Our plan had been to turn north for a day trip to Isle Royale National Park followed by several days in Voyageurs National Park. Having waited so long to begin the trip, and after some on line research and a few phone calls, we decided to save that for another year. Half of the visitors centers and several of the available boat trips within the parks were already closed for the season, which served as a gentle reminder that Winter Is Coming, and we are still at the top of the country.
So instead we turned south, pointed generally towards Ames, Iowa where we will eventually meet up with daughter Andrea. In between there we sought a couple of stopping points, and once again Passport America delivered with a partial hook up site on the banks of the Chetek River for $19 a night, all in. This is a full amenities, family oriented private park aiming for the “resort” end of the RV campground spectrum.
Sometimes the presence of a lot of long term residents can indicate that the place might not be the best for short term visitors, but Chetek River Campground was ideal for us. We were able to pick from a couple of dozen spacious sites, including a handful right on the river. The free wifi was excellent, the squirrel and bird life plentiful, and the park peaceful. In fact, though there were a lot of mobile homes and traditional RVs in the park, there were very few people present. It seems a good portion of Chetek River campers keep their rigs on site but only use them on the weekend.
Our second day we took ride into the nearby town of Bruce to check on the possibility of participating in the weekly farmers market. It would mean extending two more days in Chetek, and doing so at the full price rather than the Passport America 50% off rate, but we were in no hurry, and our vending had really helped out finances this month, so we opted in. We picked up some jewelry supplies at the craft store, and used the next couple of days to prep for the event while relaxing beside the river.
Thursday late afternoon we returned to Bruce, met the market manager, and set up our tent and table. It was… very small. We were one of perhaps five vendors present, our sales were quite limited, and most of those were to the other vendors. But, it turned out to be one of our more successful markets because of what we learned while there: The following day would be the county wide market up the road in Ladysmith, and it was timed to coincide with their Fall Festival week of events. In other words, the county’s biggest farmers market on their biggest weekend, and we had an in because of our participation in the tiny Bruce event.
So early the next morning, on my birthday no less, we returned north to Ladysmith, where the market manager assigned us a site. It was readily apparent that this would be a big event: By the time we set up there were 25 vendors present and buyers were swinging in even before the official start time. The scheduled events of the day, including a home coming parade, resulted in a good amount of bleed off traffic to the market.
Our excitement cooled as the morning passed: no one was buying anything from us, but by noon it picked up significantly and we ended up with our second best market performance, behind only the fantastic day we had in Marquette. We celebrated with the purchase of some baked goods, produce, and spicy pickles, enjoying the significant vendor to vendor discount that is apparently custom for this event. So a hearty thanks to Blossom and the rest of the Bruce market vendors for making our stay so successful.
Wisconsin has been very good to us: in twelve days we enjoyed three farmers markets, two great campgrounds, a fantastic food coop, an abundance of cheese, and met some very nice and interesting locals. But it really was time to move on, especially since we wanted to at least give Minnesota a few days before we continued south into Iowa.