Enjoying a scenic river town

Published 6:25pm Sunday, April 1, 2012

There are a lot of good things to be said about weddings. Discounting the food and drink aspect, it is a chance to meet old acquaintances and spend time with relatives.

This past weekend, we were attending our cousin’s son’s wedding near Galena, Ill. I had almost forgotten how scenic that area of the state is. The wedding actually took place in Stockton and the reception was held in the town of Darlington, Wis.

With the time gap between wedding and reception, we were able to visit my wife’s uncle’s house in Scales Mound, which reminded me of the times we had spent there with my mother-in-law when visiting her sister, Dorothy. Although my mother-in-law and Dorothy have both passed on, the memories of those times were good and it was nice to visit the area again.

At the reception, I was talking to my wife’s cousin’s son, Ryne, about how good the fishing had been in the river this past winter, and he asked if I’d ever fished Lake Galena in the Galena territories. I answered that I had sort of fished it once. He laughed and said “Oh yeah, I heard about that time.”

I had hoped to squeak by without that subject being brought up this time but then I knew better because it seems to have been one of the highlights of that particular weekend. I won’t bore you with the details of that night, but let’s just say that it was an adventurous endeavor that I somehow managed to survive.

While we were talking about that lake, Ryne brought up a plan his dad, Bill, had came up with to secure some new musky lures from the same lake. It seems he and a friend had built a crate and were planning on dropping it in the water off this point in hopes of a musky fisherman snagging it and losing his lure. It was not a well thought out plan, and as Bill told the story, Ryne kept repeating “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately for Bill he built the crate out of wood, you know, the material that floats, so they filled it with rocks. It still floated so Bill got his jack out of the car and added that for more weight. Finally it sunk, but I had to ask him if he had realized that the jack was probably worth more than a lure, and that’s when Ryan piped in once again with the dumbest idea statement.

At the reception her cousin, Bill, asked Jean and I if we’d like to go with him and her brother, Ron, morel hunting in the morning. It was pretty early in the season but their weather seems to be about a month ahead of time and Bill thought there may be a chance that we’d find some.

The next morning Jean and I awoke early and headed to Galena through a thick fog. Once we arrived at Bill and Diane’s place we changed shoes and headed to some woods where Bill had found morels in past years.

The first place we visited had a gradual hill that looked innocent enough until I realized that it was a pretty steady incline and it seemed to take forever to reach the edge of the woods. Now Bill had loaned me a pair of rubbers that were basically the old farm style of two buckle rubbers. I told Bill that wearing these and walking up that hill was like wearing ankle weights. We spent quite a while there searching for those mushrooms but didn’t have any luck.

Bill said that he had another spot that we could try so we drove a few miles to that area. This time we started on the ridge and worked our way across and down to the bottom. With age I have learned that if you don’t walk too far down a hill the trip back up is not quite so hard.

Although we didn’t find any of those tasty morsels we did enjoy a beautiful morning and a view of the countryside that was nothing short of magnificent. I spotted a red tail hawk soaring through the opening in the trees halfway down the valley and we also spotted some eagles. I can only leave to your imagination the view from atop the ridge that we were on.

Once we arrived back at the house Bill discovered a couple of deer ticks had hitched a ride on his scalp. These are the ticks that can lead to Lyme disease and after that discovery we were all a little itchy and checking ourselves for those small critters.

The Galena area in itself is well worth a visit and driving in the countryside outside of town is breathtaking and the scenery looked like pages that had been torn out of Country magazine. Galena is a small river town with many historic homes and buildings with the main feature being the home of Ulysses S. Grant.

When I talked to Bill about hunting the area he said that he enjoys hunting deer and turkey with his two sons Douglas and Ryne more for the time spent with them in the outdoors than for the hunting itself. He described a morning turkey hunt as one of the most peaceful experiences that you could have. First there is basically silence then as the sun starts to rise, the small birds start making their noises soon followed by the crows chattering and calling as they start their morning search for food. Lastly the turkeys start to call each other and the sight of a turkey strutting its stuff is a sight to behold. He said that Ryne can call a turkey in without using a call, just his mouth, and he can even call in such a way that it settles the turkey down.

I could tell from our conversation that Bill has indeed passed on his love of hunting, fishing and the outdoors to his sons. This is what it is all about, passing it on and sharing what nature has given us with the next generation. I am looking forward to our next visit to this area later this summer.

Until next time, enjoy the outdoors and start making those outdoors memories that will last a lifetime.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.