It was family vacation time. This summer, we headed just over the border to my husband, Marc’s, hometown state of Wisconsin.
Marc grew up in the smaller communities of Chilton and Two Rivers, but spent all of his summers at the family cottage on Long Lake, which is a part of Waupaca’s Chain of Lakes.
Each summer we head to the cottage to participate in all of the ritual activities that my husband participated in when he was growing up.
The Chain of Lakes reminds you of the lake experiences in the movies “Dirty Dancing” and “The Great Outdoors.” You ride your boat to a gas station on a pier on one of the lakes. One never goes to the Chain of Lakes without a pontoon trip to the Harbor Bar for lunch and some ice cream.
The lakes are pristine because they are spring-fed from the Crystal and Waupaca rivers. Each morning, my children would get up, head to the dock, and feed the fish that you can so clearly see. Our youngest daughter’s mission on this trip to the cottage was to catch one of those fishes with a container.
The neighbor, daily, feeds oatmeal to the walleye that appear each day by his dock.
Originally, the Menomonie tribe had many villages in Waupaca and considered the area sacred. The native heritage is still present. One of the most popular features on the Chain is the famous Indian Crossing, a channel between Lime Kiln and Columbia Lakes.
It’s like driving through the tunnels on Highway 94, but rather, you take a boat through this channel that one can hear the echoes of the chants of children, including ours, like to voice when going through this tunnel. It is a small wonder of the world.
We played a few holes of mini golf at the Tom Thumb mini golf course near the cottage, where my husband played sometimes three times a day when he was growing up. The only change is the cost has risen from 25 cents a game to $6.
The trips to the petting zoo, Bolby’s candy shop, breakfast at King’s Table, and Scoopers for a double-decker ice cream cone were not missed on this trip.
The children’s favorite cottage fun, though, is swimming in the crystal clear lake. A swim to the stationary raft for diving, jumping, and sunning was a daily activity.
A few years ago we took the children on a trip to Chilton so the children could visually see where their dad grew up, where he played, and where he went to school.
On this trip we headed to Two Rivers, where he lived for a few years and graduated from. Two Rivers and Manitowoc are the port cities and share Wisconsin’s longest uninterrupted stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline.
My husband grew up near Neshotah Park, a 50-acre lakefront park. We, too, spent a day at the shores of Lake Michigan. Although the water was 50 degrees, it was crystal clear. We braved it and went in and out of the water along the white sand beach.
My husband’s house was still in the same spot, but the school building he graduated from and its grounds was replaced by town homes. A few years ago a new school was built at a time when the state of Wisconsin was offering to pay for a big chunk of the cost of a new school building.
Two Rivers is also home to what my husband proclaims is the best sub sandwich restaurant, Fatzo’s. My children share in my husband’s sentiments and we ate lunch at this best little eatery.
Family vacations are a necessity, whether one heads to a cabin, out of state, or just out of town for a few days. It is a time of connecting with family members without the daily duties and hectic activities.
This family vacation was a time for our children to learn more about their dad and how he grew up. My husband shared hometown memories with us that helped us connect with his history and life story before we knew him. You can’t get much better than that.