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If You’re Ever In Wild Rose, Wisconsin

The camping trip that was featured in my last article was in Wild Rose, Wisconsin. Since we’ve been there so many times, and Hubster practically grew up there in his family’s “second home” of sorts, I thought I would put together a little insider’s visitor guide, if you will.

Places to Visit in Wild Rose, WI

If you’re in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, make sure you pop over and visit the Fish Hatchery especially if you have kids. They did a really nice job converting their visitor’s center into an interactive play area. The little ones could’ve played in here for quite some time.

There are two large aquariums with live fish and a huge wall display of fish profiles. Rayna loved staring at and pointing out all the fishies.

Fish Hatchery Wild Rose, Wisconsin

They have an adorable little fishing area where you sit in a boat with your magnetic fishing pole, trying to catch fish. Imagination play.

 

Wild Rose Fish Hatchery

They had all kinds of fish plushies.

Rayna with fish in Wild Rose

Wild Rose, WI Fish Hatchery

And they had an entire section where you pretend to work at the hatchery. You start at the door and put your boots and lab coat on. Then, you make your way through the different stations. Kayne was dissecting a fish here.

Kids Discovery Center in Wild Rose Fish Hatchery

Most of the hatchery isn’t run the way it used to be of course, so a lot of it is closed off to the public, but you can still feed some of their fish in the ponds. There’s a quarter feed dispenser that you can use to get their attention.

old fish hatchery Wild Rose

Feeding fish at hatchery

Kayne feeding hatchery fish

 

We’ve been coming here for years. Even last year, we went camping there when Rayna was only 1 months old.

For a little family picnic and a dip in the lake, check out Kusel Lake County Park. One day while we were camping, we took a family hike here through the lush trails and the following day, Kayne and I came back for a run/bike ride on the trails for my daily workout.

They also have a park with some fun old-school equipment, a picnic shelter, and a sandy beach for swimming. You could spend an entire day just at this little park.

 

Kusel Lake County Park

 

Another place to visit is the Roseville Mini Golf & Shops, a mini golf range and attached ice cream shop. This little visitor-friendly site has a well-kept mini golf course, great ice cream and lots of souvenirs and treats.

Roseville Mini Golf

 

We’ve also stopped here quite a few times in the past several years.

They have a few little farm animals out back next to the golf course now too. Rayna doesn’t really “play” golf, so we let her wander around, play with her own club and ball, and explore the animals.

Wild Rose Mini Golf and Goats

There’s a carousel horse out front that’s a perfect photo opp.

Roseville Mini Golf Shop

 

Right next to Benny’s Grocery Store is a little thrift store that I sometimes pop into while Hubster grabs groceries. A few years back, it was one of those crammed, treasure-hunt-type thrift stores that I loved exploring. Now it has a more curated, pricey feel to it. But there’s one interesting thing at the back of the store, if you care to look: a real life electric chair. Yes, it’s absolutely creepy. I couldn’t even bring myself to sit all the way back in the chair or touch the sides even though I knew it was off and not working. But I thought it was worth mentioning;)

 

When Kayne was little, we went camping right during strawberry picking and got the whole experience at a local farm. I wish I could remember the name of it, but we just found the sign for it and pulled in on a whim!

There are a few other little shops in Wild Rose, if you care to stop, including a little flower/gift shop and antique store. We haven’t been in either of these, but they look like they’re worth the visit.

Places to Stay in Wild Rose, Wisconsin

While I’m not familiar with all the inns and cottages available, I can tell you that the camping in Wild Rose is so much fun. We like staying at Luwisomo Campground whenever we visit. But Evergreen is also very popular with all their various attractions. Hubster’s family used to have a trailer at that campground growing up, so he has many memories there. They’ve gotten a little too commercialized ($$$) and crammed together in the last few years, but it’s still a fun time.

Luwisomo is a nice understated place to camp that is a bit more spread out and much more tree-covered for those who like the actual outdoor experience. You can also rent a few cute little cabins there. They have a little playground, a little mini golf course and some nice trails. They also have decent bathrooms and laundry facilities in the public camping area which I appreciate.

Luwisomo also has this amazing horse stable for horseback riding.

We’ve started let Kayne go horseback riding every year. He’s still not old enough to go alone, but they do a guided tour with him and he loves it.

Camp Luwisomo Horseback Riding

They also have other horses and goats you can pet while you wait.

Camp Luwisomo Horse Stables

 

 

Places to Eat in Wild Rose, WI

We haven’t eaten at all the restaurants, but we are fans of the Pioneer Pub & Grill. It has a log cabin look from the outside, and the view on the back deck is absolutely amazing.

Springwater Resort has a pizza buffet on certain days of the week (Wed and Sun, I think?). They’re situated right on Kusel Lake too. We’ve gone there several times and enjoyed the little buffet.

We generally bring our own food or stop at Benny’s to pick up what we need and go out to eat maybe one night of our stay. And we’re also mourning the loss of the restaurant inside the Ding. When Hubster and I were first dating, we stopped there to eat many many times. They had a greasy spoon vibe in their restaurant part, but the burgers were amazing! Last time we stopped in, the informed us they no longer served food.

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little tour of Smalltown USA. Wild Rose is a quick little blink of a town, but it still has enough to do for a day, or several, especially if camping and nature is your thing.

How to Camp with a Toddler

How to Camp with a Toddler

Just try it. See how it goes. And don’t worry too much.

Toddler Camping

How’s that for a canned, cop-out answer?

But really, try not to overthink this. If you normally go camping every summer, then normal camping you shall go. The sooner you make camping a part of your newer child’s life, the sooner it will just become “normal.” Having a baby or toddler in the house doesn’t have to change your normal family activities. And it’s really not as hard as you might be thinking!

We were worried about how our little girl would do too, but we went anyway and winged it. Actually, we went last year when she was only10 months old. Having a baby? Doesn’t stop us from enjoying our favorite past-times. In fact, having Rayna there enriched the experience tenfold. Try going camping through the eyes of a one-year-old. Fascinating!

 

Camping with a Toddler

This is our camper and set-up. As a side note, that there umbrella-tent thing, the Sportbrella is awesome! You can fit two normal camping chairs under there and hang out when it’s raining or super sunny (our overhang needs repair). BYOS, Bring Your Own Shade. In fact, my BIL uses theirs at my nephew’s soccer games.

 

Ok, now let me give you a few more legit tips for camping with a tiny human:

The sleeping situation

So, Rayna still sleeps in a crib. And she needs to. She is a rolly-polly sleeper and falls off normal beds still. She also doesn’t have the discipline to stay put yet. Problem is, all we have in the camper are normal beds. And they’re the type of beds that you can’t hook a toddler bed gate to, otherwise we would’ve done that.

Luckily, our camper has a cabinet that blocks part of the bed, so I put her as close to that end as I could. I also added a full-body pillow to that side of the bed so she would be kinda nested in there. We think she fell out a few times: once when the dog took over her space (#sillypuppy) and once when she had rolled to the opposite side of the bed. None of this was dangerous though.

So, I would suggest using a toddler gate if you can, making a nice sleeping nest, and putting something soft on the floor beside the bed, just in case. No biggie.

Also, since toddlers like to get up after you’ve put them down for bed, you have to be consistent about putting them back every single time they get up. It actually only takes several times before they get the picture. The picture you have in your mind of putting your child back 50 times over the course of 2 hours while pulling your hair is way exaggerated to what usually happens in reality. A few times was all it took for Rayna the first day, and it got easier every day thereafter.

Inside Camper with KidsThe kids’ set-up: side-by-side beds with a pull-out table and a TV stand with their movie player.

The Itinerary

So, toddlers are not the greatest at kicking back in a camping chair and watching the fire. No, they are not.

So, we made sure we had a small excursion planned for each day (nothing too involved) that we were at the campground and we broke the day up into chunks.

Actually, each thing we did was like a mini event: prepare and eat breakfast, run to the showers and get ready (Rayna oddly LOVED this part), do a little excursion, come back and do lunch, go down for a nap, go down to the playground for a bit, gather wood for the fire, have dinner, wind down with a movie on the portable DVD player, go to bed.

All these little experiences were a great way to keep our toddler active all day along with us. while doing the things all of us like to do. Like I said, she doesn’t like to just lounge around, so we used what was available to us (playground, hiking trails, beach) to keep her busy.

 

Campground with Toddler

She swam, collected seashells, looked at the fishies, jumped off the dock into my arms and explored the sand.

Hiking with a toddler at the campground

Taking a slow family hike, collecting fun things in her hands.

Campground playground

Old-school playground

Normal Routines

While camping, it’s important to maintain all of your normal daily routines, as much for comfort in a new place as for practical purposes.

We did all our normal routines like bedtime teeth brushing and back rubbing, our normal morning breakfast, after-lunch naps, and those kinds of things so our daughter understood what was going on and felt secure in her new environment. We brought along all her favorite stuffed animals and blankets too, for her comfort.

Even the times that we did things like naps and bedtime were pretty similar to at home, so we didn’t mess up her internal clock either.

 

Kid-Friendly Food

We brought along a lot of non-cook snacks for the kiddos to enjoy on our trip like applesauce, fruit cups, oatmeal, trail mix and things like that. These are easy to pack, keep fresh and grab when needed.

There’s no reason to get anxious about meal planning for camping. Keep it simple. We have a camper with an oven so we like to cook the same things we would at home. But we also camp at a place with a grocery store nearby so we don’t worry if we forget something either. Actually, sometimes we leave the bulk of the grocery shopping until we get there.

Cooking hot dogs and S’mores over the fire is like a rite of camping passage, so don’t forget those supplies;) It’s one of those things that your children will form memories around and likely pass on to their own children, so make it meaningful. It’s an entire experience in itself, everyone gathered around the fire, getting the browning down to a science, and enjoying the food at sunset around a picnic table. Mmmmmm. Such brilliant memories…

 

The Dirt

Camping trips are one of those times when it’s ok (and pretty hard not to) let your toddler get dirty. We could not keep shoes on Rayna for the life of us. Every. single. time. we put them on her, she had them off within minutes. And really, who cares? Even though there were pine needles and pinecones poking up everywhere, we weren’t the least bit worried. Think about all the sensations your child is learning, the closeness to the earth they’re experiencing, the earthing they’re getting to do.

In fact, I often wonder about the sheer magnitude of stuff that’s happening in a toddler’s head when they’re in a new environment. Can you imagine all the neurons firing and brain cells being activated when they’re experiencing all these new things?

Rayna even stole my contact case at one point and used it as a sand scoop on the last day. I wasn’t bothered in the least. Not only do I have plenty of them at home, but I was happy to see her exploring the earth.

Pinch Bouquet

On one of our hikes, Rayna helped me collect “pretties” for our signature #fingerbouquets

It rained one of the nights we were there too, and Kayne took his bike splashing through the puddles at the campground. Totally fine! There were free showers where we stayed and that’s just what camping is all about! Let them experience nature in all its dirtiness! We sweat, we kicked mushrooms, we played in the lake water amongst fishies, we walked barefoot through the sand, we went down wet slides, and just plain got dirty. It was fun!

After the trip, when I was cleaning out the camper, I was amazed at the sheer volume of sand that was left in there. I sure do love getting it squeaky clean afterwards, but during the trip, getting dirty is just a natural part of the whole experience.

 

Things To Do

Even if you don’t want to plan any excursions or just plain aren’t near any, there are so many little things you can do with your toddler at a campground to keep them busy and engaged. We didn’t bring along very many toys, and you don’t need to either. Here are just a few that I came up with, many of which we’ve tried:

  • Do a scavenger hunt. For small children, just ask them to bring you simple items like twigs or pinecones. For older children, print off a list of harder-to-find items that they can be on the lookout for and collect throughout the entire trip.
  • Create a finger bouquet.
  • Bring along a wagon or wheelbarrow for them to collect twigs for the fire.
  • Take walks around the campground (this could keep them busy for hours).
  • Walk the trails nearby.
  • Visit the beach.
  • Bring sand toys to play in the sand. Our campground had not only a beach but also a volleyball court where we played in the sand.
  • Bring a guitar or music player and play music around the campfire.
  • Create a nature mandala, like this one or this one.
  • Find a new secret spot to picnic for each meal.
  • Make a fort.

 

I hope these tips give you some insight into camping with small children. And if you’ve had any hesitations or reservations about going, I hope this inspires you to give it a shot!

 

Pin this article for later:

How to Camp with a Toddler

Have you ever tried camping with a baby or toddler? How did it go?

What are some of your best memories from camping as a child?

 

 

Wild Rose Camping Trip

A few weeks ago, we went on a family camping trip. Yep, 10-month-old baby and all. Admittedly, I was pretty worried about how Rayna would sleep, but we had taken a short test camping trip earlier in the summer. I was thinking that that trip would be a good primer for a longer trip. And it sorta was. Rayna slept awful the first night but did pretty well the next few nights. We scrapped the travel bassinet though and put a bunch of padding on the floor between the two back beds and put up a baby gate as a makeshift crib for her. It worked perfectly, even for naps!
Anyhow, on to the trip. We stayed at a campground in Wild Rose, WI called Camp Luwisomo. It’s a Lutheran campground where one side has huge buildings and halls for retreats and the other side has a public campground. I wish more people knew about this place because it’s absolutely beautiful and absolutely affordable! But there was no one there.

We ended up with the entire campground to ourselves except one other family behind us that we befriended. We’re thinking they were Mennonites and we loved getting to know them. We shared S’mores around a campfire and lots of chats. And the kids played with each other every day.
Each day we did a small little something with lots of rest and taking casual drives in between. One day we went into town and visited the fish hatchery. Sadly, it has diminished since we were last there several years ago, but it was still fun to buy feed for a quarter and watch them feed.
This is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen!
Funny enough, I have an image of him exactly like this from the same place, 5 years ago:
And one more for good effect

Anyhow…
Another day we went into town and played miniature golf and had ice cream:
Hubster and I tied for first place!
Our campground also offered a cute little miniature golf course that we tried too.
Another day we went into town to dinner and found a cute hiking path. They even had fresh spring water that we filled our water bottles with.
While on the trail, I made one fabulous #pinchbouquet
This was another diner nearby…so which is it?
And finally, on the last day, before we packed up to go, Kayne got to go on his very first horse ride. The campground offers guided rides for kids his age and he was so enthralled!
We brought some carrots for the horses

They also had free-range goats that were pretty friendly.

First signs of fall in August?

And just for fun, here’s a picture of an electric chair, I kid you not, they had on display in a thrift store in Wild Rose. Even though I knew it wasn’t even remotely in operation, I still sat at the very edge of the chair, not touching any part of it. It gave me the creeps.

Once we got home, we found this little hitchhiker on my Tone It Up Fit, Fierce Fab book.
This simple little trip was exactly what we needed as a family. Every night of the trip, we curled up and watched movies together. We took the days as casually as anyone ever could. We didn’t spend very much money either, so that didn’t weigh on anyone’s mind. It was just another perfect trip!

Wisconsin Dells Vacation (Part Two)

Read about the first half of our Wisconsin Dells family trip in Part One.

We saved Tuesday of our family trip for Noah’s Ark. It was pretty quiet when we got there, which was perfect. Peanut started out with being reluctant to ride any of the big rides, but after being coerced a little, tackled them like a boss. Of course, like every other child in history, he said, “let’s do it again!” He even did this Stingray ride that would’ve even freaked me out:

I couldn’t do many of the rides due to the current state of sharing my body with another human, but I just loved finding a shady spot to read while Peanut and his Da spent some quality fun time together. I plowed my way through #Girlboss, btw. Anyone else read it? It’s such an easy, amazing read.

On Wednesday, we decided to hit up Timbavati Wildlife Park. This brought back some interesting memories. As a child, my family and I made a yearly trek to a waterpark called Waterworld. As we were entering Timbavati, I saw the old, eerie overgrown Waterworld sign and the mystery of where that waterpark disappeared to was revealed. It is now Timbavati.

There were a lot of baby animals to feed, pet and coo at.

And a few big cats to watch. I felt a little bad though, cuz these pretty beasts only had a small sandy cage to spend their time in. (I always have these ethical conundrums at zoos).
We watched some comical pig races. 

In the baby nursery, they allowed us to bottle-feed the baby goats and sheep. This is the kind of thing Peanut lives for. He’s got a huge heart for animals.
We even got to hand-feed giraffes and camels.

After the wildlife park, we found another miniature golf place that was mostly in the shade (thank God!) and had some more competitive fun. Hubster and I both like to gloat a bit when we’re in the lead.

On Thursday we indulged in a little bit more mini golf at our campground before packing everything up and heading home, wondering, of course, where the time went.

Peanut’s picture of our camper

My favorite part of the whole trip was when the three of us snuggled into our bed after dark and put a movie in the portable DVD player. Our nights got later and later as we all hunkered down and read and watched movies. Pretty sure we traumatized Peanut with All Dogs Go to Heaven (huge heart for animals, remember? He once cried inconsolably when he saw a squashed seagull in a parking lot and just about died when he witnessed a neighborhood crow pick up a baby bunny for lunch). But it was so much fun to relive Ferngully and a few other Oldie Goodies with him.

Next time we head back to Wisconsin Dells, we will be a family of 4. I wonder where we’ll go/stay next.

Camping Collins Style

Since Hubster doesn’t work on Mondays, we considered Memorial Day weekend the ideal time to take a little mini vacation in our new camper. That way, no one had to miss work or school but we could get out in our new mini home away from home ASAP.

We stayed close to home for various reasons, which turned out to be helpful when Hubster had to run home for a few emergency items, like a cooler since our fridge didn’t work. We booked a reservation at Jellystone Park in Fremont, WI. It’s not the type of camping that’s real secluded and rustic. It’s very open and populated, but also very family-friendly and comfortable. By comfortable, I mean there are showers, a convenience store, and many other amenities that hardcore campers would snicker at. But pregnant ladies and high maintenance husbands need those things, right?
Hey there, Boo Boo
Saturday, we headed out after Hubster got home from work, which was after 4. Peanut and I had gotten everything packed and ready to go and were beginning to run out of patience, ha! We finally got on the road and enjoyed tacos and sunset-gazing before bedtime snuck up on us.
Sunday was full of swimming, hiking, s’more making and exploring. I just love all the mixtures of smells, experiences and sounds when you’re out camping. On Sunday, we also tried out the miniature golf course on-site. We even saw a hummingbird flitting around the bushes. I tried my darnedest to get a picture, but alas, the elusiveness of those birds is what makes them so hard to photograph and also what makes seeing one so special. We visited some cute shops in Weyauwega and went to a diner for dinner and an ice cream shop after. The very best part was lounging, chatting, reading and hanging out with our…um…lap dog?
Monday, we rented a pontoon boat for about an hour. It rained a little bit, but not enough to soak the skin, plus we had the canopy. Then, we rode the hay ride with all three Jellystone bears, Yogi, Boo Boo and Cindy Lou. Peanut thought that was extra special, since the previous days only had one or two of the bears. Then, we packed up and pulled out and made one last stop at one of the on-site playgrounds while Hubster took care of the septic drain.
I have had this insatiable itch to go camping that was finally pacified!!!! And lots of memories made with my three-person, soon-to-be-four-person family. We may not have many more opportunities to head out this summer what with baby coming and all, but we do have at least one long vacay planned for July. I can’t wait to go again! I have such great memories of camping as a kid, always in tents, and it’s so satisfying passing down this favorite pastime to my own son, and eventually my daughter too.
Do you have any favorite memories of camping as a child?

Dollar Store Camping Supplies

My mom usually buys me plants for my backyard garden for my birthday. I am pretty easy to please that way and can never think of anything else that I really want. This year, I’m taking a garden hiatus due to my baby-growing condition. Mom wanted to know what else she could do for my birthday, when it dawned on me. Camper stuff! Since we have a bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms in our camper, we pretty much have to furnish it with things that we’d have in our home, on a much smaller scale. Kitchen utensils, dish soap, sheets, etc.

The first trip she took me on was to the Dollar Store, per my request. Here’s a list of things we furnished our camper with from the Dollar Store.

1. All-purpose cleaner
2. Mini cutting board
3. Scissors
4. Mini colander
5. Hand soap
6. Measuring cup
7. Mini baking sheet

8. Aluminum foil
9. Small wastebasket
10. Plastic containers for leftovers (ever gotten caught without a place for leftovers? Total bummer)
11. Tissue
12. Plastic baggies
13. All-purpose cleaning wipes
14. Fly swatters
15. Hot dog/marshmallow skewers
16. Long tongs

Then, I kept all those Dollar Tree bags and stuffed them inside the garbage can to recycle them as garbage bags. 

We hit up Shopko afterwards and got a pretty sweet deal on some basic pillows, $4.49 each. 
Last week, I found this lovely quilt and sham set at a rummage sale for $4.

My grandma had an extra usable knife set and a salt/pepper shaker set with covers at her house that fit right in the camper drawers. At work, I nabbed three beach towels, so we don’t always have to bring the ones from home. We already have a stash of matches, basic utensils (can opener, spatula), playing cards and a few other things leftover from when we had the pop-up.
Still on the list:
Essentials
Two twin size fitted sheets
Pillowcases
More blankets
Dog bowls (yep, he loves camping just as much as us)
Bath towels and washcloths
Kitchen washcloths and towel
Foam mattress pad (our double fold-down table/bed is pretty scant on padding)
Pots and pans
Wants
New pretty curtains
Curtain rod and privacy curtain over our side of the camper
Thrifty and resourceful, I am happy to be called by those names. I will probably hit up Big Lots next to take care of some of some goodies for a good cost. I’ve been scouring rummage sales for the past two weeks for anything else we might need before I go out spending on brand new items. After we get the absolute essentials, I want to tackle some of the aesthetic elements of the camper. The standard issue upholstery and decorations are a bit….um….tacky for my taste. Maybe someday I’ll actually detail and paint some of the woodwork. I’ll make sure to take before and after pictures to document the overhaul if I do. I’m loving all the vintage camper makeovers I’m finding on Pinterest.

I’m so giddy about camping, I can hardly stand it!

Any other ideas where I can get a deal on these items? What else is absolutely essential for camping?

Introducing Our Camper Heaven on Earth

I’ve been pining and dying and longing for a camper for a few years now. Summer camping is one of my all-time favorite things to do in this world. I even started a Pinterest board dedicated to the “sport.” About 3 years ago, we purchased our first pop-up camper, but we were only able to enjoy it for one summer before my brother-in-law got caught in a bad storm and returned it in non-working condition.

Earlier this year, I started stalking Craigslist in the hopes that we would find something decent, in our price range, and of the hard-sided variety this time. I had a little nest egg stored up that I had been contributing to from extra bonuses and such. I quickly learned that you have to act fast. More than once we found out that a sweet camper we were interested in had been sold the same day it was posted.

Now, let’s be clear. I’m the type of girl that can tent camp with the best of them. But Hubster has some back issues that make tent camping sound like hell on earth. And really, having a hard-sided camper appeals to me for different reasons too. Especially right now in my preggo condition. It’s much more conducive to family camping with small children and a dog too.

Well friends, last weekend we finally found her. We picked up this cute little home on wheels and immediately started packing our virtual bags.

We’ve already had to spend money on new tires, updated propane tanks, registration and a few other things, but now she’s almost ready to roll. We’ve also already made reservations for an upcoming weekend to try her out. We’re not worried about it being too cold yet in Wisconsin (haven’t left the 50s yet), because this baby has heat and air conditioning.

This week, I have been tackling all the camper basics we need like cooking utensils and blankets. What I really can’t wait to do is to start tackling some of the aesthetic aspects of the camper. I’m trying to come up with a rough color scheme, for starters. I will be posting along the way with any updates we make. You’ll see on my Pinterest board the type of look I’m going for. White cabinets and vintage details. Oh, this is going to be fun!

Welcome to our little piece of heaven. The door’s always open:)