Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Journey, A Camera & A Companion: Rustic Roads: Burnett County

A Journey, A Camera & A Companion: Rustic Roads: Burnett County: The Rustic Roads program was created about 40 years ago and allows hikers, bikers and motorists to enjoy the less traveled, scenic back roa...

Rustic Roads: Burnett County

The Rustic Roads program was created about 40 years ago and allows hikers, bikers and motorists to enjoy the less traveled, scenic back roads of Wisconsin regardless of the season. These routes help to enhance the beauty and serenity that the state has to offer. There are approximately 119 individual routes that travel through 59 counties and when added up equal about 722 miles. 

It is important to point out that these routes do not connect to each other and some are quite a distance apart from each other.  Also markings are limited and usually only one-way and regardless of what the website says, most of these routes don't end near a major city or road with limited GPS signals. Be sure to print out the map from the website and take with you to help navigate you along the way. 

These Rustic Roads will take us across Burnett County, Wisconsin.  The first route will be route #80 located East of Trego, Wisconsin next to Big Lake McKenzie.  After leaving Highway 53N, you'll head East on County Highway E towards Big Lake McKenzie.  The county road is peaceful and quaint, as you get closer to the lake beautiful homes with luscious landscapes begin to come into view and the road begins to twist and turn as you make your way around Big Lake McKenzie.  This time of year, the area is quiet and homes appear to be deserted, clearly a seasonal area that is probably booming during the summer and once again in the winter.  Plan your trip to this route accordingly.

As you continue on you'll come across the sign marking the county line and there ahead lies the Rustic Road route 80. This paved route is approximately 2 miles long and continues to follow along Big Lake McKenzie, offering amazing views of the lake from different angles as well as the continuation of beautiful, lush vegetation and tranquility.  The route is full of twists, turns and hills with speed limits changing along the way.  This route ends at County Road A which can be used to take you to Highway 35.

From here to Highway 35 there are several miles that separate the two but continue on County Road A North the whole way and it'll bring you right to Highway 35.  County Road A also brings you through more resort towns that are currently quiet or closed, but offers great views of woods, wildlife, fields and marsh along the way.  Another route that has the speed limit changing quickly with little to no notice and sharp turns that require to come almost to a complete stop.  Be mindful the whole way!

Once on Highway 35E you'll be heading towards Danbury, Wisconsin.  Thankfully, this route is marked and will point you the way to Old 35 Road which is where the next Rustic Road Route begins which is route #98.

This paved route is approximately 8 miles long and does a complete U-turn to bring you back out to Highway 35.  Lined with very few residents, lots of thick vegetation and plenty of wildlife to call this place home.  

The route continues to be marked along the way to give guidance back to Highway 35. Low hills and easy turns along the way make this an easy route to maneuver don't forget to look over to the side as some areas offer long drops to the streams below as well as the few lakes that surround this route.

As the route continues to bend and turn taking you back towards Highway 35, more resort homes and taverns will be seen along the way, followed by more thick vegetation, hills and turns.  Keep an eye out for those signs that are placed along the way.  

About halfway along the route, there is a sharp turn and a bridge crossing and on either side is Falk Lake and Gull Lake both which flow into a larger lake known as Minerva Lake.  A few miles later and you are now back at Highway 35.

Continue East on 35 for about two blocks and on the left is another Rustic Road Route, which is also marked, and now begins route #79.  This paved route is approximately 2 miles long and is a straight route across the countryside.  Few homes, large trees and a straight and easy road are all that make up this route just before ending enjoy the Yellow River view as you cross over it.  This route ends at County Road F.

Take County Road F South all the way to Grantsburg, Wisconsin where the next route is located.  This is a fun route to take, as there are old barns, abandoned buildings, taverns, wildlife areas and Governor Knowles State Park pull offs along the way.  Traffic is minimal but trucks are frequent hauling logs from point to point but a peaceful route to sit back and enjoy until you reach Grantsburg which is approximately 25 miles away.

Upon arrival into Grantsburg it is important to be mindful of the streets in order to find your way to the next Rustic Road Route, this has no markings and even major highways are not marked until you are there.  Once arriving into Grantsburg look for North Oak Street and follow until the end, then turn left onto S Pine St and right onto Highway 87/48 and begin heading away from Grantsburg.  It is only when on this road that there is a sign to mark the turn off to Rustic Road.  Turn off onto Skog Road and follow for several miles, which is filled with residential homes, lush vegetation and a few twists and turns making you think you are on the Rustic Road route but you are not.  At an intersection a few miles ahead you see the next sign in front of you that says "Rustic Road Ahead".

This begins the final Rustic Road route of Burnett County; route #15 which is a little over 5 miles long and is both paved and gravel.  This route is lined with medium to low vegetation, lots of marsh, swaps and thick grass lines the road.  Parts of the road even look like they are going to be swallowed up by the thick grass and weeds that line the way.  Twist and turn and it feels like you are looking down on them.  Open fields and swamps lead to endless views of various birds, hawks, and eagles soaring high above, while looking down at anything that catches their eye.

From here on out you are on your own as there are no signs to guide you along the way.  My suggestion is have your printed map handy and that at any intersection you come to read the signs and look for Shogren Road.  This is the road needed to take you back out to Highway 48, but even this road is not obviously marked.  

A good indicator that your off of the Rustic Road route is the narrowing of the road which means you are continuing on West River Road, and at times this road becomes dirt but it narrows to the point of only one car at a time.  But not to fret if you find yourself on this route, keep going.  The road eventually comes to an end where you turn either right or left onto County Road O; turn left and enjoy the widened county dirt road, the marsh land that surrounds the area and the pickups kicking up dirt as they drive by.

County road O leads you all the way back to Highway 48/87, you may even see Shogren Road along the way but continue on.  Once at Highway 48/87 head South to enjoy more small towns and communities as you head towards St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.  

Look off to the right and see the St. Croix River come into view as well as the Lions Club St. Croix park that is open year round and has a dock landing.  Stop in to stretch your legs, take a breather and enjoy a nice walk down to the river.  There are also restroom facilities available and open year-round.

Enjoy the buildings and businesses that line the main street of St. Croix as you head closer to Highway 8.  Upon arrival you can turn right and head over to Minnesota or head back into Wisconsin by turning left.  The choice is yours!  For more information about this route and other routes please visit:

Writing & Photography By: Nettie B

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Journey, A Camera & A Companion: Turtle Lake Museum

A Journey, A Camera & A Companion: Turtle Lake Museum: Welcome to the Turtle Lake Museum located in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin.  In 2010 the census reported that 1,065 people lived in the vi...

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Turtle Lake Museum

Welcome to the Turtle Lake Museum located in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. 

In 2010 the census reported that 1,065 people lived in the village which is located between Polk and Barron county. The village's history dates back to 1875 when European descents first came to the area to settle. Known for its large harwoods and pine forests about half the population was consisted of Native Americans.

The village was originally named Skowhagen by Stephen Richardson as the area reminded him of his home state of Maine. Richardson went on to open a saw mill that became the village's first and principle industry for years followed by a general store and eventually a post office where Richardson was the postmaster.

Logging camps were built around Upper and Lower Turtle Lake. Government surveyors came up the name Turtle Lake because of all the turtles that used the area to lay their eggs. Once a post office was established it only seemed right to carry on with the name Turtle Lake instead of Skowhagen.

As you walk through the museum you will learn more about the history of Turtle Lake. All items throughout the museum have been donated by locals who grew up in the village. These items include band uniforms, military uniforms, cookware, phones and a variety of other items that were used. 

In fact the main building of the museum was at one time the village's lumber mill which was closed years earlier. Repairs continue to help bring the building up to date as well as hold on to the historical ambiance. 

As you first walk in to the museum look around at the glass casings that line the wall. Note the differences in band uniforms that the village used throughout the years. As well as the items donated by the local Cub Scout Troop, school year books and articles posted about local events. Various items that were used on a daily basis as well as events that took place.

Continue on and notice the Army uniforms as you continue on, one of them is a woman's uniform, from a local Turtle Lake resident who was in the service but not many people were aware of until recently. Her papers and what she did in the service can all be found on the display case next to her uniform. She is one of many women who served this country, take a moment to give thanks to all of the unspoken ones who served.

As the tour continues look to the walls and find old pictures of farm equipment, homes, buildings and what the town originally looked like. The photos continue to show the railroad tracks and station that use to go through the village. Moving on you'll find a map of what use to be the Turtle Lake School District Map and photos of the schools that use to operate in the area.

More display cases line the walls to include photography equipment, phones, sports memorabilia, toys, fishing equipment and military uniforms. All uniforms were used by local servicemen with one that has an interesting story to it. Upon donation, volunteers were going through the pockets and in one came across a pack of cigarettes and the airline ticket home. As if the person who used to wear it, took it off and never looked back.

In a display case next to the uniforms is a wooden object that was donated by a local family. This object, known as the Montagnard Crossbow, was used by a group of people during Vietnam known as the “Mountain People”. They were indigenous people of Central Highland Vietnam and considered to be “America's Most Loyal Aliens In Vietnam”.

Continue on to see the set-up of a home and items that were used. Next to it hangs a large quilt with a little bit of a mystery. On it are the names of local business that date back to 1900-1902 which is when it is believed to have been made but the question remains; why? You are left to speculate and wonder why someone would make this and hold on to it for so long.

The tour concludes with more display cases of medical equipment for both doctor, vision and dentist, 

as well as school and newspaper equipment and finally railroad memorabilia. After a short stroll through the museum you will have learned all about the history of the village of Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. 

But before you leave be sure to take a stroll outdoors to view the different farm equipment and buggy that was used in the area which also includes a fire truck.

If your passing through be sure to take a moment to stop by and check it out. Volunteers are on sight to answer any questions you may have about the village or any of the items on display. 

The Turtle Lake Museum is open from June – September, 2nd & 3rd weekends from 10a-4p. There is no fee to visit the museum but donations are always appreciated.

Writing & Photography By: Nettie B, The Write Shot

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Rustic Road: Washburn & Sawyer Counties

The Rustic Roads program was created about 40 years ago and allows hikers, bikers and motorists to enjoy the less traveled, scenic backroads of Wisconsin regardless of the season. These routes help to enhance the beauty and serenity that the state has to offer. There are approximately 119 individual routes that travel through 59 counties and when added up equal about 722 miles. 

It is important to point out that these routes do not connect to each other and some are quite a distance apart from each other.  Also markings are limited and usually only one-way and regardless of what the website says, most of these routes don't end near a major city or road with limited GPS signals. Be sure to print out the map from the website and take with you to help navigate you along the way. 

The following routes took place in Washburn and Sawyer County located in the Northern part of Wisconsin. There are a total of four Rustic Road Routes, one is located in Washburn and the other three are in Sawyer. Like any other Rustic Road Route, signage is limited and sometimes non-existent, however, once on the route the views are quite amazing.

Route 71 is the first and only route in Washburn, County. It is located outside the town of Stone Lake and the route takes you around and over part of Stone Lake itself. The route is completely paved and is approximately two miles long. The road twists and turns with thick trees that allow for views of the lake. Cross over a small bridge and immediately after is a pull-off for a vehicle. Here is where you can step out and walk down to the water. There is also small path that will take you even further into the woods and around the lake.

Continue on and enjoy more views of the lake and trees. This year Fall hasn't been impressive for leave colors in Wisconsin, however, there were a few spots that still offered a nice view. Hopefully, next year will bring brighter colors as this is definitely a route that would be nice to explore when in full Fall colors.

The route ends just outside of Stone Lake, next to Little Stone Lake. From here, head towards Seely, Wisconsin to pick up the next route which is approximately 30 minutes away. After arriving in Seely, turn on Highway OO and find the next Rustic Road Route which is route 108.

Route 108 is all gravel and is approximately 3.4 miles long. Twist and turn along the Northern Light Road to see lush vegetation, large trees which are all part of the Sawyer County Forest. At one time this was a route used by loggers but is now home to cars, atv's and bikers. The route ends on County Highway OO, head towards Boulder Lodge Resort via Highway 77 to find the next Rustic Road.

Route 111 is about 20 minutes away and located off of County Road S. This is one of the longest routes that I've traveled on. Approximately 25 miles long with both paved and gravel roads it is also the most fun to drive and has the most see. This route also takes you through Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest which has many trails for hikers and bikers be watchful for them!

Twists and turns that limit visibility are common on this route but it is also well marked to help you stay on course. The route takes you around and over Moose Lake and comes to a split. One route will bring you back to Highway 77, while the other will take you over to Ashland County and end at County Road GG. At the intersection there are signs to point you in either direction. I continued on towards Highway 77 which is the easiest way to get to the last route on the journey.

As the road takes you towards Highway 77, it crosses over a one-car bridge and another intersection, with no signs, lies ahead. Even though the road before you narrows, this is the correct route and will open up once you get up and over the hill. Shortly after that is another sign to confirm your on the right route towards Highway 77. Twist and turn again to have to view clear up with swamps and brush then finally come to an end at Highway 77.

Turn on Highway 77 to head back towards Boulder Lodge & Ghost Lodge to pick up the final Rustic Road Route. Route 95 begins on Forest Road 203 and is also part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. As the route begins Ghost Lake is located on the right, never found anyone to explain why it was named this, and Teal Lake on the left.

This route is approximately 16 miles long and is all gravel. Thick trees and vegetation line the road with a rough road ahead of you. Enjoy the National Forest and all the people who use it as well as the animals who call this place home. The route is peaceful and quiet, follow Lynch-Creek trail to a wildlife-viewing platform which could allow you to see deer, bear and possibly wolves and elk.

Route 95 ends in Bayfield County, outside of Hayward, WI on County Road M. Follow this road to get back to Highway 63 which heading North takes you up to Drummond, WI or South will lead you back to Cumberland, WI and all the towns in between.

For more information about this route or any of the Rustic Road routes please visit:

Written & Photographed by Nettie B
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Road Trip: Washington 101

Well, we survived the night. I have always been and will be happy about having my Aria with me on this road trip and anywhere else life takes us. However, today I'm waking up and loving her even more. The hotel was nothing to brag about and Aria did her thing by staying close to me while I slept and occasionally getting up to check on the noise outside the hotel room. I will always sleep better knowing she is watching out for me; forever loyal.

The day is a quick one to get started and on our way. I have little patience for this place and the long drive ahead has me ready to get started. After a few stops in the area we head out on Interstate 5 South. How this route reminds me, I don't miss city traffic or drivers, and can't wait to get out of the congestion and about 10-15 miles later we are turning on to Highway 101 and about to enter the Olympic Peninsula. At first the Highway is like the interstate, busy and congested but with every exit that is passed we loose a few more cars and speed slowly begins to increase. Finally we're away from the cities and entering into the National Forest.

If you want to know what the opposite of Highway 12 looks like, than take Highway 101. There is nothing, and I do mean, nothing to worry about. There are curves, climbs and descents but nothing compared to Highway 12. Most of the route remains low and near the water. There are pull-offs but most of them are tree-covered and offer little to the traveler. I started on the East side of the National Forest and it is nothing to brag about, in fact, I was beginning to think I had made a mistake in taking this route.

The East side is primarily small towns along the shore that have maybe one or two shops that a local has started and that is it. There maybe one or two pull overs that offer views but otherwise sit back and enjoy the smooth ride. About half way in there is a small state park that offers you access to the water, it is fee restricted, but they do offer a 15 minute pit stop for no charge. It offers a great view and is a nice area to stretch your legs. Continuing on, there are more twists, turns, homes and small towns. After you leave the National Forest it opens up again and you go through a few towns, and it is critical to be mindful when going through.

Signs for Highway 101 are often obstructed or small and can be easily missed. Thankfully, I was able to see them all and make it through without issue. Also two lanes drop down to one and one lane becomes a turn only lane with little to no warning. People are also aggressive drivers and eager to get where they want to go and caution should be taken.

Once out of the towns we're now heading West and South on Highway 101 and just up ahead is a sign saying we are re-entering the National Forest. The West side of the Forest is by far the show stopper. The views and pull offs are enough to take your breathe away, even on a rainy day like today where clouds are low and visibility limited. If you're willing to be creative you can make any of these pull offs work to give you an amazing shot.

This will continue throughout the entire journey towards Astoria, Seaport and Cannon Beach. However, due to heavy rain photos were limited.

I've now settled into a cabin on the shores of Oregon and it is a cabin that, in my opinion, is overpriced. There is no table to eat at, or in my case paint at, no TV., and no internet. Clouds are rolling in and the rain is falling harder outside, with limited options of what to do, I decide to go shopping.

Thankfully, I have a computer and was able to pick-up some dvds for background noise and to pass the time. Tomorrow will be spent exploring the area but the weatherman is calling for more rain and overcast skies so it could be a short trip.

I'm ready to feel the sun on my face and get out of this dreary weather that Oregon and Washington are known for, but until then. Aria and I will be hunkering down for the evening and look forward to another day of exploring.  

Photography & Writing by Nettie B
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