St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Polk Men's Discussion Group tours hyrdroponic greenhouse

We took a tour of the nearby tomato greenhouse.  Pretty intersting. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fire near the Lake

h 30th a forest fire broke out on the Sterling Barrens about 3 miles west of the Lake.  It burned about 150 acres on a very windy dry spring day.  The first picture shows the pumper backed into Trade River, used to fill the fire truck tankers with water. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lake Ice off--earliest yet!

The lake opened the earliest ever in my memory on March 28th
(average is April 15th). There were a few hundred smaller panfish
that didn't make it through the winter, floating to the top as the ice
melted--a slightly larger than normal winter fish kill. On the 28th,
there were 14 bald eagles, countless gulls and crows all doing spring
cleaning to clear fish, floating just under the thin remaining ice.
The sap run has been early and so far an average year. The warm up we
are having this week is likely to end the season. Mom planted peas,
radishes and lettuce in the garden for the first time in March this
year. I am afraid trappers may have gotten the beaver family, as I
see no signs of them this spring around their house. The pair of
trumpeter swans claimed the lake three weeks ago. Over all it looks
like Spring is about three weeks ahead of time. My neighbor tells me
"these early springs and dry weather are Al Gore's fault--he and his
global warming hooey. If he'd shut up, things would get back to
normal." Margo and son Scott are making the sap collecting easy for me
as I get my leg back functioning again. I have what Margo call's a
"Walter Brennan limp."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Warmest March in my memory

We have about half of our maple syrup taps out as of yesterday. The sap is running just a little--has been too warm. The snow is all gone. The lake looks like it will be open within two days. The earliest it has opened before in my memory is the last day of March. Normal is about April 15-20th.
The St Croix River is open far below Nevers Dam area. The channel is choked with ice several miles above the power dam in St. Croix Falls--broken ice at the Lion's club part with solid ice the last 1/2 mile to the dam. With two 60 degree day's coming, I would guess the river will clear by Friday and the lake will open.
It has been beautiful weather having April in March--but not good maple weather yet. Forecast is to cool back down to 40s and 20s next week so that should get the sap running.
Mom saw her first 3 robins today.
I am getting around on my leg, broken 4 months ago, OK. Not smoothly, but OK.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Maple Syrup Season Begins

We are back to WI at the lake and ready to tap maples. There is hardly any snow left here--muddy and wet, but the ground clear. The bald eagle was feeding at the spring where a small opening in the lake ice shows lots of small fish dead from the winter. This is normal--they come up into the spring to get more oxygen and many die. We won't know if there was a bigger fish kill until the lake begins to open up.
Where the creek runs into the lake is also a small open pond area. A pair of trumpeter swans have moved in and are claiming the lake already. Probably the pair that stayed here last year.
I tapped one tree this morning and it is just barely dripping. We will tap a bunch more tomorrow.

Cooking the sap

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Back in MN -- trip over

After a lot of fog through Iowa, causing us to stay at Clear Lake overnight, we made it home on March 10th. Lots of fog in MN and lots of snow left here too--mostly white yet with a foot or more. It is supposed to be rainy and wet through the weekend. We head to WI to open the cabin on Friday and tap maples on the weekend if the weather is OK. In NW WI there is supposed to be less snow.
Probably should have stayed south another few days and let the snow disappear! It was a nice trip and my goal of walking on my formerly broken leg is mostly accomplished.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Headed home Monday. Got to Branson and stayed overnight. About 550 miles to get to Pine Island today.

Margo spent part of the week earning some money collecting Spanish Moss from the alligator infested bayous and hanging it at Chicot Park to improve the scenery for tourists!

Staying with full hookups in Louisiana State Parks was $8 per night with our Senior Pass (Federal card). Very good deal!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Winding down

We are at Lake Clairborne State Park in Northern LA. Very nice last two days -- mids 60s and sunny. We probably will stay until Monday and then head back to MN. The temperatures at the maple sugarbush in WI are hitting 40s and 50s and getting me ready to get up there and tap in case the season is early this year. Margo would like to stay longer, but having made syrup for so many years, I know that the whole season can be done by the end of March some years.

Probably drive to Branson on Monday and then on home on Tuesday and to WI on Wednesday if all goes well.

We have been gone since Feb 19th so will be about 3 weeks when we get back.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 14: Margo's Anniversary and a Cajun Singer

Ron Keddy sings a Cajun song

March 4: Day 14 Margo's 38th Anniversary
To celebrate 38 years of being married, we went into town and had a Cajun special lunch at Cafe La Salle. It included shrimp gumbo and rice as the appetizer, crawfish, oysters, little shrimp, big shrimp, catfish, shrimp etouffe, rice, fries, onion rings and garlic bread. After the appetizer, we were both pretty full, but as it was our anniversary and the restaurant owner wanted us to have the best; we ate our way through everything! It was delicious. We managed to crawl out to our car and go back to the camper and take a nap.
Our new campers across the lane came in last night. Ron and Ceil Keddy from about 40 miles away. He is a Cajun--didn't speak English until he learned it in school. He invited us over in the later afternoon to sing a anniversary Cajun song. He sang a few more too. The video above is one that most of you have heard before.
Very sunny nice day. We are headed out tomorrow for a park along the northern border of LA for another week before heading home. Brother Everett tapped a couple of maples and said they dripped a little. Son Scott says the snow is melting in Pine Island!
Nice day here! Still full. The Cajuns are really nice people!

March 3,4 Gambling and Tabasco

Gulf of Mexico fishing boat

Tabasco bottling at Avery Island LA

Resurrection fern growing on a Live Oak Tree

March 2,3: Gambling and Music

We took two long day drives; one north to Alexandria and the other south to the coast on Tuesday and Wednesday. To the north we found nothing too much but woods. We did stop at one of the many local “casinos,” the name given to small extensions to gas stations where there are video gambling machines. We tried video poker, but the games were totally rigged in favor of the casino. You couldn’t win at poker without 3 of a kind (not even 2 pair), and then only get your money back. We used the 5 cent machines so spent only $6 to get an hour of entertainment and second hand smoke!

Wednesday we went south and stopped at the Cajun music hall of fame. All the musicians who had been chosen and pictures and biographies on the wall. Lots of old fiddles, accordions and a very nice woman tour guide told us about the history of Cajun music (the music from the white French settlers) versus Creole (Black) music and Zydeco, a more modern version of Creole.

We also went to Avery Island, a salt dome hill in the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. Genuine Tabasco pepper sauce is made there in the Tabasco factory since 1868. They grow peppers on the island, mine salt there and have a huge factory to make the stuff. The whole area smelled pleasantly of Tabasco!

Lots of oil wells along the coast. Some of the running and others not. Most of the activity is in the Gulf with oil drilling platforms in the ocean.

March 4th: Our 38th Anniversary! We plan to try Crawfish for lunch!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 11: Raining and Reading

Monday Day 11:

photo of 1995 Buick Roadmaster and popup trailer taken in southern MO day 2, no snow!

It rained and rained all day and into the night. We took a long drive north to Alexandria and around mostly through pine and hardwood swamp/forests. Came back to the camper in the afternoon, turned on the heater and we read while the rain pounded on the canvas roof. Very relaxing!

We see lots of robins here, especially after the rains. The rice and crawfish fields have lots of white egrets and ducks. Many of the same birds you see in the spring in WI/MN are here now. The cardinals are singing each morning and are thick too.

The campers who moved in for the weekend all left and we are again on our own in the park. I think we will move on tomorrow too--find another place to explore. Maybe down to the ocean--about 60 miles south.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Class of 1965

St. Croix Falls


Its time for our 45th class reunion! Activities are being
planned to coincide with Wannigan Days.

Date, Location & Time: Saturday,

July 17th, 2010, at the Dresser Pizzeria (Hwy 35), social hour beginning at 5:00 pm, dinner to follow.

Cost per person: $20.00 buffet dinner ( non alcoholic beverages and dessert included). Beer and wine

can be purchased separately.

A casual get-together is also planned for Friday, July 17th, at Indian Creek Orchard Winery & Grill (next to Tangens) at 6:00 pm. Alumni can order off the menu or just have a drink and then attend Wannigan
Days activities.

Tee times will be available for golf at St. Croix Valley Golf Course on Saturday morning, July 16th, starting at l0:00 am for those interested.

Please complete the following (even if you cannot attend) and return it to us by April 17th, 2010 . Enclose check payable to: Class of 65 Reunion Committee, Gordy Peterson, 2004 110th Ave, Dresser, Wi 54009.
Also, let us know if you can come Friday night (yes___no___) and Saturday or golf (yes___no___). Write on back if extra space is needed. We really want to hear from you!

Name, Address, E-mail address, Phone Number:

Spouse, Children, Grandchildren:

Most Unforgettable Moment at SCF HS:

Tell Us About Yourself:

Invite anyone you see from other classes to come and reminisce with us. They can join us for any part of the reunion and if they would like to come on Saturday night, just have them send reservation and $20.00 per person to Gordy.

Any questions, call: Gary Harlander, 651-437-6363,

Gordy Peterson, 715-755-2644,

Jerry Pieper, 715-294-3836,

Donna Witasek, 715-557-0693,

Day 10: Canadians and a Zydeco Band

Sunday –Day 10

Last night a couple parked across the road from us and set up their tent. The evening was nice with an almost full moon in the clear sky and temperatures still in the 50s after hitting 60 during the day.

After the neighbors were settled in, I strolled over and introduced myself. They were Martin and Donna from Nova Scotia, Canada. They invited us to sit down and visit.

“We are slowly coming back from having spent some of the winter in Mexico.” Of course, I had to know more so I ask them about it.

“We parked our van in McAllen Texas, and then took busses to travel around in Mexico. We had a travel guide, but stayed away from the normal tourist sites and the big cities. We like the smaller towns. We didn’t plan ahead to get a room—there were always rooms available at the hotels in town. Nice ones for low cost. “

“Weren’t you nervous about robbers?”

“No, it’s like in a big city—travel in the daytime and on the normal buses and you get along fine. The Mexican people are very nice and eager to help out. You don’t need to know Spanish to get along, although it is nice to be able to speak some. We pick a destination and take the bus and find a room and stay for as long as we like. There are a lot of Canadians, Americans and especially Europeans traveling around Mexico in he winter.”

We visited a little more before I asked, “so, how is the Canadian medical system for you?”

“Excellent!” We never have to pay for anything and we have always gotten treatment right away including for our parents when they got old. It does cost us from our Province sales tax. Each Province is required to provide health care for the people and has the choice of how to do it, but must cover a set of items. In Nova Scotia there is a 14% sales tax, 7% goes for our health care costs. We don’t pay for anything and are really pleased with the care we get, and our friends and relatives. When my mother fell and broke her arm, she was in the hospital for 6 weeks and scheduled to come home. When I told them that I couldn’t get things ready for another week, they kept her until I was ready. “

“There are some private pay options if you have money. You can pay to see a doctor on his private time and get some things that might be questionable to get done right away, so rich people don’t get too bothered—they can buy instant optional treatments. Any thing that is pressing, like my friend’s colon cancer is treated immediately—she had her diagnois on Wednesday her surgery on Monday and was back home by the end of the week—looks like she is cured, and she was 84 years old.”

Martin said “our son is in Boston working as a highway engineer (Martin was born in the USA and moved to Canada in the 1970s). He tells me about the problems getting health care in the US when he got layed off for a few months. He thought he would have to come back to Canada if he had any health problems or he would go broke.”

We made breakfast ourselves. Toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, but not grits. Excellent!

Decided to make a tourist day of it by going south to Lafayette and visiting the Cajun center and the nearby historic village.

At the Cajun center viewed two 15 minute movies. The first was on he Cajuns (Acadian) history from their move from France to Nova Scotia (Acadia) and the ongoing battles between British and French, their relocation south etc. The second was about the history of part of the bayou where floods made a local town disappear. Pretty good.

Then we went for a long walk between buildings on the reconstructed village next door. Lots of old buildings to look through and a live Zydeco band playing with people dancing. We are trying to distinguish between Zydeco, Creole and Cajun music and their histories. It appears that if the band is black and has a washboard instrument, it is Zydeco or Creole. If it is white and loaded with fiddles and accordians it is probably Cajun. Both have accordians as their main instrument. The music was very loud and lots of dancing--sort of waltzes and maybe 2-steps?

It got up to 70 degrees and felt almost uncomfortable! A few mosquitoes started finding their way in the camper.