Devils’s Lake and the Ringling Brothers

On a chilly but brilliantly sunny day last weekend we headed up to Devil’s Lake State Park, about 40 miles north of Madison. Several people told us about the great hiking and views which will “make you wonder why you didn’t move to Wisconsin sooner,” in one person’s words. The entrance to the park is through a stand of oak trees that created a yellow-leaved tunnel. After checking out the trail map we headed up the East Bluff Trail. Not steep but a steady climb with many stops along the way to view the beautiful spring-fed lake below. The bluff itself is made from 1.7 billion year old quartzite! The quartzite is part of the Baraboo Hills and Devil’s Lake Gap is a gorge in the middle of it. (Wisconsin is not flat as I had erroneously thought before moving here – oops.) The lake was formed from glaciers depositing rocks on either end of the Gap. End of geology lesson. Here are some pictures.

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We headed into the town of Baraboo for a coffee break and a quick change of clothes before going to dinner at the house of a couple that Mark has gotten to know through the orchestra. The house is on a cove of Lake Wisconsin with lots of windows taking advantage of the views. The inside of the house is just as interesting though. Baraboo has a long history with the Ringling Brothers Circus and our hosts are big fans. Much of their furniture is upholstered in animal prints and there are vintage circus posters and photographs hung throughout the house. The Ringling brothers started their circus in Baraboo at the end of the 19th century and it was the winter home of the circus until 1919.Many of the buildings still stand and are National Historic Landmarks and part of the Circus Museum. We’ll have to go back to see it when it reopens in the spring.

Our hosts had invited about a dozen of us to have dinner before going to the premier of a film in which a mutual friend’s teenage son had a role. It was a short movie based on Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” and the showing was at the historic Al Ringling theater in Baraboo. Ringling built the theater in 1915 and died a few months later.  The theater is soon to undergo a restoration but even in its tired state you can see its former grandeur. It was fun to watch the movie knowing one of the actors and interesting to hear the director and lead actress talk about the process. All of the film was shot in Baraboo, hence the local showing. Lots of people in the audience had seen some of the shooting or knew someone in the film so there was a buzz in the air before it started. Imagine our surprise when we saw Edo deWaart across the aisle from us! He is a world renowned conductor and the music director of the Milwaukee Symphony. Turns out his young son was in the movie too!

We headed back to the house on the lake afterwards and indulged in dessert while the girls swam in the glorious indoor pool. They were in heaven and needless to say, think we should put one in our house. Hmm that might might the winter pass more easily…

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One Response to Devils’s Lake and the Ringling Brothers

  1. ANNE PAYE says:

    Carolyn, you certainly are living in a parallel world! You write so well you must begin to find publications for these stories. Your parents are on the way as I write. Enjoy the time together. Love, Anne

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