Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Arrivals

Trempealeau Mountain and Bay

The bay is melting and birds are returning to Perrot State Park. After picking up my annual stickers for the year I had to check out who was in the park.


Canada Geese and Sandhill Crane in back row

Trumpeter Swans
Trumpeter Swans (cyghus buccinator) are the largest of the waterfowl species in our area. They come back to the area for summer breeding and it is assumed they mate for life. They can live up to 24 years in the wild.

Their populations have been rebounding since the turn of the last century. They were once prized for their feathers for quill pens in the 1600-1800's.

If you don't see them in the bay, stop into the Visitor Center they just put up two lovely Trumpeter Swans on display courtesy of the Friends of Perrot.

Heres' a short video of the swans and some eagles in the distance over Trempealeau Mountain.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Greening Up

One of the first signs of spring, Green. Happy St. Patty's Day.

"Punts for Pints"
Nearby Perrot State Park is Beedles Bar and Restaurant on the corner of Hwy's 53 and 35. Centrally located in Centerville. No kidding. It does sound like something made up out of the 50's.

The place does have that kind of Tavern feel of rural America that you wish was located just down the street from where you live. The family run business, Anne and Brad, just celebrated their 8th year with a wonderful customer appreciation weekend beginning with some Irish music.

Drummer Tim and son Kevin
The all Burke band called Punts for Pints from Winona, Minnesota play traditional Irish rebel music, incorporating flutes, rain sticks and hand made drums. When you need to get your "Irish On" they are sure to keep you smiling.

Beedles Bar has lots of good food, great events and most importantly that friendly Midwest hospitality.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Winter Interest

With spring just around the corner, I dedicate my last blog of winter with something interesting.

We all look for the plus side of winter with outdoor sports, activities, trips and the bones of our gardens, often claimed to be our winter interest.

Modeled after Dryad the tree nymph:

From Greek mythology, Dryads are the spirits who preside over the forest or a specific tree. Either living in the tree or nearby. They protect the tree and punish those mortals who may injure the tree. So connected to the tree, the nymph dies when the tree perishes.

Baby it's cold outside but not for much longer.




Friday, March 14, 2014

Ice Caves

Out of one of the coldest winters comes wonders. The sea caves of the Apostle Island National Seashore in Northern Wisconsin are now Ice Caves.

Sorry to let you know but Saturday is the last day these winter marvels can be seen, the park will be closing off access to this natural wonder.

You see you have to walk on the ice formed over Lake Superior for several miles. The ice is now melting.

My family members had the opportunity last weekend to drive there and share with me these photos.

Enjoy and thanks to family.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Snapshot Wisconsin

Add caption
If you've been following the Pocket Ranger App, you may have seen the latest news from the WI DNR.

It's Snapshot Wisconsin, where citizens can help scientists with wildlife research. With all the advances in todays technology and cameras the DNR and UW will be able to get a better picture of the wildlife in Wisconsin.

The really cool part of it will be you'll be able to log in  using "crowdsourcing"  a computer program or even set up trail cameras on your own property. They expect to be fully operational in late 2015 with 3000-4000 trail cameras. To find out more information visit the "Citizen Monitoring" page on the DNR website.

Now maybe we will be able to figure out if Mothman really exits.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Let there be light!

Yeah, It's Day Light Savings Time.

Actually we are tricked into responding to an extra hour of light at the end of our day but all they did was take it away from the morning. But it does really work on those of us in the more northern states, we experience the euphoric waves of light giving us hope of summer days. The newly arrived 40 degree days and melting of snow doesn't hurt either.

Day Light Savings Time makes us move our clock ahead one hour, also referred to as spring forward. This manipulation of time is observe by many US states and other nations. But not all. Our family and friends in Arizona have defied the tradition (as well as Hawaii) and hold on to the hands of their clocks. Maybe they just don't need the boost of spring fever that we share here. Probably because they're enjoying there meals alfresco and activities aren't hindered by the tilt of the earths axis as much.

Other countries that observe daylight savings time, following their own dates on which to change. We were in the Netherlands a few years ago when their time change caught us by surprise. They say these tricks really don't affect humans because our internal clocks are set differently. But the increasing daylight overall does greatly affect the plants and animals.

Different species of birds are returning to Wisconsin and will soon make their way to Perrot State Park. As waters open on the Trempealeau Bay you'll be able to catch sight of the Tundra Swans. So plan on the next warmish day to head on over and welcome back our feathered friends in person.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Homebound Viewing

Just because the weather doesn't cooperate, there's always great webcams to watch nature in action. Some local groups in Iowa and Wisconsin have set up webcams following Eagle nesting .

It's that time of year for nesting and it can be quite exciting as rivals try to steal nests and wonderful to watch new hatchlings

I've been checking in through an app called ustream and watching the Decorah Eagles and Eagles4kids, for local live action.

Also if you are in the area this weekend March 8-9 it's Owlfest in Houston, Minnesota

Whose Going?


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Romantic Perrot

I'd like to suggest different itineraries when visiting Perrot. Many visitors have become engaged, renewed vows, taken their wedding photos at Perrot. So this one's for those lover's of nature among other things.

Here's the Romance Package-

Get up early and take your  breakfast picnic and head over to the Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge, first stop at the wildlife observation deck to orient yourself to the variety of birds to look for, then head over to Kieps Island Dike for a morning walk and different view of Trempealeau Mountain. 

Stroll along the path and listen to all the birds cheering you on praising the new day.

(To get there-Exit the north entrance of Perrot, then take your first left on  Lehman Rd. and next left on West Prairie drive for about 2 miles, look on the left for refuge entrance.)

After you've soaked in all that fresh air continue your morning drive up the Great River Road (Hwy 35) up to Winona and share with your loved one some of the most beautiful works of art.

A visit to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum and you'll feel like you've stepped into the Louve,  Their inspiring collection includes art work by Monet, Cezanne, Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas, O'Keefe, Homer, Wyeth and many American Masters from the Hudson River School.

 (To get there turn left out of Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge continued on West Prairie until Hwy 35, take a left. follow signs to Winona, the first left off bridge and watch for Museum signs. Of course it is along the banks of the backwaters of the Mississippi.)

For a lovely light lunch stop at Elmaro Vineyard. Sit outside on the patio and take in the long distant view of Trempealeau Mountain over fields of grape vines while enjoying wine and tasty treats.

(To get there, its on the way back to Perrot. After following Hwy 35 south in Wisconsin , watch for Delaney Road, take a left and follow signs. You'll now be less than a mile from Wildlife Refuge and close to Perrot.)


After lunch it's time to go back to the campsite and prepare for a hike through Perrot. From the campground start with the an easy stroll along the Riverview Trail. Following along the banks of Trempealeau Bay.

This will lead you all the way to the Headquarters/ Visitor Center. There you can stop and fill up your water bottles, buy a souvienr T-Shirt or Hat and purchase one of the informative field guides to make you next hike up Brady's Bluff a learning experience.

Enter the trail head for East Brady's and prepare for one of the most beautiful views in the Park. Along the way watch for plant blooms on the unique "Goat Prairie" a Wisconsin State Natural Area".

You'll have a chance to relax at the top in the shelter and take in the view. Here's a perfect time for photos. Start down the West side of Brady's Bluff for a variety of stairs and steps ending in a lush fern gully.

Walk the road back to the campground and you can take a shortcut stroll through the prairie garden.

If you've planned ahead you may have gotten a reservation at sites 43, 44, or 45 which have the lovely views over Trempealeau Bay. They cost a little more say $3.00 but they are worth when you can have your campfire dinner overlooking Trempealeau Mountain with its feet it the Bay.

To wind up your night, take a starry night's stroll through the trail behind the campground. Enter around the Group sites and it will open up to another prairie garden on the edge of the park where the night sky opens up . Be sure to bring along a headlamp preferably with a red light to navigate in the dark.

Have a good night.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spring Planning

Bay view camp site-What a way to wake up
It's not to early to begin making plans for camping at Perrot State Park. Reservations are accepted up to 11 months in advance and summer will come.

Bay View Tent Camping Site

To make a reservation you do need to contact Reserve America by calling 1-888-947-2757 or you may go online to

Personalized Camper

The internet provide lots of good information on camping sites, such as length available for vehicles and RV's, electrical hookups and location to flush or vault toliets. Remember all sites require you to back in trailers, there are no pull throughs. RV's staying at the camp ground may make use of the dump station.

Youtube also has a video of sites 1-50. Keep in mind you may want a shady spot in the heat of summer or lots of sun during the cooler seasons.

I just checked some of the availability of popular weekends and they are filling up fast. Keep in mind in May the Trempealeau Hotel hosts Reggae Fest on the weekend of the 17th and a Rockn' the Blues Bash on Memorial Weekend. Trempealeau has Catfish Days on the weekend of July 11.

Display at Visitor Center
You may have to book 2-3 days on popular weekends and reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance. After that it's first come first serve. I do believe the most popular sites on the bay loop for tent campers offering a water view and electrical sites are the first to go and can fill up every weekend for the summer.

Hope to see you camping or enjoying a hike at Perrot State Park.

Monday, March 3, 2014

March Madness

This is not a post about Basketball, rather the crazy weather we are still experiencing. It's driving people mad.

The locals are still going through with ritual dips in the Mississippi River "Freezin' for a Reason" fundraiser. Ice Fishing Shanties are supposed to be off the ice but are frozen in place. The local TV station is having "Beat the Chill, Pay Your Heating Bill" drawing today. Hope I win.

Here's a story to warm hearts. A friend who rents his accommodations which includes the heat, paid his landlord an extra $100 dollars last month to help cover the unusually high heating costs. I know for a fact he's keeping the thermostat down as low as possible because his green bananas wouldn't even ripen. I think that is a wonderful gesture of just being a really good person. Okay maybe he should win the "Beat the Chill.." drawing.

Wrapped and Ready
Like all good Wisconsinites we got out of town for a respite from the snow. Instead of frostbite I traded for 2nd degree sunburn. It was a lot more fun enjoying the ocean, snorkeling, walks on the beach but in the end it turned on me with my freckled skin.

Pelicans on the Beach

We got a chance to visit with many of those migratory birds who knew ahead of time to leave the Midwest and discovered some new exotic flowers.

Solandra Maximum- Cup of Gold

We thought when we came home the weather would have changed, after all, only two years ago we were golfing in March.

We are now on our 45th day of below 0 Fahrenheit temperatures and that's not calculating wind chills. I can't report much on what's happening at Perrot State Park but usually this time of year the Eagles are coupling, the Owls are nesting and the Opossum are actively finding their mates. We hope they are not finding the climate too difficult.

Tomorrow is another day.

Sunrise over San Carlos, Mexico