The Adventurous Side of Door

I danced on Death’s Door – twice!

The first, as we crossed the strait heading from the northern tip of Door Peninsula over to Washington Island; the second time as we came back. My feet danced a little jig on the upper ferry deck in celebration.

Crossing Death's Door near Plum Island on the way to Rock Island. (Photo: M. Kopp)

Crossing Death’s Door near Plum Island on the way to Washington Island. (Photo: M. Kopp)

Door County, Wisconsin, named Porte des Morts for the Door of Death that is the treacherous strait linking Green Bay to the rest of Lake Michigan, isn’t on the radar of most Western Canadians. When I mention traveling to explore the tiny peninsula sticking out into Lake Michigan, friends and family look at me blankly.

“What’s there to do in Wisconsin besides eat cheese?”

Let me show you the adventurous side of the Door!

There are lighthouses to climb; 11 lighthouses in the county, although I only had time to climb the stairs of Cana Island, Eagle Bluff and Pottawatomie.

There are lighthouses to climb. (Photo: M. Kopp)

Cana Island Lighthouse (Photo: M. Kopp)

Countless bays and lakes are perfect for kayaking.

Kayaking out of Garrett Bay on the northern tip of Door Peninsula. (Photo: M. Kopp)

Kayaking out of Garrett Bay on the northern tip of Door Peninsula. (Photo: M. Kopp)

There are trails to hike in any of the county’s five state parks.

Hiking on Rock Island State Park. (Photo: M. Kopp)

Hiking on Rock Island State Park. (Photo: M. Kopp)

There are beaches with rare polished white limestone rocks to explore.

Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island. (Photo: M. Kopp)

Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island. (Photo: M. Kopp)

And don’t even get me started on the excitement of a fish boil!

A classic fish boil at Rowley's Bay. (Photo: M. Kopp)

A classic fish boil at Rowley’s Bay. (Photo: M. Kopp)

It’s true, Door County might not yet be on your radar, but when you get there, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to visit.

When You Go:
Details on activities, accommodations, dining and more can be found online through the Door County Visitor Bureau.

Stories on Stone

Whether you think of it as rock art, stories on stone or shamanistic visions – carved and painted images from prehistoric times capture the imagination.

Cub Creek petroglyph (photo: M. Kopp)

Cub Creek petroglyph of lizard, not common at other sites. (photo: M. Kopp)

Dinosaur National Monument’s “Petroglyphs and Pictographs” brochure lists five viewing sites in the monument: Swelter Shelter, Cub Creek, Deluge Shelter, McKee Springs, and Pool Creek.

Kokopelli petroglyph in Dinosaur National Monument. (photo: M. Kopp)

Kokopelli petroglyph in Dinosaur National Monument. (photo: M. Kopp)

We ran out of time before making it to Deluge Shelter and McKee Springs (both north of the Green River), but enjoyed the sun-exposed and faded paintings of Swelter Shelter, the impressive collection of pecked rock images along Cub Creek and the unique petroglyphs found high on a sheer sandstone wall along Pool Creek.

Pool Creek's petroglyphs take a little bit to find. (photo: M. Kopp)

Pool Creek’s petroglyphs take a little bit to find. (photo: M. Kopp)

Pecked into the pinkish-hued sandstone, these Freemont glyphs are different in style. (photo: M. Kopp

Pecked into the pinkish-hued sandstone, these Freemont glyphs are different in style. (photo: M. Kopp

Within Dinosaur National Monument, the dot pattern designs are only found at Pool Creek. The lower section of the petroglyph above was created by chipping away sections of the rock. Is it a headdress? A necklace? An artist’s vision?

The petroglyphs and pictographs* found in the monument are attributed to the Freemont people. Archaeological evidence of the Freemont dates from around 200 A.D. to 1300 A.D. While the people are gone, their presence remains strong a thousand years later.

Hmmm… maybe it’s time to start writing on stone!

(* Petroglyphs are images pecked, carved or chipped into rock. Pictographs are images painted on rock.)

 

Walk in Time: RCMP “Depot” Division

Since 1885, “Depot” Division in Regina has been the training academy for RCMP cadets. It’s a place where tradition lives in every step, every crease, every building.

I was given the opportunity with a handful of other writers to experience a day in cadet boot camp, to walk in time through “Depot.” Although marching was something Troop TMAC never mastered, we did ace the observation portion of the experience.

In the evening I wandered the grounds, soaking up tangible history seen in wood and brick and stone.

Originally built as a mess hall in 1883, the Chapel is the oldest building in Regina. (Photo: M. Kopp)

Originally built as a mess hall in 1883, the Chapel is the oldest building in Regina. Partially destroyed by fire in 1895, it was re-opened as a chapel later that same year. The steeple was added in 1939. (Photo: M. Kopp)

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Destroyed by fire in 1911 and rebuilt the following year, this was the Headquarters 0f the Royal North-West Mounted Police. In 1998, the building was named in honour of Commissioner Major-General Aylesworth Bowen Perry. (Photo: M. Kopp)

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Constructed as a riding school in 1929, this building became the Drill Hall in 1953. Renovated in 2009, today’s polished wood floors in the cavernous interior reflect provincial crests on the walls and flags hung from steel trusses. Drill continues outside as cadets show Troop TMAC observers correct formation. (Photo: M. Kopp)

“Depot” Division reflects pride of tradition in every step, every crease, every building.

If You Go:

  • During July and August, the RCMP Heritage Centre hosts daily tours of RCMP Academy “Depot” Division.
  • Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, “Depot” hosts the Sergeant Major’s Parade on the Parade Square (or in the Drill Hill if the weather is bad).
  • Sunset Retreat Ceremonies are open to the public on July 1, 9, 16, 23, 30, August 6, 13 in 2013.
  • For more information, visit the RCMP Heritage Centre.

 

Southwest Fauna and Flora

The best part of being a freelance writer is that I can choose to write about what I find interesting. Like desert life, for example.

It cracks me up when people say they don’t like the desert because it’s so barren. Nothing grows there. Nothing lives there.

Leapin’ lizards, what are they thinking? Lifeforms in the desert are as diverse as they are plentiful. Vibrant colours and camouflage acts and intriguing shapes abound.

Sometimes all it takes is a closer look.

Collared lizard (photo: B. Kopp)

Collared lizard (photo: B. Kopp)

Horned lizard (photo: B. Kopp)

Horned lizard (photo: B. Kopp)

Prickly pear pastels (photo: M. Kopp)

Prickly pear pastels (photo: M. Kopp)

Pallid Milkweed (photo: M. Kopp)

Pallid Milkweed (photo: M. Kopp)

Wilderness. The word itself is music.”
– Edward Abbey

A Newbie’s Take on Cycling Fruita, Colorado

I’m a writer, a hiker, an outdoor enthusiast – but not a great cyclist. I’m okay on paved paths and roads, even dirt roads, but take me out on a trail and there’s bound to be a wince, a bruise or some bloody reminder of why I’m better off on foot. I’ve scars to prove it.

If enough time goes by, I can be tempted to try it again. So when family and friends began working on me to bring my ancient mountain bike down to the desert for a recent Southwest getaway, I resisted, wavered and caved.

Fruita, Colorado is big biking country. (photo: M. Kopp)

Fruita, Colorado is big biking country. Yes, that is a telephone pole ahead of the front wheel. (photo: M. Kopp)

Fruita, Colorado has become what Moab, Utah was 10 years ago – a fresh space of slickrock and sand set to pedal. Our first ride was Mary’s Loop out of Kokopelli’s Trailhead – 8.5 miles of twists, turns, a few drops and – I’m serious – a whole lot of fun. Not that I rode the whole thing, there was a bit of walking involved, but I didn’t crash!

Mary's Loop offers scenic overviews of the Colorado River. (photo: B. Kopp)

Mary’s Loop offers scenic overviews of the Colorado River. (photo: B. Kopp)

The crash came on day two, right out of the shoot at 18 Road. We were doing Joe’s Ridge. The trail description described it as moderate. I beg to differ. The first climb up on the ridge saw me flailing, falling and almost bawling. Another whopper bruise was added to the trail tattoos already gracing my legs.

I recovered along V.7 road, built up a little more confidence on Western Zippity, picked up speed on Zip Off and raced Zippity back to the lower parking lot.

Cycle terrain on Zippity at Fruita's 18 Road. (photo: M. Kopp)

Cycle terrain on Zippity at Fruita’s 18 Road. (photo: M. Kopp)

Do over? You bet. I’m a writer, a hiker, an outdoor enthusiast – and a wannabe cyclist!

Book Review: Understanding Native American Myths

Google alert – if you’re a writer and you haven’t set an alert for your pen name, what are you waiting for? It’s an easy and effective way to find out about reviews of your work, among other things.

Up pops an alert in my email this a.m. – Understanding Native American Myths was reviewed by Jennifer Prince for the Ashville Citizen-Times. Apparently the book is now available in the Buncombe County Public Libraries. How cool is that?

The review gives the two titles mentioned (mine being one of them) a thumbs up. 

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“These titles are great for older elementary and middle school students.”

Thanks J.P and the Ashville Citizen-Times!