Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

18 December, 2005

In the Great Northwoods

I've recently spent a few weeks up north on business, as regular readers know. I took precious few pictures but here's a smattering.

I spent last week in Hayward and Brule. As I bitched about previously, my hotel room in Hayward was like a sauna.

I spent several summers near Hayward as a kid and we would trek into town occasionally. I recall the many times I stood on Main Street in front of Tremblay's Sweet Shop staring into the window as a confectioner made fudge. There was likely a puddle of drool at my feet when I was dragged away by my mom. Unfortunately I never got around to checking out the shop while I was there. I did, however, check out some taverns. The first night we were there, we headed to the Old Hayward Eatery & Brewpub. The restaurant was closed so we only stayed for one brew. I had their porter and found it to be quite tasty. I spent Wednesday night alone as my cohorts had taken off to Brule while I stayed in Hayward an extra night to finish off one computer. I went to The Angry Minnow and had the best food of the whole trip - a grilled hunk of pork loin. I also had a pint of their stout which was also excellent. While there, I had the chance to talk to a local who had stopped in for a brew before heading home. He'd been out all night riding his bicycle and was raving about how nice the trails were. The place itself was beautiful. It had been the headquarters for a lumber company and had huge vaulted ceilings and a gorgeous wooden interior. It being lumber country, every building's interior is lined with wood.

On Thursday I finished off the last PC at the Hayward office after a protracted bit of troubleshooting and then drove to Brule in a snowstorm. The first third of the stretch of Highway 27 was in dire need of plowing and so it was a bit perilous. Had I ditched the car, I'd have been fucked as there was no cell reception in the middle of the forest. But the road got much better after I got out of Sawyer county. I made it to the Brule DNR office and was there for an hour before heading back to the hotel.

The next day provided some time to take some snaps. Pulling into the parking lot, I noticed a logging sled which I presume was meant to show how things were done back in the day.

Here's the DNR office itself.

Now, here we have the Bates Motel-like lobby of the office:

While waiting for data to be copied, I found the time to head out for a walk. I started by just stepping outside and walking 10 yards to the edge of the hill and saw this:

That's the Bois Brule. Wanting to get a closer look, I treked down the hill to the shore.

My next stop was the canoe landing/picnic site just down the road. So I started walking.

The road to the landing had a layer of fresh snow on it - I was the first to travel down it in a couple days outside of the local fauna.

When I turned around to head back, I found that the sun had come out.

Back on the main road, I found a hiking trail that led up a hill.

No snowmobiles had gone up the trail all day. It was .7 miles to a lookout point but I just didn't have time to make the hike. But I wanted to go up a little ways. As I was walking, I heard a loud wooshing sound all around me. Looking up I saw what I think was a hawk. It was just so quiet and still that I could hear everything clearly. Further up the trail, I ran into a couple birds which were chasing each other. They were about teh size of a robin but with light brown feathers and black heads & tails. While they landed very close to me, they never stood still for more than a second so I couldn't get a decent picture.

I got back to the office and got back to work on a laptop. The user was in the forestry bureau and and had a funky GPS hoolie. While I'd installed the software for one many a time, I'd never actually seen the unit itself. So I picked it up out of its charger and turned it on. I chuckled when I saw that the display read that it couldn't track where I was as there were not enough satellites. I was truly in the middle of nowhere.

This was not a whole lot different than our hotel which was in Iron River, 8 miles east of Brule. We got to our hotel well after dark during a fairly light but persisent snowfall. There was a restaurant and bar right next door and Dan and I headed there for dinner. We found the restaurant closed and the bar had only the couple who owned the place, their sons, and one of their mother-in-laws. The menu there was not extensive and they were out of fries so I had nachos. This was the meal most like homemade of the whole trip - if your home is a college dorm. On the other hand, I did have some Cream Ale from the South Shore Brewery in Ashland. I dunno what was in it but it was fantastic! It had a wonderfully aromatic taste - kind of jasminey - and helped me pass the cold, snowy night. After dinner, Dan and I headed across the street to the C-Store to grab some late night snacks. We found that, unlike most gas stations, there weren't many snacks to be had. Of the 5 aisles, 3 were dedicated to booze and, of the 8 coolers, half were lined with beer. The joint also had a magazine rack that had nothing but skin mags. The bottom shelf had the truck driver specials - a pack of 3 magazines for $9.99. And they were all from last year.

Since it was to be my last week with the DNR, I took some time out on Thursday to get some souvenirs. I grabbed a couple complete sets of the Wisconsin Wildlife cards - one for me and one for The Dulcinea's kids. The receptionist saw me and proceeded to pull out a few posters and pamphlets for me as well. I gave all the wildlife posters to The Dulcinea for the kids while I kept a poster featuring Wisconsin forest trees for myself. I'll have to get a cheapie frame for it.

I spent about a month on the road. Often times it really sucked to be away from home eating crappy food and living in a cramped hotel room, without my precious Internet access for most of the time. It was, however, nice to go to places I'd never been to as well as visit Hayward, a place I have bummed around since the mid-80s. I considered stopping in Stone Lake on the way home but didn't have time. The cabins my parents owned was just outside of Stone Lake and I stopped in at the Stone Lake Pub many a time with my old man. I almost always ordered a Grape Crush while he got Old Style, if I recall correctly.

Much to my discredit, I got very little reading done. I did, however, manage to listen to a variety of audio dramas. There was the usual coterie of Doctor Who and related dramas plus a BBC version of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (which echoed eerily recently in Indiana.) I've never read the book but do remember seeing part of the film adaptation. It was a good story in and of itself but what really hit me was the religious fanaticism of the society. The Christian zealotry and the subjugation of women was really scary and seemed less fantasy and more like speculation with the power of the evangelicals today.

I almsot forgot - I made a stop in at the White Winter Winery in Iron River to buy some mead. Driving down Highway 2, I cranked up the Finnish polka on the Goose Island Ramblers CD of mine as it only seemed appropriate. Star Liquor here in town carries the sweet and dry varieties of their mead but only those. And so I bought a couple bottles of melomel or fruit mead - the blueberry and raspberry. Plus I got a bottle of cyser or apple mead. I didn't see any black mead around and asked about it. They were out. I joking whined that I'd driven all the way up from Madison and the woman went in the back and pulled a bottle out of their tasting stash for me. In the cooler I spied some hard cider and some brackett which is basically a beer brewed with honey. Six-packs were over $12 a pop so I bought a single bottle to give it a try. On Friday night, Becca, Stevie, and I busted open the raspberry mead as we sat in front of the fireplace. I felt so Nordic. It was very, very good. It was not extremely sweet, which I liked very much. You got a burst of raspberry on your tongue first and then the taste of honey underneath it revealed itself. Mead is proving to be very addictive. I have pulled the pheasant out of the freezer so I can make stew in it mead later this week.

I recreated a medieval recipe this evening and it turned out quite well. More on that later.
|| Palmer, 10:23 PM


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