One of our family's favorite things to do at the cabin is go for "Ranger rides." The countryside near our lake place is surrounded by hundreds of miles of scenic ATV and UTV trails connecting through areas of Wisconsin. We tend to ride close to our cabin and surrounding towns, but have occasionally trailered the Ranger to farther destinations in Wisconsin to check out different trails and loops. The best part is, it's something our whole family enjoys doing together. We can ride for an hour or make it a day's adventure; there's road maps and restaurants perfect for pit-stops along the way.
The first thing that comes to mind when most people think about trail riding is probably ATV-ing or four-wheeling. An ATV driver straddles a quad and steers using handle-bars. Differently, we own a UTV (or Utility Task Vehicle) that seats up to 5 people. Our Polaris Ranger Crew is outfitted with seat belts, a roof, a windshield and doors for roll-over protection and has a heater that makes it comfortable to use all year long. We've added car seats for the kids, a blinker, a rear-view mirror, a horn and a registered state license plate so it's legal to drive on the road. This set-up is ideal for our family because we can all ride together in one machine.
Last weekend at the cabin, Andi, Tory, Aden and I went for a long morning ride. We saw some amazing sights on our journey, which is one of my favorite things about "Ranger rides" -- you never know what you'll come across. There's breathtaking scenery and wildlife around every turn. On this particular morning, it was dreary and cool with intermittent spurts of rain which made for a lovely drive.
Our cabin road, now densely covered by lush trees and shrubs:
Spotting all the different animals during rides is Tory's favorite part. On this day, we saw cows resting in a pasture, horses, deer, bald eagles and various types of smaller birds. We've also seen donkeys, sheep, groundhogs, sandhill cranes, ducks, geese and bears to name a few.
We passed by Staples Lake Bar & Grill -- one of our favorite restaurants at the lake. I suggested we stop in for an order of deep-fried pickles to-go, but Andi quickly nixed the thought. "That's a bad idea," he said. Well yes, consuming deep-fried anything is always a bad idea, but it tastes so good!
More riding through the back country ...
We hopped on the ATV/UTV trail near Comstock Creamery and followed the path toward Cumberland. Recent rains left big muddy puddles on the road. "What do we do when we see a puddle?" Andi typically asks Tory. "Splash 'em!" she'll shouts back.
Though not on this day, as both kids were fast asleep in their car seats. Tory and Aden are powerless to the natural roar of the Ranger's engine. Rides are *just* bumpy enough to lull both kids right to dreamland, giving us parents a few peaceful minutes alone.
While riding along the same trail, Andi and I saw one of the neatest sights -- a white-tailed deer and her brand-new baby fawn together. We could sense the doe was afraid of us (though we stopped and let her pass, not intending to cause any harm) but she didn't run; she didn't want to leave her baby. The legs of the tiny fawn wobbled as its mother slowly guided him across the trail into the woods.
UTV riding adds a new element of adventure to our time at the lake cabin. We explore terrain normally off-limits by car or by foot, and it allows us to take in sights we otherwise might miss. So far, we'd clocked over 800 miles on our Ranger! I'm so thankful Andi's introduced this recreational past-time to our family, and for all the memories we've made on the trails together.