Day 217 – Wisconsin North Woods, Thursday, July 21, 2011
I forgot to mention one of the greatest parts to my
Minnesota morning yesterday, despite the rain…the coffee shop I found, Java
Moose Espresso, sold just the muffin tops…no stumps. Any Seinfeld fan has to appreciate that! Anyway, on to my next morning, I boiled some
water for coffee and instant oatmeal at the Amnicon Falls State Park
campgrounds in Wisconsin. Amnicon means
“Where Fish Spawn” and the Amnicon River is an important spawning river for
fish from Lake Superior.
In the heart of the park, the river separates into two
streams which plunge over basalt and sandstone creating at least three
waterfalls and depending on the flow it sometimes fills another channel
creating a fourth falls. I would have
never known the fourth falls, aptly named “Now and Then Falls” was sometimes
dry…the water was flowing today.
Bridges led Petey and me across the streams to a middle
island where we found a cache. We also
completed an earth cache that required us to follow the marked trail to several
locations and record pertinent information.
It was the first time that I ran into fellow cachers. Two folks were standing on one of the bridges
taking an elevation reading with their GPS (one of the requirements), so I
inquired, “Are you caching?” “Yes”, they
responded and later pointed me in the direction of the final task I needed to
One of the bridges that spans the river at Lower Falls is
known as Covered Horton Bridge.
Originally it wasn’t covered and was a highway bridge that crossed the
river not far from the park. It was
moved to the present location in 1930.
The bridge is historically significant due to its age and
construction. In 1897 and 1898, Charles
Horton obtained several patents for designs that made bridges strong, lighter,
and more durable. In addition, the
design allowed workers to assemble the structures without expensive machinery,
tools, and labor. His method required
using arched beams secured with hooks and clips rather than rivets and bolts
and the bridge is known as a bow-string.
On my way toward Brule River State Forest, I passed by a
roadside historical marker that caught my attention. It was a windmill built in 1904 by a Finnish
immigrant, Jacob Davidson. Davidson, who
had not been a miller in Finland, took four years to construct the windmill
whose unique design was based on the shape of a coffee pot Davidson owned. He and his three sons used local materials
for the grindstones and structural wood.
The wings generate about 25 horsepower and turn at 15 rpm which produces
a mill stone speed of 135 rpm. Each mill
stone weighs 3,500 pounds. In added
bonus for making the brief stop was finding a nearby cache!
I moved on to Brule River State Forest where I drove four
miles to the headwaters of Bois Brule, one of the most renowned trout streams
east of the Mississippi. I didn’t go
there to fish, but just to see where the river and Lake Superior meet. It was such a beautiful place. A light breeze kept away most of the annoying
insects as I sat at a picnic table in the shade looking out on Lake Superior
and its sandy beach. The color of the
water changed from salmon along the coast to countless shades of blue as it
continued in the distance. I took
advantage of the cool weather to blog a bit as it has been so hot in VANilla, I
have been less than enthusiastic about turning on a computer that generates
more heat. Petey and I enjoyed a nice
office as we watched kids swim in the lake.
I thought to myself, I can’t imagine that water is very warm and took
Petey with me down to the beach to dab a toe in the lapping waves. Confirmed…ankle deep was the best I could do!
After a few hours just chilling out, we continued east
through Port Wing and ended up in a resort town called Bayfield. Somewhere along the way, a porcupine crossed
VANilla’s path (or at least I think that is what it was), but by the time I
stopped and got the camera up to my eye, it had slinked into the grass. I found a campground about a mile away and
then returned to the quaint, tourist town for a local dinner. I went with broiled whitefish which comes
with beer cheese soup. The cheese soup,
more like a cup of melted Velveeta, was topped with popcorn. I got about two or three spoonfuls down with
the help of an ice cold local beer on tap.
The waitress warned me it was cheesy…WHEW! I also very well knew I was taking a risk by
ordering fish because if it remotely tastes like fish smells, I have a hard time with it.
Oh well, the good news was Petey got to join me on the patio
where several people showered him with attention, and I met a nice couple, Nick
and Nikki from Madison who were up for a weekend vacation. Nikki is a 4th grade school
teacher and Nick owns a concrete business.
Their first child is due in January.
Nikki ordered nachos that ended up being topped with an olive
tapenade…definitely not Texas style.
What I was most shocked to hear was how everyone in Wisconsin can’t
stand Brett Favre…WOW…never thought I’d hear that. I only know two others aside from myself who
have never been fond of him. They tell
me that the Jets girl wasn’t close to the first woman. Ok, so I’m not here to badmouth football
stars, but I just had to mention that I am no longer alone.
Petey and I left the restaurant as the sky turned violet
over the harbor and headed back to the campgrounds for the evening. ETB