Sunday, January 30, 2011

At age 15, our Molly's time had come

By David Horst
Molly waits for a butterfly.
Outdoor writers are famous for doing stories about their faithful hunting dogs, particularly when they lose them. 
Our Molly was more of a gatherer than a hunter. She gave the squirrels on the birdfeeders a run for their sunflower seeds in her younger years. More recently, pheasants passing through the yard had less to fear from her than did the tomatoes in the garden. I called her our fruit bat dog for her love of fruit and veggies.
We said good-bye to Molly this past week after more than 15 years of her being a part of our lives. Her legs had betrayed her. She could no longer chase, or even get up on her own. For three long days and longer nights, she struggled to walk with us holding her up and, finally, could not even stand.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Fox River Heritage Paddle 2010

The complete journal of Fox River Heritage Paddle 2010 with text and historically annotated maps is available for $12 (plus postage) at the History Museum at the Castle in downtown Appleton or by emailing

See photos from the journey
The Journey begins
I’ve been involved with a group that planned a series of paddle trips covering most of the Fox, collectively called Fox River Heritage Paddle 2010. After three of the 12 segments, I can tell you, it’s not the Fox River we’re used to up in the Fox Cities.

Segment 1: Portage to CTH O – April 24, 2010
For the first leg of our journey, we are to depart from Portage, the connecting point – almost – for the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. Forty-seven paddlers turn out to journey the 10.7 miles to the landing at Marquette County Highway O. 
Writer David Horst on the first segment
of Fox River Heritage Paddle 2011.
Photo by Mark Hoffman.
Traveling from Hortonville, rain pelts the windshield of my truck. I’m convinced the forecast for storms and lightening will prove correct and I’m driving an hour and a half for nothing.
But the rains stop in advance of the launch and we see no more than an intermittent drizzle.
The paddlers – couples and older guys and strapping youngsters – unload canoes of Fiberglas and aluminum, plastic kayaks, skin kayaks, wooden kayaks and a stand-up “Yak.” They fill the 16-seat voyageur canoe that leads us throughout these 120 miles of rediscovery.
Up here (up river, though geographically to the south) the Fox River is not all industry and houses that make the Fox Cities tax assessors so happy. In this section, the Fox is a country stream, lined with farm fields and fishing shacks and rarely running more than a couple of feet deep. Crane music accompanies us much of the way.
Some among us appoint themselves to trash detail, relieving the river of various bottles and buckets, a duck decoy and a television set, which a kayaker with a flair for the ridiculous bungies to the front of his boat.
At Governor’s Bend Park we face the entirety of the Fox River’s rapids – a little chute that wouldn’t warrant a rating but delivers a little rush of fun. While the lower Fox drops nearly the height of Niagara Falls from Lake Winnebago to Green Bay, its whitewater was harnessed by a system of locks and dams more than a century ago.
We pass under the County O bridge and beach on the muddy bank. From there we get our first presentation on the history that flows with the river – a reading of pioneering environmentalist John Muir’s boyhood remembrances at John Muir Park.