Archive for the ‘camping’ Category

On Wisconsin: Pahster Tracks

August 14, 2012
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One small step for the Grey Fox, one giant leap for camping vernacular.

“Pahster Tracks” is the fourth chapter in The Gaytheist Gospel Hour‘s seven part series “On Wisconsin.”

A picnic table is set up behind the Nature Center, and it is outfitted for some serious crafting: buckets of water, plastic cups and spoons, a bag of plaster of paris, dozens of pre-cut sheets of wax paper—all of it in regimented clusters atop a plastic table cloth.  The business of the day here is the manufacture of plaster cast animal tracks, but what is really being created here is a brand new word for the Midwestern camping lexicon.

The Nature Center employee who presides over the activity is a woman in her late-middle age.  She wears an official-looking green polo with the Nature Center logo embroidered like a badge over her heart.  The polo makes it easy to see her as a productive retiree or a go-getter grandma, but the effect is ruined by her photosensitive glasses, which have malfunctioned to complete darkness in the shade of the overhanging canopy. The glasses lend her an odd, subversive anonymity, like an incognito hipster or possibly a criminal. (more…)

On Wisconsin: Now, Voyager*

August 12, 2012

“Now, Voyager” is the third chapter in The Gaytheist Gospel Hour‘s seven part series “On Wisconsin.”

The beach was the star of our Wisconsin trip, and rightfully so. At the beach, big and beautiful as it is, we reconvene as creatures of nature. Reunited within the womb-warm water cradled by emerald bluffs under a beaming sun, we are children returned to a home we left thousands of years before.  With that redefinition comes a sense of beauty by association, or at least a lubed-up, scantily clad disregard of shame and its attendant psychological fetters. With all due respect to the beauty bacchanal that is the beach, I’m comfortable with shame. I preferred the supporting players of our trip, the ones that typecast me as  not so much a child of the earth as a visitor, agape at its countless possibilities: a visitor whose stretchmarks and body hair is kept safely under wraps. (more…)

On Wisconsin: Ochsner Park Zoo

August 11, 2012

“Ochsner Park Zoo” is the second chapter in The Gaytheist Gospel Hour‘s seven part series “On Wisconsin.”  It is dedicated to Amy Winehouse, that guy from “Jackass”, and Laura Norman (RIP just in case).

A little after the mid-way point of our visit, a severe thunderstorm rolled into Devil’s Lake.  Following the storm, the skies took on the look and joie de vivre of a Brillo Pad that’s seen better days.  The wind smacked of sweater weather, sending our plans to spend the day on the beach tumbling down the Ice Age campsite black top like so many bottle rocket duds.  What better way to kick off this day of dashed hopes and depressing weather than a visit to Baraboo’s Ochsner Park Zoo?   “Someone told me it’s all happening in the zoo“, Paul Simon sang long ago.  If by “it” he meant “obesity, malaise, violence, dreams deferred, and a bonus existential sucker punch”, then I, too, do believe it.  I do believe it’s true.  Let us now roll the highlight reel: (more…)

On Wisconsin: Happy Campers

August 6, 2012

Cockeyed group photo featuring our very special guest stars Amy and Jacci!

“Happy Campers” is the first chapter of The Gaytheist Gospel Hour‘s seven part series “On Wisconsin.”

When I was a kid, I used to sit under the oak tree in our back yard and pore over the camping equipment in the sporting goods section of the Sears catalogue.  I coveted the lanterns with their adjustable kerosene tongues of flickering light, the foldable army-green camp stoves and their fire-engine red fuel tanks, the canteens with the rugged saddle blanket stripes.  Most of all, I loved the tents– all the tents:  from the bargain-priced canvas pups to the plushest of polyester family compounds.  I loved the idea of being unmoored from foundation, unencumbered by roof, of being both inside and outside at the same time.   With a tent as your portable bedroom, the entire planet is your house.  (more…)

Summer Scrapbook 2011

August 29, 2011

Click to magnify the majestic mightiness that is this self aggrandizing landscape photo.

The Summer of 2011 has been a most majestic and mighty season, rife with victory, spiced with bravado.  It is a rump roast sliced from the hind quarters of a noble beast (perhaps a liger), turning on a spit over the fires of glory.  As we savor it, our hearts swell with secondhand triumph made bittersweet by the piquance of sorrow, for despite its lush and verdant beauty, its free-floating firefly constellations at night, the dancing gold of its lakes, ponds, and oceans by day, each succulent bite consumed brings us ever closer to the simultaneous bitch slap/nut punch/horrifying full nelson of winter.

For me, the Summer of 2011 was a barely-averted altercation with a stranger at a camp store.  It was hiking the rocky bluffs at Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin.  It was almost getting my ass kicked at the Am Vet’s Lodge in Higgin’s Lake Michigan. Yet it was so much more. This summer brought the Resurrection of Santa’s Village kiddie amusement park, a jaunt to the Circus World Museum, an encounter with John Muir‘s clock, as well as the Ghost of Peter Falk.

Without a doubt, my particular cut of this delicious creature was rich and rewarding.   I pay tribute to it today in the only way a middle-aged midwestern woman such as myself knows how: in scrapbook format. (more…)