Horicon Marsh, Fried Chicken & Must-Skis

Posted by on July 28, 2015

Sunday 7/26

We left home about 11:45 am  and ventured north to Horicon…home of the Horicon Marsh.  I’d been here a LONG time ago as a child and Michael had never been so it was time to make a visit.

Our chariot (on the left) awaits!

Our chariot (on the left) awaits!

It was just a 24 mile drive through the country side to the Horicon Marsh Boat Tour.   They have several different tours that they offer but we had reservations for the plain old sight-seeing tour.

We arrived about 12:15.  We’d allowed plenty of time in case we couldn’t find the place or there was traffic congestion etc.

One of the fawns hiding amongst the foliage

One of the fawns hiding amongst the foliage

They showed a 30 minute video before the boat tour started at 1:00 pm.  The video was interesting but not what we had expected.  We both expected something about the marsh itself but instead it was a video about the Whooping Cranes and how they’ve been brought back from near extinction.

A Great Blue Heron

A Great Blue Heron

The boat tour itself was awesome and left me wanting more.  Our tour guide was very informative and filled us with lots of great information as well as pointing out lots of wildlife while we floating through the marsh.

Five cormorants perched in a tree overhead

Five cormorants perched in a tree overhead

Among the various wildlife we came across were 2 fawns, double-breasted cormorants, white pelican, a bald eagle, a great blue heron, sandhill cranes and a couple of turtles sunning themselves on a log.

Horicon Marsh is the largest cat tail marsh in the United States at 32,000 acres.  The National Wildlife Refuge makes up 21,000 (or 2/3) acres and the State Wildlife Area the remaining 11,000 acres.

Turtles basking in the sun

Turtles basking in the sun

It is figured that the marsh will someday (not anytime soon) the marsh we dry up as the cat tail die and new grow on top…will eventually dry up marsh.

An otter slide

An otter slide

Our guide pointed out a turtle slide on one of the banks along the marsh.  This is where the turtles will climb to hide their eggs,  They’ll did a hole, lay their eggs, bury the eggs and then will leave them to incubate, using the turtle slide to get back into the water.  Unfortunately predators will come by, dig up the eggs and then eat them.  But obviously some survive as there are still turtles in the marsh.

He also pointed out an otter slide.  Otters being playful just use the slide for fun.  Our guide stated that there are still otters in the marsh but he hadn’t personally seen one for a couple of years.

John Deere plant alongside the marsh

John Deere plant alongside the marsh

On our way back to the landing we passed by a large factory and were told that it housed the lawn & garden portion of John Deere where they also make gators.  They make excellent neighbors and have been recycling since long before it was mandatory for others to do so.

Way cool old boat houses

Way cool old boat houses

Across from John Deere these is a small canal lined by old, old boathouses…still in use.  However, since they are built out over the water they are no longer legal to rebuild.  So if something happens to them…the owners are not allowed to replace them.

View of the marsh from the state visitors center

View of the marsh from the state visitors center

From the boat tour we went up the road 2.5 miles to the state Visitors Center but were kind of disappointed by the place.  A very nice building but not much to see or do really.  It’s perched right along the edge of southeast side up the marsh so we could see lots of birds nestled into trees, on the water, sitting on little islands in the water and of course flying.  Other than that…nothing really.

The closed national visitors center

The closed national visitors center

We found that a little further north there was a visitors center for the National Wildlife Refuge so we decided to try there in hopes that it would be more interesting.  We got there and found out that they were closed on Sundays!  Just our luck.

Marsh Haven

Marsh Haven

Looking at our trusty map we found that on the northwest corner of the marsh there’s a place called Marsh Haven…we decided to check it out.  Just another short drive and we arrived at a little unassuming building and didn’t expect much.

Michael petting one of the exhibits...a bunny

Michael petting one of the exhibits…a bunny

We were pleasantly surprised to find a small but very cool ‘petting zoo’ inside.  Rabbits, chinchillas, turtles, doves, snakes, spiders etc.  Plus we were able to walk among several small displays and exhibits, many of which were hands on.

The place is all volunteer run and we had a really nice chat with one of the volunteers after we toured the facility.  She gave us lots of good information and a great tip on a play to see in the area.

Leaving Marsh Haven we drove south on county I which pretty much gave us an enter loop around the marsh…however just before completing that loop we turned west and headed to Beaver Dam.

Barefootin'

Barefootin’

Here we picked up some Kentucky Fried Chicken and the fixings and headed over to Tahoe Park for a nice little picnic.  However, this wasn’t our only reason for going to Tahoe Park.

Ski jumpin'

Ski jumpin’

The main attraction was the Must-Skis Water Ski Show which started at 6:00 pm.  Growing up in northern Wisconsin I went to the Hodag Water Ski show, in Rhinelander, all of the time.  My brother, Dave and sister Vicki, were both members of the club for a while.  Neither skied but did other behind-the-scenes work.

Ballet Line

Ballet Line

The show lasted about an hour and a half and we really enjoyed it.  I was surprised to at the age spread of the club members – probably about 7 years old to the mid 60s.  What I’ve seen in the past was mostly teens and those in their early 20s.  They did a really nice job although the ‘story’ that they put on was a bit corny.

The final pyramid

The final pyramid

When the show ended we had about a 32 mile drive back home and got back home about 8:30 pm.  It turned out to be a really nice day…great weather and great company.  Can’t ask for much more than that.

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