I had another chance to visit my sister in Madison Wisconsin and of course, some dolls came along on the adventures! Since Amy had her excursion amongst the flaming flowers, Jacky traveled along with Katelynne and Camille to Governor Dodge State Park. It’s a really neat state park, with wide, easy to walk trails that have a lot of variety.
We did a lot of walking in the rain with a whole army of mosquitos to keep us company. Yes, even in the rain! We hiked to Stephen’s Waterfall.
Everything was so vibrant and green and fresh looking from the rain.
We hiked on the Canyon Trail that followed the little creek out from the waterfall.
We really did feel like we were in a forest-y canyon, because there were plenty of trees and bushes, but there were also amazing rock formations.
It was really hard to get the scope of it in these pictures because the rocks were so close to us.
And because we were inside a canyon, there was very little rain that we could feel, and no wind, which meant stopping meant feast time for the mosquitos!
I knew we were going to be hiking all day, and a lot of it in the rain, so I had planned to just bring one doll, but my sister, Hillary carried a huge hiking/camping backpack and said she could fit all THREE of them in it! Plus our snacks and water bottles! So, at our next stop, all three dolls jumped out in excitement: We were going to go inside a cave!
We hiked on the Cave Trail and saw the sign that said, “Small Cave” and we came upon what we thought was the small cave.
I thought it was funny that it looked caved in! “We can’t even go in it?” The dolls moaned.
“I guess not, it’s all blocked.”
But staying close to the rocks kept us out of the rain enough that all the dolls got a chance to jump out of the backpack and stretch their legs!
“Hurray!!! Out of the backpack at last!!!” Jacky cried, “Oo look! A hole just for us to explore! Let’s go!”
“Jacky! No!” I grabbed her shoulder and stopped her, “This cave is blocked, and probably for a good reason. Humans can’t fit in that hole which means I can’t save you if you get in trouble.”
“But there might be treasure in there!! We went on the Goldmine Trail and we didn’t find a thing!
I bet someone hid the loot in the cave!”
“Jacky! Just be happy you get to come out of the backpack at all!” Katelynne said.
“You’ll get an adventure when you go boating tomorrow!”
All of us took a much needed break at what we thought was the small cave, so when we continued hiking again, we were pretty surprised to find another cave, and this one was not blocked! It was the actual small cave. I was surprised to see Katelynne come out of the bag, not Jacky.
“You’re the only one?” I asked, “Where’s Jacky?”
Katelynne sighed, “We all peeped and saw the entrance. Camille got so scared because it was so dark and big. I told her I would stay with her, but she knew I wanted to go and she guessed if Jacky went she might run off so fast on her own and get lost. She heard you read about Timothy and Cynthia getting lost in the cave in These High Green Hills. She said she’d be even more anxious if Jacky went instead of me!”
“Aww, poor Camille,” I said, “I don’t really blame her, after reading that so recently myself, I”m a little nervous looking at that dark hole of an entrance too.”
“I’ll go first!” Katelynne offered bravely.
It was dark and cool, and the walls seemed to want to squeeze you in before we both finally popped in to the little cave.
And little it was! We laughed at our initial worries.
“This is it?” Katelynne laughed, “Here we were all worried we’d get lost in a dark cave long cave when if you lay down in this one, you can just about touch all the walls!”
Indeed when the sign said little cave, it meant little cave. But it was still lovely and dark and cool. And there was a lot to see.
Katelynne went exploring, always keeping close to me.
“Look!!! Are those stalactites? Or stalagmites?”
“Or is it just mold?” I laughed.
“Or, Camille would wonder if it was a gift from the fairies!!!”
“I’m not sure fairies would live here. This seems like a pretty well visited cave.”
“At least we prolly won’t have to worry about bats then!”
“Nope! Just spiders!”
And sure enough, we looked up and saw a whole bunch of spiders hanging on the walls. Some big some little but we left them alone to catch all the nasty mosquitoes that had been eating us alive and scooted out of the cave.
We walked some more until we saw a sign that said Big Cave with an arrow pointing down the path. Hillary and I got excited. And again, we passed another rock formation that looked like it was the cave, but it wasn’t. We knew what we were looking for now. And sure enough, we found it. It was a very similar entrance to the small cave, a low, tight little entrance that opened up into darkness.
The darkness was so cold, the air steamed in the flash of my camera. The dolls had no idea how big the cave was and none of them wanted to come out until I had turned on my phone flashlight.
Katelynne crept out again. She stayed even closer to me than before because my flashlight didn’t light up all of the room at once. Some of it was still in darkness.
“I don’t see any of those stalactite/stalagmite/fairy powders here.”
“Maybe there’s some up above me,” I said.
“Oh! Yes! I see!” Katelynne was trying to be brave, but she stuck close to the wall and close to me while Hillary and I had super silly fun in the darkness.
“Look!” Hillary cried, she pointed to the far corner of the cave where there was a little chasm opening in the rock, “I wonder how far this goes!”
“It’s a perfect size for the dolls but it’s just a bit too small for humans! Katelynne, are you brave enough to see what’s down there?”
“I don’t knoooooow….” Katelynne said. Her head felt brave and she so wanted to see what neat things there might be to explore in the darkness, but her heart wasn’t so sure. Going into the dark, unkown, and possibly being squeezed by rocks seemed like a much more terrible thing than being squeezed and eaten by Doll Crunching plants from the fairyland of Tianyu.
She started down the little opening and stopped, breathing hard.
“Sweetie -” I called.
“Um, no, I don’t think I will!” Katelynne said and turned right around and dove straight back into the backpack where I could hear Jacky scolding her.
We walked on through more amazing rock formations,
and passed another beautiful waterfall.
Camille got out and splashed in the spray of the water fall.
“I thought I saw something silver jump down the waterfall!”
“Maybe it was a Naiad, or a fairy….or maybe…..it’s
‘alive without breath,
as cold as death,
never thirsting, ever drinking,
clad in mail, never clinking,
thinks a mountain is an island,
thinks a fountain, is a puff of air!
So sleek! So fair!
Ah! What a joy to meet!”
Camille was laughing the whole time! She knew the riddle and shouted the answer with me,
“We only wish to catch a fish!!!
So juicy SWEET!!!! Heeeee!!!”
This waterfall stream led us to a beautiful lake.
It was so still and peaceful. So quiet. It led us to a new trail called the Pine Cliff trail. On the map it looked like a short little trail, but it criss crossed in on itself and we’d come to intersections that all read, “Pine Cliff trail, Pine Cliff trail.” We would try to study the map but as soon as we stopped the bugs started eating us alive, so often we’d just choose a random direction. One of those random choices led us to its namesake, the cliff of pines:
It was a rock formation high, high above the lake.
Katelynne and Camille jumped out of the backpack, but Jacky had fallen asleep.
“We are sooo high!” Camille squeaked.
“Oh noo! Look what Hillary’s doing! Is she going to fall!?!?” Katelynne asked, feeling squeamish for her.
Hillary was creeping out on the edge of a ledge of rock.
“She’s either very brave, or very stupid,” I said, “She’s the one who got herself there and she’s the one who’ll have to get herself out.”
Hillary was much more brave on these rocks than she was in Devil’s Doorway. And she was able to get herself down.
But the dolls and I stayed safe and didn’t go out to the edge of the ledge.
The rest of the hike does not include pictures, because we had a plan, and our plan got lost and us with it! We had looked at all these trails in advanced, and made a list of the ones we wanted to go on, ending with Pine Cliff which connects to the Outer Horse trail at the end which would lead us to our car where we’d go to an amazing Indian restaurant. Both of us were SO excited about it because we almost never get Indian food.
After the Pine Cliff, we tried to find the outer horse trail. We couldn’t find it in all the interconnecting pine cliff trails. It took us forever to finally find the horse trial but we did. Indeed, we were so happy to find it we (or I, since Hillary wasn’t the one paying attention to directions and stuff much) didn’t think about what direction we were supposed to turn onto that trail. That trail happens to be a 15 mile trail. We walked, and walked, and walked, for miles, talking, laughing……
Suddenly it dawned on me that we had never discussed which direction we were supposed to take on this outer horse trail. We had been so happy to find it we just blindly went in any old direction. I talked to Hillary about it and I looked at my compass on my phone. It looked like we were going the wrong way. We debated turning around. Only a few minutes after that we came to a sign, at last, that said Military ridge road. That was NOT what we were looking for. We had gone in the COMPLETE opposite direction for MILES!!! I couldn’t believe it! Because of all the ring-around of pine cliff, I had TOLD Hillary we’d better be careful once we found the outer horse trail because if we did go in the wrong direction we’d be going 15 miles out of our way! (that trail encircles all the park trails), and that’s almost EXACTLY what we did!!!! Talk about the stupidest of hikers!!!
The only thing to do was to turn around and head back. All the little snacks we had brought were long gone by this time, it was starting to rain again, and we not only had to retrace our steps for miles, but continue ON for miles until we hit the road and walk along that until we got to our car. Thank GOD both of us were still in very good spirits. Hillary kept wanting me to sing “The Road Goes Ever On and On” because this trail did indeed seem like it went ever on and on! And we’d laugh. Since we knew how many miles we had to go, we started walking REALLY fast. We both REALLY wanted to get to that Indian restaurant before it closed at 10, and we wanted to be done hiking before dark.
Of course, none of that happened. We got to the road just as it was twilight. We got to our car just as it was fully dark and we got back too late and missed the Indian restaurant, but we went to a Mexican one instead. The dolls stayed tightly enclosed in the water proof backpack the entire time.
But the next day, Jacky got her adventure…..
After church we decided to go kayaking. We borrowed two kayaks from where Hillary lives and we had to carry them to the lake. It was only about 2 blocks, but Paul, who owns the kayaks and was helping us carry them said we should walk to the beach where it would be easier to push off. We had to walk another 3-4 blocks so by the time we actually reached the water, my arms were already tired.
We got to the beach and we found it surrounded by blow up buoys. There’s no way a boat could go over or through them and there wasn’t any opening. (All that walking for nothing!) We scrambled around to find some rocky shore we could use to get in the boats. After some trial and error we found a spot and I got in. I have gone canoeing, and paddle boating but I’ve never gone kayaking. It took a bit to get used to the wiggly boat.
I was in a normal kayak but Hillary was in an ocean kayak, a longer, faster boat which she found very tricky to maneuver.
She almost crashed into the rocks and then she almost crashed into a dock,
but after a little more experience she got a handle on the boat and darted around way ahead of me. First, we went along the bay, kind of going along with the current, then I said I wanted to go across the bay.
It was quite the day on the lake. There were times when the water and wind would be completely calm, and and other times when the wind would pick up in huge gusts so you’d be paddling SO HARD and going NO WHERE! Then, there were times I would get to a seaweed patch. I’m not sure if the wind or the seaweed patches were more frustrating! Seaweed would get caught on the paddle and suddenly you’re lifting a 25 lb pole!
We had gotten to one of these seaweed patches about halfway across the bay, when Hillary said, “Let’s take Jacky out and take pictures!”
Jacky was SO THRILLED to come out!!!
She was on the water!!! Her heart’s desire!!! At last!!!
It was really fun! But what was also funny, was that by the time Hillary had opened the cargo compartment, got Jacky out, took pics, and put her back, the wind and current had carried us back almost to where we’d started!!!! We had to paddle across the by all over again!!! The wind had calmed down quite a bit now, and we sailed super fast in our kayaks singing Just Around the River Bend from Pocahontas. At last we made it to the other side!
And we were glad we did because there was another beach on the other side where Jacky got to come out and we got to stretch our legs and go to the bathroom!
While we were in the bathroom, Jacky decided to take the boat out on the water herself.
She hopped in, grabbed a paddle, tried to push off, and looked at the great expanse of water she was going to try and cross again. “I need a boat my own size! Then I could do it!”
I spotted Jacky and her antics and hurried over to her, “What do you think you’re doing?!?”
“I’m going across the lake!”
“You Nut! You’re in a human boat! Get one your own size! Here, come ride with me then!”
“This is practice for our sailing adventure!”
“Wait,” Jacky turned around and looked at me with huge eyes, “Practice for our sailing adventure?? You mean, we’re actually going to go sailing this summer!?!?!? All of my dreams are coming true!?!?!?”
“YES!!!!” I shout with my own excitement and give her a hug, “You’ll get to climb up in the rigging once again!!”
Jacky was so excited and overjoyed she couldn’t even speak. She got packed up in the backpack in a delirious sort of dream.
And off we went again.
We paddled toward the upper part of the bay and decided we had had enough experience on the bay to try and go under the bridges and make our way out to Monona lake.
The wind had started to pick up and the waves were getting higher as we neared the bigger body of water.
Going under the bridges was trickier than I thought. I couldn’t stop to take pics for fear of loosing control.
Then we crept out onto the lake. It was truly terrifying and very very fun!!! The waves were so much bigger and riding them was completely exhilarating!
Again, it was hard to take pics because I needed both hands on my paddle to keep control of my boat! Hillary said she ‘lost control’ of her boat and went way out in the lake. I am not terribly brave, and happily road the waves keeping close to the bridge just in case.
After that, we went back in the bay, paddled once more across the bay, and looked for somewhere to dock our boats. Hillary, who of course paddled across the lake much faster than me, got to the shore sooner and picked out a little dock. She got out of her boat and tried to grab her kayak and haul it out of the water but it was too heavy. She was stuck on the dock, clutching her boat from riding away.
“What should I do?” she asked me.
“I have no clue!!!” I said still trying to paddle towards her and looking all over to try and dock my boat so I could help her. I saw nothing, and then – “PAUL!!!! What are you doing here!?!?!”
It was Paul, who lived upstairs from Hillary who let us borrow his boats, “Well, it’s been a number of hours, and I thought I’d just check on you guys before I headed out to a concert tonight.”
“Oh my gosh! You came at the PERFECT time!!! She’s STUCK!!” I cried pointing at the poor, squatting Hillary. Paul laughed and went over and helped her get her boat on the grass. My turn came next, and we again, carried the boats out and down the blocks back to the house.
What an experience!!! It was so much fun!!!! I’m SO glad I did it but my shoulders, arms, back and neck were SO sore for days!!! But I’d say it was very well worth it!
Saying farewell, until the next adventure!!!