Thursday, July 16, 2015

Passing of the Pigeon

A commemorative plaque at Wyalusing State Park of the Passenger Pigeon is there to remind us about a bird that once was thought to be the so numerous its supply was unending. The flocks blackened the daytime sky and their masses broke limbs from trees as they congregated.

People of the 1800's, the European settlers, not the native americans, took what they wanted for food, wasting millions more and destroying others as they were bothersome. So numerous, the Passenger Pigeons were thought to be the largest population of any bird species. Until the unchecked decimation reached a level that surpassed their ability to reproduce. Now they are history.

Today we have conservation laws and efforts to protect our natural resources. These efforts are slowly being eroded away in the interest of progress/greed/business opportunities. We are seeing it as a new power line is being installed, their disregard for scheduling in sensitive habitats. New legislation that undermines the study of effects of removing natural resources and contamination and cleanup costs disregarded.

I certainly hope people will be able to look back in time and be able to say thank god for our State Parks and the land that was preserved for the sake of the animals and for all to enjoy, because it's man that keeps screwing things up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wyalusing State Park

Tent sites on the edge of the ridge.
HaRVey the RV and us ventured to another state park, along the Great River Road, Wyalusing State Park. Located in the beautiful driftless region, it borders the rivers edge of the Wisconsin and the Mississippi Rivers.

The only electric site on the edge.

Fireworks in Prairie du Chien
We were in site 120E of the Wisconsin Ridge Campground giving us a bird's eye view of the valley below. A very good site for some privacy, our little oasis on the end of the campground was electrified and close to the Knob shelter for coffee with the sunrise. Great idea but in reality I never got up before 6:00am.

From one overlook to another

Knob Shelter
We weren't right on the edge for our own view but could take advantage of some beautiful overlooks when needed. Site 143E  is the only electric site on the edge for those of you wanting to know. Our vistas took advantage of some fireworks in Prairie du Chien and some lovely sunsets. Plus a lots of Turkey vultures soaring along the edges.

Procession Plaque

There are lots of hiking trails and some for bikes too. We traversed the Sand Cave Trail a total of 2.4 miles taking  us past two sand caves. Very doable even for us. Although now I always recommend a walking stick, it's just like an additional third leg and steadies me when taking photographs. Also makes a good pointer, by george.

Wyalusing park also has a procession of Indian Mounds. The area is also noted for the Effigy Mounds, National Monument right across the river in Iowa. It's on our list of to do's for next year so I won't elaborate.

Effigy Mound of a bear

Observing deck with computerized scope
For one evening we were entertained by the Starsplitters of Wyalusing. The local Astronomy group that puts on programs a couple of times a month right in the park. We were lucky enough to have one our weekend. They have some pretty nice equipment, all you have to do is hope for clear skies and no moon.

We also paddled around the backwaters of the Mississippi River for  a little cooler adventures.

There was plenty to do around the park for a few days. We ventured into the local towns but there wasn't much we found of interest and were happy to hang out at the park.

Observation point

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

First Batch Has Hatched

If you lived along the Mississippi River in the summer, you've experienced the swarms of Mayflies. Although they hatch in late June to July, not May as one might expect, these short-lived insects hatch, breed and die in a single day.

To the amazement of outsiders, billions of Mayflies can cause bridge and road closures as their decaying bodies pile up inches over night creating slick surfaces. Never fear the snow plow trucks serve a dual purpose clearing the way again. The even show up on weather radar. It's raining Mayflies.

I was enlightened to their cycled many years ago when the Heart of La Crosse made their debut at the Pump House, giving us their interpretation of the lifecycle of the Mayfly. You had to be there.

While you are sleeping the hatch begins and the mating follows. The females return to their water source to lay the eggs, while the male goes to the proverbial light. Yes, if you leave your porch light on you'll have your own collection at your doorstep in the morning. So gas stations, downtown streets, the Cass Street Bridge are the gathering points for the mass exodus.

Now since Perrot State Park doesn't have many street lights to attract these buggers you won't find the big messes. The fisherman will tell you thought the aquatic life is well fed during these hatchings and on the plus side the appearance of the Mayfly is an indication of a healthy water system.