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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.