obsession started during our first trip to Yosemite when the seemingly thin wool blankets in our tent cabin kept me warmer than I could have ever imagined. Warm AND beautiful wool Pendleton blankets … what’s not to love?!

I don’t know that an Airstream travel trailer will ever be right for our family for several reasons. But I can definitely appreciate their beauty and place in Americana.

Jason and I recently attended our first camper and RV show in Madison. No Airstreams, but it was interesting to explore so many camper models in one shot. And while we’ll be in our current travel trailer for many, many years to come, I made note of things we’d look for in a future camper. And it can’t hurt to dream of something as beautiful as this Airstream.

Anyways, I just had to express my love for the Pendleton Airstream. Bravo to both brands — you created a classic in its own right.

Question:

Do you have an Airstream and/or Pendleton obsession like I do?

What to Look for When Choosing a Campsite
Camping

What to Look for When Choosing a Campsite

Whenever Jason and I visit a new campground, we always take the time to scope out the “best” campsites on the property. I carry my handy camping journal to jot down notes about each campground, the site we’re staying at, and possible sites to reserve for future trips.

What do we look for when choosing a campsite? Here are three of our top criteria:

Seclusion

When we go camping, we want to 1) feel like we’re deep in the woods and 2) camp without the obvious presence of strangers. We look for campsites that are wooded and that are concealed from the campsites around it. When you go camping for relaxation, the more secluded the site the better.

Choosing Campsite Seclusion

Another benefit of seclusion: Our dogs have fewer things to bark at. Neither Bailey or Naya are big barkers, but when something gets them going, it’s hard to stop them. When we can’t easily see other people or dogs walking past our campsite, it makes for a much more pleasant experience for all involved.

Proximity to Facilities

With a camper now, this is a little less of an issue, but we’ve always preferred campsites that are close to a bath/shower house. The last thing I want to do is walk halfway across the campground in the middle of the night just to go to the bathroom.

Our camper has a wet bath, so the whole bathroom is the shower with a toilet in the middle. It’s a tight squeeze and while I might be able to shower in it, Jason will not. We’ll still look to be close to a bath house for showering.

Layout

The layout of a campsite is an overlooked, but very important quality. Where is everything – from the tent pad to fire ring – situated?

Our favorite campsite in Door County’s Peninsula State Park has the perfect layout. The tent pad sits at one end of the site, the fire ring sits at the other end, and there’s just enough space to put up a screen room in between. And while there is room for these three living spaces, it’s not so large a site that you feel too spread out. It fits everything you need within the perfect amount of space.

Choosing Campsite Layout

Compare this to our site at Ottawa Lake in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. It was a huge site (bonus?), but everything was really spread out. Our camper was parked in the driveway (at the end of which was the tent pad), but the fire ring seemed like it was in it’s own campsite. I know I don’t want the fire ring right next to our flammable tent or camper canopy, but I also don’t want to feel like our little family of four is camping on two separate sites.

Choosing Campsite Layout

Helloooo camper!

Feeling at home while camping is part of the fun, and certain things about a campsite can make or break a trip. We’ve been lucky to love most of the campsites we’ve stayed at. I can’t wait to see where our home away from home will take us next!

Question for You: What do you look for in a campsite?

Camping

Inaugural Camper Trip, Part 2

Back in October, Jason and I took our new camper out for it’s maiden voyage. For two nights, we camped with the dogs at Ottawa Lake campground in the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

We slept pretty well that first night. While we had previously determined that Naya would not sleep in our bed with us, this “rule” lasted all of 10 minutes. We managed to make it work, but we’ll have to enforce the “no dogs sleeping with us” rule on future trips…

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We woke up that first morning to the sound of rain on the roof. Even though it was rainy and cold outside, we stayed cozy and warm inside.

Have I mentioned before that this camper is the best thing ever!

While Jason made breakfast, I made tea and turned on NPR. We never listen to NPR, but I found it incredibly relaxing that morning. Breakfast, tea, reading, journaling, NPR. This first morning reminded me of what I love about camping – It leaves me more relaxed than anything since my childhood.

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It rained until about noon. After lunch with a side of chess, we cleaned up and headed out for a walk.

Ottawa Lake Recreation Area is pretty small, but it does have two short, parallel trails – one for pets and one no pets. We walked the pets-allowed trail through an open prairie over to the pet swim area.

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After scoping out the “beach,” we walked the trail back to the campground and then walked the campground loop. Whenever we visit a new campground, we like to scope out the “best” sites. I think we found a good one for our next trip to Ottawa Lake.

By the time we got back to the camper, the sun finally started breaking through the clouds. We got a fire started, set up our chairs and a blanket for the dogs, made some hot chocolate, and relaxed outside. It turned into a gorgeous evening!

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Because we’re in our 30s going on 70, we ate dinner around 4:30pm. We made these Three-Cheese Potatoes and beef tenderloin steaks over the fire. Seriously, it might have been the best camp dinner we’ve ever made.

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Dinner was followed by s’mores of course! We mixed it up with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (awesome!) and Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme bars (sounds better than it was).

All in all, our first camper trip was a great success! We came home with a much better list of things we need and ideas for future campsite set ups. We winterized the camper and she’s spending the snowy season in a friend’s outbuilding.

We can’t wait for a year full of trips in 2015!