As winter closes in, we made a few local trips to make life sweeter. The first stop was to Cross Plains at Enchanted Valley Christmas Tree farm to select our favorite type of Christmas tree: white pine.
We've always liked the long needles of white pines. A native Wisconsin tree, white pines seem to have fallen out of fashion at Christmas tree farms. Everyone wants balsams or Frasier firs. We planned to cut down our tree, but the small grove of white pines at the farm was not open to the public so we settled for a pre-cut.
On the way home, we stopped at a driveway honey store in Sauk City. We like to buy local honey, but this isn't the best time of year to find it. Someone was advertising their driveway store on Facebook marketplace.
We were skeptical but our skepticism vanished upon pulling up at a small ranch house with a glass case of different sizes of honey. There was a metal box with a slot for "honor system" money deposits. We picked up a couple of two pound containers, deposited our $20 and were on our way.
Julia and I continue to make our sunrise hikes at Gibraltar Rock at least twice per week. After yesterday's hike, I made arrangements for a maple syrup bulk buy in Hillsboro, Wisconsin. Again, Facebook marketplace provided the name of a non-traditional supplier.
Hillsboro is in southwestern Wisconsin and a little more than an hour drive. The maple syrup farmer did not have a retail location, so we agreed to meet in the parking lot of the Hillsboro Brewing Company.
It was a typical pandemic transaction. The seller and I were both masked up and exchanged cash for 7 bottles of maple syrup. Grade A maple syrup is light in color and has a viscosity more similar to commercial pancake syrup. It's the only type of maple syrup that most people know.
Grade B syrup is produced later in the season. It's thicker, darker and has a stronger flavor. It's what we prefer. This maple syrup is unlabeled and ungraded. It has a dark, rich color. The Amish from around Hillsborough get between $15 and $20 per quart. For seven bottles, the price was $12/quart. I'll be sharing this purchase with our friends Dean and Dana.
After my parking lot transaction, I headed to Wildcat Mountain State Park and hiked the Old Settlers Trail. Callie was happy about getting in a second hike that day.
|A horseshoe bend in the Kickapoo|
I only saw three other hikers on a beautiful weekday that hit 50 degrees. With those warm temperatures, the steep trail was turning from frozen to slick. Leaf and pine needle cover made the slick parts difficult to see. Not a problem on the uphills, but I had several spectacular saves going downhill where I managed to perform acrobatic moves to catch my balance while sliding downhill on mud.
Unfortunately, my fourth attempt at a save resulted in a hard fall. I was covered in mud on my entire left side from my knee to my shoulder. I also managed to tweak my right knee, which made the finish of the hike less pleasant. Still, it was a good day in the woods. I treated myself to a chocolate malt from Culvers on the way home.