Saturday, October 04, 2008
We all got up around 6 A.M. to let out the dogs, have breakfast and coffee, and load up the cars for our various trips. I hate waking up before 8 or so on the weekends but today was special. Though Kim would be heading on a long two day journey, I would have both of our children w/me and we had plans man! We had plans! I had made sure that both of our cameras had fully charged batteries and that we had plenty of snacks and drinkables for the day. We all said our good bye's, hugs and kisses and well wishes and departed at 7. I have never been to the town of Navarino but that was not going to dampen my mood! I was very optimistic and a blackberry device w/gps! No problem. Various members of the Flickr community had also written out instructions on how to arrive at the Navarino Nature Center, I simply had no idea how long it would take and we had an 8 o'clock appointment! Too bad that I did not leave earlier as the morning was foggy everywhere! I just love fog. Everything takes on a different cast and feel to it that I just itch to photograph. Speaking of photography, that was the thrust of our journey today! Dallas and I, armed with digital cameras, were going to go and shoot up a storm! We have been unable to go hunting w/our bows and arrows but by golly we can sure hunt with our Canons! Well, my Canon and our Kodak actually but who cares! The day was young...
As the miles wore on, I became increasingly worried that I would not make it in time and that whoever was waiting for us at the center, would either leave, or take a hike without us! What would I do then? I hate missing appointments no matter what the reason. We passed many spectacular sights along the way, considering that we were driving through beautiful undeveloped Wisconsin! I absolutely love the country! The forests in the fall? Simply awe inspiring. Well, I finally saw a sign that pointed to Navarino and it was just 18 miles away and I figured that we would make it just fine but as we got within a few miles of our destination, another thought hit me... I don't carry cash! What if the center charges admission? Now THAT thought gave me goosebumps! So close and yet so far? Hey Dallas, do YOU have any money on you? NO???? Ouch. This was going to hurt. Wait a minute though. Since when does a nature center charge admission anyway? We weren't going to a national park! Whew! Sure enough, as I wound through the streets, following the signs, I knew that we would be fine and OOPS! I nearly passed the entrance as the native grasses were so tall and frosty that I did not expect the sign and entrance to be inconspicuous! Stomping on the brakes and causing some of our cargo and my children to tip forward, I turned into the road that led into the nature center. Hmmm... Looks bare. I passed a lady by the side of the road but she was not holding a camera as I expected so I drove on and parked the truck. There was only one other vehicle there and I figured that it belonged to the person that were going to meet at 8! That also meant that it was the same person that I passed just a few seconds ago! As I am unloading Mei Mei and our camera gear, the same friendly looking lady walked up to us and I immediately knew that this was Dawn, whom had set this whole trip up and had driven from Oshkosh (an hour and a half!) to be here this crispy morning! Perfect! We made it. Now what? No one else was there but I did not see anything either in the immediate vicinity that indicated a center of any sort! Trust Dawn, she knows what she is talking about and had made this place sound good earlier and even posted links for fall foliage reports! Let's go take a hike.
After introductions and some small talk, we veered off into the woods, following a track that had been made by some heavy equipment and we wandered off into the woods. Did I mention that it was a 'crispy' morning?! The thermometer in the truck indicated 27 degrees fahrenheit! I had not bundled Mei Mei up enough so I put my fleece sweater and scarf on her. There is no cuter 4 year old anywhere! Anyway, we could hear many Sandhill Crane in and around the area and I was happy to hear Dawn talking about the birds and local plants. This gal is passionate about the outdoors! I certainly hope that we can meet again.
It seemed like we had not been walking for more than 10 or 15 minutes when Mei Mei started complaining that it was cold and that her feet hurt! Uh oh daddy. What do you do now in the middle of nowhere and no other plan to fall back on? Dallas to the rescue! He wrapped her up a little better in the sweater and picked her up for awhile! Good job brother! What a great bunch of kids! We continued walking and talking and occasionally snapping a shot of leaves and trees and before we knew it, we had arrived back at the start! Not only had the temperature come up but we had warmed up due to the hike also and I was bummed to be finished so soon! Only an hour? Wow. Dawn then mentioned that she had passed an interesting cemetary on the way in so we drove over to explore it and learn a little history.
A couple of miles later we arrived at the location and once again we piled out of our vehicles, camera in hand. A quaint little cemetary greeted us. Rather lonely and forlorn, really. You could tell that it had been there a long time by the way that the headstones teetered this way and that. The layout of the place also indicated that much time had passed between the initial use of the parcel for interrment and the final stone placement. The oldest stones, which had been layed flat in the ground, had been worn out to the point that you could not tell what was inscribed on them anymore. The stone face was simply cratered with age. As I took a look around and Dawn pointed to the huge, majestic trees overlooking the plot, I noticed that there did not seem to be a sense of direction either. There would be a few stones placed in a row in one place but there would be another one or two placed seemingly at random elsewhere. Fascinating. As we started to read the inscriptions, I was startled by the shear age, late 1800's and also by the fact that these were children! The youngest was perhaps one year old! How tragic and sad! If these stones could talk to us today, what kind of story would they tell? What happened back then? Who were these people? I paused for a moment to contemplate the lives of these individuals before photographing their final resting places. It was a little sobering, as any cemetary is.
That marked the end of our photowalk with Dawn and I told her that it would be fun to meet again! I really enjoyed our time together as she is very knowledgeable and likeable. Check out her blog at www.wheretogowisconsin.com or at Flickr, where we all meet, at www.flickr.com/people/wheretogowisconsin/ I absolutely love this kind of activity! It's a huge reason why I've wanted to move back to the north! I love the change of seasons! Love the vast forests! Streams, lakes and wildlife galore! Bear, deer, badger, rabbits and squirrel everywhere! Well, sort of everywhere but you get my point! you simply don't get any of this in the city.
Yup. I am a happy camper. Dallas, Mei Mei and I walked a lot today, took lots of pictures and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I only wish that Kim could have been here too! I've only skimmed on what we did today but I am tired and it is late for me. Not even the American Lemans race that is on SPEED TV is going to keep me up. I have plenty to do tomorrow before Kim arrives! I need to start getting ready for winter too! Putting away the summer clothes, rearranging the garage to suit our winter needs and cleaning out the barn are just a few items on our collective agenda. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Life is good! ;-)