Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Motel Hell Part I

It's the luck of the dice when you go from one motel to the next, not knowing what you'll pay. Sure. We could have made advanced  reservations, but my husband doesn't like to be tied to some schedule when he travels. So, we just get to a town and hope for the best.

If you've never stayed in a motel/hotel, I've gotta say one thing, you get what you get no matter what you pay. You get a bathroom, bed, TV, and maybe you'll get a refrigerator/microwave, and a window over the parking lot. Some motels include the usual "continental" breakfast. As if the word "continental" is something special. You get bad coffee and stale donuts at the very least. Other places will give you a hot breakfast, actually prepared by someone. Usually this is some sort of fried meat, maybe potatoes, scrambled eggs that look like something from a M.A.S.H. unit, and lumpy oatmeal. There could be waffles, there might be pancakes, it all depends on what the motel is willing to fork out (it's not "free", you've paid for it).

My experience is, you sometimes get lucky. Luck in finding a place to eat nearby (dinner and breakfast), that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

Our first stay was in Eagle River, Wisconsin. We try and find the "Ma & Pop" style motels, because, usually they don't cost much--around $60-$70, tops. Plus, you can usually park right in front of your door. This is good for when you have a lot of heavy stuff to haul in, as they are usually only one-story deals.

We found a place called "Edge Water Inn", it was right off the river, next to a restaurant that we went to the last time we stayed in this town years ago. When we got out, there was only an old Golden Retriever laying under the patio table in front of the office. She was friendly, and came right up to us. When we saw the note on the door saying the person in charge was "relaxing" on the dock out back, we wondered how to get there. No fear, the dog, being as smart as most Goldens, walked to a narrow opening through to the back of the motel.She waited for us to follow. And we found the middle-aged, rotund woman down a flight of steep steps in a lounge chair on a deck off the water, blowing up some sort of individual rafts.

We asked if she had any rooms available. She had two double queens--"maybe". Well we wanted to get that confirmed. She finally got up, saying she had a family reunion and there weren't many rooms left, said something about apartments too. We noted that there were rooms down below the main rooms facing the river, and those must have been the apartments (or suites). Eventually we got a room, near the end, away from the office and all the "family reunion" stuff, and got settled. We realized we had a door to the back deck, and this is where we spent some time relaxing that evening, watching the boats go by.

We paid $94.00 after tax, and for that money, I'd give the room itself a 3, since it needed dusting, but otherwise clean. But the view was a 5. However, the place really needed some up-keep. We didn't lean on the railing, as it was a bit wobbly, and could have used a coat of paint. The decks were rather worn, and should have been stained, and a few boards should have been replaced. Up-keeping on such a place should really be #1 in priority, especially where railings could fail. But this was an older couple, neither of which looked energetic enough to make beds, let alone some of the up-keep needed.

Their reunion commenced as promised, and even though she said we could join them, we aren't that interested in other people's relatives. Thank you. It was a good thing they pretty much contained their partying on the outer-most deck, shown below.

The restaurant next door is called White Spruce, and can be pulled up to via boat, much like this motel. They have a beer garden on their deck. I remember it from last time, but since it began raining, and there was thunder, they didn't seat anyone outside. Bummer. As usual, more than enough food was served. Salad is always first, and it was very good. I had eggplant Parmesan, and Dennis had something called "smoked meatloaf", which he didn't care for. I think my husband could have been a food critic. He really missed his calling.

Getting back to our room, we had difficulty navigating through the stations on the TV. This was Direct TV, with a thousand and one stations, and I do believe you need a PhD in order to understand how to use it. We wound up watching a Harry Potter movie, and could not find any news stations anywhere, not even in the morning.

Even though motels say they have coffee in the morning, they don't have coffee until they've rolled out of bed and made it. We resorted to our old standby by getting into the truck, and finding a gas station store, which always have coffee and some sort of sweet rolls. Plus, we needed ice. 'Nuff said. We got down the road heading for Land O' Lakes, and wherever the road takes us next.

It's beautiful country up this way, and I like it because it doesn't get boring (like 200 miles of Illinois and more than 300 miles of Iowa). I'll be back with rest of trip and Motel Hell Part II.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Get Away

Hi, all. My husband and I went on a 6-day road trip. We traveled up through Wisconsin, stayed in Eagle River, and on the river, which I'll post pictures of. Went on up into Upper Peninsula of Michigan to what they call "rabbit ears" to see Lake Superior and get away from heat and humidity of Illinois. And we did, although a number of the natives were saying it was hotter than normal, even more humid. To us it was a wonderful reprieve from our 60%-70% humidity down here.

I'm just going to post some pictures, and throw in some descriptions below.

Trip through Wisconsin is always more enjoyable than going west through Illinois and Iowa.

Me relaxing with a drink at Bridgewater Inn on Eagle River. I felt for the price of the view it was almost reasonable, but the upkeep could have been better. 

Boats on the river, they had a posted speed requirement, we watched them all slow down at this point.

The next day we headed into Michigan, the Upper Peninsula to reach our goal destination.

Lake Superior is the larges fresh water lake IN THE WORLD! Thus the name.

Above this trail beckoned us to go to the sandy beach, where I put my feet in and acted like a kid. I think acting like a kid keeps me young.

Thanks for joining me.
I'll post rest of trip pics later this week as time permits.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Attention to Detail

I've always been a person who needed to put in detail. While an art student, I drew with ink and pen and did the most detailed drawings. Then my eyes began getting bad in my late 40's and drawing was a bit difficult.

But today isn't about drawing at all. Today is about gardening. Look at picture below and tell me if you think this isn't a natural-looking setting.

I worked on this yesterday, hauling in rocks, moving dirt, digging up the snow-on-the-mountain plants you see draped across the wood. One is a very large grape vine, below it is actually a piece of split-rail post (which I sawed by hand!). The rocks I've moved from an area I no longer use and this took a few loads because rocks are heavy.

I love when blossoms come on and I'd like to share a few with you today.

These are bluebells

This is a black variety of hollyhocks, which I've been enjoying for a few years.
Hollyhock are biannual

above are the pink and white hollyhock, and in front are the daylily "Stella de Oro"

Foreground is the brick which I put in myself a few years back. The white flowers along the edges are candytuft and alyssum. In background are the daylillies, and to the very right is wormwood, has a nice silvery-blue color which I love. 

And here is a garden visitor you absolutely want--a dragonfly.  We have a larger one with a white body that looks menacing (to mosquitoes), that comes through once in a while. 

I'll have more blossoms coming up soon. My Shasta daisies, and other things next time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Spring Blossoms Late

But better late than never, right?

Here is a beautiful Columbine, which I'd transplanted last year and it took off--and I guarded jealously from the deer! The second pic shows the hosta that came in beautifully too.

This small garden was developed last year, after my husband and I cut out a lot of debris/dead or unwanted trees and growth. I worked hard on this planting. I have several different plants, which will each have their own blooming season. The Iris popped out, and they were showing as well, but didn't take a picture of them.

However, the lupine did well in it's new spot.

This is under that water tower I mentioned in a previous blog, where I worked (again very hard to eradicate unwanted plants, soil, etc.) in order to put in plants I had waiting for the rain to stop and soil to dry out at least some.

Below, this doesn't look like much, but this is from a rose bush. I harvest 90% of my plants either from parent plants, seeds or division. This one went in next to one I transplanted last year. When it finally blossoms, I'll get a picture of it.

I'm a collector of many things, rocks, plants, and even moss. Above, you can see that moss does really well under a tree, and it's even coated a rock next to the little bowl where the birds drink, or take a bath. Taking up moss is easy, since it basically grows across the ground. It's so thick in places, and I love the different kinds I find either on our property or in the woods in the park.

And speaking of rocks... I have been working on this section, which is blasted by the sun, and I've worked hard on, but once the heat came in, I had to quit. However, I have been working on it and will have more pictures to show at a later date.

As we live smack dab in the middle of the forest preserve/wetlands we not only get deer, but other unusual birds or animals. Both Dennis and I have seen the turkey, and some other people have seen it too. Well, here is a picture of it in our backyard. Later on, we learned that people (birdwatchers) who had spotted it--the birdwatchers who come out here--were looking for it, and some woman who spoke to my husband who was ready to leave on his mower asked him whether he'd seen the turkey. Of course he didn't tell her that we had, or we'd have the bird-watching paprazzi pouncing on this place.
This is a female. I've never seen any male, so she's a bit lonely. But she definitely is camera shy, since she came up from the prairie behind the barn, and made her way casually across our lawn. I knew exactly where she was heading.

She's heading into my secret woods (Lorelei's Enchanted Forest), which we've had to protect from the other forest preserve workers who seem to be demented about chopping out trees and vegetation. My husband has had to warn them on several occasions that this area is off limits, they are not to touch it. The deer and, as you can see, large fowl, seek it for their piece of mind. No one can come barging in, as the tangle of grapevine, sticky berry bushes and a few well-placed gates prevent anyone from just wandering in from the park.

More later on in the season as things progress. I'm waiting on my blanket flowers and Shasta daisies to open up. I hope to prevent deer from taking interest in them as well. We've got a new brood of fawns--my husband saw 3 crossing the road from the field into our woods, which is their favorite place to rest and hide from people, only just this morning.