Monday, August 17, 2009

Door County Weekend

Just got home from a fun weekend to Door County, Wisconsin (the peninsula in the northeast of the state) with Millie, my friend Kate, and her kids Olivia and Bradley. After arriving late Friday night, we awoke to a perfect sunny day on Saturday and decided to head to my favorite picnic spot on the Lake Michigan side, Cave Point County Park, which features a terrific limestone beach and a number of sea caves in the rocky cliffs. Olivia had fun "rock hopping" (above), while Millie had a good swim in the cold, clear water.

I was also able to capture this quick video before Millie splashed all over the camera lens!
Kate and Bradley decided to play it safe and stay on shore.
After our beach-combing, we ate our picnic lunch and Bradley decided to ham it up with my hat and give me a "home boy" look--

We had a great campsite at Egg Harbor Campground. It's an old KOA that's now run by very friendly owners. Every site was shady and the park had a nice nature trail through an old cherry orchard that was fun to explore. Millie and the kids had a great time together.


On Saturday night, we went to the town of Fish Creek for a traditional Door County fish boil at Pelletier's. The town is very quaint and great for a summer evening walk.

The kids were fascinated by the fish boil and asked the boil master a ton of questions about the process. Basically, they boil a basket of freshly-caught white fish along with another basket of red potatos and onions in large iron kettles over an open fire. As the fish cooks, it's oils rise to the top of the pot, so to get rid of it, the boil master throws a couple cups of fuel into the fire to make it quickly triple in size and cause the pot to "boil over" (thus pushing all the fish oil over the top). The cooks then place a long pole through the pot handles and pull the baskets of food out. These fish boils used to just occur once on a Friday night as a celebration to the week's end, but they are now so popular with tourists, that a number of restaurants do them every 30 minutes all evening on both weekend nights (good thing, because the kids wanted to watch the boil over a couple more times after our dinner!).


On Sunday, we decided to take Highway 42 home along the shore of Lake Michigan. The winds were blowing from the southeast and causing some fog along the coastline, so we didn't get to see much of the lake, however, we did come across this spectacular field of sunflowers in full bloom near Algoma (I only had my point-and-shoot camera with me, but did the best I could to capture it). Quite a wonderful end to a great weekend!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

First Longer Trip - Smokey Mountains

After a successful short trip to the Quad Cities, it was now time to try the View on a longer full-week trip. The godkids were eager to go visit their dad (who works in North Carolina), so their mom and I decided to make a week of it and visit the Smokey Mountains on our way there.

We got a late start out of Chicago (does anyone ever leave for a camping trip earlier than they think they will???!!!), so we decided to drive until we got tired and then just stop somewhere along the way. This is one of the big changes from T@B camping for me-- I can now easily stop in a Wal-Mart or truck stop parking lot and snooze for free than have to find a campground with bath/shower facilities and hookups each night (since the T@B didn't have a shower or generator).

Our first night was spent at a Flying J Truck Stop just outside of Louisville, KY. It was pouring rain and still hotter than heck when we arrived, but no worries-- we just pulled into a free parking space, turned the generator on for air conditioning (like the RVs around us had done), and went to bed. The next morning, we awoke to sunny and clear skies and had a nice hot breakfast at the Flying J restaurant. After topping the View's tank with more diesel, we were on the road again....what a deal!

We stayed at Camp Jellystone in Gatlinburg, TN so the kids could enjoy all the fun kid stuff at the park, and Millie could enjoy a swim in the mountain stream running right behind the camp site!

The next day we explored the national park and took the pretty drive through Cades Cove. The kids had a great time stopping at the historic mill village and exploring the log cabin, barn, and other buildings.











All in all, a fun week with some gorgeous views!

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