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Monday, February 21, 2011

Rifle River Winter Fest

February 19, 2011

WHAT?  NO MORE SKIING?!

I was happy for warmer weather and sunshine last Wednesday when Andy and I loaded up more of our "stuff" (mostly his workshop tools and benches) from the townhouse in the city to move up north.  I was NOT happy for the tepid fog on Thursday that signified the shrinking snowpack.  I'm not ready for winter to be over!

Temperatures skulked around the 50 degree mark through Friday, but by the 10:00 am start of the fifth-annual Winter Fest at the Rifle River Recreation Area on Saturday, things cooled off nicely (somewhere in the low to mid-20's) with brilliant sunshine negating gusty winds.  What was left of the snow was now hard and crusty--not great for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, but at least the mud was frozen.

Winter Fest at Rifle River Rec Area.

CRUSTY SNOW DOES NOT DETER INTREPID SLEDDERS

FLD Gus and I arrived at the Recreation Area in plenty of time to catch the first hayride at 11:00.  As we approached the group warming by the fire, Gus spotted a couple of bundled-up toddlers playing fort on a snow pile some distance to our left.  WOOOOOOF! he voiced, body at full attention.  Gus. Leave it. I said and heeled him past.  He bounced along next to me, his head turning back to eye the younsters.

FLD Gus at the fire pit.

Once at the fire, FLD Gus noticed older kids sledding down a big hill at the edge of the woods.  He reared up, no doubt remembering his snowboarding days in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Gus. NO.   I gave him a quick correction and diverted his attention, thinking that perhaps I should have planned enough time to hike through our property to the park instead of driving.  You know--the tired-puppy-thing.  But he settled down enough for me to laugh at some kids who belly-flopped down the hill.  Who needs a sled on hard-packed snow when snow suits work just fine?!


HAYRIDE

Loading up for the hay ride.

I was hoping for a horse-drawn hayride, but a huge, green John Deere tractor pulling the wagon still gave FLD Gus a good experience.  

FLD Gus comfy in the hay.
Gus carefully negotiated the four wooden steps into the wagon and followed me to a cozy spot between rows of hay bales.  






My enjoyment of the landscape around us was severely impinged by constantly instructing Gus to LEAVE IT--his first taste of straw and I wondered if he was really a horse in disguise!
 

FLD Gus, kept from hay.
 Finally, the woman sitting on the bale across from us took pity  and slid her blanket down to cover the hay; this, plus strategic placement of my legs and feet around Gus's head restricted him from snacking.



The presence of FLD Gus in the wagon distracted most of the children from the beauty of the surrounding woods.

FLD Gus getting petted.
One little girl about seven or eight years old, puffy in her hot pink jacket, climbed closer and asked if she could pet him.  Sure, as long as he stays calm, I allowed.

Gus rolled his eyes up at me as she launched into stories about her own dogs.  He seemed to enjoy the petting, though.

"Do you know what I want to be when I grow up?" The pink-poufy girl asked.  I almost offered, a dog trainer?  "I want to be a fashion designer."  I like your jacket, I replied with a smile.  "I sew outfits for all my dolls, that I design myself!"  

Remember this name:  Lincoln; she might just end up being famous!


HOTDOGS, HOT CHOCOLATE, and STAIRS!

A big thank-you goes to Parkview Acres Convenience Center (right across the street from the park entrance) for donating all the hot dogs and hot chocolate to the over 60 participants of this year's Winter Fest.

Hot dogs over the fire!

FLD Gus hung out patiently while I partook with the early hayride crowd.  I met Rangers Eric and Tricia from Rifle River, and Ranger Patty, who came over from Houghton Lake State Park to help out.

FLD Gus hanging out at the fire pit.
 
There were also several winter campers staying at the park for the weekend!  Brave souls, although one young woman admitted that the high winds drove her from her sleeping hammock the night before.  "I gave up and slept in the heated bathrooms instead."  A couple from Windsor, Ontario said they slept in their van.

An advantage to winter camping:  no crowds or insects!

Beautiful, frozen Grousehaven Lake.

I said good-bye to our new park neighbors, but before leaving I worked FLD Gus on the hay wagon steps one more time.  All the extra work I've spent with him on stairs is paying off.

FLD Gus looking down the steps.




FLD Gus checks things out with his tongue!
First step.







Now the second.
Got it.  Next...
...almost there...
...yahoo!










Thank you Rifle River Rec Area, for a wonderful, if not-too-snowy Winter Fest!  We'll see you in 2012!

The sign at the park entrance.

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