Camping at Franklin Lake. Chapter 1: Our First Adventure!

Franklin Lake Beach
Looking at the beach from a distance at Franklin Lake.

Our first trip to Franklin Lake!

I can’t remember how we found Franklin Lake nor can I remember the year. I’d guess it was around 2005. It was Memorial Day weekend. We had no idea where we were going. This was during the era where you had to print out directions from Map Quest. We armed ourselves with our directions print out and headed north. If you have ever been to Franklin Lake you know it is a quite a ways off of State Highway 70. The 12 mile road is also very curvy and confusing. Essentially, by the time you get there you are just happy you did. I was doubtful, excited, and nervous all at the same time.

The dancing beagle!

We had our beagle, Buster, along and he was ready to get out of the truck. That was for sure! He was super good on long drives but even a well behaved dog has limits. If you have a dog you know what it’s like to have one dancing in the backseat during a 3 hour drive. We pulled in and where completely amazed. The forest got more mature and the canopy got denser the further we drove in. Franklin Lake is completely amazing.

Our lake site at Franklin Lake!

We pulled into the first lake spot we found and parked the truck. We were completely in AWE of the site, the lake, the weather, the surrounds, and most of all how private it was. The site was slightly elevated and surrounded by forest. The site was 100% private and right on the lake. All the lake sites have their own walk down to the water. Your own private oasis. Buster got out and danced around, we looked around and were ready to set up shop. So I got back in to back up the truck and get ready to unload.

Steve was walking around and getting ready to direct me as it was a tight turn around. I was looking for the dog as he was running around and I started out forward to give myself room to turn around and I heard it click…..

DANGER I killed the radiator!

As I drove forward something on the bottom of the truck tapped the campfire ring……just enough. The bumper barely cleared the fire ring. If you ever had a Saturn Vue years ago there is a small tube, about 5-6″ inches long that is about 3/4″ wide that extends down from the radiator. It is hidden just behind the front bumper and hangs just below the front bumper. It broke off. Coolant started pouring out all over the gravel. Yes I put a hole in the bottom of the radiator, Memorial Day weekend, in the middle of nowhere. Oh yes I did!

The most beautiful place EVER!

I got out of the truck and could not believe my eyes. How could we have just found the most beautiful place in Wisconsin, have it all to ourselves, and I had just given us the toughest disaster EVER to deal with. It was late afternoon, we had no wood, and no food to eat other than that which had to be cooked over the fire. Talk about a pickle of a situation.

Cheeto’s for dinner 🙁

So we set up shop after many a curse word, trying to find the piece that broke off, and searching and searching for cell service. Franklin Lake had terrible cell service back then. We had Cheeto’s for dinner and watched the lantern flicker out as it ran out of fuel. We finally tucked in for bed……then it started to rain…

No cell service!

The next morning we spent an hour walking around looking for cell service or the camp host. The latter couldn’t be found. We finally got ahold of a tow service in Eagle River who said he would come out to get us. He was the nicest guy I have ever met. He came out and loaded up the truck on a flat bed and and I hopped in the cab alone with a stranger and next to no money. H had to stay back because there was only room for on in the tow truck and someone had to watch Buster.

Trying to fix the truck!

We went from garage to garage getting estimates for a new radiator and the cost of a rental. The quotes were all north of five thousand dollars. No one could even get a new radiator until Tuesday and then would need 4+ days to put it in. Not an option for us. Finally the tow truck driver said…….”let me take you back to my shop I have an idea.” This whole time I felt safe but you never know rig….lets go to my shop…but I didn’t have much of a choice and I did not have $5000. So we pulled in and he started looking around under the bumper. He got out a 3/4″ by 5″ bolt. He covered it in some kind of glue and cranked it in the spot that broke off. We let it sit for 15 minutes and he filled the truck with fluid and it held tight.

a campsite beach at franklin lake

He told me to let it sit for at least an hour. He gave me a soda and said he had to go to work at his other job and warned me that if I tried to drive it prior to that hour it would not hold. So I sat on his lawn for 2 hours praying and waiting. Then I started it up and drove away…still praying. I pulled in to this little shop that sells wild rice and wood. The older gentlemen who came out must have read my face because he offered to sell me wood for 1/2 the normal price and loaded it all in for me. He was like a guardian angel to me and we still go back to see him to this day. I almost couldn’t believe it.

Finally some hope!

Next I stopped at McDonalds and picked us up some food because we were starving and went back out to the lake. When I pulled in around 2:00pm I think H almost wet his pants. He could not believe it was fixed. I think all the other campers were a little amazed also. I know I wa…that afternoon we had the best time. Talking about our luck and spent the evening telling stories. We stayed up pretty late that I remember.

The BIGGEST thunderstorm ever!

That night while we were sleeping the biggest thunderstorm I can ever remember pulled right on in and almost drowned us in our tent. There was a moat around the air mattress and I can vividly remember the flashlight floating…


The next morning the black flies hatched and after one cup of coffee…………we had had enough and packed up and uncled……………

Needless to say we went back and have never ever had that bad of luck there again. I think we killed our karmic issue the first trip!

  1. […] have several blog posts about it already. These include Tuesday from my summer post card series and Camping at Franklin Lake: Chapter 1: Our First Adventure. I find a peace there that I have yet to find anywhere else in the […]

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Camping at Franklin Lake. Chapter 1: Our First Adventure!

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