Troutbirder II

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hiking the New Bike Trail

Baron and I have been doing a lot of hiking on the new Spring Valley bike trail this fall. Well... its not exactly a bike trail yet but a work in progress. The grading, graveling, bridges, tree planting and underpass are now complete. Spring will see the trail blacktopped and then the bikers will have smooth sailing. Come on along on a "composite" hike from early August to just last week. Baron will lead the way.

Bridge construction going on here. Several bulldozers were also in action as a path was cleared and leveled.

Two bridges were built over the creek as the trail passed from one side to another. Land issues made this necessary.

Along the way we see the "trout farm" eagles nest. I was initially worried that the trail might come too close to the nest but upon seeing the route close hand I don't believe that it does.

Here is a cattle "overpass" constructed so that the cows can cross the trail without being run into by bikers or vice versa.

Inside the culvert some swallows have already taken up residence. They were already gone so I'm not sure what kind they were. Probably barn.

The trail now has two layers of gravel, smoothed and packed, preparatory to blacktopping

The trail basically follows Spring Valley Creek, one of Bluff Countries fine trout streams. I'm sure with the arrival of hordes of bikers (including me) my exclusive franchise to the trout in this stream will be lost. Oh well.

As we came around a bend I heard that special fall sound of migrating geese. Honk! Honk! Honk! Baron and I ducked down in the grass and they landed across the creek in a pasture. Mr Baron von Curious wanted to go investigate but I held him close. My Chesapeaks would have gone crazy in this circumstance.

And I had given up goose hunting several years ago. My instincts kicked in and I was able to "shoot" a few with my camera. Wow!

Fall hiking with the Baron. Not too bad!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Minnesota - Wisconsin Architecture Compared

It seems that on my previous post of our recent trip to Milwaukee, a former resident (ncmountainwoman)commented upon the local name for the Mitchell Park Domes. They are known as the "Polish Bra." Not to be outdone by any present or former Wisconsinites, I give you the Grand Meadow, Minnesota public school. Known locally here as the "boob" school you can plainly see that they are larger and more colorfull. I rest my case.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lost In The Jungle

I ate too much that first night in Milwaukee. Wienerschnitzel and Amber Bock. Upon returning to the motel, we found the room at 85 degrees, since the furnace had just been turned on. Windows open, tossing and turning, I finally dozed off. The aquarium at the Discovery Center had been very nice. Later, somehow, I found myself surrounded by a wet warm clammy feeling. I heard running water and opened my eyes. Now, standing next to a bench there were huge trees and flowers everywhere. A small pond in front of me. I heard strange bird calls.

Looking down into the water I saw sunfish. No! It can't be. They had razorlike little teeth. Pirhanna's!

A small waterfall trickled down the rocks across the way. At the base, looking very hungry, were

a pair of white lions. White lions?

I backed warily away and stumbled up a small path through the jungle. There were flowers everywhere. I wondered if I was being followed.

"Time to wake up dear." Then I remembered, we had visited the Mitchell Conservatory. They had three glass domes. One for seasonal flowers, one for the desert. And one for the TROPICS. Of course!
Later, on the way back home to Minnesota, we stopped to take a look at the world famous Horicon Marsh. The largest fresh water marsh in the U.S., in the fall it is a stopover point for thousands of migrating waterfowl. Unfortunately, the day was very cold and very windy, with the birds well hunkered down. A long way from the tropics I would say. Brrrrr. Winter is coming to the Upper Midwest.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On Wisconsin On Wisconsin

We recently spent a few days in Wisconsin with out friends John and Joanne. The idea was to take in some museums in Milwaukee and field test some German cuisine and beer. On the way down we stopped in Mineral Point to see a great little railroad museum. The town is noted for many artists of various crafts and Pendarvis. Pendarvis is the remnants from the era of lead mining. Thousands of Cornish miners worked the mines in the nineteenth century and built their homes from limestone and wood. Platteville Wisconsin and Galena in Illinois(the home of U.S. Grant) have similar histories.

In New England they call these type of add-on homes "stitchers." There the house is expanded all the way to the barn.

We also saw large flocks of migrating sandhill cranes who were feeding in cornfields, adjacent to the highways. This was the greatest number of these magnificent birds I had seen in several years. We previously saw hundreds of thousands along the Platte River in Central Nebraska in 2006.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Harvest Time

The 2008 corn harvest is nearing completion now. From here, on Oak Hill in southeastern Minnesota, all the way west to the Missouri river in South Dakota, the precious golden grain finds its way from the fields to its ulitmate destinations. That is into the nations food supply or via ethanol to try and help slake our seeminly inexhaustible need for liquid power. I was bringing in the last of the squash from the garden that afternoon when the phone call came. A neighborly invitation to ride along during the harvest.Golden waves of grain lie peacefully in all directions to the horizon.
But giant monsters roam free here

Devouring and spitting out all that lies before them. I get to ride with them. The sense from the inside is akin, perhaps, to piloting a jumbo jet down a runway or guiding a string of barges downriver. It is almost other worldly.

The machine steers itself using Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology, although pilot Greg must make the turns at the end of the rows himself. He also must be carefully watching ahead for errant rocks and holes in our path. There is also the occasional crackling of the radio intercom asking for the latest on- the- go test results for "moisture content."

A tractor with hopper pulls along side and corn is transfered from the combine into its bins while we are moving. Not a second can be wasted as as there is still much to do. Everyone keeps an eye on the weather though today is especially gorgeous.

Greg stops to check out something which is plugging up. He quickly resolves the problem.

Greatgrandpa Bob drives the Cat with hopper

Corn is transfered from hopper to semi for the trip to the elevator.

Grandpa Dick makes those runs. I ask where son Rick is and find out he is working on getting things ready to fertilize the fields when the harvest is complete. The GPS technology will also guide fertilizing this fall and next springs planting. A narrow band of fertilizer will be laid down and next spring the seeds will be planted within an inch of the target row.

Rising above the surrounding countryside the elevators.

The corn is weighed and transferred into the elevator. Each step is carefully calibrated and measurements taken.

With all the fire and fury of this fall's political campaigns, it was remarkable how little discussion was heard during the debates of the issues connected to American agriculture. The survival America's family farms. The promise or folly of converting food into fuel. Pollution and floods. But for this day, I was happy to have been invited along, watching these hard working people help to feed the nation and the world.

Your comments are always welcome if you can find the spot...... way down below. Grrrrr.

Friday, October 31, 2008


At Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865. Halfway through Act III, Scene 2, the character Asa Trenchard (the title role), played that night by Harry Hawk, utters a line considered one of the play's funniest:
"Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal—you sockdologizing old man-trap..." Fortunately, beautiful Mantrap lake in Northern Minnesota has no connection to the sad event that happened in Fords theatre that day. Instead, the name derives from the fact that a boater may be easily trapped (lost) in the myriad channels and bays of this large lake. I have been fishing there each fall since I retired. The first few years I went tenting, with my buddy Muffy, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Then more recently in the camper with Mrs. Troutbirder and our good friends Gary and Rosie. A nearby German restaurant is an evening treat.

The campground has forty very nice wooded campsights (no electricity though), and two concrete ramps. It was first recommended to me by son Tony, who had worked at the Boy Scout camp at nearby Battle Axe lake.

The ladies, not always interested in the fishing end of things, seemed to enjoy just "cruising" the lake.

Every twist and turn in the lake brought a new and beautiful vista.

I must say the fishing was great from the beginning. The lake is noted for huge muskies and northern pike.

This past year the fishing wasn't as great as usual. That's why the old saw goes "they call it fishing not catching."
Still you can tell from a certain smile that Troutbirder had a great time anyway.