The Crystal Lake

After we said goodbye to my parents, we packed up and pointed the bus west, tracing the Lake Michigan side of the Upper Peninsula. The first night we stopped at a place we’d intended to go after Wisconsin, but skipped in favor of Pictured Rocks. And I’m glad we did. It was all right for a night, but there was nothing much to make us linger for longer than that.

There are three basic things our kids can find pretty much anywhere: 1) water the swim in, 2) things to jump off, 3) mud to dig in. Little Bay de Noc had all three.

It also had something of a rarity in our limited experience up here — west facing beaches with sunsets.

The next day we headed north again, toward Lake Superior, but also west, back into Wisconsin. We had another one-night stopover at a place called Imp Lake, which is notable for having a nesting colony of Loons on the island in the middle of it. We were serenaded all afternoon and into the evening, if serenade is the right word for loon calls. I really wanted some of the deeper howls to be wolves, but they weren’t.

Quite a few people have asked if the mosquitoes are bad up here. In general no. At Imp Lake, yes. Bad enough that we didn’t really go out much that night. Which was fine since we got up early and hit the road again the next morning.

Imp Lake, MI photographed by luxagraf
I’ve never seen toilet paper used in road repair before, but that is indeed toilet paper on top of tar patches. I have no idea why.

We pulled into Memorial Park in Washburn WI around 2 in the afternoon and grabbed spot. It was something of a change for us. After having been in the woods, largely alone for the better part of six weeks it was odd to be in a campground with neighbors a short distance from our door and downtown Washburn a mere five minute walk away. Luckily this part of Wisconsin is full of friendly people and we enjoyed ourselves in spite of the more crowded campground.

The campground dated from at least the 1930s from what I read on some of the signs scattered around. It had a feel to it that you don’t find much anymore. It still had an old lunch counter stand with these ingenious folding tables and chairs. No one knows who built it, the source of ingenuity is lost to the fog of time, but the lunch stand is still there, though, disappointingly, not in use anymore.

memorial park, washburn, WI photographed by luxagraf

The campground also had the kids of old school playground that was made of metal and tires and wasn’t padded everywhere like some kind of outdoor asylum, which is what the modern plastic playgrounds always remind me of, the sort of you’d find outside Bedlam. Thank you Washburn for resisting, in however small a way, the notion that children should be coddled in padded plastic playgrounds.

We came mainly because it was the closest campground to the Madeline Island ferry, but we were also glad to be back on the shores of Lake Superior. I’ve never seen a shoreline I didn’t like, but, that said, there are certain bodies of water that seem to draw us in more than others and Lake Superior is one of them. Perhaps it’s the clarity, though it’s not nearly as clear over here, or the cold, though it’s not nearly as cold here, or maybe some more vague, impossible to define quality. Whatever the case, the shores of Lake Superior is our favorite place to be up here.


Please leave a reply:

All comments are moderated, so you won’t see it right away. And please remember Kurt Vonnegut's rule: “god damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” You can use Markdown or HTML to format your comments. The allowed tags are <b>, <i>, <em>, <strong>, <a>. To create a new paragraph hit return twice.