Thursday, June 27, 2013


It's a must if you are coming to Perrot State Park to visit the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge. Just north of the park exit on West Prairie Road or two more miles on the Great River Bike Trail.

Establish in 1936 the isolated backwaters of the Mississippi and Trempealeau rivers provide the necessary resting and feeding areas for waterfowl and other birds.

There's over 6000 acres of rich wetlands-backwaters, marshes, bottomland forests and rolling sand prairies for the migratory birds and other wildlife.

If you come by car there's the self-guided auto tour, or get out and hike the interpretive trails. The bicycle friendly roads are a great way to extend your trail ride but be sure to stop along the way to listen for the songs of birds and reptiles.

The marsh observation deck is a must if you have limited time.

A really great time to visit is spring and fall during the migrations. Upcoming events are:

Sat., June 29th @ 7am Birding Bike Program
Sat., July 6th & Aug. 3 @10:00am Raptors
Sat., July 13th @ 6:15am Sunrise Canoe Tour
Fri., July 19th @ 7:30pm Evening in the Prairie
Sat., July 20th @ 7:00am Prairie Day
Sat., Aug. 10th @7:30pm Night Hike
Fri., Aug. 16th @ 7:30pm Sunset Canoe

For details and updates contact the Refuge at 608-539-2311 ext.6

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

HorseShoe Falls

Entrance from Road
Perrot Park has it's own little waterfall called HorseShoe Falls located along the west road that runs through the park. It's created by the runoff from atop Brady's Bluff. Although dry in the summer, in early spring or during a lot of rain you can see water in the falls. Okay it's not Yosemite, but it does have it's own ambiance with moss laden rocks, cliff swallows and that lovely sound of rain. It's part of a protected area so please tread lightly when entering.

Sorry I had a video for the real effect but has some technical difficulties, loading. Will try later.

Horse Shoe Shape
Early Spring View of Entrance towards River

Friday, June 21, 2013

Some'r on the river-some'r not

Arial View Perrot-Model in Head Quarters
Always loved
that saying.

Transitioning from living near a big lake to living near a river not only included different summer activities, it also threw off my sense of direction. The water was east for the lake and here it is west for the river. It even took awhile to refer to it as the correct body of water.

Living and playing along the Mississippi has been fun. From fishing at the Shores, sandbar camping or just cocktail cruising the river. Or just taking in the wildlife and views.
View of Trempealeau Bay

Perrot State Park is conveniently situated along the Mississippi River. The Trempealeau River fills the bay before emptying into the main channel of the Mississippi. There's canoeing and kayaking in this wonderful back bay. I will be taking my maiden journey soon I hope. It looks delightful.

Canoeist's have reporting seeing deer swimming across, lots of turtles and critters. Great way to see Egrets, Cranes, Eagles and Pelicans. There are also lots of grasses and plants to view along the way.

Railroad Bridge-into the Mississippi River
The bay depths range from 2 feet to 8 feet depending of the time of year and in the spring it races past the shores of Perrot into the Mississippi and beyond. Some even canoe over the Trempealeau Mountain and go for an exploratory hike. There are no maintained trails on the Mountain. The Mysteries of the Mountain will be a separate blog in the future.

Lock and Dam in Village of Trempealeau
A visit to the Lock and Dam in Trempealeau is very educational. The Army Corp of
Engineers, controls the flow of the Mighty Mississippi. It has changed the character of the land, some good, some not so good.

Come celebrate the beginning of summer, just sittin' on the dock of the Bay, wasting time. Did you see that one coming. One of my favorite songs by Otis Redding.

Enjoy the West Coast of Wisconsin

Sitting on the Dock of The Bay


Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Taking photos of all I see at Perrot has made me think of the best angle for some plants. Just shooting the top may help others identify the blooms but seeing them from the ground up really can be impressive, revealing the architecture of the plant. It also gives it a giganticum approach and makes it look like something prehistoric.

Also known as Podophyllum peltatum, which sounds much more prehistoric and even cooler sometimes called Mandrake. Like the old world plant. It blooms in May, of which I've never seen and the following lemon shaped summer fruit is edible. When this plant blooms it's said it's time to start hunting for morels mushrooms.

This larger than life specimen is Equisetum or more commonly called Horsetail Plant. A real living fossil. Fun to play with the segments, they detach kinda like bamboo.

Love the angle, isn't it fun to horse around with plants.

Monday, June 17, 2013

What comes in, Must go out.

Sound familiar. At the state parks it has it's own meaning.

What you bring into the park on a daily basis you must take out of the park, i.e. trash. It's really a great concept that was implemented a few years ago. It saves the park money thereby keeping things, like fees down. It's astonishing to see people looking around for a trash bin, bewildered-where did they go. When they realize the policy, that the garbage they produce, they now have to live with in there vehicles till they return home, they are dismayed.

It was new to me as well when visiting the park. It gave me a whole new perspective on how much we leave behind us when we consume. Choosing to purchase items all neatly wrapped up for us the put in a handy plastic bag will literally follow you around for the day. This is a great reminder that all the trash we create does actually follow us and those that follow us. That got a little twisted around.

Keep Perrot Beautiful
Anyway the moral of the story is you are what you eat, no edit that, we have to be responsible for our own garbage, that's the point I'm trying to make. I know friends who are really adapt at living a lifestyle of low consumerism, because they live in an RV. They think before they buy something, do I really need it. Then there are friends who live in the country, they are responsible for disposing of their own garbage by taking it to the dump. Some can't imagine not having weekly pickup service. For so many of us it's so easy to put out a couple of bags of garbage and someone comes by and takes it away.

So when packing your picnic for the park, take along a garbage bag of your own or better yet buy things you can put in your own containers, Reuse, Recycle, just don't Request a garbage can.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Special Dads Day

Point of View

I'm enjoying the comments and feed back. Since this is my first season of blogging there is much to learn. Queen Jester and Chaseburgmama have been holding me by the keyboard while my husband rescues me from myself.

My primary goal is to share the amazing things I find at Perrot State Park so you will also want to explore it for yourself.

Secondly as I discover new things about Perrot I try to do a some research and find out more thereby learning something new.

My hidden agenda is to become inspired to jump start the creative process again and produce items of artistic merit.

Perrots Passage
Perrot park was the subject of one of my very early paintings which debuted in my first one women show at the pump house. It now resides in a dear friends home from long ago with a few others she has purchased. Her name is Jeanne aka Gumby.

I took a photo of this view of Trempealeau Mountain from Bradys Bluff in the 1970's and used it for the inspiration of "Perrot's Passage" 34"x80". I found the original tree was still there about 10 years ago but now has disappeared. The photo is not the quality we could get today since it predates our digital cameras and the image was scanned from a photo. So the story goes.

Other paintings of mine in her collection are shown. She says she will loan them back to me some day when I have reached the point of having a retrospective of my career as an artist. So don't hold your breath it will be sometime before that happens.

Other paintings in her collection were inspired by Mirror Lake State Park, Botanical Gardens in Jamaica and an Airplane ride over Sedona, Arizona.

Soaring Over Sedona

Leaf Dance

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Tales from the Trails-Bikers and Blooms

Midway Bicycle Garden
Miss me? I've been trying to blog once a day but I got busy. Life gets in the way again. I started a garden project for the Great River State Bike Trail at Midway. Turning a vacant corner into something the bikers can enjoy. A stop where they can stretched their legs and enhance the path they are on.

It's a project I'm enjoying and it gives me the opportunity to work with Prairie Plants, since my own garden is in the shade of a woods. A great source for many native species with your soil type in mind is Prairie Nursery in Westfield, Wisconsin. I really enjoyed talking to Sarie, who helped me with the plant selection. She also has a great love for Perrot State Park as well.  There's a real Cinder-fella story behind our conversation.

Path to the raised bed.
Here are a few photos of area  before I started, I'll be sure to keep you updated on the progress. This site is on the corner of Hwy's OT and XX in Midway, which is about 15 miles from Perrot State Park. The bike trail travels north, down into Brices Prairie over several bridges and coming back out through the Trempealeau bottoms. A great ride to see some wildlife and woodlands and prairies.

Re-Cycled Bicycle Art
You can see there's room for lots of improvement. I will be incorporating some bike art as well. Be on the look out for bike parts, especially wheels, I'll be happy to re-cycle them.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Monday Blues Bloom Blog

Better late than never.

Spiderwort, as you know not my favorite name so I'll call it  Tradescantia occidentalis. Catch them early in the day because the flowers may wilt by end of day when it gets hot out. The beautiful blue color may change to purple if exposed to air pollutants. Now there's a good measure of air quality especially since they are found along roadsides.

Large Beardstongue
Large-Flowered Beardstongue a variety of penstemon, these large tubular flowers are a show stopper in prairies. Can you see the family resemblances to snapdragons.

Wild Lupine at Perrot HQ
Worth repeating-the Wild Lupine, they are in full glory at the National Wildlife Refuge. The blue haze they create is stunning. Makes you believe in mass plantings. 

Field of Wild Lupine at Wildlife Refuge

Wild Geranium
Wild Geranium- not your grandmothers old fashioned favorite, this is Geranium
maculatum, a dry shade lover. The unusual seed pods resemble a crane also called Crane's-bill Geranium.,


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bloom Blog Report

Since April I've been trying to capture the blooms at Perrot State Park and it's becoming exceedingly hard to keep up. I guess that's a good thing there are so many. Here's a few more of my latest favorites.

Columbine-Aquilegia canadensis, these upside down tubes have nectar filled spurs. A favorite of hummingbirds and long-tongued moths. Plus children who bite off the spurs and suck out the nectar. Once considered for the national wild flower because the seed pod resembles an eagle talon. Aquilegia is Latin for "eagle".  This buttercup relative is found in drier shade, rocky places and there's lots of that in Perrot.

Yellow Wood Sorrel

Yellow Wood Sorrel-Oxalis stricta has tiny bright yellow flowers on clover like leaves. Used as a folk medicine because of high vitamin c. Although edible it has a sour taste (oxalis is Greek for sour) and may upset the stomach. Found in disturded soils and roadsides.

Cream Wild Indigo

Cream Wild Indigo- related to the Indigo Blue Baptisia, has the beautiful pea like blooms, found in dry prairies. Like the one in Perrot Park by the Nature Center.

Tomorrow beautiful blue flowers found in Perrot.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

What's in a Name-Perrot

Thank You Mr. Latsch
Perrot State Park was established in 1918 after a land donation by John A. Latsch of Winona, MN. Mr. Latsch was a nature- loving eccentric millionaire. He is credited with many land donations that are now state parks in Minnesota and Wisconsin. 
Pronounce  it Pair-row
The park is named for the French explorer Nicolas Perrot from the 1600's. Please it's not pronounced Parrot. The park encompasses 1,270 acres nestled among the 500 foot bluffs where Trempealeau and the Mississippi meet. The park offers breath taking river views and a variety of hiking, cross country skiing and snow-shoeing trails leading through woodlands to prairies. Also over 100 camping sites.

Another very unique feature of the park is the historic features. Native American tribes lived here for centuries and  remnants of mounds they left are scattered throughout park. More information on this very interesting subject in another blog.
Civilian Conservation Corps

Many of the trails and shelter you see today were built by the CCC in the 1930's.  This was a work relief program developed as a result of the depression to create recreational areas. Unfortunately some say nature lost out and original prairies, woodlands and waterways were changed forever. With today's appreciation for our environment it would have taken a different route, I hope.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Space Invaders

It's been declared-these are undesirables. They crowd out our native plants and animals. June is Invasive Species Month. Perrot Park has its unwanted and there are many ways we can each help. I'm sharing some of these great cards call "Wisconsin Wildcards" that you can pick up at the park if you ask nicely. They're great for keeping handy when you're hiking, biking or fishing to readily identify. Here are just a few.

Remember you could be a carrier, think of what is clinging to your shoes, maybe some seeds from one of these is hitchhiking in the your soles. Coming to a neighborhood near you.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Friends Indeed

I keep mentioning the Friends of Perrot, who are they, The "friends" are a nonprofit group that supports the interpretive programs in the park. Which includes materials, videos, funding the Naturalist and guest speakers,  exhibits, pretty much all the enhanced opportunities to allow us to experience and the wonders of the park. I think I like them very much. I've met a few on the annual clean up day.

Thank you friends.

Canoe Rental-Park Head Quarters
They raise the monies providing some real necessities or the niceities for campers, including firewood, ice, canoe, kayak and snowshoe rentals. They have awesome stuff for sale at the head quarters in Perrot State Park. Like bug boxes, informative field guides, compasses and the souvenier hats and t-shirts.

Just think Fathers Day is coming up. What man wouldn't  like a bug box to rescue spiders from damsels in distress. Yes I'm anachrophobic. So don't expect any neat photos of park spiders in this blog. I purchased the medicinal plant guide, got my cure for poison ivy and spider bites, just in case.

They of course take monetary donations and a membership fee is helpful or you can volunteer and join like minded people in keeping up the prairie gardens, construct an overlook, improve a trail or be a part of Winterfest, very cool.

This weekends programs, brought to you by the Friends of Perrot are:

Saturday, June 8
"Trees, Please", 11am meet at the Nature Center
"Frogs, Wogs and Toads", 3pm meet at the Park Office
"Learn to Listen", 8pm night hike meet at the NC.

Love the quote on their brochure
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

My Quote "Can't have too many friends"

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Dutchmans Breeches
Almost forgot this little darling of a plant that resembles a pair of upside down pants. A dear friend noted it was her favorite and I don't want to upset the Queen. It's probably long gone by now as this spring ephemeral sets it's seeds before the trees above leaf out.

Dutchmans Breeches, as you may notice, resemble the bleeding heart plant. Both are dicentras, the flowers are inflated tubes and leaves have a feathery appearance. The long flower is only accessible to bumblebees which have proboscis mouth parts that are able to access the nectar deep within. Some other insects cheat by chewing holes, darn them for putting a hole in a pair of pants. 

Here's another one to satisfy her majesty.
 Wild Lupine

Wild Lupine
This photo was take in the garden adjacent to the Head Quarters. In the family of peas (Fabeacea) the pea like flowers are opened by the visiting insects. So what would they do without them, just like a friend, they're here to help. It is also the host plant for the Karner Blue Butterflies caterpillars.