The Northwoods of Wisconsin

On Thursday, the 14th, I flew from Albany, NY to Minneapolis, MN where I then rented a car and drove almost four hours to the middle of nowhere — Park Falls, Wisconsin. I left my wife, son, and grandson behind to work a few shifts at a new (to me) facility, Flambeau Hospital. Park Falls has a population of around 2200. The Flambeau emergency department has seven beds and the hospital has twenty-something inpatient beds. This will be a much different experience for me, and I hope it will be a good one. I was looking for a slower pace and I may have found it.

The massive Flambeau Hospital where I am practicing medicine for a week or so.

I had to come in on Friday for orientation, although my first 24-hour shift did not start until Monday. That meant that I had both Saturday and Sunday off. So, I arose early on Saturday and drove north on Highway 13 to Copper Falls State Park for a little morning hike. The over-3000 acre park has multiple hiking trails, deep gorges, ancient lava flows, and beautiful water falls. The fall colors are a couple of weeks away from their peak, but there were still enough accents of color to augment the natural beauty of the area.

The Bad River (which doesn’t look so bad).

I first hiked the Doughboys Trail, so named for the WWI veterans who built the trail back in the twenties. This 2-mile hike was spectacular. The Bad River and its tributary, the Tyler Forks, wind their way over basaltic rock which was laid down by volcanoes a billion years ago. This area is part of the largest volcanic rift in the earth’s crust in North America, stretching over 1400 miles. Waterfalls encountered on this trail include the Copper Falls, the Brownstone Falls, and the Cascades.

The beginning of the Doughboys Trail.

Copper Falls, Copper Falls State Park

The appropriately named, Brownstone Falls

On the Doughboys Trail, wearing my UGA shirt. Besides showing support for my team, it would conveniently hide blood from a bear-mauling… or Bigfoot attack. Or, more realistically, from the multiple attacks of the Wisconsin state bird I endured… mosquitos!

Bridge over the River Bad

This formation, known as “Devil’s Gate” is a result of the river eroding through vertical layers of Basalt.

A look down at the Devil’s Gate area.

The Cascades

Twin Forks River

After finishing the Doughboys Trail, I drove to a different portion of the park to hike the 3-mile long, Red Granite Falls Trail. The trail was not nearly as well marked, which resulted in my getting a little lost and turning the three-mile hike into a four-mile hike. I was underwhelmed by the Red Granite Falls, perhaps partially because of the effort required to reach them, but it was still an enjoyable couple of hours of hiking in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

These folks are RVing in style.

Perhaps a subtle attempt to keep hikers away?

Loon Lake at the state park.

On the Red Granite Falls trail.

Here it is: Red Granite Falls!

The Bad River near the falls.

Since I didn’t have much else to do (there is little to do in tiny Park Falls), I decided to take a road trip on up to Lake Superior. I continued to follow Route 13 northward to Ashland where I had lunch. From there, I drove the Wisconsin Lake Superior Byway through the town of Bayfield and along the southern shore of Lake Superior before beginning my return trip to Park Falls. This excursion to the south shore of Superior was a trip down memory lane. Cindy and I lived on these shores in the early 1980s. I was exhausted upon returning to Park Falls, but had enough energy to enjoy watching my Georgia Bulldogs defeated the overpowered Samford Bulldogs, 42-14, in my hotel room.

I preached my first sermon at this church in Ashland in 1977 (I think). Actually, the church may have had a different building back in the day, if my aging memory serves me correctly.

A view of the Chequamegon Bay in Ashland.

Bayfield, WI waterfront park. Cindy and I attended the Bayfield Apple Festival in this beautiful town back in the early 80s.

The fog-laden shores of Lake Superior

A lone canoe on the Great Lake.

On Sunday, I attended worship at the local St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. This also brought to mind many reminiscences of visiting the St. Anthony’s Church in Padua on a trip to Italy several years ago.

St. Anthony of Padua (of Park Falls)

Happy 1st Birthday, James!

Over the last week, we’ve enjoyed quality time with family. While Jeremy started teaching classes at Siena College, Cindy and I hung out with Fran and James. One afternoon we drove downtown to meet Jeremy for lunch and then enjoy a nice walk around town, gazing upon the beautiful architecture.

The Grotto at Siena College is modeled after the famous shrine in Lourdes, France

Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Kant…. Carey

Training these young malleable minds to think.

Cindy, Fran, and James on their downtown walk.

The distinctive, Albany City Hall

The inspiring neoclassical New York Dept. of Education building

The northwest side of the unusual, yet lovely, New York State Capitol building.

George Washington stands before the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services building.

The modern Egg Center for the Performing Arts building. I can’t figure out where the inspiration for the name came from.

The southeast view of the State Capitol building

On another afternoon, Cindy and I met James and Fran at the Riverfront Park at the Corning Reserve (also in the downtown Albany area). The weather was delightful and the scenery inspiring as we walked along the Hudson River enjoying the fresh late-summer air.

Walking through the Corning Preserve

Yia Yia and James on the bank of the Hudson River

Pathside foliage

Riverside flowering plants

In anticipation of the celebration of our grandson, James’, first birthday, Julie and Tracy made the seven-hour drive from western Pennsylvania. It was great having them visit us on the RV again. Lilah came too, of course, and (I’m happy to report) was not in the least bit afraid of me this time. We were best buddies! We enjoyed dinner at the campground and a two-plus mile hike along the trails on the campground.

Our very welcomed guests in our home.

Julie and her canine, Lilah

Enjoying a hike in the woods on a beautiful day.

Kids!!! If only we had Mariah and Murilo with us!

Campfire in NY

September 10th was the big day. James turned one! It is cliche, but it seems like yesterday that he was born. Cindy and I were blessed to be in Oakland, California when he made his grand entrance into this world. We saw him at 5 months, and now we were able to celebrate his first anniversary of being alive. We had pizza and cake and lots of presents.

Pizza party!

Our handsome grandson

It’s gift time!

James enjoys some of his birthday gifts

Sorry for the lighting, but… the birthday celebrants with the birthday boy.

James, one year ago.

Unfortunately, the joy was tempered by a touch of sorrow. The day before James’ birthday, Fran’s father, Tony, was taken to the emergency room in south Florida. He was admitted to the intensive care unit with septic shock and his life was in the balance. Prior to this incident, he had been enjoying life with his usual good health. Life is fragile and we should cherish every day. We, and many others, prayed fervently for his healing. Hurricane Irma presented insurmountable obstacles to Fran’s hoped-for travel to see her dad, but finally, earlier this week she was able to make the trip. He is still in critical condition, but he has made significant strides forward. Cindy and I were to fly out on Thursday, but she was able to rearrange her flight and depart early next week to watch James while Jeremy is at work and Fran is with her Father. Our grandson has definitely fallen in love with his Yia Yia (as Cindy is called).

Cindy and I had dinner at the Towne Tavern not far from our campsite. I had the excellent BBQ Brisket. Mmmm!

On Thursday, the 14th, I flew from Albany to Minneapolis, and from there drove a rental car for a four-hour drive into north-central Wisconsin for my next spell of shift work in a brand new (to me) emergency department.


The day after our adventures in art at the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Clark, we decided to make the hour-and-a-half drive west of Albany to the beautiful town of Cooperstown, NY, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The HOF was founded, by the way, by Stephen Carlton Clark (of Clark Art Institute fame), who also paid for construction of its building.

Outside the Baseball Hall of Fame

Nineteenth-century ball gloves. At first they were fingerless and warn on both hands, but developed as seen from high to low. (And a 19th-century catcher’s mitt on the right)

The Babe’s glove from the 20s.

There is a nice “women in baseball” exhibit in the HOF. Here are uniforms from the Rockford Peaches, etc. (as made famous in “A League of Their Own.”)

Norman Rockwell even made it to the HOF.

Cindy and I had visited the HOF in the late 80s with our two older kids and my sister’s (Gail’s) family from Georgia. We are all big Atlanta Braves Fans, so it was a treat for us both then and now. Since our last visit, a few more Braves have been inducted into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.

There was an in-depth Hammerin’ Hank exhibit.

Sitting in Hank Aaron’s locker from Atlanta Fulton County Stadium

Cindy on the wall of the initial class. What a class! Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, George Herman Ruth, Walter Johnson, and Honus Wagner!

Maddux and Glavine fittingly side-by-side in the Hall.

Joining Glavine and Maddux (to the left) is John Smoltz and Bobby Cox on this wall of recent inductees. Joe Torre (who was once a Brave is also on this wall).

As we were leaving Cooperstown, we stopped by a Belgian brewery, Ommegang Brewery, just outside of Cooperstown. We brought a few beers home for us and for Jeremiah.

The Ommegang Brewery

What a wonderful flower at the brewery!

My favorite: The Three Philosophers, “Made for Contemplation.” Jeremy and I talked about politics and religion while enjoying it. 🙂