My wife, Sheryl and I, met almost 40 years ago, and we quickly discovered that we enjoy traveling together. In February, 1981, we took our first trip together driving from Ann Arbor to Toronto with two stops on the way. Since we both enjoy discovering quiet, relatively untraveled locations, on the way to Niagara Falls, we stopped at Point Pelee National Park, the southernmost point in Canada (for those of you who like trick questions-now you can test your friend’s geography by asking them which country is immediately south of Detroit). Although it is a national park, it is relatively unknown, and when we visited in the winter it was completely empty. On the shores of Lake Erie, it is a haven for migratory birds and monarch butterflies-a truly special place to visit.
Even stopping at Niagara Falls, while normally full of tourists, in winter, it was relatively empty. I never imagined the winter beauty of these falls, and I have vivid memories of seeing them gorgeously partially frozen.
Since that time, my wife and I have travelled all over the world, and while we look forward to the day when the pandemic is over so we can continue our world travels, discovering hidden places, we know that we cannot safely do that now. So, we look for hidden beauty closer to home.
We recently celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary. After a relaxing morning, we decided that it was time to search for another piece of hidden beauty. During the pandemic, finding hidden beauty is even more important in order to stay out of crowds to keep ourselves and others safe.
Although most people have lost the skill of using paper maps, relying on Googlemaps instead, web based mapping cannot find hidden spots of beauty because they do not have addresses. We knew that many of our fellow travelers are unfortunately crowding natural spots of beauty as a way to escape the feeling of being shut in during the pandemic. While we empathize with the desire to escape being shut-in, traveling to crowded places, regardless of their beauty, is simply dangerous during a pandemic. So, we are avoiding popular state parks.
In my explorations of the hidden beauty of Wisconsin, I have learned that the Department of Natural Resources has many beautiful wildlife areas which very few people know about. I have found a few near where we live and the DNR has maps including parking spots and directions on its website. So, I printed off the map to one where we had never been, and we headed out to see what we could find.
One thing we have learned in our search for hidden places, is that while it may help to have a destination in mind, it is equally important to keep your eyes open for unexpected beauty on the way. As it happened, as we headed towards the Yellow River Wildlife Area, after passing many crowded camping areas, we noticed a small place along Castle Rock Lake (a huge lake created by a dam on the Wisconsin River), where we could park our car. So, we pulled over and although it was beautiful, accessing the water would have been challenging due to steep terrain and a downed tree. But, as we gazed out over the water, we noticed another small beach just north of us. Rather than just hopping in the car, we walked up the road just a few hundred yards, and found an absolutely gorgeous spot with a lovely beach, which required about a 50 yard walk from a small parking area, to the water.
My wife walked back to the car to bring it up to our newly discovered spot of beauty and when she rejoined me, she told me to come look at the new friend that decided to hitch a ride.
Our dog Luna also enjoyed this secluded spot.
And as usual, she kept guard to make sure we were safe.
Hidden beauty is always a special treat. It is a true treasure during a pandemic. As you can probably guess, I am not going to give you the GPS coordinates for this spot. Get your map out, find your own secluded spot of beauty and enjoy nature while staying safe.
For more information on how I can help you accomplish progressive, effective systems change, contact me, Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting my web site: Systems Change Consulting.