Celebrations & Catching the Big One

Celebrations & Catching the Big One

Some weeks are more eventful than others, and this past week was one for the books. First, three out of the four of us celebrated a birthday. So of course, there had to be festivities.

And what’s a birthday celebration without plenty of tasty food and fine spirits to toast to another year?

Fine food and drinks

I’m not sure where the time has gone, but all four of us fall into that “senior” category and considered to be in the last quarter of our lives. Eek! That sounds eerie, doesn’t it? So when ya put it into that light, we might as well live it up and throw any thought of diet or restrictions out the window. Right? Bring it on!

Inspiration

Despite all the negative happenings centered around 2020, Al and I have been enjoying a fantastic summer staying on family property, and having a ‘real’ house at our disposal.

mist on a lake with lily pads in the foregroundA real kitchen, a real shower, and a big-screen TV with cable have been huge bonuses.

I’ve been able to watch the Food Network to my heart’s desire which has led to lots of experiments in the kitchen … in both the RV and the sister’s house.

Some recipes have turned out better than others, but there hasn’t been any out and out fails.

There’s something about watching one of my favorite personalities cook (or bake) that inspires me to get in my own kitchen. Believe me, I need all the motivation I can get!

Oh, and I’ve been banned from watching HGTV after trying to talk my husband into doing a complete remodel on the RV … back to that inspiration thing. ūü•ī Little does he know, there’s still Pinterest and Instagram that keep those remodeling ideas alive in my head. Shh, that’ll be our secret!

With new-found cooking inspiration, for Steve’s big day (Al’s sister’s husband), I made filet mignon cooked to perfection in a cast-iron skillet, a Ceasar salad made with homemade dressing, and a side of my version of focaccia bread. Dessert consisted of my favorite chocolate cupcakes drizzled with chocolate liqueur and whip cream. Yum!

While I made a fantastic meal and dessert for my brother-in-law’s birthday, we went out to brunch to celebrate my own birthday. Over the river creek and through the woods, we arrived at the Garmisch Inn located along the shores of Lake Namekagon. Good food, great view, wonderful company … a gal can’t ask for much more!

The fun didn’t end with brunch. The weather was perfect for a boat ride. So when we returned home, we hopped on the pontoon boat for a spin around the lakes and a little fresh air and sunshine. Later in the day, I made my favorite Sloppy Joe’s and Margarita’s, followed by more Margarita’s around a campfire.¬† #LifeisGood

The third birthday occurred at the end of the week. The festivities continued as we celebrated Al’s sister’s birthday. We started off the day with a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, cinnamon toast, and Bloody Mary’s followed by a boat ride. For an early dinner, I made Chicken Marsala, Buttered Egg Noodles, Ceasar Salad (by request), and herb topped dinner rolls. Al popped the cork on some sparkling Prosecco as we toasted to another year and another great summer spent hanging out together.

The day was topped off around a toasty campfire while indulging in my homemade apple crisp and spiked hot cocoa. We are definitely into fall weather. So the hot chocolate was the perfect way to end a great day.

Catching the Big One

Birthday cheers … eating, drinking, boating, and campfires weren’t the only events of the week. Although Al and Steve get out on Teal Lake fishing regularly and do routinely catch fish, they recently enjoyed a very special and rare fishing outing.

My husband had a once in a lifetime experience earlier in the week during an evening of fishing. He caught his biggest fish ever; a 42 inch, 24 pound, Musky. Al is still beaming. According to fishing guide Steve, aka brother-in-law, this Musky was trophy size (especially for this small Hayward lake) and many an angler spends a lifetime trying to catch such a Musky. For the serious and tournament anglers, they choose to try their Musky luck on Wisconsin’s third-largest lake located a mere fifteen minutes away from the family property; Lake Chippewa Flowage.

Al catches a trophy size Musky

And this was Al’s first-time Musky fishing. Beginners luck! Al usually focuses on fishing for Bass, Walleye, or Crappie… the good eating fish. He has never been one to trophy fish.

Happy Birthday to me and congratulations to Al.

So what does one do when they catch such a fish as a Musky? You snap lots of photos, take measurements, and do so quickly. Then you gently lower this freshwater shark back into the water and massage/revive the fish.

Once he starts fighting and you know he’s fine, you let him loose. “Be safe Mr. Musky and go make more Musky’s”.

These days, you never ever keep the fish. First, Musky doesn’t taste good, and second, for those wanting the wall hanger, you provide a taxidermist with the measurements and photos and a plastic replica is made.

If an angler did show up at a taxidermist with the real fish, the angler would be thoroughly chastised for his selfish stupidity. “Not cool, dude. It’s catch and release“. BTW – there won’t be any wall hanger in this RV, and that’s okay. Al is quite content with his Musky photo screen saver.

The summer is wrapping up!

With the cool air blowing in and the leaves beginning to change color, it’s time for Al and me to think about our migration south. But not so fast! I have my camera batteries charged and waiting at the ready for fall colors. I have a few day trips planned to capture that beautiful autumn foliage … fingers crossed! ūü§ě

For my birthday, I received more cooking inspiration. These are¬†affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support‚̧.

Valerie’s Home Cooking: More than 100 Delicious Recipes to Share with Friends and Family
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime – Comfort Classics
Porcelain Tea Pot – Loose Leaf Teapot

A Week in the Life

A Week in the Life

My daughter flew into town last week (July 25th) for some fun at the lake. She had two goals on her list that she wanted to accomplish during her vacation visit. One was fishing with her dad … a first. And two was blueberry picking with her mom (me), another first.

During her visit to northern Wisconsin last year, she arrived at the end of the blueberry season which she found a little disappointing. So, she made sure to schedule this trip with the blueberry season in mind and she wasn’t disappointed.

blueberry picking in northern Wisconsin

Where to go blueberry picking.

Bayfield, Wisconsin, is famously known as the Gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, but it’s also considered the Berry Capital of the state. Bayfield‚Äôs local agriculture produces some of the largest crops of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries in the Midwest. The rolling hills, lush vegetation, and beautiful Lake Superior shoreline make visiting this part of northern Wisconsin well worth the out of the way drive.

a hand picking blueberries

Mid-week, Ashton and I hopped in the truck and took the hour and a half drive up to Bayfield for a morning of blueberry picking. I took her to my favorite fruit farm; Blue Vista Farm. I’m in love with this property and barn and try to visit at least a couple of times each summer.

Blue Vista Farm, Bayfield, Wisconsin

The weather was gorgeous and the bushes were covered in berries and ripe for the picking. We picked lots of blueberries. Quite frankly, more than I’d have room for in the RV. Thank goodness my sister-in-law has an extra freezer for us to use. However, Ashton was quick to check with me that I’d have plenty of room in my little RV freezer to haul her five pounds of freshly picked berries back to Phoenix on our return this fall. I assured her that my Tetris skills were such that that wouldn’t be a problem.

young gal fishing on a pristine lake

Fishing with her dad

Ashton bought a four-day fishing license and certainly made the most of it. She and Al along with Al’s brother-in-law had their fishing poles in the water regularly. There were some successes and some failures, but enjoyable moments for sure. Ashton had a great time fishing and already looks forward to doing it again. However, she’d prefer daddy to handle any fish she catches ūüėéūüźüūüé£ They feel slimy, ya know!

During the middle of the day when the weather was too warm for fishing, we’d take the boat out for a ride and sometimes pull up to an island and splash in the water.

Other times, we were in the mood to paddle. Al and I will occasionally take the canoe out … something he and I hadn’t done in many, many years. This year, I kayaked for the first time and immediately fell in love with it. Hmm, do you think I can talk him into getting kayaks when we’re back in Phoenix?

Me in the kayak and Ashton on the SUP

Wildlife sightings!

In addition to all the fun activities we did during the week, Ashton also saw some wildlife. Of course, while visiting this part of the country, my favorite sightings and sounds are the Loons. I haven’t been able to capture any nice photos of them this year, but I was thrilled, as were Ashton and Al, with seeing this Loon family.

We’ve also seen two nesting bald eagle families at opposite ends of the lake. All I can say is those juvenile eagles sure do squawk a lot. And I thought a colicky baby was bad ūü•ī

Mama eagle didn’t like us paddling in her territory. She had some fishing to do considering baby eagle kept squawking and wanted to be fed.

We also saw a deer swim, a coyote swim, an otter with a fish in its mouth swim by the boat along with several Great Blue Heron sightings.

Great Blue Heron in flight

It was a fun week … over way too soon. We lucked out with fantastic weather during Ashton’s visit and another first for her was taking a boat to go out to dinner. One of the resorts on the lake serves up a great burger and onion rings. Why take the truck out to dinner when you can take the boat?

We drove Ashton back to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport yesterday and bid her farewell. We already miss her. And now it’s back to lake life as usual.

Despite all the restrictions, I hope you’re enjoying your summer as much as we are and that you’re able to spend a little time with family. We all need moments with our loved ones, especially these days.

 

Encounter with a Game Warden

Encounter with a Game Warden

The¬†RVers were¬†quarantined in their snug little¬†homes, while visions of travel danced in their heads …

“Okay Ingrid, snap out of it”. I do believe the soaring 100 degree plus Fahrenheit temps in Phoenix, Arizona, have caused something to dance in my head, or is it the increase in consumption of brownies and alcohol? ūü§ę Staying housebound in a tiny home, aka RV, during the Phoenix hot season is obviously not an ideal scenario.

Weather is temperamental

April is always an interesting month for the weather. The changing of seasons is rarely gradual. When we lived in Colorado, April always found winter making at least one final appearance by dumping a boatload of snow just when we were ready to welcome spring. It’s as if winter is talking to spring and saying, “Ah ah, not so fast”.

But it’s a dry heat! ūü§™

It’s somewhat similar here in the desert southwest, but instead of cold, it’s heat. Sometime in April, the weather warns us of the impending summer heat by sending us those soaring hot temps. We’ll get a reprieve (hopefully) before real summer sets in. Last year, we enjoyed lovely weather in May, but so far this first week in May is not looking promising for any kind of break from the soaring temps. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out. Let’s face it, so far 2020 isn’t playing nice. So I don’t have high expectations for anything these days.

With that said, it’s that time of year in the desert southwest when those that can do and those that can’t suffer.

I’m talking about hitting the road and escaping the desert heat. Fortunately, we fall into the lucky category where we get to leave Phoenix for the entire summer.

Others will try and get a reprieve on weekends by traveling either up to northern Arizona or to the White Mountains in eastern Arizona where temperatures can easily drop by at least 20 degrees.

Our plan is to endure the Phoenix weather until the end of May and then hightail it up to northern Wisconsin to stay on Al’s sister’s property. We stayed there last year but took a little over three weeks to drive the 1,900 miles. This time around, Al has fishing on the brain and just wants to get there asap, plus with this whole pandemic thing, it’s probably best not to meander. Beam me up, Scotty!

I don’t think anyone could’ve envisioned something like a pandemic shutting down the country and impacting our freedom to travel, but I think it’ll be okay for us to drive to Al’s sister’s place by the end of May. However, we will be cautious on our drive there and reconsider doing any further excursions this summer once settled on private property. I had a list of places in Michigan’s Upper Pennisula that I wanted to visit, not to mention returning to the north shore of Lake Superior. Time will tell how it’ll all play out this summer!

Guest post

For those of us living a nomadic lifestyle, we’ve had to rethink our travel plans and some nomads have needed to do some serious scrambling just to find suitable accommodations to abide by the ‘stay at home / shelter in place’ orders. Sue and Dave over at Travel Tales of Life have recently written a series of blog posts showcasing folks from around the world and how the pandemic has impacted their lives personally. I was honored to be asked to be a guest writer. You can check out their blog here.

Back to visions dancing in my head

So with visions of Wisconsin dancing in my head, I thought I’d share a lake tale with you …

Reflections in a lake in northern Wisconsin, boat at a dock on a lake

Ingrid and the Game Warden

It was a beautiful summer day in northern Wisconsin. Al had spent the better part of the morning on the boat fishing. After several hours of fishing, he returned home to take a nap.

Considering it was such a lovely day and the lake looked so inviting, while Al napped, I decided to take the boat out. I motored out a short distance to a quiet bay, dropped the anchor, and began reading my book. “Ah, this is the life!”

While turning a page, I glanced up at the approaching boat which appeared to be a Game Warden. He pulls up alongside my boat and says, “Good morning, Ma’am, what are you doing”?

“Reading a book”, I replied, (thinking to myself, “isn’t that obvious”?)
The Game Warden informs me, “You’re in a Restricted Fishing Area”.

In a very polite voice, I responded, “I’m sorry officer, but I’m not fishing, I’m reading”.
“Yes, but you have all the equipment. So, I’ll have to write you up a ticket”.

“For reading a book?”, I asked quizzically.
“You’re in a Restricted Fishing Area, Ma’am”, he says rather matter of factly.

Somewhat exasperated, I stated once again, “Sir, I’m not fishing, I’m reading”.
“Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I’ll have to write you up a ticket and you’ll have to pay a fine.”

“If you do that, I’ll have to charge you with sexual assault,” I responded.
“But I haven’t even touched you”, explained the Game Warden.
“That’s true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment”.

“Have a nice day ma’am”, he responded and quickly motored away.

campfire
Tales around a campfire!

So maybe this didn’t actually happen in real life, but it could’ve.ūü§£

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It’s likely she can also think.

I hope you enjoyed a little chuckle and you all are having a great day and staying healthy. And although we may have to rethink our travels and possibly make new plans for the summer, we’ll get through this challenging time and may even discover new hobbies in the process. Cyber hugs!

a canoe on a lake at sunset

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Things to do in Rockport

After a fantastic two month stay along the Texas Gulf Coast, we’ve hitched up and started our journey back to the desert.¬† I love having the¬†freedom to split¬†our time between two such diverse places; the Texas Gulf Coast and the Arizona¬†desert. I’m¬†grateful I don’t have to pick one or the other because each place offers something special and unique.

St. Charles Bay
Sunrise over St. Charles Bay, Texas

First, let’s talk about the water.¬† Gosh, what’s not to like about water, beaches,¬†and sunsets, or in my case, sunrises!¬† All this water is the main attraction and the reason folks year round flock to the Rockport¬†area.

Copano Bay
Rockport is popular with anglers

Rockport BeachYou won’t find much of a beach scene around Rockport/Fulton, but it is an anglers delight.¬† For miles of sandy beach, you’ll want to visit Mustang Island.¬† With that said,¬†there is¬†a small stretch of sandy beach to enjoy at the ¬†Rockport Beach.

The Rockport Beach is a one mile long strip of land with sandy beach on one side of the road and a¬†migratory¬†bird area¬†on the other side.¬† This is a fee use area and you’ll¬†need to leave pooch at home.

There’s a small¬†area roped off¬†so nesting birds won’t be disturbed, making this a worthwhile stop for¬†birders and photographers.¬† It’s also the perfect place to get in a little kayaking and paddle around an island¬†to view¬†nesting migratory birds.great blue heron

Although summer is considered peak tourist season, you’ll find plenty of snowbirds in the winter hanging¬†around and calling themselves winter Texans…. us included.

friendship
Having friends over to our place.

Because this is such a popular place to escape the harsher weather to the north, you never know who you’ll run into around here.¬† Our friends, Faye and Dave, were wintering on Mustang Island, an easy one-hour drive away from our camp and we¬†enjoyed a few get togethers with this entertaining couple.¬† We also managed to squeeze in a few other social engagements.

friendship
And then a get together at their place on Mustang Island.  Faye and Dave on the left.  Al and me on the right

This was our fourth¬†year spending January¬†in this part of Texas¬†and our first time spending February.¬† Thus, I’ve had¬†time¬†to¬†put a dent in¬†this list –¬† 51 things to do near Rockport.

Fulton, TexasRockport/Fulton are quaint, small town communities where everyone waves.¬† You won’t find any high-rise condos around here, although it is a very popular spot for folks from the big cities of San Antonio, Austin, and Houston to own second homes.¬† There’s also no shortage of RV Parks.

roseateThe original draw for us four years ago to visit the Texas Gulf Coast was for Al to meet up with his buddy and do manly things with manly men ūüėȬ† Little did I realize during that first visit, how I’d come to embrace and relish our visits to the Texas Gulf Coast.

And now it’s a toss-up as to¬†which one of us looks more forward to these visits.¬† Thankfully it doesn’t matter considering we’re in full agreement¬†that we’ll continue returning until it no longer fits.

Fishing and hunting is extremely popular round these parts.  We usually roll into town sometime during the last week in December which happens to be duck season.

duck hunting
Duck hunters know how to treat their dogs. Dog gets its own seat, wears a life vest and ear protection.
One hunter says to the other, can I borrow …. truck yes, wife maybe, dog never!

The airboats can be heard going out every morning starting around 5:30 a.m.  Once the Christmas/New Year holiday week is over, the morning noise lightens up during the oyster boatweekday but continues in a steady stream on weekends.  By the end of January, duck season is over and the only airboats going out are anglers and they tend to go out at a much more reasonable hour.

The St. Charles Bay can be rather shallow which is why airboats are so popular.  But during certain tides, the sight of oyster boats are common.  Oyster fishing is huge business around here and the first weekend in March is the Oyster Festival.

A lot of anglers fish from shore or don chest waders and fish while standing in the water.  There are public duck blinds for anyone to use on a first come basis for duck hunting during the season.

duck hunting
These two hunters are wading out to a public blind.  St. Charles Bay, Lamar, Texas.  Oyster boats in the distance.
whooping cranes
There’s a public duck blind in the water above the left crane and arrow sign

Texans love their outdoor recreation.  Allow me to share my winter Texas neighborhood along with the diverse activities taking place within relative close proximity to one another.  AND everyone gets along, respecting recreational choice.

I alternate between walking and riding my bike around the neighborhood.  Envision me having a Julia Roberts moment Рa scene from the movie Eat, Pray, Love.  There I am Light at the end of the tunnelriding my three speed bicycle with a cute basket on the front (gotta have the basket, you know), camera slung across my body. As I pedal slowly, I glide down the tree-lined road.

My long flowing hair blows gently in the breeze (in reality the¬†uncontrollable curly¬†frizz is tightly bound and tucked under a cap¬†in a battle against the extreme humidity and gusting winds ūüėĖ).¬† I take in the sights and wave to passerby’s.¬† As I exit the trees, I’m greeted by the expanse of the bay in the distance.¬† Further down 8th Street, I see several cars parked along the road.¬† The endangered whooping cranes can be seen in the field¬†along with my favorite Brahma calf and a slew of other birds can be seen¬†mingling¬†near a¬†pond.Texas Gulf CoastOf course, I too stop and start taking photographs (duh! like I’d pass up a chance to work that shutter).¬† Folks from around the country and the world visit this part of Texas for the birding.¬† Seeing¬†a family of¬†endangered whooping cranes is a rare and special treat.

Kayaking anyone? He launches at the end of 12th St. and Lamar Beach Road
Truck guy launches kayak at the end of 12th St. and Lamar Beach Road while whooping crane family looks on.  These birds are used to the flurry of activity, but they still stay far away Р600mm zoom and crop
A little later and you can see the green kayak in the water
A little later, you can see the green kayak in the water

There’s several of us lined up along the fence taking photographs of the whooping cranes.¬† Locals and visitors a like engage in idle chit-chat.¬† The loud boom, boom, bang, bang in the distance has a visitor questioning what the noise was. I, considered a winter local, along with another local dweller, exclaim nonchalantly, “Oh, those are the duck hunters in that blind out in the bay”.¬† With that said, we were back to our photo taking and chit-chatting about the birds.Rockport Texas

After snapping the camera’s shutter one too many times, I continue my bike ride along Lamar Beach Road. ¬†I ride¬†by several fishermen enjoying the day.¬† A kayaker in the bay was off paddling¬†while the duck hunters were gathering up¬†their decoys.¬† I¬†roll by¬†pedestrians and¬†other bikers and regardless of who I pass, hellos and waves¬†are exchanged as if we know one another.

Pelican
Pelicans act like begging dogs at the fish cleaning station at Goose Island State Park.

A short time later, I’m pedaling around Goose Island State Park.¬† Although the shore birding around the park can be hit¬†or miss, I can always count on pelicans to entertain me, especially if there’s someone cleaning fish at the cleaning station.

Pelican eating fish
Who needs a human when I can catch my own! ISO 100 F4.0 1/1000  (600mm)
Boat & RV left side-This is our 82 yr old neighbor who is an avid fisherman. He launches, docks, does everything himself and never gets his feet wet! Winters here and spends summers in Montana
Boat & RV left side-This is our 82 yr old neighbor who is an avid fisherman. He launches, docks, does everything himself and never gets his feet wet! He winters here and spends summers in Montana.

Let’s see, so far I’ve biked around the neighborhood.¬† I’ve taken hundreds, actually more like thousands, of bird photographs.¬† I’ve¬†also enjoyed photographing interesting sights and¬†amazing landscapes.

foggy morning
a foggy morning along the coast had me out of the RV by 7:00 a.m.
spider web
a foggy morning provided mystery and interest
marina
marinas offer tons of photographic material – lots of interesting things to see

I can’t forget to mention, a visit to¬†a marina shouldn’t be missed.¬† There’s so much great blue heroncharacter and intrigue to see.¬† Or how about doing a little shopping¬†at Rockport’s historic downtown or touring an art gallery or two. This gal always manages to work in¬†a few¬†days of frivolous shopping.

On a rainy day, I get a kick out of¬†visiting gift shops and checking out the crazy souvenirs. Who thinks up these things, and who buys it? ūüėȬ† Oops – guilty!

Here’s a write-up I did last year sharing a few more¬†sites like the Fulton Mansion.seashells

Hmm, I¬†might write up one¬†more post about the Texas Gulf Coast and then we need to move on.¬† Ah yes, I already miss her…. miss the water and the birds and look forward to¬†returning at the end of the year.¬† But the desert is calling.¬† The desert in bloom can’t be missed!Texas Gulf Coast

Browning Neoprene Dog Waterfowl Hunting Vest, RTM4,M 1303002202 Medium

 

Sougayilang Boot-Foot Chest Waders Waterproof Fishing Hunting Boot Waders (12.5)

 

 

Birding Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend: More Than 75 Prime Birding Sites (Birding Series)