Here's Looking at You!

The Wisconsin Ridge Campground, shown on left, offers the most beautiful vistas of the Wisconsin and Mississippi River valleys 500 feet below the bluff.  An interactive map featuring photos of each bluff top campsite is found on the wyalusing.org web site. (Click here to go directly to interactive map.)
Recently, Art Schmitz, a frequent visitor to Wyalusing State Park, camped next to site 135. (The photo of site 135 is provided courtesy of Wyalusing.org.) Site 135 is one of many camp sites along Wisconsin Ridge offering beautiful views of sunsets and the twinkling night lights of Prairie du Chien below. Looking carefully at the photo, one can see a broken hollow tree trunk at the end of the campsite.

Normally, a camper pays little attention to the hollow tree. There is so much more to do. Setting up the tent or camper. Preparing a delicious foil dinner. Getting the fire ready to enjoy some-mores. Arranging the camp chairs in just the right place to avoid the camp-fire smoke and view the scenery below.
Art, in addition to a frequent visitor, also photographs interesting places in the park. The photos, above left, and the remaining two come from Art Schmitz' camera.
Dusk offers one of the prime times for photographers. The golden light enhances images. Sometimes, the coolness of the evening air produces a light fog which creeps into the Wisconsin River Valley.

But, back to the hollow tree. A closer look at the tree indicates that this is not an empty hollow tree, but home to a family. (No! Not trolls.) But a small family of raccoons. The cute family, seen peering from the hollow tree, is just waiting for a free sample of food. The serenity of the camping experience may end abruptly when raccoons make a visit to the camp. Having raccoons as uninvited guests in not fun. Having these cute little carriers of germs eating your food or even just plowing through your garbage can create the stress that you are looking to get away from.
Wyalusing State Park, just as other state parks, encourage campers to keep a clean camp. pick up any and all leftover paper plates, food spills and leftover orange peels etc. and bag them up. This includes cleaning and putting away all cooking utensils. The idea is to make the campsite food-odor free. Take tied up trash bags and deposit them in the large park containers (usually green) and make sure to put the lid back down. Raccoons like almost all foods and that includes pet foods. Raccoons do not like dogs that much, however they do like dog food. So make sure to put pet food away, just as you would people food. A unique way to keep raccoons from ruining your camping trip is to take along a bag of dog hair. It may seem extreme but sprinkling dog hair around your site will make raccoons think twice about visiting. (An interesting hint. Please note that this hint does not stop raccoon visits! It just makes them think twice!)  Always remembering what raccoons don't like and that they are just looking for an easy meal will help you to keep raccoons from ruining your camping trip.
But, they sure do look cute in the hollow tree at the end of campsite 135! Thank you Art Schmitz.