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Land of Lakes

June 16, 2013

Wisconsin – Tuesday, June 11

Since I’m enjoying northern Wisconsin, which has thousands of lakes, I figured it was only appropriate to make a donation to the Lakeland Food Pantry which was just north of Minocqua. They’re open every Tuesday morning, so my timing was good. I called them in the morning to see if they would like a financial donation or a food donation. They said a financial donation would be best since they can shop at a food bank and get more for their money than I could. So I got in there as their busy morning was winding down, and dropped off my donation, and talked with them for a few minutes. The Lakeland Food Pantry has been helping people for over 30 years, and it originally started on the pastor’s porch, and then moved into a school basement, and now they have a nice building of their own to work out of. They have a big group of volunteers, and help hundreds of families – their website says they sometimes give out more than 14,000 pounds of food a week. One of the ladies I met has several dogs, and we got to talking about dogs and flea and tick medications, and she told me about a new flea and tick collar that is available from their local vet (and ticks are a huge problem up here so they know more about all of this than some places) so when I left the food pantry, I went over to the vet clinic and talked with them a bit about Tula, and I ended up buying one of the new flea and tick collars which I’ll use when her current dose is finished. I wanted to try something else anyway, since the brand I’d been using didn’t seem effective enough.

I finally left Minocqua and drove a little farther north to Manitowish Waters, where we did 2 1/2 miles of walking. Then I started heading west across the pretty countryside of northern Wisconsin. I passed a sign that said there was a covered bridge a few miles down a side road, so I turned off the main road and went to see the covered bridge. Apparently I missed yet another turnoff, and as I drove along I ended up seeing a big peacock by someone’s farm yard! I turned around and passed the peacock again, and saw a little sign I had missed directing me down a dirt road. I rounded a bend in the road and saw a big bear out in the middle of the road! As soon as it saw the van, she scurried off into the woods, and I drove up a little farther and put the window down in case I could hear or see anything else. There was a rustle in the tree by the road, and I looked up to see a bear cub looking down at me! I scrambled for my camera, but the cub was quick – it descended the tree down the back side and all I could see were paws on the side of the tree. (The photo I was able to get just shows a black smudge on the side of the tree, but when I zoom in I can see the paw and its claws). The cub landed on the ground, partly hidden by all the brush, and ran off after mama bear. It was fun to see them, and it made up for not seeing a loon yesterday! I abandoned any thoughts of walking there, and I wouldn’t have lasted long anyway – the mosquitoes were vicious and even in the short time I had the window down for a picture, a bunch of them got in the car.

I continued on and saw the covered bridge – and was very happy I took the detour to see it, because it also led me to the peacock and the bears! I got back out on the main road and before I’d gone very far I came across a big turtle making its slow way across the street. I pulled over to make sure it would get all the way across, and the I saw cars in the distance so I picked it up and carried it the rest of the way across.
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We stopped in Park Falls for a short walk by the river and a longer walk in town. Apparently Park Falls is the Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World!

Then I continued on to Spooner. Lots of the towns up here were part of the lumber business, and I passed a paper mill and trucks and train cars full of wood, and piles of cut trees stacked up like toothpicks. I got out for a mile and a half of walking, and got caught up with Tara on the phone – it’s always good to hear the grandkids in the background! There was a big train yard in town (they do short scenic tours out into the countryside) and I walked along all the old cars and engines. That eventually led to the Wild Rivers snowmobile trail, which people use for walking and biking. I went back to get the van and drove it out too the parking lot near the trail, and Tula and I enjoyed a pretty 2 1/2 mile evening walk. She even spotted a deer along the trail and wanted to go make friends, but that didn’t happen! There were a few ATVs out on the trail, which I don’t normally see, but since this was a snowmobile trail, the ATVs are allowed in the summer. There were signs for snowmobile trails all over this part of the state – once on the trails, they have their own directional signs and little stop signs. There’s recreational opportunities all year ’round up here!

By the time we finished our walking for the day, it was nearly dark, and although I thought I’d drive a bit toward Menomonie, which was my destination for tomorrow, I drove past another cute little northwoods motel, and I decided to stop for the night. The room had pine paneling, and a big photo mural on one wall that made it look like I was sleeping on a lakeshore. It was a good way to end another northwoods day!

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