Thursday, September 18, 2014

See Ya later Tamarac.

Sadly the time has come for us to leave Tamarac Wildlife Refuge.  John and I have both enjoyed volunteering here and would love to return again some day.   We will miss Tamarac and the people there.  A big thank you to them for allowing us to experience the refuge as a volunteer.  It is such a beautiful peaceful place.  Please stop by and visit the refuge if you are in the area.

John, Gina and I.
John, Janice and I.
The view from behind the Visitor Center yesterday.   The leaves were starting to change.  I am so bummed that we won't be there to see that and get some pictures.  

We pulled out of Tamarac around 10:00 a.m. on our journey to London, KY.  The trip was uneventful and we arrived at Rockford, IL, our planned stop, around 9:30 p.m.  We stayed at camp Wal-mart for the night and picked up a few groceries. 

Laugh everyday.  Happy trails.  Stay safe. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Leaving Tamarac 12 days early.

Yesterday we said "see ya later" to Judy.  We wish her safe travels and fun adventures with her brother.  As I made the rounds to check the kiosks today I thought about Judy.  It was rather dull riding alone in the truck.  Every time I saw an eagle, red tail hawk, a swan or changing leaves I missed sharing it with her.  John helped Gina this morning with mowing the area for the Fall Festival.  He also cut down a few trees around one of the cabins.  After that he did his usual mowing.  He wants to get it all done before we head out.

I drove around to the usual spots to check out the swans.   The weather was sunny and warm, just perfect to be outside.  
The leaves are beginning to change.   

This is one of my favorite spots. 

John and I were scheduled to leave Tamarac on the 29th but we will be leaving this Thursday.  We are having issues with one of the slides.  John called the dealer and talked with them about the slide and a few other minor issues.  They suggested bringing it back at our convenience and they would take care of it.  We talked with the Tamarac staff (our boss Janice) and she said we could leave early if we would like so we set up an appointment with the dealership for this coming Saturday .  We have enjoyed our time here and would love to return again.  

Laugh everyday.  Happy trails.  Stay safe. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Robert.

I can't believe our son turned 32 today.  It seems like yesterday he was just a little boy and now he is grown with a wife and two little girls of his own.

Happy Birthday Robert. We love you.  Hope you had a wonderful day. 

Update on our move into the motorhome:  We are just about finished unpacking and putting things away.  It has been a chore.  We are looking forward to relaxing and enjoying it when everything is finished.  I know Fred can't wait for things to get back to normal. 

Last night Judy invited John and I, and new volunteer arrivals Pat and Ward over to her place for dinner.  Judy's brother flew in from Arizona and will be leaving with Judy on Monday. This was our last get together before she leaves.  Judy wanted us to try one of her favorite foods she used to eat while living in New York.  They are called Spiedies.  Speidies are very popular in Binghamton, NY and consists of marinading meat, usually lamb or chicken, in a special marinade for two to three days, placing it on a skewer and grilling it.  The meat is then serviced on a large piece of Italian bread and no condiments are needed.  Spiedies are usually servied with salt potatoes so I prepared the salt potatoes and Pat brought slaw and brownies for dessert.  

Chef Judy grilling. 
Judy and her brother Kurt. 

Judy announcing dinner is ready. 

It was so tasty.  We will definitely have to eat those again.  Thanks Judy for a wonderful meal.  We have really enjoyed working with Judy at the refuge.  I will miss our weekly trail rides and her unending knowledge.  She is such a joy to work with.   We wish her safe travels and hope to see her down the road again real soon. 

Laugh everyday.  Happy trails.  Stay safe. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lunch with Jim and Dee.

We are still making our way back to Tamarac Refuge. This was our second day to stay in Chippewa Falls. We were finally able to tour the Leinenkugel Brewery.  I say finally because back in May when we were traveling through this area we had planned to tour the brewery but the F550 broke down on us and that, of course, changed our plans. 

The brewery was founded in 1867 by Jacob Leinenkugel and John Miller.  In 1884 John Miller sold his stake in the brewery and it has been owned by the Leinenkugels since then.   Below are a few pictures from our tour. 

This morning we woke up to heavy rain and much cooler temperatures. Uck!!   Not my favorite kind of weather at all...and it was travel day. 

We follow Jim and Dee's blog and noticed we would be crossing paths with them today.  We were able to meet them in Baldwin, WI at Culvers for lunch.  It was good to see them again and catch up.  Can't believe it has been three years since we have seen them.  We wish them safe travels and hope to see them again real soon. 

Jim and Dee. 

Laugh everyday  Happy trails.  Stay safe. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Making a change.

We have been very busy for the last two weeks.  John and I decided to make the change from a fifth wheel to a motorhome.  We found what we were looking for in London, KY at Day Brothers RV Sales.  You know what that meant......a long road trip.  We left Tamarac Refuge on September 2nd and arrrived in Kentucky on the 3rd.  Now that was a really long road trip.

Day Brothers RV Sales are a great group of people.  They are very attentive to their customers and go the extra mile to see that everything is done right.  It is a family owned business and you will feel like you are family.  I am happy to say we had a wonderful experience with them.

We were able to park right next to the motorhome.  It took three and a half hours to unload and was after 9:00 p.m. when the last items were loaded.  By the time we left the dealership, grabbed a bite to eat and fueled up it was after 10:00 before we were on the road.  Since we were both wide awake we agreed we would travel until we got tired.  It was around 3:00 a.m. when we arrived in Whitestown, IN and were both exhausted so we pulled in the the Mejier's store parking lot, set the parking brake, climbed in bed and spent the rest of the night, or morning.  No one knocked on the door and asked us to leave so I guess it was ok. 

Our next stop was Sandwich, IL to visit our dear friends Dennis and Donna Cave.  
Here we are at Dennis and Donna's.  Yeah we made it.
Dennis and John looking at the new Rand McNally RV GPS.

We arrived early enough to enjoy taking a walk with Dennis and Donna to the Sandwich Fair which is a large annual event and has food, rides and steam operated engines just to name a few.  Donna treated us to homemade lasagna and Italian sausage for dinner.  It was so tasty.  

The next morning Donna served some breakfast pizza before we hit the road.  It was yummy.  This is the breakfast pizza we had when we visited before.  John and I both love it.  We finally got around to saying "see ya later" and was preparing to leave when I remembered I hadn't gotten a picture of Dennis and Donna. 

Dennis and Donna.  Thank y'all so much for your hospitality.  We enjoyed the visit and hope to see you down the road, maybe in MS this year.

Ok, so now we were ready to pull out but the Suzuki wouldn't start.  Bummer!  The battery was dead.  It seems the key was left in the car overnight in the on position.  Dennis quickly jumped us off and before long we were on our way.  Thank you Dennis. 

John pulling out to hook the car up.

Our destination for today was Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.  The trip was uneventful and we arrived around 5:00 p.m.  We are staying at the fair grounds campground.   This is the town that John wanted to stop and visit back in May when we were on our way to Tamarac and the F550 broke down before we got here.  We were able to stop and stay this time.   John has visited the other town/cities named "Ridgeland" as we travel.  There is a Ridgeland, WI 30 miles from here so we drove other tonight to get a picture and find something for dinner. 

This "Ridgeland" is a very small town.

As we drove around looking for a cafe or restaurant we noticed the town had plenty of bars (3) and that everything else looked closed for the night.  We stopped in at the Sportsmen's Bar and Grill.  There was only one other customer, a local guy, and the bartender/cook.  Very friendly and he sure cooked a great burger.  Of course John had on a Ridgeland Fire Department T-Shirt so the conversation was lively.   

We will be staying in Chippewa Falls again tomorrow and hope to rest up a little as well as organize some stuff in the RV.  Planning on meeting up with Jim and Dee (Tumbleweed) Wednesday for lunch.  It has been a little over 3 years since we have seen them.   

Laugh everyday.  Happy trails.  Stay safe. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Frogs and Berries.

Wednesday Judy and I checked several trails for purple loosestrife.  We didn't find any so that was a good thing.  We didn't see much in the way of wildlife, just wildflowers, weeds, frogs, berries, a wood duck and a couple of fallen trees.
Showy Goldenrod.  
Turk's-Cap Lily
Leopard Frog
I think this is Viburnum.  If I am wrong please let me know. 

Wood Duck
As we traveled down one of our trails searching for purple loose strife we were stopped by these fallen trees. Awe, you know what that means.....we will just have to return again on another day.  

  Fred says hello to everyone out there.  He is being lazy.

Laugh everyday.  Happy trails.  Stay safe. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A day on the water.

Yesterday Judy and I got a rare treat.  We assisted biology tech, Gina, with water quality testing on several lakes in the refuge.  Being out on the water allowed us to see the refuge in a different way.

Judy and I all dressed up in our gear and ready to go.   We are making a fashion statement. LOL
Can you tell Judy was having good time? 

Gina used a GPS to arrive at the correct testing location.   When we reached our location Judy lowered the anchor while Gina asssembled the equipment.  Judy assisted Gina with the bottles and I recorded the data.  

Gina used a long PVC pipe to retrieve water for testing. 
Some of the water is poured in to smaller plastic bottles with sulfuric acid added to one of the bottles to kill any existing organisms. 

Once that is accomplished she uses a sonde to measure temperature, PH and turbidity. 
Here is Gina with the sonde.  I was amazed when she told us this piece of equipment cost around $10,000.00. Wow!  Hold on tight to that. LOL 

The next step is using a secchi to determine water clarity and to measure depth.  The secchi looks like a large metal plate with a tape measure attached to it.  

Gina is about to drop the secchi into the water.  

Gina packing up the test samples. 

In all we assisted Gina with five lakes.  Judy and I both agreed this was better than being stuck inside all day. LOL   A big thank you to Gina for taking us along with her.   

Laugh everyday.  Happy trails.  Stay safe.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Volunteer Recognition Picnic

Yesterday we attended the Tamarac Volunteer Recognition Picnic at the refuge.  The picnic is held every year as a thank you to all the volunteers who give their time to the refuge.  The festivities began with a social hour then an awards ceremony and ended with a catered barbeque dinner.   The theme for this year's the picnic was Safari.

Janice (our volunteer coordinator)

Our friend Judy was recognized for over 800 volunteer hours at the refuge.  Wow Judy that's a lot of hours. 
Judy receiving her award from refuge manager Neil.

Ron receiving his Volunteer of the Year award.  He had over 4000 hours.

John and I have accumulated over 400 hours each since we have been here.  Wow.  It seems like we just arrived yesterday.  The time has really flown.  I have enjoyed working with Judy and will miss her when she leaves next month.  So glad I got the opportunity to work with her.  Thanks so much Judy for sharing your knowledge of the refuge with me.  I have learned so much. 

Laugh everyday.  Happy trails.  Stay safe. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Buffalo still in the refuge.

Tuesday I worked with John on one of his clearing projects.  It was on the Blackbird Wildlife Auto Drive at one of the overlooks.  John's job was to clear out trees and brush blocking the view.  He cut, chopped and sawed trees, limbs and bushes.   As he finished an area I pulled limbs to the top of the hill and piled them on the trailer.

John at the bottom cutting. 
The completed job.  A nice few of the lake area.
Another view of the completed job. 

This is the first time I have worked with John on one of his projects at the refuge.  As we were finishing up I got something in my left eye.  I tried washing it out but nothing helped.  When we got back to the RV Judy loaned me a couple of eye cups to try.  Nothing worked and my eye really started to hurt.  To make a long story short.....I ended up at the eye doctor's office.  The doctor removed a piece of a leaf stuck under my eyelid.  It was very small but it felt like a boulder. 

Yesterday Judy and I worked on the Purple Loosestrife Project.  We checked several trails.  As we were leaving the Omegash Trail area Judy spotted a patch of Purple Loosestrife on the side of the road next to a ditch.   Check out Judy's Blog.

Here it is.  Very pretty to look at but sadly it can take over an area rather quickly if not stopped. 
This is a picture of a group of Purple Loosestrife.

Judy checking out an area on one of our stops.

We are always on the look out for wildlife and have our cameras ready....just in case.  On one of our stops we were treated with the sight of five loons on a lake.  We watched them take flight and sing their beautiful song.  I think they are my favorite water fowl.  I wish I could get a close up picture of them but they were too far away. 

We saw this Broad-winged Hawk.  Sorry the picture is blurry.  My camera can only zoom so far.  I think I need a new and improved one.

You know the old saying, "stop and smell the roses"?  Well, we stop and snap a picture.  It is so interesting how the trails change from week to week. 


Bee on thistle.

Jewel Weed
This is a plant I haven't seen here before.  I looked it up and I think it is a Swamp Smartweed.

After our lunch break Judy and I returned to check more trails.  Just when we thought we weren't going to see any wildlife ..... we see buffalo!   These are the ones that have been running loose for a week.  The wildlife officer and the owner had herd of them cornered in this area.  They were hoping to get them to cross a bridge but I don't think they were successful. 

Oh well, at least we got some cool photos. 

Today, Judy, John and I were invited to have fajitas with fellow full timer RVers Janice and David.  Their way of thanking us for volunteering, much appreciated.  They are staying in the area and toured the refuge today.  We really enjoyed meeting them and sharing travel stories.  Thanks Janice and David for the hospitality and a delicious meal.  We wish them safe travels and hope to see them again down the road. 
Judy, Janice and David.

Laugh everyday.  Happy trails.  Stay safe.