Following a hot (literally) and happy time with extended family in Amman, Jordan this August, I relished a reuniting of our own children and their significants at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin. It has long been our favorite sanctuary for over 30 years, and we consider it our family’s mecca because it offers the best hiking anywhere around the mid-west, in our estimate. With 500 foot bluffs, and a mile long lake which restricts motor craft, we longed to return this past weekend after the Labor Day crowds evaporated and we could revel in nearly exclusive ownership of its charm.
Leaving Illinois gives relief, as we notably live in what has become termed the most stressful city in the country. But we elate when along our route we take the free ferry over the Wisconsin River at Lodi. The ferry crossing is brief, as it holds only 16 cars and traverses to the other shore in less than 10 minutes. Waiting for the ferry lends us time to breathe and enjoy the view of water and greenery. Sometimes we see folks fishing, we check out their motorcycles or bicycles, and we tend to see people dressed in casual gear from all walks of life. Yet, everyone seems to have appreciation for leisure, and we anticipate hiking, swimming, campfires and laughter. Old times are shared and new stories are generated.
Another aspect of our trips is that no matter what our accommodations, whether they are tents, cabins, or motels, we have always found decent, friendly, and welcoming people. Over the years, we have lent or borrowed access to other’s charcoals, water toys, volleyballs, and have felt safe to leave camping gear unattended while we enjoy the trails. There exists an unwritten honor system which I hope will always be, even for future generations.
I have succeeded in cultivating an appreciation for witnessing the genius of creation and healing power of nature in my own family. I trust my progeny will transfer that into theirs.
We cross the ferry to return home; as the sun sets, the magic fades and reality returns. But we have the memories…