Mary Beth Writes

A week ago, Len and I took our vaccinated selves on a 3-day “Born to Run” road trip. We drove six hours north to Ashland, WI, which is on the Chequamegon Bay, which is on Lake Superior. Because everyone wants to rock out the end of a Wisconsin winter by going north to have more of it, right?

We stayed at the motel we always stay in. They no longer clean your room each day and the “breakfast included” is now cups of fruit and yogurt that you can take back to your room. Whatever. No one goes to a Super 8 for pampering. We ate both evenings at the Deepwater Grill which we highly revere and had sorely missed. They observed protocols and we wore masks except while we were eating. (Things you should eat at the Deepwater: burgers, any of their fish- it’s caught locally, mushroom and wild rice soup, their South Shore Brewery beer.)

It was both ordinary and extraordinary being back inside a restaurant. It felt safe, which is how places feel when a threat is invisible and consequences won’t appear for days. It was so, so, so lovely to sit, talk about the day, eat tasty food, and groove to the hum of other humans. Kinda felt like we were cheating on all of you.

But the best thing is this. We love Ashland because we love to hike. This was pretty early in the season and the hikes were icy-to-icier. After the hike that I did partially on my bottom in order to not fall over, we stopped at a hardware store in Washburn to buy crampons for our boots. (Can one buy crampons in a hardware store in Chicago? I bet not.) It took 26 years in Wisconsin to finally buy crampons. (Crampons are cleats you pull over your shoes or boots to help grip the ice.) They work marvelously.

Len took these photos. The weather was crisp and icy and as sheerly beautiful as glass art in a sunny museum.

The hike to the Ice Caves was closed because there had been recent thawing and it was apparently deemed unsafe. Then again, there was an ice fishing contest going on over the weekend; we saw cars, trucks, and full-sized trailers on the ice of Chequamegon Bay. And there is a PLOWED “road” on the ice between Bayfield and Madeline island. We didn’t drive on it.

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That’s the ice road to Madeline Island. Madeline Island is the spiritual home of Lake Superior Chippewa since long before Europeans showed up and French fur traders built a fort here in 1660. Jesuit Missionaries Marquette and Allouez established a mission here in 1663. (Those two guys impress me. I wrote about them here.

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Copper Falls State Park. This is Brownstone Falls where the Bad River and Tyler Forks River crash into and around each other. In the summer you can hear the roar of the falls from the parking lot which is a quarter mile away.

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 This is where springs outfall to and through a ravine on their way to Lake Superior. It’s on the Houghton Falls hike just north of Washburn. If you go this way, don’t miss this hike. It’s less than a mile from parking lot to lake and is not – usually - treacherous.

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The sky at night when one is not in a city. 

 

 

 

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Those are some spectacular pictures! The Pandemic isolation has certainly given us a new appreciation for the things we used to do. Glad you could get out there.
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks. And I was watching it snow out my window here, as wrote this. sigh.

Love the pictures. Looks cold but very beautiful. An outing after all this time —- so fun. You are always so good with sharing!
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks!

Great details for my travel diary:) Can't wait to get my vaccine turn. My 85 yr old dad has 2 more weeks to get his second. Mom got both a month before his first...go figure:( Beautiful photo!
Mary Beth's picture

It's unsettling how differently states are doing this. Glad I don't live in Florida...

Love this part of the state! Thanks for tip on Deepwater Grill!
Mary Beth's picture

If you go to Ashland, here are some more stops to make. The Black Cat has great coffee. Across the street from it is the Ashland Baking Company. There's your breakfast... The Chequamegon Co-op is awesome. We stop there in the morning to buy a sandwich and a drink, put those in our backpack for lunch. This time, I hade a Thai wrap of greens, spicy stuff, cumin, and peanuts. Which one does not always expect to eat in the middle of an Up North forest, but it is a delight beyond compare.

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Three Things 6/11/2021

Thing One - Eclipse Pix

Yesterday Len got up at 3AM to have enough coffee in him by the time he left the house at 4AM to meet our son at 5AM at Mud Lake (not all who name lakes are poets) which is between Madison and Stoughton. They fished and my son caught a big bass. Took a photo of it and then returned the fish to the lake. I think this is a weird, but I suppose less ultimate than shooting and releasing.

They also watched the sun rise in eclipse. 

Three Things 6/8/2021

Len has been riding his bike to visit “his” ospreys again this year. Not his, but he knows where they are and this is his third year watching them.

His photo is from yesterday.

A Few Things including Creosote & Good Books

I said, I wrote three fables but then I only posted two. I don’t like my last one so it’s not happening. But this is what I learned about Creosote.

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Creosote, sometimes called greasewood or chapparal, is a plant that looks like a bunch of sticks with small leaves; it grows in small to middling clumps. In the spring and summer there are some scrappy yellow flowers. Creosote is native to the arid deserts of Southwest US and northern Mexico.

Wisterian Fable

Wisteria is a plant that grows on woody twining vines and is in the legume (beans!) family. It’s native to China, Korea, Japan, southern Canada, and eastern US.

Ocotillo Fable

This is how far we drove going to and coming back from New Mexico.

Santuario de Chimayo on a Wednesday Morning

Holy. Sanctified. Spiritual. Words we use in our religious lives. Words used by everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow selling vagina candles (I made this up to be funny and then I looked, and THEY EXIST!) to megachurches selling peace of mind seminars. We live in a secular world that uses spiritual words like used car lot flags - to sell us eccentric philosophies, theologies, experiences, and stuff.

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