It’s impossible to be outdoors without experiencing the changing of the seasons and the passage of time, and we are now officially past the Time of Mud and transitioning into that fabulous season we all know as summer in Wisconsin.
Something in the summertime light and air makes it particularly compelling, and despite our awareness of the season, time occasionally seems to stop, or maybe even go backwards.
There are always two or three or even more days when everything is perfect and it feels like you’re much younger, almost as if you’ll live forever. If you’re lucky, the realization that you won’t do so stays dormant for a couple of hours or so.
Change is in the air, and not just because lots of people spent the weekend marching for science.
Science. Think about that for a minute. It’s like a march for keeping everyone’s desk organized, or maybe for castor oil.
Since when do we have to march for something so obviously good and essential?
Never mind. Everybody knows since when, so there’s not much point going there. It’s the world we live in.
That world has been wearing on me, so rather than supporting the Earth on Earth Day or marching for science, I decided to do something I could actually control, like get my kids to behave all weekend and go hiking with me.
Yeah, I know. It’s easier to get a rich man to pass you his money through the eye of a needle, an eye welded shut with a tiny blowtorch the size of a career politician’s scruples.
When it comes to ways to mess up vacations, thinking too much is high on the list.
During visits to Costa Rica, my wife’s homeland, that‘s especially true for me. Now that we’ve returned from what we hope becomes an annual trip, there has been time to reflect on thoughts that threaten my enjoyment of paradise.
Most vacation spots are more enjoyable with a bit of knowledge about their history and culture, but that’s a mixed bag for me in Central America.
American geographic illiteracy has one upside for my family: it probably keeps a few more tourists away from beautiful Costa Rica.
That’s my wife’s homeland and a place we’ll try to make an annual destination, both as my in-laws age and for the sake of our kids learning Spanish. Frequently, I encounter friends and acquaintances who confuse the country with Puerto Rico.
While I’ve heard lots of great things about the latter, I think I’ll keep taking my opportunities to visit Costa Rica, which is just north of Panama on the isthmus joining Central America to South America.
It’s tough to beat the combination of natural beauty and friendly, happy people – Ticos, as they are called, are generally ranked among the top five happiest cultures in the world, and have often been ranked No. 1 in that category.
It seems the newest big thing in the theater is “A Quiet Place,” a film revolving around horrifying arachnid-like beings, their attraction to sound, and a bunch of actors who, needless to say, keep it zipped as much as possible.
No thanks – I’ll just head out to the silent North Woods to be surrounded by wolves when I need entertainment.
That’s only a slight exaggeration. A surprise early-April snowstorm sent hiking buddy Chris Sadler and me to the Alta Junction and Harrison Hills segments of the Ice Age Trail, a little north and east of Merrill. The IAT guidebook mentions a thriving pack of wolves inhabiting the Harrison Hills, and we may have seen evidence of them shortly after starting our hike on the Alta Junction segment.
That starts on Lincoln County Highway J about six miles east of Irma, which is so small it doesn’t even have a population listed on Wikipedia. The segment mostly follows an old railroad grade along the North Branch of the Prairie River.
But even getting there was an adventure.