Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Monarchs Mysterious Migration

This years 2015 State Park Sticker features the Monarch Butterfly.

I fondly remember many summers following butterflies around the yard just to get a closer look. It was always especially exciting when a Monarch Butterfly would come along.

It doesn't seem like there are as many anymore and I found out their numbers are diminishing due the lack of food sources. So see if you can plant some milkweed in your yard and give them a break on their long and unique journey.

Did you know the Monarch Butterfly's journey begins in Mexico and California where they over winter. They start northward beginning in March. It takes four different generations to reach us. They go through egg laying, larvae, pupae, chrysalis then adult stages flying northward for only 2- 6 weeks before starting the next generation.

They arrive here sometime in August when our prairie gardens are in full bloom. Then by September the fourth generation will live for 6-8 months giving them time to return to warmer climates. This last generation somehow mysteriously knows the way home. Millions of butterflies return to the same roosting trees their ancestors spent the previous winter hanging out on. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hip Breaker Ride Returns

The 23rd Trempeauleau HipBreaker Bicycle Ride will return this year on Saturday, May 9. Thanks to Green Heron Bikes and Trempealeau Trails Bicycle Association, this years sponsors.

On this free event, cyclists can pedal the 7 mile loop around Perrot State Park or go all out and do the 40 mile Hip Breaker tour. The mass start is at 9:00 am beginning at the Historic Trempeauleau Hotel.

Green Heron Bikes, which opened up last year in Trempealeau will host an open house. For more details give them a call at 608-534-7433 (RIDE) for all your questions. If you need to rent a bike they do that too.

Check out trempdetour.com for a complete map of "LOOPS" for great bike rides on the back roads of Trempealeau County.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

We'll Miss You

It's a sad farewell as we see the removal of so many Ash Trees around our area. From street boulevards and backyards to even Perrot State Park. No place is immune to the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. This wood boring beetles larvae prefers feeding on the Ash Tree. Now millions of Ash Trees have been killed off and millions more are susceptible.

When you visit the park you will notice in the campground the remnants of many large shade trees that gave campers respite from the sun. Maybe your favorite site will feel a bit different and maybe a little less private. With time this will pass, the sun will now reach younger trees spurring growth and creating a new canopy.

This spring the employees at Perrot have worked hard to clear the way for returning campers. To make the campground and picnic areas safe by removing trees that posed a threat. When you visit the park remember fondly the trees that held our heads high towards the sky and regard those that had the unpleasant job of having them removed.  

Note: A reminder to all that there is a 10 mile quarantine around Perrot for moving firewood. It's just one step of many that helps prevent the spread of invasive insects and diseases. The Friends of Perrot provide fire wood for sale at the park and the proceeds go towards the Nature Center and it's programs.


Thursday, April 9, 2015


The Queen of RV travel recommended a new app for the purpose of planning RV trips. If she says it's wonderful, it probably is. So I had to find out for myself how "Roadtrippers" stacked up.

My excursion to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge was my next outing for a daytrip so why not try it. I just might like it. It wasn't too far from home so I didn't expect anything new to come up. But lo and behold the outing, to witness the mating dance of Sandhill Cranes, was surpassed by the most unusual and kinda creepy graveyard I've ever seen.

I bet that got your attention. This roadside attraction is easy to find. Just north of Sparta, WI on highway 21 is FAST Corporation. You'll recognize the property as you drive by because of the huge forms of animals and bodies strewn about the landscape. They actually are the fiberglass forms used in casting those humongous statues for advertising businesses or whatever. They ranged from elephants and dragons to water slides for kids.

Various Heads
FAST Co. stands for Fiberglass Animals, Shapes and Trademarks. They welcome visitors to browse and take photos. One of their projects many people from Wisconsin may recognize is the 145 foot long Musky in Hayward's Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Here's a few of my favorites.
Big Boy



Hayward Hall of Fame

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Badgers Power

It's been "Badger"mania for Wisconsinites this March. The madness comes from the University of Wisconsin basketball teams success in the Final Four. Unfortunately they didn't maintain their hold. This brings up the subject of my blog to cover the touted tenacity of the America Badger, also our state's mascot.

I've never seen one personnally but there is a stuffed on in the headquarters at Perrot State Park.

The American Badger can be found throughout the state (except State Street) but primarily makes its home or rather "burrows" in native prairies and savannas. Their fierce reputation  results from the long front claws that allow them to rapidly dig holes invading and eating other subterranean species. Their own burrows can be 12- 50 feet. Plus an articulated lower jaw allows them to hold on with unparalleled tenacity. Allowing them to duke it out with animals much larger.

The male Badger called a boar can weigh up to 40 pounds but when confronted can appear much larger as it's hairs stand on end. This nocturnal creature has exceptionally good hearing and smell plus a special membrane that protects its eye while digging.

Maybe next year the Badgers will take the title. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Bodega Bay and Beyond Pt. Reyes

Our Shore escapades to Point Reyes included a drive up Hwy 1 to partake of oysters and the views.

We stopped at Hog Island Oyster Company, a quaint bayside operation, for some extremely fresh oysters and some BBQ'd. We traveled the lovely but precarious Hwy 1 up to Bodega Bay (the site of the film "The Birds") for more Oyster PoBoys and Saltwater Taffy and a stop at shops.
Oyster Co. order counter

Harvesting outing
Tomales Bay operations

Hog Island picnic area

Fun Carvings
Favorite kind of decorating

Bodega Bay Head Overlook

Sittin' on the Rocks in the Bay

Tomales Bay


Another New Favorite California Lilac

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hostel Conditions at Pt. Reyes

Don't worry everything's cool. I mean Youth Hostel, although I dropped the youth a long time ago.

It's my desire to always try and stay in the park when traveling, since it was too far to take HaRVey  the RV we opted to stay in the only accommodations at Point Reyes, a Hostel. They are very affordable, very modest and offer kitchen facilities to the occupants. They also offer more private quarters for families.

Main building
Common area for grilling

I find the advantage of location to outweigh other amenities. Plus you meet other travelers who are friendly and often like minded. We enjoyed hosteling in New Zealand years ago and recommend this alternative to regular hotels.

New Family Building with private rooms
Deck off kitchen

Kick'en back after a day of hiking

No cell reception-no problem


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Flora & Fauna of Pt. Reyes

On any visit to a park I'm always excited to see new plants and animals in person.
At Point Reyes National Seashore I was blessed to see Gray Whales (sorry no pictures), Elephant Seals and many unnamed variety of birds and critters. Spring blooms were everywhere we hiked, here are a few of my favorites, especially the California Poppies.

Elephant Seals

Tule Elk


Mallard Ducks

Shore Birds

Crab in Estero

Banana Slug


Morning Glories


Douglas Iris

Pussy Ears

Indian Paintbrush

Sky Lupine
California Poppy

Poison Oak

 and some not so favorite plants.

Friday, April 3, 2015

California Escapade

From Winter to Spring we had our own respite to warmer shores. Our escape included Point Reyes National Seashore in northern California. Just an hour from San Francisco this hiking haven feels like you're at the end of the world with long vistas of ocean beach and the fact there is no reception for communicating to the outside world. A true escape.


Limantour Beach to Sculptured Beach


Bear Valley Visitor Center
As with all parks we had to take advantage of the Ranger led Nature Programs. Pt. Reyes area original inhabitants were the Miwok people. The interpretive program included a visit to a recreated village called a Kule Loklo. The Circle building is still use by people of the Miwok nation and we had a chance to enter this sacred building. Sorry no photos were allowed. They had just celebrated the equinox and fresh flowers and recent ceremonial fires still scented this below ground sanctuary.

Miwok Sweat Lodge

Miwok Circle-Ceremonial & Gathering Building
Miwok Shelter




Another must do at Pt. Reyes was the lighthouse. We had a nice clear day for our climb down the 300 plus steps. Here you get the chance to see the Gray Whale migration along the coast. We saw many with their young as they surfaced, however it was so brief there were no photo opportunities.


View from Lighthouse

Earthquake Divide
      Other highlights include:

The San Andreas fault runs through the park. Pictured is the result of the early 1900's quake that moved this fence 16 feet.

Many ranches still exist, here's one preserved from the mid 1800's.

Unusual hikes through areas called Estero's

Plus of course a sunset at the beach.


1800's Ranches


Sunset on Limatour Beach