The Continuing Adventures of Stephanie, World-Traveler. Or at least State-Traveler.

Yesterday was so much fun! After services (we have church everyday during the Feast of Tabernacles, for those readers who didn’t know), we headed to Devil’s Lake State Park with Mr. and Mike Szalankiewicz, and Dustin and Luke Goodfellow. We hiked Devil’s Lake two years ago, and it was probably the best hiking I’ve ever done. It’s the perfect distance, there’s beautiful scenery, and it’s challenging without being so hard that you can’t take anyone with you. This year was AMAZING. The weather was absolutely incredible; a sign said it was 35 degrees when we came down off the mountain, with winds up to 30 mph, but we were working hard so we weren’t cold and it made it so much fun. When we got to the top, a snowstorm was blowing in off the lake, only the snow was blowing STRAIGHT UP. Then the sun came crashing through the clouds and just shattered right through the snow. The descent down the mountain is basically hopping from boulder to boulder; you have to see the pictures to believe that someone would actually call it a “trail”. There are markers to tell you which rocks to step on and stuff. We weren’t quite sure if everyone in our party was going to make it down, but fortunately nobody was too scared of heights and we all got down safely. Then we whooped and hollered and jumped off rocks and followed the railroad tracks back.

In the evening some of us got together to go bowling after dinner at Erin’s Irish Snug Pub, which was delicious. Ed won, but I came in second so I felt less woefully sports-challenged than usual. Later I finished Hornblower and the Hotspur and started on Hornblower During the Crisis, which C. S. Forester was working on when he died. It was never finished, and leaves you hanging somewhat horribly, but it’s still pretty great.

Today we headed out to an apple orchard we always visit whenever we’re here. After a few detours (we are such a navigationally challenged group, it’s not even funny), we finally found it and practically bought the folks out. They have the best apples I’ve ever tasted; it’s like taking a bite of autumn. The honey crisps are my all-time favorites. From there we headed to Carr Valley Cheese Factory, also a traditional destination. Both of these places are literally out in the middle of nowhere, smack in the middle of the Wisconsin countryside. Carr Valley is a tiny cheese factory that makes the best cheese in the world, bar none. I don’t even like cheese, and I love their cheese. I bought a ton for folks back home, and so did Mom; our trunk is full of cheese. We realized towards the beginning of the trip that we had simply bought too much stuff to possibly fit it in our luggage, so we grabbed some empty boxes at the grocery store, filled them up with stuff, and mailed them home. This is a very good thing, because our rental car is pretty tiny. Poor Dad, whenever we get a rental car his knees are practically under his chin, even when we get a full-size.

This evening was our (also traditional) dinner at the beginning of the Last Great Day, which was wonderful. No one really wanted to leave, so we all piled into someone’s hotel room to talk longer. Every night someone has their hotel room door open, and since we’re pretty much all on the same floor we just sort of gravitate there to chat. After the High Day ends tomorrow, some folks are going to start for home, so it was our last evening all together. The rest of us are sticking around until Sunday so we can go to the symphony in Madison. From there our family is heading back down to Chicago to spend the evening and all day Monday with our grandparents before flying home at the break of dawn on Tuesday. Technically, before the break of dawn; our flight leaves at 5:30am. :/ I want to make it back to CU in time for Honors, though. I only have one skip in that class and I used it on this trip already. Plus it’s such an awesome class I hate to miss any classes.

I have to admit, I’m getting to where I’m ready to go home now. I’m starting to miss my own bed and the pets and good old CU and Co. Oh, it has been a wonderful trip though! And it’s not over yet, mwahaha.