LAKE GENEVA--Black Point Estate and Gardens is hosting its inaugural Plein Air Art invitational on Friday, Sept. 1. Visitors may choose one of two sessions, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. or from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A trolley will depart from Reek School, W4094 South Lakeshore Drive, Lake Geneva.
This event will feature live painting by Mary Beth Bellon, Bethann Handzlik, Martha Hayden, Frankie Johnson, Gary Kincaid, Nancy Newcomb, Cora Rafe, and Thomas Trausch.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Looking for a yoga class? One may be as close as your neighborhood park, local beach or even nearby farm.
Yoga instructors are seeing a surge of interest in the centuries-old practice for a variety of reasons, from reducing stress and building a body-mind connection to losing weight and strengthening balance.
TOWN OF LYONS — It’s a dueling exercise of labor and love. Kayaking creates a physically challenging activity but offers a soothing mental break from work and life’s daily grind.
Several Walworth County residents said that combination is what keeps them searching for any excuse to hit area waterways.
Lyons Township resident Jack Hawkins turns 80 in July and isn’t about to quit paddling.
“I started kayaking in the early 1990s before it really became a popular sport in the Midwest,” Hawkins said.He has been active all of his life, whether downhill skiing, sailboating, hiking, fly fishing or working as a ski patroller, a role he played for 15 years at the American Birkebeiner and at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The Illinois native moved to Walworth County nearly 20 years ago and owns a place in Door County, a frequent destination to quench his kayaking thirst.
However, much of his time is spent on Geneva Lake.
“ClearWater Outdoor does a social paddle Monday mornings … we usually hit the water by 8 and are off the lake by 10,” Hawkins said of beating the heavy boat traffic of the county’s largest and busiest lake. “Sometimes I’ll start at Big Foot Beach and go to the north shore and back, about a 7-mile roundtrip. You get quite a workout.”
But that’s nothing new for Hawkins.
“I’ve always been a ‘quiet’ sports kind of guy,” Hawkins said of his many outdoor recreational pursuits. “I was trying to decide which kind of watercraft that I would get more use out of.”
Kayaking it was. And now Hawkins proudly talks about the three wooden kayaks — 12-, 14- and 18-footers — he has built himself.
“I like the idea of using something that’s self-propelled but light enough that, unlike a canoe, I can maneuver myself,” he said. “Although, it feels at least 5 pounds heavier every time.
“It’s fun zipping around to all the different places, maybe stopping somewhere for lunch,” he said of his many Geneva Lake excursions.
“It gives you different looks and perspectives. They’re all challenging, but yet they’re refreshing. It’s nice to have something close by like this.”
Picking up the paddles
Polly Marzahl and her husband, Jim, took up kayaking about three years ago thanks to CSI Media co-worker Katie Busateri.
“Katie posted a picture on Facebook with her feet sticking up with lily pads and everything in the background … it was such a pretty picture, and the next day I said, ‘I can do that. I want to do that,’” Marzahl said.
“We went out with them and floated around Lake Comus and loved it … then we bought our own kayaks, a cheaper set,” she said. “But we quickly realized we wanted something better and bought new ones the next year.”
And Marzahl can be found paddling somewhere every chance she gets from spring through fall.
“I try to get out every weekend, sometimes twice, and sometimes even during the week,” she said. “So that’s probably at least 30 times a summer.”
Busateri got her first taste of kayaking during a trip to Maine in 2002, enjoying a sea kayaking adventure in the Atlantic Ocean.
“I fell in love with it on that first trip,” said Busateri, who tools around in her 12-foot Wilderness Systems kayak, nicknamed “The Hulkster” because it’s big and green.
She used to kayak on a lot of lakes and has enjoyed the waters of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with relatives and her late husband, Jason Chase, including a short jaunt on Lake Superior.
“Polly really got me into doing the creeks and rivers around here,” Busateri said. “I still do Geneva Lake, but you have to get out early to avoid all of the boats. We have seen more and more people, but it’s still not as busy on the creeks.”
She enjoys Turtle Creek and the Yahara River and has traveled sections of the Sugar and Kickapoo rivers.
The Marzahls, Sugar Creek Township residents, own 13-1/2-foot Jackson Journeys.
“They could be overkill … they’re like a sea kayak, which start at about 14 feet long,” she said. “So ours are on the edge of being too long for creeks.”
But as far as she’s concerned, there is no going back.
“A lot of people think about the little hole (cockpit) and if they capsize they’ll not get out and drown, but gravity usually sucks you right out,” Marzahl said. “If you take the proper precautions and are all geared up you’ll be completely safe. But it’s always safety in numbers — I never go alone because crazy things can happen.”
Turtle Creek and the Yahara River are Marzahl’s favorite destinations, although she has navigated the Sugar River near Brodhead and has tackled the Fox River in Waukesha County, the Kickapoo River and even a section of the Wisconsin River.
“Turtle Creek is a favorite because it has a lot of different sections you can do,” she said of its great scenic and natural variety. “You can do the School Road section, the Oriley Road section, the Highway 140 section to Sweet Allyn Park. Each part offers something a little different.
“Sometimes we go from County C to Oriley Road, what some people call the Fairfield section. We always see a lot of wildlife, birds and turtles.”
They also typically run into one of their special acquaintances, a customer they’ve nicknamed Larry the Heron.
An important thing for novices to know is that kayaking can be time consuming because of loading, unloading, transferring to vehicles, etc.
Many of the Marzahls’ escapades cover about four hours, but they’ve done six-hour adventures.
“I just love it,” said Marzahl, who when properly fitted for inclement weather has paddled in the rain.
She also enjoys the Yahara, often doing a stretch north of Janesville from Stebbinsville Road to Fulton.
“The Yahara is our favorite,” Marzahl said. “It’s so beautiful and more secluded, and it’s wider, faster and the water is clearer. We often see multiple eagles along that stretch.”
Marzahl recommends that veteran and novice kayakers alike check out Timothy Bauer’s website www.milespaddled.com or www.usgs.gov for detailed information about whatever waterway you’ll be using.
She keeps a diary of her outings, jotting down such information as where they went, what they encountered as far as downed trees, what they saw, water levels, etc., to use as reference the next time.
But the main thing is getting away and communing with nature.
“It’s like an emotional de-fragmenting of your hard drive,” Marzahl said. “Your mind needs to get out where you can listen to everything going on around you … like the sound of your paddle going through the water. It’s so peaceful and soothing. It’s therapy.”
Busateri couldn’t agree more.
“I would recommend the Kickapoo because it’s the most scenic with all of the rock formations,” Busateri said. “But regardless of where you go, you see all kinds of birds … like the time we went on Cravath Lake in Whitewater. I didn’t even know what it was at first, but it was a huge crane. You see duck hunters, who stir up different birds and things. But you see different kinds of nature every time. All of the places we go have their own little attractions.
“And it’s so relaxing and takes away all of the stress,” she added. “We’ve seen more and more people on the various streams, but it’s still a pretty peaceful experience.”
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Vacationing tourists are starting to fill Walworth County, and Black Point Estate and Gardens is ready to welcome them. Of course, Black Point has been opening its doors to guests for well over a century.
This season visitors will see a major restoration of the covered veranda that wraps around the house after it was meticulously rebuilt from top to bottom.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Here in the Midwest we tend to take our farms for granted, surrounded as we are by the red barns of earlier generations.
Your great-grandparents knew exactly where their food came from. Even 150 years ago, 90 percent of the population grew nearly all of its food. Today, only 2 percent does.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Fish stories don’t necessarily require catching fish. But many anglers across the Stateline will begin pursuit of the latter in order to tell the former as Wisconsin’s inland fishing season starts Saturday, May 6.
Veteran guide Dave Duwe said opening weekend is like Christmas for fishing enthusiasts. And as a gift, he and other experts offer their best tips and locations for filling a live well or stringer while creating more memories.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- More than 3,500 miles separate Ireland and Wisconsin, but Irish history is a lot closer than you might think.
As part of America’s great melting pot, 19th-century Irish immigrants flocked to our state, including Walworth and Rock counties, where they helped settle the land as farmers and workers, added their names and skills to local communities and built schools, churches and businesses -- some of which are still thriving today.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- The passage of time has a way of making us appreciate the past.
But for those with fond memories of watching movies in downtown Lake Geneva, the past has caught up to the future.
Renovations are nearly complete and the Geneva Theater, located at 224 Broad St., could open as early as this coming week.
U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition in Lake Geneva. Artist started on Wednesday and will finish on Saturday at 11 AM.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- The city of Lake Geneva holds its annual Winterfest celebration Saturday, Jan. 28, through Sunday, Feb. 12. The festival features the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition as its centerpiece event but also includes music, magic, refreshments, helicopter rides, shopping and dining.
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