I love having the ability to plan a trip on the fly. Today, for example, while randomly looking through my Facebook feed, I noticed there was a fur trade encampment at Pike Lake. With the Fur Trade Era in Wisconsin and surrounding areas being one of my favorite historical periods and being a regular guest to Pike Lake, it just made sense to go.
When we arrived, we made a beeline to the voyageur ride. For those less experienced in the Fur Trade era, a voyageur was a French fur trader. Living a hard and fast-paced life, these men often started their grueling (but lucrative) career at about age 12. They didn't have much time to enjoy their rewards as their average life expectancy was about 25. The French tended to work for the Northwest Fur Trade Era while their English counterparts and competitors worked for the Hudson Bay Trading Company. Both companies fought for the attention (and usefulness) of the Native American tribes who were excellent fur trappers, a much sought after items for the fashion-forward Europeans. I don't want to bore you with too many details, but I just can't get enough of this time in our history.
The canoe we were able to ride was modeled after the 28-foot birchbark canoes commonly used at that time. We were able to experience a small version of the voyageur experience as we took a canoe ride, paddles and all, and even had a chance to portage, or carry our canoe when water wasn't accessible. Luckily for us, our portaging only lasted a few feet.
On the canoe, while the historian was giving a brief history of Wisconsin's role in the Fur Trade (and I was answering most of the questions), I was inundated with memories of teaching this to 4th graders. Good times. Jean Nicolet. Black Hawk;s War. Voyageur River Races. Ahhh, the memories.
Besides the canoe, we toured tipis, had some delicious meet straight from the fire, learned how to load a flintlock rifle, and read up on the current tribes of Wisconsin while observing their flags.
Of course, being on the water, we had to take a dip. Even through i forgot my trunks, Embry made sure to splash me so I could enjoy the refreshing water.
Of course, forgetting my trunks also meant forgetting the towels. No problem. Dadventures always find a way to have fun, even if it is impromptu. We decided to dry off while enjoying the playground just off the sand.
Another day. Another Dadventure!