Once a year, the Friends of High Cliff State Park put on a "Halloween Campground Walk". High Cliff State Park is located near Appleton WI on the NE shore of Lake Winnebago. This is our sixth year attending this event. We have to reserve campsites a year in advance as soon as they become available. 112 campsites in the park, and they go quick!
Now... understand this it's not ONLY the campers who celebrate Halloween in the park, tons and tons of local people from the surrounding community come! Last year it was over 5,000 people came to the park.
(on edit) The count from this year was
EIGHT THOUSAND PEOPLE!!!
It is quite the event, and we have been coming for the last six years, as I said. On top of it, my birthday is on Halloween, so it is a time for getting together with all of our kids and grandkids to celebrate that as well. So we reserve a double family campsite for any of our kids who join us to spend the weekend.
It has been a very warm strange autumn, and the weather was forecast to be in the 70's! How unusual for this time of year in Wisconsin. In contrast, as I write this, we had below freezing temps last night, more in keeping with normal Wisconsin October temps.
The colors were absolutely gorgeous already, in spite of not having a hard freeze yet. We were missing some of the deep reds and oranges of the hardwoods, but plenty of yellows and golds were scattered along the cliff. The cliff is part of the Niagara Escarpment, and the park is built on the site of an old lime mining operation, with a historical kiln still on the grounds. Steve retired from the park in January, but still comes back to volunteer and help with last minute emergency repairs... (the state never hired anyone yet to take his place, so the two rangers and park superintendent are doing the best they can without him on the payroll)
The sun was shining and the blue skies made a great backdrop
to the fall colors in the park.
This is my favorite spot on the park,
I stopped in the car to snap this pic as we were heading into the campground.
This path is along a rock wall from a long-ago farmstead.
I drove ahead in the car, as the park is only 15 miles from home. I was able to snap this pic of Steve driving in the rig through the colorful trees up to our double family campsite.
We got all set up and leveled and ready in our side of the campground. But later on Friday morning, Steve decided to turn the rig around to face outwards. Because the sites we had reserved were non-electric sites, we were allowed to run the generator for just this weekend in the park. (otherwise generators are not allowed in state parks unless it is for medical emergency purposes). The generator in our rig is very quiet, and runs on propane. It is located at the back of the motorhome, and the exhaust pipe goes right out the back. That would be facing the road with all the kids and our chairs and candy distribution center. LOL .... so turning it around later was a good idea.
Here is the rig now turned around the site and all of our decorations strung out among the trees. We had a lot of light-up items to run off the generator... and also we ran a cord over to our son's side of the double campsite to illuminate their decorations as well as keep their camper battery charged up. They could charge their cell phones and run their lights and heater without worry for four days while we kept recharging them to 100% on their single battery. Our rig has 4 batteries and solar on the roof, so we are fine even without running the generator.
Thursday and Friday were a lot of fun, but I could feel myself "fading fast" into illness. I had picked up some kind of bug, and my stomach was giving me fits. Since I suffer from complications of a digestion surgery after my work accident, my ability to fight off flu bugs is compounded by not being able to handle stomach ailments... I usually end up in the ER in the middle of the night, getting a lidocaine cocktail and an IV with morphine to get though it. I kid you not. And I could feel it coming.... oh no!
About midnight Friday, I couldn't take it anymore. I had Steve haul me back into town to get some other emergency prescription meds I had at home to try. If that didn't do it, I would be needing a trip to the ER. I was soooo upset that I was missing out on my Halloween Celebration with my grandkids! That hurt worse than any stomach problems. It was breaking my heart!
I laid on the floor in the bathroom writhing in pain, and hoping that it would pass and I could get up again. Steve stayed with me until 9 or 10 am the next day. I was finally able to rest in bed peacefully, so he left me at the house and he returned to the park.
He took over all the food prep I had planned to do myself. He was my hero! He did up the big crock pot of chili, heated up the bucket of the calico beans, grilled the brats and hot dogs, set out the go-withs and the set-ups. He had everything done for the family visitors and most of all, he held down the fort for making the weekend great for the grandkids.
I laid at home in bed until about 3pm. I was still feeling miserable, but half assed enough to get up and look at my phone. OH my ... it was breaking my heart to see all the pics the kids were sending to me!!!! The grandkids were all dressed up in their costumes and the candy was piled up in the tub (the first of many batches---- we go through over $100.00 worth of candy as well as all the extra bags our kids bring to contribute to the bucket)
Our youngest daughter Heather and husband Jesse texted and said both Whitney and Jameson were under the weather and would not be able to attend as well. Awwwww this was really turning out to be a crappy weekend full of illness!
The parents were sending me pics to my phone so I wouldn't feel so left out.
The boys were full of the dickens,
and I am sure full of pre-Halloween candy as well.
Who can resist little Claire, 1 year old,
as a tiny monkey in her wagon?
That was it... I couldn't take it any longer.
I HAD to get up,
and get dressed
and get in the car
and GO back to the park!
I drove slowly through the throngs of people all parked in all areas of the park. The nice rangers who know me, let me through with the car to slowly wind my way into the campground about 3:30 pm. The roads are already blocked off to any new traffic, but registered campers can get through if they are careful. It took me almost half an hour to get into the first road of the campground to our sites on 14-15. AHhhhhhhh Steve set me up a lawn chair so I could just sit and watch and enjoy.
The grandgirls helped me dress Finney and Binney in their costumes too.
They are a referee and a not too cheery cheerleader!
Soon the throngs of costumed trick or treaters came down the roads...
wave after wave of trick or treaters were moving along from site to site.
It was so much fun to watch....
and so many polite kids taking just one piece of candy.
Grand nephew Matt had a BLAST handing out candy and
scaring people in his ghoulish costume:
We even set out a cauldron of doggie biscuits
as many people walk around with their pets as well.
Finney and Binney enjoyed watching the people and dogs
from the safety of their lawn chair next to me.
What fun.. people walked past for four hours, collecting candy
and parading in their costumes.
The trick or treaters went on well after dark, up to 8 pm, with a few stragglers after that as well. We didn't run out of candy (we learned that after our first year to take MORE than enough and we could use the excess at home the following week). I was worn out, but the guys sat up playing cribbage at the picnic table. Matt and Steve skunked Dan and Waylen. LOL
Some people were getting lost on the paths in the woods, trying to find the parking lots down at the end of the trails. They ended up coming back through our campsite to walk on the road instead. We were lit up as a beacon in the woods for the stragglers trying to get to their cars.
Our gandkids were slowly coming down off their sugar highs... and stripped off their costumes to sit around the campfire. I made it for about an hour longer with stories, laughter and family time. I was so thankful that I got to come, but I was fading fast.
So were the grandgirls Chelsea and Allegra.....
I hobbled off to my bed in the motorhome, comforted in knowing that my family had a fun event after all and I was able to attend. I took my meds and went to sleep, with visions of fun and frivolity dancing in my head from a great day. I felt bad that little Jameson and Whitney missed out. Knowing he was sooo excited about his new knight helmet and costume he was going to wear this year. (we later made arrangements for them to come visit me the next weekend)
I made a promise to the grandkids at the campsite. In the morning, no matter what time, they could get up and come over to our motorhome for their favorite little boxes of cereal. They were all sleeping in Dan and Heather's camper: 4 adults, 4 sugared up kids, 1 toddler in a crib and a big ole dog!
We woke up about 6 am and I was feeling a bit better. As soon as we turned on a light in our motorhome, quick as a wink over came three of the grandkids! They had been waiting for us to get up so they could come over as planned. awwwwwwwwww It was still dark out, but they zoomed over in their jammies to come to our place.
It has been kinda a tradition to bring along the little boxes of cereal for tiding them over until we made a bigger breakfast once the adults get up. (my Grandma Kafehl used to buy those for us kids too). We found some cartoons on the tv, and they were happy to hang out with us for the morning. We have plenty of battery power to run the inverter to run the tv, as well as the lights in the early morning hours. The last thing you want to do is fire up a generator to watch cartoons at 6 am! LOL
Little baby Claire woke up, so her parents brought her over to the motorhome as well. She was so busy playing with our little Cup-O's on the blanket on the floor, while the kids were enjoying their cartoons. My life felt more complete, now that I got to have them all come to my camper. It's a thing that brings joy to my heart, and I hope it is creating memories they will carry with them for a lifetime.
Once we knew the grownups were getting up, it was time to start our "Breakfast Bake" casseroles. Now that I have an oven in our rig it is easy to bake two big pans at one time.
(NOTE... I OMIT THE MILK... IT BAKES BETTER)
also we used ham instead of bacon or sausage.
It was starting to drizzle outside, and the weather forecast was calling for rain all day long. Steve and Waylen went out and quickly took down all of the halloween decorations. They packed them all quickly into the car to be sorted out later. We were going to decorate our house for the upcoming week, so it didn't matter much how it was packed away. But they packed away some of Heather and Dan's decorations that had to be taken back out before they left. The guys cleaned up the campsite while I kept the kids inside the motorhome high and dry.
Soon everyone ate and Dan and Heather got their trailer road worthy. Steve had helped adjust their hitch as Dan got a new truck recently. It was good to go, and they were able to head on out before the downpour started.
I was totally worn out and exhausted by the time they all pulled out of the campground. As the rain was coming down, all I wanted to do was curl up and sleep again. We had planned to stay two extra days, as Steve was going to help volunteer with the draining and blowing out of the water system of the park, a rather complicated process. He could tell I was drained and fading fast again. He pulled an executive decision and said let's just go home instead. He can drive back to the park the next day to help them out.
Steve, that kind soul, unloaded the rig of all the extra food and dirty clothes. I didn't have to do a thing but rest. What a guy!
Soon I was back at home, in my own warm bed, with happy smile on my face for not missing out on another Halloween Celebration at High Cliff.