Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Week 2, Gone Camping

As I posted back in January, I'm looking for an adventure for my sabbatical.  It turns out, a couple of my cousins do some backpacking, and so they're arranging a short backpacking weekend in Yosemite!

But I'm unsure: unsure if I can be fit enough, unsure if I know what to do, and so on.  But a friend of mine suggested some "backpacking lite" as she called it.  The idea is that we'd take a ferry to an island where you then backpack a short distance to campsites, and then you're done with the carrying a pack, and just hike around.

One place that works really well for this is Rock Island State Park, up in Wisconsin.  So that's where we went.
 We drove and drove and drove, eventually getting on a ferry to Washington Island.  We drove across Washington Island, parked the car, got our gear, and then took a people (and gear) ferry to Rock Island.  And there we were, on Lake Michigan!  It's amazingly clear!

We went on Friday, and got settled and went for a short walk Friday.  We made dinner (dehydrated backpacking food because we wanted to try it).  And then it started raining.  A LOT.

But the next day, we walked to the Lighthouse and went on a tour, and then walked some more, over 8 miles total.  And then there was thunder and lightning.
Before the rain, though, I did have a chance to take a couple pictures, including a selfie in Lake Michigan.  The water IS amazingly clear, but oh so cold!
 Sunset over "Michgan Ave," the main trail from our camping spot to the boathouse.

All in all, we had a great time.  We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, walked more than 8 miles both Saturday and Sunday, and about 4 each on Friday and Monday.  I learned that I shouldn't forget hot cocoa!  But my little stove worked great, and one fuel cannister lasted the whole time.

I also learned that I need to get better long pants for camping.

One of the best parts for me was that I got to see a LOT of migrant birds!  The trees weren't as leafed out as they are further down south, and so it was way easier to see birds.  (I usually miss that part of the migration period because I'm grading.)  I got really good views of Red-eyed Vireo, also Chestnut-sided and Blackburnian Warblers, Redstarts, Indigo Buntings, a flying snow goose, and some more common birds (Grey Catbirds, for example, and Ring-billed Gulls, and Double-crested Cormorants).

And now, back in the North Woods, and making a list of the things I want to get accomplished this coming week!

I really, really need to get more exercise to try to be ready to go to Yosemite!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Out of Grading Jail

I'm now officially on sabbatical!  66 weeks of adventure, work, and not teaching!

I'm going backpacking (lite) this weekend; the campsite is on an island that you get to by ferry, and then walk for a mile or so.  From there, my friend and I will camp, walk around, read, maybe swim, and just relax.

It's the first adventure of the sabbatical!

Friday, May 04, 2018


Two more weeks of school stuff (maybe a tad more for grading) and then 66 weeks of sabbatical!  (Yes, I counted.  Twice.  Using two different methods.)

I have spring fever, but almost no grading this weekend, just sunshine, violin practice, and some reading!

And housework, lots of housework!

In violin news, Strings passed me on the first piece in Book 4, so now I'll focus on the second piece, on shifting practice, vibrato practice, double stop practice, and trying not to hold my hands so tightly!

I'm thrilled to be done with that piece, but also, I was just getting to like it again.  A couple of weeks ago, Strings started me on the second piece, and I was balancing both, and it was just what I needed to deal with my frustrations with the first piece and really work through the hard parts more effectively.  I'm so lucky to have such a good teacher!

Thursday, May 03, 2018


The semester's almost over.  6 teaching days left (for me), plus three finals, and then a lot of grading.

But for this moment, there's no grading to do.  I just turned back two big assignments recently, and will have still to grade:

1.  Writing course: full set of papers, plus short paper, plus revisions.  Some extra credit journals.
2.  Intro to Lit course: final exams.  Maybe some extra credit journals.
3.  Senior Seminar: full set of papers, plus draft day grades (graded on draft plus helpfulness to others group members.)

Meanwhile, there's plenty to do, and spring fever is making me inefficient.

I need to finish rereading a book to teach it.
I need to write a final exam.  (Only one, though!)

And I need to put my house back together after all the painting, put art back up, clean it thoroughly, and get it ready for my Mom to visit.

I need to find a graduation present for my nephew (college, engineering).  Ideas??

In other news: yesterday, I saw a Redpoll at my house, and four Pine Siskins.  I've also had first of year White Throated Sparrows, Common Grackles.  The Robins and American Goldfinches are wildly abundant.

Spring has come!