Pack up, explore, close camp, drive, hike.

It’s on the cool side when we wake up, low 50s, and it might have gotten into the upper 40s to lower 50s during the night.

We make breakfast and slowly start to pack up camp.  We pack everything up except the Paha Que just in case we get some weather.  We take a drive to “Parry Spring Artesian Well,” an “EarthCache,” to explore a bit.  This is an artesian spring well, with cool fresh water flowing constantly.  We filled up several liter containers for our hikes later in the day.  My rough estimate was that a one liter jug filled up in about 8 seconds, which means 4 liters, or about a gallon, in 32 seconds.  Elaine pointed out though that there was a lot of spillage during that test as the flow was bigger than the neck of the water container, so it is flowing at a constant rate of at least 2 gallons a minute.


Information on the geocache web site is that this well is still running “many years after the closing of the Parry Family Dairy Farm.”  If you can see in the background behind the fence, that’s a very wet area and the artesian water is just seeping up through the ground to the surface back there.

At Parry Spring

Usually one or the other of us is holding the camera so we don’t often have pictures we’re both in.  But, there was a fairly constant flow also of local people at the Spring while we were there.  Filling water bottles, some filling multiple carboys and saying they have been coming here regularly for their drinking water, only drink this water, etc.  So one of the local folk offered to take our picture.  He also told us that the County inspects the Spring water about four times a year and the most recent inspection reconfirmed it to be fine.  It was cool, in fact so cool that almost a two hours later after another it was still cool after having been in the water bottle in the truck.  It had a very clean taste, no off chemical or mineral tastes.  Next time maybe we will bring our own carboy and collect enough to brew a batch of beer from it!

After we collected our water, we went back to camp and finished breaking camp, taking down the Paha Que and doing the final load-up of the truck.  On the way out of the area we drive to the HQ and Visitor Center which has an excellent interpretive center including local Indian history.   One of the backpacking campsites is about a 0.4 mi hike, so we hike up what we realize on the way back might be an esker to get out to the campsite.  The wood shelter has about a 15 x 20 foot floor space, certainly enough to spread out camp and sleep under, but not exactly the kind of backpacking-in camping we would like to try.  It’s at a high point on the trail with a view that looks out over the Emma Carlin Trail where we hiked yesterday.  We can see the South Branch of the Scuppernong from here.

After this little excursion, we then start the drive home, taking our time. One excursion at Bald Bluff, “one of the highest points in Jeffeson County” (1050). We hike up to the top and have lunch there.  Here are a couple views from the top.

View from Bald Bluff

It is never easy coming out of the countryside like this back to the asphalt. We want to take as much time as we can.  The dogs, on the other hand, are exhausted and I think will be happy to get home.

Turkeys!  And a little light rain.

Probably near dawn, maybe about 5 am or so we are woken up by….gobble gobble gobble!  Several of them.  Maybe a couple hundred feet away, in the forest.  Elaine says it is the sounds of turkey love but I think like most things they can’t do that on an empty stomach and they are foraging.  Or browsing.  Or grazing.  Or whatever it is they do.

Now, we have gone to sleep and been woken up by the sounds of coyotes, large insects on the outside of the tent, ravens, owls, whip-poor-wills, things crawling around that we never really knew what they were for sure, wolves in the distance.  Once we awoke to the sound of bees buzzing in the bushes surrounding the tents, a very pleasant and unmistakable zzzzzzzzzzmmmmmmm.  But I don’t think we’ve ever been woken by turkeys.  We lay there laughing, trying to get back to sleep for a bit but it was an unforgettable multi-gobble-gobble.

And light rain on the tent, maybe from 5 to 7 or 7:30 am, so we did get to sleep in a little.  Once it broke we got up — a coolish 55 degrees or so –  took Mocha and Flash for their necessary walk, and then put up the Paha Que just as it started to sprinkle lightly again.  We had very light rain all through breakfast (eggs and hash and note the camp espresso is almost ready)


and while we were planning our day hikes, and eventually it cleared off by about 10:30 or so, at which time we took our first hike of the day.

Putting in at the trailhead at N42 55.131 W88 28.410, we hike to a geological structure/area called “Brady’s Rocks,” named after the farmer who originally settled this area and who discovered this location (to be continued).

Packing, travel, setup camp and hike.

After packing up Kermit the SUV — Mocha totally recognizing the pattern and knowing what going on, she can’t wait to hop in and get on the road — we make the approximately 70 mile drive to Kettle Morraine State Forest.  We hiked here before a number of years ago but have not camped here before.   We are so busy talking and watching the countryside we take a wrong turn in Cambridge and end up on 12 instead of 18 and go considerably off the planned route, entering from the South instead of the North.

In any event, after checking in at the Ottawa Lake Campground we make our way to Campsite 286 in the Pine Woods Campground.

We set up the tent and all the other and unpack all the other equipment.  Then it’s time to relax so Elaine grabs one of the camp chairs.  Flash gets it right away and just has to check it out himself.  We decide not to sent up the Paha Que because the weather is quite pleasant, the sky is clear, with not a hint of cloud or rain anywhere (more later…).

After I buy firewood ($5/bundle from each of the two roadside entrepreneurs outside the Ottawa Lake HQ) we hike a 3+ mile “Red Trail” loop of the Scuppernong Hiking and Skiing Trail, which overlaps briefly with the Ice Age Trail.  We try to find the “Field of Pines” Geocache at N42 57.178 W88 27.480 but we are not successful, with some trouble losing the gps signal every now and then in the forest and also a set of directions that are not the greatest.

We make our way back to camp and take a nice leisurely time making our dinner of (prepackaged) chicken quesadillas and Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival corn.

Great night’s sleep, woken by….

Work day again.  It seems like there are more of these than there aren’t.

But now, getting ready for camping!

Anniversary Day!

Happy Anniversary to you, Elaine, the love of my life.  19 years and counting!

Something for you.

Usually we are camping on our anniversary but this year the 27th is on a Wednesday (only the 3rd time this has happened since we are married), so we are in town, and planning to go this weekend.  Out to dinner tonight, and another surprise you don’t know about yet!

(Later)  Dinner was ok, went to a steak place, but when you grow up in Chicago your standards on steaks get a little out of whack.  However, the company was as good as it gets.  After all these years it is the same thrill, and better, just to be with you.

Work day.

Finished Vonnegut’s (published posthumously) “Armageddon Revisited.”  Very timely for Memorial Day.  Many WWII stories, some of which could even be true.

Broke my web site, 2 minutes.

Fixed it (complete reinstall), 90 minutes.

Here at least is one useful thing from today, a good start for the Summer!

Nice start

Thanks to Elaine for the picture, and the goes-withs!  (Slaw, potato salad; home brewskis from the LittleHeart Brewery made over the winter).