Sunday, June 29, 2014

Piston Envy

Our Big Green Haulin Machine- the Ford F150 was not the vehicle of my dreams, actually I never dreamed of owning a truck. Necessity dictates one when you have to haul around Harvey the RV.

When taking in the Overdrive's Pride & Polish Truck and Beauty Show this past weekend in La Crosse I saw the other side of haulers fantasies. These big rigs were tripped out to compete, and make it to the Nationals in Dallas Texas.

I felt a part of the scene when people would ask was I a driver, "of course I got my own truck and trailer" I replied. I did have to keep the conversation short before they started asking for details, since to me Tork, was Peter of the Monkeys and Cab was something you hailed in the city.

See the details, money burning up
Everything was so shiny and pretty it's hard to look at my Ford the same way. Here's some of the contestants.  My top three favorites.

The fuel looks like vapor

My favorite

notice the gold flecks on the wheel

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tales from the Trail- The Storm

View from Observation Deck
Did you know past Indian Legend believes the rattlesnakes of Perrot State Park and Trempealeau Mountain are there to protect the Indian mounds.

Here's an article from the Independence News-Wave dated Sept. 20, 1919. Copy courtesy of Trempealeau County Historical Society from the files of Judge H. A. Anderson, House of Memories, Whitehall.

Trempealeau Mountain and Indian Legend...

According to an old legend, related by La Fayette A. Bunnell, late of Homer, Minn., Trempealeau Mountain, recently presented to the Wisconsin Conservation Commission by John A. Latsch, of Winona, for a State Park, was once at Red Wing, Minn., and during a terrible storm, was moved by a good spirit to Trempealeau.

The Storm, the story says, prevented a battle between factions of a tribe of Indians. The Bunnell manuscript was written in 1897. According to the legend, the Sioux Indians had a stronghold near Red Wing, Minn. Here a division of the tribe occurred as a result of intermarrying, and some of the warriors developing into effeminate men. Some of them could not finish the trial of the sun dance and the bear dance and had to don the garb of women, according to the law of the tribe. Alliances with other tribes were urged by the chief.

View from Boat Ramp

The story of Trempealeau Mountain follows:

"It so happened that one of the daughters of the chief was in expectation of an alliance with Chaska, a brave of great repute, but the talk of Wah-pa-sha had so impressed him that without saying anything of his purpose, he started off as if for a hunt, but in reality to see and espouse the daughter of Yellow Thunder, a noted Winnebago chief, who, though of Dah-ko-tah origin, was very far removed from the original stock.

"Chaska's absence was first noticed by his charming bride-to-be, who complained to her father. Bows were being strung and spears pointed when the power of the incantations of the high priest burst forth in vivid lightning flashes, the earth trembled and then all was enveloped in darkness most profound.

View from Bay Loop

"The Indians in affright, cast themselves upon the ground, where they remained chanting their death songs in expectation of destruction. But a light appeared and the Indians found that part of their possessions, including the dome-shaped peak and part of Barn bluff estuary had disappeared during the storm. Wah-pa-sha, the elder, and part of his band, had also been torn from Remnechee;s turbulent followers. Witch-e-ran, the virgin, had been left behind.

"A few braves not only declared they would find the truant lover but that they would also recover their lost territory, which they naturally supposed must have been transported with the wind down the  Mississippi. At the site of Winona, they were overjoyed to see, as they approached the landing, the exact counterpart of their sacred dome at Red Wing (Sugar Loaf Bluff).

View from Campground Site
"At Trempealeau they found their lost mountain and they landed on the spot and took possession. Their ears were assailed by the most persistent rattling of numerous rattlesnakes. Upon inquiry they found the bluff was really their old possession, but that the remains of their ancestors on top of the mound were not to be disturbed, but should be held sacred for all time. The snakes were sent out by the high priest into the bluffs to protect the remains from desecration. In consideration of the sacredness of the trust no snakes have been killed by the Indians on this bluff and the bluff is still called by the Winnebagos, in commemoration of the tradition, ' The Sacred Bluff.' "

Friday, June 20, 2014

Starry Starry Nights

Come to Perrot State Park for some amazing gazing this Saturday night beginning at 9pm.

The Nature Center program provided by the Friends of Perrot will be "Universe in the Park". Presented by UW Astronomy Graduate Students. After the inside program stick around for some  night sky viewing through one of their big scopes.

I hope it's a clear night.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rangers to the Rescue

The inhabitants of Perrot State Park consists of many mammals, birds and of course reptiles. Snakes specifically, are found throughout the park and sometimes in the campground. In this case the campers get pretty spooked and a ranger is dispatched to actually rescue the snake from the campers.

Since the park is the snakes sanctuary they are carefully removed to avoid the conflict visitors may impose.

Ranger Justin was just the person for the job that day a fox snake decided to check out the availability of sites in the campground. He gently removed the snake and put him in a bucket in the back of his ranger truck and drove to another location away from the campground.

Before Justin could release the Fox Snake it had already decided his ride was over, ready to head for the hills.

Fox Snakes- can grow up to 6 feet, they have dark blotches and a lighter gray to yellow underbelly with smaller blotches. These nonvenomous snakes  constrict to kill their prey. Sometimes mistaken for copperheads (which are not found in Wisconsin) . They get their name by the musky odor they release when disturbed.

If you want to know more about the snakes in Perrot there are Nature Center programs devoted to the subject, just call the Visitor Center at 608-534-6409 for more information.

Thanks for sharing the photo Justin.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Blackhawk Park

Sittin' on a Chair in the Slough
Our HaRvy the RV adventures took us to Blackhawk Park near Desoto, WI for the weekend.  Blackhawk has lots of water access even boathouse camping. Operated by the  US Army Corps of Engineers, the set up is a bit different from other parks. There's coin operated showers, boat launch fees and 50 percent discounts on camping for seniors, those with disabilities and many national passports. Can't wait to get older.

A real low Point
Searching for a suitable site, aka Electricity, many parks are booked well in advance. We got lucky, we thought with site 47, but later found the park mostly under water. I guess that's what comes with parks along the Mississippi River. We got a site right on a slough where we could cast out our fishing lines and wait for dinner under a lovely mature oak tree. Well we waited and waited, the only thing I caught, unfortunately was a turtle. Very sorry turtle, I hope he made it after releasing him. Some of the best spots along this stretch of electrical sites would be 52 and 51, much more roomy, and  42 and 41 (unreservable) have a better sunset view but there's a night light in the area.

We were met by very friendly staff and joined the Saturday evening program on Fishing Basics by very enthusiastic Ranger Derek from Minnesota. Hope to try fishing again, it was reported not much was biting due to high waters, so now I don't feel so bad.

Painted Turtles basking

Walking around the park we saw lots of turtles, helped a few cross the road, (trying to build back up my karma). and pondered at their raided nesting sites. I guess the crows just watch and wait. We caught a glimpse of three Merganser Ducks and a Northern Water Snake.

Turtle nest destroyed by crows

Air lifting turtle across road

A little help from our Friends

Due to an approaching Thunderstorm we packed up everything Saturday evening and waited for the storm. Every camper took refuge while we hung onto our campfire. I think we appeased the storm gods with a dance around the fire with the help of a few friends.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Turtles - to the Rescue

Not talking about Ninja Turtles but the kind folks that help those turtles crossing the road. It's a common sight around these parts to see turtles farther away from the water searching for or coming from a nesting site. As it happens they sometimes h

ave to cross the road, if possible it's a good thing to stop and assist the turtle in the direction it's going (except for snapping turtles). Kudos to Queen Jester for saving turtles in her area.

Blanding's Turtle
Just too many are injured and killed by motorists. A a note when picking up a turtle they may void themselves, you know pee. Plus as your mother probably told you wash your hands afterwards because of germs, remember they can carry salmonilla.

I recently came across a nice Painted Turtle at the park, just like the ones you get as a kid. They are the most common turtle around.

The Perrot Naturalist is here showing a Blanding's Turtle. Identified by the yellow under the jaw and neck. A species of special concern since their populations are declining. Did you know they aren't sexual mature for 20 years. That's a long time to survive before reproducing. They also can live up to 80 years.

Watching turtles is a great past time, you'll find them basking on logs. munching on plants, swimming along. They appear so content and wise just taking in the world. They also teach us a valuable lesson if you don't stick your neck out you won't get anywhere.

Monday, June 9, 2014


I always carry my camera with me cause ya never know.

Snap and there's a female snapping turtle laying her eggs at Perrot State Park. Good thing I had zoom cause I didn't want to get too close. not only because I would disturb her but she's known to be the most defensive turtle.

Here she is after digging her hole and then she can deposit 25 to 80 eggs, which will hatch in 9-18 weeks depending on temperatures.

Snapping Turtles (chelydra serpentina) can extend their beak like jaws on a neck that will reach to her back legs, very serpentine. Since she can't retract her head all the way back in her shell this is her defense mechanism against other predators.

They are the heaviest freshwater turtle weighing up to 75lbs. This aquatic scavenger lives as long as 30 years and known to live to 47 in captivity.

You can easily tell a snapping turtle by the saw tooth edging on it's shell.