June 7, 2010 – Parfrey’s Glen

Another spot worth visiting was Parfrey’s Glen Natural Area – the first such declared area in the state because of unique and sensitive fauna and geologic features.

parfreys glen

The walk is about .7 miles and follows a small creek – as you walk along the broad open forest continually constricts.

parfreys glen

At the end, it’s a small rocky canyon and with a small waterfall.

liverworts

The canyon held something for everyone (in our party). The cool, canyon walls provided shade for many interesting plants, among those, these liverworts Linda found fascinating.

conglomerate

FOr others in our party (me),  the walls showed off great geological formations, here a couple of bands of conglomerate (the rock layers made up of many small rocks.

Our last stop of the day was at the park chateau  which buts out into the lake for great views – the chateau also has an old-time wooden dance floor, much like the one in Luchenbach Texas.

hayfield

We stayed at a B&B on a retired dairy farm.  This was an early morning view from a hayfield on the farm.

morning silo

Here’s “Lucky” a shaved collie who accompanied me on an early morning walk at no extra charge!

one year ago…”Painting West Side of Barn Complete”

June 6, 2010 – Devils Lake State Park

You could ask for a nicer day, but might not ever get one!  Today, we roamed Devils Lake State Park.

Devils Doorway

I’ll lead with what may very well be one of the world’s most scenic lunch spots.  A nice rock ledge shaped like a chair, an awesome overlook, a light breeze, interesting clouds, and temperatures in the low 70′s!  The featured rock formation is known as the Devils Doorway. The lake’s name was thought to derive from a mis-translation (or marketing gimmick) of the native American names roughly translated as Spirit Lake, Sacred Lake, or Holy Lake.

A look at the same spot, only facing away from the lake.

Devils Lake Beach

The lake is a clear with a sandy or rocky shore that fills the remnants of an old glacial valley with bluffs reaching 500 feet above the water.

West Bluff Trail

After hiking up from the lake along the West Bluff Trail, we pause for a break in the lushness of the spring vegetation.  Since there’s hardly ever photos of me on the blog, Linda took the opportunity to take some of the man behind the camera.

Yet another promontory on the West Bluff Trail.

West Bluff Trail

One of my favorite pastimes is hanging over the edge of precipices, one thing I don’t get much of a chance to do much anymore.

Potholes Trail

This stretch of  steep trail is on the Potholes Trail – which leads to a geological formation called kettles, which are round holes where rocks have circulated in soft rocks in a river and dig out round holes.  I’ve seen them often in Minnesota, but here they were near the top of the hill in 1.6 billion year old rock.

Baraboo hills

Here’s a view from the end of the lake looking east out of the glacial valley.  It was truly a spectacular view in all directions with rolling hills as far as the eye can see.

East Bluff Trail

Finally, much later in the day, another panoramic shot from the East Bluff Trail.

one year ago…”Blue Flag Iris”

June 5, 2010 – Frank Lloyd Wright – Taliesin Tour

To celebrate getting one child safely through high school, GJ volunteered to watch the kids while Linda and I picked a place for a two-night get-away.  We headed to south-central Wisconsin.  Our schedule was kind of loose, and since it was pouring rain, we opted for the tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home of 60 years along the Wisconsin River – Taliesin.  The tour featured the Hillside Studio and Theater and Wright’s Home.  The price seemed steep – $52, but we plunged ahead.

Hillside Studio

This is the view of the north of the Assembly Hall.  Only exterior photos are permitted, and even so, I have way more photos than are usual for a blog post, so I just picked a half-dozen.  This building was originally used as a boarding school, and eventually was used as a school of architecture which is still operational today.

Hillside Theater

Here’s a view looking from the north into the theater.  It contained a great stage curtain, designed by Wright, the original seats, also designed by Wright.  When you sat in this theater, when all the curtains were open, you could see light out all four directions, in some cases for over 100 feet or more within the building.  Behind and to the left is a 5,000 square foot building with drafting tables for the school of architecture fellows.

Exterior of Frank Lloyd Wright Studio

We now have moved out of Hillside and a hill and valley over to Wright’s home – Taliesin.  This is an exterior view of Wright’s personal drafting studio, where he presumably designed Fallingwater and the Guggenheim. The windows here are numerous and high, offering light, but not the distraction of people entering and leaving the house as the windows are above the height of the visitors.

Taliesin Courtyard

The courtyard at Taliesin shows part of the house.  The house is 37,000 square feet.   Next year, parts of the house will be 100 years old.  It was very interesting to tour the property and see the genius at work.   The house and buildings were seen as experiments – lab experiments and not necessarily designed for long-term use.  For example, he added a room above his own for his 8-year-old daughter, scaled appropriately for her, with short ceilings.  Of course, the question is why would you design a room for an 8-year-old that would be useless later – well, Wright thought, then you’d try something else and re-do the room.

While his style that has been so broadly adapted throughout North America, these particular structures require tremendous upkeep.

Wright Estate

A view of part of the 660 acre estate looking from Taliesin towards the Hillside school.  Wright thought that this landscape was the perfect human scale – the hills and valleys were something that you could imagine walking to without much trouble – unlike the great plains or mountains.

Wright Hog Barn

Finally, as a farmer, I had to include the Frank Lloyd Wright designed hog barn with the roof sloping down towards you (and noting how the slope of the hog barn also slopes away from the resat of the house!

The tour was worth the $52.

one year ago…”News Flash – Crunch Berries Aren’t Really Fruit”

February 27, 2010 – Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference

For the last few days we’ve been attending the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse, WI. Each year it seems to get bigger. When we first started attending, it was at a convent, then it moved to UW-La Crosse, and now at the La Crosse convention center. Nearly 3,000 attended this year’s meeting, and the La Crosse Center now seems too small.

I thought I’d just put in a shot of the river right behind the conference center since few pictures are more boring than people sitting around tables or chairs talking.

For me, the best part of the conference is sitting down for meals. The food, is, of course, outstanding and without exception, the people you meet at your lunch table are interesting and likable. This year, we seemed to meet many people who were just starting out on their farms and there to soak up information, just like I was years ago.

I’m told be people outside the organic community, that this farm conference is rare in the large number of young people that attend. I got to speak a bit with a reporter from Successful Farming magazine, a mainline farm publication and he said he’s never covered a conference with so many young people – he said it was rare to see a person under 55 at any of the other mainline farming meetings/conferences.

one year ago…”What’s Your Type?”