It’s about 3 AM, I can’t sleep, I’ve been sorting through old photos, so why not post some? I’ve been all over the US on the motorcycle over the last, oh, fifteen years or so, usually with MrsGF but sometimes alone. Here are some of the photos.
MrsGF had last week off so we took some time to go wandering around in between getting caught up with chores and gardening. We headed down to Fond du Lac, a small city on the southern end of Lake Winnebago. I’ve always liked the town. I used to spend a lot of time down there, and so did MrsGF. When I was a technician working for a POS company I had three clients I worked with down there, two grocery stores and a commercial bakery, and MrsGF worked there too for a while when she was with Aramark for a few years.
We rarely get down there now so we just wandered around town for a while looking at how things have changed over the years. It’s still a very pleasant town, but it’s had it’s problems over the years, along with just about every other city in the country. Like most small cities, trying to keep it’s downtown district from falling apart has been a problem. Fondy has been fairly successful. There are very few empty storefronts, and while you won’t see any big name retailers down there, most of the shops seem to be doing fairly well financially.
We’re lucky enough to live near Lake Winnebago. The lake is big. It’s 30 miles long and ten miles wide at it’s widest point. It’s a hotbed of activity all year long. During warmer weather boating (both sail and power boating), water skiing, swimming and fishing keeps, including some big fishing tournaments, keeps the place busy. In winter the lake has ice boating, snowmobiling, skiing and, of course, ice fishing. At the peak of the ice fishing season, there will be thousands of people out on the ice trying to catch perch, bluegills and, of course, 6 or 7 foot long, 200+ pound sturgeon.
We stopped at Pipe, a small town along the eastern shore with a wonderful little park and boat launch area. Alas, you could have gone surfing on Winnebago that day. There were 4 or 5 foot waves crashing into the shore and lots of whitecaps out there, and very few people willing to brave the waves to try fishing.
Back at home things are growing like crazy, but it was a bit iffy there for a while. We went through a very dry period where we had to water everything on a daily basis, to it being way too wet after we got deluged with about 6 inches of rain in two days.
One sign that summer is here is the lilies are coming into full bloom now.
This pink one has over a hundred blossoms on it. MrsGF didn’t believe me when I told her that so I dragged her outside and made her count them herself.
The real show stopper is this one, though:
The color on this one is so intense it almost glows in the dark.
And the pear tree — good grief…
The tree is so heavily laden with fruit that I think we’re going to have to get out there and snip some of them off or the branches are going to break off from the weight as the pears mature.
I just realized this is the first time in something like 10 or 11 years that I didn’t go out west. I’ve been in the habit of going out to western South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming for at least a week every year. Sometimes twice a year.
I thought of that this morning when I woke up sneezing, coughing and wheezing from allergies and, possibly, an early season cold. About the only time I’m not sneezing, coughing and wheezing from allergies has been when I’ve been west of the Mississippi. Apparently the combination of common plants here that trigger all this nonsense don’t live out there.
It was funny, really, the first time I was out in the Black Hills. I’d been out there for a few days and woke up one morning and realized something was wrong. Something was missing — the stuffed up head, watery eyes and other symptoms from the allergies were gone. Amazing. And about the time I rolled into western Minnesota on the way back, the symptoms also returned. Sigh…
Silly, isn’t it? With all of the amazing things to see, all of the fun things to do out there, what I remember most fondly is not sneezing for a week…
The eclipse was a bust for us. We were up on Washington Island on Monday and not only was it very cloudy, it didn’t get all that dark, either. MrsGF caught a glimpse of the very end of it but that was it.
We were on the island to visit a lavender farm up there, Fragrant Isle. If you want to know more about them here’s a link to their website. Interesting place and it is indeed, well fragrant.
My experiences with growing lavender myself have been disappointing. I’ve tried a couple of times with poor results. Wrong type of soil here, I’m told. Of course I didn’t try very hard because I don’t really like it all that much. I don’t think it’s a very good looking plant, and to be perfectly honest, I hate the smell of the stuff. But everyone is like “Ooooo – Lavender!!” so I just stand in the background and try not to inhale and let them enjoy themselves.
Anyway, I like Washington Island. I don’t get up there as often as I’d like because it’s about a two and a half hour drive from here, plus a ferry ride, so about the only time I can get up there is if I have at least an entire day and can get on the road by 6 AM, or can spend the night up there. It’s an interesting place. It has a permanent year around population of about 750 people or so, it’s own K-12 school system, own power plant. Once upon a time there was a lot of farming and commercial fishing going on up there and it was a fairly thriving little community, but commercial fishing has fallen off to almost nothing, and except for a few speciality things, farming has dwindled to nothing up there as well. They mostly survive on tourism now. While it hasn’t turned into the tourism insanity that’s struck (and pretty much ruined) Door County, that kind of thing has been sneaking in over the years.
One of my favorite spots up there is this little lake. It’s well off the beaten track, hard to find, and as a result no one goes there and it’s still unspoiled. And quite! It’s astonishingly quiet. Absolutely no noise at all. No cars, no ATVs, no jet skis, and because it’s well off the flight paths, not even any planes overhead. It’s probably one of the last really quiet spots left in the state, where you can sit for an hour and hear nothing except the frogs, crickets and birds.
Been playing around with taking panoramic photos once in a while. This is an over view of a marina north of Sturgeon Bay taken from the top of an abandoned quarry across the road.
Anyway, that’s how I spent “Eclipse Day”. No eclipse sighted, but we did have a very pleasant mini vacation.
I end up in some interesting places –>
I think Mr. Spiny the cactus is about to bloom! The cactus has been doing really well out there tucked up against the side of the house but it hasn’t blossomed in two years. It is currently loaded with new pads, but I noticed some of the new buds looked different, and may be flowers, not pads. I really hope so. The flowers on this plant are absolutely spectacular.
Whitefish Dunes State Park has become one of my favorite places. It has about 880 acres of shoreline along Lake Michigan up in Door County, and it’s well worth the price of admission. I’m not sure what the cost is because I get a yearly pass as part of my conservation patron license, but I think it’s about $8 for a day pass.
It’s hard to pick out a single photo from the park that is representative of how beautiful it is, but perhaps this one will do:
People seem to think Wisconsin is a rather dull place, with flat land, corn, cows and football. But we have more than 14,000 lakes, plus Lake Michigan. We have cliffs, rivers, forests, water falls… Well, you get the idea.
Alas, I’m not sure how long the state park system is going to continue to exist, though. The current administration down in Madison has cut off all state funding for the park system. It’s only funding now is what it can generate from entrance and camping fees.
I continue to be fascinated with lichen for some reason. If I’d ever actually gone to the botany class I signed up for in college I might actually know something about it. But I find the colors, the forms, and everything about it fascinating, and if you’d look through my photo library you’d find a lot of images of lichen and mosses. Most people find the photos rather dull, without the splashy colors of my flower photos, but I think lichen has it’s own unique beauty. Like this, for example
The subtle shadings of greens and yellows and browns, the amazing shapes. Like I said, I’m fascinated with it.
We’ve been getting a lot of them of late. We’ve had severe thunderstorms roll through here two or three days in a row now, and we’re getting a bit tired of it. Here at the house we’ve avoided the worst of it, but there have been trees taken down, power outages, minor flooding and building damage all over the area with every one of these. It’s kept the SkyWarn people busy, as well as the utility crews trying to keep up with the damage.
I was really glad we had the backup generator yesterday. Power was out for about 45 minutes and if I hadn’t been able to use the generator we’d have ended up with about a foot of water in the basement because of the heavy rains. We got over an inch and a half of rain in about half an hour here. The sump pump was kicking in every 2-3 minutes all the while.
We actually have 2 generators. One is a little 2KW Yamaha inverter that was originally intended just to run the radio equipment for field day or in emergencies for ARES operations. The other is a big Generac 9KW that was intended to power most of the house. The intention originally was to put a big connector on the outside of the house going to the Generac and using it to run the whole house. As long as we don’t use the ovens, turn on every light in the house, etc., it would have enough capacity to keep everything going. But we never got around to installing the bypass switches and connectors necessary. And when we do have a power failure, the little Yamaha can keep the sump pumps going as well as the radios and a few lights. It’s also much, much easier to move around and get started. It also uses a hell of a lot less gas and is much, much quieter.
Roses! The first roses of the season have popped open at last. I’m not a huge rose fan. I like them, but generally I find them a bit fussy and fiddly to deal with. The one we have in the front of the house takes care of itself pretty much. It just keeps coming back year after year, surviving drought, wet, cold, heat…
That’s my kind of plant – just stick it in the ground and ignore it and it takes care of itself.
Oh, and while I’m on the subject of plants, we found this incredible tree up in Door County as well when we were up there on Monday. Neither of us had ever seen anything quite like it before. Covered with these beautiful red, white and yellow flowers.. Absolutely breathtaking. I don’t know what it is. Have been too busy (i.e. lazy) to actually do research to look it up.
I turned in my resignation at work last week and I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I am unemployed. Willingly unemployed. It doesn’t seem right somehow.
Well, it isn’t like I was putting in a lot of hours at the job anyway, to be honest. The position I’ve been in for the last two years or so was part time, and more or less on an “as needed” basis. I worked for events at the theater, filled in when one of the day guys was out sick, or there was a situation that required extra help, that kind of thing. A lot of weeks I didn’t work at all and it was rare for me to put in more than 20 – 30 hours a month.
Still, not having a job? It feels — strange. Feels, oh, not right somehow.
It’s early spring, and that means the urge is starting to kick in again.
I never used to be much of a traveler. I was always a homebody. I hated traveling, hated the discomfort associated with it, hated staying in motels, hated having to try to find someplace to eat. I hated everything associated with traveling.
The result was that for the first 50 years of my state I’d hardly been more than a hundred miles from the place I’d been born, and I was quite content with that.
Then something, I’m not sure what, happened. That’s when the — the urges started to kick in. And suddenly the guy who hated traveling, hated being away from home, was finding himself in places like, well, like this:
Or like this…
So what happened? How did someone who hates traveling so much end up doing exactly that? I have no idea. It’s weird, really, this urge to go wandering, traveling.
I was starting to think that I’d got it out of my system. I wasn’t going to go wandering very far from home this year. If I went anywhere at all it was going to be less than a day’s travel from the house.
But now that the weather is getting warmer, things are starting to grow again, that damned urge is coming back… Same thing happened last year. Wasn’t going to go anywhere, I told myself. Nope. At least not very far, not more than a couple of hundred miles. If that. And ended up spending over a week out in the Black Hills…
This year I’m not going anywhere though. I am going to stick close to home. It’s too expensive, too time consuming. No sir. Not going anywhere.
But then there are those damned urges. Don’t know where they come from.
Personally I blame allergies.