If you can put up with the Dells, you’ll love Mirror Lake

Morning coffee and park guide

State parks are family, and we love them unconditionally. But sometimes it’s harder to tolerate the hangers-on who family members bring along as baggage.

That’s the case with Mirror Lake State Park, which is like your cool brother who has a lovely wife. Let’s just call her Rocky Arbor State Park, and let’s just NOT talk about her father, the highly successful but brash and overbearing guy whose name is Wisconsin Dells.

OK, let’s.  You can’t discuss Mirror Lake without the conversation turning toward the obnoxious father-in-law, who, truth be told, has his good points.

So this week’s column will be about bad weather, good shelter, wonderful trails, high prices and everything else that comes with a foray into Wisconsin’s most beautiful and overpopulated tourist attractions.

Plan B for “beautiful” 

The intent had been to drive Thursday to Devil’s Lake State Park, south of Baraboo, and hope we were lucky enough for a first-come, first-served camping spot before another busy weekend.  A week before, the online reservation system had shown no reservable sites available at Devil’s Lake, but there were still multiple sites available at Mirror Lake, just up the road.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Knowing what we know about non-reservable sites, we figured we at least had a shot. They’re often available during the week, but we needed a backup plan.

Continue reading

Now available: Portage County Gazette online!

Click here for a brief musical slide show with photos from our Sunday in the park. The sshow is a basic example for my multimedia journalism students.

Click here for a brief musical slide show from our Sunday in the park. The show was a very basic example for my multimedia journalism students.

The Portage County Gazette’s new web site is now up and running.  For at least the time being, it’s available free, including my weekly column.  Here’s the latest one, which is about a trip to Willow River State Park that my son and I recently took. It appeared in the Oct. 29 Gazette.

I had one minor error in the column.  In mentioning the book The Best In Tent Camping: Wisconsin, by Kevin Revolinski and Johnny Molloy, I misstated the name of the publisher, which is actually Menasha Ridge Press, not Menasha Press.  A third edition of this book was released by  in 2013.

My apologies for the error.