Wednesday, July 01, 2015

It is about clouds

I don't know exactly what it is about the sky and clouds that fascinate me so much.
I just enjoy it.

I probably should learn the different types of clouds and be able to identify them.  I do know the odd shaped Mammatus clouds, that kind I can ID.

So enjoy some cloud shots from some of the June skies.






These were all taken in one 30 minute period.  We had a storm come in from the east which in itself is fairly unusual.


And by the time I got back home, the front moved through.



There was also an incredible morning where I went out to the ridge just to watch the sun come up.  It was so peaceful and the fog was incredible.



I guess I can't wait to see what July brings us!

Oh one of my favorites so far in June?  My dew and oats photo.  I just love foggy mornings and heavy dew.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Old Settler's Trail, Wildcat Mountain State Park, WI


Since I had done the Hemlock Trail a few weeks ago, I was curious to go back to Wildcat Mountain State Park and try the longer trail called Old Settler's
Trail.

The 2.5-mile loop trail is rugged and covers a 390-foot elevation difference. Once used by early settlers and later by area farmers, the Old Settlers Trail also winds through three separate pine plantations planted by Ontario students as far back as 1951. This loop trail can be reached from either the northern end of the upper picnic area or from the nature building. Alternatively, hikers can opt to walk only one segment of the Old Settler's Trail. Starting at the nature building, the trail can be taken on the accessible 0.4-mile (one-way) portion to the Taylor Hollow Overlook, Wildcat's best view of the Village of Ontario below.



This is a quote from Wildcat Mountains website describing the trail.
I will say this, the lookout doesn't really allow you to see Ontario.  Not unless you climb the barrier fence and walk out ~ which I didn't do.



I didn't visit the other scenic outlook as I was pressed for time and wanted to make the whole trail and be back home before the day's real heat kicked in.


I was surprised to find these little blue flowers that I'd like to call Bell Flowers. Well, technically I am not exactly sure of the name, but they are delicate blue flowers that tend to like more shaded areas.  I've seen them most near and around the northern side of the rock formations as the park.


I think I'd love this trail during early spring, late fall, and yes, in the winter.  The wonderful rock outcroppings would be easier to photograph.
In the spring I'd be able to languish in the Jack in the Pulpits, Blood Root, and other wild beauties.

Blood Root

I came across some bizarre things also, this neon yellow 'blob' growing on an old stump.  Now I don't think it was fungi, perhaps some sort of lichen?


The trail was narrow in places and wide in others.  If you do the whole trail you get quite a work out.  If you just go from the Nature Building and walk that .4 mile trail, it is wide and well traveled.


I prefer the less traveled parts of the trail.


There were spots that were just a footpath which I found very interesting.

And ... the rocks.  The formations of rocks are incredible and no matter how often I see them I am in awe.  I've lived in this area and after 20 years, still find the rocks something incredible.



My thoughts on this trail?  It is best to be in some sort of shape to do the whole trail.  It is a work out for the legs with the hills.  Since I am fairly new to checking out one trail against the other, I'd go with what the park website has to say.

I tried to do it as quickly as possible and I hiked hard and fast, more of a workout than a casual hike.

Bring water.  There are benches in more than one location if you wish to have a seat and enjoy the view.
Bring a snack.  It sometimes is pleasant to have to stop and have an apple or something.
Bring your trash out with you.

This trail can be done in all 4 seasons.  Part of it is a cross country ski trail.  I wonder if snow shoes are allowed. 

It is a unique trail and there is a lot to look at.  The trail is mostly shaded so it would be a nice way to spend some time out of the sun.

I can't wait to go back.



Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Solstice

The day began with heavy thick fog.  I looked out the window at 5am and decided that I'd just go back to bed and relax.

After chores Rich moved the skid steer and parked it under the pine trees so it was in the shade.
The day's project was to take off the ice picks on the tracks of the skid steer.

After that, I thought it would be nice to hike down to the creek with Morris to cool off our feet.

Huh.

Here is the creek in February.  This is normal water flow for the creek.



Here is the creek yesterday.


Can you find Morris?  No?  I could barely find him and he had trouble getting through the growth.

Now a few things have happened to make it this way.
Wet, warm, humid spring with rain coming just enough to keep things growing, but NO gullywashers that  normally keep the creek bottom nice and clean.

Morris began to sneeze like crazy.  I know he has some allergies that are pretty bad during the ragweed season, but he was having no fun at all.

We simply turned around and went home.  I was greatly disappointed.  But then again I haven't kept my trails clear since April.  I'll have to check out my other trails.

Since the owners of this land have not fixed fence and pulled all of the cattle out nearly 10 years ago, the forest in some places has grown into an impassable gnarled prickly nightmare.

I guess that is why I enjoy winter, early spring, and late fall so much in this forest.

We arrived at home and Morris got a bath, I got a shower, and then I read a book for a couple of hours before chore time.  Lady of leisure right?
Hah!

Just before sunset I went out to check on Annie, one of our Dexter cows.  She really looked ready to calf so I got Rich and we watched the sunset together in the cow pasture.


It was pretty peaceful and quiet.  


We left the pasture after dark settled in sure that we would have a newborn calf by morning.

Oh...as of this evening, Monday night.  Annie has not yet had her calf.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Wishing it was Grandma & Grandpa Camp...

Last year we were in day two of Grandma & Grandpa Camp.
This year due to health issues [see The Long Road if you are curious].

Grandpa Rich is doing much better but lacking in energy still.


We sure would like to have all the kids here again this summer but everything is sort of up in the air at this point.

Work called and after being off the books for a month, they are sort of desperate to have me come in and cover for a full time person who is having shoulder surgery on July 6th.

I must admit, I will not mind going back to work.  I miss having those deposits in my account!  I have my eye on an infared filter for doing some creative photography.

For a while this spring I considered giving up a regular job all together in favor of striking it out on my own in the field of art and photography.

Well, I like it when I know I am getting paid, and I am horrid at promoting my own work.

That aside, we are going to work on trying to set up some times in the future this summer for kids to come and visit.
Working out the details will be a bit confusing as I never know when my work will want me.


But who could pass up the chance to enjoy having children around?

Morris says he misses having all the kids around here too.


So let's hope things continue to improve and we can have some adventure this summer.

I doubt I'll have the hours off, but hopefully we can work something out.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Finally a quiet evening

Things are slowly getting back to some sort of normal.

Last night I took Morris for an evening walk.  We just walked up the drive and out the gravel road towards PeeWees.  I wasn't in the mood to do the narrow trails I have in the woods.  I just wanted and easy walk that I could do in my flip flops and let Morris run and play.

We spooked up a few deer from the little patch of woods between the road and the corn field.  The sky was a washed out blue and contrasted so nicely with the green corn coming up in the field.

Morris was more interested in what had been up and down the road recently by smelling as many things as he possibly could.  
I followed along just strolling and enjoying the songs of the birds along with the quiet crunch of gravel under my flip flops.



Morris found the running, smelling, and 'marking' of so many things he'd missed in the past few weeks quite tiring.

I was tired too, but felt good.  It had been a while since I felt like going for a walk just for the fun of it.
I'm sure Morris feels the same way.

I'm hoping this weekend to take another hike in Wildcat Mountain State Park.
This trail is not hard and so it will be nice to take a camera backpack and some snacks.




Sunday, June 14, 2015

Hemlock Trail, Wildcat Mountain State Park



Wildcat Mountain State Park on Highway 33 just outside of Ontario, Wisconsin is fairly well known for its horse trails and horse camp.

I've ridden there for many years, but just started to explore my hiking opportunities recently.

I thought I'd do the Hemlock Trail which according to some reviews can be very difficult for some.
Let me start by staying the trail is tough and if you are thinking you will find a nice flat easy trail, think again.

I went with my grand daughter.  We stayed to the left of the trail split and I think we probably did the trail backwards.
I'm glad we did.

We found some unique plant life.  Blood Root leaves dotted the hillside, along with Jack in the Pulpit and Ginger.  To the casual person who doesn't know their woodland plant life, this would have just been "greenery" and they would have walked right by it on the trail.

Mark my words, I'll be back to photograph the Trillium, the Skunk Cabbage and other spring wonders that seemed to be all over under the forest canopy.



In the upper part of the woods near the top to Mt. Pusgah we found Broomrape. Also known as Cancer Root, proper scientific name: Conopholis americana.


These little oddities are not easy to spot unless you have an eye for looking for odd patterns on the forest floor.

Finally we reached to top of the 'mountain' and spent quite a bit of time cooling off in the nice cool breeze and enjoying the overlook view.


And of course a 'self portrait' with a camera on the tripod and a timer.


Then we headed down the other side of the mountain.
The trail ran alongside and above the Kickapoo River and we watched canoeists and folks in rented kayaks paddling the Kickapoo.

I told my grand daughter that we ought to Canoe the Kickapoo some time.


I loved these side of the mountain as much as the other side but for different reasons.

The bluffs seen from above were impressive.


As well as some of the native ground coverings.


We found Partridge Berries in abundance.

And we found a little time to ham it up for the camera.  Ariel's mom had told her to stay safe near the bluffs above the river.


On our way down from the bluffs I found some Chicken of the Woods.  I happen to love this fungi with its brilliant colors.



I was actually quite sad to come to the end of the trail loop.

Things about this trail.
It is steep, but you can stop as often as you like.
If it has rained some of the trail will be very tricky, just use caution and don't rush.

If you know anything about woodland plants this is a great place.
No pets are allowed on this trail.
Elevation change is 396 feet, so be prepared for a workout.
The trail is 1.3 miles long.

However, since we stopped and observed birds, plants, fungi, and rock formations and took many photographs...
the hike took us much longer.

We even watched the canoes below us.
We'd recently had a lot of rain so the trails in places where a bit slick and where the forest vegetation was very thick we did encounter bugs.  Not enough though that is would keep me from going back..
The trail is shaded for the most part by the large beautiful canopy of the forest.

It is said that the Old Settler's trail is rugged.
I say, well, let me try it! That is my next goal.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

While I was away ~ by Morris

I went on a town thingie vacation.  I sure was confused as to why I had to live in town, but SHE assured me as did Uncle John and Aunt Nancy that this was only a temporary.  

I could come back to the farm and eat icky stuff and roll in icky stuff.


Each day I got to go with Uncle John to work.  I used to go to his office as a puppy, so this was no big deal.

I was home for a week and then went back to town.

Then SHE stopped by the office where John works and visited.  
I know SHE needed me.  SHE had that smell about her and that look about her.

You know of course that dogs can sense these things.  

So when I was supposed to go back inside, I sat by HER Subaru and wouldn't move.
Then I gave her my best 'googly' eyes.  Big sad empty eyes.

She melted and pronounced that she would come and get me that very next day.

...and they say dogs are not smart!

When I got home I noticed that HE was not his usual grumpy self.  I smelled him all over and checked him out.

HE needed my watching.

So I laid down next to the day bed and did my best to watch and take care of him.  SHE was worried and every once in a while I'd have to get up and sit in her lap to let her pet me.  That calms HER down.

Finally it seemed things were better.  I checked everyone out and decided that I would cuddle up tight next to HER. She needed comfort and she needed rest.



They ... whoever 'they' are don't give dogs enough credit. We are smart we have a sense of things.

And I knew where I was needed and what I needed to do.

For I am Morris.
The Incredible.