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A month ago I joined a Wisconsin DNR program called Snapshot Wisconsin. I went to a training session in Spooner, Wisconsin where I was given instructions and the camera equipment. The DNR is looking for volunteers to place trail cameras all over the state. The data is then used to the conditions of various species. The trail cameras are free but you are required to upload the photos periodically and then go through the photos and identify if they contain people (these are deleted), if the photo is blank or what type of animal is in the photo. I’ve been through the process several times and it does require several  hours every few weeks. It depends upon how much wildlife you have in your area. These are a few of the shots from the first month of activity.

Most of my activity consisted of White-tailed Deer including a nice buck that has been hanging around. I extracted the photos near the end of deer season but I don’t know if the buck survived. Since the season ended I have seen the four does that were hanging around.

White Tailed Deer

White Tailed Deer

White Tailed Deer

White Tailed Deer

Skunk

Raccoons

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On a recent trip to Duluth we noticed that the Neah Bay was in the harbor so we walked down to take a look at it. I don’t believe I have photographed this ship before.

 

On our recent trip to Duluth we took in the 2018 edition of the Bentleyville Tour of Lights. Every year they seem to get better. This year was the best ever

with a number of new displays.

 

Our first ski trip of the season took us to Ironwood Michigan. The drive over to Ironwood was OK but just outside of Ironwood it started snowing. It was snowing so hard that we had trouble following the road to the ABR Ski Trails. The trails had been groomed the night before but by 11 am they had received 7 inches of new snow. It was beautiful on the ski trails but the wax was not working good and it was tough going.

These are a few of the birds I’ve seen around the feeder the last few weeks.

Northern Cardinal

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Downy Woodpecker

Blue Jay

Black-capped Chickadee

In the morning we took the metro out to Kolsås, Norway with the goal of hiking up Kolsåstoppen. There was some construction on the metro line so we had to switch trains at Majorstuen.

More photos from Norway can be found on my website.

When we reached Kolsås we wandered around a while looking for the hiking trail to Kolsåstoppen. As is typically the case the instructions for the hike weren’t the best. We finally notice a really small sign on a lamp post. The trail seemed to take us through a residential area before heading into the woods.

We hiked for about a half an hour before I decided to call it quits. It was really hot and I don’t do all that well in hot weather. I told my wife to go on and I would wait for her but she decided she would turn back with me. As we neared the start of the trail we became lost once again. We recognized some of the landmarks but it seemed that just about every house in the neighborhood had started their own trail to the main trail so it was almost impossible to find the main trail. My wife said it was OK to walk through someones yard in Norway but I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. In the USA you would like get shot doing something like that. Fortunately we did find the trail and made out way back to the metro station.

On a positive note we found the bakery I had been looking for since arriving in Oslo. On our first day in Oslo we were trying to find the metro ticked office and I spotted a beautiful bakery. Unfortunately we were not able to find it again no matter how hard we looked. I had finally concluded that I imagined the whole thing. We were wandering around in Central Station and there it was the Bit Byporten .

We then walked over to Sørenga. The area between the barcode buildings and Sørenga is under heavy development. In the second photo the new Munch Museum can be seen. The last photo shows development along the Akerselva River. It was a warm day and many folks were floating down the river into Oslo Fjord.

We walked past the new Munch Museum and walked over a floating walkway to Sørenga. Until recently Oslo the city was separated from Oslo the Fjord by highways and industry. About 20 years ago a Fjord City Master plan was developed to bring connect the city to the waterfront by placing highways under the city and removing dilapidated harbor properties. Some development had taken place before the master plan for example Aker Brygge and the Barcode Project. Sørenga is designed to be a self contained community with trendy restaurants, grocery stores and schools.

The views of the new Munch Museum and the barcode project are spectacular from Sørenga.

As I noted it was a beautiful warm day and many folks were out catching the rays of the sun. A large free public space offers floating jetties, a beach, diving boards, outdoor showers, separate children’s pool, grassy areas, a 50-metre pool with lanes, and a 200 sq metre seawater pool and it is all free and open to the public.

A couple of kids were paddling around without adult supervision. I had trouble figuring out why I took the second photo but when I looked at it closely I noticed that someone had a fishing pole out over the water from the second floor condo.

Lots of folks were floating the Akerselva River out into the Oslo Fjord.

My wife had visited the Hadeland Glassverks Factory many years ago when she was a student in Norway. We had been in Scandinavia for about a month at this point and during that time she had been a little obsessed about getting out to the factory. Just about every time we were at the visitors center she would ask about it. Each time they explained that it was a difficult place to visit using public transportation. She spent a good amount of time over two days plotting how to get to the factory. The day finally arrived to begin our great adventure. We started off the day with some fresh Raspberries which we had picked the day before.

More photos from Norway can be found on my website.

We took the train to Gardermoen Airport. When we arrived we asked where we could pick up the bus for the Hadeland Glassverks Factory. A friendly person at the information booth gave us we could take bus 260 and told us when and where we could catch it. We found the bus stop and waited. About 10 minutes after the scheduled departure a mini bus pulled up to the departure point and a few people got on. The bus didn’t have a number and the sign in the drivers side window said Gardermoen Airport. After about 10 minutes my wife asked the driver if he stopped at Hadeland Glassverks. Turns out it was one of his stops and it would be about a 45 minute drive. It was a nice drive through the countryside.

We asked the driver to let us know when we arrived at the factory. The bus stop was only a short distance from the but stop but it was out of sight. We spent several hours at the factory. They had animals and places for kids to play. Clearly this is a place that people drive to. We were the only ones that took the bus everyone else drove.

The glass works was founded in 1762 and the initial production used skilled craftsmen from Germany. The production was mainly medicine jars and bottles and some household glass. In the mid 1800’s production switched to household items such as crystal, wine glasses and dishes. In the 1920’s it started developing its own designs. It is the oldest industrial company that can claim continuous operations since its founding. Today most of its production is done overseas but they still maintain a group of artisans that operate on site at the visitors center.

We watched them blow glass and visitors were allowed to blow their own glass.

I think the real goal was to purchase something from the factory outlet. The fact that we were traveling light with only a backpack for the 2 month visit to Scandinavia limited what we could purchase. We ended up with some small glass birds.

 

We thought we found the bus stop to catch the bus back to Gardermoen Airport. There was a small sign that indicated the bus stopped at this location but buses came and went. Finally my wife notice a mini bus approaching at a high rate of speed. She knew that, if you wanted a bus to stop you had to flag it down. She stepped out and waved it down. Fortunately she did or we would probably still be standing waiting for the bus. Back at Gardermoen we caught the train into Oslo Central.

It was late in the day but we still had plenty of light so we decided to walk over to the Opera House. The new Deichman Library is being built next to the Opera House.

We had never walked to the top before so we decided to do that. From the top we had a good view of the new Munch Museum which is being built behind the Opera House. We also had an excellent view of the many apartments and condos that were being build in the area. There were construction cranes everywhere. This is clearly going to be the new trendy area in Oslo.

This is a shot toward toward the central harbor area of Oslo.

 

 

 

 

The morning after returning from our trip to Sweden we took the underground down town and walked over to the Royal Palace. As we entered the grounds from Karl Johans gate there were some beautiful flower displays.

More photos from Norway can be found on my website.

Looks like the guards at the Royal Palace are a little more relaxed than they are in Great Britain.

 

We had toured the Palace earlier on our stay and during that tour we discovered there was a royal costumes display taking place in the royal carriage house. This was our main goal for the visit. It seem that when the Queen travels to different parts of the country the custom is to gift her traditional native costumes. These were placed on display in the horse barn. You can see the names of some of the horses on the back of the stall.

After touring the customs display we walked around the grounds. I was able to get a few bird photos.

 

After a four day stay in Stockholm we took the train to Kalmar, Sweden. This was our first visit to the Stockholm Central and we were really impressed with the stations. They were so clean you could have probably eaten off of the floor.

More photos from our visit to Kalmar, Sweden can be found on my website.

When we arrived in Kalmar we had a car waiting for us at the train station. We expected that we would have a shift car but it turned out not only to be an automatic but a hot red Mercedes. First Mercedes that we have ever driven in.

We picked up the car and drove out to Skalby where my wife’s relatives had a dinner planned for us.

After dinner we walked over to the Skalby Church and cemetery where we found the only remaining grave stone for my wife’s relatives. Sweden has long standing practice to re-use burial plots. By law there is a person or family that is responsible for the care and upkeep of a grave. This right is preserved by contract for normally 25 years. This responsibility includes a fee to the parish or cemetery for the grounds keeping etc. When the contract expires, the cemetery authority will contact the responsible party to see if they are interested in renewal. If they decide not to renew the contract the cemetery will remove the grave marker and reuse the burial plot.

When we were in Skalby last year we were able to attend a service in the church. It was mostly in Swedish with a little English thrown in for our benefit.

On the way back we noticed the grain had been harvested but not many bales in the field. We were told that because of the drought, crops were way down this year.

After visiting the church we drove out to Kolboda where we were going to stay in my wife’s relatives summer cabin. It was in a nice little subdivision of summer cabins on the Baltic Sea. There were a lot of cabins in a small area yet it was very quiet and tranquil. If this had been in the states there would have been so much noise that one would not have been able to relax.

The next morning we drove back to Skalby where we were going to meet the relatives. We had a slight problem because we couldn’t remember the way back to Skalby from Kolboda. We had purchased a sim card for our phone in Norway and thanks to new EU rules it worked throughout Scandinavia.  The only problem was we didn’t have cell service so our phone navigation didn’t work. We headed back but at the first main intersection we turned left rather than right and ended up at the Baltic Sea. That was a clue that we made the wrong choice. We went back to the intersection and continued on. Some of the places looked familiar and soon we had cell service so we were able to connect with the relatives. The first event of the day was a boat tour of Kalmar. This was a first for everyone because the relatives had not been on this tour before.

This is a shot of the Kalmar County Museum which we would visit on our last day in Kalmar.

A shot of Kalmar Castle from the boat tour.

This landmark used to be a water tower but has been turned into apartments with some great views of Kalmar.

After the boat tour we walked over toward Kalmar Castle for lunch and then walked past some beautiful flowers.

 

When we reached Kalmar Castle there were activities setup in the courtyard for children. the second photo is a nail pounding board. I’m not sure that could pass muster in the states. It is a common children’s activity in Scandinavia but would probably result in lawsuits in the US.

The main attraction in the Castle was an exhibit of Leonardo da Vinci inventions.

We also walked through the church and a costumes exhibit. When we visited the Castle last year there was a wedding taking place in the chapel.

We walked back through South Cemetery on our way out to beach where a sand Sand Sculpture Festival was taking place.

The sand carving had ended by the time we had arrived and they were giving out the awards. There was a large crowd at the event.

After the sand castle festival our relatives headed home and my wife and I walked around town a bit. This a Polish sailing ship that had been anchored in the harbor and was leaving as we walked along the harbor. We then headed back to Kolboda for the night.

The next morning we met up with our relatives and then drove into Kalmar where we parked our car in the IKEA parking lot then continued on to the island of Oland. The new bridge to Oland is very impressive. Unfortunately it is a magnet for those wishing to attempt suicide. Once on the island we drove to the far end and our destination for the day which was Ottenby Naturum. Ottenby Naturum is one of the premier locations for observing birds in Sweden. There are birds in the area most of the time but they greatly increase during the spring and fall migration periods. There are nets setup to catch birds for banding. There is a large lighthouse which offers some great views of the surrounding countryside. While we were there we saw a large number of seals sunning themselves on the rocks.

We drove back through the Great Alvar and through the kings farm. There were quite a few windmills along the road. I was only familiar with Oland from reading a crime novel that partially took place on Oland. It was not what I expected.

On the way back we stopped for a bite to eat. I’m not sure what this was called but it was good. I think it was potatoes with meat in the center.

The next morning was our last in Kolboda. We drove over to Hagby Church and toured the old church. The church was built in a round shape to serve both a religious purpose and a defensive one. Seventeen arrowslits have been identified in the upper part of the wall. The present layout of the church largely dates from a renovation carried out in 1968. Inside the church, there are fragments of frescos from the 14th century on the walls.

We then drove over to Värnanäs farm to look around. This is one of the largest farms in the area with some impressive buildings.

We then drove out to Ekenäs, Sweden which is small boat building community. We also stopped at a small pastry shop and picked up some things for a snack. There were also some nice swimming places in the area.

One of the relatives is a fire chief in the area and we were able to get a tour of the fire house. Apparently things have been busy this summer with the very dry weather.

We then drove back to the home farm. It was very impressive. When we visited last year they were working on a break room for the workers. I can’t ever recall seeing anything like this done for workers in the US. The philosophy was that if I don’t treat my workers right they will go someplace else to work. There was not only a break room but a nice locker room and laundry available to workers. The cousin is probably what we would call a serial entrepreneur. He has a 900 hog operation, farms himself, contracts for road work (snowplowing and mowing), Does custom work for other farmers and is a fire chief.

We then gathered at the house to go over family history.

After our visit we drove into Kalmar and turned our car in and checked into the hotel. As we walked past the plaza outside the hotel we noticed a lot of folks watching the World Cup. We then walked over to Kalmar Cathedral. The daughter of one of the relatives was having a recital in the church so we deiced to attend..

On our final morning in Kalmar we decided to walk around town. This is the Kalmar Cathedral.

We walked along the harbor and through a residential district with some quaint old homes.

Our final stop of the morning was the Kalmar County Museum. The big draw is the large number of artifacts from the Battleship Kronan. The ship foundered in rough weather at the Battle of Oland on June 1, 1676. It capsized and the gunpowder magazine blew off most of the bow. It sank quickly with 800 men and 100 guns. Many of the guns were salvaged in the 1690’s but the wreck was eventually lost. It was found again in 1980 by the same amateur researcher that found the Vasa. Many artifacts have since be salvaged.

It was a great visit and we enjoyed seeing the relatives again. At noon we caught the train back to Oslo, Norway.

In the last year Duluth, Minnesota has been hit by three severe winter storms. The beautiful lakewalk has been been destroyed by these storms. Efforts are underway to make repairs and develop a plan to repair the lakewalk.