Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Over Hill and (to) Dale

Our stint at Calumet County Park was relaxing, peaceful and instructional. Weather for the most part was sunny and moderately warm with a near constant lake breeze. Calumet has several hiking trails through a mix of habitats that enabled us to enhance our yard bird list. Our yard list should grow considerably since it – our yard - will keep changing each time we move.

In addition to traveling into Appleton for banking, shopping and laundry, we met our Monday Night Martini Club on Tuesday evening for dinner at the Fishtail Inn located just up the hill from the park’s entrance. Earlier that day Jennie, Charles, Alrick, and Graham stopped by for a picnic. Alrick certainly enjoyed the lakeshore. We wonder what he’ll think the next time he visits to discover that our “house” isn’t parked next to a lake or a playground?

During our ten-day stay we met several campers, mainly weekenders, from around the area (Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Plymouth). As they set up and took down their RV’s we learned a few new tricks and shared some from our limited (but growing) bag of tricks. Just one of the many benefits RV’ing has to offer – meeting folks and sharing. You know, a face-to-face social networking system that predates texting, Facebook, and Twitter.

Friday morning, the 31st, we took our time packing up. Prior to leaving Appleton we had developed a checklist – a pre-flight list of everything we should be mindful of when arriving or departing a site. The list is substantially longer than the one we loosely relied upon when we hauled our tiny Starcraft Meteor pop-up camper around the country. And while it felt a bit silly going through the page and a half checklist, it is a ritual that will help guard against making basic and potentially costly mistakes. No matter how many times we setup and take down we’ll use the list. TV antenna retracted? Awning completely rolled up? Items in the trailer secured? Not all that different from when we left 403 for extended vacations (water off? dehumidifier running? doors locked?) except that our home now goes along with us.

Starcraft Meteor Camper

Leaving Calumet County Park by early afternoon and successfully experiencing our first RV dump station (oh, life’s simple pleasures), we towed 37 miles to the home of Todd and Cindy Ward located in Dale, WI. The Ward’s have been companions on a few of our birding trips to Costa Rica and are members of the Northeast Wisconsin Bird Club. Todd’s parents are RVer’s so when the Wards established their yard in Dale, they added a concrete RV pad. They graciously insisted that we park at their home for the month of August. In addition to electric, which we had at Calumet, we now have well water. It doesn’t mean we suddenly can be willy-nilly with water as there is no hookup-up for sewer. The trailer’s black and gray water tanks have limited capacities. A basic fact of RV life: what goes in must come out.

We’re enjoying the Ward’s company in their colorful yard, landscaped with plantings to attract birds. Presently Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been buzzing the flowerbeds. A Black-capped Chickadee landed on our kitchen window soon after we arrived. Apparently our trailer was parked in the bird’s usual flight path, which was from a lilac bush to another corner of the yard. He let us know in no uncertain terms of his displeasure by landing on our kitchen window, rapping loudly on the glass, and scolding. He finally realized the trailer wasn’t moving and that flying over the top of the trailer would be just fine. A Gray Tree Frog serenades us from time to time.

Gray Tree Frog (photo by Todd Ward)

On Saturday we car-pooled with the Ward’s to the home of Neil Schroeder (another Costa Rica companion and recent retiree) in Appleton, this year’s site of Northeast Wisconsin Bird Club’s “Birding by Beer” potluck. So nice to see many familiar club members and share birding stories. Birders are ardent about their hobby but equally as passionate about good food!

On Tuesday Graham and I went to a Saturday afternoon matinee of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”. Admittedly we're huge fans and have enjoyed both of the series's books and movies. I have to say this movie was a very well done video Cliff Notes of the book. The art design and cinematography were superb but the story line left out much of the meat found in the book (isn’t that always the way?).

At some point we’ll need to move our trailer to access a dump station so on Sunday we stopped at the Deerhaven Campround RV Park located west of Waupaca and made a reservation (site 21). Deerhaven has full hookups – water, electric, and sewer. We assume the Ward’s would prefer that we not drain our black and gray water tanks down their driveway. After a week at Deerhaven we’ll return to the Ward’s where we’ll leave our trailer when we head to Rainey Lake in Ontario, Canada.

A follow-up to the mistakenly in-scripted rocking chair: A replacement chair finally arrived at the Lawrence Seeley G. Mudd Library last week. We stopped over to pick it up and chat with the good folk at the Mudd. We then dropped the chair at Graham’s who will be its guardian until such time we deem it necessary that a rocking chair will be appropriate.

Yesterday afternoon following our walk to the Dale Post Office to collect our mail, and at Todd’s recommendation, we made a pass through a mile-long walking trail in Dale. This gem is very easily overlooked when driving through town on what was formerly Highway 10. Part of the trail passed through an extensive patch of Big Bluestem and coneflowers established by Clarke Poad, a now retired Veterinarian (well known and respected for his pro-bono work with area nature centers and bird rehabbing). Mark Twain is quoted, “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it ceased to be one”. Stopping as we now can in areas we might otherwise overlook, we hope that Twain’s statement will not ring true for us.

1 comment:

  1. Tom and Carol-
    I am enjoying reading of your adventure, as well as viewing your lovely photos! I still think we need to consider a K9 Supporter Reunion in Ireland! Be safe and well,

    deb krsnich
    (keeping the APD K9's tuned up.....)