Splash: Bell tolls (loudly) for end of school year, start of summer

Joe Schulz rings the bell at the Tichora Conservancy. submitted photo

by Joe Schulz

In mid-May, I was faced with a question that has too many answers: What to do on a warm summer day after submitting your last exam of the school year?

I decided to explore the Tichora Conservancy with my friend Nick Wielgosz.

The Tichora Conservancy has a rich history, as it once was a tribal gathering place that later served for decades as a campground.

The name “Tichora” is derived from the Ho-Chunk Native American tribe, with Tira meaning “lake” and cho meaning “green.”

In the 1920s, the land served as a Boy Scout camp. From 1959 to 2017, the American Baptist Church of Metro Chicago owned the property and ran Camp Grow, a religious church camp.

Since 2018, the Green Lake Conservancy and Sanitary District have been dedicated to restoring it to its natural state.

When we got to the property, we immediately began walking down the broad path that you drive in on.

We continued on the path and down a large hill. Once down the hill, we took a left and headed for the lake through the tree cover.

My goal was to show him an old shooting range that was constructed by the Boy Scouts.

About 40 minutes into our journey, we saw a deer. I captured a photo, and we tried to continue following at a distance on foot.

Joe Schulz spotted this deer at the Tichora Conservancy. Joe Schulz photo

However, it didn’t take long for the deer to evade us. After getting into an argument about where the deer could have gone, Nick and I continued to explore.

Eventually, we found a clearing that led to the shoreline. I walked out to the shoreline to take in the natural beauty and tranquility of the area.

There’s something peaceful about Tichora. Though it’s near a developed neighborhood on Oakwood Beach Road, you’d never guess.

Once on the property, all of the hustle and bustle of city life melts away, leaving you with nature.

There is something uniquely beautiful about a piece of land that’s devoid of buildings, yet full of life.

After enjoying the water, we hiked back to the car. But before getting in, I noticed something that had always intrigued me.

There’s one lone human-made structure on the property, a large bell that hangs near the grassy area by the parking lot.

I wondered: “Does that old bell still work?”

So, I took off from the car to find out, and Nick followed. Upon getting to the bell, I yanked the hanging rope. The bell let out a great ring across the property.

Now, I apologize for ringing the bell; it was a bit savage of me.

However, I am still the same guy who’s mom wouldn’t allow him to go to Hobby Lobby because I liked to touch everything.

Don’t worry. We had hand sanitizer in the car, which was used before I touched anything else.

After our hike through Tichora we were hungry, so as we drove back to Oshkosh I suggested we make a slight detour to check out Shepard’s Drive-In in Berlin.

We arrived at the restaurant, paid and were told to wait in the car for our food.

When we got our food, we chowed down. It was delicious. I ordered a double bacon cheeseburger and fried mac and cheese bites, while Nick ordered an ice cream cone and a double cheeseburger.

Overall, it was a great way to end a chaotic semester that combined two of my favorite things: nature and fried food.