Since the start and finish of The North Face Endurance Challenge Madison is held on the grounds of Ottawa Lake Campground (in the Kettle Moraine South Unit, Wisconsin), we decided to make it a family camping trip, renting an RV for the first time. It is a beautiful camping area, relatively close to Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison, and features sites for RVs (electric and not), and tent camping only. While some spots are reservable in advance, some are held back for same-day camping, which is nice if you can't always plan ahead. With multiple bathroom houses (some with showers and one with a laundromat), one could easily spend up to the allowed 14 days here. Manmade fun include the lake beach for swimming and wading and a couple of playgrounds. On Saturday night, we were treated to an evening lecture about wildlife rehabilitation, meeting Waldo the Woodchuck, who entranced the kids (he WAS very cute!). Nature surrounds you, and there are hiking and equestrian trails to challenge any level of fitness. Some are even okay for trail running. :)
Pets are allowed in some of the campsites and on several trails, though not all, and should remain leashed at all times. We saw some dogs unleashed at the owners' campsites, and all the dogs (save one) seemed well-behaved. Definitely a nice place for a dog outing!
We switched sites after the first 2 nights, since our original spot was sufficient, but not beautiful, and somewhat open for our taste. The most beautiful sites, in our opinion, are the outer ring sites, but one area which included the electric abut the main road and the others had no electricity, which we wanted for our RV. None of the sites have water, which meant we had to conserve the onboard tanks for toilet flushing and dish washing, but water fountains, showers and toilets were available nearby, so not a big deal all in all.
For our first-ever RV Rental, we discovered DeHaan RV Rentals, conveniently between our home and the campground in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Their rates seemed very reasonable and fair compared to some other places we looked at and, since they were only about 25 miles from the campground, we didn't have to pay onerous mileage fees! RV rental is not an intuitive act, but DeHaan made it it relatively painless. By far the best aspect was their RV Intro Hour, where Aaron walked me through every part inside and out, explaining how it all worked, then had me take him for a test drive to make sure I was a relatively safe driver. Not sure other RV Rental companies do that, though they should, gave me lots of peace of mind.
The RV itself was more than adequate for our family of 6, especially since Little Worker slept with Laima and myself. First 2 nights, I had really good sleeps, which is nice when trail racing is involved the next morning. The slide out room gave us a feeling of spaciousness, while the outdoor awning gave us a covered area to eat and hangout. Storage was plentiful, but awkward, probably since we were only spending three nights. We used the TV Sunday night, just to catch our breaths and try out the system--totally adequate except it was difficult to hear the sound over the fan noise. Since it was relatively cool, we turned off the fan and problem solved.
Monday morning we stopped at the refuse location, dumping our waste with no problem--another good reason to have the introductory hour at the rental location (ever seen the movie "RV" with Robin Williams? Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!).
We are definitely planning on returning next fall for the next Endurance Challenge--Gaigai says she wants to run the half-marathon (Dean was impressed when she told him--did I mention we met Dean Karnazes?!). We will camp again, and will just have to decide if we want to tent-camp, rent an RV again, or maybe try a travel trailer--we'll definitely head back to DeHaan if we opt either of the latter.
Both the North Face Endurance Challenge and Ottawa Lake Campground are worth a try--hopefully we'll see you there next year!
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