Monday, October 19, 2015

South by southwest ... maybe

Wednesday, Oct. 7, came, and along with it, frost.  No matter, I could delay a bit, but I still had to pack all my stuff on my bike and get on the road today.  Sometimes I wonder how I get it all on there.  But I do.  We went to breakfast and in that time the frost was gone, and then we had to go our separate ways.  It’s always sad but it has to be done.

The colors have gotten brighter as I head back to the barn.  Maybe next time I'll see them at their peak.
I rode through some places we’d been through two years ago, and remembered that trip.  It’s always fun … especially when I saw the place we’d stopped that had a lot of wood cut outs in the yard.  This was the place Biker Bill got me the Beagle cut outs … two big ones and two little ones … a whole Beagle family that doesn’t pee, poop or throw up on the carpet.  They also don’t eat much or require a sitter when I’m not there.  Or get up on the table and steal food.

The ride was awesome, although I was still cold.  The mornings have had cloud cover and then it dissipates and warms up in the afternoon and I can remove several layers. 

Spooky place.
The best part of the day was going through Fall Creek, Wisconsin … I passed a house that was the most-decorated one I’ve ever seen when it comes to Halloween.  I had to turn around and go back to take some pictures. 

This photo doesn't do this place justice ... for a spooky house, that is.
It’s the Bates Dead and Breakfast, and it had it all … stuff on the roof, in the yard, a hearse, a graveyard.  There was a lady on the porch and I spoke with her.  She told me to come on in the yard and look around.  There was even a guest book to sign. 

This is the entrance to the graveyard.

Ghouls, ghosts, skeletons.  This place has it all.
The hearse was my favorite.
It was a great ride, except I was enjoying it so much I never turned onto the road I was supposed to follow and ended up in Menomonie.  I was supposed to be going southwest not northwest.  And that, folks, is how I get my miles.  Hahaha. 

So, it was time to really turn south and I ended up following a part of 35, which is the Great River Road along the Mississippi River.  Jaz and I had taken a part of this when we rode down here earlier this year, so it wasn’t all bad.  I actually followed it a bit further, ending up in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, for the night at a not-so-great motel.  But it was getting close to dark and I’d not seen anything else. 

The best part of staying here was that it was right across the street from the railroad tracks so there were trains going through.  I only heard the first two, but it made me think of the movie, “My Cousin Vinny.”  His sleep had been disturbed during the night because of the trains going through.  So the next morning he asks the front desk clerk if the train always goes through at that time of night and the desk clerk says, “no.”  The train comes again the next night.  He’s irritated, and goes back to the desk clerk.  I thought you told me the train doesn’t go through here at that time of night all the time.  The clerk says, “It doesn’t.  It was late that day.”  I thought it was funny and enjoyed my trains.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Great White Deer Hunters

On Monday, Oct. 5, I was up and my bags were packed.  It was time to get them loaded onto the bike but wait, I didn’t need to do that.  Actually, I loaded the one on the back seat as I also use it for a backrest, and the other went into the truck.  Biker Bill would be driving as that’s how we’d be doing our hunting.  Off we went; I let him lead. 

We took our time as we really didn’t have all that far to go … and I’m glad as the day was overcast and there was a bit of a drizzle here and there.  It seemed further than we really went as I just don’t have the riding gear here that I have at home.  The temperatures are in the 50s and sometimes 60s, but it feels colder due to the dampness in the air.  Suck it up.  Okay.

Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, was our destination for the day, and we got there pretty early.  We got checked into the hotel and then we waited as closer to dusk is the best time to hunt.
This one looked like she was in jail.

Hunting was good.  The little one was so cute.  And only a little curious.
Off we went … hunting the elusive white deer.  Some here are albino with the pink eyes; others are just white with light eyes, but they aren’t a true albino.  It doesn’t matter.  A white deer to me, is a white deer.  They’re spectacular, they’re beautiful, and I love seeing them even if I can’t get the perfect photo.  The one tonight was a true rare one … a white doe that had a white fawn.  Most of the ones we’ve seen in the past have had brown fawns, so this sighting was a treat that had me laughing and practically jumping up and down.  I would have except I was in the car.

This one was part of a group of about 14 deer that we saw in someone's yard.
We drove around some more, and while we saw about 18 deer, we only saw the one white one and her baby.
Butt shot ... mom and baby.

I never got a shot of them together that was that good.  She mostly stood between us and her fawn, and it was nearly dark by now.

The young one was ready to run.
And wasn't nearly as graceful as mom.
Then it was time for a bit of dinner … and back to the hotel for the night.

We were up again and out on Tuesday, Oct. 6. 
There are some colors here but I never did see the ones we had hoped to see on this trip.
This time we saw 27 deer.  Most of these run in a herd, and there was even a little spike buck.  He was so cute.  And we saw a different white doe who had a brown fawn.  So my visit here to hunt the white deer was complete.  Some people never see them, but I had a guide who knew how to give me what I wanted.  Yay!!!
Off in the brush to the right you can see her brown fawn.  It really blends with the foliage.

In this one she looked like she was saying, "What you lookin' at?"
It was time for our good byes.
You're leaving?

We're so sad to see you go.

And we even saw a 7-point buck.  That's the biggest one we've seen.

Just go ...
Then it was time to head down the road again toward Park Falls, Wisconsin, where we’d spend our last night together and I’d then head south and west, back to Phoenix.

It was a pleasant ride.  There were some beautiful colors, and the riding today made me think of Alaska, except here you look for deer rather than moose and the road signs don’t have multiple bullet holes in them. 
Beautiful colors were around this little lake although they still didn't seem quite as numerous as when we were down a couple of years ago.
Near Park Falls we were going to drive around looking for the place to walk in to where there's a deer stand that a friend of Biker Bill's has. 
In preparation, we stopped and got a couple of pumpkins to put out for the deer.  This guy had a good system.  You figure out the size of the pumpkin and pay according to size as shown on the sign, and put the money in the mailbox.
We found the place, although we weren't sure of it until later.  We didn't walk in.  The mosquitoes were terrible, so I was glad.  So now he gets to keep the food he got and take it back to Michigan.

Still more colors.  My favorite place to photograph them is along an old dirt road.

This was out in the middle of nowhere.  It looked like a lady sitting in a chair.  She's even wearing glasses.  Very strange. 
And then we saw the biggest buck of the trip ... no hunting here, though.
The day was good, and it was time for a good night’s rest before pushing on for the final legs of this trip.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Getting dirty isn't my thing

Well it truly is time to work and it’s been a busy several days between Tuesday, Sept. 29, and Sunday, Oct. 4.  The one reprieve I got was on Thursday, Oct. 1 when we rode to Marquette and I got the bike serviced.  It was a cold ride as it was a bit drizzly here and there, and we had cloud cover all day, so it added to the dreariness and dampness.  But we were riding.  So I can’t complain too much.

Along the way when we were gassing up, for some reason I looked at Biker Bill’s license plate.  His tag was expired.  What?  Both of us?  Except his had expired in 2013.  Haha.  I covered for him.  But the funny thing was that his 2013 and mine that’s good until 2017 are both green, so they looked the same.  Unless we got stopped, of course.

We were able to get safely back to the lake house and get the bikes back into the garage.  He later found the tag for the bike.  That was pretty funny.  He’s ridden way more miles on expired than I have.  But we’re both legal again.  Yay!!!

The other days were spent running working and errands:

Getting the television hooked up

Putting up posts, no trespassing signs and cord on our property

Measuring the size of some deer stands for the new one Biker Bill’s building

Setting out trail cams, changing memory cards and looking at photos

Separating out apples we’d appropriated on our trip, big ones and bite-sized

Buying corn, sugar beets, cabbages and pumpkins

We put all the apples into crates for easy access.
The food is for the deer who might eat better than some people.  But then the works begins as after you get the stuff, most of it has to be cut up and then bagged for easier storage, except the corn that has to be taken from 100-pound bags and poured into metal containers.  Big knives and hatchets were involved but no injuries occurred.  

The farm where we got the pumpkins had hundreds of them, in the barn, in front of the barn, in front of the house, in the yard.  It was very cool.  I also learned that they hand pick the pumpkins and they pick them green.  They ripen after being picked.  I love all the different colors.

The cabbage folks have a machine that goes through and cuts the head from the ground so all you have to do is put the pitchfork under it and pick it up.  The whole thing was too much for me.  I just ended up picking them up and tossing them onto the trailer.  That worked out way better.

Biker Bill does it the correct way. 

The fields of cabbages just went on and on.  In a way, they are quite beautiful.
The cabbage involves more work as we took off the outer leaves, cut off the cores to make it easier to cut into large pieces before putting it out, and bagged it all in separate bags. 

The trailer was full, and I didn't think we'd ever get finished.
Then you put what you’re feeding for the day in buckets, load it onto the four-wheeler (or I held onto the buckets) and haul it out to the areas to put it down for the deer.  We did this in multiple areas, and when we’d go back to put out more the next day, I couldn’t find a single kernel of corn.  What piggies these deer are.  Of course, they aren’t the only ones eating … squirrels, birds, raccoons.  You name it.  They all eat.
One evening we’d put the food out and hung out at the deer camp, but the deer didn’t show up.  However, when we were driving back into town we must have seen a couple dozen of them.  They were in a huge pasture area and just watched us go by, mostly.  They hadn’t gotten the word that the buffet was open.

The deer are pretty skittish, though, if they're close to the road.
We’ve also seen two families of turkeys most days when we’ve gone to the cabin.  They’re pretty funny, walking along, following their moms.  They don’t linger when you come by, though, so it’s not easy to get a photo.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Both families were together for this photo.  It made me hungry for a turkey dinner.

And in my spare time I made some turkey chili for him and put it in the freezer, what was left, that is.

We hauled the stakes out, pounded them in the ground and then hung the no trespassing signs and strung the cord across.

But I did get to drive the four-wheeler, so I was rewarded for my work.
I’ve also kept watch on the lake, looking for birds, but none appeared for days.  The guy next door has been out duck hunting most mornings, so I think the others have been spooked.  Oh well. 

The sunrises have been brilliant.

If you just wait a while, you get a different look.

There have been a couple of awesome sunrises, so I practiced using my tripod on those.  One morning I was outside and there was a light frost on the bench on the deck.  Ugh.  I didn’t like seeing that as it seems to indicate how my ride out of here will be in a few days.  And then a few days before I left, there was a bald eagle circling and scoping out the area.
Different day.

But taken from the front of the lake house.

A favorite because of the light above the clouds.

There was also time to go to dinner with friends Bill and Teresa, who took us to this great rib and prime rib place.  The wind was howling on the lake when we got home that evening and the waves were ocean-worthy, and something to see.

We went to the store one day and there were all these pumpkins for sale.  Look at all the different colors.

Somehow this just doesn't seem right.  Pumpkins should be orange.

And then ... there was this ... also a pumpkin, or so I was told.
My final night at the lake house was Sunday.  My days of being worked like a dog were finished for this trip.  We looked at the route that we’d take the next day, Monday, Oct. 5, as we were going south and west into Wisconsin, hunting the white deer.  It would be a worthy hunt.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Gotta pay the piper

We headed back to Escanaba on Monday, Sept. 28.  Now it was time to pay the piper as Biker Bill, the hunter, would be putting me to work.  I saw what I thought were a couple of dogs frolicking in a field, but it was two deer, playing and running.  What a sight to see, and I didn’t get a photo as I was too busy enjoying watching them.
It was a beautiful day to be a tourist.
Our last lighthouse on the tour was the Au Sable Lighthouse.  Originally called the Big Sable Light Station, the name was changed in May 1910 to conform to its geographic location on Lake Superior.  The name means “with sand,” and was named for the nearby Grand Sable Dunes.

This is the path we were walking, a nice walk in a pretty setting.
To get to the station we had to walk 1.7 miles one-way.  That worked for me as I’d not been doing the walking I’ve been used to doing.  The path to the lighthouse was a good one, well-packed and easy for walking.  We did stop along the way to take a few photos and to do our usual looky-loo. 

In the early days, maybe even as early as 1622, mariners recognized that Au Sable Point was a hazard to the booming Lake Superior boat traffic.  The reef of Jacobsville sandstone sometimes lay only a few feet beneath the surface and to add to the danger, there was often a thick fog laying on the water.  In fact, a number of ships were blown onto the shore near Au Sable Point and the Pictured Rocks area.  Some were carrying iron ore while others carried various cargoes including coal, fish, lumber and passengers.
The white sand and waves is beautiful, but who knew how treacherous they could be when Mother Nature got riled.
Congress took action in 1872 appropriating $40,000 to build a lighthouse.  The State of Michigan sold 326 acres of land to be used for the station to the federal government for $407, and on Aug. 19, 1874, the light began operating.

The light tower is 86 feet high, and at the tower base, the walls are more than four feet thick.  The light originally burned lard oil but was later changed to burn kerosene.  When a Fresnel lens was installed, the white light was visible 17 miles out on the lake.
As we came out of the trees on the path, this was our first glimpse of the Au Sable Lighthouse.

This is looking at it from the other side.
The original home for the head keeper was designed as a single dwelling, but was converted to a double dwelling once an assistant keeper was assigned to the post. 

Supplies for the station usually came by boat and landed at a small pier at the base of the foghorn building.  However, in the winter, sometimes snowshoes, sleds and dog teams were used to get supplies from Grand Marais, 12 miles to the east. 

This appeared to be the dock where they unloaded the supplies.
While the station was transferred to the National Park Service in 1968, the Coast Guard continues to maintain the beacon and a solar panel.  Volunteers have been reconstructing and renovating the site since 1988, painting, clearing vegetation and rehabilitating the stairs to the beach and the sidewalks.

A lone goose was looking out to sea ... for his mate? 
A solitary leaf lay on the path, its changing colors showing up like a ruby in the dirt.

There were numerous little paths and walkways down to the water and sand.
From the lighthouse we kept heading back toward Escanaba, and on the way I was put to work appropriating apples as deer bait.  We actually made quite a haul as we stopped at a few out-of-the-way trees.

Yeah, we ran through the brambles and we ran through the bushes, gathering apples as we went. 
Our final stop was to go through a piece of the Seney National Wildlife Refuge.  I so wish this day had been a beautiful one, but by the time we reached the 7-mile stretch of road around the water it was raining so hard the road was in the process of turning to mud.  The big draw here?  What else?  Swans.  There were so many pairs, and I tried to get photos, but it really wasn’t to be.  The day was dark, the rain was pouring down and I was heartsick.  I’ll have to come back here another time and you know that with the swans here, it will happen.  I was just happy to see them.  We’ve seen a lot of swans on this trip, so I’ve been very pleased.

A dark, dismal, rainy day.  But the swans don't seem to mind.
Practicing for a take-off?

They get so filthy when they're down in the weeds in the water feeding.

It’s been quite a tour of Upper Michigan.  It became the 26th state in 1837, Lansing was chosen as the capital in 1847, 1867 Red Jacket was settled and the name was changed to Calumet in 1929.  Whoo.  That’s a lot of history in a few days.