sunrise hike

Our beautiful weekend weather inspired Brad to suggest we go for a long awaited hike. A sunrise hike that we've talked about doing for years. 

Another weekend, another hike. Yippeee!!! I am on a roll and love it! First Kickapoo Valley Reserve, then Pewits Nest and now a hike to Ferry's Bluff!!

Sun comes up later these days, around 7:30am. Weather was predicted to be clear. Past plans have fallen through. We won't get rained out this time.

The previous trail with steep steps was taken out this Spring. A new trail with no steps was created. I was curious to hike the new trail and excited for Brad to experience the beautiful lookout for the first time.

trail up was still a heart pumper

We arrived at the lookout to find a group of young guys cooking breakfast. They were giggly and kinda loud, but nice guys. They even offered us a piece of bacon lol. Um, no thanks. 

Pretty sure there were extra activities going on ;) There is typically a sensible one in a party group. He cautioned the guy who was standing way too close to the edge not paying attention, and 
surrounded by fog. They joked how the dare devil (or dumb, not sure which) guy would survive the fall. No way. It is a 200 foot drop straight down into what is a very shallow river right now. 

We couldn't see the river or expansive view, but it was SO beautiful in a different way!

cool morning air created a thick fog that stopped at the base of the bluff

bright sun trying to shine through

sunlit view to the West created bright trees, tucked in with fog

this river fog wasn't going to clear anytime soon

clear view from October 2020 hike with friends

A semi-circle of informational signs have been added to the bluff. We learned this lookout was Cactus Bluff. I knew there was another bluff higher up, but didn't realize that one was actually Ferry Bluff. We didn't have time to make the hour hike to find it. With all the added signage, it's odd Ferry Bluff path is still not marked. Or at least I didn't see it. Friends have told me "you take a path" from the lower lookout. Perhaps it is not marked intentionally, because of the eagles. The entire park is closed November 15-March 31 for eagle nesting. 

group of young guys having foggy fun

The information shared was interesting. Some generic. The first sign was "Human History before the 1800's" and then the signs became specific to this area. I took photo's of all nine signs to re-read, but won't bore you.

trail heading down was easier, but no doubt gets slick

I think that bluff way above the falling tree is Ferry Bluff

even the view from the parking area was pretty

We are in for more unseasonably warm weather this week. Hope you are too. Let's make it a good one!


october skies

Our October cloud formations seem to be so unique lately. It makes me wonder...

looong defined streaks of clouds, all pointing the same direction

10/19/22 at 6:06pm

What caused the clouds to form this way? I know clouds have to do with moisture in the air, but why such long streaks? So, I googled it. Weather.gov has super detailed info on cloud formation. So much, that I will have to dig deeper later.

Graphic credit: Wisconsin.gov

I don't see anything similar. It makes me think separate long streaks are uncommon. Eyes don't lie.

Cierra underneath all kinda clouds


When conditions are right, our October skies are also fill with incredible surround sound color!! In every direction. I still find it AmaZing, and very different from where we used to live.

fire red sunset, creates hazy light

10/25/22 at 6:12pm

We used to live on top of a hill, with an expansive open view of the Eastern sky. No sunsets were visible. The opposite of where we live now. I enjoyed some beautiful sunrises.

Rainbows were easy to predict. When the sun was shining (right after/near the end of rain) I walked outside and waited for a rainbow to appear. It didn't always happen, but many times it did. They were typically gigantic rainbows, far far away. Impossible to capture an entire rainbow in one frame, even with the widest lens.

Imagine my surprise when I walked past our kitchen window and saw a FULL rainbow! It was so close!! We saw friends that night, everyone was talking about the vibrant rainbow. 

 a surprise rainbow, across from our driveway

10/25/22 at 6:00pm

Earlier on, all the colors of a rainbow could easily be seen individually. I watched as the rainbow morphed. A second rainbow formed partially, on the right side.

iphone camera (no adjustments)

one second later than above at 6:01pm

It was abnormal rainbow conditions. There must have been lingering moisture crystals in the air, from the light rain we had earlier in the day.

Since we moved here, I have onIy seen a couple small sections of rainbows. Including an uncommon Red Rainbow. I couldn't stand it anymore and went inside for my camera. After a not so quick lens change, I got one shot off before the rainbow f.a.d.e.d away...

first full rainbow at Hidden Cactus Ranch!! 

facing Northeast at 6:07pm

The oaks across from our house had turned a brilliant red, from the cast sunset light. No clue why my camera picked up such a stormy purple sky. It was lighter blue/purple (you know, blurple) with red-ish clouds.

I never know which way to look with surround color. I end up turning around a lot. At our old place, we could see very distant color in multiple directions. Everything sky is much closer now.

Some locals tell me it is "the river effect". Others tell me clouds are "NOT closer". Whatever. I can see sky elements are closer and LOVE getting lost in the wonder of it all!!

To the naked eye, the rainbow sky looked more like the first camera photo above. 

I used my wide-angle lens, hence the distortion. I didn't have time to think camera settings and make my photo more realistic. Hopefully next time. Although, rainbows are hard to predict here. I'll just have to keep my bananas peeled.
Eyes to the skies!!


sunday funday

On Sunday, Brad asked if I wanted to go out for breakfast and stop at Pewit's Nest afterwards. Why YES!! He must have read my related blogpost .

We took the shorter route to Peewee's (local name for Pewit's) and crossed Lake Wisconsin via ferry. Devils Lake State Park is in route, and provided a gorgeous looong canopy of color to drive through. Color candy as far as the eye can see!

When we arrived, I was happy to find plenty of spots left to park in the small lot.

We hiked up to the top first. I knew the gorge had been restricted, but was shocked at what little was visible from the main trail. At least, the walk up and view is still pretty.

People were rock hopping across the creek down below, inside the gorge. I assume to get to the other unrestricted side. Many folks could be seen walking on the top of the gorge, across from us. Wading 'er rock hopping in the shallow water, is allowed.

top of the gorge
(17 seconds)

looking down into the gorge

my terrible two-see photo
trying to make Brad smile)

It was a short adventure. We walked back down to the bottom of the gorge.

There was a little girl wading in her rain boots making leaf piles in the water. It was pretty cute, but I kept her out of my camera's view. 

distant view, bottom of gorge

Brad started down one of many winding wooded trails, leading away from the gorge. 

trail to the end of Skillet Creek

I have never explored anything at this park, but the gorge. I am SO thankful we did. The creek bend was stunning, in so many ways.

the hollow across from the creek bend was glowing

creating beautiful tree reflections

everything was a picture

the leaves captured my attention

I was in my kinda photography heaven!! 

When the wind kicked up, leaves were whip-dropping into the water. It created fleeting ripples. I was determined to capture a leaf hitting the water. Ha haa!!! Easier said than done. 

Good thing we had the area to ourselves. I am sure we I sounded silly.

We had us a good laugh! I think Brad was getting tired of me missing leaves as they hit willy-nilly in random spots. I was hoping for a colorful leaf to float gently onto the yellow tree reflection part of the water. Is that too much to ask? Apparently, because at one point Brad tried throwing leaves into the water LOL! That does not count!!

I could have stayed there all day. 

enlarge photos to see natures subtle beauty

I got one! Now to try for a colorful leaf.

leaf two was close, if only it landed to the right


my favorite leaf shot

This is why I haul my heavy camera & fav mid-range lens on road trips. You just never know when an unforgettable opportunity might present itself.

While I was shooting leaves, birds were flying everywhere. Chirping away and enjoying the unseasonably warm Summer-like weather. 


creek ends towards the right

Skillet Creek angry rock face (profile)
at the very end of the creek

Most likely yelling at those who disrespect this precious land.

It has been a while since Brad & I rambled along country roads together. It has been even longer since we explored nature's trails away from home together. Needless to say, Sunday was a Funday!

It made my heart happy and surpassed my yearning for Fall photography.


walkin' in the woods

The hour and a half drive to meet gal pal blogger Val at Kickapoo Valley Reserve takes me through small sleepy towns and expansive rolling country vistas.

Much to my surprise, I watched a pair of swans fly up and land softly in a farm pond. I thought swans had migrated. They are more elegant than the pair of loud squawkers that have been hanging around fields at home for several weeks. Perhaps the swans are waiting until after our last wave of Summer weather to migrate south.

I enjoyed an amish woman's friendly wave, as she intently drove her two children to the sounds of a clickity-clack fast paced horse. 

Sights, I don't frequently see.

News flash: I arrived 15 minutes early! 


We hiked a new to me Wintergreen Trail. 

Unfortunately, I forgot my foot brace. Big mistake with such hilly terrain. I knew it would be hard to see footing underneath the crunchy Fall leaves that blanketed the trails. I had to slow my roll. I managed the uneven ground that is full of exposed tree roots without incident. Two days later I am still feeling it, but it was worth it. 

sun lit hillside, high above the trail

Somewhere along the way, Val pulled out her lego toys to photograph. I wandered nearby with my head in the trees. Soaking up the vast woods.

Val and Charlie heading towards a river lookout

quiet river

depth in the woods

I love being in nature, especially the woods. Always nice to share it with a friend. Thanks for hiking with me Val!


magnificent colors

I am missing our annual Fall trip/s north. Thankfully, the Fall tree's have been vibrant in our general area. There were a lot of "wow's" heard around every corner last weekend. Fall is a fun time of year to road trip!! 

My phone camera doesn't photograph landscape well. Neither do I. Phone video does a little better job, but still doesn't do the colors any justice.

(12 seconds)

At the first sign of sunshine, I vowed to take time to soak up more fleeting colors. A road trip with my camera. I headed out yesterday morning, not sure what I would find after days of strong relentless cold drying winds.

I found colors were more muted and of course leaves had dropped. Bright glowing yellow was replaced with a rust undertone. However, there was still beauty to be found in the mid-morning light.

red shed

I did something I never rarely do and hiked into a remote public park by myself. I found brilliant yellow at Pewit's Nest!! 

path to top of gorge

I decided to stay on the bottom of the gorge and enjoy "the mouth". I have hiked to the top several times. It is very high up and gorgeous!! However the top is kinda sketchy and there is only one way out. Access in general has been restricted thanks to careless users. I am trying to talk Brad into going back with me soon. 

water at the mouth of the gorge is very shallow

close-up of small waterfall

lowest part of gorge, from the outside
(15 seconds)

On my way home, I pulled over for a quick landscape shot.

I really want to road trip again today and see what I can see. Instead, I am staying home and chipping away at an endless Fall chore list.

Tomorrow, I am meeting up with gal pal blogger Val!! I will no doubt find more colorful sights of one kind or another.

Hope you are enjoying Autumn in your neck of the woods!


winged visitors

Mr. Nemo alerted me to something in our field. He was having a stare down. Whatever it was, had his full attention. Meanwhile, the other three horses munched away with no concerns.

I knew I would need to switch to my long lens. How does a monopod hide? After doing my typical where is my camera stuff shuffle, I quietly went outside to observe.

I found a pair of prehistoric looking creatures.

Guessing the female is on the right? I have a 50/50 chance of being right ;)

Sandhill cranes mate for life. This pair was bonded.

Ack! A human.

 ehem, not a good time to eat

walk this way and pretend we don't see her

I stood still at the edge of the field and wasn't even moving.

Simultaneously, they did an abrupt turn.

Notice wing placement. Interesting. How do they know?

let's fly this way

doing the squawk-n-fly

up, up

 and awaaay

Sandhills will be migrating through our area mid-November. There is an entire festival celebrating their migration. No doubt it attracts mega mobs. It would be interesting to observe the squawkers (they are super duper loud) in early morning/late afternoon. Their white feathers would glow. Or, I can just enjoy them peacefully in our fields.


early fall at our ranch

3rd crop hay was plentiful


Brad in his happy place

By the end of September, all field work was done.
Our barn is full. Always a good feeling.

peek-a-boo with Harmony
(taken while walking in our Enchanted Forest)

Bringing horses in, during October's shorter dusty days:

Nemo less than thrilled that Koda wants to be brought in first

Come and get us
(Koda, Harmony & Cierra)

Without relentless bugs, the horses are no longer begging to come in.

We often have to fetch horses in the pasture/at hay bunk.

Brad bringing in the herd

This morning, watching the ever changing cast sunrise over our trees:

facing northwest
7:22 a.m.

same but closer view, facing northwest
7:28 a.m.

I grabbed my camera to capture the fleeting "kissed in orange" view of our horses grazing.

Blink and you'll miss the glory of Fall mornings.

Glowing peaceful early Fall mornings at our ranch

(Harmony, Koda and Nemo)