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Old 07-06-2018, 09:29 PM   #1
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Minnesota & Wisconsin campgrounds?

We are planning a trip down memory lane back to northern Wisconsin sometime during first half of October. Would like to spend a couple nights near St. Paul MN to visit a high school buddy, then northern Wisconsin (partial to Minocqua area) then on to Madison area to visit friends, then near Illinois border where we hope to be joined by a Chicago friend. Last stop, most likely Starved Rock State Park to visit my old home town, about 25 miles south. We prefer national, state and county parks. Hookups not necessary. We camped a few times in Wisconsin when we lived in Madison area, but that was about 25+ years ago and in a tent or pop up. campground suggestions for our trip?
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Old 07-06-2018, 10:08 PM   #2
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So many beautiful places to camp in our state. The Northern Highlands State Forest around Minoqua has multiple fine campgrounds. South toward Chicago you can find the Point Beach State Forest campground which is right on Lake Michigan and has amazingly spacious campsites. Inland from there is the Kettle Moraine State Forest that also has many nice campgrounds and very interesting geology left over from the glaciers. Those are only a few, but they are along the route you are planning.
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Old 07-06-2018, 10:21 PM   #3
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I am camping in the Minocqua area as we speak. I have been camping here at Crystal Lake - Northern Highland SF for 45 years. Before that I spent 25 years as a summer resident In Minocqua. The two premiere state forest campgrounds are here at Crystal Muskellenge or Clear Lake. That said, these are boondocking sites with showers and flush toilets, no power. I cannot say how they will be in early October, deer hunters and snow flying are just off the horizon at that time.

For the Madison area I like to recommend Lake Farm, operated by Dane County. Option is Lake Kegonsa SP. Not familiar with anything in Starved Rock. Is there anything in Starved Rock?
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Old 07-06-2018, 11:05 PM   #4
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Eric,thanks so much for your info! I did camp at Kettle Moraine with my Chicago buddy, thirty to forty years ago! unfortunately, as I remember, we left in the middle of the night because we thought the wind would blow our tent away! Glad to hear it is still a good place to camp.

Paul and Janet, thanks for your help as well! Wonderful info from both of you. Is the Little Swiss Restaurant and Motel outside Minocqua still alive? Discovered it on a bike ride decades ago. Lots of good memories with our kids and their grandparents eating pancakes and watching the squirrels there!
Since we lived in Middleton, we never bothered to look at close by campgrounds.
Starved Rock State Park in Illinois is near Ottowa, Illinois. As of a few years ago, there was a campground there, or maybe it was a private one, but right at the park edge. I grew up about 25 miles south of there in the whopping metropolis of Varna. My older brother still lives in the area. BTW, I grew up eating tortellini at Mona’s and Caponi’s Restaurants in the nearby small town of Toluca, IL. Best tortellini and meat sauce I have ever had! Their fried chicken also has legions of fans. Salivating as I type this.
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Old 07-07-2018, 01:55 PM   #5
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. I grew up about 25 miles south of there in the whopping metropolis of Varna. My older brother still lives in the area. BTW, I grew up eating tortellini at Monaís and Caponiís Restaurants in the nearby small town of Toluca, IL. Best tortellini and meat sauce I have ever had! Their fried chicken also has legions of fans. Salivating as I type this.
Mona and Caponi's - two of the all time great Italian restaurants. We still pick up frozen Mona's tortellini and have it all the time. Mona & Capponi Family business thrives over three generations Journal Star Peoria, IL

I grew up in Peoria and spent a lot of time in Henry and the surrounding areas, hunting with my dad. Did you ever make it to Renini's in tiny Magnolia? Mrs Renini and her sister ( I think) would sit in the kitchen spaeaking only Italian, making tortellini by hand. Those were the only ones I ever had that were even better than Mona's.
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Old 07-07-2018, 02:19 PM   #6
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Sheeh. Magnolia is only about five miles from Varna, but I never heard of Renni’s. I left Varna for college in 1966, home in summers till graduation in 1970. When was Renini’s open?

And thanks for the link! Fun reading. We were even able to buy the frozen tortellini or here for a few year’s at King Sooners grocery stores. Unfortunately, they stopped offering them a few years ago. Forced to buy some other brands.

For my 50th high school reunion two years ago, I arrived a day early specifically so I coul eat Toluca tortellini again!
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Old 07-07-2018, 03:27 PM   #7
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We are heading back to Georgia after the Mississippi rally, sounds like our first stop will have to be Mona and Capponi.

Ray it's too bad you couldn't do the whole trip in reverse and start a little earlier and come to the Mississippi rally.
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Old 07-07-2018, 05:38 PM   #8
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Sheeh. Magnolia is only about five miles from Varna, but I never heard of Renni’s. I left Varna for college in 1966, home in summers till graduation in 1970. When was Renini’s open?

And thanks for the link! Fun reading. We were even able to buy the frozen tortellini or here for a few year’s at King Sooners grocery stores. Unfortunately, they stopped offering them a few years ago. Forced to buy some other brands.

For my 50th high school reunion two years ago, I arrived a day early specifically so I coul eat Toluca tortellini again!
The owner's son, Ezio “Ace” Renini might have been your mailman. I was still going there with my mom and dad into the late 60's. I think they closed in the 70's. They had gas pumps outside, were right at a crossroads and across the road from a bigger restaurant -been too long for this old guy to get many more details than that!
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Old 07-07-2018, 07:03 PM   #9
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I do remember the gas station and a restaurant at that intersection! Never went there and obviously did not remember the name.
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Old 07-07-2018, 07:13 PM   #10
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I'll give another vote for the The Northern Highlands State Forest. We camp at firefly lake every summer. Again close to Minocqua. It's a small lake no motors allowed. All non electric sites. Pit toilets in the camping loops but there is one shared very nice shower house with flush toilets. Unless the water is very high there's beach a lot of the way around. It's great for us since we can swim the dog as long as he's not in the designated swim area. It's also close to bike paths although I can't tell you what they're like as we've never used them.

It's not near Minocqua but Copper Falls is another nice northern state park.

As for places close to madison I'd recommend Blue Mound State Park. It's about 20 minutes from the west side of Madison (just past Mount Horeb if you remember where that is). We've gone midweek to get an non reservable site through a weekend and I just commuted to work from there for a couple of days. There are some hiking and mountain bike trails, two lookout towers, a pool and access to the biking on Military Ridge State Trail.
If your willing to be a little farther out of town (45-60 minutes) Yellowstone Lake State Park and Governor Dodge State Park are both nice as well.
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