Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dubuque Arboretum

One of our favorite warm weather destinations is a 3 hour jaunt to nearby Dubuque, Iowa. This Mississippi rivertown is located in the northeastern corner of the Hawkeye State. Two attractions there that appeal to us are the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium and Americas largest Arboretum and Botanical garden maintained entirely by volunteers. Recently, we joined friends Steve and Jewel, to make an early fall visit to the gardens. The gardens are the home of the American Hosta Society and have a huge collection of those favorites. In addition, there are perennial gardens, wildflower and native prairie gardens, an English garden and many other displays. Take a look.

A favorite place to stop on our return to Minnesota is Breitbach's, the oldest restaurant in Iowa. We were saddened to learn last year that the place had been destroyed by fire for the second time. . Rebuilt again, it lies on a ridge overlooking a beautiful valley a few miles west of the Mississippi. A heartwarming story is that, in spite of great financial difficulties, the place was rebuilt with the help of neighbors from the small community of Balltown, Iowa. We had the buffet. It was excellent as always

Monday, September 19, 2011


We're from I-O-way, I-O-way. State of all the landJoy on ev-'ry hand. We're from I-O-way, I-O-way.That's where the tall corn grows As the above picture and song indicates, Iowans , living in the heart of the corn belt are rightly proud of their states ability to grow tall and bountiful corn. Not to be outdone, I, as a proud Minnesotan, hereby submit the following pictoral evidence of that States ability to grow tall plants as well. Both pictures were taken on a recent bike trip through the prairie.

Friend and fellow biker Gary, pointing to the top of a Canadian thistle... one of Minnesota's tall growing native plants.

Next, Troutbirder posing in front of a tall growing prarie wildflower. The narrow leafed Sunflower, which had to be about 18 feet tall.

"Minnesota hats off to thee. To our colors, true we shall ever be. Firm and strong united are we. So Rah Rah Rah for Skie U Mah. Rah Rah Fah Rah for the U. Of M......"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Geography Quiz

We went over to our friends, Steve and Jewels, farmhouse to pick them up and then headed off to Pikes Peak. It’s a fairly long drive from Bluff Country (southeastern Minnesota) but we left early in the morning. We stopped for lunch at a Red Robin before arriving at our destination about 1:30 in the afternoon. From the top we looked out over a vast and beautiful landscape. Take a look.

Later, after dinner at Brietbach’s, the oldest restaurant in the State, we headed home arriving there about 9:00 P.M. the same day.

The test question is "how did we do it in one day?" I’ll give one hint: Yes, it’s true, I did get a speeding ticket ( 73 mph in a 55 mph zone). It’s not a regular practice on my part as this was the first ticket in several decades. There are no prizes for answering the question correctly except for the knowledge that you are in the top tier of American geographers.
Did you know that Iowa has its own Pikes Peak, named after the same explorer, and that theirs was there first? That’s right, as Zebulon Pike was moving westward, he stopped in Iowa, and the place where he viewed the area from a bluff high above the Mississippi River is now named after him. He identified the bluff, about 400 feet above the Father of Water as a good site for a potential fort. Perhaps then it looked like the following painting when he was there. That's the Wisconsin River entering across the valley.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Summer Wildflowers

As spring passes into summer, the native woodland wildflowers fade into memory. Along the prairie hiking paths and the bike trails, following the old railroad right of ways, I begin to look to look for the wildflowers of summer. Here is a sampling of this years highlights. Narrow leafed (Common)Sunflower

Blazing Star (Liatris)

Purple Coneflower and Butterfly Culvers Root and Fleabane

Blue & Cream Gentian Golden Rod

Rattlesnake Master
White Prairie Clover Wild Phlox

And last but not least, one day Mrs. T and I were cruising some backcountry gravel roads and came across, in the ditch, a patch of very rare (in Minnesota) native Turks Cap Lilies. Some days you gotta just be lucky.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Biking For Bugs

A few weeks back our friends Gary and Rosie visited for a biking weekend. One of the highlights was doing the beautiful Harmony to Preston section of the Root River Trail. Come on along and take a look! Initially, the paved trail follows a section of rolling hills, with patches of prairie, corn fields and wood lots. As we headed off down the trail there were still some native wildflowers to be seen. Sunflowers of several types were blooming. About half way down the 12 mile trail, we stopped to rest at the top of a steep grade, before plunging into the beautiful valley of Camp Creek. It's one of Bluff Countries best "spring creek" troutstreams. During the rest stop the intrepid bikers spotted a strange insect on the trail. Gary identified it but I've forgotten the name. It's apparent nowadays that many of your outdoor types have gone beyond hiking, biking and birding to new challenges. Identifying butterflies and other "bugs" seem to be among them. I haven't gone down that trail yet. In any case, the next day we headed over to the "Shooting Star" trail. This one cuts through the flat land of corn fields and remnant patches of native priarie along former railroad tracks. There we'll see prairie wildflowers in all their glory. I'll save that story for another post.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dear God

Dear God:When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it still the same old story?More meatballs, less spaghetti, please. Dear God: Let me give you a list of just some of the things I must remember to be a good Dog.
1. I will not eat the cats' food before they eat it or after they throw it up
2. I will not roll on dead deer, fish, birds, etc., just because I like the way they smell.
3. The Litter Box is not a cookie jar.
4. The sofa is not a 'face towel'.
5. The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.
6. I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the toilet.
7. Sticking my nose into someone's crotch is an unacceptable way of saying 'hello'.
8. I don't need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm under the coffee table .
9. I must shake the rainwater out of my fur before entering the house - not after.
10. I will not come in from outside and immediately drag my butt.
11. I will not sit in the middle of the living room and lick my crotch.
12. The cat is not a 'squeaky toy' so when I play with him and he makes that noise, it's usually not a good thingP.S. When I get to Heaven may I have my testicles back?