The Patricks Low Cost Housing Adventures travel blog

Big Gator in foamy watershed

Baby Alligators

The wonder of duct tape!!

Bike Trip Gang

Clam Buttons

A cool morning of 24 degrees in Plover, WI on Saturday. We arrived with our french fries from northern Maine after a whirlwind of activity since getting back home. But first let me say a few things about the drive home. Well, FIRST I have to comment about the alligators of Florida. Fascinating creatures to say the least, evoking a feeling of fear and amazement at the same time. We sought them out while going on bike rides thru water reclamation areas, coming upon them as they basked in the sun along a bank.

Some were in the water, and would turn your blood cold as they moved their heads to look at you. Some of the big ones we saw Jim estimated at 10-12 feet. Even the smallest amounts of water seemed to harbor these incredibly hardy creatures. They are in a state of slowed metabolism during winter months where they don't eat much at all. But you never know when they want to quickly move. Kinda scarey but sooooo cool!! And the baby ones are adorable, aren't they!

Thought you'd like this picture showing an example of why you should always carry duct tape with you. While preparing to head out with the group on a 10 mile bike ride, Jim had a tire weather crack exposing his tube. Fortunately Mark carried some of this wonder tape with him and Jim made it thru the entire trip!

Great stuff!

When returning to Maine with our camper I was surprised at only a handful of RVers that passed me. (I only drove 60 mph) I think most had left a week or so before as their traffic was not noticed much. Even big trucks were few and far between, making me think that Easter Sunday weekend it a really good time to travel.

We arrived in Maine with night temperatures only being in the 30's or above. A bit of a change from the 80's of Florida but acceptable. My mother had taken a bad fall right before returning home and tests indicated a need for a pacemaker. She breezed thru the surgery and is improving daily. What a difference! She said she felt like running! An incredible machine and the doctors placement of wires is a marvel. They made the procedure out to be no big deal at all. She is definitely benefiting from it and looking forward to returning home after her rehab in the nursing home. I think she had been feeling ill for quite sometime, but that was her first fall. Glad they determined the cause so quickly.

We had time to get a little seafood and a couple good hikes in but before we knew it the time came to hit the road. We have been in Plover, Wisconsin for the entire weekend. While we were able to deliver our load early Saturday morning, our next load won't be ready until 7pm on Sunday night. We decided to get a hotel room in town and enjoy the weekend. Plover is right next to Steven's Point which is the geographical center of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin River runs thru this area and we went to the river walk and park in the quaint city. The state's lumber industry was very similar to Maine's in the early 1800's, using the river to transport and hold lumber during the winter, while moving it downstream to lumber yards with the spring thaw. The residents of Stevens Point depended on the Wisconsin River not only to transport logs, but also to provide clam shells for the button industry. The clammers found an abundance of quality shells in the river to support a commercial venture. In 1920, a factory opened to stamp out circular button “blanks” from the pearly surface inside the shell. The remaining shell looked similar to a batch of dough from which cookies have been cut.

Clams were picked by hand where the water was shallow enough to wade. In deeper water, clammers used flat bottomed “johnboats,” with bars on either side. Attached to the bars were “crowfeet,” small hooks resembling bird’s feet dangling from several chains. The hooks dragged across the river bottom until they hit the open mussel. Then the clam snapped its shell shut over the hooks, the bars were raised and clams removed. After steaming the clams opened, the meat was removed and they were examined for pearls, leaving the shell for buttons. Quite interesting I thought!

We have been walking all over the place the last couple days. While the air is a bit nippy, the sun is warming and watching spring pop out in the leaves is invigorating. Besides, I can't sit that long........But this has given me time to catch up on unread emails and my trip journal.

Another interesting happening going on here is the Worlds Largest Trivia Contest. Every year the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point radio station hosts this event to raise money. Teams from all over the world join in and compete over a 54 hours span, from Friday to Sunday in April. They are in their 43rd year! Here's a link for info if you want to learn more or even try it some time!

I think I will give the shipper a call and see if our load is ready early. There are some nasty reports of snowstorms hitting the high elevations of PA the next couple days. Even to the tune of a foot of snow! Hopefully there won't be much lasting effect. We have decided we will tough it out for 4 straight weeks in the truck. A slow start so far, but I'm sure that will change. Enjoying the break while it lasts. All this time has made for long discussions on what we want to do when we grow up............and we still don't know!

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