This program is one of the finest of my 37 Road Scholar/Elderhostel active outdoor adventures, and also one of the best values at just $599. It is based in Eagle River, Wisconsin, at the Trees for Tomorrow campus, an accredited, non-profit environmental educational institution that combines outdoor recreation with natural resources education. Troy, our host, is an efficient organizer, accomplished biker and cross country skier, knowledgeable naturalist, excellent teacher, and a great guy, and his cohort, Joe, is also an avid biker and an exceptional naturalist and teacher.
The program began with a very useful bike maintenance workshop by expert mechanic Shane, and afterwards, Shane checked each rider's personal bike to look for possible problems, and when he noticed any, he fixed them...
You could choose which distance you wanted to ride each day, with shorter rides around 25 miles and longer rides about 33 miles. Many of us did the entire 130+ miles over the four biking days. All the rides offered outstanding Wisconsin North Woods scenery like the two photos seen below, mostly on paved roads that saw very little vehicular traffic, though we also biked several paved trail segments, too.
The Eagle River area has 28 interconnected lakes, some of which are seen from the roads or trails we pedalled...
"Field trips" included a naturalist hike in the Sylvania Wilderness just over the border into Michigan, followed by a picnic lunch, as well as an evening bog hike where we bounced as if we were on trampolines (see the bouncing action on the video below.) Our guides also took eyedroppers and showed us what was inside the carnivorous pitcher plant and explained the science involved in the creation of a bog.
A presentation on wolves, coyotes, and foxes was given by Sheri, and then an evening "wolf calling trip" led by Ron, a DNR wildlife specialist who traps, radio-collars, and then tracks wolves was another field trip.
Another evening found us at the Kovac Planetarium in nearby Monico. This revolving, mechanical globe planetarium is the largest of its kind in the world and is the handiwork on one young man with a passion for both astronomy and inventing. Check out his website linked above to see photos of the 15 year construction process, and check out the CBS news videos of his creation. And then, after the laborious inventing/building phase was completed, he hand painted over 5000 stars in the proper position and correct brightness using luminous glow-in the-dark paint on the inside of the huge dome...
Here's our entire intrepid group of bikers...
Left to right:
Kneeling - our leaders, Joe and Troy.
Front row: Marlene, Pat, Cynthia, Deborah, Mary P., Mary B., and Chuck
Back row: Gordon, John R., TJ, Kathy, Will, Joe P., Ken, and John H.
YouTube video of our program's activities:
Additional photos from the week for download can be found here.