This year marks our second in a hopefully-annual tradition of camping in the north country over Memorial Day weekend. Last year we were in the Porcupine Mountains of Upper Michigan, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and Madeline Island. This year as we charted our trip, we knew we’d end in Cornucopia on the weekend, but we had the choice of whether to go to the familiar Porkies, or see something new. Early on I had the itch to check out Pictured Rocks, the first National Lakeshore established in the US, and, surprisingly, among the closer national parks to Milwaukee.
This post is a bit late in the game. FIBArk was back in late June but I didn’t get around to finishing this until now.
Danielle and László got to go to FIBArk 2019. It was a bit by accident, Nancy was in town for a bit and they decided to go down to Salida as a base camp for hiking and hot springs — and to get out of the city for a bit. I stayed home with the mutt and cats. When they returned they were talking about a festival on the river with kayaking competitions and a strange race straight up and down Tenderfoot Mountain. As it happens, she was in town for the oldest whitewater kayaking festival in the country: First In Boating the Arkansas or FIBArk.
We’d hoped to return to Salida last year for FIBArk 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic put a significant damper on our ability to travel and changed not only when FIBArk was held, but also how. The hill climb had a staggered start. It was held in August instead of June, when the water is high. The Hooligan Race Boat event was canceled entirely. This year marked a dramatic, and measuredly triumphant, return of a mostly normal FIBArk.
Our journey continued to Salida this week where we’ll be for FIBArk 2021, the annual boating competition and celebration of the water returns after a one year hiatus in 2020 due to the Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19). We’re primarily interested in the Tenderfoot Hill Climb and the Hooligan Race, but I’m sure the competitive events will draw our attention as well.
We rolled into Denver on the California Zephyr at around 9 AM on Friday and picked up almost right where we left off. I walked up 16th Street Mall to the Walton St Hertz office to get our car, installed the car seat, and gave László a tour of the neighborhoods we lived in. We stopped at Cesár Chávez Park in Berkeley to play on the playground before grabbing lunch and heading to the Children’s Museum.
Some things never change and I’m glad to report that Burrito Giant on 38th Avenue is still open and as colorful as ever. Similarly, the playground at the park provided instant, and much needed, entertainment for all the kids, and all the parents and nannies in the neighborhood. For his part, László returned almost immediately to his favorite activity on the park: Playing in the little tunnels beneath the slides.
Our day began like a normal day. László and I got up around 6:30, Danielle got up a bit later, and we had Ladybug Cheerios with Owls (AKA Honey Nut) for breakfast in several rounds. We fed the cats, and then instead of heading off to day care at 9, we got in a cab bound for the Milwaukee Intermodal Station to catch a train to Chicago Union Station in time to make our transfer to the California Zephyr bound for Denver.
It’s a good thing everything went to plan today because we started to suspect László thought the whole “we’re going to sleep on a train and go to Denver to see Watson the Dog” thing was a ruse we cooked up to distract him this summer. All week long he’s been asking us questions about the train: When will we go on that train? Will we sleep on that train? Will we walk onto the train? Will we go on that Amtrak train (ie, the Hiawatha line that runs by our house several times daily)? Every day he woke up and didn’t get on a train was just part of this sadistic game his parents were playing on him. Needless to say, when we finally did get on the train, he could hardly contain himself.