Tim and I celebrated 25 years of marriage last week camping out at Kohler-Andrae State Park then exploring Baileys Harbor in Door County. Both of us grew up around water. Tim’s family spent summers on the gulf shores in Florida, and I spent time with my father and his family near Lake Geneva, and with my mother, weekends at the Jersey Shore. Living in Manhattan, we were surrounded by rivers. So, a week near Lake Michigan seemed like the perfect getaway.

In 25 years, couples experience so much joy, and during their 20s and 30s, challenges, too, as each tries to build a career and life. The week seemed to encapsulate the fortune and misfortune we’ve lived through.

We’d hope to drive in Tim’s new Jeep, which is equipped with air conditioning and plenty of space for camping gear and supplies, but the Friday a week prior, a tailgater rear-ended him.

Undeterred, we took my vehicle, with no air conditioning. Yet Mother Nature smiled down on us with temperatures reaching highs up to 75 degrees for all but one of the days — cool enough for the drive but warm enough to enjoy the lake and our hikes around.

The only rain of the five days began the day we left for home, and boy, did it pour down. Driving home as the rain began to pick up, Tim set the wiper blades to the highest setting. We were shocked when the one on the driver’s side broke off and flew behind us. Minutes later, as rain drove down with the road barely visible, he pulled over in Waupun to a gas station where we hoped to find a replacement.

There, the clerk pointed out an auto parts shop just a few hundred yards away that had just the right match.

The timing of the incident proved fortunate. We were just at the Waupun exit when the malfunction occurred, and right at the exit was the shop we needed.

But the joys in between will be what I remember most about the anniversary trip. We relaxed on the shores of Lake Michigan then spent some time in Sheboygan where we met some locals and learned more about fishing and the issues surrounding the Kohler annexation for a new golf course. Part of the land lies within the state park, as well.

On the second leg, we walked the boardwalk at the Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor and learned about the unique boreal forest. Due to the proximity of the lake, it supports a diverse array of plants and creatures.

We bought produce at a local farmers market and feasted on fresh fish. And we rested, this time in a motel room in a controlled environment.

We survived the challenges and had a memorable trip just as we have throughout our years together.

Perhaps we’ve managed to reach a milestone many couples have been unable to because of our resilience, adaptability and focus on the beauty surrounding us here in Wisconsin. As life partners for a quarter of a century now, we’ve supported one another through the hardest times and celebrated the best of them. For sure, more are in store as we enter the next chapters of our lives together.

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