Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pine Relict Forest Adventure

Today Teri & I were able to go exploring, just the two of us. We've found a really nice local girl to baby sit for the day. The weather was sunny, cold and there was a fresh coat of snow on the ground. We loaded up the snowshoes and cameras, and then went to see what we could find in our new home range.

Our first stop was a short drive to the nearby town of Blue Mounds. There's a very, very special bakery there called the naked elm bakery. It's just the kind of place we love! We met some really nice people, enjoyed food that made us happy, and the coffee was good too! I can honestly say this is how I've always wanted to have breakfast when I go out. Just a relaxed atmosphere with a meal that doesn't disappoint. I also really loved meeting the guy running the place this morning, Mat. He reminded me a bit of myself when I was a young buck...

the naked elm bakerythe naked elm bakery

After leaving there very content, we headed to the nearby Ridgeway Pine Relict. It's a state owned natural area, but not a developed park. We studied maps and satellite images until we figured out were to access it. It's not a straightforward, "park here, follow that trail there" kind of place. We loved it!

Ridgeway Pine RelictRidgeway Pine Relict

When we first thought about moving to Wisconsin we both pictured endless miles of flat terrain, covered in pastures and corn. It does have a lot of that, but there are also these gems of geological beauty. Best of all, they're close to where we live! To think, there's so much more out there for us to explore!

Ridgeway Pine RelictRidgeway Pine RelictCommon Pheasant Ridgeway Pine Relict

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eagles at Dawn

I left the house early this morning and drove to Prairie du Sac, which is along the Wisconsin River. At this time of the year most of the waterways in the state have frozen over. Scores of Bald Eagles gather at places like this town, where dam spillways have created open water. The birds gather here to feed on fish in the mornings.

I expected to see a few birds and was really surprised at just how many I actually saw! There were well over twenty raptors at one viewing spot alone! The majority of birds were very far, so my 70-200mm, even with a 1/4x extender, was not the best lens. Oh to have an extra $13K for a 600mm lens! I can't even imagine...

Bald EagleBald EagleCommon Merganser, female

I'm also going to try and learn more about The Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, the organization that monitors the birds. I'd bet there are some interesting folks involved.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hello Snow!

Up to about a week ago the weather here has been extremely mild. Little snow fell for most of the winter and a lot of people really commented on dry it's been. As I said, that was until this week. Finally we're getting some decent snow fall!

Instead of us driving in separately, Teri drops off Freja goes to work, I pick up Freja go home, I like to drive them both in. I feel better doing the driving in the Jeep. It means having time to kill in Madison but I've been using it well. First I found a great coffee shop called The Froth House. I can enjoy a good cup-o-joe while I plan my menu, shopping list, etc..

Our commute is pretty easy too. Country highways, with nice views, for a good portion of it and then literally a straight shot to where Teri works and Freja goes to school. Here's a map showing part of our route. Almost 7 miles, no turns, just motoring along. This never happens in Pittsburgh! You're lucky to find a straight MILE in PA! LOL

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Anyway, after a lot of research on snowshoes I surprised my family with new gear. We'd never done it before so Saturday we headed to our local park for some practice. It was nice, though Freja seemed to enjoy being towed on her sled more than anything. I guess that's to be expected! Teri & I really enjoyed it and can't wait to get a daytime sitter so we can go exploring!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Catching Up

Over TWO months have gone by since my last post. I've written so many times in my head, just not online. I'm going to try to do some catching up. In a nutshell, most of November was spent just working on the old house. I didn't do a whole lot other than try to complete the renovations. By the beginning of December I was in Mount Horeb with my family. Most of that month was spent simply adjusting to the new surroundings.

Right away one of the first things I fell in love with is the shear abundance of "natural" areas! There are conservancies, parks and reserves literally EVERYWHERE around us! We can be in a quiet setting in a matter of minutes! I've even found time to actually go and just walk around by myself with my camera.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Another amazing realization, of which I've not photographed yet, is the access to a variety of quality foods. As the cook in the family I spent almost all of December just driving around to shops, sampling the wares. I've gained some weight! It's a combo of the cheeses, meats and beer! I have to admit that the quality of the foods I am finding here far surpass what was available in Greensburg. The only area I've found somewhat lacking is (naturally) seafood. While the local seafood suppliers are great they just aren't Wholey's. I've even found wild game here! I cannot WAIT to get into my new kitchen! Spring cannot get here soon enough. (For those who don't know, we're renting until April when we move into our new house.)

And then there's the beer! Amazing variety and flavor!

Mainly though, it's just being back with my family that feels the best. Cooking for them, spending time with them are things I truly missed. At first it took some time for Freja to adjust after my long absence but things are returning to our version of "normal." She also loves school, which I am now trying to figure out how to interact with.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

I'll try to post more often and will catch up on some of the back story soon...