Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy New Years

That time of year for resolutions and revolutions.

From issues to resolve to revolting and breaking out of old patterns. As the years go by we rush to do those things we've dreamt of and take more risks to find happiness. Okay so I'm going through my midlife crisis phase. We all get there sometime and hopefully in time to take advantage of our insights.

My next phase definitely has an RV in it. As you can see RVing must be in my blood. This photo was found among my grandparents photo collection. I don't know the story behind nor will I ever be able to find out since they have all passed. So my mind is left to wonder on who the people are and what fun they are having. Notice the leg barely visible at the end of the wagon.

Looking for leads on an RV motorhome. Thinking of something less than 22 feet, must have a bathroom, prefer a queen size bed. Only needs to sleep 2. Diesel engine would be nice.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mrs. Sippy's

Gotta love the name for a local cafĂ© in Trempealeau. Campers and bikers will find a friendly cup of coffee or an utterly delicious meal for breakfast or lunch. Keep in mind they are closed Monday and Tuesdays.

I finally had a chance to sample some of the local fare at Mrs. Sippy's right off Hwy 35 next to the gas station.

Salmon Omelette

Crawfish Eggs Benedict

Choose your seat according to the different salt and pepper shakers. Each booth or table has a unique set. You'll just have to stop in to see them all for yourself. They are adorable.


For Breakfast
For Breakfast

Here's a look at their current menus and a lovely note from the Chef. It' always nice to know where they are coming from.

For Lunch
For Lunch

Note from Chef

For those of you with a sweet tooth and love of ice cream, be sure to check out the gift shop at the back of the building. They have some yummy flavors.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kids Stuff-Geocaching

Okay it's not just for kids, this any age scavenger hunt is popular around the world. Perrot State park has it's share of sites around the park.

Over 40 geocaches can be found in the park, that should take some time and a lot of hiking. A great way to engage kids of all ages, big or small.

It easy to do with any GPS device, many people already have them on their phones or when available you can check one out at the park headquarters. When you stop into the headquarters pick up the list of site coordinates and enter the location you are wanting to pursue.

Now you're off to seek and find the special cache hiding place. Keep in mind they are often at places of interest so your search leads you to some great scenic look or end of a trail. The caches come in many shapes and sizes and vary in appearance, designed by whomever has placed them.

Upon finding the site you sometimes sign a log proving you've been there or maybe take some treasure with you. The code of conduct is if you take something from a cache that you leave something behind. Please remember it never should be food and needs to endure the elements. Another rule on etiquette is never move geocache.

Geocache placement is approved by the park before being hidden. This is to limited intrusion of searching on protected areas and prevent any dangerous activities.

Enjoy the fun.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kids Stuff-Get Outdoors

Get Outdoors!Get Outdoors- a Wisconsin State Park initiative aimed at kids to get them to spend more time outside.

More Green Time, Less Screen Time is there motto. At the Parks you'll find nature programs and events. Go online to the Wisconsin DNR site and you can get updates on where programs are being held.

Typically at Perrot State Park naturalist programs are from May, beginning around Memorial weekend through Labor Day weekend in September. Learn about frogs and tadpoles, go on a night hike, get some canoeing tips. Last summer there were many special events including learning to cook in a dutch oven, bluebird box building, and a s'mores extravaganza that finished off the summer season.

Read and Explore is another program for young nature lovers. Suggested reading list is also available at the DNR "Get Outdoors" site. One book about owls is "Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night" by author Joyce Sidman.

Wildcards-collect them, trade them and by all means read them. Offered at many of the parks you'll find these handy pocket sized cards fun to review before you go on a hike. They have cards for everything from rare plants, invasive species, to mammals and fish you might need to identify in the park. Enjoy reading some of the fun facts.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Kids Stuff-Wisconsin Explorers

Here's an interpretive program designed for Wisconsin State Parks, from the generous support of the Natural Resources Foundation.  Kids have fun exploring nature through games, hiking, crafts and numerous activities. After completing the free Exploring Extremes booklet they earn a very cool patch.

There are three different booklets each year for a period of three years, so kids can collect up to nine patches. They are age appropriate ranging from ages 3-5, 6-8 and 9 and up. Get the whole family involved you'll be surprised on what you learn.

See if you're smarter than a...

3-5 year old learns--
From "Under Your Nose!"
Did you know that a cherry trees stink? Flowers smell differently when the sun goes down. You can smell better after it rains.
Do you know how a luna moth smells? By it antennae.

6-8 year old learns--
From "Find A Worm"
Stop Global Warming-Worms are good for gardeners and crop fields. but worms are not good for forests. Worms eat fallen leaves too fast, leaving the forest floor bare. If you fish with worms, don't dump your left over worms on the ground. Save them for your next fishing trip or throw them in the trash.

9 and up kids learn--
From "During the Night"
If you see moths flying around, try this trick. Gently shake a ring of keys. If you do it just right, the keys sound like the clicks made by hunting bats. The moths will drop from the sky or fly away fast in all directions.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Kids Stuff-Smokey Bear

One of the longest running campaigns is Smokey Bear, the wildlife icon. He even has his own website. Check it out. Do not put in "the", the use of "the" was only used in lyrics for the song because it fit with the rhythm better.

Smokey was conceived in 1944 and will celebrate his 70th birthday this next year. His popularity and past letter writing campaigns caused him to even have his own zip code. It's 20252 for those that want to know.

Kids at the park can read about Smokey and take him camping overnight with there very own stuffed bear and knapp sack full of things for curious minds. The Smokey Packs can be checked out at the Perrot headquarters.

There is also a Forest Forever Park Pack where they learn by playing "Treevial Pursuit" and other fun activities.

If you want, you can just pretend you have a kid and check one out.

Tips to putting out your camp fire-
Pour on sufficient water until the hissing sound stops.
Stir ashes and pour on more water.
If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave.

Remember - Only You Can PREVENT WILDFIRES

Some of you may remember it as "only you can prevent forest fires". It was updated in 2001. 

Kids Stuff-Silhouettes

One aspect of the park services is the educational side focusing on kids. There's so much for the kids. If you find the kids getting bored check into the nature center or visitor services for things for the kids to do. Many of these programs have been designed to engage the young minds about nature and peek their curiosity. I've seen lots of parents struggling with entertaining the kids because they have separation anxiety with their electronics.

So here it goes check out- Silhouettes in the Woods.

Pick up the work sheet at the headquarters in Perrot and begin the adventure. The idea is to find twelve cutout wooden shapes in black of different critters found in the park. I suppose if you see the actual real animal you can check it off too.

One of the clues to finding the shapes is to look for them where they might living in the woods. They are located in the general area of the park campground. So search on.

You'll be looking for-
Great Blue Heron
Pileated Woodpecker
Brown Bats
Wild Turkey
Ground Hog
Canada Geese

No bears are found in the park, except smokey and that will be part of the next blog.

Kids of any age can play and it's fun to hear the stories of their searching. Take note, the staff of Perrot are sworn not to divulge the where abouts of any of the silhouettes. Of course it may be because they don't know or the fact the silhouettes are moved occasionally.

While taking some photos at the park I thought I'd caught a Blue Heron at the waters edge and slowly approached it to get a better shot. I thought how stealthy of me the bird hasn't budged. Here it turns out it was one of the silhouettes perfectly placed.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Stocking Stuffer

It's the gift that keeps giving. A State Park sticker. Just think they can use it now through 2014 at over 60 Wisconsin State Parks and Forests. If there's a bicycler in the family opt for the State Trail Pass to access 35 trails in Wisconsin.

State Park passes are $25 for Wisconsin plates and $35 for out of state vehicles. Bike passes are $20 for anyone. Get a second sticker for the same residence for half off.

Stickers are available online or check your closest State Park and area visitor centers.

Just think they'll enjoy a year of hiking, bird watching, picnics and more.
2014 state park and forest vehicle admission sticker

 Happy Holidays Hannah

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bloody Well Right

This song by Supertramp always brings back memories, for many years on Sundays we'd enjoy brunch out, maybe a few Bloody Marys in the off season and if energetic a game of Bowling. The song always seems to come to mind when it's a Brunch-Bloody's-Bowling, kinda Sunday.

Liking old traditions, we started a new one of having breakfast at our new favorite place Brice's Prairie Pub and Eatery off of ZN. We happened on them while waiting for a program at the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Center on Brice's Prairie.

Guess what they had, a Bloody Mary bar. You're Bloody Well Right.

We were greeted by the hostess Cindy and she laid down the ground work for getting us hooked on breakfast and bloody's with their punch cards. Thanks Cindy.

Yes, sometimes that's all it takes. But after going back four times already we can say the food is tasty, the staff is friendly and they just wanna get to know you by name.

Details-open for breakfast 8am-11:30am Saturday and Sundays Only
Pub Breakfast Punch Card - Buy 10 at $5.50 or more get one Free up to $8.99
Have One Every Week on Us Punch Card- Buy 1st Drink-Have 2nd on us.

First bridge from Lytle's
To get some exercise for the day we went for a short walk on the Great River Bike Trail after breakfast.
We accessed the trail from Lytle's Landing, which is a mile or two from the Pub.

The Pub and Trail would be a great combination for hikers or bikers coming from Perrot or Midway to enjoy both of these locations for a great day. 

Had to swing by the Midway Garden I've been working on. It did pretty good this summer and now there's some winter interest.

Midway Garden


Monday, November 25, 2013

Earth Works

Photo from Nature Center
Since November is Native American Month, my last post for this month is devoted to the cultural history of Perrot State Park.

Native Americans long ago realized the special draw that the Trempealeau area has on it's visitors. From the narrow width of the Mississippi River held to its shores by the uprising of rocky Bluffs and the prominence of Trempealeau Mountain, this area was a magnet for traveling groups of Woodland to Hopewell cultures. 

Mounds at Perrot
They left their mark with earth works, mounds of earth that covered their burials sites and perhaps to denote land boundries. The earth works are found in conical, linear and rectangular step mounds to animal shapes refered to a "Effigy Mounds".

Photo of Display at Nature Center

Be sure to stop into the Nature Center and enjoy the informational display. As you view the mounds in the park be respectful and do not walk on the mounds.

Photo of Display at Nature Center

After searching for more information on the cultures of Native Americans I came across  a very good book while bumming around La Crosse with my friend Judy.  "Twelve Millennia-Archeology of the Upper Mississippi Valley" by James L. Theler and Robert F. Boszhardt. ".We purchased it at the Archeology Museum on the campus of UW-La Crosse.

Til next month Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah, Safe Travels to see Family and Friends.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


North Entrance Sign
Just downloaded a new app "The Official WI Fish and Wildlife Guide". Very handy Pocket Ranger application to assist with information on state lands, ie parks, natural areas, forests, plus it's free.

Checked out a few things for Perrot and you can access the hunting and trapping area maps for the park. A really good thing this time of year.

Information for bird watchers, with updated sightings by the DNR and rules and regulations at your fingertips.

The app also has GPS features with mapping, haven't tried this out but it could be pretty valuable when out in the field.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Give Thanks

I'd like to take a moment to thank the Rangers in Parks everywhere, especially the ones I've gotten to know at Perrot State Park.

Park Entrance
As a kid I was a bit taken with the Ranger Rick's magazine, maybe that's why when taking my aptitude tests in school it was indicated that I should pursue life as a forest ranger or entertainer. Go figure, blogging about a state park is as close as I may come to those test results. The job of being a Park Ranger is a lot more than I imagined in my youth.

Park Headquarters
I now have a new appreciation for all they do for the parks. As I see it, they are the real stewards of the land, they protect the parks resources for future generations and protect those that visit it. They are ambassadors, helping to preserve and pass on the natural and cultural history of our lands.

Here's a list of the many different hats they wear-

Emergency Responders- search and rescue to first aid
Firefighters-Spotting and extinguishing damaging fires
Scientists- Studying and monitoring our environments
Scholars-Interpreting the history, landscape and wildlife of the parks
Administrators- Budgeting and managing the parks resources
Guides-From fishing tips, to nature hikes they know the park
Maintenance Workers-working year round to repair and restore trails, buildings and roads from weather and unfortunately vandalism
Law Officers-enforcing the rules and regulations of parks, they have police duties as well

Some noted Park Rangers-

Galen Glenn-first ranger, guardian of Yosemite in 1866
President Gerald Ford-Park Ranger at Yellowstone
Ranger Smith-from the Yogi Bear Cartoons
Anna Pigeon-fictional park Ranger from author Nevada Barr, my personal favorite

A big Thankyou for all you do!
Happy Thanksgiving too!

Friday, November 15, 2013

End of the Trail

I got my duff out to the bluffs of Perrot State Park for one more hike on Thursday. As of today, Friday, November 15 there is hunting in the park. Maps with details on areas closed to hunting are available at the headquarters.

It was the last trail to do on my list in the park. It's a nice longer hike, there are no special vistas as it winds through the interior of the park. It's accessible from The Perrot Ridge Trail near the headquarters of the park or from the opposite entrance by the Park Shop. This trail doesn't have a hiking name but is referred to as the Cedar Glade Trail set up for cross country skiers. As I passed through I came across signage for skiers naming the different runs. I think I'll have to pass on skiing this trail since I'm not expert.

Now that I've hiked it and liked it, here's  my two cents on what the different hikes have to offer.

Brady's Bluff- by far the most hiked trail. It's spectacular view of the Mississippi River and Trempeauleau Mountain makes it to the top of my list. If you can't make it up the bluff for a photo, buy a postcard for .25 from the Friends of Perrot. There are three ways to the top. East Brady's  by the headquarters is a narrow natural path that winds up past a Goat Prairie giving you a nice view of the Mississippi. West Brady's is an improved trail with 500 some steps through a ferny glen for lots of wild flowers then up the face of Brady's. Make sure to stop and take in the view behind you. The Bluff is also accessed from the Park Shop, this is a longer trail to the top and a great way to connect back to the campground.

Perrot Ridge-a favorite of some, I especially like this for the 360 degree view in spring and fall when the leaves on the trees aren't obstructing the view. A bit longer round trip than Brady's but it offers a lot of variety up to Reed's Peek. A little bit of scrambling on the way up from the headquarters at the very top. Lots of wild flowers on the way back down the trail to Perrot Post entrance.

Reed's Run- is a short lovely walk which can connect you from Perrot Ridge and Brady's Bluff Trails to create a longer hike.

Black Walnut Trail- an easy trail and not too long, there's interesting facts to read along the way, learn  about trees and early life in the area. You also get to see some of the great rock formations of the area.

Bay Trail-hidden behind the campground, it can be a bit buggy in the summer but offers a close up the bay area and then opens up to a lovely prairie that's great for campers that want to do some star gazing in the middle of the night.

Riverview Trail-this runs pretty much the length of the park, offering an intimate view of the bay and popular for birders. Many use this path to complete there hikes or use the road to reconnect to their starting point. Don't forget to include Horseshoe Falls along the way.

Lesser known trails-

Wilburs Trail-easy path from the Park Shop, used as a ski trail, nice and wide, shady and cool in the heat of summer.

Connecting trails, Reed's Run, Deer Me Run,  Broken Ski Run, Tow Rope Hill.

Cedar Glade Trail-the longest most challenging ski trail, a rather easy hike in other seasons.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Swan Song

As falls temperatures drop the final migration is here.

Yes, the proverbial Swan Song, the dramatic appearance of thousands of swans along the Mississippi signaling the end of the season.

My video skills aren't the best but you can hear the calls of the Tundra Swans along the reedy banks of Brownsville, Minnesota. If my zoom was better I'll bet I could see my friend Karen on the Wisconsin side.

Hope you get a chance to see this spectacular spectacle for yourself.

Monday, November 11, 2013

One More Time Around

Canoe launch by Nature Center
In just a day things can change. A crisp cool but clear November Sunday and we decided to canoe Trempealeau Bay. Now it's Monday and the snow has begun to fall. A reminder to always do it today.

Around the bend
It was beautiful, calm waters and we had it all to ourselves.  A couple of hours around the bay, even getting a chance to set foot on Trempealeau mountain.

If you can manage not to get wet it's a glorious way to enjoy the last of the fall colors.

We didn't see much wildlife but that's okay we didn't want to see the hunters either. Yes it's duck season and they do hunt in the bay.

Trempealeau Mountain approach

Setting foot on the Mountain
Remnants from the Summer

Come Friday, November 15 muzzleloaders and archery will start in the park too. Hikers may want to take note of where hunters could be, but remember it's your park too so there are no off limits to where you can hike.