Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Parnell Tower

Day 22 (10/10/10)
After Kayaking at Mauthe Lake yesterday, we decided to go hike the Parnell tower trail today. As expected it was beautiful but the trees had not changed color as much as we thought. We had hiked the trail last year so we knew what to expect. It is the longest three and a half mile hike you could ever experience with hidden obstacles hidden under the leaves and lots of ups and downs. Part of it runs along the ice age trail and there was a race going on today. I can’t imagine running, it is hard enough to keep your feet walking. Rocks mean materials for building cairns though so building is what we did.

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Prairie Build

Day 20 (8/31/10)
I had started out the year with such high aspirations but tomorrow school starts and I feel like I never even got started. I guess I could chalk it up to other distractions and a busy summer but that would only be an excuse. No, it was a lack of direction and motivation. It is interesting to note that as my motivation has waned so has the motivation of the forces bent against me. I was surprised to find that after a month many of my sculptures were still standing. Even though most were still standing I did find two down. I decided to rebuild them differently than what they had been before.

New Question of Balance
Can you find the Dangler?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Return of the Biting Ants

Day 19 (8/2/10)

I can’t believe it has been almost a month since going out on the trail. When setting out I was expecting everything to be lying in waste. It was actually a pleasant surprise to find most things in varying degrees of togetherness, even the “Prairie Memorial” which is quite fragile. Of course most of the precarious parts, like cairns, had toppled but I spent a little time repairing them. I noticed that the dog treat station had been changed from a wooden dispenser to a plastic container. Hopefully nobody had molested it. It’s one thing to knock over my sculptures, which are not made to be permanent, and another thing to destroy a family’s memorial to their beloved father. Maybe it was changed for a less sinister reason. I took the time to set up one tie build that had been down since last fall. I think I will call it “Special K”. It looks like a large K and its special. It needs more done to it but I wanted to just get it up. I also build a new build today that I am quite proud of. I call it my “Giacometti Build” because it is tall and slender and has a very Giacometti look to it. It is kind of precarious so I may have to shore it up a bit in the future. Oh yeah, I just about forgot to mention the return of the biting ants. Soon after starting the build I noticed I was again covered with ants and they were mad. It was so great just being back out on the trail again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Day 18 (7/6/10)

I got new tires on the “Hoo Koo E Koo”, so I had to go and test them out. They worked great but then again not getting a flat is always a plus. It is very hot in the Midwest right now, 86deg with 67rh at trail time, so I confined myself to a couple of rebuilds and some chalk work. As I may have stated earlier, I just finished reading “Guerilla Art Kit” by Keri Smith. I was hoping for some new inspiration, which I found. I have decided to add chalk drawings and messages to my repertoire. I realized that if I do much drawing I will have to invest in more chalk. The asphalt really eats it up. Today I just wrote Recreation – Creation = Re by “Tripod”. I was planning on writing Re + Creation = Recreation further down the trail but didn’t get around to it. I was attacked again by the blackbird. This time it almost hit me and uttered a sound I have never heard a blackbird make before. It kind of startled me. I rebuilt a sculpture that had been down since I had hurt my back. I decided it was probably fit enough to go for it. I kind of changed the orientation of it and am much happier with it. The wind was already blowing it around so I will probably have to rebuild it again. I was happy to find that all of my other builds were still up.

Nature imitating Art.

I couldn’t resist.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Peace and Spedders

Day 17 (7/3/10)
I think it only appropriate that on the weekend of the 4th of July (a holiday built around the sounds of war) that I set out this morning to rebuild” Peace Memorial”. Peace Memorial had been one of my earliest builds on the south trail back in 2008. At first it lasted a long time and even got embellished by passersby. I still remember how excited I had been when I got there one day and somebody had decorated it with flowers, feathers and various other doodads. But eventually it became a target. Every time I would set it up somebody would come along and destroy it. Eventually somebody scattered the stones and I decided it was a losing battle and, like is so often the case, Peace fell by the wayside. After leaving it dormant all last summer I thought I would give it another try. The first thing I noticed when I started down the trail was that Saturday Morning must be when all the Eddie Spedders come out to dance. If you have not read my blog before you may not be aware of the taxonomy of a Spedder. You can identify the Spedder by their audaciously colored thorax, sleek abdomen, large bug eyes, and hardened skull caps. Like most of their species, they like to speed up when encountering other traffic and buzz by in the most obnoxious way, usually uttering some call that sounds remotely like ooonnn yyoouurr lleeffftt. This usually leaves me startled and results in a quick jerk to the left. Oh well, like cockroaches perhaps they will survive the destruction of the planet that humans seem so resolute in doing. In spite of the Spedders I did find a window in which to build a couple of cairns including “Peace Memorial”. I almost though I wasn’t going to get that chance. When I got to the building sight there was a Biking couple who had just sat down on the bench for a break. I rode past down the trail until I got to a sight where they had poured concrete along the edge of the trail to keep it from eroding. I found it interesting that it had preserved the tracks or a deer that must have happened along. After stopping to photograph it I headed back. The couple was still there so I decided to call it a day. Shortly after passing I looked back to see them leaving so I went back and once again, there might not be peace in the world but there is peace in that little corner of the world.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fallen Nest and Sculpture

Day 16 (7/2/10)

Another beautiful Wisconsin day beckons us back to the bike trail. I had to go with my backup bike since I had blown a tire yesterday. It was actually kind of fun riding it again. My backup is a thirty year old Vista Espada road bike that still works quite well. Along the trail Eileen found a small bird nest that had blown out of a tree. I have always been intrigued by birds nest. It probably dates back to my childhood when I always had a Nest collection at the county fair as a 4H project. It held many fond memories because my grandfather had helped me collect them. I think now it is illegal to collect them. My guess is that it is probably a warbler nest based on size and construction. It is amazing what great basket makers they are. This one even has some synthetic fiber in it. Now if they can just get it to stay in the tree. We did a little rebuilding but for the most part just enjoyed the ride and the beautiful weather.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Day 15 (7/1/10)

What a beautiful day. I got out early this morning and it was a good thing because the trails were already getting busy. It was a little depressing that two of my builds from Tuesday were already down and in both cases it was obviously by the hand of man. I will never understand this need to destroy. Oh well, they may never understand the need to create. I had intended on rebuilding the one I had named “Orbits” anyway. I had thought of some things that I wanted to do different. I might do a couple more things to it if it survives but for now it is one of my favorites of the summer. I had been told about an attacking Red Wing Blackbird that had been swooping down on people as they rode the trail. I am not sure if it was the same one but I did have one dive at me today. As somebody who grew up in a swamp I am used to and even entertained by the antics of nesting Blackbirds. I found a bundle of used twine just off the trail on one of the crossovers. Although not right on the trail, I think it was close enough to be used for building. I don’t like the rebuild of “A Question of Balance” as much as the one I had built before so I see rebuilding in its future. The ants were just about as bad as they were the other day. While I was rebuilding the cairn on “Tripod” I heard the unmistakable sound of my tire going flat so it was another slow awkward ride back home. I guess its time for new tires. I just hope there isn’t much downtime. I am just getting on a roll.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Biting Ants and Campers.

Day 14 (6/29/10)

Today I had two firsts. The initial first was biting ants. I was starting my new build for the day when all of a sudden my left hand started burning like I had put it in nettles. When I looked down my hand was covered with ants and each one was more pissed than the last. I guess they had the right since apparently I had just ripped up their home. I didn’t do my Karma any favors as I started swatting them off my hand. By then they had found other suitable parts of my body to gnaw on. After brushing myself clean I made quick work of finishing the build. I added to it on my return trip after the ants had settled down. The next first was surprisingly enough bike tourists/campers. For as long as I have been hitting the trails this was the first time I saw bikers complete with packs and bags. I would have thought that many people would use the trails for touring in light of how dangerous the back roads have become. When I was in high school, along with my friend Dunk, I did quite a lot of touring and would like to try it again someday. Even back then it was dangerous and there were times that the wind from a passing truck would almost suck you out in front of another passing vehicle. Maybe people feel the trails don’t offer the same adventure. At any rate it is something I am going to start watching for. I wish I would have had a chance to talk to them. Other than that it was business as usual. The Tiger Lilies were in full bloom. They are one of my favorite flowers. Tripod had been knocked over. I have to believe it was deliberate because of all the builds Tripod is the most stable. There had been a wind storm here last week with gust of sixty miles an hour. I was surprised how many of the large ones, including Tripod, had survived. Part of my philosophy is the value of impermanence but it still hurts when one of the large ones get knocked down. I spent a little time finishing up yesterdays build. Except for a little tweaking I think it is finished. It was a beautiful day and coming home was tough.

Still Standing after the Storm.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Day 13 (6/28/10)

I got out early this morning but because of the nice weather the trail was already busy. As I have stated before, stealth might not be as important as it used to be but I still like to keep the building on the down low. Because of this, there may be several ride offs before completing a sculpture. Today’s build had three. Fortunately I was by a cross road so when I would see people coming I could ride down the side road for a ways and then ride back and continue working. I never know how far I am going to get on a particular build before it just doesn’t pay to continue. The sculptures become an ongoing project. There are few builds that are ever finished since once they are close they usually get knocked over. Tomorrow if today’s build is still standing perhaps I will continue to work on it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

View with a Teepee

Day 12 (6/23/10)
No camping trip to Mauthe Lake would be complete without a little cairn building. To be honest this particular trip dealt more with kayaking and you can read more about that at: http://onionriver.blogspot.com/  I had forgotten to bring my camera so Eileen provided all the pictures. We had chosen to stay in Mauthe’s Residence Teepee because of the forecast of storms. We figured two layers of cloth between us and a storm would be better than our little two person tent. As it turned out we had a little rain but it never did storm. When we first arrived we headed out on the bike trail. We had to be careful to not go too far since I had just popped my tire and although I had replaced the tube I was still running on old tires. The last thing I wanted to do was get way out on the trail and have a flat tire. It was also a very hot day and we have run across other people who have complained of horseflies. As long as you kept moving they weren’t too bad but once you stopped or even slowed they were all over you. Around home it is mosquitoes. I did manage to rebuild one cairn that I had built last year. All the stones were still there. We really thought we would come back to build more but there is only so much time and it ran out. We determined that when we came back in July we would spend more time building. I built one more cairn at the Teepee. It was hard to find stones but we found enough to make one last build.