Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
January 17, 2017 - Florida Keys

Friday, July 24, 2015

Storm Damage

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had some severe storms come through Wisconsin in the early morning hours of July 13th. I was awake from 2:30 am on because our weather radio kept going off. The worst of it went south of us, and we only had some small branches and leaves down here. One of the campers lost a canopy, but we were lucky that the worst of it passed us by.

Another Dodge County Park was not so lucky. Astico Park is about 20 miles south of us. We were camp hosts there our first full time summer in 2010. The park has been closed since the storm, and will most likely remain closed until at least the middle of August.

Last Monday we drove over to take a look at the damage. The public is not allowed in, but we got permission since we are park employees. The damage was unbelievable. There are over 300 trees down. They were either snapped off or pulled right out of the ground. These are huge oak and other hard wood trees. It was not a tornado, but rather 100 mph straight line winds. The entire community of Columbus had major damage and was declared a state of emergency the day after the storm.

The following are just a few pictures of what we saw. This was a full week after the storm hit. Pictures do not do justice to the devastation we witnessed. This is the road that goes up to the campsites on top of the hill. Both sides of this road were completely wooded before the storm. The morning after the storm the road was completely impassable. All of the debris has been pushed into the ditches along the side.

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Campsites 1 through 4 were heavily wooded. Luckily, the storm hit early on Monday morning, so there were only five campers in the park. If anyone had been on these sites, they would most likely have died or been severely injured. Below is site 3. Hard to believe there was even a site there.

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Here’s another site.

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Site 2.

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Here’s an example of one of the many, many trees that were snapped off. There are lots of these huge snapped off sections dangling in the branches of surrounding trees. If another strong wind comes, these could be deadly to someone below.

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Here’s the vault toilet in the tent area.

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This is one of the main roads going to another camping section called the Danville area. They haven’t even gotten to this area yet. They’re still trying to get the main area open.

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Because that park is closed, we’ve been busier than ever. Normally, we have just a handful of campers here during the week. This week we had quite a few. Our weekends have been completely booked even before the storm, and the trend continues.

In my spare time, I continue to work on quilting projects. I made two of these placemats for our table recently. I like decorating with a north woods bear and moose theme. I have two other bear placemats I made earlier.

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Last Monday morning, a thunderstorm came through right at sunrise. Here’s a beautiful picture of the sun peaking out through the storm clouds. That was the actual color of the sky.

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I planted sunflower seeds at the back of our RV this year. They have grown very well, and I have some gorgeous sunflowers.

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One of them has petals growing on the front and back. I’ve never seen a flower like that before.

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Three couples that are friends of ours are coming to camp at our park this weekend. This is a group of friends where the guys play cards once a month. Our son Eric is part of the card playing group, so he’s coming tomorrow and staying until Sunday. I’m looking forward to some fun times. It’s pretty hot out, so try to stay cool everyone.

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Miller Brewery Tour

We had another full campground last weekend. It was a fairly quiet weekend. It seems there are always one or two people who find something to complain about, but overall it was a good weekend.

Sundays is our day off and with a full campground, I like to get away and not have to deal with customers for a day. We had made plans with Eric to go to his house on Sunday and help him wash windows. He did the outside, I did the inside and Kevin dealt with taking the screens out and putting them back in. We had it all done in an hour.

We had made plans to go the The Miller Brewery and take the tour. We lived in the Milwaukee area all of our lives, and none of us had ever been on that tour. Lucky for us, they are open for tours on Sundays during the summer months.

We started at the Girl in the Moon gift shop. Outside was this vintage bus that used to tour the country giving out samples of Miller beer. Wouldn’t that make a cool vintage RV.

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In the lobby was this display. A very cool Miller Lite Harley Davidson motorcycle with some Miller Lite camping gear.

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The hour long tour started with a ten minute video explaining some of the history of the brewery.

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German brew master Frederick J. Miller immigrated to the United States in 1854. He spent a year wandering around from New York to Florida to New Orleans, up the Mississippi River and finally ended up in Milwaukee. He decided this was the perfect place to brew his beer, clean water and lots of customers for his beer. He purchased the Plank Road Brewery and brewed 300 barrels of beer in the first year. Today they process 500,000 cases of beer a day. Forty percent of what they ship goes to Chicago. Wow, they drink a lot of beer!

To put that into perspective, one semi truck holds 2,000 cases of beer. If a person drank six beers a day, it would take 22.5 years to drink those 2,000 cases.

20150719_132257We toured the canning and bottling plant, the warehouse area, and the brewing area. The Milwaukee plant covers 84 acres with 72 buildings. The picture is the brewhouse built in 1886 by Frederick Miller. We had no idea the different types and brands of beer the Miller Brewing Company distributes. I definitely don’t remember them all, but they own Leinenkugels, Blue Moon, Killian’s, Foster’s and Molson. In 2008, they merged with Coors so the company is now called MillerCoors.

The tour took us to caves sixty feet beneath the surface. These caves were dug by hand by the owners of the Plank Road Brewery to store the barrels of beer. Before refrigeration was available, they would cut ice from area lakes and line the caves with these blocks of ice to keep the beer cold throughout the summer months. This beautiful mural depicting an early biergarten was on one of the cave walls.

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The final stop of the tour was the tasting area. Each person was allowed to have three five ounce samples. The first was Miller Lite, and then you could choose from six other beers they had on tap that day. I’m not a beer drinker, so I had some water. Kevin and Eric split my three samples between them. They were a bit disappointed there weren’t more choices as they had been wanting to try some of the beers they’ve never tasted. Kevin tried two IPAs that were available. He’s not a big fan of IPAs, and didn’t really care for either of the ones offered. They also had Genuine Draft, Summer Shandy and Redd’s Apple Ale.

The tasting area was a nice outdoor patio with shaded picnic tables. The tour and tasting were free; a nice bonus. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and tour, and definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the Milwaukee area.

After the tour, we went back to Eric’s house and grilled some brats. Eric likes Cracker Barrel Cheesy Hash browns, and I had found a recipe for them. I’m not sure they tasted exactly the same, but it was very good. Fresh watermelon rounded out the menu. We had a great day with Eric.

Last week on one of my morning walks, I saw a crane. It was walking toward a field of wheat. It is so fun to watch them walk with their long legs and neck.

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He disappeared into the wheat field. I wonder if they eat the kernels.

The weather this week is forecast to be beautiful. Temps in the low 80s and low humidity. We plan to play some golf on Thursday.

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

Monday, July 13, 2015

Interesting Weekend

As I’ve said before, most of the campers we have at the park are nice people and don’t cause any trouble. This weekend we had a few interesting episodes happen.

The biggest problem was with a person who lives near the park and wasn’t even camping here. He was visiting some people who were camped in the park. We first noticed him as he went speeding past the 5 mph sign at the entrance. Then he parked his vehicle on the grass of the site next to his friends.

Kevin went down and asked him to park in the parking lot and not on someone else’s site. He came speeding back down the entrance road and turned into the parking area with his tires squealing. I am not exaggerating. Kevin asked him if he knew the speed limit was 5 mph. He said he did and we shouldn’t drive on his road. Not sure what that meant. Then he told Kevin to kiss his a##. Seriously.

He left a short time later, and we noticed his friends walked over to his house the rest of the weekend. Hopefully, he’ll stay out of the park. Who needs that type of neighbor.

The site right next to us was occupied by a couple with an old Starcraft pop-up camper. When they arrived, the camper was held together with quite a few bungee cords. I try not to judge, because everyone has their own situation, and at least they were able to come out and enjoy the weekend.

On Saturday morning the wife came over and asked where we had gotten an angel solar light we have out. She told us she collected angels, Elvis stuff and clowns. Then she said that all of her stuff together didn’t cost as much as her husband’s porn movie collection. Well, all righty then. I’m often amazed what people feel compelled to share with us. We really didn’t want to know about that!

The hawks are still in the park and entertaining to watch. Yesterday one of them was perched near the top of the tree in front of our RV. We’ve noticed in the past that lots of little birds will mob the hawks in flight and perched in trees.

I did a little research and there is actually a term for this behavior. It is called mobbing. The main reason is believed to be that the little birds are trying to keep the hawks away from their nests and babies.

Here are a few pictures I managed to get of some black birds and red-winged blackbirds pestering the hawk. The hawk is definitely aware of them, but doesn’t seem to waste any effort chasing them away.

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It was hard to get a good picture since the little birds fly by very quickly. I find watching these birds quite fascinating.

While I was trying to get pictures of the hawk, these white pelicans flew overhead. They are so beautiful in flight.

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Last weekend we met a very nice couple that are also neighbors of the park. They are Tim and Pam and have a home in Wauwatosa, but also have a summer home on the lake across from the park. Tim is spending a lot of time this summer rebuilding their house on the lake. It’s quite an undertaking. He sure is ambitious.

We’ve gotten to know him as we go by his home on our walks. We’d stop and visit a bit and check on his progress. As we got to know him better, he told us he brews his own beers. Last Saturday Tim and Pam came over. He brought four bottles of his home brew and set up a tasting table for Kevin including the glasses. It’s quite the production. He even makes his own labels.

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Kevin said all of the beers were very good. I’m not a beer fan, but it was interesting to hear the process of how he makes these beers. One of them was the recipe from the White House. Yup, they brew beer at the White House.

On Sunday they took us out on their pontoon boat, and we toured the eastern half of the lake. We plan to go out again to see the western half. It’s quite a long lake.

So, just as in our life when we owned a house, you have some good neighbors and some bad ones. I’m glad we got to meet the good ones. We’re looking forward to spending more time with them!

We had some severe thunderstorms come through overnight. I was up from 2:30 to 5:00 am watching the radar and turning off the weather radio every time it went off. We got almost two inches of rain in about two hours, and have some small branches scattered about. Astico Park, another Dodge County campground, had lots of damage and trees down. There was a tornado warning for them, so that may have been what caused the damage. They’re only about 20 minutes from us. More trees to use as firewood in the parks.

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

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July

4th of July

We wish everyone a Happy 4th of July weekend. The weather here in Wisconsin couldn’t be more perfect. Highs near 80, low dew points and sunny. Our campground is full, and I’m sure all the campers appreciate this beautiful weather.

The campground has been full or near full every weekend since mid May. Overall, people behave well, and things run quite smoothly. Last weekend we had one exception.

Several of the sites were occupied by people planning to attend the dirt track races in Beaver Dam Saturday night. They left late afternoon and returned around 11 pm. At 12:15 am Kevin had someone at the door who demanded to talk to him. I was in bed but heard the commotion.

This guy had come in after the races and taken a site that was already reserved. There was no car at the site because those people had also been at the races and weren’t back yet. There was a tent on the site, but it was on the edge of the site, so I guess the guy thought it was on the neighboring site. He had self-registered and paid the site fee.

When the rightful occupants of the site returned, they told him he had to go. That’s when he showed up at our door. There was a reservation slip at the site showing the first night was June 27 and the last night was June 27 as they had only reserved for one night. This guy was arguing that this was stupid, didn’t make sense, and it was now June 28 (after midnight) and he should have been able to use the site.

Kevin explained it to him four times, offered to return his money as we were full and had no site available for him, but he just kept arguing. Finally, Kevin asked him to leave. Alcohol was most likely a factor. I guess he thought we should kick everyone out at midnight. Sometimes, you just have to shake your head!!

One morning I was sitting in my chair and noticed some movement in the soy bean field outside my window. There were two cranes walking around in the field. I’ve seen cranes around the area on occasion, but not very often.

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We have a family of red-tailed hawks that live in the park. They have not been happy with our weekend human visitors. Last weekend about half of our sites were occupied by a ham radio club. They put up lots of antenna wires, and the hawks were super agitated all weekend, squawking from early morning until dusk. I wonder if the frequency of the radios bothered them.

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The other day one of them landed in a puddle in the parking lot. It sat there for the longest time, It seemed to be washing its feet or lower feathers. I got to within about 15 feet of it, and it didn’t fly away. Amazing.

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I tried to get a picture of it as it flew away. Not the greatest quality, but still cool to get a picture of it in flight. Too bad the building was in the background.

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Our skies have been a bit hazy the last few days due to fires in Alberta, Canada. This has caused the sun to be quite orange at sunset. On Thursday we had this beautiful sunset to the west.

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And a full moon to the east. Wow!

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