Relaxing in Bayfield, Wisconsin

We’ve just returned from our tenth annual vacation to Bayfield, Wisconsin with Bill and Tammy, Dennis and Julie, and Dave and Julie.  Lake Superior looks the same, so beautifully intimidating, so majestic. The time away was nice.

As the years go by, we find ourselves reminiscing more about past years.

“What year did Dave’s tongue swell up after eating walleye,” someone will ask?

“Remember the year we rented mopeds and did a photo scavenger hunt on Madeline Island? How long ago was that?”

“When did we … tour the fish camp? … climb the lighthouse on Raspberry island? … go on the ghost tour in town? … start visiting all of the apple orchards?”

“How long ago was it that the boat engine quit and we had to get towed back to the marina by that family with the huge boat?”

We should have started writing these things down from the very beginning, but honestly, I don’t think any of us thought this would become an annual thing. We started out as mere acquaintances, our only common bond being Bill and Tammy. We’re not sure why they chose three couples from different circles of their friends to spend several days together on vacation with them, but we’re glad they did. It worked out so well the first year that we did it again a second year, and again and again. And now it’s been ten years that we’ve done this together. We are all very different people, but each year when we return to Bayfield, we have the best times!

Every year when we travel to the resort, the guys ride together in Bill’s truck and tow the big boat. The girls all ride together, behind the guys, keeping an eye on the boat and trailer. This year’s trip started off with a bang as we watched a trailer tire blow and fall to shreds on the road ahead of us. Bill managed to safely pull the trailer on to the shoulder and within twenty minutes, the guys had the tire changed and we were back on the road. Not long afterwards, we stopped at a small-town restaurant for lunch. We had the best burgers I can remember in a long while, with buns soaked in butter and then toasted. YUM! This is when Tammy pulled out a sheet of notebook paper and we started to jot down memories from years past.

Every year when we go on vacation, each of us has a partner for games and activities. My partner is always Dennis. Mark is always with Tammy. And then there’s Bill with Julie W, and Dave with Julie G. Dennis and I, both being somewhat the quiet type, have a quiet and respectful partnership. Dave and Julie G are the ones to watch. They poke fun at each other and make like they’re mad at one another. On our last night while playing cards, Dave was making fun of Julie’s allergies, mimicking her and inserting loud, obnoxious SNIFFS between words. She, in turn made fun of the way he held his cards. They kept at it, scowling and scoffing at one another until the rest of us were crying with laughter!

The weather this year was cooler than last year. The sky was overcast much of the time, and sweatshirts were necessary attire. But we got a little sun too. We made a trip out to Stockton Island, docked the boat and had lunch and walked the beach. Bill and Julie W braved the water and actually went for a swim despite the cold. Not me! No thanks!

We visited Madeline Island, as we do every year, and paid a visit to Tom’s Burned Down Cafe, as we always do. We shopped in town, where Mark and I bought “Bayfield” sweatshirts, as we always do. And we visited several apple orchards, one with a quaint little gift shop and a bakery that filled the place with the delicious aroma of warm apple donuts!

The mornings this year, though, were my favorite part of this trip. I tend to let up on my morning runs while I’m on vacation here, but am often joined by one or more of the girls for a good walk to start the day. This year, Mark, Tammy and Julie G felt the draw of the local casino each morning. And it was worth it. Mark won a couple hundred dollars one morning. Julie G won almost five hundred the next. And while they were busy gambling, Bill, Dennis and Dave were out in the boat, hoping to catch some fish. (They never did catch any this time around.)

With everyone else otherwise occupied, Julie W and I would take off for a walk. Last year, we discovered the The Brownstone Trail not far from the condos where we stay. It’s a beautiful trail that meanders through the trees along the shore of Lake Superior and it is filled with beautiful scenery. We stopped to marvel at the beautiful mansions and quaint country homes along the way. We paused where the trees opened up, finding ourselves speechless at the majesty of Lake Superior before us. We greeted friendly strangers along the way. An older couple, each walking a dog, stopped to wait as we approached. As we came upon them, the man nodded to his dog and said, “Friday wanted to say hello. Her name is Friday, as in TGIF, thank God it’s Friday.”

We paused to show Friday some love, and give some to her pal, Sophie as well, whose leash was held by the man’s wife. We continued along the path for several miles until we reached the town of Bayfield, and then turned around to go back. On the return trip, we again ran across the man and his wife.

“Hello again,” we said to them. The woman smiled and continued walking, but the man paused again, saying, “Friday wanted to say hello. Her name is Friday, as in TGIF, thank God it’s Friday.”

Julie and I exchanged a quick glance, shrugged and smiled at the man again, and paused to pet Friday and tell her how pretty she was before we continued on our way.

Throughout our walks each day, Julie and I would talk. I don’t see Julie but a couple of times a year, but when we’re in Bayfield, we share a connection. A few years ago, we discovered that an uncle of hers was the brother of an uncle of mine. Her mom’s sister, Lois was married to Keith, whose brother, Ben was married to my mom’s sister, Elaine. Julie and I visited the same family farm when we were growing up, yet never knew each other. And maybe this is part of what connects us, but I think we felt a connection even before we knew we were sort of related. We’re able to talk to each other about so many things, like struggles we’ve faced with our kids and the importance of family and knowing our roots. I don’t mean to take anything from anyone else in the group. I laugh harder and relax more with these people than I do any other time of year. There’s just something about Julie W that really touches me. We’ve discovered a trust and an affection for one another that has come to the surface a bit more than that which I feel with anyone else in our Bayfield group. I cherish those walks we would take together, an hour and a half of time to really talk and learn more about one another. Those walks were the highlight of our trip this year and Julie told me she felt it as much as I did.

With all of our talk about trying to remember the events of each of our past vacations, I wanted to be sure to commit to writing all the things that made this another memorable trip. I’ve done just that since 2006 when I started blogging and as soon as I got home today, I looked back on all of our memories and jotted down what I remembered from those years, then sent it off by email to the group. Next, I need to gather all of my photo files from all of these years and fill in some of the gaps. Then we’ll remember the stories in so much more detail! So here is this year’s contribution to the collection:

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13 thoughts on “Relaxing in Bayfield, Wisconsin

  1. You always seem to make the most of your get-a-ways! Every part of it seems like so much fun -even the blow-out at the beginning of the trip. It’s important to include a few mishaps for the good of the stories!
    I hope your little vacation “took you away” for a while. Seems like you’ve needed it!


  2. I’m always amazed by the connection you have with so many people that comes from living and growing up in a community because it is so very different from my world where I and those close to me for the most part cover the far corners of the world. I can’t remember a single activity of my life that has the consistency that you have. I’m not saying either is good or bad just marveling at the multitude of paths life can take.


  3. The closest I’ve ever come to a vacation with people other than my immediate family (meaning me and my kids) was tenting at the little park where we held our family reunions from 1970 to 2005! Well, no -just realized that’s not true because my kids and I -from 1982 thru 1993, always spent a long weekend every June at a little park (Conneaut Lake Park) in western Pennsylvania where a truck driver friend of mine and his wife lived year-round and they owned a cottage there that they rented out in the summer. He always kept the cottage vacant the weekend in June when the Central Conference of the Teamster (I believe that conference is out of Akron, if I remember correctly) would have their big Teamster Picnic at the park and then, my kids and I would get to share the cottage with various others of Granddad’s friends from all over the place! (His CB handle was Granddad and my kids then always called him “Pap” because he was really the only grandfather figure they knew when they were growing up. After Pap’s wife died, whenever it was Teamster weekend, we would go up to Pap’s and I would spend two days in the kitchen at his house cooking upteen things so he would have foods to set out and feed anyone and everyone who stopped by to visit and share a draft or two. Gosh, how I miss those days! It’s 19 years this summer now since Pap died but oh, the great memories I have -and so do my kids -of those long weekends at Conneaut Lake park! Those were really the only vacations we could even afford but they sure were terrific times!


  4. What fun! I can remember some of the Bayfield Weekends Gone By stories from previous blog posts. Tom’s Burned Down Cafe and the scavenger hunt on mopeds definitely ring bells! Great photos as always – even captured the mucho macho manlies changin’ a tire.


  5. Always glad to read about the annual Bayfield trip with the crew. Amazing on how something started out as a simple road trip so many years ago has turned into an annual pilgramidge up north. Those are memories that will last a long time. To use the old Visa cliche: Priceless. Glad to hear you are making a journal of each year – it adds to the memories. I, too, remember the moped scavenger hunt.


  6. Sounds like Bayfield is your Vegas..and you have a casino too! I’ve not had a vacation this year. I’ll be on permanent vacation in about a year, so I’m going to use most of my vacation to work first a four-day week for 5 months and then a three-day week for the last three months before I enter “no work”….


  7. Sounds like a great time!!!! Loved the pictures – especially the ones of the clouds. I’m jealous that you have a beach close! I’d have to drive 5-6 hours to find a beach! Jealous!!


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