Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blog Draft 5/30/09
Have been having so many good times with family and friends that I have neglected to update you, loyal blog readers! So sorry. Today we are camped at an Indian casino near Ashland, WI not far from the shores of Lake Superior. It is sunny, but windy and we will be devoting the day to catching up with things, such as this blog. For you RV travelers who might appreciate a camping tip, this is the Bad River casino and they have 20 RV parking sites along the back side of the parking lot with free electric and water. The only drawback of being here is that we have no cell phone or air card signals, so I guess this is good practice for the deprivation we will have in Canada. Additionally, along the shores of Lake Superior in Maslowski Beach Park in Ashland, there is a spigot pouring out water from an artesian well which the locals say is great water. If we hadn’t already passed it by 12 miles, we would go there to fill our tank.
The last post was when we were with Elaine's nephew, Jerry Traughber and his family in Delafield, WI. After a great visit with them, we drove to Mayville, WI to spend some time with his mother, Elaine's oldest sister, Barbara, and her daughter, Lisa. They went out of their way to have delicious meals planned and provide fun experiences in their area. Because they live near the Horicon Marsh, we went there 2 days for hiking and explorations. We were there too late for the busiest time of bird migratory visits, and lots of the birds were now nesting, so they were hunkered down in the marsh grass, but we still saw a few.

They also arranged for us to have a boat tour out on the main waterways of the marsh. The marsh is an area of 32000 acres of wetland that was created mostly as a place for migratory birds to rest and recover. Ducks Unlimited puts quite a bit of money into this place because it is important for increasing duck populations and that helps hunters. There was some excitement when we were there because 5 whooping cranes had visited, and we also saw some sandhill cranes. Turtles were quite abundant as well.
Here is a picture of Elaine and me with Barbara in front of the boat place in Horicon:

And here is a picture of Lisa, Barbara, Elaine & me on the boat:

Lisa is a physical therapist and we were glad that she only works 3 days a week (LONG days) because then she was available to do things with us and she also showed us some new ways to do our daily exercises, and provided us with some exercise bands. Now we just have to practice using them!
Some friends from the Jan/Feb cruise we took around South America, David & Diane Wilson, have a summer home in northern Wisconsin, and we headed there next. It was so good to see them again and their hospitality was incredible. Additionally, their home is located on a small lake, with lots of trees around, and being there was like “On Golden Pond”. Here are David & Diane and their “greeter” bear:

This is their view looking at the lake:

They had lots of bird feeders so every time we looked out, we saw lots of colorful birds such as yellow finches, rose breasted grosbeaks, orioles, 3 kinds of woodpeckers and hummingbirds.

Luckily for us, we arrived in time to accompany them to Minneapolis where their daughter Joni, and her husband Barry, have a gorgeous house on a golf course. They own 20 race horses and 2 of them were running at Canterbury Park on Saturday. It was special being there with horse owners, because first we got to go to the stables and see lots of the horses, as well as meeting the trainer. Then we went to the inside restaurant part of the track where Barry had reserved a table right on the finish line.

Of course we wanted to make some money, so we all threw in a dollar for a joint bet and the plan was that we would each pick the horse in a race and bet it to show and then put the winnings on the next race, and the next person would pick that winner, etc. A few personal side bets were placed as well. There was usually at least 20 minutes between races, so we sat around and talked, drank beer and had a delicious lunch. Just before the race where their horses were running, we got to go down to the owner’s circle as they paraded the horses around.

Then we sat in a special section when the race was in progress. Unfortunately, their horses took 3rd and 4th. But we still won the bet because we had bet their horse to “show”. At the end of the day, it was Barry’s turn to pick the last race. We had won every race, so our $6 was now up to $47. The pressure was on. It was a very short race and the horses were bunched at the photo finish. Hooray, our horse took 3rd and we won about $60. Barry and Joni then proved what generous hosts they were by not only picking up the check at the race track, but providing a sumptuous Happy Hour and delicious dinner in their newly redecorated home. Their friends Marie and Kim were there also, and added much merriment to the gathering. When they gave us a tour of their home, there were so many impressive things, such as this room sized wine cellar in the basement. This is Diane and her daughter Joni in the wine cellar:

There is also an impressive array of koi in their backyard pond, although recently 9 had been picked off by a visiting great blue heron.

They have a small parrot, named Popeye, which I decided to hold for a picture because I was wearing the shirt I got in Panama with some parrots in the molas on my shoulders:

Diane and David have 3 dogs, border collies, and Joni has a schnauzer. Here is a picture of Joni providing them with a treat after dinner:

It was a very entertaining and enjoyable visit with them and we so appreciated their impeccable hospitality. But all good things must come to an end, so we departed on Sunday with a very important stop, since we were in the Twin Cities: Trader Joe’s!! Too bad we couldn’t load up on wine but with an imminent crossing of the Canadian border, we had to limit ourselves to foodstuffs, darn it. Another stop was at a roadside sculpture park, which was free, and also had HUGE sculptures scattered all over a field.

David has purchased 20 acres of land about 5 miles from their cabin where he is converting it from pasture land to a tree farm. He calls it the Plantation and he plants thousands of tiny trees every year. It is an investment of time and money in restoring the land to what it used to be and he will never make any money on it but is doing it for posterity. Here is a picture of Farmer David on his land:

On Wednesday, construction started on an addition that Diane and David are making on their “cabin”. So the whole area around the house was torn up by a bulldozer, in order to find all the wires and pipes, and also to lay the footings and foundation for the new area.
Here is a picture of their cabin from the side that isn’t torn up:

David was very busy helping the construction crew but he took time to take us out on the lake in their very purple pontoon boat just before we left.

Diane has a funny thing up in their cabin, that I’ll bet will apply even more during this construction project:

On the way to our last walk with Diane, a big black bear ran right across the road in front of us, and we saw some deer in the woods too. We quite enjoyed this rural place!
Now that we are near Lake Superior, we plan to do some sightseeing in the next few days, especially since we are fairly close to the Apostle Islands. We will be heading for Michigamee, MI by June 4 in order to spend a few days with George Backes, another cruise friend, at his cabin and hopefully, doing a bit of fishing.


CaliforniaGrammy said...

You guys amaze me with all the fun you have and all the amazing family and friends you have. I am in awe of Diane and David's idea of a cabin ... and the pontoon boat and the lake ... oh my! That's all I can say..."Oh my!"

I love the parrot, it reminds me of our Amazon parrot named Murphy. They are so cute and have such fun personalities.

TravelingGrammy said...

I swear all you guys do is party! Good show!

gracemrankinartist said...

Need a trip to read all your stuff. Have you seen my new blog yet?