When change seems “barley” tolerable, head outside

It’s been so cold lately that I’ve stayed inside more, nursing a tweaked knee and reading about important scientific findings I can use to convince myself to go back outside.

Some knowledge is harder to relate to outdoor recreation, such as the piece I read about Ocean Alliance researchers using drones to collect whale mucus.  No kidding – they use what they lightheartedly call a “snot-bot” to fly over whales spouting on the surface, as it’s a non-invasive way to collect the expectorations of the great mammals in order to study their DNA.

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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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Honestly, it’s a pretty good place

Sometimes ideas go well together when only one of them might stand on its own.

I had a column idea about a line I wrote that wasn’t quite truthful, but not really inaccurate, either.  The idea was probably a little too abstract to stand on its own, but after visiting with Jim Buchholz and Megan Espe at the Schmeeckle Reserve about the Ron Zimmerman Prairie dedication, I realized there was a common thread between my column idea and the prairie: the value of mindfulness in nature, something Ron’s career was all about.

So here’s a link to the column, along with a couple of extra pictures of the prairie added below.

No shortage of sub-freezing outdoor activity


This past weekend was one of those in which I did nothing special, but it ended up being quite special in its own Central Wisconsin way.

It started with no particular plan. By the time it was all said and done, though, I had visited four regional outdoor recreation institutions, with each visit sandwiched around a bunch of indoor activities.

All in all, it was yet another reminder of what a great place we live in.

Izaak Walton Jamboree leaves us hungry for more 
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New Schmeeckle app highlights history; vandals hit bike hitch

schmeeckle cap

Schmeeckle Reserve’s new interactive app features aerial-photo layers underneath a trail map. Click photo for a closer view.

Last week’s Gazette column is posted on the paper’s web site, which can be accessed at this link.

In the meantime, here’s a screen shot of the app.  Head on over … and, as a teaser for this week’s column, I wish everyone happy holidays!  (Yes, I’ll make fun of Texas, my former home state. But it will be an equal-opportunity column.)