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!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunny Ones

It turned out that my daughter Katrina had nothing to do today and tomorrow either so she's driving the hour and a half from Menominee to Algoma to camp with me!  With that in mind I got up early, went to the gym, and then hit the road for the 3 hour drive.

Just north of Milwaukee it became nothing but fog, but the temps dropped too so I was okay with that.  The fog continued all the way to Manitowoc, but by the time I turned off the main highway for the final half hour the fog had given way to clouds.  About 10 minutes from the campground I stumbled on this field of sunflowers and just had to get out and get snapping!

These babies put the wild ones I've been seeing to shame, and there's something about a whole field of them that just takes your breath away.  It's like your eyes are sending the message to your brain but your brain is like, "I just can't be seeing that, all that yellow isn't possible!"  The cloudiness was working for me, noon sun would have been too bright.

At knee height between all the sunflowers were these pretty white blooms, a type of aster? a dwarf echinacea?  I'll have to keep my eyes open for more in the area and see what I can find out.  I love the button-like center.  Also between the rows was a lot of dense mud, which was a good thing in that my camera lens that I dropped was cushioned from the blow.  It was bad because I got mud on my lens and my sneakers were caked with it as well.

Speaking of echinacea, I made the mistake of checking out the varieties available on the Burpee website.  I may be in trouble.  How much money will I spend on flowers before I feel guilty, I wonder?

Katrina got a flat tire on her way to Algoma, but someone stopped and helped her out.  She made it to Green Bay on the spare and wandered into the casino while getting her tire replaced.  She spent $5, won $50, and headed out the door like a smart girl.  Doesn't quite cover the cost of the tire, but it made her feel a little better about it all!  I'm at the campsite waiting for her to arrive, watching the sun chase away the clouds so we'll soon be basking in the sun for the rest of the day.  Tomorrow...well, the weather forecasters say that is quite another story.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Gotta Buy Jam and Coffee, Right?

So, remember how I cancelled my camping reservations in Indiana due to the rainy, humid weather?  Well, I'm already stir crazy after doing laundry and scrubbing the kitchen (insane how dirty the microwave gets) so I just called the Big Lake Campground in Algoma and I'm heading north tomorrow.

Driftwood sculpture in Bayfield - a few pics I forgot to post!

Wayne is forced to work double shifts all weekend due to the weather and I'm out of that great jam and coffee that I bought while we were up in Door County.  I actually checked the websites for both a few weeks ago, but for what I'd pay in shipping it's just as well for me to drive!  The campground I called said they had 7 cancellations due to the thunderstorms this weekend.  It's only another 45 minutes to Egg Harbor from there and I can spend some quality time in Algoma itself...which is full of reproduction murals of old advertisements.

"Spend your weekend in northern Wisconsin" he says - downtown Bayfield

Car is already packed for camping, just have to check the forecast and throw some clothes in an overnight bag.  I figure I'll take my time heading up tomorrow and see what I can stop and do on my route up, spend Monday checking out Cave Point and Meridian County Parks in Jacksonport before I buy my Door County grocery items and then hit a few Post Office murals and maybe the City Hall in Milwaukee on the way home on Tuesday.

downtown Bayfield

I can taste the cherry jam already.  All I need is my spoon.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Not an Empty Garden

Boy, this post is a little late in the making.  I've taken a few pictures throughout the spring and summer in my flower bed and now flower season will soon be over.

Hey, Birdie, don't poop on my Vibe!

The birds have visited, the flowers have bloomed, the insects and worms and slugs have enjoyed the kingdom I have provided for them.

 I'm a perennial grower, annuals don't do well under my neglectful eye.  With all the beautiful native plants I've seen on my hikes this summer I'm thinking about adding a few next year to the open spots I have.  The only natives I currently have are Columbine, Ox-Eye Daisy and Goldenrod invaded a couple of years ago in the far corner on its own as well.  I eyed it tonight and decided it can stay awhile longer.

My favorites though are the herbs - lavendar and thyme grow happily every year without me having to help them at all.  I plant a basil plant every year and harvest it until the first frost, plucking its leaves and enjoying them on my sandwiches and in my soups.  Today I'm having a turkey, provolone and tomato sandwich with fresh basil for lunch at work on a pretzel bun.  Yummmmmm.

lovely lavendar

While I don't get a lot of butterflies I do get some interesting insects.  I like the cicadas and grasshoppers the best, but it seems like every year I see something I never saw before.


Editing this post inspired me to go out in the yard again, even though it's cloudy and threatening to rain.  Somehow I don't think the tiny frog I spied on my Turk's Cap will mind if it does.

The tiny bugs hiding in the onion blossoms probably don't care either.

Now that I get a closer look at this guy I wish I'd done a super close-up of just his wings.  I went back out to look for him, but it was a miracle I ever saw him in the first place.

Bee Balm is another of my favorites, it breaks my heart that the bloom doesn't last that long.  Even the leaves are fading now.

I was surprised to see the Hostas bursting with blossoms again.  We've had a lot of rain again lately which is good because last week I moved some of my new Columbines that popped up.  I yanked out a ton of Vinca Vine and there were a few hiding amongst it.

When I was editing the Hosta photo I liked it with its original color above but also like a grayed-out version below.  There wasn't enough contrast for B&W, but I thought it looked sweet with the color faded out.

Off to work another 10 hour day today, that's going to be at least 35 hours this week.  I thought I was supposed to be part-time??  Soon...soon...the new girl knows her stuff and in a month I should be handing her most of the responsibility and resuming my selfish ways.  Maybe next summer my garden will get a little more attention too.  Suddenly Elton John's song "Empty Garden" is in my head, which of course is about a gardener but the gardener is really John Lennon and his flowers I suppose are his songs.  "Imagine" is one of my all time favorite songs by anybody.  What's one of yours?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fancy Fenceposts

I needed something easy to post today after a 9 hour workday and a visit to the gym.  There's only so much of me to go around in a day.  Of course some days I have all the time in the world.

These adorable bird houses were on the fenceposts of a property that we rode past on the Rawley Point trail in Two Rivers just after we left the Point Beach State Park boundary way back in July.

Each one had different hardware, from drawer pulls and faucets to doorknobs and hinges.

If I had the time for something like this I bet it could be fun to keep looking for unique odds and ends to dress birdhouses up with.  Sounds like a great retirement hobby scouring junkyards and garage sales for those items.

But I barely have the time to keep things straight in my perennial garden, much less dress the garden up with birdhouses.  Luckily the perennials take care of themselves unless there is a drought so I don't even water after my yearly Plucking of the Thousand-Baby-Maple-Trees that try to take root in my large bed.

Wish I had the time to sit in a chair and watch the world go by like this guy does - oops, he's made out of flower pots so I guess you can't really compare his life to mine.

The humidity receded around here yesterday and today but tomorrow it's supposed to be back and last through the long weekend.  Once Saturday hits I'm off until Wednesday so I guess I'll have too much time on my hands instead of not enough.  I was going to go camping in Indiana but not with the forecasted heat, humidity and pollen.  I'll just kick back in the air conditioning and catch up on my blog reading and see what the rest of you folks have been up to!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Council Grounds Worth a Visit

On our way home from Bayfield last week we decided to take our time and made a stop at Council Grounds State Park instead of driving straight through for over 6 hours.  It was a good plan because the weather was sunny but cool and the campground there definitely worth checking out.

Site 22

Like most of the Wisconsin State Parks the sites are very large and very easy to get into.   Look how small our 37 foot fifth wheel looks in Site 22.  We did have some trouble leveling up, perhaps the heavy rains earlier in the season and the sandy soil have contributed to the many dips in the gravel site.  As you can tell from the younger trees the town of Merrill has a history of logging, the trees in the park were planted in the 1930's and provide plenty of shade.

Sites spaced generously

Fungi were flourishing at this park, even Wayne noticed this specimen at our campsite.  He asked me to get a picture of it but I was on that while he was getting us all hooked up.  I've got him noticing plants and fungi, next thing you know he'll have me identifying animal tracks and scat!

Blushing Bracket?  Fungi identification is HARD!

I actually found another website for fungi identification but you have to go through each name one at a time to see the picture.  They are divided into categories such as puffball and shelf, but there are still a lot of them.

There was also a lot of Trillium, I'm sure this place must look amazing in the late spring when they are all in bloom.

Trillium berry

There's more to see than what is growing out of the ground at Council Grounds.

The town of Merrill is located on the Wisconsin River and since the mid 1800's dams were built for the saw mills that came with the logging industry.  In 1889 nearly 20 mills were producing lumber in the area.  I know that won't make Sherry happy, but at least the trees were replanted in much of the "northwoods" and efforts are now made to harvest responsibly.

Lots of fishing on Lake Alexander within the park boundary

Lake Alexander is a 677 acre reservoir within the park, and the park service also offers kayak and canoe rentals.  We didn't have time for that, but it's good to know.  I'll probably return here by myself to camp and I don't drag a kayak along but I can bring my own paddle and life jacket, right?

Tansy and Fleabane along the Wisconsin River

After we got settled in to camp we took a bike ride through the park.  Not only did we stop at the dam and the lake, but we spotted a doe with her fawn and a suspicious black shape that we then couldn't relocate when we turned our bikes back around.  I think there's bear in 'dem dar woods.

Lots of ferns growing in the young forest

There were a handful of larger red and white pines around, and blackberry bushes too, but a lady was walking around with a bucket scouring them pretty clean.  She got a lot of scratches on her arms and legs for her efforts.

Mosquito season is winding down and ticks seem to be done as well.  Come on out and play in Wisconsin!  Wildflower season is winding down too, but I did spot some the next morning when we went for a walk.

Aster - which one?  Aromatic Aster maybe?

We took the Big Pines Nature loop since there was access just a few steps down from our campsite, but there are some other trails as well. All the trails are under a mile and are easy strolls for anyone just looking to connect with nature a bit.

Flat Topped White Aster?  Short's Aster?

I felt pretty lucky to spot Dolls Eyes which is a member of the buttercup family.  I didn't see the bloom on my travels this spring, and this plant was the only one I saw sporting the berries in the park.  It was pretty hard to miss those weird berries!  Everywhere I go I always find something new.  Mother Nature is amazing in her variety.

It took some searching to identify the other plant that was the only one of its kind flowering that I came across.

White Rattlesnake Root?

I think the plant is the White Rattlesnake Root - just look at the detail on that bloom!  I got it by searching Flickr for "wfgna" along with keywords such as the color and state.  I got a little help with my asters that way too.  Give it a try!

If you were thinking about coming to stay the campground has 55 sites, 19 with electricity.  Showers and flush toilets are available as well as a dump station.  No awkward twists and turns for larger rigs to worry about here either.


On our way out we had to make a stop at the Post Office so got a quick look at town.  It looks like a nice place to explore, and there was even someone painting a mural.  Since we were towing the camper I couldn't get a picture, but you know that means I have to come back again for sure!

Spotted Joe Pye Weed

I stayed home this weekend and laid around on the couch watching the two seasons of "Orphan Black" on Amazon after weeks of harassment by Katrina.  So good!  The first season is free for Prime users, but we had to pay $22.99 for the second season.  I think ten hours of entertainment is worth that, don't you?  It's been too hot and humid here to go outside and who wants to wash the walls and floors?  Hey, I did laundry, balanced the checkbook and made marshmallow treats.  Don't judge me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Also Found Near Bayfield

There's always that handful of photographs that have no place to call home, isn't there?

The cool canoe we spotted at the Little Sand Bay Marina.  The town of Russell operates a decent first come first served campground there as well.  If you're looking for a spot to camp and have access to a spot to put your kayak in too, we'd recommend it.  It's a four mile crossing to Sand Island, I found a link to a video of some kayakers making the trip here.  Some very cool sea caves!

I photographed these three lichen specimens on our hike to the Falls-That-Were-Never-Found.. The top photo is a strip of Common Button Lichen on the bottom, but the upper half has yellow dots so is probably Common Firedot.

Common Powderhorn above, and Trumpet Lichen below, both seen at Amnicon Falls.  Didn't want to overwhelm that post with too many lichens, right?

The two fungi below were both from the Falls hike also.  This first one is probably Clavicorona pyxidata.  According to Tom Volk from UW LaCrosse it is a very common fungus that's edible! It can often be found in large quantities when no other fungi seem to be fruiting. If you taste a bit of it raw (be careful not to swallow!) it's pretty mild at first, but develops a peppery hot flavor after a minute or so...or so says Tom.  I didn't try it myself.  A couple of sites also mentioned it can have a laxative effect so bear that in mind if you get adventurous.

I did not get so lucky trying to find out what this one was, so let's just call it pretty for now.

This little flower was growing in the middle of a mossy mound at Amnicon Falls State Park.  No luck identifying it either.

The Turtlehead specimen below was spotted near Bayview Park Road which is located between Washburn and Bayfield.  I didn't see the plant anywhere else.

And last, but not least, the only picture I took in Bayfield itself.  A young fisherman framed by boats and a sculpture at the marina taken with my iPhone.  I'd love to take some shots down there at sunrise but I'm not one to get up early unless there's the possibility of a wildlife sighting too!

Kind of a haphazard post, but I'm in a haphazard kind of mood.  I had my second esophageal ablation procedure done yesterday and am definitely fatigued still and not feeling very "sharp" overall.   However, the procedure itself went excellent and I don't even have to go back for a third attempt!  Besides the fatigue which is mostly due to not sleeping very well the last few nights I only have a sore throat this time, no trouble swallowing thanks to them not having to blast the whole esophagus.   I'll be back to eating pizza within a week and running to balance out the calories!  Best of all, I don't have to go back to the G.I. for a year, and got lucky enough to catch that nasty Barrett's Disease before it became cancer.