Camping Trip #1

JBtheExplorer

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As many of you know, I look forward to my camping trips every year. I went on two this year and had a great time at both. The first was in early July. I thought I'd share my trip with you.


This was a place I had never been to before, even though it's the closest state park in the area. I was always hesitant to go to a place so close to home, but entering Richard Bong State Recreation Area, it feels far from home. The property includes ponds, wetlands (including a wildlife refuge), a lake, woodlands, and "the largest managed prairie in southeastern Wisconsin." It also lies on land that was originally destined to be Richard Bong Air Force Base. In 1959, they were just three days away from laying concrete for the 2.5 mile runway when they abandoned the project for a number of reasons. On google maps, you can make out where the runway was going to be. It's now a gravel road, and the taxiway is a paved road that connects two campgrounds. The area between the runway and taxiway is 'recreation' land for atvs, rocket launching, RC planes, and quite a bit more. The east half of the runway is now rectangular ponds.

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Unfortunately, you can't get to the 'runway' without a special permit, so I wasn't able to explore that area, but the "taxiway road" is open to everyone. About mid-way along the taxiway, there's a wildlife viewing tower at the wildlife refuge section of the park. I took this 180° panorama from the tower.

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The taxiway road is one of my favorite areas, since it puts you right out into wide open prairie, and it's lined with a dozen small, shallow ponds that attract a lot of wildlife, including this Sandhill crane. I also saw what you'd expect. Turtles, frogs, toads, etc.
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I was lucky to go during the best time of year to see the prairie blooming. There were so many species blooming, and many of those species are the same that grow in my native garden. It really inspired me and gave me ideas on what I can improve on in the future.

Many of the native plant photos I took were on a four mile trail that circles the lake. Most of the trail winds through the prairie, but also goes through a woodland for a short time. It was one of the highlights of the trip.

Rattlesnake Master, with Butterflyweed and Wild Bergamot in the background.
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A Sharp-tailed bee and Monarch on Butterflyweed
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Grey-headed Coneflower and Blazing Star
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Pale Purple Coneflower
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Monarch on Swamp Milkweed
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Lead Plant
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Wild Bergamot
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Blue Vervain and Swamp Milkweed along a pond.
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Pale Purple Coneflowers with a fantastic view of Wolf Lake. You can also see the woodland across the lake.
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Wolf Lake is a small lake, but larger than most of the small lakes I've canoed on. It was fun exploring via canoe. I saw quite a few herons and egrets, got surprisingly close to a muskrat, and even saw an Osprey, which is a rare treat.
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I've never seen so much prairie habitat before, at least not with this kind of access, and I was surprised just how much there actually was. It's quite impressive what they were able to do with this land, and I'm thankful that they went this route with it. This is the definition of a restoration success story. This is exactly what we need more of.
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My second camping trip was just last month. I'll be posting that trip soon. :)
 
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Thank you for sharing your trip with us. Absolutely beautiful pictures, looks very peaceful....it's neat you learned things you can incorporate into your own pond / gardens.
 
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My second camping trip was just last month. I'll be posting that trip soon. :)[/QUOTE]

That sharp tailed bee is crazy sharp great capture

And I do love sand hill cranes call. they remind me of a Dr Seuse bugle horn
 

JBtheExplorer

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And I do love sand hill cranes call.
I do, too. There's a place I usually camp at every year that sits on the northern edge of one of the largest wet prairies in the US. The campground itself has a small lake. As you could imagine, the area has a high population of Sandhills. I'll often hear them calling in the distance or see them gliding over the lake. I also see them in the cattails around the lake when I'm canoeing. Didn't get to that campground this year. First time in probably 10+ years that I wasn't able to get out there, but it's high on my list for next year.
 
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I do, too. There's a place I usually camp at every year that sits on the northern edge of one of the largest wet prairies in the US. The campground itself has a small lake. As you could imagine, the area has a high population of Sandhills. I'll often hear them calling in the distance or see them gliding over the lake. I also see them in the cattails around the lake when I'm canoeing. Didn't get to that campground this year. First time in probably 10+ years that I wasn't able to get out there, but it's high on my list for next year.
I am heading for an area I have not spent any time in. I have driven trough the area but now I will have a chance to see the area, that being the mountains of West Virginia. Looking forward to it
 
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