Happy Manatee Faces

One of my all time favorite things to do when I am in Crystal River is swim with the manatees.

These adorable creatures flock to warmer waters when the temperature in the Gulf of Mexico gets below 68°F. Despite the fact they can weigh in at over 1200 pounds, their stomach and intestines make up most of their mass. They actually have very little body fat for their size. Most of the time, they can be observed eating (10% of the body weight a day) or resting on the bottom. While resting, they only surface to breathe once every 15 minutes or so.

The first time I swam with the manatees was on a charter in King’s Bay. Setting out in the early morning hours, we were treated to a lovely sunrise…

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Before dipping into the waters, we were given reminders of manatee etiquette. No chasing, no feeding, you may only touch a manatee if it comes close to you and then, only with one hand. As we floated, it didn’t take long for a juvenile manatee to come investigate…

 

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I was amazed at it’s curiosity. It circled us and nudged in closer…

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I happily watched as it fed on the grasses…

Before swimming off into the darkness. Back on the boat, we were treated to a glimpse of the mother and calf…

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The next time I swam with them was in Three Sisters Springs. They didn’t seem quite as curious here and spent nearly all the time resting on the bottom…

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Manatees have no natural enemies, except man. Every year, hundreds of manatees are injured or killed when their slow moving paths cross boats. You can see the propeller scars on this manatee…

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While the manatees here weren’t as curious, some of the fish were…

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Now, I’ve swam with them, kayaked with them and watched them from above. I never get tired of happy manatee faces!

HMMH!

Have you every swam with the manatees? What is the most unique creature you have encountered while swimming?

Waldo Gets Some New Threads

Waldo is over 20 years old and although he is in pretty good condition, but his interior age was really starting to show. One of our goals last year was to make enough money between trees and fireworks to do some remodeling. So it was time to update things a bit.

Out with the old…

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Out thread bare sleeper sofa
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Old blue carpet, more stained than blue!

While I’ve done lots of construction projects, laying carpet is something I’ve always avoided. Removing the old carpet was pretty straight forward. I just sliced an area big enough to get my hand into and started ripping it out. It was actually quite satisfying. First the slide…

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Then, the main living space…

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The biggest challenge was getting the carpet out from under the slide. There is a 4″ x 13′ steel plate on the leading edge of the slide plywood, once Steve removed it, we could get to the steel plates the slide rollers roll on. By loosening the screws, we were able to remove the rest of the carpet…

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I had read lots of articles on replacing flooring in an RV and nearly all of them had one thing in common, be prepared to remove 1000’s of staples. I’m pretty sure the installers get paid by the staple. In a sticks and brick, carpet is held down by tack strips. Not so in an RV, it is stapled along every edge.

In almost every remodel, there is an “Oh crap” moment. Before we removed the old carpet, we had no idea of the water damage on the drivers side…

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Ugh!! I was worried we were getting in over our heads. Once OSB gets wet (and stays wet) it begins to deteriorate…

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We cut out all of the waterlogged OSB …

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We replaced it with marine grade plywood. While we were down to bare plywood, it seemed like a good time to do a thorough cleaning of the walls, woodwork and ceiling. That was when I decided our old, non-working kitchen fan should be taken out. We found a replacement on Amazon…

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Then it was time to lay the carpet padding…

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So far so good. Now to the part I knew nothing about! Carpet stretching. I’ve seen lots of carpet installed by worker crawling around on their knees, using a knee kick stretcher and while that works great when you are using a tack strip, not so much when you are stapling. The local Taylor Rental had a power stretcher (which I completely forgot to take pictures of) and it was just the tool for the job. I was shocked how much “stretch” there is in carpet! And the word “power” in the name power stretcher is a bit misleading, it doesn’t plug in or use any kind of electricity. Power comes from the mechanical advantage it uses. Once we started actually laying the carpet, it went fairly quick. Luckily, my dad’s neighbor had a crown stapler we could borrow. Stretch, staple, repeat. The biggest challenges were where the carpet meets the kitchen tile…

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Where the carpet goes around the pedals and steering column…

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And where is meets the stairs…

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With the main carpet done, we started on the slide. My biggest concern was what to do with the raw edge. The place we bought the carpet did not offer binding, then I read about Instabind…

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Nearly every review I read, suggested running an iron over the adhesive to improve the hold…

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Once the binding is in place, you use a hot glue gun to prevent any fraying…

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The finished job looks like this…

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Then it was time to go shopping!! We wanted a loveseat recliner. I had a very strict set of criteria. It had to be cloth, wall hugging, non-electric, have a center console, be less than 80″ long and the back had to be removable. After visiting every furniture store in the area, we ended up traveling to Ocala, where we went to another dozen stores before finding one we liked. What sucked was, it had to be ordered. Fortunately, we had some finishing touched to do while we waited for it. Like find a desk for Steve…

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This area has dozens of thrift stores and we found this desk at one of them. For only $45!!!! What a deal!!! It’s a little darker than I would have liked, but hey, the price was right! Our loveseat ended up coming in a week early and we drove to Lakeland to pick it up (because I refused to pay a $70 delivery fee). We manhandled it through the drivers door and got it set up…

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Wow, what a difference.

Originally,  our plan was just the carpet in the main part of Waldo, but, on a whim, I went back to the carpet store to see how much it would be for a piece to do the bedroom. We had enough padding left over, so it would only be the price of the carpet. They had just enough left on the roll to do the bedroom and sold it to us as a remnant. $100 cash and carry – done deal!

There are corner tables next to the bed and I decided to modify them. They were total wastes of space because the inside was hollow, but closed off by paneling. I cut the front paneling and added a shelf…

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Voila – more storage!

So, now Waldo is completely done and we love it.

Have you ever remodeled your house? What was your biggest challenge?

 

Something Old – Something New

For the first time since we started workamping, we returned to a job/location we had been at previously. We love selling Christmas trees and to be frank, the money can’t be beat. That was the something old. The something new was we would be heading almost directly to a new job of selling new years fireworks for TNT. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

We left Crystal River and headed to Parkland for Christmas tree sales on the 13th of Nov. Our first load of trees arrived on Nov. 18th…

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Once unloaded, we trim them and stand them up inside our tent. Trimming the trees does two things, it makes them look nicer and provides us with trimmings to make wreaths.  I continued being “crafty“, I made a south Florida flamingo wreath and I flocked several wreaths…

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I called our selection of snowmen and reindeer our “adoption center.” I mean, who doesn’t want to adopt one of these cuties?

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I made a walk through our tent video to share with you. It gives you an idea of how we spent our 37 days…

Thanksgiving was a blur. Our boss’ family makes an incredible dinner and they share huge plates with us. The selling season begins in earnest the day after Thanksgiving. It is a non-stop customer barrage which leaves us tired, but excited. This year, I had the pleasure of helping a new tent manager learn the ropes. You don’t always realize how much you’ve learned about something until you start sharing that knowledge with someone new. The bonus of helping was making new friends! Like us, they are already marking the calendar for next season.

Unlike last year, we didn’t take a week to unwind when the season finished on Dec. 23rd. We made a quick trip back to Crystal River, had a lovely, quiet Christmas day with Daddy, then set off on our next job. It was literally 2 towns over, in Inverness. Why the rush you ask? Well, our new gig started Dec. 26th.

Once our delivery was received, Steve and I muddled our way through setting up the tent. TNT gives you lots of information, diagrams and pictures, but in the end, you pretty much do it your way…

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Our tree boss calls it FITFO – Figure It The F*@# Out. A motto we have adopted as our own! And we FITFO’d fireworks!!!

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Waldo tolerated it’s stay in the Walmart parking lot quite well. It was nice to always be able to see it…

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I wasn’t too sure how it was going to work out for us financially. Sales were pretty sporadic Sat-Mon. Since we work on commission, I was concerned.

I donned my party hat and hoped for the best…

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But, let me tell you, starting new years eve morning, it was chaos. There were times I had customers 10 deep waiting to check out! By mid-afternoon, tables were getting bare and by dark, we were almost completely sold out…

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Exhausted, we closed and tallied up. Despite a few wrinkles, it was a success. All that was left on New Years day was repacking the small amount of inventory we had and returning it to the warehouse…

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Gee – that’s exactly how it looked when we arrived on the 26th.

After talking it over, we have decided to give up working in RV parks. The major drawback for me is the length of commitment. I don’t want to be somewhere for 4-5 months. I want to travel. We HAVE to work. We will sell trees at Christmas and fireworks for New Years and July 4th. We have already committed to an RV park for this summer, but it will be the last one. We are pretty excited about the impending changes. While we will always go back to Parkland for trees, TNT sells fireworks all over the US. I’m hoping to be able to spend copious amounts of time getting reacquainted with my camera and kayak! We will finally be able to “Sleep Around” more!

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Wishing you all the very best in 2020.

Up Next – Waldo gets a renovation!

Getting Crafty

I’ve always enjoyed making things. Sometimes it’s functional …

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A cover for the cockpit of my kayak to keep it dry and clean
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A built in liquor cabinet in Waldo (I added straps to keep everything on the shelf)

Sometimes it’s because someone gave me a creative idea to run with. I have spent a good part of this year with Christmas on my mind. The owner of the tree lot we manage suggested we should make/sell “South Florida-esque” Christmas cards. We did some brainstorming and came up with a few ideas. I took it upon myself to design and paint them. Jeremy wanted to get a feel for public reaction so he did a Facebook poll with pictures of my paintings. The response was just what he hoped for – people loved them! These are the pictures he posted…

Once we figured out which ones were the most popular, he gave me the go ahead to order the cards and packaging. I’m pretty excited to see how sales go! BTW, the most popular were: Waiting For Christmas, Jingle Bell Croc, Santa Claws, Flocking Around the Tree and Christmas, Florida Style.

But most of the time I just make things for fun. Recently, I made myself a t-shirt. My “Sleep Around” t-shirt. Lots of people have asked me where I got it and I began to think maybe this would be a good small business. When I made my shirt, I printed the iron-on and handcut it with an X-Acto knife – very tedious! I knew there was a much better way and I finally decided (with a lot of coaxing from Steve) to buy a Cricut. Now instead of an hour or more, I can print/cut the iron-on in less than 15 minutes! I can take a picture someone sends me…

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And turn it into a one of a kind shirt (or in this case 2 of a kind)…

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Here’s more happy customers…

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I decided t-shirts weren’t all I should try, so I made my first koozie…

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Then, I thought what else can I make? Hmmm? How about lettering for Waldo?

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But wait~There’s more! As I was looking through the pre-made projects, I came across a cute pop-up card…

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I thought, “Gee that’s cute”, but, what if? And I designed these…

My thoughts are to try and sell them to RV dealers as Thank You cards (and in my online store).

As all of my RVing/crafting friends know, the biggest challenge of having a craft addiction is where to store all the supplies. Luckily, right now we are at my dad’s house in Florida waiting to head to Parkland to sell Christmas trees so I have a bit of time to figure out where to store everything.

I’d love to know what you think!

 

Lake Superior’s North Shore

For our anniversary in August, Steve and I took a couple days off work and headed to Minnesota. Our plan was to use Duluth as a “home base” to explore the north shore of Lake Superior. We wanted to make the most of the time we had and it was difficult to decide what was a “must see” or “must do”. Knowing my love of waterfalls and lighthouses, Steve came up with a plan. We would drive up highway 61 and see as much as we possibly could.

Pallisades Head

Our first stop was Pallisades Head. With little more than a small highway marker to signal our arrival, we drove up the narrow road to the parking area. My jaw dropped as I stared out at the scenery…

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Several people have died falling from these cliffs. With no safety rails, Steve wasn’t taking any chances as he photographed the landscape…

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Walking back to the Jeep, I stopped to examine the sap covered pine cones…

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We could have spent much more time there, but then we would have had to miss out on something else.

Tettegouche State Park

The furthest north we drove was Tettegouch State Park. After paying for our day pass (which turned out to be valid at all the state parks we visited that day), we got directions for the trailhead to High Falls. It would be a 3+ mile round trip hike, but the ranger assured us it would be worth it. The trail started out rather steep and I was thinking how sore I would be the next day. Eventually the gravel trail turned into boardwalk and the hiking became a bit easier…

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We debated whether or not to climb down the 135 stairs to get the best view of the waterfall because, after all, you have to climb back up! In the end, I’m SO glad we did…

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With a little patience and wading into the river, you can get a picture of the falls without crowds of people. But then, we had to climb those 135 stairs…ugh…

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Again, we could have spent days exploring the trails and waterfalls!

Split Rock Lighthouse

Next we stopped at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. There is an extra fee to visit the lighthouse, but we were determined to see it all. Luckily, it sits on a high cliff so there were only a few stair to climb to get to the top…

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But the best view of the lighthouse is further down the road at a scenic overlook…

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Moving on, we stopped at one of the places everyone said was a “must”

Gooseberry Falls State Park

After finally finding a parking space we headed down the trail to see Gooseberry Falls. It is actually a series of falls. Again, with patience, we were able to come away with uncrowded pictures…

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The afternoon was quickly slipping away from us as we headed to our next stop.

Two Harbors Lighthouse

We barely made it to Two Harbors Lighthouse before they closed for the day. It is the oldest, continuously operating lighthouse on the north shore. It has been converted into the Lighthouse B&B, but you can still tour the grounds and climb the tower…

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We walked down by the jetty to get a view of the lake…

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The waters were calm and the setting was so incredibly peaceful. I didn’t want to leave, but we still had an anniversary dinner ahead of us!

We were exhausted by the time we got back to our hotel room! We managed to stay awake long enough to drink a bottle of champagne we had brought with us before drifting off to sleep. The next morning, we checked out and tried to decide how much we could see of Duluth before starting the 5 hour drive back to the campground. One thing Steve really wanted to see was the Peterbuilt Boat…

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Yes, you are seeing that right. It’s a pontoon boat, how cool is that!?!?! What I wanted a better look at was the Duluth Ariel Bridge. The bridge spans the Duluth ship canal and is flanked by three lighthouses…

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We were lucky enough to have time to visit the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center. Here we checked out the shipping schedule and were delighted to learn we’d get to watch the Duluth Ariel Bridge in action…

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At nearly 740′ long and 78′ wide, the cargo ship Whitefish Bay sailed under the bridge, through the canal and out into Lake Superior with its load of iron ore in under 15 minutes. In less than 3 minutes, the bridge was back in the down position and cars were driving over it!

After a quick bite to eat, it was time to head back to Waldo 😦 We absolutely loved the north shore!!! While we managed to cram a lot into our 3 days, we barely scratched the surface of what the area has to offer. That just means we’ll have to plan to find work up there one of these summers so we can see it all!!!

Have you ever visited the north shore of Lake Superior? What was your favorite thing to do there?

The Story of 126 Nights

I know I sort of interrupted the continuing story of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun when I posted Art Meets Humor. 

So, to continue …Mike and Dawn were only going to stay for a week, but while the girls were out having fun, Mike was making a deal with Lost Falls Campground. They needed a video showcasing the park and, as luck would have it, Mike makes videos. In exchange for an additional two weeks of camping, Mike made this awesome video!

While Mike slaved away at the computer, Dawn and I continued having fun. One of our day trips took us to Praire Moon Sculpture Garden. As we walked among  the sculptures we couldn’t help but notice some of them seemed out of place. What do bears and dinosaurs have to do with the other beautiful sculptures?

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Ya, we didn’t get it either, but it was still a great day out.

Dawn and I took several more kayak trips…

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And the time for them to leave came far too soon. With hugs and maybe a tear or two, we bid them “Safe travels until we meet again.”

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Actually, we took this picture when they arrived. But our smiles tell the whole story!

That was in early July. So what does any of this have to do with 126 nights you ask? Well that is how long we were at Lost Falls.

When Steve and I weren’t working…

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We took day trips to some really neat places. We visited one of the 4 corners of the world, the spot where the 45°N Latitude intersects with -90°W Longitude…

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We spent time fishing (I caught my first small mouth bass!)

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We worked some more…

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I had just picked up every one of those sticks and removed them from the beach!
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We cleaned up after family reunions
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We dealt with flooded campsites
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And flooded roads.

We had lots of rain this summer. The lower part of the campground (next to the river) flooded 7 times. Perhaps that’s why I drank several of these…

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Have you ever had a Bloody Mary with a cheese wedge in it? It was TASTY!

When the rain gave us a break, guests had fun on the river…

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Yes, that is a floating picnic table!

Steve and I finally managed to get out on the river together. He isn’t into kayaking as much as I am, but we had a great time…

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Since we had been in Black River Falls since May, we were having to go farther and farther to find new adventures. One day, we drove 3 hours to get to Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. I was worth the drive! We got to see a bear…

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And something worthy of inclusion at Atlas Obscura…

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It was getting close to the end of our summer contract, but I had promised Barbara I would do some portraits of their Australian Shepherd, Reba…

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And Emily’s pup Rosie…

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Unfortunately, not every dog I had contact with this summer wanted to be my friend.  And not every guest follows the rules about leashes. Resulting in this…

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Yep, I got bit by a red healer

Labor Day came and went. With it our time at Lost Falls came to an end. The night before we left, Aaron and Shannon hosted a BBQ for this year’s workampers. Before we gorged ourselves on amazing smoked ribs, cheesy potato casserole and homemade ice cream, we posed for a picture…

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It was a wonderful way to end our summer. I loved Wisconsin and Lost Falls Campground. With plenty of adventures and stories to share we said of goodbyes. After 126 nights, I decided…

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Up next, the North Shore of Lake Superior!

Art Meets Humor

Jurustic Park is one of those places that probably never appeared on your radar, but if you are near Marshfield, WI, all I can say is MAKE IT A POINT TO GO!!!

Clyde and Nancy Wynia live on Sugarbush Lane, not far from McMillan Marsh. The very marsh where Clyde found the remains of “Iron Age” critters of all sizes. According to the brochure:

“Jursutic Park is a display of many of the extinct creatures the inhabited the large McMillan Marsh near Marshfield during the Iron Age.

After amateur paleontologist Clyde Wynia discovered corroded remains of these creatures, he began excavating. As the rusted components of these critter were matched as closely as possible with the original creatures, they were welded back together to their original forms.”

As we crossed the bridge from the parking lot to the property, I stopped to read the signs. I knew immediately this wouldn’t be an ordinary adventure…

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Shortly after we arrived, a man walked over to us and started to explain what we were seeing. His deadpan delivery and sometimes slightly off-color humor had me in stitches. This was Clyde…

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“If I smile, nobody takes me seriously”

His love affair with sculpted metal began after a trip to Seattle where he saw a bell made from an oxygen tank. His first creation ended up looking like a bird and still hangs in front of their home…

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When a neighbor walked by and asked, “Where did you ever get that?” Clyde’s answer was he dug it up out of the marsh and welded it back together. And Jurustic Park was born. Soon he was creating all sorts of extinct critters…

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A porkypine – part porcupine, part pig

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Not all of his creations are marsh finds, for example, meet Abe Lawbender…

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Perhaps this is poking fun at his former profession.

There is even a perfect explanation of a Dork…

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Clyde loves his role as tour guide! Several of his pieces are articulated and he demonstrates their movements…

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There are quite a few dogs around the property, including one who is “Not Fond of Cats”

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And cats who just wanna dance…

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And lots of frogs…

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And he has no qualms about poking fun at politics and other professions…

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The City Attorney. The Former City Administrator. The Insurance Rep.

At his shop, several pieces were “in progress”…

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Near the end of our tour, Clyde brought us into the Hobbit House where he introduced us to his wife Nancy.

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This is a hobbit, not Nancy!

Nancy is also an artist. She makes exquisite glass and fiber art. I was completely remiss in not taking any pictures of her work, but you can see it here.

Clyde and Nancy were getting ready to celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary and when I asked him what their secret was he replied, “We don’t let the old in.” They are both in their mid 80’s and have done a damn fine job of not letting the old in.

After several amusing hours we wandered back to the Jeep, but not before I stopped and took pictures of Clyde’s artful sculptures of him and Nancy…

So, I’ll say it again, if you are ever in the Marshfield area and are in need of a good laugh – go to Jurustic Park, talk with Clyde and Nancy!!!

How do you “keep the old out”?

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

I was positively giddy, Dawn and Mike, from Random Bits of Trial and Error were due to arrive for a week of much needed socialization and relaxation. After accidentally meeting them in person on the road in Arizona last year (read my version here and Dawn’s version here) we have become lifelong friends, the kind you go out of your way to get to spend time with.

We have had the opportunity to get together several times over the last year and every time I have come away with memories I will always cherish. On our way back from Alaska last year, it worked out we could meet them for dinner in Texas and earlier this spring, we met up several times in our mutual “state of residence”, Florida. Dawn handmade me a card after our Florida adventures and it makes me smile every time I look at it!

But, this time, we would be in the same campground, parked next to each other for a week. I had been planning our adventures, oh the things we would do and see! Since Mike still works full-time, Dawn’s days are free and I planned to spend every minute I could with her. I had saved up some time off from my job at Lost Falls Campground and was able to take 4 days off in a row.

Despite all my planning, we found what worked best was to just hop in the Jeep and go. Dawn tells Mike, we are heading off in the “Cool Vehicle” today! With no particular destination in mind, I headed for Hwy 108, a twisty, windy road to the west of us. I’ve driven it many times and I love the scenery and curves. Near the town of West Salem is a set of buildings surrounded by a fence. The lawn is cared for, but they appear vacant. There are interesting shapes and I’m always drawn to it…

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I’ve never seen a car or truck there, but these two appear in the window every time I drive by…

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We decided to head down a road I hadn’t been on before and were gob-smacked when we found Mindoro Cut. When we crested the hill, on a blind corner, our next sight was this…

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We stopped at a pull off and went to check it out. A commemorative plaque informed us we had just driven through Mindoro Cut, the second largest hand-hewn cut in America and the last one still being used…

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As we walked along, we were in awe of the work required to build it. The limestone walls were filled with carvings…

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I remarked to Dawn, I wonder if Andy and Chelsea are still together and her answer made me laugh. “It is easier to be immortalized in stone than it is to survive a relationship.”

Dawn and I both love plants and flowers, so we spent some time with bygone dandelions…

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Dawn wrote an excellent post about our next find, an ages old barn, nestled in the weeds and tree threatening to overtake it. When I looked at the barn, I saw nature overtaking man made, but Dawn saw something else, she saw all the hard work of the American farmer, something most of us never pay any mind to…

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Across the street were the remains of what might have been a chicken coop. While this shot may look like it was taken from the inside, it wasn’t…

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We stopped at the tavern in North Bend for lunch and were introduced to fried cheese curds, oh my! My new favorite appetizer!! The day had gone by much to quickly and soon it was time to head back to the campground, but not without stopping on the side of the road to get a shot of someone’s creativity…

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When we weren’t out driving around in the “cool vehicle”, there were shared dinners, boxes of Moscato and campfires. And days filled with Dawn’s newest favorite outdoor activity, kayaking!

I introduced Dawn to the sport when we were in Florida and she loved it. We made 3 trips down the Black River, each one a little different  in terms of scenery and mileage, but what remained constant was the smile on her face…

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It’s hard to explain the joy I got from watching her evolve from a shaky first-timer to a much more confident paddler. On one stretch of the river, we just floated along in comfortable silence, each taking in the beauty and serenity of the river in our own way. Later, she thanked me for being the type of friend where silence doesn’t have to be filled with constant chatter, I knew exactly what she meant!

As it turned out, Mike and Dawn were able to stay longer than a week, but that’s a story for another day.

Do you have a “Mike & Dawn” in your life? If not, I highly recommend finding them, they are priceless!

 

 

For The Love of Green

It was mid-May when we arrived in Wisconsin, many of the trees had yet to begin their spring transformation. Things were brown and did nothing to liven my spirit. As you probably remember, we had just driven up from Georgia where spring was in full effect…

Okefenokee NWR-1923

There is something about the color green, while it is not my favorite color (which is blue) I find it calming and serene. To me, it signifies growth and freshness. You can have a green thumb or head to greener pastures. You can be green with envy or green around the gills. Your wallet can be stuffed with greenbacks. I found several interesting articles about the color green and what it signifies. I thought Kate Smith’s article said it best.

Spring finally got it’s foot in the door and the landscape began to change. Bright green leaves emerged and drowned out the drab browns of winter. Fresh plowed earth began to erupt in tender new shoots. Now that summer has taken hold, I’ve noticed something I don’t think I ever paid attention to before. If you Google “How many shades of green are there?” The bottom lines seems to be – millions, and, Wisconsin has them all. I have never noticed so many subtle hues and shades. So, without any more unnecessary words, to the color green…

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What does green mean to you?

 

 

 

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge

Steve and I love visiting National Wildlife Refuges, there is something about the “possibility” of seeing wildlife that keeps us visiting every one we find.

While out for an afternoon drive, we stumbled on the Trempealeau NWR. We hadn’t planned to do any hiking, so we opted for the Prairies Edge Loop Tour. This self-guided, 4 mile drive takes you through sand prairies, backwater marshes and hardwood forests. This year, spring made a late appearance in Wisconsin and we’ve had copious amounts of rain, so our early June visit was filled with wildflowers high water.

We picked up a brochure at the entrance and began the drive. I was amazed by the riots of yellow and purple flowers…

Trempealeau NWR-2530

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The brochure pointed out a number of invasive species which have found a home in the refuge. One of these plants is called Leafy Spurge and while it looks pretty, it is taking over large areas…

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Wild prairie roses and berry bushes compete for space…

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When we saw a gentleman with a very large lens on his camera, we stopped to see what he was looking at. High up in a dead tree was a red-headed woodpecker…

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The rains have flooded low lands and the calm winds that day ensured lovely reflections…

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We stopped at the visitor center and talked for quite a while with one of the rangers. She was incredibly knowledgeable and gave us ideas for other places to visit while we are here. Afterward, we walked to the observation deck and I knew, we would have to come back one day with our kayaks…

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It was neat to try and identify all of the turtles we saw, this plaque was a big help…

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I think we saw at least 4 of the varieties!

As we rounded a bend in the road, we were happily surprised to see a deer grazing in the field…

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And a thirteen stripe ground squirrel bid us adieu at the end of the loop drive…

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It was a peaceful way to spend the afternoon and thanks to the ranger, we now have lots of suggestions for places to explore!

Do you like visiting NWRs? What is the most exciting animal you’ve encountered?