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Stay and Play: Enjoy low-cost activities in region

Kris Holle aims his disc at one of the barrels on the Somerset Disc Golf Course in the La Grandeur Nature Park. Holle, a disc golf enthusiast for 14 years, helped set up the disc golf course in Somerset, which includes cleared areas as well as wooded areas.

If you need something new and different to do in the area that requires a minimal investment, here are a couple of options.

Disc Golf

Financial investment required: Frisbee or specially made disc golf discs.

Where it's located: La Grandeur Nature Area, Somerset, (by water tower) parking north end of Tower Road.

Who can participate: Anyone who can toss a disc toward a target.

Unlike the traditional golf game, disc golf uses a disc or Frisbee instead of clubs and balls.

As with any sport, true enthusiasts can have several types of discs in their duffel bags: drivers, mid-range and putters. Each disc is manufactured with different weights, thickness in the rim and quality of plastic.

The "holes" of disc golf are usually elevated chain baskets on poles.

However, in the case of the fledgling La Granduer Disc Golf Course in Somerset, there are closed barrels for the targets.

Kris and Sara Holle of Somerset are disc golf enthusiasts who were frustrated that there were no courses within 30 minutes for the public to utilize.

"Since Willow Woods at Willow River State Park was removed, there were no courses in the area," Sara said.

So they looked around for open space that would be suitable for a disc golf course.

Once they realized that La Granduer Nature Area was available, they obtained permission from the Village of Somerset to clear some paths in the woods and set barrels out for the targets.

"We currently have about 10 holes laid out on the property, with space to expand to 18 holes if the course is popular and maintained over a year or two," Sara said.

Each basket costs approximately $350. The Somerset Disc Golf Association, which held its first meeting Tuesday, July 13, is looking at ways to fund the baskets.

On July 20, the Somerset Village Board voted to donate $3,000 to the group toward purchasing baskets.

Another fundraising venue is a league night on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. The $5 fee would go toward the course.

Although there is still some work to be done, the course has been playable for a month. It has some rougher patches to it and ventures into heavily wooded areas, so participants are advised to wear sturdy shoes and bug repellent.

It is open all day to the public at no charge.


Financial investment required: GPS unit (and extra batteries).

Where it's located: Anywhere across the country

Who can participate: Anyone who likes treasure hunting.

Handheld GPS units are preferable, but many cell phones have the GPS capabilities as well as removable automotive units. Just be sure you can enter coordinates for walking mode.

Depending on the difficulty of the hike, water, compass, food, extra clothing and a map are good to have along. Some geocaching sites encourage having an external antenna if venturing into heavily wooded areas so you don't lose signal.

Geocaching ("geo-cashing") involves using a GPS to located hidden "caches" -- usually a metal box or weatherproof container. They usually contain a logbook for the finder to sign, a writing utensil and sometimes a small item such as a plastic toy or stickers.

Geocaching etiquette allows the finder to keep the item, as long as he/she puts an item of equal or greater value back in the cache for the next finder.

To start, log on to Membership is free, but visitors have to sign in to get the specifics for a hunt.

There are literally millions of caches hidden throughout the country, in all kinds of places from rugged terrain to wheelchair accessible spots.

Visitors can designate where they would like to limit their hunt, and get estimations on the difficulty of the hike. Once the GPS coordinates are obtained, the adventure begins.

There is a website devoted specifically to Wisconsin geocachers: www.wi-geo It lists events planned throughout Wisconsin and even a "Cache of the Month."

Historic Tour

Financial investment required: None, but you would need the "New Richmond Walking Tour" brochure available for free at City Hall, the Heritage Center and the New Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

Where it's located: New Richmond.

Who can participate: Anyone interested in a walking tour of historic buildings.

This self-guided tour of occupied homes and buildings is located in the older portion of New Richmond, just off Knowles Avenue on West First and West Second Streets.

The brochure, prepared by Thomas Blanck and Charles Locks for the New Richmond Preservation Commission, features 24 buildings in the 10-block tour.

Each building has a distinctive plaque hanging by the front door that distinguishes it as a historical home/business.

As the homes are currently occupied, pedestrians are asked to stay on the sidewalks and respect the privacy of the homeowners.

Among the buildings included in the tour are the Main Street shops, the 1912 William McNally House and the 1884 William J. Virgin House.

With each building, the brochure gives a photo, detailed information about the original owners (if available) and architectural design.

There is even a map of the tour drawn on the opening cover of the brochure, with points indicating where to start the tour and where to park.

It is an easy and informational way to spend a 30-minute walk.

NEXT WEEK: Touring wineries and breweries in the area.

If you have any suggestions for future Stay and Play articles, contact Julia Ybarra-Young at jyoung@river or call 715-246-6881, ext. 245.