NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Friday, August 31, 2012

I'll Gladly Pay You Tuesday for a Hamburger Today

It's been a pretty dry summer here in the midwest, but I was still able to find a few fungi in the northwoods of Minnesota along the hiking trails.

I liked the stacked brown ones because they reminded me of hamburger buns.  All I could think of was the guy from the Popeye cartoon saying "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." Isn't it funny how something like that swims up out of the depths of memory? It's probably been 30 years since I've seen a Popeye cartoon! I can't remember what my kids' first words were, but the words of cartoon characters are apparently important enough to remember forever.

But the one below was definitely my favorite, a real piece of art by Mother Nature.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wade House Sawmill & Blacksmith Shop and the Jung Carriage Museum

In 1963 the Wisconsin Legislature voted to create a permanent home for the carriage collection of Wesley W. Jung, grandson of a Sheboygan carriage maker, at the Wade House site. In 1968, the Wesley Jung Carriage Museum opened to the public.  I only had about 20 minutes to view the nearly 100 horse- and hand-drawn vehicles, making it one of the most extensive collections in the country. As usual in places like this I had difficulty getting the light to do what I wanted it to, and got better images out of my point and shoot. I was especially drawn to the "working" vehicles.

The Kohler Trust for Preservation also  pledged a $1.8 million gift to rebuild the Herrling Sawmill on its original site near the Wade House. The mill, which had stood in Greenbush throughout the second half of the 19th century, was the source of lumber for the local settlement's needs. The most distinctive feature is the water-powered muley saw, which was state of the art in the 1850s. The mill was, and still is, powered by the Mullet River.

 Our tour guide for the mill was also the blacksmith for the day describing for us how the blacksmith was necessary to keep the carriages running and the horses well shoed. You've all seen Doc's version of blacksmithing in Back to the Future Part 3, right?

 Sure are a lot of cobwebs on those horseshoes, must not be any horses needing shoeing in Greenbush for awhile! If you're in the area, give the Wade House Historic Site a look-see, and if you're interested in the Civil War they also have a Civil War Weekend every September with two action-filled days of battle re-enactments, military drills, medical care situations, period music and food, demonstrations, and more. The weekend spectacle involves more than 500 re-enactors and each year features a different historic scenario crucial to the outcome of the war.

Loony for Loons

While kayaking on Bear Head Lake we saw a quintet of red breasted mergansers every time we went out.  They were very quiet, and the website All About Birds says they are silent except in courtship when male makes a cat-like "yeow, yeow." Female makes a harsh "gruk." The ones I got the picture of must be either a female with juvenilles or all junvenilles according to their markings.

Wayne couldn't believe I hadn't ever seen a Common Loon before, but I saw plenty before we left Minnesota!  They let us get pretty close in the kayak, but kept a wary eye on us.  When they dove for fish we had no idea where they would pop back up and we were impressed with their swimming, but also with their speedy flight ability.  When we were gliding alongside a momma and her chick we heard the chick making a soft wheezing hoot. Hoots are soft, short calls given to keep in contact with each other. Parents might hoot to a chick, or one mate might hoot to another.

The best part of all the loon watching for me was when we were kayaking back in at sunset and their spooky calls echoed across the lake.  Among these calls are the tremolo, a wavering call given when a loon is alarmed or to announce its presence at a lake. The yodel is the male loon’s territorial claim. Each male has his own signature yodel. If a male moves to a different territory, he will change his yodel. The wail is the haunting call that loons give back and forth to figure out each other’s location.  I love learning about new animals when we travel, and though the Common Loon may be something a lot of people take for granted it was a special treat for me to finally make its acquaintance!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lots to do in Bear Head Lake State Park

As I mentioned earlier, we started this trip out by staying at Bear Head Lake State Park which is about a half hour drive from the attractions in Ely.  We were impressed with their newer shower facilities and with the camping cabins they have available, not to mention access to the lake and docks to tie up your boats on one side of the campground. The sites themselves were nice also, but a bit on the small side. There are only a few that would fit an RV bigger than 30 feet - 39, 43, 49, 55, 56 and 65 would be our recommendation. We stayed in site 28 and had a heck of a time getting into it since the problem isn't always the site length but trying to get into it without taking out your neighbors trees across the road! The "loops" are narrow and cutting in a big 'un like ours was difficult work.

There isn't much in the way of bike trails in the area, but we made use of what we could. The road leading into the park is very long, curvy, and there is absolutely no shoulder so we didn't feel comfortable riding on it. There is a short trail to Cub Lake near the ranger station that provides access to the Taconite Trail, but the Taconite Trail was very overgrown and seems to be used mostly for snowmobiles. 

Otherwise the trails in the park are for foot traffic only. I hiked out to Norberg Lake one day, taking the trail all the way around. If you hike at Bear Head Lake bring your mosquito repellant! Every time I broke stride they attacked. On another day I hiked the Becky Lake and Blueberry Lake trails. There are some beautiful backcountry campsites out here, especially the ones on Blueberry Lake if you don't mind the extra effort and lack of amenities. All the hiking trails in the park have varied terrain, including sections that are very rocky and slow going, so be prepared with sturdy shoes and allow a little extra time.

Out of all the trails, Blueberry Lake was by far my favorite, and I spent some time hanging out with a chatty squirrel who was probably stashing nuts under a rock and worried that I was a thief.

I also saw fresh sign of beaver on Blueberry Lake. Someone was busy working on this very large tree, anyway!

We got out in the kayak 3 out of the 4 days we were staying at the park. Up this way we were the only kayakers, everyone else is in a canoe or a fishing boat. We just like an hour paddle or so to see if we can spot some wildlife. We saw some deer, a few juvenille grouse crossing the road, a few bluejays and some clever chipmunks over by the dumpsters. As for wild bears...I did not see a single marked tree or scat on the trail.  There were some loons and mergansers on the lake, but I'll talk about them tomorrow!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kawishiwi Falls and hiking Dry Lake

It was gloomy and windy Saturday morning with rain in the forecast so we took the hike to Kawishiwi Falls instead of going kayaking. It's about a 3/4 mile loop, and the trail is pretty for such a short hike.

I couldn't resist hiking up and down the rocks along the Kawishiwi River, and on the way out Wayne couldn't resist trekking out to the top of the falls.

The 71 foot high falls is located near the Winton Hydroelectric facility that was built in 1922 by the Minnesota Utilities Company.  In the late 1800’s loggers floated millions of board feet of lumber from the waters within what is now the BWCAW over these falls to the mill town of Winton.  In the above photo you can see a little bit of the dam behind the trees, the photo below shows the river emptying out into what I think is probably Fall Lake.

I dragged the tripod along with me but didn't use it. Maybe I should just start thinking of it as strength training equipment!

We met a family that was nice enough to take a picture of the two of us, and I think we looked pretty good for a humid, windy morning!

It threatened rain all day, but it never materialized. In the afternoon we took our chances and went out to the Bass Lake trailhead for a hike around Dry Lake. The Dry Lake loop is only 3 miles long...but it is a hard 3 miles. My legs were quivering toward the end and it was one of those hikes where you're looking for the parking lot around each bend after awhile. 

 It reminded me of a roller coaster ride, except instead of saying "wheeeeee!" as you go down each hill you say "whew!" and instead of wind in your face you're wiping sweat out of your eyes. But, you don't get magnificent views without paying a price.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Angleworm Trail, Superior National Forest

I chose mid-August on purpose for our trip to Ely because all my research indicated that the mosquito season should be done by then. It seemed like that was true for the first two days we were here, and then it was like someone had put out a memo that I had arrived and now they won't leave me alone! When I was camping at Kohler-Andrae I stopped at their natural store in town and picked up a completely useless botanical mixture that was no help whatsoever. Last year I used the Repel Lemon Eucalyptus spray but it didn't take long for that to start giving me headaches even though I sprayed it below my knees only. For this trip I picked up Repel Natural which seemed to give off less odor, however, it only seems to scare away about half of the mosquitoes.  I've been on 3 hikes since we got here, and been swatting away on every one. When we were kayaking at Perrot State Park we saw some people wearing mosquito netting clothing. That's my next line of defense!

Yesterday we went for a drive along the Echo Trail which is a county road through the wilderness area north of Ely. We drove 52 miles out and then 52 miles back, most of it at 25 mph on a gravel road.  It was a hot day and we thought a little air conditioned drive would be the way to go. We saw a young fox dash across the road, but other than that all we saw was this deer.

After hours stuck in the truck
I begged and begged until Wayne
agreed to stop at the Angleworm hiking trail.
We both needed a restroom break,
so we were happy to see this sign.


This is what we found at the end of the trail!
Like Wayne said, can you imagine coming
down and unexpectedly finding someone
sitting on that??  Not wanting to be the ones
caught sitting on that, we opted for nearby
bushes instead.  Judge us if you want.

After taking care of our necessary business
we headed down the Angleworm trail.
We only made it about a mile before the
mosquitoes found me and we had to turn
back.  Wayne finds this highly amusing since
he hasn't been wearing any repellant and
hasn't been bitten once.  He's usually
a chigger magnet (not to be confused with
chick magnet) so he's enjoying watching
me be the one to suffer instead.  It looked like
a nice trail, but it'll have to wait for another day
when I'm bundled up in netting or it's too cold
for the mosquitoes.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bears and Murals in Ely, Minnesota

We've been in the general Ely area for a week now, first in Bear Head Lake State Park and now in Ely itself at Silver Rapids Lodge. We didn't have a good signal until today, and Wayne's laptop doesn't have any photo editing capability, not even cropping, so I'm way behind and kind of at a loss of where to begin. I decided to start with Ely's murals and our visit to the Bear Center...because those are the photos I don't need to crop!

I found 2 small murals of interest in Ely, one of which depicts its current claim to fame, canoeing the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area.  I especially like how the woman is in charge of the fire while the man does the cooking!

The second mural reflects Ely's mining history.

Ely is also home to the Bear Center.  The admission fee was a bit pricey at $8.50 in my opinion. There are 3 live bears in an outside enclosure with the option of viewing from inside at eye level through glass or from an outside balcony. My two cents....if you're hoping to see "bears", forget it. These babies are as tame as you can get. They fed them right after we arrived and they were training new people to toss the food out to them while their hand was within munching distance of the bear's mouth. I mostly watched the non-bear wildlife because they acted more wild. The squirells, chipmunks and birds all scampered in and out of the feeding area scavenging treats when they thought the bears weren't looking. The bears acted like pets, which is fine if that's what you're into, but I like a little more wild in my animals. They had a lot of information on display that we perused, but the way it was displayed was like something you'd see at a junior high geography fair, not as professional as you would expect for the entry fee. I'm assuming most of the admission dollars are going toward their research projects.  If you want to see the bears yourself, you can check them out for free here. Anybody know what the rodent pictured below is? It looked like a prairie dog but with a long flat tail.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Historic Cedarburg

 I've been to Cedarburg at least a dozen times in the past, mostly tagging along with my mother on "shopping" excursions. The town's main street is chock full of those little shops selling every thing you need, and don't need, for the home. I quit going some years back because due to my allergic issues with fragrances I wasn't able to enter any of the stores. Things haven't changed in that regard, at least 90% of the shops are selling scented candles for some reason, but I hadn't paid much attention to the architecture or what else it might have to offer in the past so I decided to give it another look on my way home from Sheboygan.

I stopped at Garden Goodies as I was
walking around because I've been
looking for some garden ornaments,
and yes, the shop was filled with
scented candles! But, most of what
I was looking for was outside.
I especially liked this one, but
didn't like it enough to spend $160
on it. It didn't look like it would
last more than a few seasons to me.

I bought two smaller items instead
and after putting them in my car
continued walking around. I was
going around Cedar Creek Settlement's
building, which is a former woolen mill
constructed in 1864 to make woolen goods
for the army, when I was surprised to find
a live version of the garden ornament.
I ran back to my car to get my lenses and
happily took a few shots from the bridge
on Bridge Road before he flew away.

As I walked around town I realized that
most of the buildings in town were built
out of locally mind limestone and fieldstone.
There are a couple of different architectural
styles used, but the town had a kind of "sameness"
to it.  Upon exploring the side streets I found
that even some of the newer homes had used
this local stone on parts of their homes, which
I did think was a nice tribute to their history.

While exploring the side streets I stumbled upon the Ozaukee County Historical Society which is located in the old railroad depot. When I started nosing around I found myself folded into a "tour" which was just beginning.  After listening to the well meaning tour guide ramble on for 20 minutes in the tiny building where there was next to nothing to see I excused myself, snagging a couple of pamphlets to places I hoped were more interesting.  One of them was for the last remaining covered bridge in Wisconsin which happened to be in Cedarburg.  I was sure I hadn't ever seen this before and drove right on over...where it turns out I recognized it immediately.  Still, I had fun putting on my Keen water sandals and splashing around in the creek with my camera while a professional photographer took senior portraits up above.  I bid farewell to Cedarburg and headed home to start packing the fifth wheel for our 10 day trip to Ely in Minnesota. If anyone else is going to be in that area at the end of August, give us a shout!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Discovering Wade House, Greenbush

Stopping in to visit Wade House in Greenbush wasn't something I thought I was going to do this week. I thought about bringing the kids here a few times while we were homeschooling for a field trip and was put off by the drive. Now that I've toured it myself, I'll tell you that I enjoyed it immensely, but it was similar to visiting Old World Wisconsin in Eagle and it wouldn't have been worth the long drive to bring the kids all those years ago. Our tour guide was a delightful lady in period costume who answered a lot of questions put to her by a retired schoolteacher who was in our group. I give her a lot of credit for knowing all the answers about the history of this home, how it came to be preserved, and the area and time period in general.

In 1844 Sylvanus and Betsey Wade were the first to settle Greenbush and chose the area with the specific purpose of establishing a village halfway between Sheboygan and Fond du Lac along a well-used stagecoach trail. Sylvanus Wade sold most of his land to enterprising settlers. They, like him, were willing to stake their futures on the little community. The Wades kept a tavern in their log house and as the years passed and business grew, they twice expanded the structure.  They built the inn in 1859 and it was the scene of cotillions, business meetings, political caucuses and circuit court sessions. The taproom buzzed with debates of issues as mundane as last year's crops and as heady as secession and the abolition of slavery.

The property was kept in the family until 1941, and when the new owner was unable to keep up with restorations The Kohler family and the Kohler Foundation purchased Wade House in 1950 and began a top-to-bottom restoration. It was deeded to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1953.  As usual, I listened while wandering around with my camera and I found the soft light from the overcast day coming in the old glass wonderful to work with.

The others on our tour were especially amazed at the wood burning cook stove in the kitchen and how people could actually coax meals out of such a hard to keep regulated source of heat. Those of us who have had the experience of using or watching others use them in real life know that like anything else it's just a matter of knowing your tools! Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my grandmother's wood burning stove in Newfoundland and the bread she baked in it. I might be killed for including the next two photos, but what's life without a little risk taking?

Some of Nan's bread would have gone great with that jam another volunteer made from the garden in the Wade House kitchen over the weekend! If I visit again I'll have to make sure to come on the weekend to catch one of their demonstrations.
Also on the property are the carriage collection of Wesley W. Jung, grandson of a Sheboygan carriage maker, a blacksmith shop, and the rebuilt Herrling Sawmill which had stood in Greenbush throughout the second half of the 19th century on its original site. I'll get to those in the next post!