Monday, November 30, 2009

Theme Day - Waiting: Turkey Blind

This heap of what looked to be a giant block of hay first appeared around September in a nearby field. I've since learned it's a turkey blind - a small inner tent that is surround by hay, which is supported by sticks. Hunters can hide inside and shoot any hapless birds that wander by. Which is pretty likely, since this is the area where I've seen lots of turkey in the past.

But the key is patience...and lots of waiting.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Welcome to Milwaukee

We visited the new Amtrak station in downtown Milwaukee last week to pick up our in-laws, who were visiting from La Crosse for the Thanksgiving holiday. The view above shows the west exit of the station looking north at the Milwaukee skyline. Both Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses are serviced at this location. The view below shows a stylized "2D" Greyhound sculpture hanging above the attendants' counter, complete with a wreath for the Christmas holidays ahead.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rusted Farm Implement

Saw this tucked back in an overgrown field during our walk the other day. Not sure what it is, but it appears to be a very old horse-drawn combine or harvester of some sort.

Friday, November 27, 2009

SkyWatch Friday: November Sunset

This sunset was taken while hiking last weekend on the Ryan Road trails. There was a slight haze to the air, which gave the sky a peachy color - a nice contrast against the bare trees.

See all SkyWatch Friday entries here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wild Apples

During a recent hike on the Ryan Road trails, we came across this gnarly old apple tree. It was still covered with pretty red apples, even though the leaves had fallen. The ground surrounding the tree was also covered with hundreds of dropped apples. I'll be making an apple pie for Thanksgiving, but not with these! I still have some from our last trip to La Crescent, MN - the "apple capital" of Minnesota.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Attack of the 12 Ft. Turkey

Another one of those "blow-up" yard decorations in our neighborhood features this colorful, googley-eyed turkey disguised as a Pilgrim. I'm sure he will keep the real ones at bay until after Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Skywatch Friday: Weeping Willow

The sky and several distant condos are reflected in the reservoir next to this golden weeping willow tree at the edge of Cecilia Drive.

See more SkyWatch Friday entries here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

US Mail

One of the stone creatures surrounding the Asiana Restaurant on Capitol Drive is this giant eagle, who is guarding the mailbox.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


One of the newer restaurants in our area, Asiana, offers an Asian/fusion menu. This huge place rarely seems busy - but it is certainly interesting from an architectural standpoint. It also has a variety of large stone creatures surrounding the property -- not sure why, though. I'll post an example in the next day or two.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Meet the reason we've all been a little distracted around here lately: Harriet. She's my daughter Kate's new little CockaPoo, just about 15 weeks old. At 8.5 lbs, she looks a lot bigger than she is...& most of it is fluff! She lives with Kate at her apartment, but spent most of this past weekend at our house and got to know our dog, Nik (who loved her) and our cat, Phoebe (who did not!)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

SkyWatch: Late Afternoon Haze

Another view from the top of Grandad's Bluff. This was taken while at the end of a trail, facing southwest, looking towards the Minnesota and Iowa border on the Mississippi River. The reflection of the sky on the river almost looks like snow in the distance.

See all SkyWatch entries here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Get Your Duff Up the Bluff!

The Alpine Inn has been at the top of Bliss Road on Grandad's Bluff in La Crosse since I can remember. As a child, when our family would drive to the top of the bluff for an afternoon hike, my dad would stop on the way back home so we kids could get a "pop" - usually a Spring Grove Orange, or a 7-Up. As a college student in the mid-1970's, we would spend weekend afternoons watching (or playing) volleyball on their side-court, and evenings listening to music and tipping back a few. It's lived through lots of changes, but the modified A-frame shape and the name remain the same.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Milkweed: Finale

This is the grand finale in my series of milkweed pods. (If you open that link, please be sure to scroll down to see all three phases.) The dried, crackly pods have finally burst open, setting free thousands of fluffy down seed parachutes to insure that next year the cycle will begin again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pink Frosting House

Every La Crosse local is familiar with the prominent "pink frosting" house, located at the intersection of Losey Blvd. and King St., just beneath Granddad's Bluff. It resides in a lovely old neighborhood, but because Losey is the main drag through the city, it has become a land mark of sorts.

A decade or so ago, one owner painted the stucco house a more benign terra cotta color. Gasp! There must have been objections, because shortly thereafter, it was once again re-painted pink.

I recently found out that one of our friends from high school purchased the place a few years ago. Apparently, her grandfather was the electrician when it was built in 1927. It's built in the Moroccan style of architecture by Otto Merman. There is a rumor that the home was a speakeasy during prohibition with a bar in the basement and a secret hiding place under the stairway. You can read more history about it here. [Select the April 2009 newsletter .PDF.]

Monday, November 9, 2009

Granddad's Bluff

I visited some family members in La Crosse, WI, this past weekend. Granddad's Bluff, which towers 590 feet above the city, is one of the area's main natural attractions. The photo above shows the point from the city below. Bliss Road, which winds all the way to the top of Granddad's, was shut down several years ago due to structural flaws and crumbling of the rocks under the road. After lots of political debate, it was eventually repaired and reopened this year. I was excited to finally go back up to the top during my visit.

The view below shows a retaining fence, which supposedly keeps people from getting too close to the edge. The bluffs are made of sandstone and chert, which are soft and unstable rocks. But, naturally, there are always those daring souls who walk around it and try to get to the look-out area below. Sadly, a young high school girl recently slipped to her death from here, hence all the flowers and memorials tied to the fence.

Still, it is a beautiful view. The houses in the lower left are part of the city of La Crosse. The forested area and the marsh beyond is Myrick Park (where I took these eagle shots last spring.) The expanse moves into north La Crosse and neighboring Onalaska. The bluffs in the distance are on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi. I hope to post a few more photos of the area in the days ahead.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Leaving Pewaukee

...and heading east into Brookfield down Capitol Drive. I took this recent shot on my way into work one cloudy morning. You can see the giant water tower straight ahead up on the corner of Capitol and Calhoun Roads.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ugly Kids Can't Spell

...or at least that's part of the message someone left on this graffiti-laden box car. I'm not sure what the main message is supposed to be, either. One of many train cars passing by the Duplainville Road crossing in the city of Pewaukee.

Friday, November 6, 2009

SkyWatch Friday: Treetop Clouds

With the recent time change, it's dark by the time I get home after work during the week - so I can only take late afternoon walks on the weekends. This is a view of the early evening sky behind the tall ash, aspen, and maple trees at Balmer Park.

You can see all SkyWatch Friday entries here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Google-y Eyes

Ever get the feeling that someone is watching you? Actaea pachypoda, more commonly known as White Baneberries or "Doll's Eyes," grow wild in our area. The medium sized shrub produces tiny white berries which grow on the ends of pretty hot pink or red stalks. They do brighten the woods on a dark & stormy autumn day, but the berries (and the entire plant) are highly poisonous to humans.

The berries really do look like little eyeballs (see close-up above.) However, they contain cardiogenic toxins which can have an immediate sedative affect on human cardiac muscle tissue, and are the most poisonous part of the plant. Ingestion of the berries can lead to cardiac arrest and death. The berries are harmless to birds, the plant's primary seed dispersers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Meeting Her Match

During our walk on Sunday afternoon, Nik and I passed by George's barn on the corner of Swan & Lindsay roads. His little miniature horse called "Patches" was out, and Nik was more than a little curious, as they had never met before. Nik is familiar with regular horses that we meet on the Ryan Road trails, and gives them a wide path. She's also met George's goats and shows no real interest in them. Patches, however, is very friendly and and more her size. They sniffed noses and Nik's tail wagged happily. As we left to continue on our walk, Nik looked back and did her "Woo-Roo" bark, as if to say good-bye.

Monday, November 2, 2009


The best costume dropping by our door on Halloween eve was one of the Klement's Racing Sausages - a unique feature at County Stadium's Miller Park during the Milwaukee Brewers games. This young fan is "Stash," the Polish Sausage. You can see all of the racing links here!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Doorway to November

The City Daily Photo theme for this month is "doorways." I don't have an image of one to post here today, but this view down a lonely nearby road, flanked with golden maples, seems to represent the "doorway to November."

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