February 12, 2011
Great River Road Scenic Byway
To break up the winter Jo and I took a drive up to La Crosse, Wisconsin to catch their Boat and Outdoor Show. We also wanted to visit with our friends Burt and Brenda Zwicker of Wabakimi Wilderness Adventures, who had a booth at the Outdoor Show. We’ve gone on several canoe trips with them in Wabakimi Provincial Park near Armstrong, Ontario. Wabakimi is Ontario’s largest wilderness canoe area, several times the acreage of the very famous Boundary Waters Canoe Area. In Wabakimi there’s no competition for camp sites and seeing more than a passing glimpse of other canoe campers is rare – except during the most busy weeks of the season. I recall a stat of 8000 visitors in a season when the BWCA was registering 150,000 visitors. Arthritis has been giving me lots of problems the last two years but I hope I can get in shape to do another Wabakimi trip.
We were amazed at some of the deluxe bass boat fishing rigs on display. Some of these babies will set you back $35,000. They also had several RVs on display but only one brand of motor home – RoadTrek. Some nice looking models but Jo and I agreed we still like our Rialta best. One of these days we’d like to see the Navion IQ in the flesh as it is the successor to the Rialta. There was no shortage of towable RVs plus several 5th wheel models. I think some of these are as big as a house! There was one cute Pod style trailer that was getting lots of looks from people. You had to stand in line to get a look at it. Was a nice set up for a couple and two kids. Had a very spacious screened in porch addition and an additional outdoor kitchen area for BBQing, cleaning fish, or doing some heavy duty washing in its extra large sink. I think its pod shape should allow it to travel down the road nicely. Another interesting RV trailer opens up in back with a ramp to transport a 4 wheeler, a golf cart, or other toys. But once you take the toy out, two sleeper bed couches fold out to turn the garage area into a nice living room. So the space does double duty, avoiding having to haul an additional trailer.
Another interesting attraction at the Outdoor Show: Performing Black Bears from a Black Bear shelter and 200 acre range located in Texas. These bears were orphaned at a young age. As explained by one of the trainers, young black bears that lose their mother can’t function in the wild and once adopted can’t be returned to the wild. They need to learn hunting and survival skills from Mom and if she isn’t there they don’t have the necessary instincts to make it on their own. So while lacking these survival instincts they happen to be highly trainable. These guys (and girls) were really cute – you can see where the notion of a teddy bear came from. They could dance, ride scooters, balance on rollers, and sit in very quietly in their lounge chairs. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a very good shot of the bears because I had to hold my camera over my head and as a consequence shook just enough to blur the photo.
For those who were getting tired of winter and shoveling snow going to the Outdoor Show was a nice break in the routines . . . plus get us motivated for spring to break out. One of our favorite towns along the Great River Road, we look forward to returning to La Crosse this summer to do some camping and golfing.
–Ross and Jo