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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jameson takes a Nature Walk


Today after supper, that Grandfaddah Pfun was letting our little 20 month old grandson Jameson explore and learn about pine cones.  I have a little wooden cart with some pine cones in the house as decoration.   Jameson was counting them, balancing them on his head, and feeling the texture of the open scales of the cones.




Then Granfaddah decided the wee little guy should learn where pine cones come from and how they grow.  First stop on the way to the pines was the birdfeeder Steveio just put on the stump.  Jameson got to scatter some sunflower seeds and felt he did a good job.



Then he needed to learn about birch trees.  He felt the tiny buds on the branches and felt the papery bark under his hands.  A few good pats and it was on to find the pines.



Now he had to walk allll the way up and over the big septic mound system in our front yard.  He never got to play in our yard much last summer, as he was a wee tot and not even walking yet.  We set the camera up on the birdfeeder and put it on timer for this shot.




Ever so busy, learning about grass and leaves and sticks and things….PICT0118


We finally made it to the three blue spruce trees on the front corner of our lot … we planted these small little trees 12 years ago, and they sure have grown!



He learned to touch and check out the pokey needle branches.  He likes swiping his hand at them and seeing them bounce back into place.



He had to circle around all three pine trees, to see them all and touch each one.  

Learning, learning, learning.


Nothing can be more delightful than having a little one between a set of grandparents… holding tight to the wee hands, and doing ONE >>> TWO>>> THREE>>>> WHHHEEEEEE

as we swing him up between us!


“Do it again! – Do it again!”


Here he is learning about a “Baby Tree” that his Granfaddah just planted.  He learned that he must be gentle, like when around his baby cousins Allegra and Chelsea.



Now we had to learn about grass,  which has been buried under layers of snow till just a week or two ago.  The ground is firming up and dry enough to walk on without getting too muddy.   We got to pull some.. throw some … and he tried to taste some too.



Jameson enjoyed walking down the hill and then stopped to explore the bark on an elm tree.  This was a whole new world after being cooped up for a winter inside the house.



Done with the trees, now he wants to see the “VROOOM”


We took a detour down the driveway to check out Granfaddah’s Camper….

“Grandpaw, can we go camping???”



Now, as we walk around, he is getting a little more sure about walking around outside… on the gravel.. on the grass.   He was trying to kick at  some stones too.



He started back towards the house.. but….


He took a DETOUR when he saw the garden hose reel!  A TOOL!  Something else new to learn about.  Wait till summer and we can play with the hose and fill up his swimmy pool.



Along the front of the house are some soft arborvitaes, so he checked out those branches.



We THOUGHT we had him up on the side deck and going into the house.. but NOOOOOO  once he went up the steps, then he had to go down the steps!   He tried to take off on us!   But we caught him!   Up and down the steps two more times, just for the fun of it.

We posed for another ONE>>> TWO>>> THREE>>> WHEEEEEE picture



Now we circled all the way around the garage.  He sure was putting on the miles on his tiny 20 month old legs.  This was quite a hike for the little guy.  Here he was walking along the side of the garage, feeling the logs with his hands as he travelled the whole length.




Grandfaddah decided that little Jameson needed a lap around the house now.  So they walked down around the side of the house to the lower level walkout area.



And what did the little guy get to see?  Granfaddah’s BOAT!


He popped him into the boat for a look-see.  The boat is parked down below our back deck, and it is the “view” I get out of two of my patio doors from my studio.  Nice, huh?  I hope he pulls it up and into the garage soon so I get my “view” back again!


Now it’s time to circle around the rest of the house.  The hill along this side of the house is much steeper and the incline was a challenge to the little feet and legs.  But he held on tight to his Granfaddah’s hand, and trucked right along side of him all the way up to the main level again.   He stopped at the top to see if I was following them.



We stopped for a cuddle (and a rest)  on the side steps



It was time to head inside, for some juice and a cookie.  I played with a bit of photoshopping with the photos of his “up and up and up to the top” photos.

 up the hill


After his snack, he got on fresh jammies and relaxed with storybooks till his mommy and daddy came to pick him up.  He was almost zonked out by 7pm, a whole hour before his normal bedtime.  I think the fresh air and all the walking wore the little bugger out.


(Jameson’s other grandfather, Jesse’s dad,  is seriously sick, so Heather and Jesse had been at the hospital to see him.  He is sedated in the ICU in critical condition, so any prayers you might say would be appreciated for our little guy’s other grandfather)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Campground Review - Portage Bay State Forest Campground June 2007

(this is one of series of posts of various campgrounds we have been to over the years... I am going through my files in alphabetical order and posting past camping trips in my blog.... something to do over this long long winter---- sigh)

Ok.. here is our favorite campground to go to when we are alone.. just the two of us.   It's sooooo remote and hard to get into, that is our favorite boondocking campground!  Located about 150 miles from our house, it's quite a trek up there.   It's located east of Escanaba, between there and Manistique, then south on the Garden Peninsula.  If you look at a map, look at the pointy of the finger of Wisconsin, (Door County)  as it goes north.. If you follow along through the waters of Lake Michigan, on the other side is the Garden Peninsula coming down from the north.  The Portage Bay State Forest campground is along the eastern shore of that peninsula.

map of state

Don't have a map of the campground, but thought I would do a Google Earth photo of it....  all the sites are along the water... this campground has a pitchepump well, a couple of outhouses, and nice quiet rustic camping.  The people who want hookups and noise and jammed in like sardines go to the other side of the Garden Peninsula, to Lafayette State Park.

google view

Information link:

THIS is what we have to drive on to get into this park....
road in

NOTE: this is a single lane road, with trees tight to each side... some curves are very very tight. If you meet an oncoming vehicle, someone has to back up till you find a wide spot in the road.  Those are few and far between!    The branches scraped our paint, and the bumps had us crawling along at less than 5 miles per hour.  But we KNEW what was waiting for us on the end of this road!


along the shoreline

When we pulled in, we got our bestest site, number 2!  There was only one other campsite occupied in the whole place anyhow.  LOL   It's always like this.   Pay a the post for your site, honor system.   We pulled in frontwards so we could see the water through the front windshield.  The firepit was movable (just a ring of rocks) so we made a new one on the other side.

We found a nest of ants right near our door... so we had to give it a good squirt of bug spray.  (now.. I don't want to get on a firearms tangent here)    We also keep along a can of wasp spray in close proximity to our doorway.  Did you know that it shoots 20 feet?   We keep it on hand for stray dogs after our pets, and potentially wild animals that would happen to get too bold?  Some folks have used it for attackers or hoodlums.. a good spray in the face and get away fast before they stop screaming?  We also have a can of grizzly spray that serves the same purpose when out walking with our dogs.  A few times we have had aggressive strays come after us, so a squirt of this can make em run off pretty fast.

Once we got set up in our campsite...  we went down to the beach. Heck it's only a few steps from the back side of our site.  There was nobody else around, so off came the leashes and out came the frisbee!
doin the friz

It was a lovely time, with sun, breezes and we had the entire place to ourselves....  except for this visitor!
JL visit

Here was our view right outta the campsite to the bay.....
our view

And of course the required photo of our dogs.. they MUST be in each blog post, right?
water dogs

That is my cool hippie tye-dyed shirt I bought when we went out to Mt Rushmore and Custer Park in 2006. It's a favorite of mine.  tee heeeee

Later on in the daqy, we unloaded the scooter and took a nice long ride around the peninsula.  We stopped at a cute little winery, chatted with the owner and loaded up on a couple bottles of cherry wine, some apricot mead and some bottles for gift giving.   Then we bought some produce from a roadside truck farmer and headed back to our campsite.

Steveio made the best of the afternoon... he hauled his lawnchair to the beach and relaxed in the sunshine.
relaxing again

We relaxed for the weekend, and enjoyed the peace and quiet.  A few times some cars drove through, once a State Park truck drove through and collected trash.  That was about it.  The rest of the time is was just us.  But can you imagine the surprise of these folks coming into the park, and instead of the usual tents or a pickup camper or two.. they see a monster diesel pusher???    I tell ya, the road in is tight, sometimes barely being able to swing the front end to avoid a tree with one mirror and the back end swinging out the other way to hit another tree.   Not too many big rigs would attempt this park, we have been here before so we knew what we were getting into.

The neighboring folks on site number one were kayakers and gone more of the time, so we only saw them a bit in the morning and then heard their car start up when they packed their tent and were gone.   Then we had the place to ourselves.

That evening, we were walking around the loop of campsites with the dogs (luckily on leash when we are that remote in the woods) and across in front of us first bounded a deer. It was pretty and golden and graceful as it bounded back into the woods.   That was fun.  Then we turned a curve and there we saw a SKUNK!   Both dogs were very excited about it, but luckily were on leash so they could not dash up to the skunk to investigate it.  Ducky was *sure* it was a kitty, she barked and barked to be able to go see for herself.  Finally, the fat old skunk waddled off into the woods and we waited till he was long gone before we walked past that spot in the road.  This is another good reason to keep your dogs ON leash when in the wild areas.  We sometimes let ours off leash if we are on a dog-friendly beach or lake or a large grassy field.  At least in open areas you can see what is coming and quickly snap on a leash if need be.  Both our dogs are obedience trained, but I don't want to risk a skunk or porcupine encounter to test their limits of obeying me .. or giving in to the thrill of the chase!

That night we had a clear sky, a zillion stars, and the soft lap lap lap of the waves on the shore....  slept with all the windows open and woke to the squawking of some sea gulls, begging us to come back to the beach for another day!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Peshtigo Historical Days at Badger Park - Sept 2008

(this is one of series of posts of various campgrounds we have been to over the years... I am going through my files in alphabetical order and posting past camping trips in my blog.... something to do over this long long winter---- sigh)

I know that the name of this park begins with a B....  but I had it in my files under Peshtigo, which is the city where it is located.  This is the next town up the highway from us, about 20 miles.

Peshtigo is famous for a huge fire, that happened the same night as the famous Chicago Fire of 1871.   There is a fire museum (link below)  that we have been to a few times.  The fire was so bad and so extensive, it burned wayyyy down south to even where our house is located now.  Only the tallest white pines along our river survived the fire.   Here is what the website says about the fire:

On the evening of October 8, 1871 the worst recorded forest fire in North American history raged through Northeastern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, destroying millions of dollars worth of property and timberland, and taking between 1,200 and 2,400 lives.
The great Midwestern city of Chicago also happened to endure a terrible fire that same fateful night, and for whatever reasons -- an irresistibly charming legend about a cow and a lantern among them -- the Chicago Fire became part of the national consciousness while the Peshtigo tragedy gradually slipped into obscurity, eventually remembered primarily by scholars, local "old-timers" and Wisconsin school children (who are required to study their state's history in the 4th grade).
In recent years America's "forgotten fire" has proven to be anything but. The tragedy is a subject of inquiry and debate among meteorologists, astronomers and conservationists. It has been dramatized by novelists and playwrights. It continues to fascinate history buffs and frustrate genealogists.

Peshtigo holds an annual Historical Days Festival in their town, which included a horseshoe pitching tournament.  Steveio LOVES to pitch horse shoes.  So we got hold of some friends, Eric and Angel, with their two boys to join us for some camping!  Eric and Steve make a dynamo team at shoes, and are both very good.

We called up to make camping reservations and got the very last site in the park... ack!   It was in the front row which is the sunnier area of the park, which is great for folks with satellite dishes, but we would have preferred to be back in further by the tall trees and closer to the back.  As folks came to attend the festival, they started parking their cars, as places in the park filled up, they began parking inside the campground, willy nilly all over.  We were surrounded by cars!  They parked right up tight to our camper and even to Eric and Angel's tent!   Oh well, next time we know we should make reservations earlier.

Campground rates:  50 Campsites with Electricity ($18/night, $115/week, $200/two weeks, $400/ one month, $720/two months, $900/three months, $1,050/four months, $1,125/five months & $1,250/six months).   The dump station is on a weird back-in position by the shower house.   Here is some more information on the park itself.

 Badger Park

   Contains over 57 acres of land for recreational use: playground, beach, trailer and camping sites with electrical hook-ups, and modern restroom facilities. Located at the north end of Emery Avenue on the Peshtio River.  An exciting new addition to Badger Park is "Badger Boardwalk". This huge, 10,000 square foot playground/recreation area draws children from miles around, to swing, crawl, climb, and play on its many fun rides and activities. "Badger Boardwalk" was very much a community-wide project, drawing volunteers from the very young to senior citizens into the design, planning, and construction of the project. The playground was built completely with donated funds, and it is freely available for use by anybody. Come and have some fun with your family!

Then there is also the Peshtigo Fire Museum

   Housed in the firest church built in Peshtigo after the fire of October 8, 1871. Exhibits depict our area's past, Guided tours available. Open from Memorial weekend to October 8, hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Over 17,000 registered guests annually. Free admission. Donations accepted.
Peshtigo Fire Cemetery

   Contains the graves of many persons who lost their lives in the fire of October 8, 1871. A mass grave contains the remains of several hundred unidentified persons and a monument is erected to the 800 persons who died in the holocaust. The cemetery is located on Oconto Avenue.

We got up there on Friday and set up on our campsite. It was more crowded than we like, but heck, it was only for a weekend.  Plus, it is a park located within city limits, so it is to be expected.  

Angel and Eric came and pitched a tent the next morning before the event started.  The guys were excited to play shoes, and got all signed up in the tournament. Angel signed up too for the second round, as she pitches too.  I kept an eye on the boys, plus Heather and Jesse came up with litlte Jameson,  and later Erin and Mark came too.   

Besides the horseshoes, they had a big parade, a centennial reenactment, a craft festival, live music all day and into the night, a bunch of big blow-up bouncy toys for kids, and lots of food vendors and beer tents.  The park itself has a huge wooden playground structure that kept the boys busy for hours.  All within the park location, so it was easy to walk back and forth to various features and back to the RV to rest or check on the dogs. 

Steveio and Eric kicked butt on the tournament and won first place in the first round and second place in the second round.  Angel got paired up with a new guy who didn't ever throw shoes before in his life, and imbibed on enough beer to make his throws pretty dangerous-  even to the surrounding spectators!   

ahhhhh my Steve... such form.... such grace.... such finesse......
visiting with jameson at badger park (2)

Travis and Jacob were very happy to have something to do while the folks were pitching shoes...    They made best buddies with our dogs and we had a great time walking about the grounds.  (see all the cars parked in right in front of our rig? that was by Eric and Angel's tent, and they were also parked tight along the drivers side of our motorhome too)

  visiting with jameson at badger park (1)

Sunday morning, the boys came into our camper early to have breakfast and let their parents sleep. They were disappointed that our TV didnt bring in their favorite cable tv shows, just our few local stations on antenna.   They had a hard time understanding that concept. I had bought those fun little boxes of cereal so they could choose their own flavors.  It was fun to spoil them a bit.  We also cooked out each day on the grill, and did the some-mores and treats around the campfire too at night.

visiting with jameson at badger park (12)

Sunday morning we went for a nice long walk with the dogs, down by the river that borders the campground on the north side.  There were geese all over and that means geese poop all over too.  So we had to stay on the gravel road and not go into the grass.   We also found a huge wasp nest so steered clear of that too.    It was a nice morning, and their parents got to sleep in a bit while the boys were under supervision. A mini-vacation for them too.
 visiting with jameson at badger park

The boys played lots of arcade games and midway games, and still had some coupons leftover for redeeming into prizes.  I think they went through a pile of money from the parents, asking at different times from each parent so the other parent didn't know they had already gotten money!  Stinkers!
  visiting with jameson at badger park (8)

When Heather came to visit with little Jameson, the boys thought he was pretty cool.... and little Jacob even held him and got to know all about babies.   Good training for being good daddies themselves some day.

 visiting with jameson at badger park (4)visiting with jameson at badger park (5)

 visiting with jameson at badger park (7)

Erin and Mark came up too, and spend the night with us.... It was fun to have wee ones in our camper in the morning!  The first of many times that Jameson has slept in our motorhome....   now to get the new granddaughters to come this year.  I don't think that will be a problem!
visiting with jameson at badger park (11)

So that was it for a weekend in the big little town of Peshtigo...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Projects around the house…

Well, we are keeping ourselves busy till the camping season begins….


The road restrictions are still on around the favorite campgrounds we like to go to.  Don’t really matter because they are all closed and most are gated off.   In Wisconsin we have road restrictions during spring thaw while the ground is soft.  Big trucks over a certain weight, usually 10 tons, that are not allowed on secondary or back roads.  The weight of one truck can ruin the blacktop and mush down to the soggy ground underneath.  It can cost a county and their taxpayers plenty if a logging truck, propane delivery truck etc. drive down their roads at this time of year.  The fines are hefty too.  So best to wait till the county clears the road restrictions and we can get out and go camping again.  It’s been drying up fast, so we hope to be able to get out soon.


In the meantime, we were working on a few projects around here.  Remember the tree that Steveio cut down back in February?  Well…..

PICT0055 See the little chickadee who came right away to check out the sunflower seeds?


Then.. next project was our door to our kitchen… see that grid panel on the window?  Making it look like 9 little panes of glass??   It’s just a cheap plastic grid that was getting all cracked and icky…..   this is the before:

house 3

We removed the window and took out the plastic grid…. and Steveio made a nice wooden frame for the glass instead.



outside                                                                          inside


(I was the gopher and the stainer… Steveio HATES staining or painting)

There, from the inside looking out---  DONE!



Things are still pretty brown and grey around here…   we still can have snowfalls yet till May.  The gloom and doom weatherman on the local TV station said 10% of our yearly snowfall has not yet fallen, so be prepared.   Sigh.


The sun feels warm and is bringing life….  this is the white lilac from behind the garage… the tiniest bits of green buds on the tips of the branches.  Gives the heart a chance to skip a beat in anticipation of the Springtime to come!



On to a bit of fiber stuff… daughter Heather is starting this afghan as her first large crochet project.  In the past she has done washcloths and baby booties.  This is called an Ocean Ripple.  How pretty is that?

heathers first afghan0



Sweet little Chelsea came today while her momma goes to the dentist (root canal- yuck!)  so she was fast asleep in her car seat when Erin brought her in the house.  Ducky parked herself right in front of it, on duty.  When any of the grandkids sleep in the portable crib, she is laying right next to that too, doing her instinctive guard thing that collies do to their flocks of sheep.   Good girl!

napping with my guard dog 

That is about it for today… Steveio stopped on the way home to pick up 6 pounds of Alaskan Snow Crab legs for Heather’s birthday celebration on Friday.  Her favorite choice of meals and we steam them up on the back deck outdoors to keep the smell outta the house.    So as soon as he gets home, we will run to town and store them in Erin’ freezer.  Ours it too crowded with three hams in there waiting for Easter Sunday.  We are hostessing the Pfundtner clan (about 28 people and three babies)  for Easter Dinner.  We rented a nearby hall as that is too many for our house.   More on that later…..