After returning from out trip to Yellowstone my wife and I took a break of one day then headed out to northern Wisconsin in search of fall leaves. We were not having much luck. As we neared Philips, Wisconsin I remembered reading an article about a concrete folk art display. As we approached Philips we saw it along the road so we turned around and drove back to check it out.
In 1948 Fred Smith, a self-taught artist, started constructing his folk art out of concrete and beer bottles. His technique was to build a wooden frame then cover it with wire. He then covered it with cement and beer bottles from his tavern across the street. Smith suffered a stroke in 1964 and was unable to continue his work. By that time he had over 200 sculptures in a small area across from his tavern.
In 1967 a storm destroyed many of the sculptures. Fortunately the Kohler Foundation stepped in and restored many of the sculptures. The park is currently open to the public and is free to visit.
I happened to look out the window near my bird feeder and noticed some large bird tracks. At first I thought they were Wild Turkey tracks but they weren’t quite large enough. Then I noticed this fellow huddled down next to the house. He finally walked out under the feeder and started eating. This is the first time I’ve had a Ringed-necked Pheasant at my bird feeder.
I noticed that the Whitefish Bay was leaving the terminal so my wife and I drove down to Canal Park to watch it leave Duluth Harbor. When it made the turn we could see that it had quite a bit of ice on the bow and superstructure. It had been a wild week on Lake Superior.
We also noticed that the Paul R. Tregurtha was going to be arriving in less than an hour so we waited around and watched it come through the Duluth Ship Canal
We spent the night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The next morning was dreary but we decided to drive down to Falls Park to get some photos of the waterfalls. It was dark enough that the lights were still on in the park.
After spending the night in Rapid City we drove east to the Badlands National Park. It was a beautiful day so we decided to spend some time in the park hiking after a long day of driving the previous day.
Just after entering the park we encountered a small group of Bighorn Sheep. The herd consisted of the females and the their young.
Driving a little further we drove past the Prairie Dog town and couldn’t resist stopping to watch them for a while.
One fellow was doing some remodeling work on his dwelling.
As we drove along we noticed a couple stopped along the road looking up into the rocks. There were two Bighorn Sheep rams watching the cars go by.
As we continued down the road we started to notice some very interesting cloud formations.
Last spring we had hiked many of the trails in the Badlands. This trip we decided to take a short trail that we had missed on our first trip. It had rained several days earlier but most of the water had dried up creating some interesting patterns on the trail.
One thing I learned is you don’t want to be hiking in the badlands when the trail is wet. The soil, called gumbo, by the locals sticks to your shoes and just keeps building up like cement. The tracks on the bridge show that someone had been out hiking when it was wet.
I was attracted to this colorful plant along the trail. It looked like it had flowers on it not long ago.
When we started our hike around Devils Tower we notice a number of people pushing carts loaded with gear up the trail. We didn’t pay much attention but I thought it was a little strange that climbers would require so much gear.
The climbers had built a platform on the tower. There were a couple of climbers climbing on the wall above the platform. When we returned from our walk I started asking questions. It turned out there was an IMAX film crew up on the tower photographing a couple of climbers.
The rest of the film crew had a 3-D camera setup at the base of the tower. They were trying to film a climb when the evening light was on the tower.
As I recall the film is going to be out next year and will be called Wild America. It will be filmed in our national parks and monuments. More photos from Devils Tower can be found on my website.
We left Mammoth Hot Springs early in the morning. The original intent was to drive out through the Lamar Valley but it had been snowing for several days in the mountains so we decided to drive north to the freeway.
Our goal was to make it to Rapid City with a stop at Devils Tower National Monument. We finally made it to Devils Tower late in the day.
We drove around a bit then stopped and hiked the trail around the tower.
We noticed there were quite a few blackened trees in the area. Apparently a year ago they held a controlled burn at the Monument.
If you look closely on the left side of the wall you can see some Native American prayer clothes. Devils Tower is a sacred site to Native Americans.
Here sunlight streams through the trees late in the day.
Of course we couldn’t ignore the Prairie Dogs we found as we were leaving the Monument.
More photos from Devils Tower can be found on my website.
The Dark eyed Junco is the only bird that shows up on the farm for the winter. It moves from Northern Wisconsin down to our area in the fall and spend the winter. This year they turned up the first week in November. In the spring they all leave for the north.
The beautiful clouds made for some nice black and white photos. Although the weather was not the best on our Yellowstone trip we were blessed with some beautiful clouds that made for some stunning photography.
We arrived at Mammoth late in the afternoon on what was a beautiful day. There were storm clouds in the sky but the sun was out as we walked around to look at the hot springs.
We were a little disappointed. When we visited the area fifteen years ago the springs were more active. Many of the beautiful springs have dried up in the intervening years.
Mammoth has a large herd of elk the reside around the park headquarters. This fellow was out resting on the hot springs.