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Tim Mulholland's Illuminata Photo | wisconsin

Tag Archives: wisconsin

Door County Flight

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I don’t intend to write a lot in this piece, as a picture is worth a thousand words.  As I’ve been “spreading my wings” these past few weeks, I’ve been taking longer and longer flights – weather permitting. One of the places over to which I’ve wanted to fly is Door County, Wisconsin. Door County is a very scenic place from the ground, but it’s even more spectacular from the air.

Without further adieu, here’s a link to the photo slide show that I’ve created, followed by a video tour. During the video capture, my GoPro decided to turn itself off while I was approaching one of my favorite locations in Door County – Cave Point County Park – so there’s a “hole” in the video that I really wanted to create. And, the battery in the GoPro was exhausted just after leaving the “tip” of Door County. Also, in various portions of the video, I’ve “sped up” the video to move through it all faster – and so the flight looks a bit rougher than in reality.

Enjoy!

N914VX, signing off!

 

 

Posted in Door County, Flying Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Over the Lower Wisconsin River

It’s been a while since I’ve published anything on my blog. Last spring, I was busy working on my New Zealand book. Over the summer, it seems like about half of my time was spent traveling. I’m now starting to catch up on all that I didn’t do during over the past several months, like writing an occasional blog piece.

 

Aside from a recent wedding and some portraits, I had the pleasure of flying along the Lower Wisconsin Riverway a few days ago with my friend, Ditas, and daughter, Julija. I was pretty excited, as I’ve always wanted to fly. One of the first careers that I wanted to pursue was pilot/astronaut (and, chef). Life gets in the way of some of our dreams, but that doesn’t prevent us from living our dreams in other ways – in my case, vicariously through Ditas. Ditas was gracious enough to take me up about eight years ago before Julija was around, and then we flew around the Madison area and up to Devil’s Lake.

 

We met at the Watertown, Wisconsin airport on a beautiful morning. I checked over the airplane (yes, the wings were there), and then Ditas did a very proper and thorough inspection. Before long, we were up in the air. I guess that I’ve become accustomed/jaded to commercial airplanes, as I dislike going through security and then being packed into the aluminum cattle cars. Flying on a small aircraft is so much different! The cockpit is even more confining and there’s no toilet. But, you feel like you can reach out and touch the clouds!

 

A few minutes out of Watertown and we were flying over Devil’s Lake State Park near Baraboo. Just after that, we headed a bit south and flew over Lake Wisconsin and then around Gibraltar Rock and over a corn maze. We flew downstream over Sauk Prairie and we could make out the Wollersheim Winery from the air. There were low clouds over the Wisconsin River beyond Sauk Prairie and they provided beautiful texture to the scene, giving the agricultural lands a sort of dreamy quality. Spring Green was our next waypoint, and then further down the Wisconsin River. It seemed like just a few minutes before we were landing in Prairie du Chien for a quick lunch. Since we flew into town, we had to walk all the way to Culver’s – poor us. On the way back, we briefly flew up the mighty Mississippi River – I loved seeing it and it’s twisting and turning – the land’s network of major arteries, it’s aorta. On the way back to Watertown, the sun was in my face, so there weren’t any decent photographic opportunities, which was fine. It’s nice to put the camera down and enjoy the scenery, particularly from on high. By this time, Julija was slightly bored, so she buried herself under a blanket to help keep the sun out of her eyes. It wasn’t possible for me to do anything like that.

 

Then there was another thrill – Ditas let me fly the plane! Woo hoo! I’d never before had my hands on the controls of any aircraft for more than a moment. I broke any previous flying records of mine by safely getting us much of the way from Prairie du Chien to Watertown. It was a wonderful experience to feel how the aircraft handled and how it was different from a car. It was also amazing to have access to a third dimension – up & down – that’s not controlled by the contours of the land that you experience on a road.

pilot tim

Following is quick visual tour of our aerial survey of the Lower Wisconsin River. I hope that you’ll have a chance like this to explore your passions, as well as to enjoy Wisconsin’s beautiful autumn scenery.

 

 

And, thank you Ditas for a thrilling adventure.

 

‘Til next time, this is 43 N MSN signing off…

 

Posted in Devil's Lake, Wisconsin Also tagged , , |

Apostle Islands Ice Caves

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A few weeks ago, some notices were going around the Internet that the Apostle Islands Ice Caves were accessible for the first time since 2009. My first thought was, “gee, that’s still on my bucket list; I’ll have to get up there someday.”  My second thought was someday is today!

 

 

It’s a long drive from southern Wisconsin to the farthest reaches of northern Wisconsin. It’s also a bit cooler there, too. But, we put on our warm clothes and brave faces and safely made it.

 

 

I’ve been to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area a few times, but only in the summer. Still on my bucket list is to go there in the summer and paddle around in a sea kayak with a tent and sleeping bag. Northern Wisconsin and the Bayfield area are very pretty and relaxing, even in the winter. The area where the ice caves are located is a stretch of sandstone cliffs on the northwest side of the Bayfield Peninsula. During most of the year, these cliffs are pounded by the wind and waves of Lake Superior. In the winter, the crashing waves can coat the sandstone cliffs with freezing water that forms into beautiful stalactites, stalagmites and columns. There also are groundwater seeps that add there frozen flows to the beauty.  What’s different this year is that it has been cold enough that Lake Superior has frozen over relatively closely to the ice caves area so that the caves are accessible by walking over the lake, as well as closer to the beach.

 

 

When we checked the website, the National Park Service’s notes said that maybe a thousand people might visit the ice caves on a weekend. As we got close to the parking area – Meyer’s Beach Road – we encountered a traffic jam – in Northern Wisconsin, practically in the middle of nowhere! I was not in a good mood seeing this, with thoughts that the ice caves might be overrun with other visitors. Cars and trucks were parked on the north side of Highway 13 at least a mile before the turn to Meyer’s Beach and people were walking that direction. Not looking too good. As we approached the Meyer’s Beach Road intersection, there was a Bayfield County Deputy Sheriff directing traffic! Looking even worse. Just before we got to the intersection, there were a few cars leaving Meyer’s Beach Road and the sheriff signaled the car ahead of us, as well as us, to turn in. Lookin’ up! Cars were parked on both sides of Meyer’s Beach Road, and the parking lot was full. Fortunately, there were a few spots left and I wasn’t greedy about getting too close after watching all of the people who had parked on Highway 13 and were walking an extra couple of miles to see the ice caves.

 

 

We bundled up, I strapped on my camera backpack and we headed for the great white expanse of Lake Superior. When we got onto the ice sheet we could see two mile-long conga lines stretching from where were to the area where we expected the ice caves to be located. There were two lines because some people were walking to (and from) the caves on the beach, while a second line was taking the more direct straight-line approach over the ice. We opted for the direct path over the ice and struck out. It was slow going because the snow on the ice cover was maybe six to eight inches deep and most of the time we were falling through the snow, picking up our boots and falling again. Half way to the ice caves, we were all tired and sweaty. It may have been about 12 degrees F, but yes, we were sweating.

 

 

After about a half-hour walk, we made it. The ice caves and ice formations are not spectacular in the way of Grand Canyon spectacular, but they are other worldly and ethereal. The ice formations are temporary which adds to their intrigue. It’s one thing to see icicles hanging off of your eaves in the winter, but it’s another thing to see how the water has splashed and flowed over the rocks and been stopped in its tracks – and this goes on for a mile or more. Yes, there were literally thousands of people there with us, but everyone was spread out quite a bit and oohing and aahing at the myriad different formations so it didn’t really feel that crowded – until you turned around and saw the throngs of crowds milling behind you. People were climbing into the few caves and onto the ice flows. My kids had a blast! Kids were sliding past us on patches of open black ice. Parents were pulling kids on sleds. Some intelligent people had shooshed out to the caves on their cross-country skis. There were even people who were treating this as tail-gating party – they’ve dragged their coolers and chairs, and one group even brought a gas camping stove and made soup. Some of the ice caves are small and only children were wriggling into them, while there were large caves and canyons that were filled with people.

 

 

Visiting the ice caves was a wonderful, beautiful winter diversion and I hope that you’ll have the opportunity to do so – soon! It’s like a winter carnival that pops up in the middle of nowhere and invitations are only issued when it’s really, really cold! My only other advice is to dress appropriately and take hand warmers with you. I hope that you enjoy the gallery, but don’t feel like you have to enjoy the whole thing…

43 N MSN signing off…

____________________________

Posted in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin Also tagged , , , |

Autumn in the Baraboo Hills

[landscapephotograph description=”Floating Leaf, Parfrey’s Glen Creek” photo=”http://www.timmulholland.com/wordpress1/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/floating2.jpg” photourl=”http://illuminataphoto.zenfolio.com/p10169504″][/landscapephotograph]

Seriously? It’s been how long since I’ve posted???
 
 
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted anything.  I guess that’s indicative of a busy, full life – I’ll go with that. Now that we’re back in the states, we’re settling back into our old routines – which is good and bad.
 
 
But, one of those “routines” is enjoying autumn in the Baraboo Hills. I suppose that if you lived in Virginia and along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Maine or Nova Scotia, you might have similar feelings about fall being one of the most spectacular seasons of the year. The trees are vivid, the air is crisp. Change is in the air, even if it’s sort of a negative change.  But, it’s a change that portends improvement, spring, rebirth…
 
 
I don’t think that “fall” in Wisconsin would seem like fall to me if I didn’t visit the Baraboo Hills. And, more specifically, a visit to Parfrey’s Glen. Actually, it’s full name is more likely “Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area.” Everyone is aware of the plethora of beautiful, wonderful state parks in Wisconsin. However, one of Wisconsin’s other gems are its state natural areas. These are special areas of unique biological/geological/ecological concern. They don’t rate the same attention as our state parks and there’s a good reason for that – they’re quite unique, fragile and small and they don’t need the attention because we don’t visit them for physical recreation. Usually, they’re more like pocket parks – small little parks that you’re more likely to have all to yourself, and you’re more likely to simply indulge in these unique scientific features.
 
 
That is, except for Parfrey’s Glen.  🙂  It was Wisconsin’s first state natural area. It also was the first state natural area that I visited more than twenty years ago. It’s proximity to Devil’s Lake State Park helps to make it very popular. I don’t know this for a fact, but it seems to me that the Baraboo Hills and Sauk County likely have more state natural areas than any other county in Wisconsin.
 
 
We made a visit to enjoy the West Bluff of Devil’s Lake and the trees, lunch in Baraboo, and then a trip to Parfrey’s Glen. Parfrey’s Glen is a very nice place to visit if you want solitude – except in the spring and fall. In the spring, the new flowers are trumpeting and it’s wonderful to enjoy a quiet, protected walk – with many friends whom you don’t yet know. In the fall, the situation is similar – maple trees shouting YELLOW!, the thinning canopy exposing the creek, and the almost spooky feeling of walking to the end of the glen (Halloween is just around the corner).
 
 
Just in case you weren’t able to make it to Parfrey’s Glen or Devil’s Lake recently, then I hope that you’ll enjoy the following gallery. And, if you were able to make it to Parfrey’s Glen or Devil’s Lake, then in your viewing the gallery, I hope that you’re transported back to your recent visit…
 
 

 
 
45 N Wisc signing off…
 
 

Posted in Devil's Lake, Parfrey's Glen, Wisconsin Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

Thresheree

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Now that we’re back in the States, I’ve brought along with me a fresh set of eyes. One of the things that I enjoy about travel is seeing how life is different someplace else – different ways of doing things, a different environment, and so on. In this case, being away for a year has helped me to open my eyes to the photographic opportunities that are nearby.

One of these opportunities was the recently completed Rock River Thresheree, just south of Edgerton, Wisconsin. Not to worry – it’s an annual event. I’m not fully certain what attracts me to an event like this – the engineering and mechanics, a link to my agricultural roots in rural Iowa, or maybe just the smell of sulfur in the air from the burning of coal (similar to what we experienced from some home heating in Invercargill). Actually, a part of my attraction is that my great grandfather (I believe) sold J.I. Case steam tractors. My first steam engine show was some time while I was in grad school when I ventured to the Old Threashers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant. A couple of years ago, we went down to Edgerton on a bit of a lark and I really enjoyed it! When we got back to Madison and Labor Day started to roll around, gee, what could we do?

I won’t write anything more about this gallery.  Either you’ll enjoy it or you won’t, and that’s just fine. There are a lot of photographs here as I was shooting to fill my stock photography repertoire…

Posted in steam engine, Thresheree, Wisconsin Also tagged , , , |

Home Again!

[landscapephotograph description=”Mitre Peak & Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most famous scenes.” photoname=”Mitre Peak” photo=”http://www.timmulholland.com/wordpress1/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/MitrePeak-1.jpg” photourl=”http://illuminataphoto.zenfolio.com/milford_sound/h4B7B094C#h4b7b094c”][/landscapephotograph]

To:              Whom it may concern (i.e., our friends and family; Sharyon, Cynthia & Kerry at Waverley Park School; Robyn, Angus, Tracey, Roger, Tom and the Brannamans at Southland Hospital; Jan, wherever in the world you are; and the Ackermans in Deutschland)

  

From:                Tim Mulholland

  

Subject:            The Cultural Differences between New Zealand and the United States

  

As most everyone is aware, we’re back home in the US – Fitchburg, Wisconsin, to be exact. And, it’s good to be “home.”

  

Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

  

Oliver Wendell Holmes

  

While we were in New Zealand we had many queries as to whether we would choose to stay there for a longer time. We loved our time in New Zealand and we wouldn’t trade this past year there for anything. We have so many wonderful, beautiful memories of our time in New Zealand and we met so many wonderful, loving people there. If I’d been born and raised in New Zealand, I feel that I would absolutely love it there.  But, I was raised in this American culture, and the US is home for better and for worse.  (I suspect that Asta is much more flexible on this than me, since she immigrated to the US fifteen, twenty years ago.)

  

I want to use this blog entry to highlight some of the differences between American and Kiwi culture. I truly had a fun year being an amateur, embedded anthropologist.

  

First, most everything is the same in New Zealand – and everything is different. Everyday in New Zealand, I had to have my antennae up because while “something” might appear to be the same as we knew it in the US, there also was a good chance that it was just slightly different. There were many times that I’d start to do something in NZ and find out that the process is slightly different, or purchase a product only to later find that the product was slightly different. This speaks to how much I spend my life on automatic pilot most of my time here in the US. I’ll try to be more specific as I write more.

  

FOOD:  Kiwi food is healthy and nutritious, so anyone can survive there. In fact, I put on about five kgs/ten lbs during our first six months. You can find most anything in the grocery store there that you’d find here, so no worries, mate!

  

But, Kiwi food has strong roots in English food so it’s not terribly flavorful or exciting. Our favorite restaurant in Invercargill was Little India. We learned when we ordered our food that we needed to specify that we wanted our food to be “Indian spicy” which is not to be confused with (New Zealand) “spicy.” If we just ordered our food as “spicy,” it would taste more like mild to medium spicy by our standards. I have eaten spicy food at most every meal since returning – I have to catch up and increase my serum capsaicin concentrations!

  

DRIVING: Most everyone knows that Kiwis drive on the “wrong” side of the road – the left side.  It really didn’t take too long to get used to that, and it was an easy transition coming back to the States. And, I have to say that I love roundabouts – they are easy to negotiate and keep traffic moving. I can understand that folks here don’t like to change, but roundabouts really are a good thing!

  

Driver etiquette in New Zealand (in fact, all etiquette) seems to be more civilized and nicer. Drivers tend to drive more slowly and thoughtfully in town – they’re not in such a “hurry.” So far, I’m driving like I did in NZ, and it appears to be irritating the drivers behind me. And, crosswalks in NZ are WONDERFUL!!! Drivers actually stop and allow a walker to safely cross to the other side of the street. Back here, I had to get used to waiting for a gap in traffic and praying, rather than calmly ambling into the street.

  

One last thing: gas cost about $7/gallon (NZ$2.25/L). You get used to it. It seems that people there just drive less, too. That’s the way it is when you import all of your petroleum resources.

  

WILDLIFE:  OK, America has a very clear advantage here. The diversity of New Zealand’s wildlife is rather limited. But hey, it’s an island nation, and the various human immigrants over the past millennia or so brought their rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, stoats/weasels, and so on with them. These alien pests have done significant damage to New Zealand’s wildlife (especially birds) populations. And, it doesn’t help that the Maori hunted the moa to extinction, which also doomed the Haast eagle, which fed on the moa. New Zealand likely was a veritable Garden of Eden before “Adam’s and Eve’s” arrival. But, New Zealand has a much better landscape, especially when compared to Wisconsin, and especially if you happen to focus on landscape photography.

  

One thing that we’ve REALLY enjoyed since returning is our very special “home entertainment system.” We have several different species of birds that are flocking to our bird feeders outside our kitchen windows – chickadees, nuthatches, house finches, eastern goldfinches/wild canaries, blue jays, cardinals, sparrows (yes, the English kind, just like New Zealand –surprise!), and ruby-throated hummingbirds. And we’re also reacquainting ourselves with red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, robins (the American, red-breasted kind), ducks, geese and wild turkeys. The squirrels and chipmunks are chittering around our backyard and with the cooler weather coming we’re expecting to see “our” groundhogs and deer.

  

We don’t miss New Zealand’s sandflies. However, our mosquitoes are more annoying than theirs, mostly because it’s warmer here and there’s less wind.

  

New Zealand definitely has more sheep than Wisconsin, and is trying to catch up in dairy cattle.

  

CLOUDS: This one goes to the country in the south. New Zealand, a.k.a., Aotearoa, “The Land of the Long White Cloud,” has some of the most beautiful clouds I’ve ever seen – consistently puffy and beautiful! On the other hand, it is so nice to get back and see these massive, towering cumulo-nimbus storm clouds that we have in the Midwest – awesome! And, New Zealand has a lot more rainbows than we do in the Midwest, something to do with having more rain. But, seriously, while it was more humid and may have rained a bit more in NZ, it wasn’t depressing at all – and this comes from a guy with S.A.D.! The clouds roll in and out there, while we get these long drab periods, particularly in the winter.

  

SCHOOL: The kids loved their Kiwi school – Waverley Park School. The curriculum seems to be very similar as here at Stoner Prairie Elementary School. Schools in NZ seem to be housed in several smaller buildings, whereas here in the States we tend toward these large buildings.  I don’t know why the difference – climate? funding?

  

Another difference – so far – is that there doesn’t yet seem to be quite the emphasis on standardized testing. Testing is coming, though. The principal at Waverley Park School is not a supporter of standardized testing as a major tool for measuring student performance for the same reason that a lot of people (including me) don’t support it in the US – it’s only a singular measure of a very complex social and developmental issue. (The principal at Waverley Park School is one of my favorite people that I met in NZ.)

  

Our kids spent a lot of time running around barefoot at school, which is really healthy in my opinion, at least that’s what the Inspire team told me. They’d go to school with their shoes/jandals (flip flops) on their feet and then shed them. The major problem with running around barefoot is that if it’s a little cool outdoors, it’s easier to not put your shoes on and head out in your socks.  So, we went through more socks than previously.

  

RUGBY vs. FOOTBALL:  This one is a toss-up.  If I better understood the rules and strategies of rugby, I’d probably like it better – hard hitting, no padding other than what you’ve grown into your body.  I just wish that I could get the All Blacks’ games on my computer when they play – any suggestions?

  

NICE PEOPLE: Frankly, the people of NZ are nicer than your average American. Several travel surveys have come to the same conclusion. One of my metrics for this is that I was only flipped off once in my year in NZ, and that was by our friend, Tracey, in good fun.

  

CLIMATE:  This is a tough one. NZ’s climate is sort of a cool Mediterranean climate, especially where we were in extreme southern NZ. The Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea have a nice moderating influence on the climate. The daily temperature range was narrower than living here in the middle of the US. The humidity was higher, which causes a few different issues – window condensation, mold – but it also helps the slightly cooler temps to be very bearable.

  

HOMES: The Kiwi homes that we experienced were generally smaller than American homes – no big deal.  American homes tend to be too big, so this wasn’t a surprise. The biggest problem, for me, living in a smaller home is that my introverted side didn’t get enough “space” away from the family, particularly in the evenings. Yes, I know – that’s my issue.

  

Since the climate is cooler there wasn’t much air conditioning where we lived.  In fact, I can hardly remember feeling AC the whole year in NZ. But, heating is a very different beast. Where we lived in southern Invercargill, there were enough homes that were heated with coal or wood that the air quality was a noticeable issue on cool mornings. Thank goodness for the wind! Our home had a single heat pump in the living room. The living room would be pleasant enough on cool days, but the further you went into the bedrooms, the cooler it became. J It was interesting to see how many homes opened their windows a bit during the daytime, no matter the temperature; I think that this was mostly a reflection on the buildup of moisture in homes (any Kiwis want to set me straight?).

  

Following onto this heating issue, it also was interesting to see that commercial businesses usually kept their doors open during business hours when the weather wasn’t too windy and cool. If I was out shopping, then I’d keep my coat on in the stores so that I’d stay warm – and the staff usually wore warm sweaters (“jumpers”) and additional layers to stay comfy.

  

HEALTH: While “health” is more of Asta’s venue, I’ll wade in here. Again, I feel that the health status of most Kiwis was pretty similar to that of an American person.

  

I felt that there might be a greater prevalence of smoking in NZ and that appears to be true, and obesity also seemed to be lower (again affirmed by the stats).  There appeared to be many fewer morbidly obese people in NZ when compared to the US.

  

The NZ health care is a socialized medicine system (which is a part of the reason that we were there). While everyone in NZ is a part of the national health care system (ergo, no uninsured/underinsured citizens as in the US), the option exists (if you can afford it) to purchase private health care and private health insurance through a parallel (?) private health care system.  Again, this is an “observation” based on I don’t know what, but most Kiwis seem to be more tolerant (or, have lower expectations?) of it’s socialized health care system that does not promise “immediate relief” like Americans expect of our health care system. I guess that we have lower tolerance of pain and discomfort here in the US.

  

Per capita health care spending in NZ is only about a third of that in the US and the healthiness of Kiwis appears to be similar to Americans.  Hmm….

  

VIOLENCE/GUNS: OK, this is an obvious difference, I hope. One of the more frequent questions I experienced from curious Kiwis regarded the American obsession with guns and the consequent violence. I couldn’t give them a decent answer since I don’t get it either! Yes, there is violence in NZ. I suspect (but don’t know) that domestic violence in NZ is on par with the US. There are stories in the NZ media about shootings and stabbings. But, on a per capita basis, it seems that violence in NZ is much, much less than in the US.

  

Writing about this issue got my curiosity up, so I “googled” it and I was correct (sadly). According to the NZ Ministry of Justice, in 2000, the US violent crime rate was 506 incidents/100,000 people, while in NZ the figure was 133 incidents/100,000.  Yikes!

  

Here’s a different set of statistics from NationMaster.com (I’ve not heard of this source before and some of the stats that I saw here looked fishy). In NZ, ~13.5% of homicides involve firearms (10 murders with firearms), while the figure is 39.6% in the US (9,369 murders with firearms). Also according to NationMaster, the incarceration rate in NZ is about 20% of the US rate (I’m not surprised), the rape rate is about three times higher in NZ (I was surprised by that!), and the suicide rate is about double in NZ.

  

POLITICS: No contest – NZ political life is much more sane!

  

THE ECONOMY: This is a tough issue about which to write, so I’ll turn to NationMaster again.  According to their stats, the US GDP per capita is about 70% higher than NZ’s GDP per capita. But, NZ didn’t “feel” to us to be significantly different in terms of its economy. Our “economic experience” in NZ felt that NZ wasn’t quite as high as the US, but life in NZ still felt comfortable.

  

QUALITY OF LIFE: So, here’s the big difference to piggy back onto my economic feelings. We seriously felt that the quality of life in NZ was on par or better than what we experience in the US. Yes, we did feel that the economic quality of life wasn’t quite as high, but overall quality of life there did feel better because of the friendlier people, lower crime rates, slower drivers and a slower, more pleasant, less frenetic lifestyle.  And, let’s not forget about the wonderful, breathtaking recreation opportunities in New Zealand – woo hoo!

  

THE 60’s!: I’ll close this piece with another anecdotal observation about NZ. We heard this from several folks who have visited NZ, so it’s not starting with us.

  

There is an observation by some visitors about New Zealand that it feels sort of like they’ve been transported back to the 1960s. Why? Life is a bit slower there. People are a bit friendlier in NZ. Kiwis seem to be genuinely focused on their families and friends. I can understand how visitors might feel that way, particularly if they live in a big, fast city. When I’ve heard people express this feeling about New Zealand, I’ve sometimes heard in a condescending way. But, while I agree that some folks might feel that way about New Zealand, I have to also say that I take it as a compliment for this beautiful, wonderful, friendly country!

  

OK, if you are a Kiwi who would like to set me straight, please feel free to do so!  I truly do not mean to step on any Kiwi toes, so if I did, I apologize. Similarly, if you’ve visited New Zealand and want to share your different observations and experiences or write shout-out here to New Zealand as a wonderful place, I also hope to hear from you!

   

46 S. EnZed signing off… (and, it’s time to find a new closing)

   

Posted in Milford, New Zealand, Uncategorized, Wisconsin Also tagged , , , , |

Secret Falls

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I’m home…

 

Actually, no, we’re still in New Zealand (just got back from a beautiful weekend in Wellington), but I have some photographs from “home” that I want to share. Wisconsin has quite a few beautiful locations (though, not quite as many as New Zealand).

 

There’s this one special place that I know that’s literally “buried” in the Baraboo Hills and I found it in the strangest way – literally (sonically? aurally?), by keeping my ears open. I photographed a wedding in Sauk Prairie in the spring of 2008. The reception was at the Lake Wisconsin Country Club. It had been a good day, but when the wedding party settled into their suppers, it was nice to take a break. I was sitting at the bar, likely enjoying a gratis soda, when two guests sidled up to the bar, ordered Oddbins Vodka drinks and started talking. A couple of guys… I wasn’t trying to pay any attention to them – really! But, I could make out some of their words:  waterfall, wisconsin society of ornithology, and I don’t remember what else. I tucked those few words away and spent the rest of the evening enjoying and recording the festivities (especially when the wedding party borrowed some golf carts and we went around the course and took some memorable photographs!).

 

After I edited the portraits and presented them to the couple, I started to perform my research on this mystery waterfall that may or may not exist. The bad news is that there wasn’t a whole lot to go on. The good news is that my skills and resources did provide me some good starting points. I contacted a good friend who is a major bird lover – and significant on the state and national level with the National Audobon Society. He provided me some good leads, but didn’t know the land for which I was searching. He did suggest that I do some additional research on the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology, which I did. I contacted a friend at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and he did know about the waterfall that I was seeking. In fact, he’d been there! But, he wouldn’t tell me because the waterfall resided on non-DNR lands and he didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag. The good news is that he did provide me some basic information and let me know that I was on the right track – the Honey Creek State Natural Area.

 

So, between weddings and other work, I took some time to do some exploring on at the Honey Creek State Natural Area (SNA), which is just a few miles northwest of Leland, Sauk County, Wisconsin (fyi – Natural Bridge State Park is just a few miles northeast of Leland and Hemlock Draw SNA is just north of town). I took four separate trips to Honey Creek. The first three trips I walked all over the property and found a lot of interesting land, streams, plants, and so on – but no waterfall. Along Honey Creek, there are some beautiful sandstone walls that have been carved out by the Creek. After walking all over the Honey Creek SNA and coming home covered with mud, sweat and scratches, I decided that it was time to get a little smarter.

 

Based on the information that I had, I also knew that The Nature Conservancy had interest in the Honey Creek property so I made a little research trip down to the Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. I explained to a staff member what I was seeking at Honey Creek and he showed me a map of the area that noted The Nature Conservancy’s property. Lo and behold, it turns out that The Nature Conservancy owned a little piece of land just north of the Honey Creek SNA.Voila! That was the good news. The bad news is that The Nature Conservancy’s property wasn’t contiguous with the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology property, but maybe a thousand feet north.

 

A few days later, I made another trip to Honey Creek and went further and deeper than I’d ventured before. Now, it was getting later in the spring/early summer and the weather was getting warmer and more humid. And, the mosquitoes were starting to come out! I hiked through the weeds along the stream bank and slogged up stream as far as I’d been before and then went further. There was a reasonably clear property line on the north end of the Honey Creek SNA. Having worked for the Wisconsin DNR for many years, I have some knowledge about the rules regarding property, trespassing, and who owns what, etc. The State of Wisconsin owns all of the water in the State, up to the common high water mark (or something like that). That meant that I could walk in Honey Creek and not trespass on the private property owner’s land, and continue my watery hike north to the other sliver of Nature Conservancy land. Eventually, I came to a small side stream that had a pretty good flow, and some really attractive pink quartzite in its bed. (Yes, I do get excited by some odd things in the beds that I visit!)

 

Another few hundred feet up the side stream and there it was – the most beautiful waterfall that I’ve ever seen in Wisconsin!!! It was very satisfying and inspiring to have spent these past few weeks searching, busting my butt, coming out of the woods wet and stinking, and then to be sitting there in front of it.  I can’t remember how long I spent there, enjoying it, soaking it up, and photographing it. It was relatively small and intimate, but surrounded by beautiful green foliage, and the pink quartzite really set it all off.  In some ways, this was quite the highlight of my summer.  And, to make for a great autumn, I went to “Secret Falls” in the late September, just as the trees were turning a bit, and as the mosquitoes were migrating south.

 

And, that’s the last time that I visited Secret Falls until last May. As Memorial Day was approaching, we were thinking of things to do in the area, and heading back to Secret Falls had been on my “to do” list for quite some time. The family was game for a decent hike, and we dragged along a great friend who also loves to hike. Unfortunately, I didn’t do a satisfactory job of adequately describing the hike and conditions to everyone. While I wore long pants and shirt, I forgot to suggest to everyone else that they might want to do likewise. When I hiked to Secret Falls, it usually took me about 90 minutes to get there from my parked car. But, my crew was slower, the weather was quite hot and humid, and they didn’t appreciate all of the stinging nettles along the way. To avoid the nettles and tall weeds, they all hiked in the stream bed for a good portion of the hike. If you haven’t hiked in a stream bed before, it’s not very easy – you’re sloshing through the water, you can’t see your footing very well, there are rocks and cobbles all over the stream bed and they make your feet and ankles hurt. Also remember that some of my victim’s legs were much shorter than mine, so there was another aspect of the death march that wasn’t appreciated. After about three hours of hiking and whining, we finally made it to Secret Falls! My family and friend did appreciate Secret Falls as being a very beautiful waterfall, but they also felt that the price of admission was higher than I had lead them to believe. Below is a small gallery of photographs from this last trip to Secret Falls. After the seemingly never ending hike, I had to rescue my victims by taking them to the nearest lunch stop, which happened to be at a bar in Leland.

 

My family is now much more wary when I suggest a hike…  🙂

 

 

 

 

And, here’s a gallery from my 2008 trips:

 

As an expression of my appreciation to The Nature Conservancy for all that they do, and particularly at Honey Creek, I donated a very large canvas print of Secret Falls to their Madison office.

 

Finally, if you’re also a glutton for punishment, here’s a map and GPS coordinates that will help you to find Secret Falls – but don’t blame me if you come back hot, sweaty, sore and happy!

 

Modified DNR map showing TNC land in red to the north of the Honey Creek SNA.

Modified DNR map showing TNC land in red to the north of the Honey Creek SNA.

46 S EnZed signing off…

 

 

Posted in Secret Falls, Uncategorized, Wisconsin Also tagged , , , , , , , |

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