Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For July 24th, 2009 Edition.
To honor the month of July in the northwoods I'd like to nominate a theme song, which I feel conveys the attitude of many tourists and residents alike. And the winner is - "Summer Time, and the Livin' is Easy!" Just consider all the relaxing and neat things there are to do during what is many folks favorite month up north.
Biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, beach bumming, swimming, cookouts, fishing, relaxing in a hammock, surfing area tourist traps, cocktails and dining at any number of exceptionally fine supper clubs and cafes, golfing, tennis, pleasure boating, PWCing, water skiing, gambling, live entertainment, and if you run out of things to do there is always a trip to Wal-mart.
But, as a gentle reminder to the younger generations or any members of older ones who are newcomers to our area, - much of what is on the foregoing list of things to do at the present time wouldn't have been on a list from a half century ago.
While I was enjoying my formative years of the 1940s and 50s my personal list of things to do on my "free time" during the summer months was fairly short - fishing, fishing, fishing, swimming, playing softball and surfing the area for vacationing teenage girls.
For my buddies and I swimming was generally a daily event. Often I'd swim several times a day. I could quickly slip on my trunks and dive off the dock at our resort or row a boatload of our tourists out to "The Sand Bar", which was but a hundred yards from our small and partly sandy beach. But my favored swimming spot was in Plum Creek in a deep and cold hole that was produced by the swift current through the culvert where the crick flows under highway C.
That popular swimming location was a magnet for local kids and tourists alike. Back then traffic on the county highway was sparse, even in the summer, unlike the steady flow of vehicles in today's world!
The most macho young local males liked to risk hypothermia early in the season by taking a dip in the crick sometime in early May. The first idiots to brave the frigid waters claimed bragging rights during the morning bus ride to high school in Eagle River. Yes - I was one of the idiots!
There were two favorite ways to enjoy a dip in Plum Crick. One was to jump off the culvert on the upstream side and be quickly whisked through the metal tunnel into the deep hole at the downstream end of the tube. The second thrilling experience was to dive off the culvert into the deep hole and hopefully miss slamming your head into the huge boulders the county highway department dumped into the river to shore up the shore and prevent erosion.
One of my pals and I couldn't resist the temptation to improve the diving experience, plus make the plunge safer. Dad operated a small sawmill at the time, so Roger and I commandeered an oak plank from one of the piles of lumber for a diving board. With hand powered drills we spent an hour or more drilling two holes through the thick steel culvert and attached the plank with sturdy bolts. Now we were able to launch our bodies high into the air and out over the deep water without fear of busting our heads on the boulders!
But the highway department viewed the diving board as a potential lawsuit in the making and removed it. Roger and I promptly installed a second oak plank on the culvert during the cover of darkness. Plank number two vanished several days later, but was mysteriously replaced shortly thereafter.
Dad began to question me as to why his pile of oak planks was shrinking. I knew better that to lie, so I fessed up. Dad, having been a kid himself at one time, saw the humor in the situation but put an end to my pilfering planks.
Roger's older brother, Bob, had a driver's license and often on hot summer days he'd drive us to Long's Corner Store west of Sayner where we'd each buy a hand dipped quart of our favorite ice cream for 50 cents. Then we'd head for the swimmin' hole at Plum Crick and sit in the shallows and eat our quart of ice cream!
One negative factor about swimming at the crick revolved around the fact the area was home to a family of huge water snakes. The fearsome looking reptiles often reached lengths of four or more feet in length and resembled water moccasins, although this species is not poisonous. But let me tell you, if you encountered one while floating through the culvert it was a hair raising, screaming at the top of your lungs experience! But we local country bumpkins loved it when a tourist met up with Mr. or Mrs. Snake in the tube!
Another favored swimming hole was "The Blue Hole." The Blue Hole is the name for a deep area near an abrupt drop off located at the northeast corner of Big St. Germain Lake right next to Big St. Germain Drive. It was a handy place to cool off after a hot evening of playing softball. A small "pull-off" at the side of the road allowed access to the sandy beach and cool water via a short walk of about 30 yards on a narrow rustic, tree lined path.
We'd shed our uniforms and step into the shelter of the dark forest along the trail to pull on our swimming trunks. What we didn't know was the area near the lake was also home to a patch of poison ivy plants.
One of my pals, who shall remain nameless to protect my own skin, unknowingly selected the patch of poison ivy as a location to change into his trunks. As he pulled the trunks up his legs and over his thighs and posterior the sap from the plants was evenly dispersed over his lower extremities plus the remainder of his body parts located in that vicinity.
The severe case of poison ivy that followed became legendary throughout the local area in record time. Numerous nicknames for the victim surfaced, that today would make the "top ten list" of the most politically incorrect slurs! I'll refrain from printing any of the most popular ones, but allow your own imaginations to run wild!
Heck- what are friends for anyway?
Enjoy our area's summer time when livin' is easy - but watch out for patches of poison ivy!
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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