Compass: Hello, Summer

Hello! This is the last Compass article of the school year but don’t worry, that means that summer is right around the corner! Soon enough, warm weather will surround us while we swim in the pool and sip lemonade. We’ll have more time to work and earn money and spend time with friends. In honor of summer, I won’t recall a travel memory. Instead, I’ll talk about what I’m looking forward to this summer.

One of my favorite things about summer is having a bonfire late into the night with friends, s’ mores, and blankets. Bonfires are one of the things in summer that time seems to have no influence on; nothing else is important and it doesn’t matter how long you spend talking, time just doesn’t exist for those few hours. I would have a bonfire every night of the summer if I could.

Another summer experience that I love eating ice cream outside on a hot day. You can feel the cold sinking in your body. It’s like on a cold day when you eat soup, but just the opposite.

One of my favorite summer feelings is walking into an air-conditioned room after sweating from being outside. I can always feel the heat dissipate from my body and I feel refreshed. It’s one of the best feelings.

I love wading in the water with friends. I love running around in the shallow water, playfully splashing my friends, and laughing so hard. Or hopping around large rocks in the water is fun. I don’t love swimming in deep water, but I enjoy wading and playing in the sand. I’m not good at sand castles or any sand architecture that requires talent, but some times laying on the warm sand as I run some through my fingers is all it takes to make me happy.

This summer I’m looking forward to Family Camp with my family and friends. Also, in about a month, I am leaving with other students from my church and we are going on a missions trip. These are things that I have planned, but I am looking forward to them nonetheless. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has things like camp and trips to look forward to this summer.

There are always spontaneous events that take place during the summer, like an impromptu sleepover or dinner with friends. The nice thing about summer is that not everything needs to be planned. I like to spontaneously go to the park with my younger brothers, especially this year since I have my driver’s license. There’s always something to do.

In closing, I would like to say thank you to everyone who read my column this year. I have loved writing for you and I hope to see you next year. This summer, use bug spray, lather on the sunscreen, and be safe. I hope you have a wonderful summer, whatever you do! Thank you for traveling the country with me these past few months!

Compass: Camp Food

Hello! In honor of summer, I’ll talk about my time at summer camp.

For the past eight or so years, I have gone to Lake Lundgren Bible Camp. Lake Lundgren is in Pembine, WI and was founded in June of 1935. It’s a nondenominational camp that has beautiful facilities, entertaining activities, and wonderful food, but then again, I’m biased.

Just because Lake Lundgren has the best camp food you will ever taste, that’s what I’ll focus on this week. Yes, there are fun activities and the overall camp experience is amazing, but the food is so good.

If you’ve ever been to camp, you might know that the food is gross. They have powder eggs and fake milk, but not Lake Lundgren. Lake Lundgren has hot food every morning, afternoon, and evening, with dessert after lunch and dinner. They have a full kitchen team that makes delicious food every day.

On the last day at camp, they provide about six different kinds of specialty pizza and there’s a line out the door. They also toss ice cream sandwiches to all the tables; it’s a yearly tradition. During the week, one of the meals is coffee cake and apple juice. Another is rolls and ham. Basically, the food is actually good and the type of food ranges over the course of the week.

Lake Lundgren Bible Camp has a special place in my heart because of how many years I’ve spent there. This summer I’m actually volunteering for a week or two. This week’s article was short, but thanks for traveling the country with me!

Compass: What Beautiful Art You Have

Hello again! For this week’s article, I’m taking us to Milwaukee. I just went to Milwaukee this past Thursday to celebrate my birthday, so we’ll talk about that.

I love art. I love to look at art. I love to experience art. But then again, who doesn’t? So, I went to the Milwaukee Art Museum. The current exhibition is Bouguereau in America and it’s this absolutely amazing realism created in the 19th century. William-Adolphe Bouguereau was a French painter who was born in 1825 and died in 1905. Many of his paintings are mythological and focused on the female body. I fell in love with the way he painted hands and feet; it literally looks like a picture. I was amazed at Bouguereau’s talent. The picture I have included in this week’s article was my absolute favorite of his, titled “Temptation.” Bouguereau’s exhibit is available until May 12th and I definitely recommend it.


Another exhibit was Sara Cwynar. She is a thought-provoking photographer who plays with color and the perception of beauty. Her photography and short films were wonderful and they made me think, which was her goal. Cwynar’s showcase is available until August 4th.

The last special exhibit is Charles Radtke who creates works of wood. Among other things, there were tables, dressers, and chairs, oh my! I don’t know the first thing about the art of furniture making, but I loved his pop of color and craftsmanship. His exhibit is available until August 25.

Aside from these three exhibits, there were pieces of art that permanently belonged to the Milwaukee Art Museum. There were religious pieces, historic pieces, and modern abstracts. Furniture, abstracts, realism, ceramics, metalwork, sculptures, glass, fabric, and more abound in the museum. You will probably be able to find your favorite type of art.

I definitely loved my day trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum and would recommend it to anyone. As homeschoolers, our parents are always looking for fun things to do with the family, right? Well, the Milwaukee Art Museum is free the first Thursday of every month. All ages are free the first Thursday and as long as you hold onto your tickets, you can see everything! If you are interested in visiting or want to know more, you can go to this website. I hope you enjoyed traveling the country with me, even if it wasn’t too far away!

Compass: The Overlook

Hello! This week I’ll take us closer to home and describe a beautiful place in Wisconsin. La Crosse Wisconsin is on the Mississippi River. It has a population of about fifty-one thousand and, as you might imagine, is a pretty bustling city.

I go every year in the fall for this event called Youth Convention. It’s essentially thousands of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan teens that join together to play games, jam to music, and listen to the selected speaker. It’s a time of learning and meeting new people, which is pretty fun. Now that you know why I was in La Crosse for this particular time, we can move on.

My youth group was going on a “surprise adventure,” which really was code for “an activity to occupy these rambunctious teens’ time for a few hours.” So our whole herd of like two dozen people packed into our vans and started driving up a hill. It was fall, as I said before, so the surrounding forest was a lovely orange and brown. There were many bare trees and leaves were in trenches on the side of the road.

When we started driving up the hill, it was dusk, so by the time we pulled up to the parking lot, it was nightfall. Our vans parked and we piled out. There were stone pillars a few meters up the way that had a circle roof on top. There were bathrooms adjacent to the vans, so a few students hurried over to them. We all walked over to the pillars and my youth pastor places the juice boxes, cookies, and cheesecake bites on a table under the roof and like any typical teen, we all devoured the food. It was a brisk night and we all wore light jackets.

Outside of the structure was a stone railing and those stationary binoculars you put money into. This adventure was technically an overlook over La Crosse. After wandering around for a bit, we found a paved pathway and it led to a lower level, mainly with brush and flowers. It was peaceful and nice for the few moments before the rest of the teens found us and flooded.

Although the snacks were good and the scenery was nice, the coolest thing was the view from our overlook. We could see the city’s lights. Aside from the lights of the houses, we could see the faintest resemblance of a river due to the lack of lights. As far as the horizon, there were residential lights and it was neat to see the city from a new angle.

Here’s the hopeless romantic in me: each of the lights that belong to houses had little people in them. They were real people, just living their lives. I will never know them and they will never know me, but we are people together. I was able to experience a brisk night and have my thoughtful mind blown, so it the “activity to occupy these rambunctious teens’ time for a few hours” was a success. There are no pictures this week, but it’s close enough that you might be able to visit. Thank you for traveling the country with me, even though it might even be in your backyard!

Compass: A Hidden Beauty


Hi, there! Last week, we visited the urban landscape of Chicago, but this week, I’m taking us out West yet again to a beautiful spot in Wyoming.

My family had just seen Old Faithful in Yellowstone, that’s a story for another day, and we were driving home. Off the highway was this small river and a rocky beach. There were hills and plateaus that surrounded it as well, so naturally, we decided to pull over and explore. My family parked our van on the hill and we all piled out, racing down the steep hill to get to the water. There was thigh-high grass that looked like wheat but was not wheat. Flowers hid between the grass and the rocks and it smelled of fresh dew.


After we all got onto the beach, my mom started taking pictures and the rest of us hopped around on the stones. My sister, the most adventurous one out of the bunch, was jumping on the big rocks, making her way across the small river. My little brother was exploring in the grass and found a a snake skin that had been shed.

After we were finished playing around, we admired the scenery. A plateau towered over the river and at its base was an alcove. It was probably ten feet above the water and opposite to our side of the river. We were in awe. How did it get there? How did we get lucky enough to stop here and see this?

The water was pretty brown and the current was moving fast. The highway was elevated so we could hardly see the occasional car zooming past. It was absolutely beautiful, and we were lucky enough to stop and see. It was like a bubble of wonder.

I hope this week in Wyoming brings you as much wonder as it does for me. Yes, I know this may sound cheesy, but I think this place is a metaphor for life: if we don’t stop to see the small rivers, we miss out on what can make life beautiful. Thank you for traveling the country with me!

Compass: Town of Fayette

One of the most beautiful and eerie places I have been to is Fayette Historic State Park in Delta County, Michigan. It’s a ghost town set on the shore of Lake Michigan, but is now abandoned. If you read last week’s article about the abandoned Griffith Zoo in California, you probably have guessed that my family loves to visit weird places.

Fayette State Park has an eerie vibe that keeps you on edge. It’s not creepy or strange, but it feels like your floating in a lost part of history. Most places give you a distinct feeling, but Fayette is one you have to experience to understand. The image below is of Lake Michigan from inside an abandoned building.


There are beautiful buildings that are desperately trying to hold onto the past, only the care of the staff keeping them together. Old machinery, stores, doctor clinics, and boarding places are strategically set around the few mile park. Many of the buildings are set up like they might have been when they were functional; the store has pretend meats hanging in the back, fresh produce in bowls, and even a cashier. It was amazing to walk around and view the world that used to be home to so many workers.

I have been to Fayette a few times, but my favorite memory is when it was pouring rain. Since it’s a ghost town, the buildings are arranged in the way of a town, so in order to see the park, you need to walk outside. My family and I had been walking around for an hour or two--it’s quite big--and all of a sudden, the rain came.

It was pelting and hard to avoid, so we embraced it. My three siblings and I danced in the rain, splashing in the puddles and getting every part of ourselves wet. My parents stood in the doorway of the schoolhouse and laughed with us. It was a cinema moment. When the rain had let up, we wandered into the blacksmith’s shop, still soaking wet.

It was so fun to experience that imperfect perfect moment with my family in one of my favorite places. If you ever go the Upper Peninsula and need somewhere to explore, I would definitely recommend Layette State Park. It’s beautiful and the eeriness is unsettling but interesting. There is a campground and many hiking trails, so if the park isn’t up your alley, you can find something to do. Thanks for traveling the country a little closer to home this week!

Compass: Abandoned Zoo

This week, we’ll go to California for one of the most eccentric places I have visited. It was April of 2014 and my entire family had gone to California to see family friends. After we had been there for a few weeks, we went to a tourist attraction with the friends we were staying with.

Griffith Zoo is in Los Angeles, California and, according to Wikipedia, was city-owned. It was open from 1912 to 1966 and was fairly successful in its time operating. The zoo closed but the buildings remained, to this day, actually. Unofficially, this tourist location is called the Abandoned Zoo. The animal enclosures, paths, and hidden hallways are standing and available to the public. Since it is a public attraction, many people have done graffiti on the walls and left trash on the ground. The following picture was taken by my mom in a cage that, in the day, would have been hidden to the public. (It’s a little bit blurry.)


After we parked the car, we walked to the first enclosures which looked like sandstone. Each of the few enclosures was open and had picnic tables in them. One of the picnic tables had “hippies” who were playing music. Another had many dogs and their owners with a framed picture of a dog sitting on the table. My family often laughs at this memory because we couldn’t figure out if the gathering was a birthday or a funeral for the dog.

After we took pictures in the only available enclosure, we hiked and saw all of the sheds, cages, and pathways that led us around the zoo. One of the coolest areas was a rocky, graffitied staircase leading down.

We saw where the employees used to feed the animals, where the public stood and watched, and even where the resources, like food, were kept. It was cool to walk around and imagine what it would have been like one hundred years ago. Even though the animals and the zoo goers were long gone, it still felt like a place of entertainment and fun.

My favorite part was comparing then and now. When it first opened, I bet it was lively and whimsical. Children pointed in amazement as they saw their favorite animals and parents smiled in amusement. I can only guess the fun that was had at the Griffith Zoo. Now, the Abandoned Zoo serves as a blast to the past and a canvas for illegal creative expression. The public flocks to the attraction because we like to imagine what took place before our time. It somehow makes us feel big for a moment.

Traveling often has that effect on people: it makes us feel big for that moment. At the same time, we are humbled that we get to experience something so cool. Stumbling upon the Abandoned Zoo was one my favorite memories from our 2014 California trip and I’d like to think that I’ll never forget it.

Compass: Bear Backpacking

From Disney World to the Teton Mountain Range, I have experienced many beautiful places as a result of my family’s love for a good road trip. Throughout this column, we will explore parts of the country by using my memories. I will talk about the experiences, places, and types of people that have made my travels exciting and diverse.

The first place I can distinctly remember visiting on a road trip is Yellowstone National Park. I was about nine years old when we took our tan Chevy Malibu packed with three kids, my mom, and my aunt cross country. Myself, my little sister, and my, at the time, baby brother crammed into the back seats while we drove the drivers bonkers with our childish songs/screams.

As you may know, Yellowstone is in Wyoming, spanning across 2.2 million acres. You are able to drive through the park and the many parts of it. When you drive through, there are places to park and explore, one of these places being the Grand Prismatic Springs, or hot springs. These hot springs smell horrible and are extremely hot, as the name implies, but they are beautiful. I took the following picture on my last visit to Yellowstone; it was one of the deepest springs.


During my first trip to Yellowstone National Park, we drove through but stopped at the hot springs among a few other stops. My mom was worried that my toddler brother was going to fall into one of the Grand Prismatic Springs and burn alive, so she took preventative and creative steps. Have you ever seen those animal backpacks that have attached leashes? The child wears a harness backpack and the parent holds the connected leash so the child cannot run wild. She attached a brown bear backpack to my brother and we walked the paths, seeing and smelling each hot spring. My sister and I, both competent enough to know not to wander into a boiling pool of water, were enthusiastic about the adventure. I remember the pure excitement to be experiencing something new with people I love.

In Wisconsin, where I have lived the majority of my life, there is nothing even close to a hot spring. Because I had come from a scenic but boring state, it was amazing to see something I had never dreamed of before.

While we walked the paths by the Grand Prismatic Springs, my aunt, who was a young adult at that time, poked fun at the bear backpack secured around my brother. Even though he was cute, it was peculiar to see him on a leash like a dog. The funny part is, now that she has young children, she sees the value in a leash.

Yellowstone National Park is absolutely beautiful and many road trip memories stem from it. This memory is one I think on fondly and I always smile at my younger self whenever I picture myself there. I was so excited to be somewhere new and experience something different, and honestly, not much has changed.