Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wandering into new old places

Jamie & Kayla and I went to New London yesterday. 70° on an April Saturday, ya gotta get out.

I scoured Google Earth and the web for someplace different within an hour of us. I found some State Natural Areas that piqued my interest:

We stopped for slushies for the kids and a USB bluetooth adapter for me (we were going past Best Buy.)

Going through Shiocton, we saw crowds at the bends and landings along the Wolf River. We guessed it had something to do with sturgeon spawning.

When we got to New London, we searched town for a "sit-down" place for lunch. We headed West on X, no restaurants, and no parking lots in which to turn around. As we rounded a bend, I noticed a section of the river I had seen during my map study in the morning. I turned down the road figuring we could find the geocache that was here before we resumed our search for lunch.

Muggles abounded.

All along X, homemade houseboats - ice-shantys on pontoon platforms - were tied to the shore. The road (which wasn't the loop I expected) was parked solid. People stood all along the banks. We were witnessing spectator-fishing. At the turn-around, Jamie got out to use the port-a-potty, and Kayla to walk down to the shore. I stayed in the truck as there was no parking left. I could see a man working-in a large fish. J&K got to see the fish surface, then the crowd groaned -as if Donald Driver had just dropped a third-down pass. The line broke. When J&K got back to the truck, I asked Jamie how big it was. "Two or three feet." Skeptical of his estimate, I asked him to show me how long it was. "From this side of the truck, to that side." - closer to five feet.

We found The Highway Hop Diner - a Fifties-themed restaurant with "breakfast all day" and homemade shakes.

Then to the woods.

Our first stop - Poppy's Rock was the best. An outcropping of granite bedrock. And since I had read the DNR's SNA listing and other mentions of this place, we searched until we found the native prickly-pear cactus.

Shaky Lake wasn't too fascinating - the marsh-marigolds hadn't quite even opened their blooms. We walked a quarter-mile through the muddy-bottoms until it got too thick.

Tellock's Hill was a big hill. But it reminded us of our forests Up North. No big deal. (Yes I do feel lucky to be able to say that, and I don't take it for granted - I was just kind of hoping for a little more of that "discovery" feeling.) We found a geocache at a small cemetery a half-mile away.

Stopped for a look at the fishermen in Shiocton - the crowds had thinned. The only action was a couple of eight-year-olds with life-vests by the dock, one with a bent rod, hollering "he's got one!" The dad jumped from his lawn chair, started down the hill, until he heard, "nevermind."

We returned to falling temperatures, played a little catch, and watched Mike Myers being silly while we ate blue popcorn from the Whirly-Pop that the Easter Bunny left for us.


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