Saturday, June 27, 2015

Biking the Red Cedar Trail

With the help of my new electric bike, I was finally able to do 26 miles on the Red Cedar Trail in Menomonie, Wisconsin. We started our trek while the sun was low in the sky, gently dappling the fauna along the trail with rays of light. Beautiful. This was the first of many bridge crossings on this old railway line.

The architecture made for great angular photos.

We stopped to admire a turn in the river.  And can you guess what else we spotted by accident?

Snakes!  I think this is a common water snake. He really blended into the log.

And there were two, yes two, Eastern Massasauga (great river mouth) Rattle Snakes soaking up the sun.  Or at least that is what I think they were after a google search.

They were big fat snakes.  We were thrilled to see them. And when we came through this part of the woods on the return trip, a common water snake slithered across the trail. Good grief!  We walked out on the rocks to get those water photos.  And there seems to be a threatening amount of snakes here. Watch your step!

But some things were small and precious.  Like 100's of butterflies flitting about. They would sit in delicate groups on the gravel floor, just waiting to be flushed out, then they would swirl and flutter every which way. There were so many blooming wildflowers for the butterflies to inspect along the way.  The jungle of flowers would brush against your legs as you peddled by. Hopefully there wasn't any poison ivy!

And there were large predators lurking in the trees.

This entrance marks the Downsville Sandstone Quarry. The rail line transported sandstone between 1880-1950. And near this there was a trickling little waterfall with seats for weary peddlers.  What a trail.

The highlight of our journey was at the 13.6 mile mark on this wide curve of the river. The bridge was a great place for photos and a scenic picnic.  Ah, Summer and all of its joys.

I caught this fellow watching something...

I caught this fellow just as he was reaching for something...

I love the towering angles.

Well, equipped with my new electric bike, my wimpy legs can take on the world.  Or, at least Wisconsin.

Happy 4th everyone!

Stranger Danger

Someone is in danger.  Carmen the chipmunk and Sidney the red squirrel are looking up high in a tree.  And somebody else is looking at them. And then there's the raccoon in the background looking at everyone.  There's a lot of looking going on.  But very little eating...yet!

I think cat paws are pretty darn cute. But in this illustration, they're about to snag a tail.  But whose will it be?

And here's a real life squirrel who really is in danger.  Ha!  I added him just for the fun of it.

Danger is the theme for this week.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Peony Power

I photographed some powerful plants the other night. This white peony and many of its friends. Unfortunately, their power is all visual. The peony stems are not strong enough to support their heady blooms.  And they perform the peony flop.  But we still applaud and forgive their wimpy stems. They have us at hello with their abundant size and stunning color.


A blush of romance.

There's power in numbers.

Size matters.

I also spied a robin darting in between beds of future roses.  She was on a food finding mission.

She was being trailed by this goofy, ungainly, open mouthed, spotted and throbbing creature. 

Weird.  His mouth is shut.

Tail-less and possibly homeless.  But not motherless.

But back to those peonies. Beautiful.  The Lake Harriet Rose Gardens are full of flowers, fountains and plentiful benches to enjoy the outdoors on.

And just a few steps away is the 33 acre Thomas Sadler Roberts bird sanctuary.  Take a tip from us and take an evening stroll.

It's peaceful.

Small Weddings

Great Expectations

There are a lot of small things in this world.  Thumb tacks, shot glasses (way too small) whiskers, newspaper print, acorns, fairies and frogs.... 

Well, I could go on and on.  But what could be smaller than a fairy wedding?  All of the guests would be small. Hopefully, that would mean the cost would be small as well.  I guess it would depend on how many woodland creatures are in attendance.  There would definitely need to be a vegan menu. But the venue would be free and the flowers could be hand picked. 

 And when the chipmunk proclaimed them man and wife, or frog and fairy, the crowd could pick a dandelion puff and blow seeds over the happy couple.

Small is the theme this week at

Saturday, June 13, 2015

San Vito

San Vito as seen from the grounds of the Cantaros Ecotourism Project

Our cabana at Casca ta del Bosco

We followed a wide, flat river through a scenic valley on our way to a new Costa Rica destination. San Vito. Our drive climbed to the foot hills of the Talamanca Mountain Range and planted us on a plateau close to the Panama border. We passed cows and cowboys, vast mountain vistas and abundant local color. 

No other place in Costa Rica has been so heavily influenced by Italian culture than San Vito. In fact, we were schooled by Lillian from the towns' steadfast Italian joint as to the right time of night to say,"Buenas Noches"  7 pm to be exact. 

We loved our beautiful and super affordable cabana facing the endearing green San Vito Mountains. But the icing on the cake was a pastel blush on the horizon... 

 We woke up to a magnificent sunrise!  And if you actually read my blog (and I hope you do) you'll know I never miss this moving morning event.


We spotted a Violaceaous Trogon in the trees out front of our cabana.  I've found the property where you are staying is almost always the best place for birding.

We followed the signs at Jardin Botanico Wilson.

We saw fuzzy trees.

And weird exotic plants.  

There were Agoutis galore. 

Side Note:  When the Queen visited Belize she was fed what is now referred to as Royal Rat.  Agouti.  Ha!

A perfect specimen. 


A tower view of tall palms.

Another day in San Vito begins...

"Buenos dias,"  I say to no one in particular after breathing a heavenly sigh.  "Gracias, Costa Rica!"


My illustrated Dominical map for

I've been posting about my latest Costa Rica vacation for a few weeks now.  Click here to take a little trip down my memory lane.  Costa Rica is an amazing place.  I've been there 5 times and counting.  It just feels like home.  But thank goodness it's not. Because you never have as much fun at home as you do on vacation! 

Do you plan to go there someday?  Then check out my labels. I've created over a 100 photo filled posts of beautiful beaches,  bountiful birds and blue mountain vistas. And I'm just getting started...

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Road to the Nesting Tree

We drove out into cow country on a mission to find the fondly remembered Scarlet Macaw nesting tree near Puerto Jimenez. We discovered this special tree years earlier during our stay in the remote and wonderful Osa Penninsula of Costa Rica.  

Osa is situated off the Southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.  The nearby Corcovado park has been called the most ecologically intense place on earth. Osa is a refuge for the nature lover that likes things wild and well off the heavily rutted tourist track.

 So did we find the tree?  Yes.  But the Macaws weren't nesting there yet.  We did decide that these floppy eared cows were enjoying some prime ocean side real estate though.

Here's the tree photo from the previous trip.  The Scarlet Macaw couples were trying to decide who would get this prime nesting site.

Eucalyptus trees always add a touch of wonderland to the scene.  This is how it looked on one side of the road.

And the ocean side was pasture.  Pasture that is prime ocean front property.  That's what I love about Osa.  It's one of the only places I've visited in Costa Rica where you can still get a quiet and rustic experience away from lots of tourists and construction. There's more monkeys and birds here than people! I like how the cattle egret is hidden in the center of this photo.

This white hawk has found a lazy friend. And a soft perch to spot potential victims.

We may not have found new nesting macaws, but we found some curious cows enjoying some shade and tranquility.  I'm glad we're older and wiser too.  The last time we drove down this bumpy road we were heading for a remote beach.  This time the road was our destination.