Winter Wonderland

According to Wikipedia,

The song, Winter Wonderland, was originally written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyrics). Throughout the years, it has been recorded by over 150 different artist!

When it snows, ain’t it thrillin’?
Tho’ your nose, gets a chillin’
We’ll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland.

Please enjoy some of the frolicking we have done in our little Winter Wonderland.

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A Family Affair

This particular day, we were itching to get out of the house and so were the girls. We forget sometimes that the furry little ones go stir crazy in the winter as well when they can’t go outside to chase “Chippy” or “Bun-Bun”. They will often sit on the bed and look out the window searching the woods for four-legged vermin.   As we were packing the car with the camera gear, the girls were bouncing off the walls. Take me, Take me, TAKE ME!

With their cute little faces, they win every time. We decided to travel around close to home and drove into the Hay Creek area; a small town just south of Red Wing on Hwy 58.   A campground, an old western saloon, the Goodhue Pioneer State Trail, Hay Creek Stables, 15 miles of equestrian trails, and a blue ribbon trout stream. The beautiful valley’s that make up the Hay Creek day-use area is beautiful in every season.

After photographing some enthralling horses in the Hay Creek area, we then moved on to Bay City Wisconsin; a small town east of Red Wing on the shores of Lake Pepin. If ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping in for a bite to eat at “The Chef Shack” a delightful restaurant with the best service ever and mouth-watering food! We decided to drive out onto Lake Pepin (that felt weird) to gain a different perspective of the landscape. Maneuvering around the ice heaves and listening to the ice crack was unnerving and we didn’t travel too far onto the frozen lake… Call me chicken 🙂

All in all, the Traun Family enjoyed our time together.  Please enjoy the images from this little, close-to-home adventure.

 

Winter Bliss

With our chilly winters and unreliable weather here in Southeastern MN and Southwestern WI, I still am proud to call this place my home.  I have been known to call my mother as the burning, frigid air passes through my nostrils while I am cleaning off my car after a fresh snow and ask, “Why would you raise a family in this state with this kind of weather?”   Truth be told, I love the four seasons.  I love the angle of the light in Winter, the green tip of the Tulip as at it pushes through the winter residue in Spring, the green, green, greenness of this land in Summer, and the beautiful array of color that Autumn can bring.  All seasons inspire me and continue to keep me here.

Sometimes the cold can force the body indoors and push you towards hibernation, just ask any Grizzly bear in the Northern Hemisphere.  However, Dan and I will still venture out and capture what we see in this amazing state.  Winter can add a spotlight to an item that is otherwise obscured in the thickness of the forest.  Please enjoy the images from this unseasonably warm Winter day as we traveled through rolling hills and farmland into the area of Augusta, WI.

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

Golden Sand

Wisconsin frac sand mine facilitiesWithin the past 8-10 years Hydraulic Fracturing has become more prevalent in the United States as we try to keep up with our countries energy demands.  Dan and I did not completely realize or appreciate the indirect impact that Hydraulic Fracturing is having on our countryside, our health, our communities and even our pocketbooks.  

Even though Hydraulic Fracturing in not being done here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the driftless area in these states is sitting on a gold mine of sorts…Golden Silica Sand.  The sand used in the process of Hydraulic Fracturing is sitting below the bluffs and rolling hills in this region.  Dan and I have known about the discrete underground sand mine located in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin for sometime now.   Frac Sand mining became more of an issue last year as the demand for this “Golden” sand has increased.  The residents of the small town of Diamond Bluff, Wisconsin, lost the battle with a large corporation and the underground mine in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin wants to expand its territory substantially.  There is also a proposed mining site just outside of Red Wing.  All of this activity spurred us to start educating ourselves more on the sand boom. One side saying “Sand = Jobs”, the other “Save our Bluffs;” there is certainly a very easily discernible differences in each camp’s way of thinking.  I am not here to say what is right or wrong or force anyone to have the same beliefs as I do.  I will, however, encourage people to become informed on the practice of Hydraulic Fracturing.  Please take the time to increase your awareness as to what these communities are facing and more importantly, how our environment and wildlife is currently being effected.  What is our future going to look like after the sand is gone?

Maiden Rock, WI Projected underground expansion projectMAIDEN ROCK, WI proposed underground Frac Sand Mining expansion

Last year, Dan and I started hearing about the battle that concerned citizens and business owners were facing  just across the river from our home in beautiful Red Wing, MN.  We started to educate ourselves on how the whole Hydraulic Fracturing process worked, what the majority of this “Golden Sand” is being used for, what the effect of Frac Sand mining has on our environment, our health and wildlife, and watching the documentary “Gasland” & “The Price of Sand.” Knowing that these mines provide employment for local families certainly complicates, as well as ignites, the passion surround the arguments on both sides.    Many states are being affected by this procedure whether it be the Frac Sand mining (both underground and strip mining), or the Hydraulic Fracturing itself.  Again I encourage you to become more aware, educate yourself and others you care about and most importantly, get involved.  The real issue here isn’t necessarily Frac Sand mining or hydraulic fracturing itself, it is our country’s insatiable thirst for fossil fuels.  But until that very issue can be addressed, we need to find a better way – a more responsible way – to extract these energy sources.

Please take a trip with us to the beautiful land of surround Augusta, Wisconsin in Eau Claire County.  We had originally set out to photograph farm animals, abandoned farmsteads, wildlife, barns and the surrounding community.  What we actually saw troubled us and sparked the need to know more about this sand boom.  Driving along the rolling hills near Augusta, we were shocked at what we saw in the middle of this picturesque farmland.  Turning a corner, we noticed a towering object that extended as far as our eyes could see.  We had never ran into anything of this sort in our travels;  our curiosity and wonder drew us closer.  We passed by an Amish family in a horse drawn buggy as we came closer to a section of the contraption.  In one picture, please notice how close the settling ponds and plant is to the Amish farm.  How will the Amish community in that area be affected?  How will this affect all of us?

Only time will tell; and tell it is indeed.  Story after story is surfacing in local news outlets and social media.  Economic and environmental harm is never too far from one of these mining operations.  What is the magic equation here?  How many jobs is worth what amount of harm to our economy and/or environment?  This is quite a predicament we find ourselves in.

Sneak a peak at Dan’s post on this subject: The cost of an unsightly landscape companion.

The Amish of Augusta, Wisconsin

A world without automobiles, telephones, and computers?  I could not imagine life without all the accommodations.  However, Amish communities thrive without today’s technology and the headaches that come along with it.  From sunrise to sunset, they are a hard working group.  They use the land and all it has to offer without the machinery that we see today.

According to Wikipedia:

“Amish lifestyle is dictated by the Ordnung (German, meaning: order), which differs slightly from community to community, and, within a community, from district to district. What is acceptable in one community may not be acceptable in another. No summary of Amish lifestyle and culture can be totally adequate, because there are few generalities that are true for all Amish. Groups may separate over matters such as the width of a hat-brim, the color of buggies, or other issues

Bearing children, raising them, and socializing with neighbors and relatives are the greatest functions of the Amish family.  All Amish believe large families are a blessing from God.”

This particular Amish settlement in Augusta, Wisconsin was founded over 30 years ago and is 6 church districts in size.  Roughly ¾ of Wisconsin’s forty or so Amish settlements consist of just 1-2 church districts. Wisconsin has been experiencing high levels of in-migration as nearly 30 Amish settlements have been founded over the past two decades.

The Amish are known for their beautiful handmade quilts, baskets, furniture, and many other items. In their communities you will often find bakeries, furniture or cabinet making shops, quilt shops, as well as general stores with unique items.

If you are ever in the area, the Woodshed, in Augusta, Wisconsin specializes in Amish antiques and woodworks and offers tours through a nearby Amish settlement. Visitors can savor mouthwatering homemade candy and baked goods, watch furniture makers and visit the Amish sawmills in this area. This tour also offers the chance to visit horse breeders and harness makers.

Augusta, Wisconsin

On this particular morning, Dan and I had discussed traveling to the area of Augusta, WI.  The sun was shining and the weather was perfect for a photography outing, so we packed up the car with photography gear (and the girls) and headed on our merry way.

Augusta WI map

Augusta, Wisconsin is a small community situated between rolling valleys in central Wisconsin and is part of a region known as Chippewa Valley.  The area is beautiful, full of river valleys and streams, rolling hills, marshes, forests, and bountiful farmland.  We were also drawn to this area due to its Amish settlement and Dells Mill (both of which will be mentioned in later posts).

On this day, we were lucky enough to spy not only one, but two, abandoned farmsteads, a thriving Amish community, and a new industry popping up in this area.  The outcome was a fun filled day of a variety of photography, a realization of the impact of man’s consumer needs, and two very tired pups.  Please enjoy the first of three posts regarding this area.  This post will focus on the two abandoned farmsteads we just happened to stumble upon this day.

ATTRACTIONS IN THE AREA INCLUDE:

Amish Tours at The Wood Shed 
(715) 286-5404, 105 West Lincoln Street (Hwy 12 East), Augusta, WI 54722

Dells Mill Tour – Water Powered Museum Tour
(715) 286-2714, Museum is 5 miles North on County Road V, Augusta, WI 54722