Friday, November 30, 2012

Wisconsin 2

I'm going to do two short posts in a row to get the rest of the Wisconsin pictures out of the way. 

1. Amusement in Wisconsin Dells

We spent most of the second day at Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo, in the central part of the state, about an hour to 75 minutes from our home base. As it is the most popular of all the Wisconsin State Parks as well as I believe the oldest, it has something of an iconic status there. The lake was similar to the kinds of places we go to at home and unfortunately it was 99 degrees so it was too hot to hike, especially with two babies in backpacks and a five year old, but I still enjoyed it, as I am interested in what people and doing things are like in different places. The beach and picnic area were a lot bigger and much more crowded than you would see in most similar places in New Hampshire or Vermont. The park store sold beer (of the Budweiser/Miller variety) and people were drinking it right out in public all over the place, which I liked, as it reminded me of being in Europe. Usually if you carry a couple of beers into a park in New Hampshire and drink them subtly away from the main paths and without making a spectacle of yourself nobody will harass you but technically I don't think you are supposed to have them. Wisconsin people seem to largely contain whatever rowdiness they indulge in within their private group, and tend not to be confrontational towards strangers, so it was an easy place for me to hang out.

2. Mirror Maze at the Dells

The guys missed going to the Mirror Maze in Tennessee I guess. Wisconsin Dells was about a half-hour up the road from the park and it is a fairly infamous tourist hell/amusement mecca akin to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge so we took the children there for a couple of hours because of course these kinds of outrageous places with block upon block of over the top amusements are exciting to them.

3. A Last Wisconsin Dells Picture

4. More Dramatic Prairieland, Seen From Car.

I thought the landscape was quite beautiful and striking there. It had not rained in something like 2 months when we were there and these clouds hovered teasingly over the parched landscape for several hours before  finally letting out about a ten minute shower, which didn't do much. The next day however, there was a quite heavy storm in the afternoon and evening which lasted three or four hours that was much welcomed by the local populus.

5. Next Morning, In the Yard Behind Our Rented Historic Farmhouse

I had wanted to find some kind of moderately placed cabin or old style family accomodation such as we had stayed in in Alabama and Tennessee and I was having a hard time, partly because I started so late in the season and partly because there were not a lot of places like that in the area I wanted to stay in (around Madison) as I guess that is not a big area for tourism. But I found this place on a site called and it sounded too good to be true, being an entire house, old (but with completely up-to-date renovations and furnishings) and quite inexpensive, especially by the standards of the northeast. But it was for real, and even in late June there was still a four day block of dates open in mid-July. So it was quite a stroke of luck that we ended up staying here.

6. Background Patio. We Didn't Hang Out Much Out Here Because It Was Still 99 Degrees Every Day.

Mercifully the house had air conditioning. The owners of this house lived in the barn, which had also been most attractively renovated, across the yard. The gentleman was a minister of some kind, I cannot remember the denomination--I don't think it was Lutheran--I believe retired, as he looked to be at least 70. His wife was quite a bit younger, probably somewhere in her 50s. I needed to replace one of my tires, and the man was extremely helpful, and found a place where I could get a decent used one for $40 without getting the usual hassle about I needed to replace all my other ones too. He even went out to the place with me. There was a prominent poster up advertising an upcoming tobacco festival that was sponsored by a cigarette company and all of that, which he stared at rather intently for several minutes so that I thought he was going to be roused to anger and go off on a long declamation about this event, which old people sometimes will do out of nowhere when something agitates them. However after taking in all of the information he merely stepped back and told me that tobacco was the main crop in that part of the state and quite a big deal and how worrisome the ongoing drought was and so on. The bit about tobacco growing being prominent in the area surprised me, but after that I paid closer attention to all the farms we were driving by and indeed it was so.

7. View From the Backyard "Prairie" of the House, Barn and Weathervane.

There is another picture of the weathervane in the next group. It was an awesome weathervane. Nobody in New England seems to have anything like it. I don't know why.

8. Flower Identification is Not My Strong Suit

The minister's wife (I did not find out what her profession was--she was a little more businesslike than her husband--or I assure you I would refer to her by her own position). had carefully arranged this wild looking and very beautiful garden over about a fifteen year period; she admitted that we were seeing it in something close to its perfectly realized condition. I don't usually go in much for vegetation pictures, but these seem quite vivid and interesting, set off against the totally parched grass and something in the effect makes you feel how hot it was. It's a telling picture.

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