Sunday, June 14, 2009

Spring Camping 2009

Hello! I haven't posted anything for awhile. Today it is actually too muddy for me to complete my "task o' the day" in the yard, so I am taking the opportunity to sit at the computer instead. Paul informs me I spend too much time with my computer.

So, I counter with a few 'barbs' directed towards him.

It's nice to find consistency in our lives.

We take great comfort in that. And, we love each other!!!

We were able to escape to several state parks for our first venture ever into spring camping. Our schedule never allowed for that during our teaching careers.

We always like to start our camping season at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. We find it to be the perfect spot for our "shakedown cruise."

What a different world we encountered in this familiar state park. We know the hiking trails in this park, but because it was spring, it was a whole new world for us.

There were so many spring flowers blooming we had never seen there before. Paul took great pictures of the flowers so I could dig through the field guides back in the camper to positively identify all we saw.

I loved the Declining (or Nodding) Trillium.

And the swamp buttercup.

The wild blue phlox was very abundant.

The park is known for its population of trout lilies. There is also an endangered dwarf trout lily growing in the park. The plants live in colonies and literally carpet the park in the spring time, even in the campground. They had recently finished blooming before we were there, but we searched and were able to find a few "late bloomers." They disappear as summer progresses, so if you hike in this park after the month of June, you would never know they even exist.

We documented 17 different wild flowers from our hikes.
However, we were even more captivated by the birds migrating through or working to set up nests in the park. We could remain in our campsite and identify a wide variety of birds we had never seen before.
But, we did bring our field glasses with us on the hiking trails and were able to add to our list of sightings. We listed 25 different species of birds during our three days there. Neither of us had ever seen a black and white warbler before. Is it obvious where they got its name?

Our favorite of the trip had to be the scarlet tanager.

As we sat around the campfire
we decided we needed to get out as much as our schedule permitted so we could take in more of the spring weather.

So, we went the next week to Frontenac, another favorite state park.

What a difference a week makes. We wore sweatshirts and jackets during our stay at Nerstrand. The warmest weather we have had all season thus far greeted us as we moved into Frontenac. So, we brought out the shorts and walked!

We love the campground in this park, situated on the bluffs above the Mississippi. Every time we hike down to one of the overlooks

we always remember the camping trip years ago when the four of us were standing looking over the river. Nick, who was about four years old, pulled out a harmonica and started to play. Neither of us knew he had packed one along with him and so the sudden sound of a harmonica took us completely by surprise. We share a good laugh every time we come back to this spot. Thanks, Nick. You bring joy to our hearts!

The violets were especially abundant along the forest trails.

We hiked right down to the point on the river in the park. It was so windy it was hard to stand there.

We always like to go to Villa Maria, a retreat center owned by the church, and hike through their grounds. There were all sorts of spring plants flowering, including Pussy Toes.

I am sure Dad was laughing at me as I made Paul take pictures of these plants.

Remember how he would cuss those yellow flowers in his bean fields? Here I am, 40 years later, discovering there are so many different varieties of mustard!
What a I have become in my adulthood.

The grounds include a cemetery for the convent that used to be part of the school which operated from the late 1800's until the 1970's. The entrance is marked by an old "stations of the cross."

The sisters are buried in circles.

On our walk here last year, we discovered an old friend of ours is buried in this cemetery. She had left the sisterhood, but they allowed her to return for burial.

Once the weather cooled down a bit, we had a comfortable stay in the North Trail.

We documented 32 different bird species on this trip and 15 different blossoming flowers. My favorite had to be the jack-in-the-pulpit right in our campsite.

Two weeks later and we were set up at Wild River State Park.

We were back in our sweatshirts for most of this trip. The bikes came with us this time as there are paved trails in the park. We put up the rain fly and it served as a garage for the bikes.

It rained the first night and morning we were there so we were glad we had brought it on the trip.

After the rainy beginning, we had perfect weather and had a wonderful stay.
The wild geraniums were the dominant plant in the park during this week.

They were followed quite closely by the wild lupines.

We documented twenty different blossoming plants on our trip. I think one of my favorites other than the lupines and geraniums were the hoary puccoons. How could such a pretty flower have such a peculiar name?

I also loved the Penstemon Grandiflora blooming out in the meadows

and the Large Flowered Trillium blooming right in the campground.

One of our days there we drove to Crex Meadows Wildlife Area outside of Grantsburg, Wisconsin and explored there for four hours.

The area is abundant in birdlife and we were not disappointed.

We even enjoyed watching a hognosed snake

and stopped the car to look at an iris blossoming on the roadside.

Thank heavens for digital photography and a patient husband!!!

We both would agree our favorite birds we saw on this trip were the indigo bunting

and the golden crowned kinglet right in our campsite.

By the end of our stay we had positively identified 45 different bird species.

We love the camping life. It's not everyone's

but it is what we love and can afford!

We only wish we could be out there more often!

But, we both are looking forward to our summer activities. Paul will be at Scott Highlands during the days working at the

and I will be spending my evenings at Eagan High School working on the community theater production of "Fiddler On The Roof." It just happens to be one of my all time favorite shows!!!
There will be a few of these moments to be enjoyed,

I am quite certain! However, the cast is very talented and I am having fun!!!

What's next? We'll keep you posted!

1 comment:

Marlys said...

Birds & flowers were beautiful! Wow - I have never seen most of them before! What an enjoyable excursion!