Wrapping Up “Fun Times in Wisconsin” and a Little Work Too

The last couple weeks we have been wrapping up our time here in Wisconsin getting ready to move on to California. On Monday the day after Father’s Day, Maxine and I packed up the RV and headed east to Lake Michigan. To spend a few days camping with friends at “Kohler-Andrae State Park”. This is one of my favorite Wisconsin State Parks right on the shore of Lake Michigan, just south of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. https://youtu.be/LEubs1DEhsE

I’ve been visiting this park since I was a kid about eight or nine years old. And returning to it many times, bringing my own children for many years. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, and with Lake Michigan having very high waters for some time. The wonderful wide beaches are all but gone. But Maxine still had a great time swimming in the lake.

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On the first day it was grey and gloomy. 20200622_145016

But on the second day the sun came out in the morning, the skies were blue for most of the day. Maxine enjoyed running and chasing the waves. 20200623_10134420200623_102213

Years ago, this beach would’ve been a couple hundred yards wider with very clean and white sand. But Lake Michigan has had high waters levels for many years now. Which has led to the beach erosion and erosion of the sand dunes that protect the shoreline too. It’s not like I had remembered it for so many years, but it sure was fun to come see it again and spend time at Lake Michigan. We all had a great time together, just visiting, sitting around the campfire, socializing, eating and drinking too much. On the Saturday following Father’s Day, my youngest daughter Jennifer had planned a day of hiking at “Devils Lake State Park”. Devils Lake State Park is one of the most popular parks in the state of Wisconsin. It is just outside of Baraboo, Wisconsin and attracts large crowds from all over the state and Illinois. This is another park we have visited and camped at many many times over the years, we love it here also. My oldest daughter Crystal had her wedding ceremony at this park many years ago. 123124127129

Check out these websites to see some photos of the park here and here. The plan was Jennifer and her significant other boyfriend Paul, my sister Bonnie and I would meet and spend the day hiking the hills at the park. We all were coming from three different directions each of us having a little over an hour to travel. We met at the local Walmart and carpooled over to the park. When we got to the park entrance the Rangers were stopping people, because all the parking lots were already full. A bunch of people parked across the road in a private parking lot and were also walking into the park. This is a large park with lots of activities and plenty of your room to spread out. But there’s no way we wanted to chance the crowds and the congestion. So, we made the decision to check out some other parks in the area. This is what is called the “Driftless Area of Wisconsin” and is near the Wisconsin Dells. The driftless area is in the south west corner of Wisconsin. What the “Driftless Area” means, is in this part of the state. During the last Great Ice Age, the glaciers themselves did not make it past this point. As the glaciers receded they affected the area much differently than the rest of Wisconsin. About two thirds of the state of Wisconsin the glaciers had flattened the land leaving vast opened prairie areas dotted with lakes and marsh land they also formed the five Great Lakes. But as the glaciers melted and receded the runoff left deep valleys lined by sandstone bluffs and rolling hills along the rivers feeding into the Mississippi River. This part of the state has beautiful rolling hills, sandstone bluffs and deep river valleys. Unlike most of the rest of Wisconsin, read more about it here. Our first hike ended up being at “Rocky Arbor State Park” a short drive from Devils Lake, but this is a much lesser-known Park. It is also a much smaller park. But when we arrived there was very few people and plenty of parking. So, we took off on the trail in the ravine, enjoying the cool forest. Here Jennifer and Bonnie are posing for a photo amongst the trees. 20200627_123108

I think Jennifer was trying to dance with Paul in this one. 20200627_123340

In these they were sitting under the bluff enjoying the coolness of the forest on this hot day. (Jennifer tried to steal a couple kisses when I was taking these photos). 20200627_12415120200627_124147

Here the three of them in front of the park’s namesake “A Rocky Arbor”. 20200627_123607

After enjoying a couple hours hiking in the park, we decided to take the short drive to another nearby park, “Mirror Lake State Park“. Both these parks are just outside of the city of Wisconsin Dells. After my wife “Sonia’s” passing in 2008, me and my girls had a memorial park bench put up in her honor at Mirror Lake Park. So being in the area we thought we’d stop by and check it out again. But when we got there the main parking lot was full and the ranger was turning people away also. This is a larger park that is spread out with several parking lots off of side roads and trails separate from the main Park. So, we parked in one of the smaller lots and went on a short hike. At the information kiosks was this social distancing sign. Only in Wisconsin would they use a cow to measure social distancing, LOL. 20200627_143103

After our short hike we got back to the car, heading back to the main gate. And as we did, they were just starting to let people in the main part of the park. So, we drove to the back part of the park and parked near the Echo Rock Trail. This is the trail that is home to Sonia’s bench overlooking the lake. Here’s a view from the bench. P1010030Here Jennifer is sitting on the memorial bench. 20200627_150547P1010012

Bonnie took a photo of Jennifer and I together on the bench. 20200627_150619_016She also got a photo of the three of us standing in front of Echo Rock. If you ever get to “Mirror Lake State Park” make sure you check out the (Echo Rock Trail). DSC02820After a nice afternoon of hiking. We were ready for some dinner and refreshing beverages. So, we headed in to Baraboo, to “José’s Mexican Restaurant”. This is a very good authentic Mexican restaurant that we been to before. We sat outside on their screen porch, and enjoyed a nice meal and some drinks. We had told them it was Jennifer’s birthday celebration and so they did a special song and dance for her after dinner. They brought her some fried ice cream, put a Sombrero on her head. Then the waitstaff played music and sang for her. 20200627_17020820200627_170226We all had fun and it put a great big smile on her face, or maybe it was that large fishbowl size “Piña Colada” she had. Check out the drink glass in this photo”. 20200627_170229After their song and dance, they damped some of the whipped cream from the fried ice cream on Jennifer’s face, LOL. 20200627_170323

It’s not been all fun and games over the last couple weeks. We did get a little work done around Steve’s place also. We did a little tree trimming, but the big project was working on finishing putting up his TV tower. When it was all done it was over 50 feet to the top. 20200629_123140

It comes in 10-foot sections and about a month ago we had put up three of the sections, on the base piece that he had mounted in concrete quite a while ago. So, all we had was the top 10-foot section of tower the antenna pole and rotor left to put up. We didn’t get any photos of me pulling these pieces up and putting them together, because we were all too busy doing the project itself. But Patti did get a few of me finishing up the wiring of the antenna and rotor wire.

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I’m not as spry as I used to be a few years ago, and with many trips up and down the tower, over the time it took to finish this. I found muscles I forgot I had. I’m glad I was here to help with this and other projects. It makes me feel as though I’m not taking advantage, “as much” of their hospitality and over staying my welcome. Another quick projects that Steve and I worked on this week. Was doing some minor repairs on my sister’s Bonnie’s RV. Sometime over her trip from New Mexico back to Wisconsin this spring. She either kicked up a piece of road debris or bump something with the backend not realizing it even happened. She ended up separating the back-passenger side corner of the back wall, just behind the bumper. See where it is bent up in these photos. IMG_0899IMG_0897(1)

I really think she caught a piece of truck tire debris somewhere, under the mud flap and it flipped up and hit it just right. But we’ll never know for sure. It’s fixed now and after she does a good washing of the RV, I think it will look pretty good.   20200701_16311620200701_163121

That’s it for now, on “Saturday, July,4th” I plan on starting my slow track out to California. More to come on that next time. Till then, wishing you all “Safe Travels & Good Health”, Rick

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