Vacation Series Part I: The North Woods

I may be back in DC, writing this post from a rooftop with a view of the National Cathedral (not too shabby, eh?), but my heart is back at the lake, basking in the serenity of the water. Presque Isle was the destination for the first part of my vacation—a tiny town nestled amidst the hundreds of lakes of Wisconsin. My mother’s best friend invited us to stay with her and a goofy, loyal Golden Doodle named Manfred.

In preparation for the 3 day stay, and the laughably understocked “supermarkets” (gas stations) of the North Woods, my mother and I went to the Madison Farmers Market to get our share of fantastic fresh produce and cheese. The Madison Market is perhaps the market of all markets, and packs the four immense blocks of Capitol Square. Suffice it to say, we loaded up on veggies of all kinds and a certain sheep’s milk cheese that’s hard for me to even talk about.

Tradition demands that after our tour of the market, we head to a bakery on Madison’s East Side, where I have never NOT gotten a scone. Lazy Jane’s is known for their baked goods, and we may or may not have picked up a morning bun in addition to a lemon cream and a cherry scone. A four-hour drive requires sustenance, you know. The scones there are criminally moist, and break apart into chunks of heaven, dribbled with a tangy lemon cream glaze. Some of my best memories from Madison are set in that funky little café—tackling a crossword with my high school boyfriend, catching up with my best friend on her acting adventures in New York, and just sitting with my mom, talking about trifles while sipping a latté and eating those scones. You go home for a reason, you know.

But this visit to Lazy Jane’s was brief, as we had to set out on our little road trip, accompanied by a stodgy British man, narrating the plot of an Agatha Christie mystery (in CD form, obviously). My expectations of jumping in the lake immediately upon arrival, however, were squashed when we finally got out of the car, only to be almost blown over by the brisk wind. No matter—if getting out of the DC heat meant bundling up in three sweaters to read 1Q84 on the dock, watching the sunset over the water, then so be it!

Despite its vast amenities, the lake house lacks a TV, a solid internet connection, and cell service. We reveled in it.

We read and talked, played tag with Manfred, and made gallons of tea and chai. And we ate. We made pizzas on the pizza-stone my mom brought along, fried up heavenly Nueske’s bacon for our BLT’s (or rather, BATs, since we used fresh arugula from the market), roasted orange beets and covered them with sheep’s milk cheese, olive oil, mint and thyme, and baked a massive blueberry buckle with lemon glaze. We also made a pan of brownies, but as my mother has a strange tendency to take a perfectly delicious recipe (Smitten Kitchen’s cocoa brownies), and omit various ingredients…they came out more like a very dense fudge.

It was a glorious few days up at the lake house, albeit chilly ones. I read about700 pages of a 900 page book (Kindles only deal in percentages, but raw numbers are much more satisfying), played with a giant dog, and thoroughly enjoyed catching up with my mom.

It was a bitter goodbye, but only a 2-hour flight and 4-hour bus ride to my next destination…New York!

Stay tuned for Part II!