Wednesday, September 2, 2015

By Dawn's Early Light

Believe it or not, Tony and I were out the door by 8:22. Yes, that is right -let me repeat that – 8:22a.m – in the morning. We had some outdoor activities planned and it was going to be a scorcher today so we thought we would try to get going sooner rather than later. After you get past the pain of waking up to an alarm and actually get out the door, it was lovely – crisp, quiet – no people around. I really liked it but to do this more often would mean having to perhaps go to bed a little bit earlier and that could be equally as painful. What to do? What to do?

We headed over to Parfrey's Glen and imagine my surprise when we were the first ones in the parking lot. I have wanted to go to Parfrey's Glen ever since I read about it – it just sounded lovely.

Parfrey's Glen was Wisconsin's first State Natural Area, created in 1952. The glen features a cool (as in temperature), narrow gorge with cool (as in awesome), moss-covered sandstone-and-quartzite cliffs, massive boulders, a meandering creek and a miniature waterfall.

Chelsey Lewis of the Journal Sentinel

The trail starts out as asphalt with a slight incline going along a creek bed. The asphalt gives out and pretty soon you are walking along a foot path. We eventually get to a point where we have to start picking our way across the creek, doing a stream crossings on rocks. I felt like such a kid – hopping and skipping over the rocks. Well, that isn't exactly true – there was no hopping and skipping, more like a very calculated – put your left foot there, your right foot here. 

Eventually there is hardly any path at all – you are either walking up the center of the creek on the rocks or you are along the side of the creek hauling yourself up the really big rocks. The gorge is getting narrower and higher and very moist. Everything is damp. I eventually got to the end of the gorge where there was a small, peaceful waterfall.

Getting back to the official path was a little bit more difficult than getting to the waterfall. Getting to the waterfall you are climbing up and grabbing on to rocks to help pull yourself up. Going back down, you had to sometimes sit on your butt so you could reach the next rock down. I am going to have to get myself some hiking poles for situations like this.

We got back to the car and headed to the International Crane Institute. The International Crane Foundation is the only place on Earth where you can see all 15 of the world’s crane species. We lucked out and got there just a few minutes after a tour had started. I love to take the tours, they add so much information that you would never know just walking around on your own. Some of the birds were extremely rare – in 1941, there were only 21 whopping cranes left in the world. The 2015 total number of Whooping Cranes is 603. While this is an increase, it is very precarious whether they will survive as a species. We learned about the breeding programs for these birds – they use the more populous sand crane to be surrogate hatchers for the more endangered species to try to increase the number of successful hatches every year. I liked the cranes from Africa the best – some of them had fuzzy head gear that really made them look like church ladies.

The Oh-So-Rare Whooping Crane

Onward to the Baraboo Candy Factory – highly recommended by all who have been there. Made a few necessary purchases – there can never be enough chocolate in your life.

Since Tony and I are camping, we decided to do the ultimate camping experience – build a bonfire. Now, I have watched my friend Dave build many different types of fire while we've been horse camping– how difficult can it be? There is the tipi method, there is the log cabin method – just many different types of bonfires. I'll just cut to the chase here – our fire building was an epic fail. Even using the complete Mpls Sunday Paper as kindling, we got nothing. Well, the glossies made pretty colors as they went up in smoke and then failed to light any of the wood we had carefully piled on top of the paper. Oh well, another day, another challenge.

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