Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
July, 2016 - Beaver Dam, WI

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Iron Ridge Parade and Another Year Older

Last Sunday we went to the Fireman's Parade in the small town of Iron Ridge which is about 30 miles from us.

We had both heard on the radio that the UW-Madison Marching Band was going to be in the parade. If you've never seen them perform, you've missed a great show. I believe they are one of the best, if not the best, college marching band in the country. Their halftime and fifth quarter shows are fantastic.

We figured it wouldn't be the entire band, and we were correct. There were about 25 members, all brass and two percussionists.  Here they are in the parade.

After the parade, there were all kinds of activities at Fireman's Park. We walked over and watched some of the bands perform. I thought it was a real nice touch to allow each band that marched in the parade to put on a little show at the park afterwards. There were community bands, the Horicon High School Band, the UW band, and a Highlander group.

The UW-Madison band did several numbers, getting the audience involved in the fun. The amazing thing about this group is that they look like they are having a blast; but if you really watch and listen, they are fantastic musicians. The girl with the cymbals had incredible twirling skills.

We also enjoyed listening to the Tripoli Shrine Scottish Highlanders perform. They played Amazing Grace which always sounds so beautiful when done with bagpipes.

Things at the campground are starting to slow down a little. We've only been about three-quarters full the last two weekends. Labor Day will be full again, but then September will depend on the weather.  The weather has been very humid this summer. We've had some hot days, too; but the humidity is getting on my nerves. I'm ready for fall to come this year.

Today is my birthday. My last year to be in the 50s before the big 60 next year. I have big plans for the day. I'm working in the morning, going to do laundry at the laundromat and some shopping this afternoon. Two of my least favorite things. Oh well, it has to get done and today is the best day of the week to do it. I will be treating myself and Kevin to a blizzard from Dairy Queen though.

We had planned to go to the Dodge County Fair tomorrow, but temperatures are predicted to be near 90 and humid again, so we'll postpone that adventure until next year. We have to drive into the Milwaukee area tomorrow morning to sign some documents at our financial planners office, so we're going to stop and visit my mom and have lunch with her.

Then we'll stop at Eric's  house to pick up the new laptop I ordered. My current laptop is eight years old and has Vista as the operating system. Although it still works, it is very slow, and it was time for an update. The new one has Windows 10. I hope I like it. I've put off getting a new one because I just didn't want to deal with downloading everything I want and setting it all up to fit my needs.

The biggest pain I think will be trying to figure out how to transfer all of my iTunes files to the new laptop. If anyone knows of an easy way to do it or a link that explains exactly what to do, I'd appreciate any help or advice I can get.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Nebraska Visit and Quilt Auction

Before I tell you about my visit to Nebraska, I have two more bird pictures to show you. I'm really loving the 30x zoom on my new camera. We have a red-tail hawk nest in one of our super tall cottonwood trees. With the new camera I can zoom in all the way to the top. The hawks have been coming back to the same nest for the last three years. Here is one of them; I think it is the baby from this year.

 This blue jay picture was taken through a window. He seems to be saying, "you looking at me?"

 Last Wednesday I drove to Lincoln, Nebraska to visit Korey and Cathryn and to attend the annual quilt auction at Carol Joy Holling Camp, which is part of Nebraska Outdoor Lutheran Ministries. Korey is the program director at the camp, and I have been donating a few quilts to their auction for the last three years. I really wanted to experience an auction day and see what it was all about.

I had offered to volunteer on Friday if they needed extra help getting things ready. A group of us loaded up an enclosed trailer with the 426 quilts that were donated for the live auction. It's amazing how much you can fit into one trailer. In addition to the quilts, there were a few specialty items donated such as a cedar chest, bug house, doll house and some beautiful walnut quilt ladders.

 After loading up all the quilts, I helped some of the summer counselors finish up the service project the campers worked on this year. They made tied fleece blankets for two local homeless shelters. There were 25 left to be finished. We got them all done which brought the total of fleece blankets donated at almost 900. Way to go kids!!!

One of the programs at the camp is ranch camp where the kids get to ride horses. There were about 30 horses in the barn along with two small goats and a calf. The goats were so cute. They put them on a leash just like a dog.

 On Saturday Korey had to be to work very early to help set up for the auction. Cathryn and I arrived around 10 am just as the auction had gotten started. We looked at all of the 400 plus quilts. Most are donated by local church quilting groups and local quilters, but there were some from other states including Missouri, Wisconsin and Colorado. Here I am with the two quilts I donated. They are the little pink one in the right corner and the navy and floral hexagons next to me.

 The auction was held outside under some huge shade trees. The quilts are held up in front by the umbrella and auctioned off by a group of professional auctioneers who donate their entire day to the event. You can see the racks of quilts behind the stage.

 In addition to the live auction, there is a silent auction under a tent with over 100 items to bid on including smaller quilts and other donated items.

 Here's my hexagon quilt being auctioned. It went for $195. My small baby blanket quilt went for $50.

In previous years, the auction has consistently raised around $100,000 which just blows my mind. This year bids were down somewhat, and the total raised was about $85,000. Still a huge fundraiser for the Christian camp program.

The highest bid this year was $1600. This beautiful Nordic style quilt went for $1400. In previous years, some quilts had gone for tens of thousands. They had another huge auction this summer of two barns full of antique tractors that had been donated to the program. That event raised about $120,000. Maybe people were just donated out by the time the quilt auction came around.

In addition to making quilts for donation, I also made Korey a special quilt for his birthday this year. He and Cathryn are huge Disney fans, and he had asked me if I could make him a Mickey quilt. He wanted it to long enough to completely cover up from head to toe. I definitely think I made it long enough! He seemed to be very happy with it.

I also dropped off my quilt donation for next year's auction. This was a star pattern I worked on with the quilter's group at Fortuna de Oro RV Resort in Yuma this past winter. Hopefully, it will get a good price next summer.

Cathryn has been wanting to make a t-shirt quilt with some shirts from her time in middle and high school. She had started on it, but needed a little help with figuring out sashing and sewing the blocks together. She and I worked on it for a few hours while I was there, and she got a good start on it. Now she should be able to finish up without much further help.  Maybe a new quilter has been born!

Things at the campground continue to be pretty busy. Kevin and I enjoyed a round of golf this afternoon. Only about two months left, and we will be finishing up another summer season.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Half Way Point

It's the middle of July, so we're at about the half way point of another summer working at Derge Park. It has been another busy season with many new and returning campers visiting our small campground. Overall, things have been going well. There are always a few people who seem to be unwilling to follow the few simple rules to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. Oh well, that's why we're here.

On July 6th I went to Eric's house to do a little more painting. We met up with my mom and her friend for dinner and then the four of us attended a Germantown Community Band concert in the park. The band is directed by Jim Barnes who was the band director for both of our boys during their high school band years. He retired this year, but is still leading the community band which is in its 17th year.

He started the community band in 1999 which was the year Eric graduated from high school. Both of our boys played in the summer program for a few years. It was so much fun to go to the concert and relive some of the great memories I have of those years our boys were in band. I think Eric really enjoyed it as well. Mr. Barnes was a wonderful teacher and band director. We wish him all the best in his retirement.

On July 7th we drove to Fountain Lake RV Park to visit our friends Dick and Wanda and Dave and Judy. This is a membership park where you buy/lease your lot. We had planned to golf, but the weather didn't cooperate. Instead, we went our for a pizza buffet lunch at Weasels in Waupaca, did some shopping and enjoyed playing some cards. It was a great day with very good friends!

On July 10th we attended a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game with more friends. We enjoyed tailgating before the game. It was Bob Uecker Talking Alarm Clock giveaway day. Bob Uecker has been the radio announcer for the Brewers forever. He's in his 80s and still announces home games. He is a Milwaukee icon. One of his famous statements is "get up, get up, get out of here" when a home run is hit.  The clock talks and says "get up, get up, get out of bed". Pretty cool. We are giving our clocks to each of our boys.

Last weekend we had a couple camp in the park from New Zealand. There were riding bikes. His had a small trailer attached to the back where they kept their tent and supplies. I often wonder how people end up at our little park from all over the country and even the world.

On Thursday one of the arriving campers had a big mishap. He made a turn too sharp trying to take a shortcut to the water filling tower. He got too close to a tree and some sign posts and ended up dragging the entire front of his camper along the tree and running over both posts. I heard a noise and saw it happen out the window. Instead of stopping, he just kept going and damaged his entire awning. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Here are the posts he ran over. The tree has scrape marks higher up.

Here's the front of his trailer. As you can see, the awning poles are all bent and out of place. The entire awning is hanging about a foot off of the back of the trailer. I don't know what he's going to do about getting it home, but I would be afraid it would unravel on the road if he doesn't secure it somehow.

He could have avoided the entire problem if he would have just driven through the campground and come back out to have his water fill on the proper side. Our fill area is fine if people have some common sense when coming into it. If, however, they end up in the wrong way, all they have to do is drive through the campground and come back at it from the other direction. Instead, many people just can't take that extra two minutes and try to take a shortcut through a small parking lot. I bet this guys wishes he would have used more common sense.

I was out walking the other day and thought I was in the movie "Birds" by Alfred Hitchcock. Hundreds of sparrows were flocking together and sitting on the power lines. I've seen this kind of bird behavior in the fall when I thought they were gathering to fly south. I'm not sure what prompted this behavior in July. It was a strange sight to be sure.

Yesterday Kevin's sister Mary and her daughter and family came for a picnic. We had a great visit with everyone. Our niece and her husband have three teenagers and an 8 year old. They sure have their hands full, but are doing a great job with their children.  Here's Kevin and Mary.

Today we're going to Eric's house. Kevin is helping him put in two new faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. Then we're going out to dinner. Should be another fun day!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth of July

 We have had a fantastic Fourth of July weekend. Our campground was fully booked, but on Friday we had two last minute cancellations. One had an axle break on their way here and the other had a family medical emergency. Everyone else showed up and behaved. The weather was perfect. Our friends Paul and Anne and their son Andrew came and camped, so we had a good time visiting with them, doing some bike riding and the guys went golfing.

I did have to tell a group that were shooting off fire crackers by the lake that it was not allowed. We have several signs up, but some people still need reminders. They complied immediately, and there were no other problems.

I've had a Panasonic camera for several years that I really liked. Unfortunately, some dust had gotten onto the lens inside the camera. The pictures were still good, but sometimes you could see the dust if the background was light. It would have cost more to have it fixed than a new camera would cost. I ended up ordering another Panasonic from Amazon. This one is a Lumix DMC-ZS40. My old one has 12x zoom; the new one has 30x zoom. I've been trying it out, and really like it. It is small enough to fit into my pocket, but takes much better pictures than my cell phone camera.

Here are a few pictures I took of birds at the feeder through my window. I'm still learning some of the functions, but I'm pleased with the quality.

We are definitely in the heart of the summer camping season. We've been quite busy with most weekends fully booked. We also have had quite a few campers here during the week. Reservations are strong for the rest of the summer, so it should be another profitable camping season for the county.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fishing White Pelicans

One of the prettiest sites every summer at Beaver Dam Lake are the white pelicans. Groups of them glide across the sky or swim in the lake. Normally, they don't hang out in the bay where we are located. A few weeks ago, the DNR stocked the lake with some little fish from the pier at the park. Since then, the pelicans have been hanging around our bay and filling up on fish. I sure enjoy watching them.

There are also some beautiful lily pads growing in the bay. However, if you look closely, you can see the blue algae at the top of the picture. It's a pretty color, but dangerous to touch.

Things have been going well at the park. After the excitement on Memorial Day weekend; we've been quite busy, but people are behaving.  We have been full or near full every weekend. Even during the week, we've had a handful of campers every night. It looks like we might have a repeat of our record breaking summer last year.

Monday night was another full moon. I don't know what it is about a full moon, but they enchant me. This one was called the strawberry moon because it happens in June during strawberry season. It also happened to occur on the summer solstice. The news people said that only happens about every 70 years, so this will probably be the only time we witness that event. Of course, I needed a picture to document it. My camera doesn't do moon shots very well. It only has a 12x zoom. I've ordered a new camera with a 30x zoom, so I'm anxious to see how that works.

Our 39th wedding anniversary was on June 11th, which was a Saturday. Since I was working, we just enjoyed the weather and sat outside most of the day. On Sunday we celebrated by going out to dinner. 

I hope everyone enjoyed their Father's Day weekend. We didn't do anything special. Kevin heard from both boys, and we just sat around and relaxed. Eric is coming this weekend to celebrate with us. I'm looking forward to having him here for a few days.

We had a very pleasant surprise on Monday afternoon. Our friends Dave and Judy stopped by for a few hours to visit us. We haven't seen them since last year, so it was great catching up and seeing them again!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Alcohol May Have Been a Factor

We had quite the eventful start to the Memorial Day Weekend a week ago. Our small campground was fully booked, and I knew we were going to be busy.

One of our sites had been occupied for the entire month of May by a guy in a pop-up who had come from Iowa to Beaver Dam for a new job. I had talked to him a couple of times to make sure he understood that his site was reserved for Memorial Day weekend, and he had to move by the 1:00 pm check out time on that Friday. He had told me he was able to rent an apartment and would be off the site.

At noon on Friday I had seen no sign that we was getting ready to vacate the site. I went to his site and banged on the door for about five minutes. He finally came to the door, very obviously having just been woken up. He seemed very incoherent, but said he would start packing up. To make a VERY long story short, I had to call my boss because he was not moving.

To make the situation worse, the guy did not have a vehicle to move the pop-up off the site. His girlfriend had lent him her Jeep to bring the camper to Wisconsin and then had come and taken it back and left him his car. Supposedly, a friend was going to come and move it for him, but that didn't happen.

My boss, Dan, came with a county truck to move him, but we still couldn't get the guy to pack up his camper for the move. Eventually, Dan called the sheriff's department. An officer came and that got things moving. The camper was full of beer cans, and the guy definitely smelled like he had been drinking. The officer was very good about the whole thing and didn't write him any citations.

We got him moved to an overflow spot and got his camper set back up for him. He was so out of it, he couldn't do anything for himself. He started talking about "ending it all", so we were worried about him hurting himself. The sheriff's department sent another deputy to make sure he wasn't suicidal. By that time, he was a bit more coherent, so everything was okay.

The next morning his girlfriend from Iowa showed up with the Jeep. It is really quite a sad story. It seems he lost his job and his brother had died the week before. The guy was just at a very low point in his life. She got him packed up, and they headed back to Iowa. I sure hope everything works out okay for him.

Luckily, the rest of the weekend was busy but quite uneventful. We had friends camping at the park, so had a great time visiting.

The weather the last few weeks has been fantastic. I've been doing my morning walks, and saw this family of geese.

I've also been working on some quilts. This is one I finished for a friend of Korey and Cathryn who just had a baby. They are from North Dakota and big fans of the NDU Bison whose colors are green and gold. Hope they like it.

On Thursday I went to Eric's house and continued painting. The bedroom I've been working on is almost done. I'm painting the walls and the woodwork, so its taking some time. Before heading home, I stopped to watch his softball game. It was nice to see some of his friends. I've known these guys since they were in high school, and it's so nice to have them come up and give me a hug and tell me about their lives. Eric played a good game.

This week our park is only half full, so a bit of a reprieve for us. The rest of June, we are pretty much fully booked. Summer has definitely arrived.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Delightful Weekend

Summer has arrived in Wisconsin!! We had an absolutely beautiful weekend with temps in the high 70s, low humidity and cool nights. The reservations poured in all during the week before. People were ready to get out and camp after a cool and rainy spring. We only had a few open sites.

I spent a lot of the weekend sitting outside, enjoying the weather and reading a good book. John Grisham has been a favorite author of mine, and I have read most of his books. I just finished Sycamore Row, a sequel to A Time to Kill, and enjoyed it a great deal.

Saturday night we enjoyed watching this beautiful full moon rise over the trees.

Every year for about a two week period in mid May, the lake flies descend on us. Sometimes, the swarms are so thick you can barely breath, making lawn mowing a real challenge for Kevin. We went for a walk on our normal route near the lake on Thursday, and had to be careful to keep our mouths closed so we didn't end up with some extra protein we didn't want.

Sunday we decided to ride our bikes away from the lake rather than risk another walk through the swarms of flies. We rode eight miles along some back roads just west of the park through farm fields. It was sunny and warm, and a great ride with no flies to bother us.

What a difference a week makes. The previous weekend was terrible with rain and cold weather. On Saturday it didn't even reach 50 degrees. We had some hearty souls here, about ten sites. We barely saw anyone all weekend. Everyone was hunkered down inside their campers. In fact, for a little while on Saturday, we had snow, sleet and hail. Here's the hail on the site next to us. Not what you want to see in mid-May.

I have a few bird feeders outside the back window, and really enjoy watching the many visitors it attracts. In spring, we get some orioles migrating through the area. They really seem to like grape jelly and oranges.

Last Tuesday I drove to Eric's house to continue painting a spare bedroom. I've been doing some painting at his house every summer since we began full-timing. This is the last room to be done. It works fine as I don't mind helping him out, I do our laundry while I'm there, and we get to spend some time together. We had dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, Arriba, which we can walk to from his house.

This afternoon we are going golfing. Kevin has gone with friends a few times since we've been back, but this will be my first time. I've become spoiled and am very much a fair weather golfer. Today will be perfect.

Next weekend is Memorial Day and we are fully booked. I'm sure it will be a very busy weekend. We will have two friends camping here as well, so should be fun.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!