A Sweet Minihaha Saturday

sugar_signI frequently find myself spending weekends in Chicago for the endless series of festivals, street fairs, concerts and river cruises the city offers.

But sometimes, Mother Nature offers better accommodations and amenities than Trump Tower.

Sweet Minihaha Campground is thirty miles straight south of Madison on the Sugar River. It offers more than 130 campsites, fishing, tubing, canoeing and kayaking. There are horseshoe sets (and scheduled tournaments), volleyball nets, clean bathrooms and a main lodge lined with pool tables and pulsating pinball machines.


I arrived early Saturday morning. The air was still and clean, hot but not humid. We sipped mimosas around a still-smoking firepit, paid eleven bucks for a tube, and bounced along gravel roads to the launching spot. Orange string tied us together in a pseudo-circle and our two brimming coolers bobbed in the center.

Headrests on the purple and blue personal pontoons offered just-right reclining support. Sunglasses on, brains off, we drifted down the river for three hours (past tree-lined riverbanks, past a group of men in matching sleeveless Hawaiian shirts) before arriving back at the campsite, freckled and refreshed.


Quick showers rinsed off the river, and we spent the afternoon playing cards and kicking back on the soft grass. Polish sausages made a satisfying dinner – supplemented by a large Supreme and hot cheese curds from nearby Villa Pizza, delivered right to our fire (you can take the girls out of the city…).


At dusk we ventured across the field where the lodge had come alive: lights strung from rafters turned on, music turned up and campers packed the picnic tables. A DJ took karaoke requests and we danced around the open barn while stars slowly filled the sky.


North Avenue Beach, Ribfest and Ravinia couldn’t have been further from my mind.


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