Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

We spent Monday night in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. It snowed 2-3 inches overnight and I was a bit worried about driving conditions, but the snow was no problem at all. We were packed, breakfasted, gassed up and on the road by a few minutes after 8am. I hoped to be home by 6pm so I could attend a coworker's going away party, but I really wanted to see Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in the winter. I figured we could spend two hours there and still make it home in time for the work dinner.

I don't have a GPS and usually use AAA online for my trip maps. The bad thing about AAA is that it can be really hard to enter a place that doesn't have a very specific address and isn't in their list of "popular places." I finally gave up on AAA and used MapQuest for directions to Necedah. There are many good reasons I don't use MapQuest, and I really should have just gone to the Necedah site and used their directions. MapQuest got me to the general area of Necedah, but instead of taking me to their main entrance, they sent me on a small county road. I wound past some farm houses and back into the woods when BAM! The road was suddenly unpaved and I was driving through the forest in snow deep enough that it was scraping the bottom of my car. I stuck to the truck ruts and drove as fast as safely possible to not get stuck. I couldn't stop or turn around because the snow was too deep. Seriously, this small, country road SUDDENLY turned into a one-lane dirt path! I finally came to a (closed) gate and a tiny parking area and was able to turn around. I guess on a good summer day, the gate would have been open and I would have been able to get to the Necedah visitor center. I made my way back out of the woods and back onto the main drag, where the paved and plowed park entrance was a half-mile up the street. My Yaris wasn't made for off-roading, but it did pretty well! Thank goodness for my new tires! Logan got a thrill. Yet another MapQuest FAIL we'll be laughing about for years to come.

Necedah was beautiful with all the fresh snow. We spent a long time in the visitor center, watching the feeders in warmth and comfort. We then talked to a park ranger about how the roads through the park were and whether the water was all still frozen over. She had seen the resident gray wolf pack early that morning, but we didn't get that lucky. We opted to not have any more thrilling adventures with the tiny Toyota and unpaved, snow-covered roads, so we took a short hike close to the visitor center and started our journey home.

We stopped in Wisconsin Dells to grab some lunch and go to Logan's favorite cheese store. He doesn't care much about the cheese, he likes their huge selection of toys and candy. He found a flipper baseball game (think Woolly Willy or Doodle Balls) and a set of rattling magnets to keep him occupied on the way home. We also got Kaylin a set of pig jacks and some cheese and got ourselves some snacks.

The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful. There was no snow south of Wisconsin Dells. We stopped once for gas and a bathroom and made it home a little after 5pm. Fortunately, Logan REALLY enjoyed peeing in empty water bottles while driving because if we had to stop every time he had to go we'd probably still be on the road!

It was a great trip and we had a lot of fun. Logan is now excited about birds and has announced that he likes them and is "now interested." He keeps talking over and over about how he not only saw his first wild owl, but his first wild owl was a SNOWY OWL! Warms my heart :)

Gene and Kaylin spent their weekend time together going to Michaels (craft store) three days in a row. Duncan was devastated that I was only home for a few minutes before leaving again and when I returned at 8:30pm, he wouldn't leave my side. He did leave me to sleep in his usual spot in Logan's bed, though. (Phew!) Four more days off. Maybe I'll go birding!

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