Sunday, August 24, 2003

We managed to add an extra two, if not three, hours on to our return trip by getting lost in Brown County. It's bad when you know you're driving south along the lake, but you can't find a road heading south--much less a lake--on your map. Neither of us is an idiot, but we had to ask for directions three different times before we made it to a spot we recognized.

Although we drove right through Portland, we skipped the big tractor engine show. We picked up a flyer for it in Geneva, and I must say, when I saw they were going to have six thousand different spark plugs on display, I was sorely tempted. Hanging out with 30,000 other people actually interested in all those spark plugs didn't sound like a good time, though.

We had a great time watching the kingfishers and herons at the Loblolly Marsh this morning. The DNR has been working on reclaiming the wetlands--the former Limberlost Swamp--for the past six years, and the Loblolly is a good example of what can be done to return cultivated land to a more wild state. I'm not sure if turning corn fields back into marshland is a good idea or not--surely the land has been poisoned with pesticides, surely we shouldn't be pretending we can control nature--but it does seem that the area *wants* to be swamp land. I know it took a lot of human work to turn it back into a marsh, but no human brought back the birds and fish and frogs and bugs.

Loblolly Swamp

Loblolly Swamp

Loblolly Swamp

Anyway, after we spent some time out at the Loblolly, we went back into town and talked with the site manager of the Limberlost Historic Site. We talked to him quite a bit yesterday, but it must have been slow today, because he didn't seem like he was trying to get rid of us. Probably everyone that would usually visit was in Portland at the tractor engine show.

Oh, I am not making this up, Catherine took a picture of it: we stopped at a Shell station at the intersection of 27 and 67 to wash off the Deet, and outside the gas station they had a converted soda-vending machine full of live bait. $3.00 for premium night crawlers, $2.00 for the regular kind, $1.50 for moths. What kind of quality control do you have when you're buying your bait out of a vending machine?

Live bait machine

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