Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunny Slopes of the Backroads

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes. Just click on the desired photo and look for the blue “BUY” button.

There is so much to see when we are out on the backroads. I can research cities and towns pretty easily, and sometimes I can find locations of backroad sites, but one of our favorite things is stumbling on the creativity of people living on the backroads we travel.


In the fall of 2006, we were driving around in Richland County, Wisconsin. In those days, we had an old style Wisconsin gazetteer. It was a great map, but it didn’t have any overlap on the pages. Oftentimes, when we crossed to another page, I was lost for several minutes or more because roads seemed to be missing or didn’t line up. But on this day, I took a chance and navigated us to a section of the county right on the edge of a page.


And what a stroke of luck that was! We came upon this mural on the side of a garage. The mural was made up of a series of pine trees on hillsides. The background was a beautiful sunrise/sunset scene.


But now look at how creative this mural really is! This series of pine trees on hillsides makes up the words “sunny slopes.”


We were amazed! From farther away, it was plain to see the words and harder to see what the letters were made up of, but the closer we got, the more the lines of pine trees became apparent, and the less easy it was to make out the words. We had to turn around and drive back so we could show just how creative this artist was!


It didn’t seem to be related to any business, just a country person expressing their creativity. And we sure appreciate it! We hope when you travel the backroads, you have your eyes open for these kinds of creative displays.

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Happy Shunpiking!

Ruth

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Natural Dam, Arkansas

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes. Just click on the desired photo and look for the blue “BUY” button.

It’s hard to believe next year will be 10 years since our first trip to the Ozarks. We went in the spring of 2008, and we’re just beginning plans to return.

On that first trip, we were going to visit Natural Dam Falls. It is just past the town of Natural Dam, but as is often the case, I missed the turn. The original Delorme Gazetteer for Arkansas wasn’t very detailed. A lot of roads were shown without names and the maps were very compact. Since I had missed the road that would have taken us to the falls, we had to find a place to turn around.


Before we left on this trip, as we often do when going to a new state, we picked a few goal birds and animals. I had picked elk ( “A Kodak Moment” ), armadillo ( “I Think We're Being Followed” ), and Greater Roadrunner, and since I told Joann that Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were more common in Arkansas than Wisconsin, Joann picked that as her goal bird. Joann had already seen armadillos and roadrunners in Texas but on my only visit to Texas, since I was only on the coast, I hadn’t seen either of those.

The first place we found to turn around was a small dead-end road, and as Joann turned onto it, there was a flash of bird wings as a bird flew up from and back down onto the pasture fence a little ways down the road. We could see it had a long tail, and I grabbed my binoculars which always sit in the corner of the dash. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher from Joann’s goal list! She grabbed her binoculars, and we both sat in awe watching it for a while.


Then Joann quietly got out of the car to get her camera. The bird scared up, but returned to the fence, allowing Joann to get a couple of pictures of it.


And then we noticed a bonus from the universe. Out in the pasture with the cattle was a flock of Cattle Egrets. This bird can occasionally be seen in Wisconsin, but was less common in 2008 than it is today. This year, for instance, there are two flocks hanging around in Brown County, Wisconsin.


When you see one of these birds, you usually see more, and they are often seen around cattle, thus their name. Sometimes you even find them on the backs of the cattle eating insects off of them. Unlike other herons that you find around water, these are normally found in fields and dry areas stalking insects.


Once we had our fill of the birds, we got back in the car and drove back up the highway to the turn for Natural Dam. It was plainly marked with a sign on the highway, at least when driving north.


Natural Dam is exactly as its name implies; a natural dam that spans the entire width of Mountain Fork Creek. It isn’t very tall, but it is still impressive. Plus, it is extremely accessible, and can even be viewed from your car. It sits next to a National Forest picnic area.


It was late afternoon when we visited, so we just enjoyed the sight and the sound of the falls while Joann took her photographs.


Later in the trip, we even managed to see a Roadrunner. It was on our way into the mountains, so we figured the Greater Roadrunner would have to wait until another trip. But then, as we cruised down the road, one ran across the road. Joann quickly pulled over and jumped out. She managed to get one photo before it flew down into a pasture and ran off. (They can run 20 miles per hour, so one shot was good!)


If you ever happen to be in the Van Buren area of Arkansas, look up Natural Dam. It’s extremely easy to find and visit, and if you like nature, waterfalls are some of the most relaxing places to visit.


Be warned though, once the weather is warm, most easily accessible waterfalls will be filled with people swimming, wading, and sunbathing on the rocks.

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Happy Shunpiking!

Ruth

Saturday, August 19, 2017

National Honey Bee Day

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes. Just click on the desired photo and look for the blue “BUY” button.

As I was reading my email this morning, I found out that today is National Honey Bee Day. Who knew...other than beekeepers, that is? The mission behind this day includes three goals: to promote and advance beekeeping, to educate the public about honey bees and beekeeping, and to make the public aware of environmental concerns affecting honey bees.


Many people are afraid of bees or consider them a nuisance, but we have bees to thank for much of the food we eat. In 2011, the Natural Resources Defense Council published a report saying that bees are responsible for pollinating more than $15 billion a year in U.S. crops. These crops include apples, oranges, lemons, limes, berries, nectarines, peaches, pears, cantaloupes, watermelons, pumpkins, avocados, carrots, cucumbers, onions, squash, and almonds. In fact, at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90% of wild plants thrive because of cross-pollination by bees.


Economic figures from 2011 show that $150 million worth of honey was being produced annually by U.S. honey bees. However, in 2006, U.S. beekeepers began reporting that honey bees were abandoning their hives.

This disappearance has become known as Colony Collapse Disorder. These losses have continued and have increased. From April 2015 to April 2016, the nation’s beekeepers lost approximately 44 percent of their honey bee colonies.


Researchers think a number of interrelated factors may be the cause of this disorder. These factors include global warming, pesticide use, habitat loss, and parasites.

It is definitely vital for our policy makers to take action to protect bees and other pollinators which will, in turn, protect our food supply. But we citizens can also do our part by greatly decreasing the amount of pesticides we use on a regular basis and supporting habitat protection.


Now for some fun facts about bees and beekeepers from PennApic (Pennsylvania Apiculture Inc.), the parent organization that oversees and facilitates both the Pennsylvania Backyard Beekeepers Association (PBBA) and the National Honey Bee Day program:

• To make 1 pound of honey, bees may need to fly 50,000 miles.
• The worker bees are all females.
• Honey bees may forage up to 2-5 miles from the hive.
• Directly, honey bees pollinate the flowers of 1/3 of all fruits and vegetables.
• Indirectly, honey bees pollinate 70% of the food crops, through seed production, plant fertilization, etc.
• Honey comes in many varieties, such as orange blossom, clover, alfalfa, blueberry, and apple blossom.


• There are only half the number of beekeepers there were 25 years ago.
• There are 1/3 less beehives as there were 25 years ago.
• 95% of beekeepers are hobbyists.
• Beekeeping dates back at least 4500 years.
• Beehives are kept on farms, in backyards, on balconies, and high-rise rooftops, all across the country.
• Honey bees are kept or managed in all 50 states.


I used to be afraid of bees of all kinds, but when I started photographing them, my fear turned into curiosity and respect for all that bees do for us. I hope this blog post has done the same for you.


Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Happy Shunpiking!
Joann

Sunday, August 13, 2017

And So It Goes – Dayton Corners Church

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes. Just click on the desired photo and look for the blue “BUY” button.

This week’s blog title “And So It Goes” will be a continuing series about some of our favorite places to photograph that have disappeared in recent years.

Our first visit to Dayton Corners Church wasn’t until 2008. By that time, we had been photographing rural architecture for almost 14 years, and had driven a good portion of the roads in Richland County. Somehow, we had always turned just before getting to this location.


The church sat right next to the Dayton Corners Cemetery and although it looked like it was being cared for, it was not restored. There was a hickory nut tree at the edge of the cemetery, and in those days we were still silly enough to think we might pick out some hickory nuts over the winter. So after Joann took her photographs, we spent some time picking up hickory nuts.


Our next visit to the cemetery was in September of 2010 and it was sunrise when we pulled up to the corner of County Road ZZ and Pier Springs Road. The church looked basically the same as it had two years prior on our first visit.


The village of Dayton Corners was laid out in 1857 by Lorenzo Woodman and James Hafus. During the same year, a post office was established, but was given the name of Ripley post office. The post office only lasted about 3 years, and the village not much more than that. Most of the development was happening in nearby Boaz.


From looking at an 1895 map of Dayton Township, it looks like this church began as the Dayton Corner's Methodist Episcopal Church.


As Joann was processing photographs for me, I was searching the internet for any history of the village or the church, and I told Joann that I couldn’t find much of either. But then, when I was almost ready to give up, I stumbled on an article from The Republican Observer (a newspaper published in Richland Center until 1962 when it became the Richland Observer), dated August 8, 1957. The article appeared to be a continuing column entitled “Tales the Tombstones Tell” and was about a visit by three men to the Dayton Corners Cemetery.


The article started by detailing how the church was open so the men went inside. They told of finding several bibles, one open on the pulpit and one on a nearby table. We miss those days when churches were always open. Joann always tries the doors of churches, and I have to admit that sometimes I’m watching and hoping that the door will be locked. (I know I shouldn’t, but I’m responsible for the schedule!)


The men continued outside to the cemetery to walk around and share details of some of the tombstones in the cemetery. I can only imagine how hard it was in 1957 to come up with the information shared about the lives of the people from some of the tombstones. And I’m very thankful for the wealth of information available to us now on the internet.


We were near the church again in 2011, so we made another stop. The church appeared to be the same as in our previous visits.


Somehow, all of our visits to the church were in the fall during September and October. That tells me we need to make Richland County a priority for some spring and winter trips.


The next several years we didn’t spend as much time in Richland County. Our list of sites to visit and revisit is very long, so we didn’t get back to the church site until the fall of 2016. Since we were close to the location, I asked Joann if she wanted to stop and she said she did.


But as we pulled up to the familiar corner, we were saddened to see just a patch of bare ground where the church had stood. Because it had been five years since our last visit, we don’t know what happened with the church. We only know that sometime between 2011 and 2016, it was demolished.


In the back corner of the church and cemetery property, the outhouse remained in a tangle of weeds and brush.

Joann took a few photos of the former church location and the outhouse, and then took another walk around the cemetery, documenting a few more gravestones.


This is the reason that we revisit sites whenever our travels take us near. If you have your own favorite sites, here’s a reminder of what can happen. Visit while you can.

In the last several years, we’ve had this same experience too many times. We’ll share more of these with you in future blogs.

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Until next time, Happy Shunpiking!
Ruth

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Carousel Ride

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes. Just click on the desired photo and look for the blue “BUY” button.

About a year ago, Ruth and I decided to do some photography fairly close to home. At 6:00 Sunday morning, we began exploring the town of Sun Prairie. Around 9:00, we captured a few images in the town of Marshall. By 10:30, we were in Waterloo, which is known as “Carousel City.”


First, we captured photos of much of Waterloo’s downtown historic district, but our main goal was to see if the vintage carousel in Firemen’s Park was operating that afternoon. Around 12:15, we drove to the park and stopped to appreciate the beautiful stone entrance, which appeared to be in a state of restoration. Then we located the 14-sided structure with a domed roof that was built in 1927 to house the historic carousel. It was closed up at that time, but next to it was a shelter, so we sat down to have our picnic lunch.


As we were eating our lunch, two women pulled up in a vehicle and parked next to our car. After sitting there for a while, the driver got out and asked us if the carousel would be running that afternoon. Her name was Becky and she had brought her mom Arlene, who had always wanted to ride the Waterloo carousel. We told her that we thought it was supposed to be open from 1:00 to 3:00, so we were hoping someone would soon come to open up the building and start the carousel.


At 1:00, a gentleman named Bob Hanson, who looked a bit like Santa Claus, came to operate the 1911 C. W. Parker Carousel. This carousel has the original 28 wooden jumper horses and two chariots. It was purchased in 1925 by the Waterloo Fire Department from the Curtis Brothers Carnival, a traveling carnival based out of Cuba City, Wisconsin. According to the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form submitted in 1990, the purchase price was $1175, plus $137 to ship it to Waterloo. The carousel is now estimated to be worth nearly $1 million.


Bob started the carousel, with Becky and Arlene riding in one of the chariots.


The smiles on their faces matched the happy tune coming out of the 1915 band organ from North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works of New York.


As Becky and Arlene rode the carousel for a second time, I chatted with Bob, who told me about a 93-year-old woman who had grown up in Waterloo and who had ridden the horses on the carousel for years. Finally, and only recently, she had decided it was time to start riding in one of the chariots rather than climbing up on a horse. He also told me about a 105-year-old woman who was born the same year the carousel was built, and who was still riding it every year.


After taking many photos of the carousel, the band organ, and the horses and chariots, it was time for me to take a ride. As I sat in a chariot waiting for the ride to begin, Becky came over and encouraged me to let her take my picture. So I agreed and handed her my camera. She took a couple of photos and then the music started to play and the carousel started to move.


As it went around and around with the calliope-sounding music and the beat of the drum and crash of the cymbals, I felt like a kid again. And, at one point, the sheer joy of the experience brought tears to my eyes.


These tears were part joy and part appreciation for the efforts of so many people who had a hand in obtaining, maintaining, and restoring this rare carousel over the years. In 2008, after having provided so much happiness to so many people, the carousel was badly damaged when the Maunesha River flooded. The carousel, which was located near the river, was submerged under about four feet of water. Fortunately, the antique band organ was somewhere else being restored, so it was saved from flood damage.


So the Friends of the Carousel called on Lisa Parr, of Old Parr's Carousel Animals in Highland Park, Illinois, to restore the hand-carved wooden horses and chariots. As she worked on the restoration, she said that many of the carousels from the early 20th century were destroyed during the Great Depression, so this simple and portable carousel is a rare gem. It took three years and much money and effort, but the restoration was completed in 2011 and the carousel was put back into operation.


After my ride was done, I thanked Bob for the wonderful time and for sharing information with me. As I was leaving, I decided to snap a picture of the wooden plaque that was mounted on the building. At the top, in large letters, it said, “RULES For Your Safety & the Protection of This Carousel…. And some of the rules were: “Do not change horses or move around while carousel is in motion.” “No riding backward.” “Do not put your shoes on any part of horses.” And, probably the most important rule was “Do not pull on horses tails,” because the tails are made of real horse hair. Not to worry, I obeyed ALL the rules.


The Waterloo carousel operates every Sunday afternoon from 1:00 to 3:00, Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend and for special occasions such as the 4th of July and Weiner & Kraut Day in September. The suggested donation is $1 per ride. If you’re in the area, treat yourself to some carousel joy!

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Happy Shunpiking!
Joann

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Riding the Bus with Wanda

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes. Just click on the desired photo and look for the blue “BUY” button.

As I said in my Father’s Day blog, during the school year our main farm duty was milking. Dad didn’t believe in sleeping in and he wanted the milking done before we left for school. This meant we had to be in the barn by 4:30 in the morning.


Our barn held 80 cows, and sometimes we had to turn a few out after they were milked to bring in the rest of the cows. There was no fooling around, since we were supposed to have the milking done before we headed off to school.


The second the last cow was milked, we made a mad dash for the house. We usually had about 10 minutes to shower if possible, grab some breakfast and our books, and make another mad dash out the door, and across the lawn to the farm driveway for the bus to pick us up.


If we weren’t standing at the side of the road when the bus pulled up, there was no waiting for us. Our bus driver was named Wanda, and, to put it mildly, she was not a nice or happy person.


Most of the kids on the bus would be sitting quietly, probably still half asleep, but not us. By the time we got on the bus, we had already been up for hours, so we laughed and talked as we rode along. I think Wanda preferred the quiet, almost catatonic kids to us because she would glare at us in the mirror at every opportunity when we were talking, but especially when we were laughing.

One morning as we rode along, Joann and I were sitting together, and started to laugh about something. She glared at us in the mirror, and then said “Too much feather soup this morning, girls?”


I guess she thought we had feather soup for breakfast which tickled our throats and caused our giggling. Too bad for her. Even though we were working very hard on the farm, we were still very happy kids!


Our place was about in the middle of her route, which meant there were a lot of kids to pick up after us in the morning, and a lot of kids to drop off before us in the afternoon. One of the older boys, who rode the bus occasionally, got on the bus one afternoon with a can of Pepsi.


As usual, Wanda just glared at him. And she continued to glare at him at every stop as kids left the bus. But miles before his stop, and ours which was right after his, she stopped the bus to let some kids off. After they crossed the road and went into their house, she just sat, staring into the mirror. This went on for several minutes, her just sitting there, and cars going around the bus. Finally she told him to get rid of the Pepsi. And he told her he wasn’t done with it.


They had a staredown for a while – her looking at him in the mirror and him staring back, slowly drinking his Pepsi. Finally, he sighed and said “Well, if I had known we were going to spend the night, I would have brought my pajamas!” And with that, she opened the bus door and said ‘GET OFF!”. He took his Pepsi, walked slowly to the front of the bus, and got off. And she drove away!


We had nicknamed her “Wanda the Witch,” and every year before the school year started, we waited for the bus schedule to come. There was another bus that came right past our house. We would have gotten on later, and gotten off earlier, but we were never on that route. Every year the schedule had the same time, and ”Wanda the Witch” as the driver. Dang!


But then one morning, our brother Paul got on the bus with what we thought was his lunch. It was in one of those little brown bags that we all used to carry our lunch in. But it wasn’t lunch, and a short ways down the road, he held the bag down by the floor of the bus, and out came a salamander. It was a couple of minutes before the commotion started. Other kids started to notice, and then Wanda noticed, especially when some of the kids started screaming.


It was funny, but we thought we were dead. She was going to tell on us and we’d get kicked off the bus system. I’m sure there was a call to Mom, but we don’t remember getting reprimanded at home. Maybe Mom kept it to herself, since all they did was change our bus. We finally ended up on the other bus that passed right by our house.


It was driven by the head bus driver, and he was a very nice, happy man! From then on, we got on the bus a few minutes later and, if we hurried with the milking, that gave us a few more minutes to get ready. And in the afternoon, we got home a few minutes earlier which gave us a few minutes to grab a snack before we went out to the barn to milk again.

We worked very hard as farm kids, but we did always manage to have fun. I hope everyone has as many great childhood memories as we do!

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Happy Shunpiking!
Ruth