Walking in Waupaca

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thanks to everyone who joined me for the 51st Walk in Waupaca last week!  It was a perfect sunny spring day on The River Ridge Trail.  I was joined by so many people from the community of all ages—I am so glad they all came out to enjoy such a wonderful Wisconsin trail with me!

Our 51st Walk with Walker was dedicated to someone very special to our state that we lost earlier this month, Patrick Reinsma.  Patrick was the Regional Tourism Director for Southwest Wisconsin and a dear friend.  While this is a devastating loss for all of us, it was an honor to recognize and walk in memory of such a genuine, smart, hardworking, and funny guy.  He truly loved tourism and the State of Wisconsin, and will be deeply missed by all.

Our walk began in in Swan Park, with blue skies and warm weather.  Lorrie and Scott Neumann of Neumann’s Piggly Wiggly were so generous and donated apples and water for all the attendees—just what we needed to fuel us for a great start!  On our walk, we were joined by Sue Abrahamson from the Waupaca Public Library and a wonderful group of children.  The kids were of all ages, but all very excited to go on the Story Walk!  Waupaca’s Story Walk is one of many across the nation, promoting literacy and physical fitness for kids.  As we walked along the River Ridge Trail, we read each part of the story, page-by-page, posted all along the forest.  I had so much fun watching the kids race each other from page to page, wanting to be the first to read the next part of the story!  This was my first Story Walk, and it really made my 51st Walk one to remember.

Our guide for the day, Carol Elvery is an avid hiker, and an expert on all the trails in the area.  We were so lucky to have her along with us that day.  Mark Saunders also joined us, a member of the Master Gardeners and true expert on all of the vegetation in the area.  He told us about invasive species, such as buckthorn, prickly ash, and honeysuckle.  It was so wonderful to have both Carol and Mark there with us to teach us all about the trail and forest!

As we walked along I had the pleasure of talking with Bill and Kathy Peters.  They had just retired and moved to the area from Illinois, and came out to join us walk The River Ridge Trail.  Bill and Kathy wore matching purple shirts, stating “In Memory of Beulah.”  I learned that they were walking in memory of Kathy’s mother who had Alzheimer’s.  It was very special to have them join us, and I am glad they could honor her on our walk that beautiful day. 

After our walk, I along with members from the Chamber of Commerce, the Tourism Department, Representative Kevin Petersen, Senator Luther Olsen, and others traveled to the Clear Water Harbor.  We boarded the Lady of the Lakes Motor Yacht for an incredible tour of the Waupaca Chain O’Lakes!  We enjoyed lunch together aboard the boat, learning about the lakes, wildlife, islands, and the Native American folklore of the area.  It was a beautiful day for a boat ride, and a great way to wrap up the 51st Walk.

Special thanks to everyone who made this walk possible, including the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, Visitor’s Bureau, Department of Tourism, Clear Water Harbor, and so many more!  I hope that everyone will get out and take advantage of the beautiful parks and trails Wisconsin has to offer all across the state, thanks to our excellent tourism and recreational systems.  Hope to see you next month in Elkhart Lake!