Dear Diary, I am…in Wisconsin.

I live in Wisconsin, but not for long as I am actually leaving the state. But before I leave Wisconsin, I had to write about it. People don’t think much about Wisconsin—we have our cheese curds, cows, beer, “bubblers,” weird accents (even after having lived in Florida for four years, I still say “bayg” instead of bag). But really, Wisconsin is so much more than that. Really, we are an underrated gem in the treasure box of America.

Where do I begin? We are the land of 15,000 lakes. We have forests, beaches, hiking, rock climbing…just about everything except desert (unless you count Mitchell Park Domes). I’m personally not too keen about the winters. They are a little too cold and a little too long. I remember one winter not too long ago when for a whole week the wind was blowing at -50 degrees (yes, negative). That’s the kind of weather where your eyes tear up and your nostrils freeze the moment you step outside. But this really is a beautiful state.

I’m sitting here picturing forests that I have hiked in. I remember one forest, I don’t even remember where, that was so beautiful. I remember the dark greens and browns of the forest were only lighted by the filtered sunlight that produced little sunbeam fairies. These fairies danced across the dark backdrop as the wind touched the treetops. There was a gradual hill that sloped down to the end of the woods. Beyond the trees, grew a field full of wild grain. The grain was golden that time of the year and swayed gently in the breeze. The tall pines that I stood under had branches near the top of the tree, making the forest easy to walk through. But the trees across the field were different.  They were blue spruce. The kind of tree that Christmas trees are made of. The trees grew on a hill, which sat below more hills that rolled over the landscape, stretching as far as the eye could see. The grain in the field was chest high, and the blades bent over each other like waves in the ocean. To reach the enchanted forest, one would have to swim through the field of grain. I used to hate hiking, but I cannot deny the beauty I saw.

The part of Wisconsin that has to be my favorite is though Lake Superior and the surrounding regions. While visiting Apostle Islands, the area so beautiful, you will think you were transported to another world. The islands, the sea caves, the trees, the water—it is an absolute must for your bucket list. A little west of the Apostle Islands there are state parks and forests with waterfalls that are must-see destinations, like you absolutely must go here. These are not just any waterfalls, but large and beautiful and peaceful. These are places you can just sit and absorb the peace surrounding you. I thought it was impossible, but I have actually met a person who had never seen a natural waterfall. It may just be some water falling over some rocks, but really, if you haven’t seen a waterfall, you are missing out. And the ones in Wisconsin are the ones to see.Spring near Ottawa Lake

The Wisconsin Dells area is another place to go. First off, we have America’s largest water park, so that ought to convince you. But really, my family couldn’t afford to go to the water parks, but we went somewhere better. We went to the state parks. Devil’s Lake, Parfrey’s Glen, Pewit’s Nest—these are the places to go. Devil’s Lake has rock climbing and unique rock formations formed by the Ice Age. The lake has a beach, and surrounding it is the forest. Pewit’s nest is a secret watering hole. And Parfrey’s Glen is a narrow valley between two large cliffs. And those aren’t the only cliffs in Wisconsin. We even have a park called “Ledge Park” because it is full of ledges. I remember running around and climbing the cliffs when I was young. I was much braver then than I am now!Parfreys Glen

Because of the Ice Age, Wisconsin is actually full of cliffs and rocks and hills and valleys and lakes. Wow, there is so much I haven’t even yet said about Wisconsin. You can never go wrong visiting Door County. You get quaint little shops to stop at and the beautiful scenery along the lake. Another lesser known park in Door County is Cave Point County Park. This park boasts of cliffs and underwater caves. If you want to see something new, this place is a must.

Out west, in there is a city called La Crosse, where you can visit Granddad’s Bluff and the Mississippi, or in the southwest there is Governor Dodge State Park with waterfalls, cliffs, hiking, and a beach.

Seeing everything Wisconsin has to offer cannot be done in just one trip, or even two or three. I can’t even fit everything in this blog. Even smaller, lesser-known areas like Eau Claire Park, Kohler-Andrae, Willow River State Park, Cave of the Mounds are must-see destinations….ugh, so much.

When I leave Wisconsin, I will truly miss it. Once, a girl who was even from Wisconsin asked me, “What’s there to do in Wisconsin?” All she has to do is look around. We are actually a pretty amazing place. If you get brought here by a job or family, then smile, because you just hit the jackpot.

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