Thursday, November 14, 2013

How Much Does a New Septic System Cost?


Septic System Cost
Here is information for homeowners to estimate the cost of a new septic system.  I wish I had this information available to me when we were establishing a realistic renovation budget. Although the information below is applicable to Kenosha County, State of Wisconsin, and the costs are from the year 2009, it will give you an idea of the type of costs you will incur and figure out how much it costs for a new septic system.  My goal is to give you enough information to ask the right questions and receive a complete quote, avoiding extra costs you did not anticipate.

Soil Test (Mound System) $500.00



Soil Testing in location of future mound


Soil Samples

Mound System Design $325.00

State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Commerce fee $175.00

Revised Mound System Design due to changing location of Mound $200.00
*The original quote was for the design that located the new septic tanks in my backyard. I failed to make it clear that I did not want tanks in my backyard near my patio. I wanted the tanks in a more remote area to avoid sitting on our lawn chairs and smelling gasses from the tank. Be thoughtful where your septic location will be placed and make sure it is communicated to the designer. And, make sure it is a fair distance from your well.

State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Commerce fee $80.00

Kenosha County Permit Fee $775.00

Register of Deeds fee $30.00

Old Cast Iron Pipe
*The old cast iron pipe that went from the basement to the old system had to removed and replaced. The basement wall needed to be sealed with hydraulic cement inside and out and the outside coated with tar in the area to be patched. Ask if there is an additional charge for plumbing or electrical work.



Extra Heavy Tank Covers
*There is a maximum cover depth of 4 feet on the new septic tanks. If you select a location that requires the tanks to be deeper because of the pitch on the pipes, then extra heave tank covers are required. $360.00 for all three.

Floor Drains or New Drainage Pip for Water Softener
*Water softener discharge should not go into a septic system. Either utilize the existing floor drain or hook up a by-pass to another absorption system using a 4" PVC pipe. $400.00 if needed.

Abandon Old System -
*Pump existing old concrete septic tank, filling with stone, collapse tank, fill, topsoil, grade flat with contour of landscaping. Make sure this is specifically included in the quote.  Your municipality will want certification that the old system is abandoned in an approved fashion.  Inspection will take place before your new system gets the OK.

New System
*Install new system, construct 4-bedroom mound system using washed stone aggregate for the bed media above approximately 143 cubic  yards of sand. Mound is to be capped with clay fill, topped with topsoil, seeded and mulched. All topsoil over trench and tank locations is to be stripped and stockpiled, not trucked off-site. The site between mound and house is to be graded flat, with all deep rutting caused by trucks and equipment filled and graded with topsoil. Miscellaneous materials, labor and machinery charges included. Low and high voltage wire between house and pump chamber and connection to serves are included. $15,000.00

Make sure you take photos of the piping of your septic path for future reference.


Repair to Driveway
*If necessary, repair damage to existing gravel driveway. $369.00
If necessary, repair damage to existing concrete or blacktop driveway. Obtain quote.

Replacing an Old Septic System - Should I?


Should you spend money replacing an old septic system when you renovate?    

If you find yourself asking this question, you will benefit from reading about our experience.

 
Hey!  The toilet flushes fine.  If it's not broke, don't fix it.

Flush the toilet.  Our old septic worked just fine.  It was installed in the 1960's and the system was grandfathered, which meant we were not required to abide or upgrade to the current regulations.  As long as we kept the same number of bedrooms and only increased square footage minimally (defined by county code) we were not required to install a new system.  Yippy!  Why spend the money when it was not a requirement?  What woman wouldn't prefer to put the money toward hard wood floors and pretty cabinets vs. a septic system?  No-brainer.

But.......not so fast!

 
 What kind of system do you have?  How to Find an Old Septic System?

We did not have a mound system.  We had a holding tank, which by the way, was never pumped.  Newer systems typically have access lids that are visible from ground level.  My ancestors put an old cooking pot (without handle) over the access pipe and covered it with dirt.  Grass grew over it and you would never know half the back yard had a tank underground.  Had I not remembered this information as a little girl, there would be no evidence of where it was located.  Additionally, there were no county records of installing the system.  No site maps.  No permit issued.  Since there were no county records, there were also no requirements for pumping or inspection.  Not good.  This is not uncommon in rural areas where vintage farm homes still exist.  If you are looking at buying an old house, I warn you that ignoring these issues will cost you LOTS of money eventually.  Be informed and get the facts so you can make a good decision.

You will want to know:

§        where is the underground tank:  backyard, floodplain, overlapping the neighbor's lot line, underneath a shed

§        what is the size or capacity of the underground tank

§        how old is the system - does the county have a record of installation

§        are there records of the last time the tank was pumped or inspected

§        where is the access pipe located

§        where do the agriculture drain tiles drain into - ditch or creek

§        are there odors or spongy, wet areas

§        does it comply with current county code


If it's not broke, don't fix it?  Why we decided to install a new system anyway.

Landscaping.  We planned on re-landscaping the backyard.  Our plan was to install a concrete patio, a fire pit, install a concrete approach pad to the garage, move our propane gas line, and reconfigure our driveway and parking.  All of this re-landscaping went over and around the existing buried old septic tank.  Should the tank "give out" and fail with the added stress of more bathrooms and more people, all of the landscaping would have to be destroyed and replaced.  Why?  You cannot abandon an old septic tank "as is".  The cover must be removed with a backhoe, pumped clean, and it must be crushed, filled, and inspected before it is covered.  Did we want to gamble?  Did we want to face an emergency install in the middle of a Wisconsin winter?. Did we want to pay for landscaping twice?   No.


Re-Sale.  Since we owned the property for many years our septic was grandfathered. That would not be the case if we wanted or needed to sell the house in the open market.  Have you watched the HGTV channel programs on buying homes?  No one wants a home with a septic that does not meet code requirements.  Banks would not lend with code violations.  Additionally, the new owners may not be able to take occupancy until a new septic was installed.  This would be a huge obstacle in selling the house.  Not good.


The message of this story.

           Think ahead.

Read This If You Are Installing New Windows


Cracked Window Frame after Installation
 

It is the little things, ya know? 

Read this if you are installing new windows.

During construction, it makes sense to do a walk-through, daily if possible.  Catching problems early means they are easier and less expensive to fix.  No one wants to rip apart a finished product only to have to re-build it over again. 

We ordered Anderson double hung windows.  The interior is primed wood (highly recommend you order primed wood directly from the factory) but the exterior is vinyl.  I did not intentionally go out to inspect every window.  It didn't occur to me.  It just so happened I was looking out this particular window and noticed the crack.   It is easy enough to miss.

H-m-m-m-m-m-m.  If there is one problem window, are there more?

This crack may have occurred any time from the factory to delivery to our construction site.  It also may have cracked when the window was lifted to position, or when the contractor was nailing it in place. 

Do not accept a cosmetic repair.

You may be told that the crack is minor, only a hairline crack, but I have a counter-point.  The window had to be jarred with enough force to create the crack so after the warranty has expired, this may be the first window to loose its glass seal.  At that point, window replacement is your expense.  I requested a replacement, which was granted.

There is no need to accept damaged materials.  Stick to your guns!!




























Sunday, October 27, 2013

Airplane Bathrooms

There is no photo or graphic that can project an image of what I am about to describe.  You will  have to use your own imagination.

I am on an airplane heading to Calgary, seat 7D, writing this note.

We are twenty-minutes from landing and the toilet has been used by every specimen of the human race.  I know this because I was one of those specimens.  The floor is dotted with wet spots of an unidentified origin and tid-bits of wet toilet paper and paper towel.  The mirror has spots and the sink has "stuff" in it.  That is what happens when lots of people use a single bathroom the size of a household furnace.

As I observe my surroundings, I frown because the soles of my shoes are now contaminated.  My goal:  quick exit.

Who is next in line?  A young woman in her early 20's - barefoot.  Yes, in she goes!  Barefoot.

E-wwwwwwwww.  I stare at the bathroom door in disbelief.  What would ever posses someone, an adult,  to go into an airplane toilet barefoot? This is contrary to everything my mother taught me about bathroom etiquette and procedures in a public place. 

Think of this girl the next time you shoe shop.  And yes, she'll probably live to 95 unlike the rest of us who carry those little hand sanitizer packets.



Recipes - Special Request




My Favorite Recipe Book


This tired old worn book has seen better days.  It needs duck tape but I'll have none of that dull gray duck tape for this book.  No-sir-ee.  It needs a special color, probably red or yellow, to coordinate with the flowers on the front.  This book is one of my prized possessions and I'll tell you why.

I purchased this blank page book years, years, and years ago for the purpose of keeping recipes of exceptional tasty food that was served by family and friends in their homes.  These recipes tie me to my friendships and family as much as the recipe itself.  Handing down recipes from friend to friend and family to family says I enjoyed being a guest at your table.  I loved what you served and I cherish the time you took to make something special for me.  Memories of a joyful special time.  Being invited for dinner for a home-cooked meal is the ultimate compliment.

I grew up in the 1950's and 1960's and my family did not eat out.  There was no need.  Our table always had ample delicious food.  My goodness, Dog N' Suds was the only restaurant I knew about until I was in high school.  Our "restaurant" was grandma's house, my aunt and uncle's house, and neighbors.  And, it was always pot luck which was the best tasting dish of the lady who brought it.

I'll share just a few recipes today that will come in handy when you expect company or if you need something for a dish-to-pass.  I'll add more later.  Don't expect organic, fat-free, low-calorie, recipes in my collection.  I want the "real thing" even if it means a small portion.   You know, it isn't all about the food.

Coconut Cheese Ball

3-8 ounce packages of cream cheese
1/2 small jar Major Gray's Chutney (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1-1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Coconut, shredded

Blend softened cream cheese with other ingredients except coconut.  Shape into a ball. Roll in coconut.  Serve with salty crackers like Trisket crackers.

HINT:  This makes a generous recipe.  I usually make several smaller balls, enough for an appetizer at a party.  They defrost fine.  Nice to have on hand for unexpected company or card club.

Bok Choy Salad

1 head of Napa Cabbage, chopped, white part only
1 head of Bok Choy, chopped
1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
1 bunch of green onion, chopped
1 stick butter
1 pkg of Oriental Ramen Noodle Soup
1 large package of slivered almonds
3/4 cup of sunflower seeds

Dressing
3/4 cup salad oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Melt butter in pan and toast noodles and almonds.  Color should be light brown.  Set aside to cool.
Mix salad ingredients.  Sprinkle Ramen Noodle flavor package into salad.  Toss.
Sprinkle crunchy noodle and nut mixture.
Add dressing.  Toss.  Serve immediately or noodles will get soggy.

NOTE:  This is always a big hit.  Very tasty. 

My favorite 1960's Ladies Luncheon Menu recipes and photos can be viewed on the link below in my website.

Ladies Sandwich Loaf, 7-layer Jell-O Salad and Champagne Dessert Recipes

Spicy Zucchini Boats

4 small zucchini
8 oz. whipped cream cheese
Pepper Jack Cheese, grated
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Cayenne Pepper
Chives, Chopped

Soil salted water and blanch zucchini with skin on.  Put in ice water ASAP.  Cool.  Cut in half lengthwise and hollow out like a boat.  I use a melon-ball tool.
Combine cheeses, pepper and chives.  Stuff boats
Bake 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until the top cheese browns slightly.  OK to broil.
Serve hot.
NOTE:  Very nice side dish but you can also eat this for main meal if you want something lite.

Hot Cheese Dip

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise

Mix.  Pour into small oven-ready baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Should be bubbly.  Serve hot with crackers.  Triskets work well.

NOTE:  I know this is high calorie but oh my goodness, it is tasty!

Mexican Chicken Lasagna

1 - 16 oz. jar of mild salsa
1 - 16 oz. jar of medium salsa
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 10 oz. pkg dry lasagna noodles
2 cups nonfat or low fat cottage cheese
2 eggs
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
4 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Pour both jars of salsa into large saucepan. Add the pepper, chili powder, cumin, and garlic.  Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions and drain well.  Pat dry.  Combine the cottage cheese, eggs, parsley, and chilies; mix well and set aside.
Lightly coat a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray.
Arrange half the lasagna noodles in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread half the cottage cheese mixture over the pasta, then half the cooked chicken, then half the salsa.  Spread half the shredded cheeses on top.  Repeat the layering step., ending with the shredded cheeses.
Bake, covered at 375 degrees about 45 - 60 minutes - until bubbly.  Let stand uncovered for 10 minutes before cutting.

NOTE:  This can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator, unbaked,  until you are ready to put it in oven.

Lemon Square Bars

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon peel, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
confectioner's sugar for garnish

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees
Crust
Mix flour, butter and 1/4 cup of confectioner's sugar.  Press into ungreased 8 inch square pan, building up 1/2 inch edges.  Bake in preheated over for 20 minutes.

Beat remaining ingredients until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Pour over hot crust.  Bake 25 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched.

Cool.  Cut in squares.  Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

NOTE:  This tastes best when you use real butter for the crust. 

Olive Dip

8 oz. whipped cream cheese
1 small can of chopped black olives
1-1/2 teaspoon granulated beef bouillon
4 Tablespoons for water

Soften cream cheese so it is easy to beat.  Boil 4 Tablespoons of water and add beef bouillon.  Mix until melted and blended.  Let cool and add to cream cheese.  Add olives and refrigerate.  Serve with potato chips.

NOTE:  I have been making this since the 1970's.  If you love black olives you will love this dip.  It is a nice alternative to French Onion Soup mix chip dip. 

Scalloped Broccoli

1 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4-5 cups of fresh broccoli or frozen, chopped and drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
4 Tablespoons minced onion
2 eggs, well beaten
buttered bread crumbs

Mix ingredients; sprinkle breadcrumbs or top.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. 

Cream Cheese Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

8 oz. package of whipped cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1 egg
1 pinch of salt
1 package of Duncan Hines Devil's Food Chocolate Cake Mix with instant pudding (see box)
Cup cake papers

Mix cream cheese, sugar, egg, and salt until creamy and fluffy.  Then, stir in the chocolate chips.  Drop this mixture into a third-filled cupcake batter.  Add a little chocolate cake batter on top of the mixture to cover it.  Bake according to the directions on the cake box.

Curry and Sweet Pickle Tuna Salad

7 oz. can tuna, drained and flaked
6 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 pinch of garlic

Mix everything except tuna.  Taste and adjust to your liking.  Mix with tuna.  Set in refrigerator and serve cold on bed of lettuce.
NOTE:  This is a nice change from the standard tuna salad.  We love it.

Hidden Valley Ranch Oyster Crackers

12-16 oz. plain oyster crackers
1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Original Ranch Salad Dressing mix
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4-1 cup of salad oil

Combine Hidden Valley Ranch mix and oil; add dill weed, garlic powder and lemon pepper.  Pour over crackers, stir to coat.  Place in warm oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

NOTE:  These are so-o-o-o-o good but eat them when you are staying home.  I would avoid serving at a party unless your guests don't mind the garlic.

French Salad Dressing

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup vinegar
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup salad oil

Put all in blender and blend well.  Adjust any seasoning if necessary.
Refrigerate.


Lime Cottage Cheese Jell-O Salad

1 small package lime Jell-O
1 cup hot water
1 cup pineapple juice
1 small can crushed or chunk pineapple
1 small carton cottage cheese
1 cup of whipped cream or Cool-Whip

Mix all ingredients together, varying amounts of pineapple, cottage cheese, whipping cream, according to taste.  Put into a pretty mold or dish.  Refrigerate, preferably overnight, until set and serve cold.
NOTE:  My mother made this for all the holiday's, bridal or baby showers and ladies luncheons.

Seven Layer Bars

1/2 cup butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 can (3-1/2 oz.) sweetened coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
1 package ( 6 oz.) chocolate chips
1 package ( 6 oz.) butterscotch chips
1 cup nut, chopped

Melt butter in a 9 x 13 inch pan in the oven.  Watch carefully so it does not burn.  Add each ingredient in order, layering.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
This is very easy - and fast.  You don't even need a mixing bowl!
People love this - especially the guys.

Hot Blue Cheese Dip

7 bacon slices, cooked crisp and diced
2 Tablespoons of minced garlic cloves
8 oz. whipped cream cheese at room temp
1/4 cup half and half
4 oz. Blue Cheese crumbled
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3 Tablespoons chopped smoked almonds (I use smokehouse brand)

With electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add half and half.  Blend.  Stir in bacon bits, blue cheese, garlic, and chives.  Transfer to a 2 cup baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake until heated - about 30 minutes.  Sprinkle chopped almonds on top when you remove from the oven.
Serve with baguettes.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How To Build a Picket Fence


Something is missing.  Our yard needs a little pizzazz.

I know this sounds silly but everything is just...so...green.  I've always wanted a wooden picket fence and since we have a farm house and a barn, I thought a picket fence with a garden would be a nice touch.  Yeh, that's it!


Here is what my garden looks like July 2013
 

The End Result

I want to show you a picture of the end result of my picket fence project, hoping it inspires you to proceed on building one in your own back yard.  Building a picket fence is more than a three hour project but it won't take you all summer either.   My tips and hints should save you time and money.  I have included a materials list, a budget and how many hours it took to build. 
Happy gardening!!

What did I learn about planting vegetable plants in my raised boxes?

  1. As you can see, don't plant two tomato plants next to each other. They get too big.
  2. Don't plant a yellow squash plant (one with big leaves) so close to the tomato plants.  They compete for light, space and water.
  3. Yes, I really needed the four feet walk space.
  4. There are pepper and parsley plants in-between the squash and tomato plants.  Poor things.  They can't grow much in the shadows of the other big plants.  Of course, the weeds have no problem!
  5. Stake and tie up your tomatoes as they grow.  If you wait until they start to fall over, you have problems.
  6. I underestimated how big the plants would grow.  Next year - I'll have a different planting plan.
  7. I need mulch on the walk path.

Hot Tip on Staking Tomato Plants

I can't take credit for this tip.  My neighbor Scott had a perfect solution - one that he uses on his tomato plants.
On one of the tomato plants you will see four black stakes positioned in a square.  (Next spring I will place these stakes in the ground when the plants are young.)  As they grow, wind twine around the four corners of the stakes.  When the plants grow taller, add another row of twine.  The plant will not fall over from the weight of the stems or fruit and the plants also have air and light vs. placing twine around the plant like the tomato plant to the left.  You learn some new every day!

How to Build A Picket Fence

I'm excited to start this project but Tom raises an eyebrow as I describe my next bright idea for decorating the outdoors.

Here is my plan:
1.  Purchase two raised garden beds.  Click here for my blog post.
2.  Plant variety of vegetables and herbs.  Click here for my blog post.
3.  Round-Up grass.
4.  White wood picket fence (no PVC for me!) and a gate.
5.  Add a few trellis irons for a pretty clematis to add color and texture to the backdrop view.
6.  Finish with mulch.
6.  Wha-La!  Picture perfect.

Size of Garden

The fence area shown below is 24' long x 12' wide.  I have plenty of room but I don't want a garden too big that is too much work.  Really?  Did I just say that?


24' x 12' wide
raised garden beds are 5' x 5'
In this photo, the Round-Up is starting to kill the grass and the fence frame has been installed.
The area around my raised beds is about 4 feet with an extra foot at the end.

The Picket Fence

Generally, picket fences are 36" high.  They are sold in panels with a gothic decorative top at Home Depot, Menard's or Lowe's.  This sounds O.K. except I do not want gothic tops.  I want the traditional pointy tops.  Picky.  Picky.  And, to be honest with you, I am not convinced the 36" high fence panels were going to look good for the size of my garden.  The 36" looked a little too "cemetery-like" for my taste.

Now what?  Making custom picket boards would be cost prohibitive.  I mean....really...I could buy vegetables at the farmers market for the next 20 years!  I found a very good reasonable price alternative.  Greenes Fence Company of Cleveland, Ohio makes a pointy top picket fence in wood, sprayed white, 2 foot high, in 15 foot long rolls.  Cost:  $19.97 per roll.  I bought the last 6 rolls at Lowe's.

Construction Must Be Sturdy

The goal is to have a nice straight fence, one that is secure and tight to withstand the Wisconsin winter winds, snow drafts, and the occasional bump with the riding mower.  It's time for me to recruit the help of my neighbor, Scott.  He is the master at building and fixing anything.

"Hey, Scott, do you have a minute?"





In this video Scott explains how to build the fence support.



18 support posts are spaced approximately 51" from the center of each post.  This includes the gate that will be built and installed in the front.  Holes were dug with a hand post hole digger and posts were secured with quick-set concrete.

Stain

I stained the fence frame with two coats of solid white latex stain.  Why stain and not paint?  Paint chips.  Stain slowly fades into a nice worn vintage patina.  Less maintenance.

The Best Tip I Ever Received From My Painter

I'll pass on the THE BEST tip I received from my painter, Jay Madisen.  He said, "when using latex paint or stain, brush out as much of the paint or stain as possible, wrap tightly in aluminum foil, and place in the freezer.  The next morning when you want to continue the job, let thaw for a few minutes and you are ready to paint.  No clean up until you are done with the project."  Yes, it works.
 


Attaching the Picket Fence to the Posts



In this video, Scott shows how to attach the picket fence to the support posts.


Crooked Picket



Be aware that the picket fence rolls are not perfectly constructed from the manufacturer.
H-m-m-m-m-m.  You can see this one is not aligned with the post.  If you don't fix it now the problem escalates.  Don't get ahead of yourself.





This view shows how the wire sits at the top of the horizontal support board.  This assures the fence is level.



Scott attaches the picket fence one section at a time.





The end result of all the hard work is a nice straight, sturdy fence.
 
 


Trellis

  • Coming soon. 
 

How much did the materials cost?

  • $220.00 Materials:  Lumber, nails, one gallon of stain, brush, 6" slide bolt for gate, 2-8" hinges for gate, 4 iron trellis, black gloss paint, rebar rods.

How much time did it take Scott?   38 hours

  • select and pick up materials and unload
  • cut lumber, rip rails, build and notch posts
  • cut 2" off of posts and build fence panels
  • layout post hole placement
  • dig post holes, level panel sections and set sections in cement
  • fabricate gate and screw on hinges and latch, and attach gate to fence
  • nail on picket fence sections
  • rework metal trellis, connect two, add rebar for strength and added length 

 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Strawberry Picking in Wisconsin

I live in a neighborhood that was known as Berryville which is located near the shores of Lake Michigan, Somers Township, Kenosha County, Wisconsin.  Whew...that was a long description!  It was a small community of about 300 small family farmers that were very successful growing strawberries on our sandy soil.  In the late 1800's and early 1900's thousands and thousands of berries were picked, brought to the railroad a half mile away and shipped to the Milwaukee and Chicago markets.  My neighbor, after retirement, decided to resurrect the area's claim to fame and he established Berryville Farm.  Every year, usually during the first several weeks in June, people from all over come to Berryville Farm for June bearing strawberries.


My neighbor, his wife, and son commit 24/7 to strawberries in early June.  In this photo above, Berryville Farm proudly displays two awards presented by the Kenosha Farmers Market for "the heaviest strawberry" and the "the tastiest strawberry".  Norm is very particular about selecting the very best strawberry types which produce the best berry for his customers.  Strawberries in Wisconsin are the best!
 





This is a BIG field of strawberries!
Why the orange flag?  If you pick in that particular row, you place the orange marker at the place you left off.  That tells the next picker where they can begin picking.  Clever?  Yes. 


Straw is placed in-between the berry rows as it reduces weeds but it also keeps the berries clean from dirt.  Most important for all of us pickers, the straw is soft and keeps our knees free of dirt while we bend and pick, bend and pick, bend and pick!  O-o-o-o-o my back!  Yes, you can buy pre-picked berries but then you could not snack as you pick!  Poor Norm, I am sure I ate some of his profits! 

Deeeeeeeelish!



I will remove the green leaves and place each berry on a cookie sheet, whole.  In the freezer they go until they are totally frozen.  I then place berries in zip lock bags and during the winter I have fresh berries for smoothies or strawberry desserts. 



 


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Canada: Jasper and Lake Louise


One Scenic View at a Time

Lake Louise and Jasper, June 2013

 The trip started well.

Arriving a night before our friends, Tom and I stayed at Hilton Garden Inn-Calgary Airport.  It is a ten minute drive from the terminal.  Clean. New. Quiet. Reasonable price.  The friendly and helpful staff recommended Cora's Restaurant  for a great place to have breakfast. Cora's is a small restaurant that specializes in breakfast but it also serves lunch. Started in 1987 in Montreal, the business grew and as of 2012, Cora's had 130 franchise restaurants throughout Canada. In 1990, The Cora's Foundation was established to aid children in need.

Located within ten minutes from the Hilton and the Calgary Airport, Cora's was an excellent choice.  The added feature?   It is also located in Sunridge Mall so if you forgot anything, now is the time to stock up if you are headed up to Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper.

By the way, we rented a van from Thrifty/Dollar rental agency.  We had a horrible experience at the end of our trip with this company.  I strongly suggest think twice before you rent from them.  Read my story under the Lake Louise photos.

Monday morning we picked up Don and Sharon at the Calgary Airport and...off we go! 


Jackie and Sharon in the front seat driving north toward Jasper.  Yak. Yak.  Yak.
Oh look!  Our first scenic view.
The guys are in the back seat - sightseeing - napping - looking at the maps.
 

Day #1:  Calgary to Jasper

The drive from Calgary to Jasper, with short stops, took us 6-1/2 hours.  We snapped photos of the scenic views as we headed north on the Trans-Canada Highway through Banff National Park,  Ice Fields Parkway and Jasper National Park.



Bow Lake views on our way to Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada


Bow Lake views on our way to Jasper National Park


Big Horn Sheep grazing along the highway.



Bow Lake views on our way to Jasper National Park

Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Sharon and I carefully surfed the Internet last March and made the decision to book the Alpine Village Resort in Jasper.  My vote was based on reviews of Trip Advisor for Alpine Village at Jasper National Park.  Sharon was totally swayed based on the pictures of the moose that grazed in front of the cabins.  That's my Sharon!  The place is gorgeous.  Happy girls equals happy guys.

P.S. Tom will want you to know that the cabins have wireless internet connection.  Even though it is slow, he was happy to stay connected with the world!


Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
The Office
Is this cute, or what?



Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Cabins with Loft



Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
The Grounds



Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Cabin Q and R



Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Rooms



Alpine Village Cabin Resort, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Bathroom (This was a big hit with the girls!)

 

Day #2


Breakfast at the Athabasca Hotel dining room
Downtown Jasper

Jasper National Park Tramway

Rain was forecast later in the day so after breakfast we headed to the Jasper Tramway.  This is a "must do" if the weather is good.  Once you reach the top you can have something to eat in the restaurant or continue your walk up the mountain. 

Jasper Tramway, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
The tram begins at an elevation of 4,279 feet and it ascends up to the top at 7,471 feet.
Note:  The silver box under the tram hauls water and propane fuel to the top where you can have a snack at the Treeline Restaurant.  The tram runs from April to October.

Jasper Tramway, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
View of the town of Jasper

Jasper Tramway, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
View from the top of the Tramway

Maligne Lake

The rain held off so we drove to Meligne Lake  for a lake cruise.  It is aobut 30 miles from downtown Jasper.  The boat ride lasted about 90 minutes including a stop to photo Spirit Island.  Maligne Lake is 80% glacier fed and 20% rain and snow water.  This is a pretty little spot.

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
This is The Curly Phillips Boathouse, built in 1928, now a registered historic building and site.  Curly Phillips was a famous guide and outfitter that first came to Maligne Lake in 1911.  The boathouse is one of the last remaining building of Curly's backcountry camp.

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Maligne Lake, Spirit Island, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada



Meligne Canyon

Meligne Canyon is located a short distance from Meligne Lake on your way back to Jasper.  The walk paths are paved by very hilly.  We walked a distance going down but there are also great views going up from the main bridge.  At the end of the loop you will find a gift shop, bathrooms, and the parking lot.  Minimum time to see most everything is one hour unless you dilly-dally, which is easy to do!


Meligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Meligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Meligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Meligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Meligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
This shot was taken on the walk down the canyon.




Elk video taken on our drive from Meligne Canyon

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Alberta, Canada

Just a few miles down the road from Meligne Lake and Meligne Canyon, and a very short drive from downtown Jasper, is The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.   We stopped in for a cocktail and a "look see".  It is a fairly large complex with a variety of lodging style structures.  From what I gather, it's claim to fame is a golf resort and convention center that can accommodate a lot of people.  Although very nice, I prefer a quaint and small place to stay.  But, that's just me.  The parking lots are FAR away from the lodge.  The cabins, duplexes, hotel suites, are also FAR away located in separate sections on the grounds.  If it is raining, windy, cold, snowing, you won't like the long walk to the lodge, especially at night.  And, if you have problems walking, ask how they may accommodate you.


The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Alberta, Canada


The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Alberta, Canada


The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Alberta, Canada
Pretty flower boxes


The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Alberta, Canada
Lobby and Public Areas


Dinner:  Tekarra

Dinner tonight was at Tekarra Lodge Dining Room.  It is a cute little place and within walking distance from our Alpine Village Cabins.  Tom and Don selected outdoor dining which was quaint, quiet, and gave us a chance to enjoy the outdoors even at the end of the day.  After dinner, we took a short walk to the bluff where you can sit on comfy Adirondack chairs watching the river rafters.

Tekarra Lodge Dining Room
Jasper, Alberta, Canada

Sitting on the bluff at Tekarra Lodge
watching the rafters.
Day #3

The Pines Restaurant and Pyramid Lake

The Pines Restaurant, Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
View from the deck of The Pines Restaurant


Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
View from the pier

Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Flower Boxes on the outside deck of The Pines Restaurant

Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Vintage poster hanging the The Pines Restaurant and available for sale at the gift shop.

Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Colorful chairs outside the restaurant

Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Patricia Lake is just a few minute drive from Pyramid Lake.  There is a bathroom in the parking area and a handicap ramp that winds it way down to the paved trail.  It is a nice short flat walk with some nice spots to take photos.  Off the main path are little side paths that go to the shoreline so you can "look see" as long as you want.  Picnic tables are available if you brought a snack, lunch or cup of coffee with you.  This is a good spot to get out of the car and take a break.

In the area of Patricia and Pyramid Lake, we saw a large amount of Aspen tree groves.  Their trunk is long and it has a unique feature of black knots, similar to our Birch trees.  The bark looks very pale green.  Although the leaves were green during our visit in June, they turn a spectacular bright gold/yellow in the fall.


Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Patricia Lake picnic table



Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Mid-afternoon we took a drive to Mt. Robson  in British Columbia.  It took about two hours to reach our destination because we stopped to take photos and take short hikes for photo opportunities.  Coming home?  It took us only one hour to return to Jasper.

Mt. Robson
British Columbia


Mt. Robson, British Columbia
 Visitor Center


Click here for more information about Yellowhead Pass 


Grizzly Bears
Driving on the highway to Mt. Robson, about 70 mph, we spotted three grizzly bears .  By the time I could stop the car and back up slightly, Sharon was half hanging out the window snapping the camera.
 "I see bears!  Stop!  Go Back!  Bears! Get the camera!"
There was a third juvenile bear but it was already behind the trees.  That is one big fella in the front!  We feel lucky to have seen the grizzly bears.  Not everyone is so lucky.   The hump on the back of it's shoulders is a distinguishing feature of the grizzly.




Yellowhead Pass
 

Dinner in Jasper:  Fiddle River Restaurant and Smoked Seafood Chowder Soup

After our adventures at Mt. Robson, we drove back to the town of Jasper for dinner, and a good one it was!

Our choice was  The Fiddle River Restaurant . It was a pleasant surprise and had we stayed another night in Jasper, we would have eaten here again.  The Smoked Seafood Chowder soup was fabulous, unusual, and so good that we wanted to make it when we got home.

The chef shared some of the ingredients but not the recipe.  I am going to try to replicate the soup.  It may take me a few times but I think I can do it.  This is a creamy soup.  If you want to try, here are some of the key ingredients:
Smoked Salmon
Liquid Smoke (very small amount)
Cumin
Dill, fresh
Tarragon, fresh
Fish Stock
Heavy Cream
In the Soup:  a few fresh muscles, large shrimp, small bits of potato, carrot, chives, celery, onion and leek.

Hey! It's 10:30 pm and it is still light outside.


Twilight Dawn: 4:35 am
Sunrise: 5:26 am

Twilight dusk: 11:11 pm
Sunset 10:30 pm

Day #4

Mt. Edith, Jasper National Bank

On day four we left Jasper, but not before one last stop at the world famous Bear's Paw Bakery  for our last cup of coffee and hot sticky cinnamon bun. We headed south toward Lake Louise where we planned on staying two nights.  It was raining but we didn't come all this way to sit in the car so off we went to start our sightseeing for the day.  About ten minutes south of Jasper, we made the turn off for Mt. Edith.

Mt. Edith, Jasper National Park
This is the road leading up to Mt. Edith.  It snake trails all the way up.  No trailers or motor homes are permitted because of the narrow winding road.




This black bear was relaxing in the woods just off the road.
He did not seem to mind that everyone was outside their cars taking pictures, including us.

This fellow was munching on dandelions in the road ditch.  Eating was his mission. We watched from the car and he went on his way eating, eating, eating.











Here is our video of the bear we found eating on the side of the road.



Mt. Edith, Jasper National Park
Scenic view on the drive up to Mt. Edith.

Edith Cavell plaque.
Click here to read about Edith Cavell.





Tom took this video on his walk up to view Angel Glacier at Mt. Edith




Mt. Edith, Jasper National Park
This is the trail head that leads to a viewpoint of the glacier.  Tom walked a part of the way and waiting for him was a Park Ranger anxious to tell him all about the glacier.

Athabasca Falls

After our 15 minute drive down from Mt. Edith, it was still drizzling so we pulled into the parking lot to scan the map for an idea of what to see next.  Athabasca Falls was not too far and it was on our way to Lake Louise so we said, "let's go."  The falls have been sculpted by glacial ice and river water. Spectacular.

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park




Athabasca Falls video

Here is where the trip gets a little stressful. 

It was still raining when we left Athabasca Falls.  We drove a few hours and at 1:30 pm we stopped at the Columbia Icefield Retaurant  for lunch only to find out that all hell had broken loose regarding highways and bridges from the Icefields to Calgary.  Oblivious to the impact of all the rain, we learned that there was a mudslide on our route to Lake Louise.  The road was blocked with gates.  We were 1-1/2 hours from Lake Louise but could not get to it.  There are no detours.  There are no other roads.  The roads were also closed behind us toward Jasper so we could not return.  Ah-ha.  That's why there were no cars coming toward us. 

And that's not all.

There were mudslides and washouts over roads and highways everywhere from our location south all the way to Calgary.  Bridges were washed out as well as railroad tracks.  You learn quickly that when you are in the mountains, you have little options.

What now?   We grabbed sandwiches and snacks "to go" and headed out fast.  Our only option was to chance it and drive south to the Saskatchewan River Crossing to see if the road to Lake Louise was reopened.  If not, we had to change plans - all of them. Upon arrival at the River Crossing we saw our road was block due to a mud slide.  We called and cancelled our reservation at the Post Hotel in Lake Louise only to call again and re-book when the road opened an hour later.  We filled the gas tank and got in line behind the road block.  At 3:15 pm, we were on our way.


Mudslide being cleared on the Icefields Parkway, Saskatchewan River Crossing
 

Mudslide being cleared.  We were 7th in a long line of anxious people to get going.
Saskatchewan River Crossing




Post Hotel, Lake Louise

We arrived at the door of the Post Hotel at 4:30pm.  What a relief!  We were ready for some luxury and this is the place to get it.  Tom and I have stayed at the Post Hotel before so we were very much looking forward to being pampered here.  Upon check in we immediately noticed every available staff person was river side placing sand bags to prevent damage to the cabins.  We were told we were lucky to have made it because the road we came in on was now closed to all new traffic.    The staff said that Post Hotel guests who visited the town of Banff for the day were denied access to return to the Post Hotel.  Imagine.  All your things are in your room.  Calgary had just issued a state of emergency due to swelling creeks and raging water that was washing out homes, roads, and bridges.

Post Hotel, Lake Louise
Staff moving sandbags to the Bow River to avoid damage to cabins

Post Hotel, Lake Louise
Bow River cresting


Our horrible Thrifty/National rental car story begins here. Thursday night.

The photos show the reason why Calgary and the surrounding areas were in a "state of emergency".  Roads and bridges were washed out and closed.  Travel was at a stand still and people found themselves unable to get to or go to their destinations, including the airport.    When you are visiting a national park right in the middle of the Canadian Rockies, there are few alternative road routes.  We learned Thursday we could not get to Calgary for our flight home on Saturday.  We checked out of the Post Hotel a day early (disappointed) and used Friday to wind our way out to potential alternative routes.  Driving two hours toward one route, we found our road was closed.  What now?  Find an airport nearby.  Tom found a regional airport and we drove an additional four hours where United Airlines and WestJet were fabulous at helping us change flights.  Hold on - what do you mean Thrifty/National, who has an airport office, will not take our car?  Under any circumstances.  And, were not alone.  Others told us they received the same answer.  After forty-five minutes on the telephone talking with Thrifty/National supervisors, they basically gave us the finger and said no, no, no.  They did give us one solution.  Drive an additional five hours to Vancouver where they will take the car.  What is the lesson learned here?  Rent from a car company who has a policy to accept a rental car anywhere they have an office.  You may pay a drop off fee, but that is what trip insurance is for because after all, life happens.




Post Hotel, Lake Louise
Staff placing sand bags on the river to protect cabins.


The Post Hotel is the perfect place to relax and enjoy your surrounds.  Take a look.

Post Hotel, Lake Louise, The Lounge

Post Hotel, Lake Louise, Dining Room Fireplace

Post Hotel, Lake Louise, Dining Room

Post Hotel, Lake Louise
The Library, my favorite place in the entire hotel.
After the dinner the four of us had coffee and dessert here.  We then played a few hands of bridge while listening to the burning logs in the fireplace crackle and pop.  It was a great evening.
 

Post Hotel Wine Cellar

The Post Hotel wine cellar has an inventory of over 25,000 bottles with more than 2,200 selections.  Inventory is estimate to be over $2 million.  It is impressive to say the least and we enjoyed the interesting tour.
 
 


 
 

Dinner and Wine

Of course, after a tour of the wine room we had to carefully select a bottle for dinner.  The wine, food and service were superb. 
 
 
 
 
 

Day #5

 Lake Louise

For over half the year, Lake Louise has snow and ice.  That does not stop the thousands of people who visit here every year.  It is beautiful.  We had a breakfast buffet at the Fairmont Lake Louise which was excellent. 
 


Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada





Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake in British Columbia was our last sightseeing stop of the trip.  It was a good one!
 
Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake




 
Emerald Lake

 
 

Happy Trails to You!!