Thursday, September 29, 2011

Red Fox

Red Fox- Chicken thieving career cut short by me, my 20 gauge shot gun and a prayer.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

...our vacation continued

We had stayed over night the first part of our journey in Nebraska. Took some roads less traveled so we could see places we've never been to before.

Here's some cattle grazing in the morning.

One thing that was different from the views along the main highways were these rolling hills. They looked like sand dunes covered with grass. The pictures don't really show it that well. But, it almost did look like sand that we saw between the sparse blades of grass. It almost seemed like at one time they were great vast sand dunes. but then in time grass covered them.
We saw lots and lots of round hay bales. We just love seeing all the bales along the way so we took a bunch of pictures of them.
These pictures are of Nebraska hay bales.

We thoroughly enjoyed our back roads drive through Nebraska.
Finally we arrived in Colorado.
Notice the 75 miles an hour speed limit AND the $1000 fine for littering!

We stopped at the first Colorado welcome center we came to so we could see some info on the state. The statue below was at the welcome center. It told about the pony express trail.

The parking lot was lined with these metal tipi's suitable for having a picnic. I thought they were kind of neat so I took a picture of one.
These were the first bison we saw on the trip out west. They happened to be at a feed lot.

We saw feed lots along the way. Seemed a big contrast to all the vast open land. Why don't they graze all these animals instead of having them all confined together like this? The smell was terrible.
It really seemed odd to see the feedlots after seeing miles and miles and miles of grass.

Nevertheless we had a great time on our road trip. Loved seeing everything.

As we approached our destination we began to see the mountains. It was a hazy day, so we couldn't see the tops of the mountains. We would find out the next day when it was more clear that there was alot more to the mountains than what we saw the first day there.

We were excited to see all our kids at Ellerslie. Once we arrived in town we right to the school to see them. The below picture is of the church at Ellerslie.
Here Kelli and Shalea visit on the porch. We spent most of our time on the trip checking out the school. We attended most of the classes and sermons. On my next post about the vacation I'll talk about what we saw and heard there. It was a unique experience.

Until Next Time

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Smoke from Minnesota wildfire moving across Wisconsin

We woke up at just before 2 am this morning to a strong smell of smoke. It was cool out with an unusually gusty wind for that time of the night. The smell was strong in the house and I could see well enough in the dark that there appeared to be smoke in the air.

With flash light in hand I went out and inspected our houses and out buildings. I drove up to the cabin and could see that the air was hazy with smoke. The smell permeated my nostrils. Upon seeing that our buildings were not the source of the smoke I was relieved but, it certainly appeared that a rather large fire was some place not too far away.

I went inside and called 911. Upon talking to the dispatcher she informed me that the likely source of the smoke was from a large fire way up in north MN. She told me that they had reports from all over of people witnessing the same thing. She also said that they could smell it in Rhinelander also, 15 or so miles to our south. She asked me if I could see the sky glowing at all and I said no. She said that it was most likely those fires in MN. However she said that they had people driving around to make sure it wasn't something more local.

After getting off the phone I still wasn't completely convinced the smoke was coming from MN. I wondered how in the world such strong smell and even the sight of the smoke could travel so far. Must be a couple hundred miles away I thought. I called my mom and dad just to let them know what was going on then I drove around to try and satisfy my curiosity. I drove about 6 miles to the north west and I could smell it as strong out there as I could at home.

Then when I was back home I looked up our local TV station online and found their facebook page. On it I saw reports from all around the northwoods of people being woken out of a sound sleep, just as we had been, by a strong smell of smoke. And the report was that yes indeed it was from the fires in Minnesota. So I was finally satisfied and went back to bed around 4 am.

When daylight came the smell of smoke was still lightly in the air and even now at 5:30 pm you can smell it, though at this point we can't see it any longer. Neighbor Mike said he had the same reaction to it. Was woke up by the smell then went around checking to see if any of there buildings were on fire. And judging by the facebook comments others had the same reaction.

In the picture above you can see the smoke making it's way across Lake Superior and into Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Only last night it went a couple counties further south into Oneida County, WI were we live. It went at least that far south that we know of.

I can't imagine how pungent the smoke must be closer to the source. I would think some people would have health concerns with it, people who suffer from asthma and people who have breathing issues.

I'm still amazed how all that smoke could make it's way all the way over here. In my thinking it would travel way up in the sky by now. The conditions must be just right.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Vanishing bees

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Our vacation

As mentioned in the post about our Colorado trip, our daughter has been at a school called Ellerslie. We went out to see her there as she has been there for the better part of this year.

Actually it didn't start out that we were going to go, she really wanted us to but, in August we are still very much at the peak of our year as far the work load goes. So going anywhere is usually not even in the realm of possibility for us, at least for me anyway. My family has gone away many times in the past but, I usually stay behind to hold down the fort. Summer time is also the peak time of our garbage business. Then there's the garden and animals to tend to. And we always have extra batches of chickens and now turkey's to take care of. And to add to all that I have Arie our Kangal Dog which I am still training and spending lots of time with.

So, though our daughter wanted us to come out and check out the school and everything it just didn't seem very realistic for us to go. We have not taken a family vacation since 1993.

However our other two kids wanted to check out the school because they too have been interested in attending. But thanks to financial assistance from my parents they were able to book flights to Colorado in order to go see first hand what Ellerslie is all about.

Though we work hard around here to make ends meet, ever since we came here we have never had much for expendable income to do things that many people take for granted. Some people spend thousands of dollars every year going on vacations. We simply have not had that luxury. And then there's all the stuff that we would have to have others take care of while we would be gone, which for me, just makes the idea of going anywhere seem like something that is out of the range of possibility.

But, this time it seemed that the Lord was leading us to finally go. Not that it was to be a vacation per se, but that it would be more of a fact finding mission to really get a taste of where our oldest child has been. As it turned out, it was that and more. It turned out to be a kind of second honeymoon for Kelli and I and also a family vacation all in one.

The most formidable task for us to going any where for more than a few days at a time is that of our garbage route. The garbage business is something we have been totally married to. It's a weekly thing, 52 weeks a year. We are friends with a couple who does what we do. They have been at it for somewhere around 20 years. As far as I know he has never been anywhere beyond a 2 day weekend as they pick up 5 days a week. We only pick up 3 days a week. So in reality we can get away for up to 4 days at a time not taking the farm into consideration. Twice the time as our friends can.

But for around 2 years now our neighbor Mike has been helping me with the route. Mike and I have grown quite close working together every week. So when he heard that we wanted to go out to see our daughter he heartily volunteered to do the route himself. Plus his wife agreed to help as well since she has gone on the routes a number of times that Mike does himself. So the two weeks we were gone Mike and his wife Deb completely took the worry out of our trip as far as the garbage business goes. What a relief it was. I am very thankful that the Lord put it on their hearts to help out like that.

Then a family friend of ours, a young man named Ross, and my Dad helped with the animals. Everything was covered!

By this point however, our other kids already had flights booked to Colorado. Kelli and I considered flying out too, but the idea of being out there without wheels and not being able to come back at a moments notice in case something happened back home did not seem like a good one. So kind of at the last minute we decided to drive.

We wrestled with this plan since we had to take our other two kids to the Minneapolis airport anyway. The way it would go, is we would take them to MN, then we ourselves would drive out. Seemed like a waste of money on plane tickets and such when we all could have drove out together. But, the tickets were already bought. But, then after a lot of thought we decided it would be nice for Kelli and I to take a road trip just the two of us since we had not done anything like that since the first year we were married when we took our honeymoon trip to Florida.

So that is what we decide to do. We'd see the kids off at the airport, and they'd get there a day ahead of us as we headed out on a 12 hour drive, splitting it up into 2 days, taking out time.

This is the actual plane our kids were on as they took off for Colorado.

We had to get to the airport early in the morning and we got there none to soon as the flight to Denver was totally packed. We saw a long line which we couldn't believe was the one our kids were supposed to be in and we wandered around trying to figure out where to go. It turned out to be at the end of the very long line. They finally boarded with very little time to spare. We were told that August is a peak time for people to visit Colorado. Never would have guessed it before hand.

Since they had such an early flight we had stayed over night in Minneapolis near by the airport. So after they left, Kelli and I went back to the motel to freshen up for the day. Then we headed out on our road trip.

It was very warm the days leading up to the trip and this day was just as warm as any. Pretty much hot and humid. We hoped for relief once we got to Colorado since we had heard it was a drier heat out there.

Not too far into our drive we began to see windmills. I know there is a lot of controversy about them. Some people hate them but, I think they are neat to look at. I might feel different if someone parked one right next to me but, I am always for alternative ways to produce energy. I understand there is controversy in that regard as well. That the energy gains aren't as high as thought. I'm not educated on it enough to really have a solid opinion one way or the other. But, I still think they are cool.

Another thing we saw along the way was tons and tons of signs for "Wall Drug". We remembered seeing them when we went out west as a family way back when the kids were all little, in 1993. That was the last official family vacation we had taken until now. Even though we had seen all those signs we never went to check the place out. We said to ourselves that this time, if we got the chance, we'd go see it.

On our trip Kelli and I traveled from MN to South Dakota to Nebraska to CO. Back in 93 we had stopped at the Corn Palace in Mitchel SD so since we were driving right by we decided to stop. Below is a picture of it. The outside is completely decorated in corn. If I understand right, they make a new design every year.

Then as we were driving down the highway I spotted a sign for a Cabela's store. I told Kelli I had to stop and see it. I've seen catalogs for the store for many years and have never seen one in person so we turned around to go check it out.
The outside was very impressive. Lots of money in a building like that. Plus they had this interesting metal art, out front.

Once inside we saw a spectacular visual display with all kinds of animal mounts. I was so amazed by it all I had to go out and get the camera. I asked a clerk if it was alright to take pictures and she said, "sure".

We stayed at Cabela's way longer than we had planned. I did a little shopping for a few things I needed. It's not every day I get to step inside an outdoors store like this so I took advantage of it.

After cutting across South Dakota we took a side road through Nebraska. The views were way better than the time we went through in 1993, which we remembered being quite boring.

As we came near the Missouri River the terrain became quite spectacular. These are some of my favorite kind of views.

I love to see large rolling hills like the ones above.

The bridge across the river was amazing.

We drove until almost dark and then got a place to stay. We saw this outstanding sunset behind some really cool looking buttes.
So with this picture I'll bring this post to a close since it was the end of the first day of our trip.

More to come....

Computer has been down

Well, I had hoped to make follow up posts about our Colorado trip but, our computer quit working. Turned out to be the "mother board" as the expert tech guy informed me, so we had to get another computer. I swear these things are almost more trouble than they are worth! Unfortunately we now do almost all our business billings on it and if it isn't working neither is our business. So here we are with another brand new computer. As soon as I figure everything out I'll be making some more posts at some point, Lord willing.