Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pierogi Fest 2011


Robyn, the Grandgirls, and I were off to the 17th Pierogi Fest in Whiting, IN, this morning.  Not being of Polish descent, I’ve never had an authentic Pierogi.  I was looking forward to the experience.  Whiting is about an hour’s drive, in urban traffic, from Robyn’s house.  The Fest began at 11:00 today, and we were there shortly after, but had to walk about a half mile to get there.  We parked free along the street and noticed that as we got closer the prices rose to $15 for parking. 

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Just to the right of the entrance to the historic 119th Street entrance was a fountain.  Even the fountain herons were wearing babushkas and aprons!  That was a good sign.

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We stopped at the fountain briefly so the girls could see it, and I could cool down a bit.  It was dang hot out!  Isn’t is funny how if you stop to take a picture of something, others around you stop too, and bring out their cameras?

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A Polish Pierogi Fest is obviously about food, and there was plenty of it.  (I hope you’ll click to enlarge)  There were pierogis, potato pancakes, shish-ka-bobs, and huge Polish sausages to choose from.  In the lower left picture, one of the young workers seems to be enjoying the experience, but Busha is all business getting those pancakes out.  Smile  The picture on the lower right is the stand we stopped at for our potato/cheese pierogis.  Interestingly, the workers at this stand were deaf, and only the person taking the orders could hear. 

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By the time we got our order, the sweat was just pouring off of me, and I had to take my glasses off because I needed windshield wipers to keep them clear.  A woman in the crowd approached me and asked if I needed to sit down.  Since I’ve been very young, when I get hot my face turns beat red and the sweat just runs down my face.  I did need to sit down, and we found a picnic table to sit at in the shade to enjoy the pierogis.  Even though I’ve spent a lot of time in the hot steamy south, today’s heat and humidity really got to me.

Shortly afterward, we turned around and headed back the way we had come.  We didn’t quite make it to the end of the Fest area. 


On the way back, I suggested stopping to see the three man polka band (drums, trumpet, and accordion) on one of the side streets.  The polka beat spoke to Robyn and the girls.  Smile  If I come back here again next summer, we have intentions of returning to this festival.  I sure would have liked to have a taste of all the ethnic offerings.  Oprah has rated this one of the best seven festivals in the Chicago area, and now that I have more information on it I’d like to return under better weather conditions.

When we got back to Robyn’s house, we all headed for the pool to cool off.  I’ll save those pics for a later post.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Twiddling my thumbs

Not much going on in this part of Indiana right now.  Pretty much just hot weather, persnickety electricity, and laundry.  I won’t dwell on the electricity part.  Suffice it to say that it got fixed, once again, yesterday afternoon.

I did have an interesting encounter yesterday evening as I was outside dumping my tanks.  Someone shouted hello to me.  After spraying my hands off, I made my way to the edge of my site to meet a local woman, Linda (I think), that I have seen occasionally walking the roads of the campground in a bright orange vest.  Apparently she lives in a house a little ways down the road, and likes to walk the campground for exercise.  As I’ve mentioned before, hardly anyone walks around here.  They all just drive their golf carts around in circles.  I thought perhaps she was a birder since the vest has many pockets in it.  Turns out the reason she wears it is so she doesn’t get run over by one of those carts!  Ha Ha! 

After chatting a bit, and giving Emma a biscuit, she said, “Are you Judy Bell?”  When I told her I was, I then asked her how she knew that, and she told me she reads my blog.  What???  I was nonplussed.  Then the story came out.  In one of her walk-arounds, she ran into my friend Jack last month just before he pulled out of here.  During their chat, he gave her my website address, and she started reading my blog.  Good old Jack.  Didn’t know he was out finding readers for me.  Jack is one of a kind!


While I was at Robyn’s today doing my laundry, we talked about the monarch caterpillars from last night’s post.  She was wishing that we could put some in a container so the grandgirls could watch the transformation.  We decided to use a big Tupperware cereal container that she had, and I’ll put a tin foil lid on it with small air holes punched in it.  When I got back to the rig, I got the container all ready.  Wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t find one caterpillar!  They all seem to have slowly crawled off for greener pastures.  (or, they’ve gotten eaten by a bird Sad smile)  I’ll keep looking, though.  It’s early in the season.


Speaking of seasons, I noticed that DONNA had pictures of these flowers on her post this afternoon.  I used to grow them when I lived in Minnesota, but for the life of me I can’t remember their name.  I do have a problem remembering names, whether it’s a person, a flower, or even sometimes a bird. 

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, July 29, 2011

It’s getting to be that time of the year


In mid to late summer up north, the wild berries begin ripening.  They’re so luscious and juicy, but with all the robins and other birds around here I don’t think I’m going to be able to enjoy much of their sweetness.


The milkweed plants are also getting large enough to think about blooming, and do you know what that means?   Soon it will be monarch butterfly season!  I’ve been on the prowl looking for caterpillars.  I haven’t seen any monarchs around, only swallowtails, but lo and behold…

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…the other day I discovered a monarch caterpillar on a milkweed plant next to my rig.  They have voracious appetites for the leaves of this plant.  The adult monarch lays its eggs on this favored host plant.  I was hoping this caterpillar would stay put on the plant and go into the chrysalis stage so I could observe it.  Alas, it moved on.


But then today, I found a smaller one on the same plant.  It is less than a half inch long.


An even smaller one, about 1 cm long, was on the underside of a leaf of a plant on the other side of my site.  You can even see the milky sap that this plant gets its name from along the edges of the portions that have been eaten.  If I had an old aquarium, I’d put these caterpillars inside of it with some leaves so I could watch the whole process.  It’s been years since I’ve done that.

IMG_2717While peeking into the secret lives of milkweeds, I walked past this spent bloom.  It was brilliant yellow not too long ago.  Nature’s timetable of growing old is accelerated for wildflowers.  I could sympathize with being beyond the beautiful blooming part of life.  But, there is almost always another springtime.  Smile


But wait, there is still usefulness in old age…

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If nothing else, a perch for youth to take flight from!  Oh my, I’m waxing a little philosophical tonight.  Guess I’d better finish up.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, July 27, 2011



                  All photos tonight are from yesterday’s return trip to the LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area.

Since RICK helped me get all my pictures restored to Picasa, I’m going to attempt to write the post I had planned for last night.


On Monday evening, Robyn and Dennis took me out for dinner to celebrate my birthday.  We went to Gino’s Restaurant in Dyer, IN, for steak and lobster.  Last Friday was my birthday, but I was busy traveling back from South Dakota, so the dinner was postponed.  What a treat it was for me to have a fantastic dinner out with someone other than myself. (and also someone else paying the bill   Winking smile)  The establishment even provided a dish of peppermint ice cream with a candle in it to top off the evening.

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I got an email the other day from my friend Jack asking how the repairs were going on the rig.  That prompted me to give the Brown and Brown RV Center a call.  It seems the new awning has arrived, but Winnebago has yet to send the new basement storage door.  It is projected to be delivered this week.  It has been almost two months since the order went in.  Once it arrives, I’ll drive the rig over, they’ll take off the ruined door, and then have the new door painted to match.  Looks like I’ll be staying overnight at the repair place while that gets done.  Maybe next week?


I sent out an email to my two brothers a week or so ago inviting them, their wives, and any other family members to come out to Pioneer Village for a cookout at my site sometime in August.  They both live in the Chicagoland area.  I figured if I didn’t take the initiative to get together, it wouldn’t happen.  Happily, they’ve both expressed interest, so now it’s a matter of picking a date.  My older brother, Carl, volunteers at the big air show in Oshkosh, WI, every year so I’ll wait until next week to firm that up.


I, of course, also invited my sister, but I’m not expecting that she will attend.  She and they have not been on good terms for a number of years, so I’ll leave that up to her.

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                                  There was a massive bloom of water lilies on the lake for this visit.


Now my mind is busily going over my route plans for leaving here after Labor Day.  I need to do my Mayo Clinic appointments, and zip back to Sioux Falls with the required documents before making my way back down to Anahuac NWR along the Texas Gulf Coast.  I also need to schedule in a stop in Louisiana to have some ordinary maintenance done on the rig along the way.  With the cost of gas, I’m considering leaving the rig here and doing that trip by car again.  I think I can get everything done in about three or four days.  Indiana is a lot closer to Louisiana than Sioux Falls is.


To my slight agitation and annoyance, the electricity has gone out for several minutes three times now in the last half hour. Baring teeth smile  I thought we were over this problem.  Nuts!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What a relief!!!

Thanks to Google+, I was able to contact RICK in Canada and he helped me solve my problems with the disappearing picture files in Picasa.  It took about an hour, but everything has come back.  I am so thankful to Rick for helping me out.  He is such a resource for us computer challenged individuals!  Rick and I will be touching base again tomorrow to get to the root of taking care of a permanent fix with an external hard drive.  I can’t tell you how relieved I am.  Perhaps my son or son-in-law could have helped me, but they are so busy with their lives.  I’ll be able to sleep peacefully tonight.  Thanks again, Rick.

I’ll post again tomorrow about the trip I wasn’t able to talk about tonight.  Yahoo!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy


I sure wished I lived on Vancouver Island right now!   (RICK,  the blogger guru of computers lives there)  As I was trying to prepare tonight’s post, 62 folders of pictures that I had in Picasa disappeared.  Since I hit the road five years ago, I’ve saved all my pictures in folders in ‘My Pictures’ on the laptop.  When I switched to Picasa for my photo editing, all the folders appeared automatically there.  Now they’re all gone from Picasa.  I am bereft.  15 of the first folders disappeared from ‘My Pictures’, but I believe I have those backed up on disks.  Shame on me for not backing all of them up.  Sad smile

I can access all but those 15 folders through My Pictures, but I’m just too bummed right now to even figure out how to do that.  I don’t know what I could have done to cause this.  Sorry for the short downer post, but I needed to vent…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, July 24, 2011

And now, for the rest of the story…

Besides wanting to see the cranes and taking a break from the road, there was another reason I stopped at the International Crane Foundation on Thursday.  Back about 8-10 years ago, my mother and I made a trip to the ICF and she purchased a hand-crafted crane ornament while we were there.  It hung for several years from the light fixture over the dining room table of my sticks and bricks in Kasson, MN.  When I hit the road five years ago, I hung it from the passenger’s front window sun visor.  It traveled many miles with me as a talisman of my taking flight.

Fast forward to Emma adopting me, and becoming my traveling companion.  She was only about 5 months old when she got dumped at the volunteer pads at Anahuac NWR, and still was into a little bit of chewing.  In my old rig, she’d hop up onto the large dashboard to watch the world go by while I was at work volunteering.  One day I came home to find the crane had somehow lost it legs.  Hmmm… I guess it was just too much of a temptation hanging there in front of her face.

Eventually over the next couple of years, the crane became more and more disheveled, and I had to throw it out.  I kind of missed the crane as it flew around on it’s string as I drove down the road.  So, what would the chances be that ICF would still have some of those cranes for sale?  I had to find out.

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Amazingly, I found them still in stock.  They are made in China out of wheat, and assembled with tweezers individually.  Cranes are revered in the far East as harbingers of good luck.  Who doesn’t need good luck?

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When I got home to the rig on Friday, I immediately hung my good luck crane where it belonged!  With my new rig, Emma can’t get on the dashboard, so it should be safe for many more years.  Smile

I was at Robyn’s house today doing laundry, and she gave me some mail that had been delivered to her house.  In it was a package from my sister with a gift for my birthday.


She had read about my struggles with the license bureau in South Dakota after having forgotten to bring my passport with me. 

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She had also given me a birthday card, and you’ve probably guessed that when you open the card the buxom Nordic Opera singer belts out a high C!  What a hoot!  I do need to point out, however, that my OLDER sister is 455 days older than me, and the opera singer would actually sing an entire aria for her.  Smile with tongue out

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, July 23, 2011

International Crane Foundation (ICF)


On my way from Minnesota to my sister’s house in Illinois on Thursday, I also decided to take a break about half way along the trip and stop at the International Crane Foundation’s headquarters in Baraboo, WI.  The ICF is a non-profit conservation organization that works worldwide to conserve cranes and the wetland and grassland ecosystems on which they depend… Our world headquarters is a center for research, education, ecosystem restoration and captive breeding.”


Since I have taken the guided tour in the past, I opted to do the self-guided tour this time so I could concentrate on photography.  I also had a limited amount of time since I still had almost 200 miles to go for the day.  Smile  The paths for viewing the cranes are all paved and handicapped accessible.  There are even several mobility scooters available for visitor’s use.  Interestingly, the paths are paved with recycled crushed glass bottles.  I haven’t been anywhere else that uses this resource.

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There are 15 species of cranes in the entire world, and this is the only facility that has birds of all of these species.  Because I took so many pictures, I’m using a series of collages to present what I saw.  (you can click to enlarge if you like)


There is a marvelous mural on the wall of one of the buildings in the Spirit of Africa exhibit.  There are plenty of benches and shaded observation areas along the way with water dispensers for visitors.  That water was much appreciated during my walk around the paths.

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In the center is the Johnson Exhibit Pod where many species outside of Africa are found.  The enclosures are large, and it was interesting to watch the birds finding all sorts of bugs and things to eat.  I’m not sure that fellow on the left appreciated having his picture taken.  Looks like he’s giving me the evil eye!


There is a separate, beautiful exhibit of our North American endangered Whooping Crane.  It’s one of the few places where you can get a picture without the chain fence in the way.

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The paths throughout the compound are lined with many varieties of native wildflowers.

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I’d say that July is a great time for a visit here to enjoy the added beauty.  There are also several unpaved hiking trails, a family education center, and a picnic area on the property that I didn’t have time to take advantage of on this visit.  The visitor’s center also has a nature store that I’ll talk about more in a later post.  The cost for seniors is $8, which includes the guided tour of the facilities.  I found that price reasonable for what you are able to see and do, and it helps support this non-profit agency.  So, if you’re in the Wisconsin Dells area anytime, I’d suggest a visit to the International Crane Foundation on US 12.


                                                                               THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy