The Horse Knows the Way

The beautiful rolling hills and bluffs that overlook the Wisconsin River Valley are breath-taking.  Dan and I started and ended a weekend photographing Southeastern MN and Southwestern WI and experiencing the artist community in and around Spring Green, WI. This land is part of the Driftless area, which was left untouched by the glaciers of the Ice Age millions of years ago.

Driftless area

Driving the backroads and taking in the country air will forever be a favorite of mine.  With every turn of the road, you may find an old barn, an abandoned farmstead, the Amish towns, interesting livestock, wildlife galore, or River valleys with breath-taking views…  Wonders for a photographer’s eye.

Some of the main attractions of this area today include Taliesin, which after 1937, was the estate of architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and House on the Rock.  We did not make it to Taliesin but we did visit House of the Rock.  As a child, I remember walking these halls and seeing the many collections that reside here.  As an adult, I was astonished and amazed that one man had this eccentric vision to create what we see today… The world’s most bizarre and immense collection of stuff.

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Dells Mill and Museum, Augusta Wisconson

Dan and I awoke this particular morning with the intention of visiting Dells Mill and Museum in Augusta, Wisconsin.  We had just returned from a recent trip to that area when we learned that one of the few remaining gristmills was just a hop, skip, and a jump to where we were photographing.  After visiting Pickwick Mill and Schech’s Mill in South Eastern Minnesota, we were excited to visit another historic mill and mark that one off of our list of places to photograph near home.

The day was bright and shinny and full of photographic opportunities.  Once inside, we were taken back by the monumental size of this mill and were able to soak in some of its history.

I would highly recommend a stop at this historical site; 2014 will mark its 150th year anniversary.  Take in the sites and the sounds of this old mill and if you are lucky enough, Gus Clark will play a tune for you.  Gus was not only talented, but he was the friendliest museum proprietor and guide around!  Thanks Gus for the knowledge and the wonderful song- I only wish we would have had video rolling.

From the Wisconsin Historical Marker Plaque at the Wisconsin Dells Mill in Augusta Wisconsin

The Dells Mill

Water-Powered grist mills ground the wheat that dominated Wisconsin’s Civil War-era economy. Built in 1864, the mill was one of the server serving area farmers. After wheat production moved westward, owners adapted the building to mill flour and grind feed.

A trip to the Dells mill could be an all-day family affair. Farmers often fished the millpond to pass the time. The millpond also provided a source for the winter ice harvest. A store, hotel, and school grew up nearby to serve the growing community

Creating a mill pond required the building of a dam to flood upstream land. The Wisconsin Territorial Legislature enacted legislation enabling dam construction in 1840.

Built along the dells of Bridge Creek, the base of the mill was carved into the sandstone bedrock. massive hand-hewn timbers secured with wooden pegs make up the structure of the Mill. Water turbines powered the milling process. A concrete dam replaced the original log structure in 1919. Dells Mill, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, operated continuously until 1968

Dells Mill and Museum map

The Dells Mill Museum is open May through October 10 am to 5 pm
The Dells Mill Museum and Historic Properties
E18855 County Road V Augusta, WI 54722
715-286-2714

Back home again- Birthday weekend comes to an end

A genial greeting as we make our way back home; I cannot say enough of the friendliness of this Amish community.

amish

On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again- that song might have entered my mind (yes, I am a geek at times).  There is endless amusement around every corner of a paved, dirt, gravel, or brick road.  I have been, at times, accused of “rubbernecking” sometimes even not saying a word until we are well past what I have seen.  “Turn around”, I say.   The sight of an old building as we are traveling past a town is always worth a closer look and it paid off…  An old Feed Store and a tobacco plant? Very cool, very cool indeed!  My love for old buildings and the stories that they hold will never cease to exist.  Ahhh, the beauty that decay and abandonment can hold.

Through hills and valleys, forests and farmlands we traveled, making our way back to our little furry ones.

This particular trip was overall one of my favorites to date… although, there are many more to come.  Dan’s birthday has past and mine is around the corner.  What will this year of birthday excursions bring?

I thank you for eye-opening trip we had last year honey and look forward to many more.

Over the river and through the woods- Birthday Weekend- Day #2

After our “clean up” from the stuck in the muck episode, Dan and I enjoyed our delicious breakfast and a morning hike around the property of Justin Trails Resort.  We were then off into the surrounding communities of Vernon and Monroe counties for a day of photographic amusement.

Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling in the bottom of you gut when on a roller coaster ride? I do every time we travel over a hill at a certain speed with a certain drop off gradient.  Dan thinks this is funny and will hit every hill that has that right drop-off and at the right speed. This trip was full of those sinking feelings in my stomach, as the landscape in this area was pretty steep at times.

Over the river and through the woods in search of round barns and covered bridges we go.  Included in with the enchanted beauty of Wisconsin’s hidden valleys are large congregations of German-speaking Amish farm families.  They continue to worship, live, and farm today as their pioneering ancestors did 150 years ago.  A friendly, quiet community who welcome anyone with a wave of their hand or a nod of their head. Their farms are immaculate and well kept; it was a treat to see how they live and work off the land.

Lines, lines, and more lines… Birthday Weekend Day #1

Early Monday April 16th 2012, I received an email from Dan with an cryptic image attached stating “It will take us a little over three hours to get to our destination.  We can drive straight there and check in or shoot along the way and check in when we get there – whatever we want to do.  I’ve attached a detailed map of to our destination.  That’s all the information I can share.”
Lines, lines, more lines and a river?  Hmmmmm.

Weekend Birthday Map

My email reply to Dan… “Trying to figure out the trace of a map you sent!  Internet and the Minnesota and Wisconsin maps are in my sight; would this trip have anything to do with round barns and Monroe County?”  It turns out that the “lines” was a travel route leading us to the beautiful Vernon and Monroe Counties in an area of Wisconsin known as the driftless area.  See the detailed maps of Vernon and Monroe Counties for the location of the round barns and covered bridges.  The maps are another story for another day as the “X” didn’t always mark the spot 🙂

Off to a friends house for great conversation and a breakfast of champions (Thanks Linnae).  Hugs as we walked out the door and a wave as we headed on our way. Little did we know- we had a small stowaway named Hans.  Hans caused quite the stir back home when he was found to be missing but he was a good travel companion and enjoyed his time away from home.  Keep a watchful eye out for Hans in the images as he LOVED his picture taken.

Located in southwestern Wisconsin, Vernon and Monroe County is a land of scenic beauty and is in the Driftless Area of the upper midwest.  Glaciers surrounded but did not pass over this land.  From craggy buttes and mesas that once were islands rising from the wooded bed of a great glacial lake and grand marshes where bright red cranberries and mosses grow, Monroe County features a plethora of breathtaking views.  This serene countryside is truly an astounding sight and it’s roller coaster like roads were fun to travel.  Up, down, up, down, up, down… you never knew what your eyes would lay upon at the top of the hill or the bottom for that matter.  Our destination?  Justin Trails Resort in Sparta, WI for a long photography weekend retreat.  Check out Dan’s images from the day at his blog titled Driftless Area Weekend – Monroe County, Wisconsin – Day 1