Once when I was a kid, and we had just got back from a trip to the Smoky Mountains, my dad showed slides from the trip. In among the March images was this crazy picture of a black bear sticking his snout out from behind some flowers. I was dumbfounded. "Where was I when you took that picture?" "Weren't you scared?" "Did you get any other pictures of the bear?" It was only years later that I realized the image was fake, one of those slides you buy in a gift store. It was the flowers that gave it away. We were there in March and there was nothing blossoming. This picture has that feel about it. Here we are, temperatures and leaves dropping, and here's this flower. It seems so out of place. Our dahlias, too, are gorgeous right now, but summer is done. They should be dead.
This is the walking bridge at Glen Park, over the South Fork, right before it enters the Kinni. Beautiful park, bridge, and waterfalls, here. Tomorrow, a picture of a great turn-of-the-century plate with an image of this same area.
Gorgeous fall day today, but there was wind moving the early dead off of trees. Time for us northerners to stock up on furnace filters, ice melt, and Hershey bars (for roadside emergency kits (to be eaten when there are no sweets in the house (leaving an unsuspecting spouse to perish of starvation in a ditch during some sort of superstorm))). Our days are numbered, and the squirrels know it. They are working extra hard, building up stores of walnuts and fat.
It sure looks like a nice fall day for golf, doesn't it? Yeah, sure, if you like hurricane winds. Had one shot, fifty yards right of the pin, land pin high after the wind worked it's magic. But, like they say, "A bad day golfing is better than a good day working." True'dat!
So, the Kinnickinnic flows to the St. Croix. This is the St. Croix right below where the Kinni flows into it. Ten miles below this, the St. Croix connects up with the mighty Mississippi. Lots of water recreation takes place on this stretch of water, and then, suddenly, to the north, it becomes a jagged nightmare of rocks and shallows. Just before that area, there are some really neat pontoon port-a-potties. No need to pee in the water or drag the boat ashore, just pull up, climb off, and away you go.
This one, the Willow River flows into the St. Croix north of here near the town of Hudson. It is another gorgeous river with a state park on it. Unlike the Kinnickinnic, which has the Kinnickinnic State Park on it, you can camp at Willow River. The hike to the water fall is worth it, but for purity of experience, the trail on the north side of the river is the best.
This puts the age of our house in perspective. This postcard image dates to three years after our house was built. The wide streets, so that horses could turn around with a cart behind, provided the space for the cool center island that runs the length of Main. Accidental aesthetics are the best.
What the heck. There's nothing wrong with two in one day. I like the waters flowing over some water vegetation here. Kinnickinnic northeast of town in the middle of a short stretch of knuckle-busting shallow water. My hands still hurt from this kayak trip.
I tend to bad mouth the upper Midwest. Not because it is a bad place, but rather because there are no bits of greatness to it, no Grand Canyon, no ocean, no jaw-dropping beauty. I like to use the "Four Hour Rule" as my basis for griping. Take San Francisco. A four hour radius gets you to the Sierra Nevadas, Oregon, LA, Yosemite, etc. Four hours from us, gets you to the Wisconsin Dells and South Dakota. Whooooo-hoooo! The Boundary Waters sits right at the upper limit of the "Four Hour Rule," and while it is not the most incredible thing you will ever see, it has to be near the most peaceful. You will never get quiet like you get in the BWCA. When I took this picture, my daughter and I were alone at the edge of the lake. A slight ruffle alerted us to a deer, about two hundred yards away, standing in the water. It was so quiet we could hear the deer from two football fields away simply standing in the water. Incredible!
Just down the road in Spring Valley is the largest show cave in Wisconsin. What you see here is pretty much what you get. Great soda straws and a neat history, but not a lot of huge color, crystallization, or variety of minerals. There are some fossils, and the terrain outside the cave is truly beautiful. Worth a visit if you end up in the area.
There is little to recommend the back side of most main streets. No exception to the rule on the east side of our Main. The west has the river and some effort to spruce up the waterfront. Don't get me wrong. It ain't no San Antonio; but, an effort is at least being made. The east side, though, is just plain ugly. The history has been vanquished, and what remains is little more than junk from the age when no one cared what downtowns looked like. Good luck finding the beauty in this picture (and don't just blame it on my camera (or me)).
Across the Maple Street Bridge is the Ingram Center a location of varied civic organizations and the community gardens. This odd arch sits at its rear. I'm new enough to town that I don't know the history of this yet. Are the shells local? Was this once the community hospital? Why did this merit preservation when so many other historical artifacts have gone by the wayside? Why is my camera set on super dark mode?
Last week, temperatures in the nineties. This week, butting up against freezing. To those who have never lived in a climate like this, it is hard to understand. We don't get the ridiculously dramatic, like hurricanes or Sierra Nevada snowfalls, but we get big winds in the form of tornadoes and we get temperatures that go from -40 to 100 degrees. We have about two months now where we won't need air and (hopefully) we won't need the furnace either. It is the nicest time of year. Bugs are dead or dying, and we get to see the colors change. It's always fun to watch the squirrels hard at work, too.
Gotta get out my tree books here. My daughter grabbed this leaf and immediately identified it as maple. I don't necessarily disagree, but it has an odd feel to it. It has a maple's red, but the look is black maple or something else entirely.
Great walking bridge downtown. Water is shallow, and it is always fun to see what the town thugs have tossed over the side. No bodies or anything, but we have seen a bike, a fishing rod, and a big chunk of concrete. New York's got nothing on us for excitement.
The meters on Main Street our cheap. A penny gets you 12 minutes, and a dime two hours. But, beware, they watch these cheap meters, and, as I can attest, you can get tickets. We've been here a year, and I already have two. One for too long in a coffee shop with only a nickel in the meter, and the other for too long in the hardware store on a penny.