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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Camping at High Cliff State Park in Sherwood, Wisconsin

Oh it's so nice to be camping in such a pretty park.... not that I am biased or anything.  But the park is kept in tip top shape from a fantastic crew, one of which is my husband, Steveio!  Hahaha.   He is the head of the maintenance at the park, and does a little of everything that is needed whenever it is needed.

While we are camping at the park, the nice perk of his job is that he can come back to the campsite and have lunch with me.  His work really varies from day to day, so each day is some new adventure for him to accomplish. Yesterday he was busy with installing park benches...  and he had time for a quick lunch before he was off to do something else.

(as I type the blog this morning, I can hear chainsaws off in the distance.  
I am sure it's Steve doing something somewhere in the park) 


Our doggers are very happy to be camping too.  
They find wonderful places to sniff and new spots to go potty on our walks. 
Plus they can relax in the comfort of the motorhome.
What a Dog's Life. 




As I said in our last blog, our friends Paula and Mel are camping with us this week.  We had hoped to camp with Herb and Karen, but engine troubles kept them at home.  Paula is the sweet person who took the time to teach me how to REALLY quilt, not just baby quilts from kits like I had done in the past when my babies were little.  We planned ahead and brought our sewing machines along.  It was nice and warm on Tuesday so we could take them outdoors and set them up on a table....


Ahhhh quilting under a canopy of green leaves, with chipmunks dashing around and birds singing, once in a while a breeze.  It was a perfect autumn day at High Cliff!

I was working on some quilt squares in a pattern that Paula taught me... and she was working on these cloth microwave bowls.  Turned out pretty nice!   You can see her elegant antique Singer Featherweight machine in the background.  That is a coveted sewing machine among quilters, and I wouldn't mind if it happened to be stowed away in MY storage compartment! LOL


 While we were busy sewing away the afternoon... 
we sent Mel off to get our firewood for the evening.  
Kept him busy and out of our hair.  
We women need our fabric fix from time to time. 



Aren't they just the Cutest Couple Ever????

I took a tumble off the bottom step of the motorhome yesterday, and with arms full of stuff so I didn't have any way to break my fall.  WHOOOOOOOOOMPH down I went!  Nobody was around, so I could swear as much as I wanted to. LOL....   But with a bit of a limp, I got up and soothed my damaged ego, and hobbled back into the motorhome.  A few hours with a bag of ice on my foot, and all was well enough to get on with the day.  I am a little stiff this morning. Good thing the ground was soft! 

When Steve got off work at 4, he was able to help Mel with some repair project on his motorhome (they have the same kind of motorhome as ours)  and we later got supper ready to cook out on the grill.  We ALWAYS eat so good when camping.  Here is a pic for the "foodies" to see... those are grilled potatoes yet under the tin foil, forgot to take it off for the pic.  Steaks, salads, wine and all the fixens.  ahhhhh


After dinner, the guys built us a wonderful campfire.  We spent time laughing and telling stories and sharing all the good campfire conversation... and a few marshmallows too. We had a few coons come on into the campsite once they smelled the marshmallows toasting.  We chased them off a couple times with clapping hands, hisses and stomps of the feet.  This time of year they get so used to people from all summer long, they think begging for food is a way of life.  We shooed them on their way with NO marshmallows in their bellies.  People don't realize the harm they do by feeding wild animals.  Now it's time for the raccoons to forage in the woods, not in our campsites.


The best way to wind up the evening was for Paula and I to polish off a bit of wine... 
Yummmmm



Such is the "Night Life" at High Cliff State Park





Monday, September 15, 2014

Spending Time with Pa Pfundtner and then Camping at High Cliff State Park

Sunday morning started with a gulp of coffee, potty break for the dogs, and then dash out the door to head over to Steve's Dad's place in Waupaca.  He took us out to breakfast first....  at a little retro 1950's diner called Little Fat Gretchens! What a name!  But the food was good.

(Pa Pfundtner was in the middle of talking when the waitress snapped the pic, 
really, he WAS having a good time!) 



Then we went back to Pa's house to help out with some projects.  Steveio loves any time that he can fire up the Kubota and play in the yard.  Haha... big boys and their sandbox toys!!



 I just LOVE this pic I snapped of him and his sassy dog, Nicky

Steveio helped with some repairs, and messed with the air compressor, 
and fueled up both of the lawnmowers.  



Oh my... DUELING LAWNMOWERS!!!

We took care of some yard projects, 
cleared out windowboxes and planters,
took care of the garden plants and 
got things ready for winter.


Nicky kept a close eye on his "daddy" and made sure he didn't get out of sight.


While the guys were busy with the lawns, I found a garden bench and sat down with my knitting. It was a pleasant morning and the sun was shining.  As I gazed around the yard, I was missing Mom P. who passed away almost 2 years ago.  Seeing her flowers and landscaping that made this house a home, I was wistfully wishing she was there setting next to me on the bench. Maybe she was.

I admired these sweet cranes that set out in the yard... pretty cool! 


Once our work was done, it was time to head home.
I think Pa Pfundtner needed a nap!


When we got home, we tossed the rest of our things in the motorhome, and headed out to High Cliff State Park,  Yes, we were going to go camping a mere 14 miles away from home. LOL.... not really "getting away" for Steveio, because he works at the park full time!  

Originally, our RVing friends Karen and Herb were going to come up from Milwaukee to camp side by side with us on reserved sites for the week.  At the last minute, they have been experiencing some major diesel engine troubles, and had to cancel. Awwwww  so as soon as they cancelled, I emailed our other Safari RVing Buddies (and quilting buddy) Paula and Mel from Wausau.  They secured the reservation for the site next to us and loaded up their rig to come on over! 

As we were driving to the campground, we didn't bother to hook the Tracker Toad onto the back of the motorhome, so I was following Steve as he drove out to the park... Here is a pic I snapped as he turned the corner.  I think I will use it for our blog header page for a while too...

Paula and Mel were already set up on their campsite when we arrived at the park.  We quickly set up as fast as we could... because the Packer Game was on!!!!  Our motorhome has an outside jack for the antenna to hook up outdoors.  

We set up the TV on a little table...
gathered our lawn chairs... 
put out some snacks... 
and watched the game! 


I am proud to say the Packers WON... 
over the New York Jets.... 31-24  YAY! 

We cooked up a quick supper of bratwurst and salads... 
Paula and I took the doggers for a walk around the campground 
and we came across this artwork from someone who REALLY likes our park! 
I know it rained last night... 
so I imagine it will be gone this morning. 
"Eco-Friendly Graffiti"! 


We proceeded to jaw jack for a few hours.  When it got darker, the guys built a campfire. It was getting chilly out, so we enjoyed the warmth of good friends, good conversation, and good flamage!   


While we were sitting the darkness, Steve felt something crawling on him.....



We googled for a bit of info about walking stick insects... and found this on Wikipedia:

The Phasmatodea (sometimes called Phasmida or Phasmatoptera) are an order of insects, whose members are variously known as stick insects (in Europe and Australasia), walking sticks or stick-bugs (in the United States and Canada), phasmidsghost insects and leaf insects (generally the family Phylliidae). The ordinal name is derived from the Ancient Greekφάσμα phasma, meaning an apparition or phantom, and refers to the resemblance of many species to sticks or leaves. Their natural camouflage can make them extremely difficult to spot. Phasmatodea can be found all over the world in warmer zones, especially the tropicsand subtropics. The greatest diversity is found in Southeast Asia and South America, followed by Australia. Phasmids also have a considerable presence in the continental United States, mainly in the Southeast.

(this part is really interesting about females NOT needing males to reproduce!) 

Many species of phasmids are parthenogenic, meaning the females lay eggs without needing to mate with males to produce offspring. Stick insect species that are the product ofhybridisation are usually obligate parthenogens,[11] but non-hybrids are facultative parthenogens, meaning they retain the ability to mate and are bisexual depending on the presence and abundance of males.[12] Eggs from virgin mothers are entirely female and exact copies of their mothers.


He set it back in the woods after we were done taking pics...
and a few minutes later it came back and was crawling on Paula's pantleg! 

Guess he wanted to be warm too. 

That is our Nature Lesson for today, folks! 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Meeting up with Full Time RVer friends

Many years ago, about 4 or 5 or 6???  I stumbled upon a website community called RV Dreams started by Linda and Howard Payne. It was chock full of great information about living in an RV, full time or part time, and how to go about setting up your rig, getting solar, good resources for insurance, operational expenses and ideas.

Well, on that page is a link to a little Java chat room.  So I clicked on and went into chat.  The first person I met was Dee Walters.  She made me feel welcome and asked a bunch of questions to find out what and where we were at in our RV ing life.  She introduced to me to each "regular" chatter as they logged into the room.  She was the "Hostess with the Mostest" of the chat room!

People were funny and helpful and informative.  It was like sitting around a campfire and people were pulling up with their lawn chairs to set a bit and chat.  Some came in, some went out.... but Dee stayed till the end (about 11 p.m.) and warmly invited me back.  That is how our friendship started!

She and her husband were downsizing and selling stuff and ready to move into a small apartment until their retirement dates.  As the years rolled by, Dee and Jim found the right fifth wheel, the right truck, the right gear and moved on into Full Time RV Living.  Yes, they were living their RV Dream!
We all felt the excitement they expressed in each chat discussion, each email, each photo shared.  They started travelling and retired from their jobs and shared adventures via the blog called http://tumbleweed-jimdee.blogspot.com/    We have shared family and friends and dreams and RV catastrophes.  And of course, all of these years, she has been the Hostess with the Mostest in the RV Dreams chat room.

In July 2011, they were travelling through Wisconsin~!   We made arrangements to meet up and have them "mooch dock" in our driveway.  That means "boodocking" in a friend's driveway instead of going to an RV park or campground.  It's a fun way to share time together and perhaps get some reparis, rig washing and relaxing in our peaceful countryside of Wisconsin.

The blog posts from their 2011 visit start on this link: Visit with Jim and Dee  and go on for five blog posts after that.  Just click on the link on the bottom of each page for the next blog in that series.

Since we had limited 5GB internet for a long time, I have not been able to spend much time in the chat room anymore, but I have keep current with blogs and emails and pics on facebook.  We just recently got unlimited internet access at our home with Frontier.net so I can start going back now!


As for Jim and Dee......   They just completed travelling to all 48 states in the US and were heading back through the midwest on their way to Illinois to visit their children and grandchildren.  We made arrangements to meet up with them on Saturday at the State Fair Park campgrounds in Milwaukee.  It's about a 90 mile drive for us, and we found them easily in their Carriage Cameo fifth wheel.  I forget how long it is, but it's a big one!


They happened to be parked next door to a Safari motorhome,
so Steve and Jim jawjacked with that guy for a while. 



Dee and I hugged and started chattering at 11 a.m.  
(We didn't stop again until it was time to go 6 hours later!) 

Dee hauled out crocheting and we gabbed fibers, patterns, and RVing stuff.  Ya know, places they been, things they modified on their rig, repairs and adventures.  This crochet pattern is called C to C.... Corner to Corner.  Neato!   She finished one afghan in colorful stripes, and is now working on a shawl with delicate yarns and showed me how the stitches go.  She found it on Pinterest and found how to's on Utube.




The guys, of course, had to solve all the World's Problems and chattered away about people, places and things.  We let them gab while we were busy doing our own gabbing! They had their fireplace going in their fifthwheel and it was comfy and cozy on this very cool snap of weather we have been having in Wisconsin. We felt so welcome in their travelling home. It was like we picked up where we left off 3 years ago during their last visit.  LOL


Noontime Hunger was eminent, 
and of course the favorite thing RVers like to do is to EAT! 

and blog about it...  hahahahhaha

here is their website:
Jim had already scoped out a good restaurant nearby called Double BB's BBQ.  Sounded good to us! 



We got the nice waiter to oblige and take our photo together.  How cute.  I see so many blogs of RVers who always have their pictures taken in restaurants as they meet and greet out on the road.

So bloggers... here is ours!


The food came and was delicious!  Jim had kielbasa sausages (a Polish Treat)  and both Steve and Dee had pulled pork sandwiches.  I opted for a half rack of ribs.... and took the rest home with me.  Of course, here is a Foodie Pic:



The bar/restaurant also had an open air patio section out back, so the doorway was wide open.  This pestering little wasp would not leave us alone!  Finally Jim trapped him in the empty sweet tea glass and gave him to the waiter-----   (the waiter kindly took the bee out back and let him free...awww)



We went back to their RV for an afternoon of chit chat and the guys watched some car racing on tv.  It was stereo surround sound effect because nearby at the Milwaukee Mile raceway had cars running and we could hear the sounds coming in the open windows!   Being race fans, Jim and Dee enjoyed being so close to a race track!

Also I snapped a pic of their satellite dish setup.  How ingenious to have it weighted down by a disk from weightlifting barbells.  So visit a thrift shop, rummage sale or used sale at a fitness center for a disk to keep yours weighted down too.  Easily portable and less messy than sand bags!



Too soon it was time for us to go.... Jim had tickets to go to the Milwaukee Brewer's baseball game right next door.  We had to head on back because our dogs were waiting patiently for us at home.  

Taking our photos of each other seemed like a good thing to do too...





We hugged and said our "See Ya Laters"  (never goodbyes)  and heading out of the campground. 

On our way home, we slipped into Trader Joes and stocked up on a couple cases of Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw wine) and an armful of jars of Cookie Butter.  If you haven't tried this, please give it a try.  It's VERY addicting and thanks to Al from http://thebayfieldbunch.com/ , I am now addicted too. 



We made it home, clear sailing, and the dogs were just fine.  But they missed us.  

Now it was time for US to pack up our motorhome... we are heading out camping on Sunday!!!!

We WERE supposed to camp Mon-Thur at High Cliff with RVing friends Karen and Herb Sweet.. but due to engine troubles on their Safari motorhome, they are not able to make their reservations.  Sigh.  Was looking forward to seeing them.  

Well, they cancelled their reservations at the park, and right in behind them logged our other RVing friends Mel and Paula!  They were able to reserve the same site that Karen and Herb released ... so we are still going camping and still going to have a Safari motorhome as a neighbor. 

So we loaded up last night... and now taking a run over to Waupaca for breakfast with Pa Pfundtner this morning.  When we get back, we are heading out RVing ourselves.  Should be fun! 









Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day Two EVENING of Volunteer Jamboree at Kettle Moraine State Forest Ottawa Rec Area

This third blog post from Monday is about the evening of our Volunteer Jamboree at the Kettle Moraine State Forest.  See the other posts before this one to catch up if you just joined us now.

Our evening started after we had our canoe trip and wandering around the park for a while.  We were invited back to the canopy tents for supper.  On the menu were big pans of pulled pork with sauce on buns, salads, fruit, roasted sweet corn (with a smiling Amanda Kutka peeling husks from ears of hot steaming corn, but my camera battery was dead so I missed the photo opp!)

Dinner was followed up by a couple huge sheet cakes of dessert ... and an invite to head on over to the amphitheater again for the evening entertainment. Oh my... my favorite... CELTIC MUSIC!!!

The band's name is Wylde Thyme, from Racine, Wisconsin.  I stole this pic from their Facebook Page:


Here is a link to their page:


and 

They set up on the small stage and introduced themselves. 
What a gorgeous spot in the park for a live concert... 
alongside the lake, 
under a weeping willow tree,
 with the sun setting behind



Just as the sun was setting, a few splatterings of raindrops came here and there... 
but the band started to play anyhow.  

In a few moments, we had a RAINBOW! 


Not sure if anyone over there found a pot of gold...
but the sunset in the other direction was PRICELESS!!!



The band played number after number of all of my favorite Celtic and Irish Tunes.
There was a lot of toe tapping and hand clapping along with the lively music.
I play CD's of Celtic music in my weaving studio all of the time, 
and of course I bought one of their CD's on sale in front of the stage! 




 I have the band's permission to post these clips and information,
Here is a taste of their music






I walked up behind the rows of seats after dark to snap this shot, after the sun set.
There were only a few mosquitoes compared to the night before, 
so the evening was relaxing and enjoyable. 
Beautiful natural music in the outdoor setting was a perfect way to wind up the busy day. 


And the concert ended two hours later on this hilarious note:





We headed on back to our camper in the dark,
humming and tapping our toes with the music still ringing in our ears. 

Thank you, Wisconsin Parks, for treating us with such nice entertainment! 



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Day Two MORNING of Volunteer Jamboree at Kettle Moraine State Forest Ottawa Rec Area

Now I will get to the morning portion of the Jamboree from Monday.  I wanted to be sure I had all of the spellings correct of each name.  (I double checked with Steve's boss, Linda Guelig, to be sure I had them right!)  LOL

We were soooo lucky to have such nice weather.  The days were all blue sky, low humidity, and nice temps in the 70's.  We could not have asked for a better stretch of weather for our jamboree.

 Here is the link for a list of links about the campground we were at:

and here is a link for a PDF file of the campground map and grounds 

Our campsite was pristine, the park was quiet and well-maintained, and we saw a lot of wonderful wildlife ... even a pair of cranes were waking us up each morning with their excited calls. Kudos to Ottawa Lake Rec Area staff for hosting such a large gathering of volunteers!  (ps they treated us all three days with free camping, free meals and wonderful entertainment)


Monday morning was started off with a continental breakfast over by the shelter B in the park. We donned our little nametags so we all knew who was who and what parks we volunteered at.



We were welcomed by a big sign, and a full spread of breakfast goodies to enjoy. We sat and chatted with folks we met last year and also new faces to meet and learn where they were from.



Because the shelter is a bit small to contain all of the attendees, they erected a couple extra tents/canopies to make sure everyone had a place in case of bad weather.  But ... tada!  We had such nice sunshine, it all worked out.



I want to take a moment to give a special thanks...
this gal was instrumental in making sure everything went off without a hitch! 

She was hands on all morning, noon and night for all of our events---
meet Amanda Kutka of Visitor Services

Her smile kept on going along with her willingness 
to rush around and make sure all of our needs were met.

THANK YOU, AMANDA!!!!!


After breakfast was done, we were ushered over to the amphitheater for our morning program... 
we sure filled the place up!  


Located along the shores of the lake, we enjoyed the outdoors and the view 
as much as we enjoyed the informative speakers who came to talk to us. 





Peter Biermeier, the Section Chief for Recreation, Planning and Development first talked about the park system and this being the 114th year of having a Volunteer Jamboree to celebrate,  He enthusiastically thanked all of the volunteers who make the Wisconsin State Parks the success that they are. He welcomed us warmly and talked about exciting new things happening in the Wisconsin State Park system.  I only caught a shot of him leaving the stage, because my camera battery needed replacing.  Dang! 


Next up was Paul Sandgren 
who is the Superintendent of the Southern Kettle Moraine Unit.



He pulled out a map and gave us an idea of the wonderful things we could do and see in the area.. and invited us to fully enjoy the entire park which encompasses five campgrounds and many trails, springs and many opportunities to explore. There sure is a lot to do in this large park system that stretches for many miles and has a lot of facilities available. 


This is Kurt Thiede who is a Regional Administrator.  
He talked a lot about the IT improvements of the DNR website, 
and new state park developments. 



Next up on the docket was Kimberly Currie, Deputy Director of Parks... She lightened up the crowd with a cute joke about her bosses and a camping trip.  It was a good opener.   ....she told of some statistics ... did you know that THIS year the Wisconsin State Parks has had the HIGHEST attendance ever in their history?  Wisconsin State Parks rank 3rd in the US with camping occupancy and fifth in the US for overall park attendance?  Wow.. those are some impressive figures with only 81 parks in the entire state.    


Then Chris Pedretti, Section Chief, spoke about IT and tech issues, and how the park website is changing and making information more accessible. I think Kimberly Currie jumped in here with the news of a photo contest that had been held on Facebook, which enabled the DNR to have a slew of new park photos to use in the future promotion of the State Parks.



Paul Zajackowski, NR Program Regional Manager spoke about capital improvements and repairs in the park system.  Did you know the average age of any building in the state parks is FIFTY years old?  There are over 5000 campsites in the 81 parks, and most of the equipment, buildings and structures are over 30 years old.  This was of interest to Steve, being  the Facilities Maintenance Specialist Advanced at High Cliff State Park.  They try so hard at his park to repair and butter up the aging buildings and make them as user friendly as possible. 

The various speakers shared that although they are trying to keep up properties and finding funding to repair and replace things as needed... we also have to advocate and ask for funds (politically) to improve and grow.  New properties, new facilities and expanding existing parks is a focus for the future.   

Jason Fritz was next up, he is the Chief Ranger and also the NR Region Program Manager who spoke about Ranger duties and keeping park patrons and volunteers safe and able to enjoy the parks to their fullest.  Some questions were asked about the new "concealed carry and open carry" policies etc. and the volunteer staff was assured all situations would be addressed and handled by the rangers and wardens on site.  Camphost Volunteers can safely rely on their park policing staff to take care of all issues that would arise. 



The last speaker of the morning (before Peter Biermeier took back the mike) was Joe ... now forgive me for messing up his last name.  I thought it was said as Rhewrie or something like that.  But the Northern Highlands Campground Manager is listed as Joe Fieweger.  Either way, let's just call him JOE, okay?   He spoke about working in the largest state forest in Wisconsin.  The Northern Highlands Unit has over 800 campsites, 18 campgrounds, and is always looking for more hosts.  Soooo we were a good group to hit up for next year! LOL 


My personal overall impression of all of the speakers this morning was GRATITUDE....  for us, the volunteers.  Because without us, the work preformed and executed could never, ever be done by paid workers in the era of tight budget cuts and diminishing funds for the park system. Without the many hours of the volunteers, and the Friends of the Park organizations throughout the state and the many extra hours put in by valued employees, the Wisconsin Parks are a success! 


Peter Biermeier then took over the microphone and invited us to all take a break and head on up to the canopy tented area to watch a slideshow presentation about Old World Wisconsin. 


Jennifer Van Haften from nearby Old World Wisconsin came to do a presentation about her facility, 
which was built on lands donated by the DNR.  Old World Wisconsin is a "living history museum" to learn about life back in the late 1800's and the settlement era of Wisconsin. They have paid staff in costume to re-enact life on the farms and small village in Wisconsin back in the day.  They even allow teens to intern for work, and let children help with chores! They help to maintain historic breeds of farm animals, heirloom plants and garden vegetables and have various farms and houses to explore with live docents in costume to help educate the visitors on early life in Wisconsin. 

from Wikipedia:
Old World Wisconsin is an open-air museum located near Eagle, WI. Opened in 1976, the museum is owned and operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society. It portrays housing and the daily life of immigrants in 19th century Wisconsin. 

Although the museum wasn't open during our stay at Ottawa Lake, 
we were invited to come back and see what the museum has to offer throughout the year.  
I had been there long ago, and would love to go back sometime. 

More information can be found on their website at


After the presentation was done, we were invited to join up for lunch in the main pavilion.  The group lined up for sub sandwiches and all the fixens... followed up with a big huge chocolate chip cookie!



This is where the morning ends...
and my previous blog about the canoeing afternoon 
was posted right before this one. 


The next blog will deal with the evening entertainment! 



P.S. PLEASE EXCUSE ANY INACCURACIES AS FAR AS NAMES AND FACES, BECAUSE I TOOK NOTES AS FAST AS I COULD ON MY SMART PHONE, AND MAY HAVE SOME MISTAKES!