Wednesday, August 26, 2015



We parked 4 nights at the Corps of Engineers Winnie Dam Campground, just downstream from the dam controlling the flow of the Mississippi River from Lake Winnibigoshish. The lake is 70 miles downstream from the recognized source of the river at Lake Itasca.

The campground was great – large  level sites, nicely wooded and quiet. It has 22 spaces but there were just 3 rigs in it most nights we were there. The closest larger town is Grand Rapids MN.

On our way from Winnie Dam to Golden Eagle campground near Perham MN we stopped at Lake Itasca Sate Park to visit the head of the Mississippi River.




The Lake Itasca State Park Visitors Center has displays including the above explaining three ways of identifying the point of beginning of a river. It also diagrams the watershed of the Mississippi – a large area surrounded on three sides by moraines left by the last glacier in the area. The river flows north from this area, then east, southeasterly  and finally southerly beginning at LaCrosse WI.

The three ways are:

1. The farthest point upstream  where the first drop of water flows.

2.the farthest point upstream where the flow and volume constitutes a river.

3.The highest point in the river’s watershed.

The Lake Itasca outflow satisfies the second test. The watershed area above the lake is marshy and has at least 5 small streams feeding Lake Itasca.



This sign on the 800 ft. walk to the beginning of the outflow explains the early efforts to locate the

origin of the Mississippi. Although the day was rainy, many people were visiting the area.



Here is Jo at the sign identifying the point as the origin oft he Mississippi River. An other nearby  sign explained the the river now is some 160 miles shorter due to straightening by the Corps of Engineers to eliminate oxbows.



This is the beginning of the outflow. Many visitors chose to walk across the Mississippi on the rocks.


And this is the river a few feet down from the outflow.


 We took the Grand Tour 3 1/4  hour  cruise of the Apostle Islands  on Mon. Aug. 17 on the Superior Princess. We arrived at the dock sufficiently early to get seating on the upper open deck. The ship is powered by two John Deere diesel engines rated at 600 hp each. I was surprised that 90% of the  seats for passengers were filled. 

Camera used is a Canon Power Shot SX150 IS.



As we left the breakwater area the forest of masts in the harbor is in the background.  The ship’s crew was young – even the captain was well under 25.




The  brownstone blocks were quarried on Hermit Island but never shipped.

Blocks from the quarry were used in buildings as as afar away as Buffalo NY, we were told.


Lichens and chemicals have stained these rocks. Birds are responsible for the white areas on the rocks below.


Sea kayaks are popular modes of transportation among the islands.



Erosion has left a few of these standing rocks on Basswood Island. 





This fishing camp on Manitou Island was the camp in best condition when the Lakeshore took over the Apostle Islands so was preserved as an example of the many island fishing camps. A volunteer stays here to greet and guide the occasional visitor who arrives on his own boat for sightseeing or camping. Brown bears inhabit several of the islands and easily can swim to the others.


Devils Island was the northernmost and the most spectacular of the 20 some odd islands.The day was quite overcast, but the sun came out a bit as we reached the northern part of the island, bringing out the colors of the eroded rocks.




The sea caves present grotesque forms with  columns and arches.












Lighthouse and tender house on Raspberry Island. The riprap was installed to stop erosion of the shoreline.

Three are 9 lighthouses in the Lakeshore, all automated and run by the Coast Guard.


We arrived in  Bayfield on August 15  for our first visit. Bayfield is on the Bayfield Peninsula, at the end of which are the Apostle Islands.

 The area is heavily forested. Logging has taken most of the original growth forests on the mainland and the islands. Brownstone blocks were quarried on one of the islands and used as far away as Buffalo NY.  The main industry of the area is tourism. Now the islands are mainly owned  by the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

The town has several old mansions, a few of which are bed and breakfasts.





Another mansion has been converted into Greunke’s Inn. It has a nightly fish boil, a spectacular event when diesel oil is put on the fire under the boiling 55 gal drum, causing the fish oil at the top of the boiling water water to boil over.




The old Bayfield County courthouse is repurposed as the visitor center and headquarters of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  Those wishing to camp on the islands obtain their permits here, and  a movie tells visitors of the history of the area  – logging, farming and fishing.



The small downtown area is nicely decorated.



The ferry to Madeline Island runs frequently during the tourist season. It is large enough to carry semi trucks and motor homes. There is a state park on the island (not part of the Lakeshore) as well as a museum and tourist shops and accommodations for the visitors.




The municipal dock is nicely developed for pleasure boats and the ships for tours of the islands.



As we approached Bayfield I was impressed with the forest of masts of sailing ships. Madeline Island is on the horizon.


Beginning August 10 we stayed 5 nights at the Chain O’ Lakes Campground near Eagle River. It is only about 2 miles from cousin Ken’s home and 6 miles from cousin Martha’s home.



I cooked sourdough pancakes for the group one morning at our motor home.

Here I am frying bacon to provide more flavor for the pancakes.

Linda Strong and her Miata are behind me.


Come and get ‘em!


And here are the eager eaters – Ken, Martha, Linda and Jo.




That afternoon  Martha took us, and some friends, on a tour of a few of the chain of lakes around Eagle River in her nice pontoon boat.

Left to right, Martha, Ken Strong, Ray and Gail Cress  and Jo.


Our first point of interest was the dam upstream from Martha’s home.  Rather than to provide a lock to raise and lower boats, below is a part of the boat lift which is basically an elevator on rails.



The partially obscured boat lift is the yellow structure.



On our ride around the lakes, we met the ‘Pirate Ship” tour boat.



Friday night we took Martha to the fish fry at Bucktale Inn. She suggested that I buy the shirt I am wearing to “Keep Eagle River Green”.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


The conservancy posted signs along the walk to the sunflower field to educate the visitors about the common crops grown in the area. Others gave a brief history of ancient animals living in Wisconsin and of glaciers.



Winter wheat is explained here, with a backdrop of a field of winter wheat (after harvesting) below.




The origin of corn is explained here, posted in front of a corn field.

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We have heard that if one corn plant has two ears, there will be a great harvest. One of the stalks above  has two nicely developing ears and another ear is forming.



This sign explains the animals found in Wisconsin during the ice age.




These signs explain moraines formed by glaciers and the areas of  glaciations in Wisconsin.





An article in the Milwaukee Journal alerted Wisconsinites that there was a field of sunflowers in bloom near Middleton WI. On August 6 we gladly joined Dale and Mary Graves check it out. When we arrived, men were on hand to direct the visitors to parking lots. We had to go to the overflow lot. Mary and I walked the long way up to the field. Once there we saw where senior citizens were allowed to drive close to the field and so all of us could ride up there in the car.


Here is the star of the show.



Above is the field as viewed while standing on a convenient picnic table.



Mary Graves is at the right taking advantage of the better camera station. 



Trees and an ancient stone fence provided a nice spot for spectators to rest and picnic.



Here Dale Graves is getting a closeup of a flower.



Visits to Beloit WI, Madison WI and Rockford IL

My uncle Jay G Black opened his optometry practice in Loves Park IL about 1948. He moved the practice into the building shown below, and his son, Jay Charles Black continues the practice there. (Sorry that the pictures are fuzzy. Maybe this camera is worn out!)



Cousins J. Charles Black, above, and Rosy Eckhardt and husband Gene, below  joined us for lunch at the Swedish Inn in  Rockford





Here are the three cousins outside the restaurant. My tee shirt reads:

I am not 80

I am 79.9.




The statement then was true.



We parked the motor home at the Hanewalls farmstead near Beloit again this year.  Next to the granary is a great place to park.



Peter had this nice pond built in a low spot across the road from their home. It makes a very pleasant place to sit and  talk while the sun is going down.




Madison nostalgia tour

This is the home at 834 High Street in Madison where our little family lived until my father died in 1938. Info on the net says that is under 1000 square feet and has two bedrooms and one bathroom. I do not recall much about its interior.


And this is the home in Madison where my aunt and uncle Lucy and Glenn Groesbeck lived from the late 1930s until the 1990s