How lucky we are to live in a slice of the world with such easy access to the outdoors.
I marveled at this fact earlier this week as a friend and I sped along a rural road on our way out of Eau Claire. Our mission: Find some stars, eat campfire food and hit the “reset” button on our week. Our destination: Coon Fork County Park.
For a lot of people, this midweek foray into the woods would not be possible. Work schedules can be tight, and camping often requires a precursing road trip in order to get to nature removed from society. In short, not condusive to a Tuesday night.
Eau Claire, however, makes this easier for anyone who has a bit of flexibility in their work schedule. We have numerous places to camp nearby that still feel far away from streetlights and noise. My friend and I needed to be back from our excursion the next day by 10:15 a.m., and that was plenty of time for us to make an overnight happen.
A few nearby options include Coon Fork, Harstad County Park — both in Augusta — and if you’re willing to drive about an hour, Willow River State Park in St. Croix County.
Coon Fork is an easy 40 minutes away — most of the drive is a straight shot that takes you through rolling hills, farm country and eventually woods. Keep an eye out for Amish buggies on the side of the road.
When we rolled into the campground around 7 p.m., a sign on the office door reading “Gone until 9 a.m.” greeted us. We left a camping payment and picked out a site nestled alongside a glistening lake.
Aside from a couple floating serenely by our site, fishing poles in hand, we saw no other humans on our trip. The stars were bright and numerous, the breeze off the lake was calming and our fire-roasted vegetable medley was delicious in a way you can’t quite recreate without a real campfire.
If your need for nature often strikes in the middle of the week, you’ve picked a good place to live.