Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘up north

Not Kidding

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I wasn’t kidding around when I described the drama of my getting stung on Tuesday. Whatever it was, there is a chunk of flesh missing from the middle of the large inflamed area on my back.

This is how it looked last night, over 24 hours after the bugger got me:

I should probably have been researching anti-venom or something. On the other hand, maybe it will give me a super power. I mean, a new super power, different than the other ones I already had.

Cyndie suspects it could have been a horsefly bite. I’ve already been bitten on the back by a horse and that didn’t give me any new senses. I’ve never experienced this reaction from a horsefly before and now I’m thinking I don’t ever want to experience it again.

As luck would have it, I can soak my back in the lake for a few days again, starting this afternoon. Due to Cyndie’s good sense to plan well in advance, she locked in multiple weekends with our house/farm sitter throughout the summer that have us up north two weekends in a row this month.

Actually, I will be enjoying three weekends in a row because I plan to join two of Cyndie’s brothers and a bunch of their golfing pals in Hayward the following weekend. I will be biking with anyone who chooses to skip one of the rounds of golf, most likely in the woods on my mountain bike. No battery to save me on that machine.

That would be a good time for the insect bite to give me a super dose of extra stamina and climbing ability. On one hand, I hope the residual effects of the wound are long gone by that time, but on the other hand, I could use all the help I can get when pedaling the off-road bike on the hilly trails in the Chequamegon National Forest.

This weekend we are driving up with Cyndie’s mom and will meet our friends, Mike and Barb Wilkus for a few days of water worship and good eats.

Further progress on the driveway shoulders will have to wait.

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Written by johnwhays

July 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

Lake Living

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One of the special charms of being up at the lake is the communing with family and friends. Staying in the same place with folks for days at a time expands the connection so much more than just an afternoon visit to one another’s homes for occasional events. As great as it is to have the lake home filled with people and activity, that is exactly what we are enjoying not having this week.

It has been just Cyndie, me & Delilah up here this week and we have been loving it. There are a few people from other families up at their places, but they have mostly been keeping to themselves as much as we have to ourselves.

Yesterday was quieter than the day before (when there was some passing lightning and thunder that triggered Delilah into barking fits) and even the dog seemed to settle nicely into the chill lake-life atmosphere we were cultivating.

I got in a mellow bike ride on quiet roads through wooded marshes that had me curious about the level of bear activity that may have been happening lately. Something about the scenery just looked like there should be a bear ambling by at any minute. Thoughts like this are probably triggered by the one time I did spot a bear loping along in a field up here, just to my right as I pedaled along the road. When it finally noticed me rolling along it just altered course to slant away from parallel to me so that disappearing into the nearby trees happened sooner than later.

It was somewhat comical how nonchalant we both were about the brief sighting.

After my cycling and a whopping sandwich lunch, Cyndie and I took Delilah for some water sports and we all enjoyed being alone on the beach. Delilah doesn’t choose to swim but happily tromps in up to her belly. We all did a fair amount of rock hunting and a little bit of water splashing.

It was a luxuriously slow day with some card playing on the deck, a little Tour de France watching, a grilled chicken dinner, and some streaming suspenseful tv drama after dark.

I could get used to this life if it weren’t for our other life waiting for us to return to Wintervale.

Of course, living most of our days at home serve well to keep our visits to the lake up north all the more enticing.

The reality is that we are just temporarily “lake living.” We head back home tomorrow morning where I will quickly change gears and dive into cutting grass. I’m pretty sure I will do so with visions of the scene in the photo above playing in my mind all the while.

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Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2022 at 6:00 am

Cold Start

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In the purest definition of my life memories of what “up north” during a Minnesota winter entails, we have been enjoying gorgeous deep snow scenes and seriously cold temperatures. It stays below zero all day long for days at a time and there is no sign anywhere of the fallen snow melting on the ground. No slush on the rural roads. Just hard-packed snow with occasional areas of sand dropped at higher traffic intersections.

The first day of January offered clear skies and plenty of sun, the common denominator for extremely cold temperatures. With no cloud cover to hold a little of the earth’s heat, the air feels like it is aligning with the temperatures of deep space above.

Delilah’s thick fur coat keeps her comfortable all but the bottoms of her paws. She isn’t a big fan of standing around in the cold. In fact, even if we are walking along with her, she wants to pick up the pace and hustle to get wherever the heck it is we intend on going.

After multiple snowshoeing adventures this weekend, I think she has figured out that the initial extra time she is made to wait at the beginning while we are strapping on the odd contraptions to our boots, comes with a payoff of opportunities to romp in the deep stuff shortly after.

We bushwhacked right from the driveway into the wooded contours of the southern edge of the Chippewa National Forest yesterday and I guided Delilah to select a navigable route atop a ridge, every so often aligned with the tracks revealing deer had already done the same.

It is a treat to watch the glee of Delilah’s leaping through the deep snow. She has no choice but to leap, actually, since it is deeper than her legs are long.

The only setback she experiences is the need to pause once in a while to chew away the snow that balls up between her toes. I can imagine that feels just as annoying as the snow that collects under the cleat of my snowshoes in certain conditions. We didn’t have that problem with the cold powder snow this weekend.

It was a cold start of the year 2022, but a grand one for us. Here’s hoping it proves to be a hint of greater times to come.

It was truly precious to kick off the new year in such a special place with our even more special friends and hosts, Barb and Mike Wilkus.

We will spend the rest of today on the road, heading home to see how the horses are doing in this coldest weather since they arrived with us last April. Having dreamt about horses this morning, I’m feeling a heightened urge to get home to see ours.

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Written by johnwhays

January 2, 2022 at 10:14 am

Early Start

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Like a couple of young newlyweds, Cyndie and I got an early start to the holiday weekend and hustled north to the lake by ourselves a day before the massive crowds that will follow. A stop at Coop’s Pizza for our favorite choice in Hayward, then some authentic ice cream decadence at West’s Dairy for dessert, and we were in full lake-place weekend mode before ever reaching the “cabin.”

For the record, I splurged with one scoop each of Coconut Magic Bar and Chunky Musky.

There was some reminiscing about dining at Coop’s on our honeymoon almost 40-years ago, back when it was located in a former gas station on Highway 63. Cyndie burned her lip so bad when hot cheese pulled off the crust that she blistered.

After we unloaded the car, we topped off our night with access to satellite television Tour de France coverage rerunning the stage of day 6 and another Mark Cavendish sprint to the stage victory. We were happy as clams.

It has been longer than I can recall that we have been up at the lake two weekends in a row. This could get to be a habit. Thank goodness we have found a willing animal sitter in Anna, a student at UW River Falls.

It feels particularly summery, which is just as it should now that we are into July. Obviously, we don’t live in the southern hemisphere.

Watching the professional cyclists racing after having just spent some extended time on my bike tour along the Mississippi River in Minnesota provides a valuable perspective. Their accomplishments are so much more amazing than they make them appear.

I hope they get to have ice cream at the end of their daily races.

I visited a couple of Dairy Queens after my days of biking.

It was an early start to foiling my goals of eating less sugar than my addiction longs for. I can attest that doing so wreaks havoc on my attempts to control the brain’s tendency to crave sweetness full time.

Good thing my healthy routine will be able to resume as soon as this weekend is over. My summer brain is starting to think I should have ice cream every day.

I’m afraid the rest of my body takes exception to that kind of thinking.

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Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2021 at 6:00 am

Co-Favorite Place

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For all of my adult life, Cyndie’s family vacation home on Round Lake near Hayward, Wisconsin has been my favorite place. As I wrote yesterday, my affections are now split between our paradise of Wintervale Ranch in Beldenville and Wildwood Lodge Club up north.

I now have co-favorite places.

It is wonderful to be up at the lake again.

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As always, the special feature of the lodge club is communing with the other families and we received an early dose of camaraderie when the next door Whitlock clan showed up just after Cyndie and I arrived. Much love ensued.

There is a lot to do around the property to make it look less neglected as the ravages of winter appear to have wreaked havoc on anything left out in the elements.

Case in point: The front steps to the Friswold “cabin” for which I was so proud to have repaired a single paver block last summer are now failing en masse as the foundation underneath appears to be giving out.

Entire rows are tipping forward. I suppose it’s unfair to blame one winter for this, but it sure seemed fine last year.

I can’t blame the extreme state of the smoke clouded doors of the living room fireplace on anything but neglect to tend to the task of cleaning them in a timely manner. When Marie asked me to build a fire, I figured it wouldn’t add much to the ambience if we couldn’t see the flames. It took a lot of ash-soaked newspaper to rub off the insanely thick baked-on accumulation of smoke on those glass doors.

At least I had the joy of trying to ignite unseasoned firewood that had been supplied for our fire-building pleasure. No wonder there was so much gunk on the glass of the doors.

Maybe, if I love this place as much as I do home, I need to more equally split my attention to maintenance chores. Is the building of a lake-place woodshed in my future?

I would sure appreciate the luxury of selecting dry wood for our fires. So would the chimney flue.

The more immediate concern will be cleaning the beach today. The lake ice pushed a new berm of sandy leaves about a foot high along the full length of our beach shoreline.

What a wonderful location for putting in a day’s work.

My co-favorite place, in fact.

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Written by johnwhays

May 29, 2021 at 8:52 am

Not Suffering

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Just a little rain up here at the lake yesterday afternoon, but we are living the life of luxury, regardless.

Breakfast on the deck.

But earning it by taking care of that too-long neglected task of tending to the gutters on the backside of the house. Out of sight, out of mind, you know.

After I dug for long enough, I actually found a gutter underneath all that mess.

More family arrived yesterday afternoon and we dined like royalty and stayed up too late playing cards.

It’s another classic summer weekend ‘at the lake.’

Aahhhhh.

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Written by johnwhays

August 22, 2020 at 8:15 am

Long Time

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It has been a long time since I did a jigsaw puzzle at home. After visiting Judy’s and Mary’s houses over the holidays and seeing their puzzles in progress, I felt a renewed motivation to get out one of my own again. Luckily, I had a very special new puzzle in my queue.

For the first time ever, I’m building a puzzle of a picture that I took. Elysa had this made for me as a gift after I mentioned that I thought the image would make a great jigsaw puzzle.

I’ve only spent a little time on this so far, but already I can sense the difference of studying pieces of an image that I captured. The location is a northern Minnesota forest on land owned by our friends, Mike and Barb Wilkus. We were hiking through the woods on a beautiful fall day and I stopped to snap a shot of the small lake surrounded by trees.

I’m going to love working on assembling this puzzle.

It will become a battle of wanting to make quick progress even though I also don’t want the project to end soon.

I suspect this will be a puzzle I have no problem assembling over and over again, although I feel it also deserves a turn or two up at the Wilkus cabin. Hopefully, both scenarios can be achieved over time.

That part of my brain that loves jigsaw puzzling is very happy indeed, especially because it’s been a long time since I’ve built one.

Maybe even more so, because I stood in this very spot.

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2020 at 7:00 am

Storm Damage

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By the looks of the driveway alone, up at the lake, it is obvious that there was some heavy rain. There is evidence of a flash flood of runoff that washed gravel away into the woods. Farther along on the property, we discovered that the big eagles’ nest had also succumbed to the deluge. There was debris of sticks and dead fish on the ground at the base of the tree. Looking up, the size of the structure had shrunk considerably.

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Still, the two youngsters remained perched, one on a branch above, and one on what was left of the nest. We occasionally hear them calling out to the adults who are the source of their meals. I would expect the stinky fish that landed below to eventually be picked up and delivered above again. It’s not like they’re past their expiration date or anything.

Getting the fish bodies up off the ground would make it a little easier to walk Delilah that direction. It takes a lot of muscle to steer her clear of trying to roll around in all the stench.

On a whim, I decided to be adventurous and take Delilah for an explore in the woods across the highway from our property. As soon as we made our way beyond the thicket of growth along the berm beside the road and got into the spacious forest beneath the spectacular canopy of the tall trees, I discovered the hazard of my decision.

All that rain seems to have unleashed a ferocious new batch of teeny mosquitos. They were unrelenting in their onslaught. I tried to keep moving to foil their attempts to land, but Delilah –lacking the exposed flesh I presented– didn’t share my urgency. She kept stopping to smell every enticing forest odor and, still on leash, frequently chose a path that had us at odds over which side of tree trunks to be on.

I had to cut our expedition short and set a course straight back to the bright sunlight of the roadway.

Things were much calmer when we got to the beach and I let her soak in the water while I stood on the sand taking a sunbath and listening to loons.

By that point, the storm damage was out of sight and out of mind. Almost the same for the chaos of the preceding week.

I will continue this course of therapy for a couple of days. It seems to be just what a doctor would order for what was ailing me.

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Written by johnwhays

August 10, 2019 at 7:51 am

Consummately Summerish

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Here is a postcard from the lake. We are having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.

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I probably should have gone to Vegas instead. My luck has been remarkably good with card games the last two days.

Maybe it is a result of being so relaxed from floating in the water and reading a book on the beach. Throw in the smell of wood smoke wafting in the air, grilled meals, corn-on-the-cob, Cyndie’s homemade peach pie, and we are enjoying a quintessential summer weekend at the lake.

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Written by johnwhays

July 28, 2019 at 7:00 am

Rough Approximation

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Having my bike up at the lake allowed me to put some time on the two-wheeler in an environment that can loosely be compared to the regions of northern Minnesota where we will be riding this year on the Tour of Minnesota. We are heading from Grand Rapids, MN up to Ely and back again.

The rural countryside of northwest Wisconsin isn’t that far away from northern Minnesota. We are just on the other side of the tip of Lake Superior.

I would not have been one bit surprised to have a black bear dart out of the woods and lope across the road in front of me.

It was two great weather days for biking and the scenery was superb, but there was one essential element missing that would make for perfect preparation for the middle of June Tour of MN.

I was all by myself. Solo riding in the woods can be beautiful, but a tired rider could sure use the distraction of a good conversation to while away the miles. As it was, my increasingly uncomfortable seat on the saddle grew hard to ignore and made it easier to give in to a message from my legs that they wanted to stop pedaling.

It becomes a game of stand up, sit down, pedal for a while, stand up, sit down, readjust position, pedal, stand up… you get the drill.

The ride was wonderful, despite being taxing. It’s the odd thing for me these last few years. I don’t bike regularly anymore, but I love participating in the Tour of Minnesota. So, I end up needing to put on some forced miles to prepare for the one week of constant biking.

At the end of last year’s Tour, I experienced the feeling that I didn’t really need to do any more rides. Been there, done that.

When registration time arrived in February, I found that I couldn’t resist the urge to be with my riding friends one more time, even if it meant some forced riding to prepare.

That is the one thing that makes the trials of trying to get into riding shape in a short time span so absolutely worth it.

So, ignore my whining.

I can’t wait for the trip and spending a week with some really fantastic people whom I miss dearly for fifty-one weeks out of the year!

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Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2019 at 6:00 am