By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
We love to shunpike in Richland County. It’s not too far away from home for a day trip, yet it gets us into the hills and valleys of western Wisconsin that we love. We make a lot of trips there, so we have covered many of the roads in every season of the year. Each season has something to offer, but we just love to go to Western Wisconsin in the fall.
When we are out shunpiking for a single day, my goal is to navigate us in a circle so that at the end of the day, we are close to where we began. We usually drive the highway until we get close to Richland County and I try to pick a different “jumping off” backroad every time we go. Then we make a big shunpiking circle photographing the many barns and old buildings on the backroads. When the light has faded or we have physically had enough for the day, we hit the highway again for the drive home. Anyone who has heard of our adventures knows that it is usually because the light has more than faded, and we are physically exhausted as well!
For several years now, every time we are in Richland County and Joann says, “Is there a park near here where we could have lunch?” I look at the map and find we are only a few miles from Pier Natural Bridge Park. It has become a joke for us, since whether we eat lunch early or late, we always seem to be near this park when we decide to stop.
The park has interesting rock formations, a natural bridge where two branches of the Pine River meet, a man-made tunnel through the rock, wooden steps leading to the top of the rock formation for a view of the surrounding countryside, and a few picnic tables. It’s a very small but special park.
Several years ago we started to call Richland County “the vortex” because we were so often drawn to photograph there, but since we began ending up at this park for every picnic, the park itself has become our Richland County vortex.
If you’re near the area, pack a picnic lunch and take a drive. See if you’re drawn to “the vortex” as much as we are.