From the Black Hills of South Dakota we drove to Minneapolis where we arrived at bed time. In the morning our neighbors the Gardners flew in and we met up with them at the Mall of America. We rode a couple of roller coasters and the Fly Across America ride- which is similar to Soarin at Disney. After lunch it was time to hit the road.
We made a stop at Walmart to stock up on breakfasts and snacks for the next day or so. We then made the 4 hour drive to Wisconsin's Apostle Islands. Once there we checked in to these cute little cabins on Lake Superior. Our other neighbors, the Despain Family were already there, they flew in a few days earlier. We ordered pizza for dinner and enjoyed spending time together.
We tied up to a rock area and met the volunteer rangers that were staying on the island. They gave us a tour of the lighthouse and some history of the island and it's light keepers. The kids had fun swimming in the cold water, then laying on the warm rocks to warm up. We decided to take the boat back near the caves and cliffs to anchor and have lunch. The kids braved the cold water again to climb through the caves and explore. Then they climbed the cliffs and jumped into the water. It was a fun day.
The boat was acting a little odd so when we found we had cell service at Devils, David made a call to the guy that rented us the boat. He suggested we make our way back. So we did, slowly. We went by a few of the other islands between Devils and Madeline. We stopped at South Twin Island, and then went by Stockton to see larger cliffs and more sea caves. There were crazier teens climbing higher cliffs to jump. We stopped at Stockton to visit the ranger station there and pick up- you guessed it, junior ranger packets.
The next morning the real adventure began. The Despains, Gardners, and Millers all met early in the morning at Lost Creek Adventures to take safety training and prep for our kayaking adventure. The national park only allows 21 people to camp in each group site in the Apostle Islands. Our group totals 22. Plus we hired a company to guide us in kayaking, bring tents, and cook for us(very important!). We have been planning this trip since December, the company we hired did not tell us until just before booking the campsites that our group was too large. So we decided our family would attempt to book and individual campsite near the group site so we could all still go together. Group sites are booked 6 months out, but individual sites can not be booked until 30 days before. So after booking our group site, 2 months later, Lost Creek owner informed us that maybe my family should book another family vacation that he did not think he could take my family in addition to the group, he didn't think he could book our individual sites near to the group site. Well this was disappointing. So I contacted another company, that agreed to take us, even with the odd situation. They also thought it would be easier for just one company to take us, but the 2 owners knew each other and agreed to work together.
So 30 days ago, Neal from Whitecap Kayak booked our campsites for us. As anticipated, he was able to get the closest sites to the group site booked for the other group. And here we are ready for our trip!
So the other 3 families, and Savannah- to even numbers out at the campsites, met early in the morning at Lost Creek Office. While our family slept in, and packed up that morning. We met our guides Kyle and Reiley at noon at the launch point, Little Sand Bay. The other 3 families were there, eating lunch when we arrived. Our guides soon arrived and set up lunch for us as well. We all packed our kayaks and set out in one large group to make the 3 mile paddle to Sand Island. Kyle was great to coordinate with the 3 Lost Creek Guides. Truthfully the LCA guides had more experience guiding, and especially in the Apostle Islands. Kyle was new to both this summer. Really, our second guide, was 15 and in training. Although young, he loves paddling and is quite experienced in both guiding and kayaking. They both did a great job.
We made it the first 3 miles! David and Benjamin kayaked in a tandem with Matthew in a middle hatch. Isabel and I kayaked in a tandem together and Calvin had a solo kayak. Savannah was paired up in the other group with Sawyer. We had thought she would be paired with Mirelle, but the LCA guides made the determination, and put her and Sawyer together and they made a great team.
The kids had a great time running around at the campground together. We had fun visiting as adults. We had made it 3 miles, but we still had tomorrow...
After setting up camp, the kids played in the water and David jumped in with Matthew. I braved the cold water just to rinse the last 2 days of sweat off! It was so very cold, but I was so glad I did it! The rain dropped the air temps more than 10 degrees and it was so nice not to spend that time with sweat glued to my skin. The rain started early the next morning and drizzled on and off through out the day. Two days ago I was wondering if I had over packed. Nope. No way. I used all my layers. Savannah even used the extra fleece shirt I had packed for her, since she refused to pack it with her stuff. She was sure she had enough warm clothes. But we all had to layer up, including PJs under pants, to stay warm.
The kids did great playing games in tents or hanging out around the fire when the rain would stop for a bit. They enjoyed the day and just hanging out together. Even the teenagers seemed to enjoy their day. They even included our 15 year old guide with them. Of course the girls were happy to have him along; Reiley is pretty cute.
After all that kayaking, the kids deserved ice cream so we all headed into Bayfield for ice cream. Then we realized we were hungry so we walked to a nearby restaurant for a dinner. The Gardner clan had taken off on their drive to Minneapolis already, but the Millers, Despains and us, enjoyed some dinner together before each starting our long drives. Like the Gardners, Millers and Despains were headed to Minneapolis for a few days before flying home. We were headed east to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.