Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wisconsin May 2014

Now into our sixth full year of a gypsy lifestyle, but no matter how far and wide we travel, it’s always a great feeling to be back in Wisconsin each year. As long as it’s not winter. However, as busy as we might feel while we’re traveling in the RV, it tends to pale compared to the activities we try and squeeze in while back in the Badger State. Catching up with family, friends, doctor appointments, etc., it seems our schedule is alway pretty full.
In no time at all we were back onto our cement pad and what has become our second Wisconsin home at the Ward’s residence in Dale. Snuggles, as did the cats, seemed unfazed by our reappearance. As for the Ward’s, who never seem to be upset that they can’t see their garage for a while, were as always, most welcoming.

Alrick is always surprised to see us
Then we were off and running. Within a few days we’d managed grocery shopping, laundry, finishing work on a “Birding Wisconsin” program due in June, a bird outing with Todd and Cindy to Van Patten Road where we bumped into several folks from the Northeast Wisconsin Birding Club along with our target bird - a Horned Grebe, a drive to Green Bay to surprise grandson Alrick with our return, a visit from Larry Darling (recording engineer at Lawrence University), a stop to reconnect with long time friends Dave and Betty Dunsmore in Menasha, and a gathering of the Monday night martini crowd at Dick and Jen Orr’s in Appleton.

view from deck at Country House; Dutchman's Breeches Peninsula SP
With barely time to turn around we packed for an overnight stay in Door County with Dave and Betty at the Country House Resort which had been in the planning for weeks. Fortunately the weather held as we started the first day, eating our way through the Inn at Cedar Crossing in Sturgeon Bay and ending with a gloriously extravagant evening meal at Inn at Kristofer’s that evening. Sandwiched in between? We birded Peninsula State Park before the weather began to head south.

breakfast fare White Gull Inn; Bald Eagle at Toft Point
The next day we began where we had left off - eating. This time it was breakfast at the White Gull Inn. By now, rainy, windy weather haunted us as we backtracked through part of Peninsula State Park (Weborg Point) and during a short hike at Toft Point State Wildlife Area (unusually un-birdy for the time of year). By mid afternoon we found ourselves back in Green Bay at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary where not only had the weather improved, but so too the birding. And then what better way to end the day than to eat at our favorite fast food addiction - Culver’s.

White Rive Marsh SWA; Henslow's sparrow; Wood anemone
Barely one day to turn around and we were off to visit Marge in Merrimac at her home on Lake Wisconsin. Along our route, we drove through White River Marsh SWA (alas, no Cerulean Warbler, a bird we will wind up whiffing on this year). The project to reclaim much of Badger Army Ammunitions Plant, located near Marge's house, netted us an opportunity to drive through what has been for decades, closed to the public. A great place for grassland birds including Henslow’s Sparrow (we were not disappointed). And as long as we were so close, a short walk through Baxter’s Hollow which, for birding opportunities, turned out to be uncharacteristically quiet for May. Around Mothers Day, it typically has been hopping with migrants. Ah, well. The spring flowers were a nice distraction.

Baxter's Hollow; Acadian flycatcher
May 10 meant it was someone’s birthday. The preparation to celebrate this year was far less frenetic, but nonetheless meaningful, as we celebrated over lunch with Melissa and Jerry
Our time with Dave and Betty had filled us renewed hope that Tom’s lack of hearing might now be improved with hearing aids. Ten years ago, an Appleton area audiologist had said there was no way that Tom would ever hear most bird calls again and to not waste our money on hearing aids. But Dave’s hearing, which was notoriously worse than Tom’s, had greatly improved when he was fitted with digital hearing aids a few months earlier. Dave was now hearing birds again! Using Dave and Betty’s recommendation, Tom scheduled an appointment with the same, audiologist, Holly Rusch-Clothier at The Hearing Clinic of Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists of Wisconsin. Testing indicated that Tom might go from a 45 to near 80% mid to high range hearing loss to a respectable over all 20% loss. His low range hearing was still very good.
Based on the test results and understanding he would have a free 30-day trial to return the hearing aids should they not prove worth the expense, a set of ReSound Linx digital hearing aids was ordered. While the decision to try the hearing aids was still in question, choosing this particular model was sealed when Tom learned that hearing aids could be controlled by our iPhone (via Bluetooth). It’s been said that the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. With Tom, the best route is through electronics.

Caitlin and Graham
Son Graham and his girlfriend (now fiancee) Caitlin stopped by to say hi.  They’ve been dating for about two years now. We wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that wedding bells were in their future.
More doctor appointments loomed. First up was the dentist who, thankfully, gave us a clean bill of health. Next up, our dreaded colonoscopy appointments, both set to be completed with a five day window of time. Tom started his intake of the yucky liquid and had no sooner completed his exam when Carol began her intake of the horrid stuff. In the Everything turned out well for both of us so we're good for another 10 years (which will be too soon).

Dave, Betty, Carol, Raven, Mike
However, during Tom's restrictive intake of food, friends Mike and Raven from the UP had arrived. It left us little time to party although fortunately, Dave and Betty, who were able to spend time with them, had us all over for lunch. Tom got to watch other people eat, but it really the camaraderie and conversation that was most filling.
A few days for some needed RV maintenance (new kitchen faucet and toilet repair) during which time Tom managed to throw his back out. Thanks goodness for better living through chemistry (and some stretching exercises) while Carol worked in the Ward’s garden, picking up where she left off the year before.

High Cliff SP birding
Back on our regular diets and Tom's back feeling much better, we made time for a bit of birding at High Cliff State Park where there was finally a pretty good fallout of warblers being reported (and there was!) On a birding roll, the next day we scored a red-necked grebe on Van Patten Road. We knew, having not been in south Texas this year, that to hit 400 bird species this year was going to be a stretch so every little bit helped.

Chris, Carol, Penny, Tom, Dale
Good friend Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber had decided to make a run for a WI Senate seat and we convinced her to stop by for lunch while she door-to-door campaigned in Dale with State Senate minority leader, Chris Larson. Always fun to talk with Penny and Dale even if we're no longer residents of Wisconsin...she's such a terrific common sense representative, something sorely lacking in Wisconsin these days.

Mosquito Hill, White-tailed deer, Indigo bunting
breakfast with Jennie and Alrick
Another birding trip to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay (Connecticut warbler - yay!) and a never-a-dull-moment breakfast with Alrick and Jennie. Mosquito Hill Nature Center hike on the way back to the RV.

Holly adjusting levels, Andy from ReSound covering the iPhone, fitted in place
Finally came the big day for fitting of the hearing aids. Since this was new technology, the ReSound representative had made the trip from Berlin, WI to lend a hand - and then surprised us with a $1200 discount for the devices! Carol noted that as soon as the hearing aids were switched on, Tom started speaking in a much softer voice. In fact now, it's Carol who will have to say "what?" when Tom is speaking. Also, when listening to audible books in the truck or watching TV, Carol gets to set the volume control while Tom sets his hearing aid volume (via the iPhone) to a comfortable level. To celebrate we stopped at Salsa’s Mexican Restaurant with Dave and Betty (noting that hearing conversations in a restaurant setting was now possible) and then met the Ward’s at Heckrodt's Wetlands Preserve and found him a life bird sighting of an Eastern screech-owl (red phase).

Eastern screech-owl
At the end of May we squeezed in a bird hike on the WIOUWASH Trail where Tom noted for the first time he could actually hear birds again! How nice it was to hear sounds he's not heard for years.

1 comment:

  1. what a cute fawn & I have never seen a turkey sitting on a tree branch before. Great captures