Tuesday, October 27, 2015

SunDay FunDay Part 1

Rotary Lights starting earlier and earlier
Summer and fall are my camping season. In order to spice up my weekends in the upcoming months of snow and ice my focus is on a some fun every Sunday. This is good therapy, as so many things that I enjoy are over and it can be a long winter.

Happily as things close down other opportunities open up.

Looks like the tide is out at Riverside Park.

The last  Sunday of October and we hit it right.

A journey to downtown La Crosse started with the farmers market, then the Antique and Flea Market at the La Crosse Center. We walked through Riverside Park where they were stringing up the millions of lights for the holidays and Riverside International Gardens.

Charmont boutique Hotel

After our morning walk we decided to explore the new Boutique Hotel the "Charmont". Some may remember it as the former Ross of La Crosse Building or originally as the Funk Candy Factory.

Since our favorite Sunday treat is a Bloody Mary, we just had to see if they got it right.

Bloody Done Right

Indeed they did, with a view to relish.

We ordered their Bloody, a superb concoction of spices, that never tired your palette. I heard they use a lot of coriander from a very reliable source. OKay la la, I won't tell. The side chaser of beer, dark being a favorite, was so delicious we had to have a second round.

Seating and gas fire pits

Just drink up this view. They have a roof top bar. This being their first year, they only serve beer and wine up top, but they promised next year more selections and a wood fired pizza oven will be seasoned by then.
Love Rain Chains

Roof top bar and Herb Garden wall to the left.

Don't Miss the Mississippi beyond.

Postcards from the Ledge

Monday, October 26, 2015


I admit it, I suffer from Artist Deficit Disorder.

My first Pine Needle Basket
Gotta get my fix on art classes, or learning a new craft technique or just downloading the 50% coupon for local craft stores to peruse the aisles for a new toy to play with.

Outdoor deck at Reserve

After my hikes at Wildcat Mountain State Park I headed over to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve for a class on Pine Needle Basketry, offered by the Driftless Folk School.

There's so much to share in that last sentence.

Kickapoo Valley Reserve-a preserved wetland gem of over 8000 acres. Lots of outdoor recreational activities and educational center. A must do for another time.

Driftless Folk School- a regional organization in the Kickapoo Valley offering hands-on classes in the culinary arts, crafts, homesteading, farming, wilderness skills, alternative energies and sustainable living. I like their motto "Linking the wisdom of the past with the aspirations of the future".

Okay maybe it's the old hippie coming out but I would love to take every class they have. So I picked my first class because it's used so often in gourd design.

Pine Needle Basketry- a great introduction into using needles from the long leafed pine tree (southern tree) and sewing/wrapping them together with a synthetic sinew into coils around a base. The teacher Roberta Condon of Portage, Wisconsin is an accomplished pastel artist and basket weaver. She shared her expertise and enthusiasm for this ancient craft with new modern twists and turns.

I think a trip to her studio is in order.
Roberta Condon artist
Roberta Condon artist

Roberta Condon artist

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Observation Point
My solo trip to Wildcat Mountain State Park began with the prettiest autumn drive through the driftless area. Winding along meandering streams and guided by bluffs I entered the Kickapoo Valley. Home to one of the crookedest rivers and the canoe capitol of Wisconsin, the area is rich in scenery.

I would have preferred to take HaRVey the RV to the park and stay awhile but alas there are no electrical sites, unless you have a horse of course. This beautiful park caters to horsey people and you need to have one of the equine companions to reserve an electrical site.

So for one morning I needed to absorb as much of the park, since my afternoon was booked.

Observation Point is a must, giving you a wide view of the valley below at 1200 feet above sea level. A little overcast and windy but still worth the trip.

Start of Hemlock Trail
I also attempted the Hemlock Nature Trail to get to Mount Pisgah but I was ill equipped. Made me sick that I didn't bring a walking stick. The ground was covered with wet leaves making my hiking more of a challenge than I would like.  Needless to say I didn't reach the top to view the ancient valley.

Ice Cave

Ice Cave Trail was next on my list and a short walk brought me to a very secluded part of the park. Not so much of a cave but a shallow depression of eroded sandstone. I heard it's pretty neat in the winter the spring water creates a big hanging icicle.

This would be an easy snow covered hike.


Wish I had more time to play in the park but I had to get to my next destination.

The video of Observation Point doesn't do the view justice but I had to add it anyway.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fall Finds

We spent the first two weekends of October camping with HaRVey the RV at Perrot State Park. The beautiful fall colors and warm sunny days made it a delight to walk the trails. No more bugs and all you needed was a light jacket.

Along Perrot Ridge trail I found the American Chestnut. Trying to gather them up was a bit of a challenge since the outer husk is so spiny.

This fairly rare find is a good sign that they may be coming back. This tree was once more prevalent than the oak tree. Due to a blight in the early 20th century they were nearly wiped out. All it took was the introduction of an exotic variety of Chestnut tree that was shipped to the US for a landscaping option.

The American Chestnut nourished not only the woodland creatures but was a source of food for people too.

My other great moments in the woods was capturing with my camera a Red Tailed Hawk and the Great Blue Heron.

You never know when you are going to be in the right place at the right time. It's always good to have that camera ready.

Monday, October 12, 2015


in Baraboo, WI
Here's another adventure while camping at Devil's Lake State Park.

Destination- Baraboo's newest distillery with a production tour and some lovely libations.

Oak and Smoke , Driftless Old Fashion Cocktails

The Driftless Glenn Distillery opened it's doors this year with a great restaurant and distillery located right along the Baraboo River.

This quaint oasis has some unusual drinks made exclusively from their own distilled spirits, fresh ingredients and their own label of  Oils and Vinegars.


We ordered two different drinks the Driftless Old Fashion and the Oak and Smoke.

Very unique flavors using the vinegars.


We purchased the black cherry balsamic which would also be great on salads. You get to taste all sorts of Renee's Oils and Vinegars and they have ideas and recipes to go with.


To accompany our cocktails we shared some appetizers. It's nice to find something other than batter fried cheese curds.

Copper Distillery

We had time to take a tour of the production house featuring a 44 foot tall pot still.  Then a view of the rick house where the barrels age.

Tall Pot Still

They are currently aging bourbon and rye, but their gin, vodka, brand and moonshine were all available for sampling at the end of our tour. Plus a souvenir glass.

Selfie, viewing the fermenting grains

Did you known Bourbon is uniquely American. All ingredients and processing is required in our country to be called bourbon.

rick house for aging barrels

We especially liked the Gin.

One is called WisconGin which incorporates locally grown ginger and ginseng for flavoring.

The one we purchased was the Navy Strength Gin that has a real juniper blast at 114 proof. This bottle we will put aside for a special occasion. A real sipping gin.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Old Baraboo

On our trip to Devils Lake we visited the small town of Baraboo.

Historic Posters

The Ringling Brothers Circus originated in Baraboo back in 1884 and served as the wintering headquarters until 1918. After buying Barnam and Baily Circus they moved to Florida.

Original Building for Exhibits

Can you imagine a town packed with exotic animals, clowns and carnival sorts coloring the streets during the long Wisconsin winters. Was this the place we were suppose to run away too. It wasn't that far from my hometown, had I only known.

Restored Circus Wagons

Remember the days of the Circus coming to town. You can relive the days in Baraboo, WI at Circus World Museum, a Wisconsin Historic Site.

Restoration Area
The exhibits include the largest collection of circus wagons, plus old posters and costumes, displayed in the original buildings that housed the animals. During summer months they even have live acts.

Minature Murals/Displays of Circus Life

It took me back to when I was younger and saw the Great Circus Parade of 1963 in downtown Wisconsin.

Real Flea Circus

Other attractions included the home of Al Ringling and a Theater House. Maybe next time on our list of things to do.

Lots of Artifacts to blow you away

Al Ringlings Home

Circus costumes

Monday, October 5, 2015

Devils Lake

View from past the South Shore 
We caught our first glimpse of fall color this first weekend in October at Devil's Lake State Park, just outside of Baraboo, Wisconsin.

It was not our first time, to one of the busiest parks in Wisconsin. Many years ago, more than I'd like to admit, we camped in tents in early June at Devil's Lake to catch the hot air balloons races in the Wisconsin Dells. We happen to be the only ones to drag ourselves up early enough for the dawn ascension.

View on East Bluff over Lake
It was well worth it and glad we did it because they no longer hold the event. The big farm field where it took place has been replaced by humongous indoor water parks and entertainment centers.

The area still holds a special fondness for the hike around the lake. This Driftless area offers some of the most breathtaking vistas, but it has it's price with a hell of climb or descent depending on which way you begin.

Our legs were just shaking by the time we finished the East Bluff Trail and going down the Potholes Trail. Very step with narrow steps. Fortunately we had our walking poles.

We were just happy to be down off the rocks and it didn't matter we still had another mile and a half to go on the Tumbled Rocks Trail.

Peregrine Falcon
We spied a Peregrine Falcon, or maybe he saw us first. The area is an ideal habitat with steep cliffs. As you would guess rock climbers love it here too. As always it's climb at your own risk.

Another attraction for sports lovers is scuba diving. The lake is 50 feet deep making it an ideal place for certification. Maybe they will find my "Bite Me" hat at the bottom of the lake. Lost it when we went out on the electric motor raft.

North Shore Chateau

If you don't have your own water craft they do rent out sailboats, paddle boats, kayaks and canoes. If you forget anything their concessions are rather extensive for a state park. Offering fish fry on Fridays, Ice Cream shop and plenty of souvenir's.

After a nice long hike on our first day we settled into HaRVeys weekend home in the Quartsite Campground. A bit open for our liking but since it was cooler out, the sun was welcome. The park was completely full for the weekend. Our campground looked like a refuge camp. People, tents, camping gear everywhere. Fortunately we could leave when we wanted to, not like a real life event.

Tumbled Rocks Trail

Jambalaya Cast Iron Cooking
We always enjoy a campfire the first night and planned on making a big pot of Jambalaya. If you want the recipe it was very simple and easy to assemble.

Devil's Lake is one of the oldest parks in Wisconsin established in 1911. But it's history as a destination began 45 years earlier. A passenger train which still runs through the park brought many people to several elegant hotels (now gone) which used to cater to wealthy vacationers.

National Park pass holders will be glad to know Devil's Lake honors them for entrance to the park.

We finished up out stay with a wonderful visit with the Quartsite camp hosts. Lynne and De. A couple of great gals who know the meaning of Glamping.

More information in the next blog on our side trips into Baraboo.