I will remember fondly the weekend of August 12, 2011. Husband and I’s weekend away from our current heinously busy life. If you’ve kept up with my life thus far, you can understand how absolutely desperate I was to get away. I think I would have been happy to go anywhere so long as it was alone with my husband. Thankfully, we chose Door County, WI. We have only been as far as Sturgeon Bay before. Friends kept telling me, “Oh, you haven’t been to Door County if that’s as far as you’ve gone.” “You haven’t lived if you haven’t been all the way to the end of door county!” I finally obliged all of these friends and began planning a vacation to the “good” part of Door County, while thinking *What’s wrong with Sturgeon Bay?!*
I will happily say that I 100% agree with everyone who told me that Door County is totally better the farther in you get. *Though not quite so enthusiastically* I would compare it to Wisconsin Dells. Lots of adorable little shops and eateries. MANY candy and ice cream shops and lots of tourist attractions. It’s bright and colorful and very beautiful. It’s a GREAT place for a family vacation as there are tons of kid friendly events and activities in all of the towns. I’m SO excited to take the kids up there when they’re older so we can experience the family side of vacationing rather than just the two of us. *I was also very happy to notice many handicap accessible places, including the state park we camped at.*
So that’s my overall opinion after the fact… Leading up to the vacation though was a different story. Packing everyone in the house but my husband was a two-day long chore that felt never-ending. I can’t believe the amount of packing that is required for kids under 5. I mean, it’s crazy! I. can. not. wait. for them to be able to pack for themselves. I noted to husband at one point a line from the movie ‘Home Alone’. Kevin’s Uncle tells him to pack his suitcase, which he replies, “Pack… MY SUITCASE?!” Looking back I remember watching that part of the movie as a pre-elementary aged kid and feeling waves of empathy for Kevin as I imagined the daunting task of having to pack my own suitcase. Now I can’t wait to push that task off on my own kids.
Also, as you all know I was VERY upset when I noticed that it was supposed to rain through the entire weekend. I kept watch over the weather forecast daily hoping and praying that the rain wouldn’t come. The day before we left I checked one last time and felt that our fate was sealed. There was a 60% chance of rain. *thunderstorms no less… freaking thunderstorms…* I wouldn’t have cared if we were gonna be in a hotel and doing inside activities. The problem lied in the fact that we planned mostly all outdoor activities and we were camping one night. I was told numerous times that I should just get a hotel room and find new things to do. *Screw you and your hotel. I reserved a campsite and I’m going to go camping damn it. There’s no way I’m letting the State Park keep the $28 I paid to reserve that spot.* Yes you heard right… I was risking getting sick or hurt over $28. I took the impending rain as a challenge. I am incredibly bull-headed sometimes (…always…) and I wasn’t going to back down from this fight. If you’re a parent that hasn’t had a single day off from that role in ages you understand how I felt. Rain was not about to ruin our freedom. No way, no how.
There’s also the fact that for the last two years, I have been pregnant every time we went camping. *all two times…* Being pregnant puts a HUGE damper on the whole affair because I was incredibly restricted in the amount of activities I was able to do. Namely… everything but sitting. I was so jacked up to have the ability to beat the crap out of myself without worrying about a little peanut in my belly I was ready to do just about anything.
Anyway, back to the vacation:
What I wanted to happen: I would leave around 2ish Friday with the kids and dog in tow and head over to the in-laws who graciously agreed to watch the kids for the weekend. *suckers…* I would get them all set up and settled in, and husband would come after work around 4ish and we’d head out. We’d make our first stop in Green Bay, WI and get a hotel room. Go out to eat somewhere cool, check out some of the breweries, check out the amusement park, check out Lambeau Field and maybe the hall of fame or go to the casino. Go to the hotel room after one or some or all of those activities and watch a movie. Then, go to bed and SLEEP. IN.
What really happened: After about 15 last-minute items were packed and I was irritated and an hour later than I had planned, I packed up the kids and dog and shut down the house. I got to my in-laws house around 3:30 and immediately started getting things ready to set up the kids. After I set up and started feeding husband shows up ready to go and I hadn’t finished the girls yet. Grandpa follows soon after. I’m now in the dilemma of just ditching grandpa with all three kids, or do husband and I feed the kids and wait for grandma? The answer is obvious after looking at grandpa who is standing in the midst of the three kids with his brave face, yet his eyes look a little desperate. He just looks from one kid to the next not quite sure where to start. I felt so bad at that point leaving the kids with husbands parents. When grandma shows up we finally leave… much later than planned. BUT honestly I didn’t care, the second we got in the car without the kids I felt free. Yet I felt kind of weird. This was the first time I would be away from the kids this long since before the girls were born.
When we got to Green Bay it started to *drumroll please…* RAIN. No surprise though. I honestly don’t care too much since we’re sleeping in the hotel room. We checked in without incident and go up to our room to decide where we want to go first. It was then that I remembered the first thing I forgot. The laptop. Not only that but it was still on back home. *Ugh…* We were going to bring it to look at last-minute directions and addresses. Oh well… at least we still have the GPS. After a little talking we decide Lambeau is out, amusement park is out and casino is out. Plus we’re hungry. We kill two birds with one stone and go to one of two local breweries to eat. The food is SU-PERB. Husband got a spicy elk burger, and I got a bison melt. When my melt arrived I sat looking quizzically at what I thought would be a burger. “Uhhhhhh… where’s the… top?” The waitress then informed me, to my embarrassment, that it’s an open-face sandwich. *awesome… my melt is literally dripping grease. I don’t mind raging acne… I guess…* After the first bite though I didn’t even care. I turned into a savage and tore into my melt like an animal. Don’t judge me. It was that good. We also ordered their specialty sampler of all the beers on the house. It was 9, 4 oz beers and a root beer. Those… were also SU-PERB. Though by the end of that meal husband and I were arguing over who had to finish the last two beers because we were SO full. I manned up of course. We took our leftovers and decided to head back to the hotel room to watch HBO and get fatter on greasy food and beer. It was magnificent. We went to bed happy and full of awful food. I woke up around 9:30 and headed down for some breakfast and found husband already up and watching political stuff on tv. *My god… you can’t give it a rest even on our vacation…* Apparently he woke up VERY early. So much for sleeping in… poor guy.
What I wanted to happen: Saturday we’d head out and go to Peninsula State Park in the ‘good’ part of Door County. Check in to our campsite and set up camp. Then head out and go swimming, boating/jet skiing or hiking and check out the bluffs. Go out to eat later and get some ice cream after. That evening go to the local drive in theater for a double feature. After that go back to the campsite and do camping stuff.
What really happened: IT WASN’T RAINING! Not yet anyway. We headed out a little bit late and made our way to a local Green Bay Wal-Mart to get some ice and snacks. On our way there I remembered the second thing I forgot to pack. Blankets. Oh… and pillows too. *You’ve GOT to be kidding me…* I talked husband into letting me get a small blanket to cover up with, much to his dissatisfaction. He kept complaining, “why can’t we just use the towels as blankets?” *…no. Just no.* We got our ice and snacks and my precious blanket and make our way to Peninsula State Park. Then, we ran out of gas! Kidding kidding. That would have sucked though, wouldn’t it?!
We made it there fine, but we were a bit early so we decided to go hiking. Or rather, I practically dove out of the car screaming to go hiking in my excitement. I will state, for a second time, that if any of you have been pregnant for two years in a row you can understand my uncontrollable urge to do something very dangerous with a high probability of getting hurt. I was SO sick of being careful. I scanned the trail map for the hardest trail and led the way.
What can I say about that trail.. what a disappointment. They made it sound like I’d be climbing bluffs. All it looked like was a washed out trail and a rolled ankle waiting to happen. It was just millions of roots and rocks on a mildly hilly path. I was so livid. THIS was not how I wanted to get hurt. The first half of the trail husband and I both enjoyed the scenery but gave the occasional comment about how boring the trail was. Then, to my amazement, we came around a corner and there they were. Bluffs. Beautiful dangerous bluffs. Oh, how wonderful. I could have kissed them! There were tons of signs saying to stay on the trail because of loose rocks, but I didn’t care, I found the first cave and climbed up to check it out. OMG I was so happy. That was seriously so much fun. We found a little stream running through them, and checked out a ton of dangerous nooks and crannies through the trails. We came out onto a road and found the park’s tower to climb. We hiked to the top and checked out the scenery. Still no rain, but the whole time there were ominous clouds hanging overhead just waiting to dump on us.
We decided to get back to the entrance and check in and set up camp before the rain fell. We got to our site and got to work. Husband helped me set up the tent for the first time in daylight. (We’ve got a bad habit of arriving to our campsites in the middle of the night… NOT an easy task!) Once the tent was up, I got to work on the tarp and husband got to work on… the hammock. *eyeroll* Still no rain. We got everything in working order in no time and waited for the rain. In the meantime I passed the time drinking and reminiscing about our kids. “Don’t you love it when Buddy fake laughs?” “Isn’t it so cute when Bear kicks her feet and squeals?!” “Peanut is really growing now you should see the rolls on her belly!” Husband bore it well and laughed along with me, though I don’t think he missed the kids quite as much as I did.
When dinner time was drawing near we decided to risk eating outside at a pizza place that was recommended to us. I called ahead to get put on a waiting list, and when we showed up we pushed through a crowd of people to find we were first in line among like 30 people standing around outside. We were seated almost immediately. How awesome is that?! OH. MY. GOD. I’ve never eaten pizza this amazing before. Seriously. NO, seriously! It’s SO good. It was ‘choke & chicken. Artichoke dip for sauce. Artichoke hearts and chicken and the typical pizza toppings over that. SO amazing. OH and the salad was SU-PERB too. (To be honest all the food was superb that weekend!) Lettuce and spinach with walnuts, feta cheese and dried cherries. Between that and a new beer I discovered I was in heaven (…and quite drunk at this point after all the beer I’ve been drinking through the weekend.) It was like an apple cider/beer/wine hybrid. I can’t even explain it. Just imagine those three tastes together. Weird but very refreshing! Much to husband’s luck I become VERY talkative and happy when I drink we had a very fun and VERY funny dinner. We haven’t laughed and joked like that in ages. It felt like we were truly on a date, like we were really truly dating again. It was so fun!
After dinner we decided to go to a neighboring town and get some ice cream that was also recommended to us by the same person. We parked a bit away from the ice cream shop and walked down main street together enjoying the scenery over the bay. Sailboats were out at this point and there were a number of horse and buggies around. We arrived at the shop and headed in. I wanted to run to the bathroom quick, so husband and I made a quick pit stop in the back after squeezing through yet another crowd of people. I got in the bathroom and started to do my business, then… *OH NOOOOOO!!!!!!* My stomach did a flip then dropped into my feet. My breath caught and my head was reeling. My cute KHAKI Capri pants were cute no more. They were RED… RED!!!! How long have I been walking around with this big red stain screaming “LOOK AT ME!!” at passer-bys?! Oh my god. OH. my god. OH. MY. GOD. I was mortified. This was NOT the “bloody injury” I was okay with getting. I wondered if I left a mark on the seat at the restaurant. OH. MY. GOD. I have never had this bad of a stain before. It was huge. HUGE. HOW could I have not noticed this?! OH. MY. GOD. I threw my hands into the toilet paper dispenser and ripped armfuls of toilet paper out by the second. I started scrubbing furiously while thinking of every single moment of agony I would have walking out of the bathroom to a room full of people who saw my SCARLET ASS. OH. MY. GOD. After wadding enough toilet paper in my pants to satisfy my fear of more leaking and tying my jacket around my waist, I took a deep breath and stepped out of the bathroom. No one looked at me but husband. He was giving me the *what gives?! Were you pooping or something?!* look and I stare him down. Hard. I tell him what happened and his jaw drops and eyes bulge for a split second. “Uhhhhh…. should we go?” I was about to say yes, but something deep down stopped me for a split second. Long enough to look at the ice cream. God it looked good… “No, I’m covered and I really want some ice cream.” We get in line and wait for our turn. I’m painfully aware of my ass at this point, but it’s covered and reinforced, there’s not much I can do. Plus, I’m on freaking vacation. Y’all can kiss my ass. We got our ice cream and decide that our fun has been cut short and we should head back to the campsite for a quick wardrobe change.
We get into the entrance and made our way slowly to our campsite. We passed a patrol vehicle on the way and noticed it turn around and start following us. We thought maybe Kyle was driving a bit fast so he rode the brakes. But still they persisted. They followed us turn for turn toward our campsite. we passed someone with no park sticker, but still they persisted. *Oh, come ON you a$$#*%es. Now is NOT a good time!* We
parked and I rushed to the tent to change. Sure enough they pulled into our site behind us and got out.
I should stop here and explain that I knew why they were stopping us. We were totally caught red-handed breaking their rules. We had taken our park sticker off of our van and moved it to the car. We had ripped it in the process and stuck it to Saran wrap in hopes that it would stick to the windshield. Apparently they noticed…
ranger: “Hi there, I just need to take a look at your windshield.”
(I backed out of the tent, still ‘scarlet’, enraged at my current bad luck and ready to get into a fight…)
me: “Is there a problem?”
ranger: “Yeah, it looks like your sticker isn’t valid.”
ranger: “It needs to be stuck to the windshield by its own adhesive.”
husband: “Oh! Yeah, that’s because we just had to sell our last car and the sticker was on it. We had to change it to this car.”
(I was immediately in love with husband for that perfect lie)
ranger: “I see. Well you know you can’t do that right? You would have had to buy a replacement for $12 at your nearest state park office.”
(again, enraged that he didn’t buy that perfect lie)
me: “How were we supposed to know that? *I growl* The only reason we put it on Saran wrap was because I ripped it on accident, otherwise we’d have stuck it by its own adhesive…” (totally lying…)
ranger: “Can I see it please?”
(Husband gives me a look that could kill and gets the sticker out)
ranger: “oh.. yeah it’s ripped. Well you could’ve gotten a free one at your nearest park office then.”
me: “How would we have known that?”
(Husband is rubbing his forehead nervously now, but I’m irate and can’t stop myself.)
ranger: “It’s written in the rules.”
other ranger: “I think she means how would she have known she could get a free one.”
(I didn’t, I just wanted to fight.)
Ranger: “Oh, sure. Well normally it’s a $150 fine for illegally placing a park sticker, but you said you sold you other vehicle?”
(Husband is practically bouncing in place now desperate to shut me up.)
ranger: “I’ll tell you what. I’ll write you a note saying you need another sticker to replace this one. I’ll waive the $12 fee and you can get another free one. Just don’t do that again okay?”
(Husband looks relieved, but eager to get rid of them before I say anything else.)
husband: “Ok, thanks a lot I really appreciate it.”
The conversation went on but I stopped paying attention. We didn’t get any fine and I needed to change. After the rangers left I got scolded for being so bull-headed. We got over it quick though and were relieved at our good luck all things considered. Although we wanted to go to a drive-in movie, we decided it’d be wise to stay at our campsite the rest of the evening after our recent bad luck. We popped open a few beers and chowed on some chips, hot dogs and leftover pizza. You know what we realized at this point? It never rained!!! Finally it was late enough for bed… that brought us back to our next predicament. I had a very small thin blanket and husband had… towels. Neither of us had pillows. I was actually surprisingly comfortable though and fell asleep pretty quickly. Overall, a pretty good day. 🙂
What I wanted to happen: Sunday get up and get some breakfast somewhere yummy, go on a winery tour and go cherry picking. *Of course making sure to eat so many cherries in the process that we get sick* Then finally head home.
What really happened: The next morning I woke up first and saw husband had a blanket on him. The dog’s hairy, smelly blanket from the trunk. He must have gotten cold in the night and gotten that nasty thing out. Poor husband!! I got up and left him to sleep since he was probably up most of the night tossing and turning. (He’s a finicky sleeper..) Finally at 9 I went in and woke him up eager to get to the day. We had already missed what I heard was the most delicious breakfast ever. Cherry stuffed french toast. I was really bummed! BUT I also knew we would be going to the winery and orchard today so I was over it quick. We got the sticker on our way out. Come to find out they make you put it on in front of them. We had wanted to take it home with us and put it back on the van so we could bring the kids with us to our local state park. Husband put it on very lightly and peeled it back off right after we left the park. *F#@% you guys and your rules. We’re on vacation. BAH.*
We got there around 10:30 and waited for the 11:00 winery tour. I will add a side note and say that I’m not actually a huge wine drinker. It’s always too dry and has a terrible aftertaste sometimes. We started the tour and I saw my first vineyard. HOW COOL!!! We got to see a cherry harvester and all the bottling and fermenting stuff. I really really enjoyed it. I love a good brewery tour, but the winery tour was way more interesting!
Afterwards we had a wine tasting. I wasn’t too excited for it only because I knew I didn’t like wine, but I did it anyway. Why not, right? I got to the counter and leveled with the bartender immediately. “Listen, I really don’t like wine all that much unless it’s super sweet. Plus to be honest with you I don’t know a lot about wine so I don’t even know what to pick.” He just laughed at me and started asking me what kind of flavors and aftertaste I like. All I knew was I wanted something sweet. He gave me something to start with. Holy mother of god. All that “SU-PERB” I mentioned before was nothing compared to this!! I’ve never tasted wine like this in my life! I just looked at him with big eyes. “Good?” “Yes.” “want something else like that?” “YES.” He poured another. EVEN. BETTER. I got through all six of my samples within five minutes. I waited around for husband to finish his samples (equally as excited about the amazing wine as I was) and the bartender asked if I wanted to try another. I sadly informed him that I was all out of samples, and he waved his hand at me like I was a fool. “Nah, don’t worry about it, I can give you more.” I. LOVED. this man. I eagerly dove in for more. and MORE. Every wine was better than the last. Finally I had to stop. If I kept going I was going to buy every bottle in the house. (Which was probably his goal…) After another ten minutes of constant debating we picked out six bottles of wine. I can’t express how sad I was to not get more. But really… We had spent enough already. Apparently six bottles of wine is enough to get a $.50 discount on each bottle. SA-WEEEET!!!
We took our BOX of wine to the car and headed back in to get a cherry picking bucket. We saved the best for last! Then of course we found out the best cherries weren’t there anymore, but we could pick some VERY bitter ones instead. Whatever… sure why not. Sour apples are great for baking, maybe these will be good for baking too… Plus, it’s more about the picking than the actual cherries for me. We got a 7 gallon bucket and got to work. About an hour later we had gone through tons of trees and picked out the best cherries we could find. We went in and checked out. We got to the car around 1 and debated on doing something else before heading home to our kids. We looked at each other and laughed. As eager as we were to get away, we were so ready to go home and do nothing. On one hand, I felt like we did SO MUCH. On the other, I feel like we didn’t do anything.
We got home and started unpacking our things in preparation of the kids coming home. Then I suddenly realized how much I missed them. I seriously missed them so much! This vacation was just what I needed to get away from them, but now I wanted them back SO BAD. When my in-laws pulled into the driveway husband ran outside to greet them in the driveway and I was right on his heels. Right when husband rounded the corner I heard Buddy start yelling at the top of his lungs. He wanted OUT and he wanted US. My heart just melted. I didn’t even see him yet and I was a puddle. I came around and I saw him straining forward in his seat to see us. He was let out and he came right up to us with a huge grin on his face. We probably had the same grin on ours. After the proper amount of hugs kisses and snuggles I headed for the girls next. *When did they get so big?!* I was taken aback for a second. I realized that I must have been so busy with them that I didn’t notice them growing so much! WOW! They were so big! They were SO SMILEY!! I was a puddle again.
We all exchanged hugs and a few stories and headed in for a minute. Grandma and grandpa gave us their success story of watching the kids. They had a great time with the kids but were SO ready to give them back. I smiled. I was SO happy to take them back. Despite some problems along the way, this was one of my favorite vacations with my husband. So after getting home I was happily ready to take the reins of my crazy life back. Besides, now I’ve got a nice arsenal of wine to take the edge off on the bad days. 😉