Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spring Lake pontoon float

We rented a pontoon boat for the afternoon from Wilderness Haven Resort on Spring Lake. You see pontoon boats everywhere on the lakes in this area. The weather was delightful, the water was glassy smooth, and the fall colors were a feast for the eyes.

 Mike drove the boat most of the time but my mom also took her turn as "captain."

We brought a picnic dinner to enjoy on our cruise around the lake. We spotted a pair of bald eagles, a flock of Canadian geese and a Great Blue Heron and came ashore at dusk.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Green beans, Spring Lake paddle, and Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival

On our morning rides we often pass a house that has a "Free" sign propped up against the mailbox by the driveway. The first time I noticed it, I wondered just what was "free" as there was nothing to be seen by the sign. The next few times we rode by, same story. Then, one morning, I noticed a large brown paper bag at the base of the sign. I stopped to check it out. Handwritten on the bag were the words "green beans." Free fresh green beans from their garden for the taking! How nice! I brought the bag home and we had green beans with our dinner that night. The best we had ever tasted! I wrote a thank-you note and stuck it in their mailbox a few days later. The next time we rode by, the "free" sign had a few plastic bags at its base with a handwritten note attached that said "Feel free to go in our garden and pick as many green beans as you want. We're done with them." Signed "Mary & Larry." I did just that and we had green beans to go with several more dinners. Eventually, we met Mary and had a nice chat with her and got to thank her in person for her generosity. The other day we rode by and she had put a box of "windfall" apples, a zucchini and some hanging flower planters by the free sign. I took the planters and some apples. Maybe I'll make an apple pie...

Earlier this month we took our inflatable kayaks for a paddle on Spring Lake, a lake we often pass by on our morning rides. It was a beautiful warm day with puffy white clouds and calm waters. We saw one female loon, two blue herons and 10 Painted turtles during our afternoon paddle.
Mike painted his kayak to look like a loon.

The 29th Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival was held September 16-18, with the start of the 40-mile mountain bike race from Hayward to Telemark Resort in Cable on September 17. The 40-mile race has a mass start of 1,850 riders on Main Street in downtown Hayward. They wheeled by for over five minutes as they left town and headed for the Birkie ski trails. Two hours later, the first riders crossed the finish line at Telemark at an amazing pace of about 20 mph. Here's a link to a video of the 40-mile start.

We volunteered to help with the Fat Tire festivities and were part of the concessions crew at the Big Top tent at Telemark on both Friday and Saturday. Our job was to keep the various t-shirts folded and in good order and to answer any questions about the clothing.
On Sunday, we helped with the "Fun" Day events. We were put in charge of the Klunker Toss. About 40 people took a turn at throwing a klunker bike as far as they could down a hill. Our job was to measure and record the distance for each participant and retrieve the bike each time it was thrown. This took place in steady rain for over two hours, negating the "Fun" factor.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lake Superior Big Top, Amnicon Falls, Hawk Ridge Observatory, and a Monarch butterfly

We drove to Bayfield on Saturday, Sept. 10 to meet my parents, who departed New Jersey on Sept. 6 to drive to Wisconsin for a visit. We went to the Lake Superior Big Top season finale Saturday evening. Wisconsin author Michael Perry was the host for the evening. What a great story teller and sense of humor! He had the entire audience in stitches at times throughout the night. (See the "Michael Perry on Wisconsin 101" video that we posted on YouTube.) The Blue Canvas Orchestra, a very talented group of musicians, also performed as well as an an actor who specializes in pantomine, Gayle Lajoye.

We headed to Amnicon Falls State Park on Sunday, where we camped for the night. Went on a short hike with my parents and their dog, Willow, early in the day and then Mike and I went on a longer hike at dusk.

Just before our evening hike, Mike had an amazing encounter with a Monarch butterfly who chose to alight on his hand three separate times and then stayed there for at least 15 minutes, long enough for me to capture a number of images.

On Monday, we visited the Hawk Ridge Observatory in Duluth to see what raptors might be flying through on their migration south. Saw a bunch of sharp-shinned hawks and a couple of bald eagles.
Some banded birds were released while we were there, including this Northern Harrier.

Friday, September 9, 2011

In the following post, I'm going back in time to relate some things about life in Hayward since our arrival on July 8.

We decided our first house project would be remodelling the kitchen to our liking, a project that has come along, slowly, but is almost finished. We removed all the cabinets and counter top and hired a local craftsman to texture the walls before painting them. We picked a color to match the existing counter top, a shade of green called "Spring Break." After painting, we reinstalled the cabinets containing the kitchen sinks. Then we began laying down and nailing the hickory hardwood floor. Arranging the wood pieces in a pleasing random pattern is kind of like working on a puzzle. I laid out the pieces, five rows at a time. Then I mulled it over for a bit, to make sure we were both happy with the look, before Mike nailed them down using a pneumatic nailer. We just finished nailing the last floor pieces on Wednesday. I can't wait until everything is back in place and the kitchen is complete!
Kitchen before.
Mike starts to lay out the wood floor pieces.
He soon handed that job over to me.
The walls are painted, some of the cabinets are back in place,
and the first rows of wood floor are nailed.

Shortly after we arrived at our new home we discovered a pair of robins raising a family in a nest right outside our front door. We did our best not to disturb them for the next two weeks, and went in and out the back door. We watched as the the three baby robins matured and then fledged on July 21, the day after these photos were made. In researching the life cycle of the American Robin I discovered it is the Wisconsin state bird.

Hayward has single-sort curb-side recycling service. I sorted glass, plastic and paper, each in separate containers, for recycling in Juneau and I can't get used to the idea that everything here goes in the same tub, all mixed together. Someone actually sorts this stuff at the delivery end?! Also different from Juneau--only plastic bottles (#s 1-7) are recycled here. Plastic containers, like those used for strawberries, are not recycled, even if they are #1. Don't know why. Seems a waste. The recycling container is picked up once every four weeks.
We've made two trips to Bayfield, a small community on Lake Superior, about a 1.5 hour drive from Hayward. Our first trip was at the end of July to see Ricki Lee Jones at the Lake Superior Big Top and then a week later we went up again to see Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Two terrific concerts in a big top tent!

Bayfield, along with nearby cities, Washburn and Ashland, have declared themselves "ecomunicipalities," each doing what it can to promote the health of Lake Superior and the Lake Superior basin for the benefit of residents and visitors. In 2006, residents of Bayfield participated in Study Circles to read and discuss the concepts put forth in the book the Natural Step for Communities, a framework developed in Sweden to help communities live in a way that is more sustainable for the earth:

The Bayfield area is home to a number of fruit orchards. On our second trip, we visited Blue Vista Farm, one of the few farms in the area that is certified organic. You can pick your own berries here if you wish.
Our morning rides have become a delightful ritual. A favorite goes past one large lake and four smaller ones along small, winding roads with lots of trees/shade and very little traffic. It's about a 20-mile ride. We see blue herons and wild turtles (painted turtles) almost every time we do this ride
Spring Lake is one of the larger lakes.

It has a sign telling people this is a "quiet" lake and to keep a certain distance from any Loons observed and their nesting areas.
Cattails grow along the shores of many of the lakes.
Four Painted turtles sunning themselves on a log.
On one of our rides we went past a display of custom birdhouses (at least 40) along the edge of the road, with a "Wrent Cheep" sign hanging in a nearby tree.
Bird house row.
We've been buying fresh organic produce from a 4th generation family farm, Wheatfield Hill, in Durand, Wisconsin. Chris sold her produce out of her truck several times a week in Hayward through Labor Day. We bought sweet corn, tomatoes, cantalope, watermelon, zucchini, cucumbers, and peppers from her. The most delicious produce we've ever tasted! Hayward has a Fall Festival later in September and Chris will be there. Can't wait...

We went to the Heartland Velo Show in Madison the last weekend of August. There were various builders showing their bikes, some other bike-related vendors, and some interesting seminars. On Sunday, there was a vintage bike expo. This was the primary reason Mike wanted to go--to share some of the vintage bikes he's collected with other vintage bike enthusiasts. Mike put pics from the show on this blog page:  

We were happy to find that Madison is a very bike friendly city, with some great bike trails. We spent some time downtown and walked along a pedestrian-only street, State Street, that goes from the Capitol to the university campus.

The Hayward/Cable area has a vibrant arts community. Over Labor Day weekend we had our first opportunity to meet some local artists at the 5th annual "Blue Moon Art Tour." There is a mini artist colony just north of Cable on Blue Moon Road. The four artists who live there had their studios open for the tour and gave demonstrations of their work.