This column originally appeared in the March 23, 2017, issue of the Portage County Gazette.
St. Patrick’s Day dawned with a thin layer of snow, the potential for icy roads, and the promise of fog, which threatened to put a serious damper on the quest to familiarize myself with more of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
I’d made plans with my friend Chris Sadler for a possible trip to Gibraltar Rock in Sauk County, which offers some of the most spectacular views in Wisconsin. But possibly risky driving, a small amount of road walking in potentially nasty weather, and the chance of poor visibility from the bluff made us decide to stick closer to home. Continue reading →
This column originally appeared in the Feb. 4, 2016, issue of the Portage County Gazette. Owl update: the regal creatures have continued to appear annually in Wisconsin since the original publication. Photo below by Tim Krause. Photo of owl in field by Christina Streiff.
Being a column about recreation, this is also where we consider important questions of life. The word “recreate” is, after all, literally about reviving and remaking ourselves.
Here we ruminate on issues related to play and work, meaning and meaninglessness, our use of time, and whether a colonoscopy is more fun than hiking the Appalachian Trail.
We have both little questions and big questions. The little ones: Why do the snowy owls keep coming back, and is the movie “A Walk in the Woods” worth seeing? We’ll get to those.
The big one, which only readers can answer for themselves, is this.
This column originally appeared in the Feb. 4, 2016, issue of the Portage County Gazette. Like that week, this one had a big snowstorm, but the column is appropriate for other reasons. As I keep archiving my old work, my appreciation grows for our friends who helped build the community into what it is. The local history represented by the Zimmermans and Bev Laska is significant, especially when it comes to places like Schmeeckle Reserve and the Green Circle Trail.
Tuesday’s snowstorm was a big block party that brought all the neighbors out for a fiesta of snowblowers and shovels. There were almost as many folks out on the sidewalks as we can see on our way back from downtown summer festivals.
Observing everyone simultaneously taking care of our city-owned sidewalks is just one more reminder of the good Midwestern community ethos we have here. It’s also a fine time to recognize some folks who have made Portage County a wonderful place in which to live.
Zimmermans not slowing down
Visiting with Ron and Donna Zimmerman is like the best kind of snowfall. Stories start drifting down around you. You can just sit back and take it all in; next thing you know, you look up and you’re buried in wonderland.
I spent a couple of hours talking to the longtime University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point naturalists at their home east of Polonia recently. “Naturalists” doesn’t nearly do justice to their collective accomplishments and careers, but it might be the easiest way to describe the two of them together.
This column originally appeared in the June 1, 2017, issue of the Portage County Gazette. Most of it is about a day spent on the Ice Age Trail and its connecting routes, but my column often addressed more than one topic. In this case, it was the memory of a colleague I respected a great deal.
Even though last week was a good one, with a fun birthday party outdoors and more hiking on the Ice Age Trail, it was also a week of sorrow, as we lost another great friend of the outdoors.
I was home preparing for my daughter’s party when I heard the news, and it cast a pall over much of the weekend. Still, the party ended up being a fine one, with rambunctious 8-to-10-year-olds running around the yard, driveway and garage, which we had cleaned out for birthday cake and a place safe from the rain that threatened but never came.
Earlier in the week, I had finished 16 more miles of the Ice Age Trail. As always, it was a wonderful time, made better with the company of a good friend.
We can never take such times for granted, because they always disappear too soon.