Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Devils Lake Hike and the Circus

Sort of overcast and cool this morning. It was lovely sleeping weather last night. I'm pretty happy that I have three bars on Verizon which means that I can use my phone as a hotspot and be able to post to the blog.

I have three attractions that I really want to do while here in Baraboo. The Circus Museum, the International Crane Foundation and a hike to Parfrey's Glen which is supposed to be spectacular. We decided to hike Parfrey's Glen in the morning followed by the Crane Foundation in the afternoon.

I drove and Tony navigated. Let us just say that Tony is a little bit geographically challenged. Maybe not geographically challenged, but map reading is not one of his skills. After a lot of U-turns and perhaps some indelicate language, the three of us arrived at Parfrey's Glen only to discover that No Dogs are allowed. On to Plan B.

We walked along the east shore of the lake. There is a paved trail which I'm sure at one time was in great shape but after many years of frost heave it was not a very smooth trail. That is ok – we are hiking, right? The plan was to walk halfway around the lake until we got to the dog swim beach and Miko could frolic in the waves while Tony kicked back under a shade tree.

The trail goes through huge Quartzite fields – These are rock fields left around the lake millions of years ago containing hundreds of giant boulders. There was an informational sign that explained how this happened and what all the different colors in the rocks meant. I, of course, remember hardly any of the reasons why, so I just continued jumping high (old military reference). The trail was very narrow and if we met anybody, we had to find a fairly flat rock to balance on so the other party could pass. Miko seems to like rock climbing.
You can see the quartzite fields that we walked thru across the lake


Perhaps I should mention at this point how Tony is doing on the trip. So far, he has banged the back of his head on a slide out, the front of his head on a cabinet, slid off the Quartzite trail ,falling and skinning his hand and causing stress and strain to his shoulder and elbow. Oh and when he stood up off of the RV couch, his knee cracked and he has been limping around ever since. So let's see – front and back of head, left shoulder/elbow, right knee – He is having a terrible time. But let me just throw in here that everything is working fine in my RV. Actually, Tony seems to be having a good time, in spite of the RV life being out to get him. What a trooper.

When we got to the swim beach, I rolled my jeans up and waded into the water, calling Miko. She was a little tentative in the beginning and then all of a sudden she remembered that she likes the water. She doesn't like it enough to actually swim out, but she loves to try to catch waves and jump around in the water. The water felt wonderful, it was cool and refreshing. Miko made up a new game where she got to about shoulder height in the water and then started chasing her tail creating a huge wake. By the end of her little water therapy, she was pretty tired and mellow.

We wandered back to the RV eventually, took naps and had Mahi Mahi burgers and corn on the cob. The day seemed to get away from us and before we knew it, it was dark out and day was done.
Today is Circus Museum Day!!
Tony has wanted to come back to Baraboo and the Circus Museum for years, ever since he and Dave (his musical partner) stopped here back in the day on the way to a gig. He was extremely impressed with a miniature train layout that took up much of a room. It showed a circus train, arriving in a town and unloading. He remembered how much detail there was and how blown away he was by it all. Hence, he wanted to see it again.
The museum is a short ten minute drive from the campsite. Most of the special shows and activities shut down on August 30th, so we were a day late as far as getting the full experience. They still had an elephant and about six camels that hadn't been shipped out yet still on the grounds. They had a black and white camel which I had never seen before.
The reason that the museum is here is because Baraboo was the winter headquarters for the Ringling Brothers Circus. The Ringling Brothers were five brothers, who started out as performers and then eventually through much business sense and showmanship, grew the circus until they were big enough to buy the Barnum and Bailey circus and become “The Greatest Show On Earth”.  Each of the brothers had a particular skill, one was a financial wizard, one was a great advertiser, one was a great front man etc. They all worked together equally and became enormously successful and rich.
The first building was where they showed the showbills for many different circuses and also went into detail about the five Ringling Brothers.

 The second building had a wagon that was used to house Gargantua, the big gorilla plus a big section on clowns. This was the creepy section of the tour for all those people scared of clowns.

We finally got to the building where the miniature train layout was. They had re-arranged it so it covered one whole side of the building. It was really interesting, but Tony was very underwhelmed and disappointed. You know how it is when you are young and everything seems so big and then when you see it again in your later years, it seems to have shrunk down to a “what was I thinking” size? The amount of detail was still impressive though. There were also about ten dioramas displayed that showed the history of the traveling circus from horse drawn wagons and big top tents to playing in Madison Square Garden.
The last building we went to was the Circus Wagon building. It was quite the collection that had been gathered from all over the world. There were band wagons, wild animal wagons, sideshow wagons and gaudy Greek mythology depiction wagons.
You can't really tell how huge this space was - there were many many  rows of wagons

This one a hydraulic system where the Lion on top would rise up out of the center


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