Bill collectors calling? Must be outdoor recreation time …

Blue skies over Green Circle Trail

We are in the thick of “Throwing Money into the Recreation Industry” season, and I am pleased, shocked and regretful to report that my family is doing its part to indenture its parents into several more decades of servitude to fund its outdoor activity.

It all starts with children who outgrow their toys (primarily Dad), but continues with more basic needs, such as food and fashion.

The spies in our microwave oven – if you’ve forgotten about these, just ask the president’s minions – were highly effective in detecting my susceptibility to outdoor-related purchases in July. A couple of tactical e-mails later from said spies and I committed to two purchases, demonstrating just how mindless and thoroughly patriotic I have become in support of my outdoor habit.

But that’s getting ahead of the point of this column, or perhaps just distracted from it.  Or maybe there’s no point whatsoever.  Who can tell?

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In any event, this week is about last week’s first-ever, single-day circumnavigation of the Green Circle Trail by yours truly.  It’s also about bears, books, bike shops, burgers and by-gosh any other thing worth bandying about while planning where to go next.

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Nobility not required, but courtesy is nice

winding-trackI ran into the Queen of England on the Green Circle recently.

At least I think it was The Queen.  Y’know, the one with the little corgi dogs who have the run of the kingdom, because they’re Royal with a capital “R” and I’m definitely not.

That’s “not” with a lower-case “not on your piddly little life, peasant.”

But there were two corgis, right on the groomed cross-country skiing trail, being walked by The Queen Her Own Self.

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Land and water fund, others still in danger

 

Last week was all about thankfulness.  Now, a week into the holiday season and with winter apparently ready to hit us full on, it’s time for a little crankfulness.

Being cranky is easy when we look outside to see a cold, dreary, dank, dark world. But doing something about a bad mood doesn’t have to be difficult.  In this case, I’m talking about counteracting our continued destruction of American outdoor values.

My son sam and brother-in-law Fernando enjoying a sunset on the Cape Final Trail on the Grand Canyon's North Rim in 2007. The Grand Canyon is one of many national parks that have received LWCF funding.

My son Sam and brother-in-law Fernando enjoying a sunset on the Cape Final Trail, Grand Canyon’s North Rim, 2007. The park is one of many funded by the LWCF.

Before we get there, a little scene-setting is in order.  I’ve been hoping recently for at least a bit of warmer, drier weather to finish up the fall yard and garden cleanup – getting rid of the decay and dead remains of that which once brought beauty and hope, the growth from warmer seasons when it’s easier to focus on good things in life.

In winter, we may be prone to looking around and detecting rot and putrescence that eventually freezes into a lump of useless, ugly blight.  You know what I mean:  Congress.

Not all of Congress. It’s primarily one guy, who also happens to be the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources –Rob Bishop of Utah.

Never was there a congressman whose first name more aptly described his relationship to the American people.

He’s the guy holding up reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program which for 50 years provided the country with many of its spectacular and well known outdoor recreation opportunities, along with immeasurable benefits to communities, regions and states that used the fund for park and recreation projects.

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Kudos to city, Sentry for willingness to save park

The small green space next to Sentry’s downtown building.

We all got a reminder Nov. 4 of the good that can happen when citizens speak up and both government and business listen to them.  The right thing just might get done.

Big thanks are in order for both Sentry Insurance and the City of Stevens Point for examining an eminently reasonable solution to a proposal that could have killed off a small park downtown.

The issue came before the Historic Preservation/Design Review Commission Nov. 4.  Citizens argued that Sentry’s plan to add more parking to its lot on the 1200 block of Clark Street would take out a number of mature trees and probably the very best open, green space in the center of downtown. Continue reading

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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