In May 2014 I was traveling to De Pere (for my brothers college graduation) from Stevens Point. I took the long way and stopped in Krakow, WI. In 2011 I had studied abroad in Krakow, WI so I wanted to see how they compared. Here are some pictures of the Krakow without the castle. Much of the Polish past could be seen in the church and cemetery.
Welcome to Krakow, WI
Old Schoolhouse in Krakow
Church in Krakow, WI. The words say “Kosciol Sw. Kazimierza” Kosciol is church and Sw. is like St. as in Saint. So St. Casimir’s Church
Me at the Krakow sign
[I visited in 2014 and these pictures are from that time.]
Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron is a sculpture park between Sauk City and Baraboo. It is very cool and completely unexpected. They have a website here. The pictures do not do the place justice and there is so much to see. When I went there was even an active geocache which gave our exploring a focus.
In July I had the chance to hike at the Humbug Spires Recreation Area with my girlfriend. It was a beautiful day and the the 25 mile drive from Butte to the trail head was pleasant until we got to the washboard gravel roads. A Toyota Camry wasn’t designed for it but we survived, although the CD we were listening to did not. That’s Montana roads for you. There was also a fallen tree near the parking lot so we could only get so close, but I just thought of it as bonus hiking.
Butterfly at Humbug Spires
Trail at Humbug Spires near Butte
The trail was 3 miles one way to the foundations of a prospectors cabin. I am not sure how old this is as there was not a lot of signage. The area is popular with mountain climbers but we did not see any on the day we went. It was a Monday so that might have something to do with it. There were some small hills to overcome, but otherwise the trail was pretty easy. There are lots of rock formations. The area is part of the Boulder Batholith.
The Wedge formation at Humbug Spires
Cabin foundation at the end of the trail
This was a nice hike and it was also close to Butte. I am certain I will be going there again. The above cabin foundation at the end of the trail was a great place to picnic and think about what living here back in the day would have been like. Get outside and find something new near you!
Evel Knievel was born and raised in Butte, MT. Every year they hold an Evel Knievel Days festival featuring stuntmen, motocross, bmx shows, base jumpers and even a flying snowmobile (sorry I didn’t catch a picture of the last one).
Here is Geoff Aaron doing his trials bike show. He climbed over all of these obstacles for about 20 minutes without putting a foot down on the ground. Pretty impressive!
Geoff Aaron at Evel Knievel Days 2016
Geoff Aaron at Evel Knievel Days 2016
There were also base jumpers. We watched the lift go up and up and up over the Original Mine Yard. Not for the faint of heart!
Base Jumping in Butte
Way to scary for me to ever do!
The festivities included Evel Kross on a course made earlier in the week. Although it was only 5 laps most people, especially the amateurs, looked exhausted by the end of it. A few had trouble getting over the tires.
Up and over the tires for Evel Kross 2016
Making it look easy at Evel Kross 2016
There was also a downhill mountain bike course and a pedal drift trike course. Continue reading
My girlfriend and I spent 3 nights at Glacier National Park in early July. If you haven’t been you should really make plans to go. The park was gorgeous and we did some hiking on all days except the day we left. We ended up doing part of the Lake McDonald trail, the Logan Pass to Hidden Lake Overlook, Avalanche Creek trail, and the Highline from Logan Pass to the Loop via Granite Chalet and the Grinnell Glacier Overlook. Along the way we saw beautiful views, many animals (no bears though) and some nice plants.
Entry sign to the west side of Glacier
Lake McDonald is a large, glacially formed lake on the west side of Glacier National Park. It has a few campgrounds around it’s perimeter. We took a short hike along the west side of the lake. A large forest fire swept through the park in 2003. You could tell on the hike where the forest fire ended.
Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park
Can you tell where the forest fire line is?
Below are some pictures from Logan Pass to Hidden Lake Overlook. Continue reading
I quit my job. My last day was Wednesday (Star Wars Day – May the Fourth be with you). As time went on I realized I wasn’t interested in climbing to the next rung of the ladder so the drive and energy was hard to maintain month after month. Working just for the money can be a real grind long term.
I am going to miss the people I worked with at my old job in Middleton. I made a lot of friends and met a lot of cool people over the three and a half years I worked there. I also had the opportunity to help mentor others which was rewarding. Some of those I mentored in turn started to mentor others which is neat to see.
I learned a lot about the insurance industry and saw how hard work can pay off. This was my first “real job” after college and it was a great introduction to the real world. I did well and managed to pay off my student loans last fall which made my current life change possible.
I had been thinking about leaving for about a year or so. The timing I picked worked out well. My apartment lease was up, my girlfriend is finishing up grad school next week, the weather is turning from spring to summer, and I have a round trip ticket to Athens and not enough vacation days.
(My previous employer always sent polite notification emails to the rest of the team when people left wishing the departing employee “best of luck in their future endeavors)
Plenty of time for coloring now that I am unemployed.
My immediate plan is tagging along on a 2 week vacation to Greece with my girlfriend and her friend. I do have some other things I would like to do as time goes by. Last year I earned my motorcycle license and bought a small motorcycle so I hope to get some miles in on that. I also plan to kayak and bicycle and enjoy the weather. I look forward to seeing more of my parents and other family members.
The next step is to wait until my girlfriend finds a job and look for something wherever she ends up. I moved back to Horicon to live with my dad to keep the rent low and stretch my savings if I have to while the job search is happening. I know that this change will be a net positive (if not financially then at least where happiness is concerned).
I am excited about the next adventure and hope to share more with you. But if the past is any indication any sharing will be sporadic at best!
I figured with the new year’s holiday it would be a good time to recap 2015 and look ahead to 2016.
On October 2nd, 2015 (IndeBrendence Day) I paid off my student loans. I graduated in May 2012 with about $26,000 in debt. I am pretty please with the speed in which I paid it off. A lot of this was me putting most of my work bonus towards it. When I first started paying it off I was paying over $3 a day in interest or close to $100 a month. Once I saw that I knew that they had to go.
I signed up for a motorcycle course and got my license in the fall. I also purchased a small dual sport bike (Yamaha XT225 in case you were wondering). This was definitely a splurge. I only rode it a few times (including on Christmas Eve) but hope to put some miles on next summer. My dad and brother ride as do many of my extended family.
I bought a plane ticket to Rwanda to visit my brother who is a Peace Corp volunteer there. I haven’t seen him since fall 2014. I am leaving in about two weeks with my Dad and two family friends. The plan is to spend two weeks exploring the country. I am really excited!
I took a relaxing trip with my girlfriend to the Apostle Island area of Wisconsin. This was the second year in a row of vacationing around Lake Superior. The big water must have a hold on me. We stayed on Madeline Island and in Bayfield. We took a kayaking trip that was a lot of fun. We also went to Big Top Chautauqua for a concert. I highly recommend that if you are in the area.
Boat on Lake Superior from Madeline Island
Detail of plants on Madeline Island
Detail of plants on Madeline Island
Detail of plants on Madeline Island
Detail of plants on Madeline Island
I also took a road trip to Omaha Nebraska for a family wedding. My dad, two of my Aunts and Continue reading
A few months back I entered a haiku contest with the weekly local magazine called the Isthmus. I won first place out of about 240 entries. There were six categories and I entered one for the Local Celebrities category. I wrote about Thong Cape Scooter Man. Although I have never seen him myself I have heard of him. He is a character that rides around a scooter in a thong and a cape. His name pretty much says it all.
Below is the image from the print publication:
My winning haiku about local celebrity Thong Cape Scooter Man from the Isthmus
My poem has a couple of things going for it that I think helped win. The subject is something that is unique to Madison, the words are similar to a quote from Batman, and it is kind of self deprecating. You should take a look at the rest of the poems from the article Isthmus Haiku Contest 2015 – there are some really great ones. I also noticed all of the advertising for the rules and event the title itself was haiku – it is a nice touch.
First prize was 2 tickets to the Isthmus Beer and Cheese Fest in January so I am looking forward to attending that. I guess now I can say I am a published poet. I was thinking about framing the print article although it would look pretty silly on my wall. Also I would like it on the record that I did not draw or pick the illustration.
Winning this has been pretty cool and helps to feed the creative fire and lets me feel like a contributor rather than just a consumer of other peoples work. It feels good. Have you ever won a contest or had some of your writing published?
We are three weeks into the month and I have been keeping pretty busy.
On October 2nd I paid off my student loans. I am coining it Indebrendence Day. I even wrote a haiku for the occasion:
My student loans are
paid; Today shall be known as
That night I met my dad, his cousins and some of their friends downtown Madison because they were in town for a football game. I made it to a few new (to me) bars (Genna’s, HopCat) and a few old ones (Brocach, Paul’s Club, Irish Pub). It was a great evening out. A little side story – I went downtown unprepared for the cold. I was shivering as I was walking up State Street to the square. It was almost 9 at night but Ragstock was open so I ducked in and bought a baja (aka drug rug). I have always wanted one, I am not sure why, and this was the perfect reason.
The first Saturday of the month saw me visiting my Aunt & Grandma and going to ScanFest which included good food and an Abba tribute band! In the row in front of us was a kid that was really into the music and it was fun to see someone connecting with something so much. (I also have been there several times before – see this post)
This month I also gave blood at the Red Cross. While I was there I saw public radio personality Norman Gilliland also donating. It was a neat brush with a local celebrity. After that I met my brother for lunch at the always delicious Oakcrest Tavern and then we went to the Mustard Museum in Middleton.
One weekend my girlfriend visited and we had a night out. We ate dinner at Qdoba on the way downtown. The traffic was terrible and I am not a traffic person at all. But the prize was the Madison Symphony Orchestra. I have never been there and it was pretty neat. There were three pieces played. I liked the last one the best because of the percussion. The second piece featured a soloist on violin. The instrument was Stradivarius and it was older than the piece he was playing. Apparently they name these and his was the Marsick Stradivarius.
We finished the night with poutine from Mad City Frites. I had heard of the place several times in the media and I wanted to try it and I finally did. The poutine was pretty good although I don’t think I have ever had poutine before so I have nothing to compare it too. It hit the spot on a cold, windy October evening. I will have to get back there as a lot of the other options on the menu looked pretty good.
Now I am enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. I am still wearing shorts on my bike ride into work. And the Packers are undefeated. Life is good right now. I hope your October is going well.
Yesterday had most of the ingredients for a top notch Saturday including family, friends and gorgeous weather.
It was an early start to the day with the alarm going off at a little after 7. I headed to Horicon to my dad’s. We loaded up my kayak in the back of his truck and he dropped me off at Greenhead boat landing for the Horicon Marsh paddle put on by the Friends of Horicon Marsh. It was sunny with a nice breeze. There were over a hundred boats doing the 6.5 mile trek with stops along the way to learn about birds from DNR employees. I took my time and finished in 2.5 hours. I saw a bald eagle pointed out to me. There is one nesting and has 3 little ones.
After I got back my brother, father and I headed to a family friends 50th anniversary party in West Bend. It was neat to see all of the lives this couple have touched over the years including our family’s. And the food was good as well – I especially enjoyed the Swiss steak.
After driving back to Horicon I headed back to Middleton for Shake the Lake fireworks on Lake Monona. I took the bus downtown (with my bike on the front of the bus), grabbed a quick bite to eat at Paul’s Pelmeni and met with some friends to watch the fireworks. It was almost a 40 minute show. I think it was aptly named as at some points the ground was indeed shaking. There were hundreds of red and green lights on the lake from the boats watching the show.
Afterwards I biked home in the beautiful evening weather. I hadn’t bike from downtown since last fall. It is about 7 miles or so and is really peaceful late at night (as long as you have a headlight to see where you are going).
Overall it was the kind of Saturday that you look forward to beforehand and treasure afterwards. Summer days with weather like that make the winter more bearable and the family and friends just enhance the enjoyment.