Our Not-So-Camping Experience at Wyalusing State Park

So my best friend from high school and his wife live up in Minnesota and went to a woodsy far northern university for college. They are outdoorsy and do some pretty serious camping on their time off with their old college friends.

When we knew we were moving back from Louisiana, I gave him a call to suggest we plan a weekend this summer for my wife and I to go camping with them. They had a pretty tight schedule so it worked out that the weekend after we moved up here was the best time for them. So up to the Wyalusing State Park it was.

I was excited to see the Native American effigy mounds and the view from the top of the five hundred foot high palisades overlooking the junction of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.

We all arrived at 11pm on a Friday. I soon learned that when I suggested we should go camping together, I hadn’t really meant camping per se. But camping we were.

My wife and I had a never-opened two person tent she bought in college while thinking to the day she would be backpacking alone in the mountains of Thailand. I had mentioned to my friend I was considering picking up an inflatable air mattress, but he made fun of me so I foolishly scrapped the idea.

There we were with our tiny tent, no mattress, no pillows–we had forgotten them–and a complete lack of ventilation that made it so hot we were practically naked on top of the sleeping bags trying to get to sleep. They, on the other hand, brought a 5+ person tent with plenty of ventilation, a double air mattress, and no intention of inviting us over.

Two of the most sweaty, miserable hours ensued. We shifted from position to painful position and vacillated through all levels of consciousness yet never reaching that most coveted of levels: sleep.

The weekend before we pulled an all-nighter driving 18 hours back to Illinois and I was not about to endure another all-nigher, knowing it would make it impossible for us to function the next two days.

This was precisely the moment I realized that when I had suggested we meet up to go camping, I had really envisioned staying in a hotel or couchsurfing. I couldn’t take it any longer. I told my wife it wasn’t worth it and asked if we could go to a hotel. She said she could make it through the night but said she thought she was going to be the first one to crack. I insisted, both because I was about to go insane and because I didn’t want the smoke building up in our tent from the surrounding campfires to upset her asthma.

We sent a quick text to their tent to inform them we were heading out to Prairie du Chien to find a hotel and would be back for breakfast.

Now although it felt like we were wussing out on our friends and had failed to impress them with our ruggedness, I suggested that while they live in the suburbs and occasionally go camping, perhaps we’d been the ones to live a little too rustically for the past three years. Their tent, I noted, was more bug proof than our shotgun house in Louisiana and I’m sure they’ve never had a bug in their house. I for one, felt we were okay.  Our friends, initially gave us a little flak, but understood and had a good time with us.

The weekend went on. We enjoyed hiking, the views, and the park’s observatory where we caught an impressive view of Saturn in the night sky. I learned that polaris will only be our north star for another 10,000 years or so. Not to worry, it will return as the north star in 35,000 years.

We ironically caught Prairie du Chien’s 2nd annual Cajun Fest and ended up making some great pizza sandwiches on the campfire with square sandwich pie irons. Take that marshmallow roasting sticks! So all in all, all’s well that end’s well.

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