Thursday, October 11, 2012

Potosi, WI to Warrens Cranberry Festival, Part 7

We left Blackhawk Park Thursday morning and drove 67 miles to Tomah Recreation Park, the first of our group to arrive, but within a few minutes others arrived from Potosi and Janesville.  What timing!  Seventeen rigs in all from the Rocky Roller and Bell Ringers Good Sam Chapters. 

Most arrived on Thursday the balance on Friday.  One of our number met with an unfortunate incident, fortunately no one was hurt but their “almost new” rig was pretty messed up.  They were exiting a rest area from the truck/RV parking while a car was also exiting from the car parking and the driver of the car reached down for something while the vehicle was in motion.  He completely missed the yield and smack.  Our friends have to get the RV fixed before they leave for Alabama in a few weeks so it will be a hectic time for them.

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This get-together has been in the works for months a joint effort between the Bell Ringers and Rocky Rollers Good Sam Chapters.  We chose to camp at the Tomah Recreation Park because the City of Tomah was offering shuttle bus service departing the park from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each of the three days of the festival.  Buses pick up and drop off continuously during those hours.  Taking the bus was definitely the smart thing to do.  The parking was unbelievable.  Every available space was used and prices ranged from $1 for a motorcycle to $12.  The price difference was in proportion to the distance from the event.  P1030842

The view from the bus.


Except for three days a year, Warrens is a town of about 250 residents.  For those three days Warrens hosts about 110,000 visitors, 1,300 art and craft booths, 350 flea market and antique booths and 100 farm market booths, as well as food vendors.


Behind Tom you can see some of the thousands filling the streets, lawns, and sidewalks throughout the town.


The booths were crammed between homes and businesses and some aisles were so narrow. Just wide enough for folks to pass single file in each direction with a passing lane in the middle. (I wish I would have taken more photos.) In these narrow quarters people were carrying some pretty huge items.  I saw one lady with a huge wooden daisy about 5 feet in diameter. While others had large metal lawn ornaments.  And I can’t forget to mention carts (as pictured above) being pushed or pulled up and down the narrow aisles.  Groups of people would dress alike to make it easier to find each other.  We saw groups with crazy hats and headbands and one group of women with those long novelty bikini body t-shirts. 

From what I understand the art and craft booths are not juried and are intermingled with the flea market and antique booths.  Making it confusing for the buyers trying to find handcrafted items and also making it hard for the crafts people to compete with mass produced items.  I found it all very interesting from a perspective of having run a art and craft fair. 

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Largest Cranberry Craisin™ Whoopie Pie in the World--This pie, we were told, was held together with steel rods and was inedible as it had been sitting in the sun. 

If the group goes again, we probably would go, but we may not go to the festival.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Potosi, WI to Warrens Cranberry Festival, Part 6


Near boat ramp, Blackhawk Park


Foggy morning Blackhawk Park


Foggy morning Blackhawk Park 2


Repurposed boat motor as mail box


Red bellied woodpecker mid-air


Fisherman on the Mississippi


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Potosi, WI to Warren’s Cranberry Festival, Part 5

Or Up One Side and Down the Other

rte blackhawk cg and backOn Wednesday, we took a tour of the area, heading south from the campground to Hwy 82 and across the river to Lansing, IA.

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 Steel truss Hwy 82 bridge across the Mississippi.

Postcard Horsefall




Friends told us a “must see” was Horsefall’s Lansing Variety store.  A writer described it as a cornucopia of merchandise. And it was both.

Wow! Housewares, clothing, lawn ornaments, toys . . . you name it.  The goodies spill onto the sidewalk, too.  



Great river road sign MinnesotaAs we drove, taking in the fall colors on the bluffs along the river, we watched for a place to pull off and view this portion of the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge.  We were pleased to find two improved wildlife viewing areas after we passed into Minnesota, complete with wooden viewing platforms, telescopes benches and signage. 
















The signs explained the purpose of the Refuge and what you might see.


Looking to the Wisconsin Bluffs, this is the vista from one of the overlooks. We did spot white pelicans and we think swans, as well as eagles, hawks, geese and various ducks.


We stopped in the apple capitol of Minnesota, La Crescent, to purchase some apples. Along the way were several markets featuring apples, fall produce and other tasty treats.

Then it was back to Wisconsin via Hwy 61. Three states, 74 miles.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Potosi, WI to Warrens Cranberry Festival, Part 4

After setting up camp, we headed out to get groceries.  On the way we wanted to stop at Goose Island Park, in Stoddard, WI. As the information I read stated that there was an interpretive hiking trail, we were looking forward to a little walk in the woods.

Before our hike we thought we would take a look at Goose Island Campground, one of La Crosse, County’s parks.  We went to the campground office and chatted with the attendant, asking her if we could take a drive through the campground. As we drove through we disturbed a large hawk who flew ahead of us for a while then lit on a wooden swing frame.  We tried to identify it and be think it was a Rough Legged Hawk, but don’t quote us on that. The campground was quite spread out, with roomy sites, however, we did not like that there were, what appeared to be semi-permanent sites.

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We did have a nice walk on the trail but the only indication that there was any kind of signage was at an overlook.  There were some mounts for signs but the signs were completely gone.  We did see eagles and a red bellied woodpecker. Oh well the walk did us good.

Potosi, WI to Warrens Cranberry Festival, Part 3

After a leisurely drive north on first Hwy 133, then Hwy 35, we arrived Blackhawk Park COE Campground (in center of image below) just 3 miles north of DeSoto, WI.

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To access Blackhawk Park, exit west from Hwy 35 onto Co. RD BI fir .7 mile to park entrance. Blackhawk Park offers a mix of shaded, open, waterfront and tent sites as well as day use areas for picnicking and boat launches. The park is only about 20 miles south of La Crosse, WI.

  We found an open site. As it had been chilly and we thought the sun would be nice.  The long spaces can easily accommodate any size rig.  P1030801

The park has created a numbered list of trees indigenous to the area with numbered examples throughout the park, as well as an information sheet for geocachers.

But the main pastime at this park is fishing.  I must say, from what I observed, the fishing was good.  Folks would take their boats out in the morning and return in the late afternoon with a 5 gallon bucket of fish.  Then the whirring would begin.  What was this sound?  Electric knives. In the past, when we actually kept the fish we caught, Tom would use a (manual) fillet knife, so this was new to us.  Of course we never caught fish in the quantities these folks had. 

One day the man across from us wore his knife battery down carving up his catch and had to borrow another from a friend.  He had quite the setup for filleting.  He devised a board mounted to the boat trailer frame.  This board had a whole on one end, under which he would hang a bucket for the bad parts.  On the other side of the board he had a dishpan with water for the good parts.  The middle section was his workspace.  Very efficient. The catches included crappie, sunfish and bass.  No catfish as we would have expected.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Potosi, WI to Warrens Cranberry Festival, Part 2

We began the next leg of our trek to the Warrens Cranberry fest, leaving Potosi, WI, on a perfect fall morning.  This portion of the trip would take us almost 87 miles to Blackhawk COE Campground, DeSoto, WI. 

What a beautiful drive along the bluffs on the Wisconsin side of the Mighty Mississippi.  The air was crisp and the fall colors were more pronounced than they had been just a few days ago. We took our time as the roads were almost traffic-free, allowing us to enjoy the scenery.

Casseville was the first town we passed through.  This little town boasts a few attractions worthy of note.  The Cassville Car Ferry is the only means of crossing the Mississippi River between Dubuque, Iowa and Prairie du Chien, WI.  There is a fee for making use of the ferry but it is a unique experience that we have enjoyed on previous trips to the area.  The next Cassville attraction is Stonefield Village.  A re-created 19th century rural village operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society.  Finally, Nelson Dewey State Park offers camping, views of the Mississippi from a 500 ft. bluff and history, featuring the home of Wisconsin’s first Governor, the park’s namesake and nearby Stonfield Villiage.  I hope to see all Cassville has to offer one of these days.

As we continue northward we passed through Prairie du Chien.  We had toured the area previously so continued on.  Of note in Prairie du Chien is Villa Louis estate of fur trader, lumberman and land speculator, Hercules Louis Dousman; and the Fort Crawford  Museum

As we traveled along we stopped at as many scenic overlooks and historical markers as would permit a pickup and travel trailer. We discovered that DeSoto, WI was named in honor of Fernando DeSoto, the first white man to see the Mississippi River.  Additionally, DeSoto was originally the site of a Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) village called Winneshiek.

Our destination for this leg as I mentioned earlier was Blackhawk COE Campground 1 mile south of Victory, WI.

Potosi, WI to Warrens Cranberry Festival, Part 1

Weather forecast for our upcoming club outing offered a mix of warm and cool temps and some rain. 
We had a beautiful drive to Grant River COE Campground in Potosi, WI.  There were clear skies and mild winds.  Not so for those who traveled earlier in the week or even later that day.  We were told that the cross-winds were so strong that some felt they would be blown off the road.  We were fortunate, though.
After arriving, Tom discovered the site he selected was not as he expected, it was more shaded. He wanted to select another site from the Non-Reservable sites but I insisted we keep the one we had.
 We had a fairly private setting as we were adjacent to the woods on one side and there was nothing between us and the Mighty Mississippi but a few hundred feet of lawn.  Another plus to our site was our proximity to the train tracks. Our campsite one of the furthest from the train tracks as you could get. This is important as the track is frequented by very long freight trains that make the ground tremble under your feet.

After a nice day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday were brisk and rainy.  During breaks in the rain folks came out to walk their dogs or just stretch their legs, some went on shopping excursions,to the Potosi Brewery and others visited the nearby casino. We, big spenders that we are, went to the casino, each armed with $20.  We both got bored before we blew the whole works, returning with about half of what we started with. We returned to the trailer and spent the afternoon playing Farkle and Five Crowns.  Supper that night was at a favorite restaurant of the groups’ for fish fry.  A campfire followed, but Tom and I went in early as it got too cold for us. 
Finally Sunday the rain cleared out as did some of our club who had commitments at home during the week. We stayed until Monday morning before heading north along the Great River Road.