1,631 words of outdoor thankfulness … and counting

Many faithful Gazette readers know the TV listings are now gone.  When Gazette managing editor Nate Enwald and I first talked about this column, he mentioned that at least for a few weeks, I could write up to 1,500 words if I wanted.  It would help fill the void when those listings faded to black.

Footbridge over the Eau Claire River, Marathon County

Footbridge over the Eau Claire River, Marathon County

I keep waiting for Nate to tell me to tap the brakes, but the last time I checked he said I should keep the pedal down.  That means, because it’s that time of year, I’m writing 1,500 words of thanks.

First things first: I’m thankful for the opportunity to do this column, meaning much appreciation goes to the people at the Gazette, a locally owned publication that covers real local news with local folks.

I’m writing for two reasons.  I love to write, and I love to get outside.  I don’t do either one enough, but the Gazette encourages me to do both.

And here’s a point of gratitude that needs to be right out front.  I’m thankful for the life and work of Gazette co-founder George Rogers, who I never met and who passed away in 2013, but whose influence on the community and on people’s love for the outdoors was clearly enormous.

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Went camping. Wrote about it.

One of my goals this year was to camp more with my family. A way to make that happen is to write about it, so I have committed to a weekly column with the Portage County Gazette. Here’s most of my first column in its original state (but different photos).  The paper is redesigning its website, so direct links aren’t available yet; I’ll frequently post these a couple of days after they appear in the Gazette.  Feel free to share or send feedback either here or at the Gazette site. — Steve 

Former DEC bridge from bluff in park

The old County Y stone bridge just above the Dells of the Eau Claire, taken from a rock outrcropping over the river a day or two after heavy rains in 2008 (personal photo, as are others in this post; click for larger view)

We camped in Dells of the Eau Claire county park recently, and it was hot. There were some college guys blaring a country station late one night, and the next night our neighbors’ child got cranky and kept folks up. Did I mention that it was hot?  Sticky, stinky hot.  I got stung on the head by a hornet. While everyone else went to the river, I sat around the campsite waiting for some friends to show up, and they never did.  We got some kind of tree sap or resin all over our expensive tent.  It was hot.

It was glorious.

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