Monday, February 7, 2022

Wyalusing State Park, Wisconsin

Sunrise is when the magic happens at Wyalusing State Park in south west Wisconsin. Our rolling dairy land comes to a terminus at the mouth of the Wisconsin River, emptying  its water and sediment into the Mississippi River. Perched on the high bluffs overlooking this junction is the most scenic campground in Wisconsin, make your reservations in advance. 

Looking down at the morning fog that covers the Wisconsin River Valley.

Day breaks.

Hiking the bluff trails in the campground.

Not a bad spot for a coffee break.

The upper campground is where you want to be, specifically the spots along the bluff's edge. We scored the last site by the parking lot but managed to have fun anyway. My Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister in-law, and their three boys had spots just down the road. It was a much needed family hang out weekend with a couple of adventures thrown in to keep the excitement up.

Home sweet home. Jr. North wanted to spend a night in the tent so we did that too.

Fire pits and grills at every site, it's good to know what you're working with.
Wood is available at the camp store, a walkable distance from the sites.

The beach just south of the State Park. 
When the water is low you can walk out into the Mississippi River for hundreds of feet and barely get your knees wet. I set up some carp lines but the spot had no holes or structure to speak of. The swimming was excellent.

I took the boys on a short hike to visit the caves and explore the bluff. Starting at the Camp Store you can climb down the bluff and take a left to the caves. A right will take you on an adventure below the campground, spitting you out at its far end.

The terrain is steep!

Climbing up to the cave.

The limestone bluffs of the Driftless Area are full of caves, sinkholes, springs, and underground waterways. It's the defining feature of the area, feeding cold water to trout streams and sustaining rare ecosystems.

Looking north, Wisconsin River below.

Historic Buildings along Prairie du Chien's waterfront.

We stopped at the Depot for a fun, outdoor lunch.

Across The River, in Iowa, is Effigy Mounds National Monument, one of the greatest mound sites in the upper Midwest. If you have it in you to climb the height of the bluff in its entirety, do it. Otherwise, there is an excellent visitors' center full of history and artifacts. 

Views from the top, looking down on the Yellow River emptying into the Mississippi.

I love a good 3D map.

Used by native peoples since the beginning, this church continues to host its congregation. 

A line of mounds that mark the solstice, this calendar predates the Dakota.  

The pre-history of mound building in the Americas is fascinating. If you, like me, were taught a primarily post-Columbian history, I  highly recommend the book "1491" by Charles Mann. 

If you get a chance, visit Wyalusing State Park and Effigy Mounds National Monument. Even if it's just to take a hike, you will not be disappointed. I also need to mention nearby McGregor Iowa for its lunch spots, winery, and antique book shop, where I stumbled upon "Longitude" by Dava Sobel. It covers the fascinating race to calculate longitude (position east or west) from the deck of a moving ship, which is way more important to our history than you know.

- Ride North

Wyalusing State Park  |  Effigy Mounds National Monument

Wed. August 18th - Sunday August 22nd

Friday, February 4, 2022

Red Rocks!

Remember back to the summer or 2021 to a time of calm and excitement. The vaccine had been rolled out and the rates of infection were way down compared to the winter and even spring numbers. We didn't know it then but what we were looking at was a window not a door. We rolled up our sleeves anyway and jumped out that window! 

I did more traveling in July, August, and September than I did since July 2019. (remember how nice the teens were!) Mrs. North and I kicked it all off with a 23 hour visit to Colorado to see Guster paly at Red Rocks. 

This was my first trip to Colorado where I wasn't just driving through to Utah or catching another plane at Denver International. It was also my first trip where I didn't rent a car. The train from the airport takes you to Union Station in downtown. From there we were able to catch a coach bus to Red Rocks.

Outdoor eateries at Union Station, and bars too.

The bus ride from Denver to Red Rocks was about 45 minutes, it's just west of Denver. Open containers were encouraged but I didn't know that before boarding. What I did know is that Guster fans are a friendly fun loving bunch and we made friends easily.

As we drove into the park the skies opened up and it poured sheets of water for a half hour or so. There were rivers of red rock flowing down the hillside and over the road. For a while it seemed like the show would not go on. Our driver assured us that afternoon rains are very common here, although maybe not this bad.

A rainbow after the storm!

Fans lined up to get into the venue. Not a bad spot to wait!

The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is beautiful.

The view from the top.

One of the coolest parts was being in a completely different environment than the Upper Midwest. Everything is just so different, new, and exciting. It was a very small taste of the semi-arid Colorado mountains and it wouldn't my last visit.

We love live music, this was our first show since 2019.

While we did get a hotel room, we had to catch the very first train out of Denver to catch our 6AM flights back to MSP. It was a crazy trip and my whole body was tired in a way that I haven't felt since we had a newborn in the house. It was an epic trip with Mrs. North and a few of our friends. I'm lucky to have a spouse who is not only willing to go on these trips but is the primary instigator.

- Ride North

July 24th & 25th