This sucks! What do you think? Should we just call it? Was the dialogue between Molly and me as our 17 month old son refused to nap, eat, be held, or really do anything other than play near the steep drop to the water or the thorn bushes on our tiny Turtle Flambeau Flowage island campsite. We had been planning this getaway for months and it was agonizing to think that all the prep work and day dreaming was about to be abruptly cut short by a toddler with more ability and ambition than common sense. Eventually, our stubbornness subsided and we gave in to our better judgement, packed up camp, loaded the canoe, and paddled for the boat launch in the fading light.
With the launch in the rearview mirror, Molly and I discussed where things had gone wrong. Yes, we had gotten a late start, the campsite we wanted was temporarily closed, and we had spent more time paddling around in the wind than our son, Crosby, was happy with. But dammit, this trip was supposed to be awesome! After the bliss of our camping trip with Crosby the previous summer and our picture-perfect weekend on the Flowage the year before that, we had forgotten half the dichotomy of adventuring with children: sometimes it is going to be incredible, and sometimes it is going to suck. This was definitely the latter.
Luckily, in a more rational state of mind while planning the trip, we had remembered this fact and made a backup plan to circumvent the possible suckage. Every fall, we meet my side of the family at The Birches Resort for musky fishing and Crosby had even gone with us the previous October. We knew the property, the lake, and the toddler-friendly activities available. Even better, it was only a 10 minute drive from the Flowage launch. We booked two nights at the onsite motel, ordered a pizza, and had a couple beers to decompress before falling asleep exhausted and hoping we had made the right choice.
The next day, our decision was quickly vindicated as we realized The Birches was definitely more Crosby’s speed. He had a blast playing in the boat, at the playground, running around the lawn, and throwing rocks… all without fear of falling into the lake or thorn bushes miles from help. It was great to be able to take Crosby out fishing and catching turtles, but also have a safe place for him to run around when he was tired of being in the boat.
What started as one of the more frustrating experiences we have had adventuring with Crosby ended up becoming one of our favorite memories. Sometimes it’s not about doing what you planned, it is about doing what works.