Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back on the Road
August 8-11
Outside Sarona, WI

Here we sit at Whitetail Ridge Campground and RV Park located between Sarona and Shell Lake, WI. For those who need a quick lesson in WI geography, that's located in the northwestern part of the state, north of Eau Claire up Highway 53. We left home on Monday, drove up here and camped for these four nights. Tomorrow we'll head a few miles south to New Auburn to connect with our friends Mark and Gloria Carlson from Baraboo. They have a lake home outside New Auburn where we'll spend the weekend. By leaving here before the weekend, we'll miss out on the opportunity to see Gilbert Brown and Santana Dodson of the Green Bay Packers who'll be here for a fundraising camp for a charitable foundation.

We came up here to Whitetail Ridge to be near Spooner and the Wisconsin Great Northern Railway. One of our traveling goals is to ride each of the operating tourist railroads in the U.S. That will take quite a while since there are hundreds of them! This was a 2-1/4 hour ride on about twelve miles of railroad. We started out in a regular passenger car that had been remodeled for the "dinner train" that the WGN runs (we were just on the noon train and that is NOT a dinner train). The conductor, being a friendly fellow, stopped to chat with us after the train got underway and then sat down and we had quite the conversation with this retired railroader who now volunteers two days a week as a conductor for the WGN. Just as we were reaching the north end of the run, he came back to our seat and quietly asked would we like to ride in the engine on the ride back! We certainly would! So we were led through the next car and told to sit tight and wait. After the train stopped, we were escorted to the engine. Here's a picture of the S-1 Switch Engine that was powering the train for the day. After that is a picture of me standing in the doorway of the engine, the engineer's area, and me sitting in the fireman's seat.

Wisconsin Great Northern S-1

In the doorway of S-1 Switch Engine

Engineer's Console for S-1 Switch Engine

On the fireman's seat of an S-1 Switcher
The train ride itself was just a jaunt through the northern Wisconsin woods with regular glimpses of the road and many trees along the way. We went past the Namekagon River but didn't get to cross it.

We also went to Spooner's very fine Railroad Memories Museum located in what remains of the old Spooner train station.

Spooner Railroad Memories Museum
(with F-7 of Wisconsin Great Northern in the background)

There were thirteen rooms of railroad history and memorabilia. It was truly a fine place to visit.

The train trip was on Tuesday. On Wednesday we had a slow morning ending with me on an hour long coaching call with my mentor coach. This was the final session of my year-long course of study for International Coach Federation certification (I still have to get enough hours of coaching in to qualify for that certification but have gone a long way toward it!). Then we went up to Spooner again to see the Canoe Museum that is located there. It was interesting but was a bit overpriced at $4.00 per person for a two room museum. They did have some very beautiful and interesting canoes and the best part of the visit was the opportunity to go into the shop area where they were both refurbishing old canoes and building some new ones. These are finely crafted wood or wood and canvas canoes so they are truly works of art!

Just what the sign says!

In front of the workshop at the Canoe Heritage Museum
(volunteer is restoring a 1930s era wooden canoe)

Today, Thursday, we put our kayaks in Long Lake (the largest lake in Washburn County, WI) and paddled around for a couple of hours. We got plenty of sun and water and had a good time.

Long Lake

Long Lake

We came back to the campground for lunch and in mid afternoon ran out to Shell Lake for ice cream, which we enjoyed sitting near the Shell Lake beach looking out on (what do you expect) Shell Lake! It's a tough life but somebody's got to do it!

This catches you up with us. Tomorrow we move on. We'll go to New Auburn, then over to Eagle River, down to Green Bay, and finally to Baraboo where we'll finish our summer's travels. But that won't be for a while yet, so follow along with us as we go!