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”?

A Visit to the Wegner Grotto

When Paul and Matilda Wegner emigrated from Germany in 1885, I doubt they envisioned their retirement years building what would later become the Wegner Grotto. It all started in 1929 after Paul retired from owning and operating a Ford garage. Neither Paul nor Matilda had any formal training in the arts, but they definitely had a vision. Their “grassroots art” started on their small farm outside of Cataract, Wisconsin. They were no longer living on the farm full-time, but spent summers there. They began by building a fence around the property. Concrete pillars decorated with thousands of shards of broken glass…

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Little by little, special pieces were added, a prayer garden…

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A birdhouse and other decorations…

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I was bummed the skies were threatening to drench us as we walked along marveling at the artistry. I can only imagine how brilliantly the shards must glint in the bright sunshine. Glass flowers adorn the top of a pillar…

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The grotto began to take on a life of its own. Perhaps the crowning achievement, is the glass church. Paul wanted to represent all “mainline denominations”. And did so in stunning fashion…
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And a peace monument…

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Later he built a replica of their 50th wedding anniversary cake…

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And the very symbol of the country he loved…

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Paul died in 1937 and is buried at a little cemetery just up the road from the grotto. His gravestone, as well as Matilda’s, are a tribute to the beauty he created…

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Other family members’ graves are also decorated with glass shards…

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I wondered where they were able to find so much broken glass. I doubt colored glass was an inexpensive item to own in the early 1930’s. Some of it appeared to be carnival glass, shiny and still lovely, though only a shard…

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Have you ever been moved by “grassroots art”?

The Devil Is In The Details

Finally, a day off with no chores. No groceries to shop for, no laundry to do. Just a day to go out and have some fun. The weather could have been better, the forecast called for on and off showers and cloudy skies, but that wasn’t going to deter us! After visiting one of our favorite websites, Atlas Obscura, we knew we had to take the 30 minute drive to Sparta, Wisconsin and visit FAST Corporation. FAST stands for Fiberglass Animals, Shapes and Trademarks.

We’ve all seen larger than life advertising or roadside attractions, you know, that 20′ tall strawberry at the fruit stand or the giant cow standing in front of the farm. If you are like me, you’ve probably never given a second thought to where did it come from or who made it? But, chances are, it came from FAST Corp.

When we pulled into the parking lot, I didn’t know where to look first. Acres of fiberglass molds and finished products beckoned me. As we walked around, familiar characters stared back at us under dreary skies…

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Some items where purely decorative, while others were more functional.  It’s easy to picture this hippo water fountain at the zoo, just across from the lion bench where tired parents watch as the kiddos get a drink…

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In my mind, I can hear the squeals of delight as the kiddies come down the water slide…

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As we walked passed the cows…

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The familiar shape Hard Rock Cafe guitars caught our attention…

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FAST Corporation has kept every fiberglass mold they have ever created. After being used, they are taken out back and put in the “graveyard”. Acres and acres of molds await the day they may be called for again. Who knows when someone might need a giant bear…Fast Corporation-2410

Or an elephant…

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How about an ice cream cone…

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What if Chevy needs another boulder?

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Here are some of the other neat molds we saw…

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The mold for the lion bench

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Behind one of the shops, there was a sculpture of 2 boys rough housing, I think this will be used to create the mold. It looked like it was carved out of some type of dense foam…

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There were also finished products, waiting to be shipped…

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If you are ever in Sparta, Wisconsin and find yourself on County Road Q, stop in and visit FAST Corporation! It’s a pretty neat place!

Up next, my first kayak trip on the Black River…

Out With The Old

Almost all of the bloggers I know do a special post to mark the end of the year. I always enjoy reading them. Inevitably, it makes me reflect on our own travels, trials and triumphs.

2018 held lots of promise for us as we began our first full year of RV living and working. We knew we’d be starting in Florida, but had no way of knowing for sure December 2018 would find us back there. Hell, there were times when we were broken down, I didn’t think we’d ever make it back to Florida. But we did. We met so many wonderful people along the way. People who changed our lives, possibly without ever knowing so.

I count us a dang lucky…our adventures have been many and our trials have been relatively few, given our lifestyle.

I thought long and hard about how I was going to commemorate 2018. Usually I end up trying to pick a favorite picture from each month – a top 12, if you will. 12? Who was I kidding? We took pictures in at least 13 states, visited 15 national parks/monuments/preserves and drove through western Canada. I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to 12!

My solution was a collage made from every state we spent any real time in (and Canada will just  have to forgive my exclusion of them in this post). The following collages are in alphabetical order, not the order we visited. So without further ado, here is 2018 in review…

Arizona

Alaska Collage

California

Florida

idaho

Louisiana

Nevada

New Mexica

Texas

Washington

Wyoming

I don’t know for sure what is in store for us for the next year. We have some tentative plans and lots of hopes.

I sincerely hope 2019 brings health and happiness to you and yours! Thank you for wandering along with us.

A FAIR-ly Amazing Day

I’m going to warn you right up front, this post is bursting with images. I was able to narrow down the 527 pictures I took to about 50. Give or take. Given the fact Fair Park is 277 acres, I think I did pretty well.

We have been planning our trip to the Texas State Fair for a couple weeks. We knew it wouldn’t be a cheap day, hence all of our recent freebie day trips. Fair Park is on the east side of Dallas and has been home to the Texas State Fair since 1886. You can read about all the history here.

We arrived just after the gates opened and scored a parking spot near the gate (all the empty spaces you see are reserved for the handicapped)…

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We bought our tickets online, part of a package which included admission and 100 ride/food coupons. We first ran into using coupons at Grapefest. I’m not really a fan of the system, I’d rather pay for my food using cold hard cash.  I think it is easier to plan using money than coupons, but I digress. Anyhow, our first stop was the cattle barn and judging arena…

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Most of the cows were lazing around waiting their turn…

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Others were being led to grooming stations…

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Where shampooing and combing awaited them…

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I’ve never seen a setup quite like this. Now, I’ve been to my share of fairs and always visit the livestock exhibits, but this really takes it to the next level! I was a bit disappointed there weren’t any longhorn cattle in the cow barn, afterall, this is Texas and longhorn are cattle. I wasn’t disappointed for very long! We stepped out of the building, on our way to the swine barn, and found this monster in a pen all his own…

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Yes, you read the sign correctly, someone was brave enough to get a measurement of this behemoths horn width. He was even more magnificent when he stood up…

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I absolutely loved his coloring.  On to the swine. I love piggies, always have. Of course I love piglets even more…

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Mama almost looks like she’s smiling. Cattle weren’t the only critters getting groomed for their showings…

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And people were getting in some last minute runway practice…

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Every time I look at this picture quickly, I think those pink spots on his snout are tusks. But if I wanted to see real tusks, I need not look any further than Borris…

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Our next stop was the horse barn. All of the horses were in bar lined stalls and you couldn’t really get close enough to take any pictures, but I was able to sneak a picture of probably the largest horse I’ve ever seen. This is saying something because I’ve been up close and personal with the Budweiser Clydesdales!  Meet Rossina, she is a Friesian. She is over 17 hands tall…

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I thought we were through with livestock viewing until we came to the Children’s Health Barnyard. The squeals of delight could be heard long before we entered the building. Kids of all ages were having a grand time. It was more like a petting zoo than a barnyard, with animals from around the world…

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This zebu was far more interested in getting her neck scratched than eating some handouts…

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Just outside the exhibit was the little red barn I’ve been hoping to find. Barns here are the same as barns in the northeast. Most of the are pole barns, but this is the type of barn I love…

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It was getting on towards lunch and the choices were so numerous I couldn’t decide. One thing I learned is Texans will deep-fry ANYTHING…

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Or wrap it in bacon…

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As we were walking past one of the many coupon booths, the reflection in the puddle caught my eye…

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We still hadn’t decided on lunch, so we walked into the food court. Overwhelmed is an understatement!

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Unfortunately, we stuck with something simple (but still expensive). We should have…

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And how do you top off lunch? With an adult beverage of course…

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So, I’ve covered livestock, cute animals and food. What else could there be? How about the art…

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And the history…

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Then…there are the shows! As we were walking along the esplanade, we happened to catch the Zu Zu African Acrobats. Their skill, flexibility and agility were astounding…

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I kind of covered statues when I mentioned art, but there is one statue that literally can’t be missed…Big Tex himself…

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If the size of the Wednesday crowds leave you feeling a bit on edge, not to worry! The Dallas PD has you covered…

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Our final adventure of the day was a ride on the sky wheel…

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There are 44 car on the wheel. I don’t know how tall it is but the views were stunning!

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I haven’t come close to showing you all the things to do at the fair. We skipped the aquarium and the botanical gardens because, well, let’s face it, I’m not a kid anymore! It isn’t that I wouldn’t have enjoyed them, I’d have loved them, but I was pooped!!!!

We still had about an hour and a half drive back to Waldo and it was time to call it quits. The day had one more surprise in store for us…

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A beautiful sunset to round out our trip.

What is your favorite thing to do at the fair?