Troutbirder II

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Isle Royale

Mrs. T. and I have visited and/or camped in many of our wonderful National Parks across the country. Our latest a few weeks ago was Isle Royale.  Join us for a quick look…..
We joined our local tour group, Historic Travel and Adventures, for the bus ride to beautiful Copper Harbor on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The next day  we hopped aboard a ferry for the trip to Isle Royal.

The Park, located in Lake Superior's northwest corner is a wilderness archipelago - a roadless land of wild creatures, unspoiled forests, refreshing lakes, and rugged, scenic shores - accessible only by boat or floatplane. Travel on and around the island by foot, boat, or float plane. Isle Royale has 165 miles of scenic hiking trails ready for exploration and 36 campgrounds for backpackers and recreational boaters. Excellent fishing opportunities abound on one of the Island's many inland lakes or on Lake Superior.
Approaching Isle Royale
Ninety nine percent of the island is wilderness though there was a visitor center and a nice lodge nearby.  The wilderness aspect was exemplified by the fact that the vast majority of people aboard the ferry were young and carrying heavy looking backpacks.  The atmosphere was remindful of Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness (BWCW) without the canoes. That kind of living was long past for us and we were just visiting for the day. We joined a Ranger for a short walk/talk after a picnic lunch provided by our tour director.
Later, after a "required" visit to the gift shop, the shopper and I hike a trail for about an hour.  We checked out one campground which surprisingly had some shelters. This was a new wrinkle for me as I was used to pitching my tent under the stars. I don't know if this was typical of all the camping areas or not.
Along the trail lots of woodland wildflowers.  For us Minnesotans used to red it's an unusual purple columbine.

To explore a rugged, isolated island, far from the sights and sounds of civilization, Isle Royale offers unparalleled solitude.  My kind of place..... 

Monday, July 27, 2015

On Pluto

Click on Mark Twains picture above to jump to Troutbirder II book reviews.....

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Junkyard Dogs

Less than three blocks away from our rural home on Oak Hill,  was a large junkyard on the edge of town. We had a "nice" view of it from our kitchen window. A very large junkyard dog guarded it jealously. The place was a major eyesore for our community.

Some years back the junkyard dog showed up on my front steps. Foaming at the mouth, it clearly needed to be muzzled. Ooops, I downloaded the wrong picture. . Oh well... Ann "Potty Mouth" Coulter works here just as well. Though, I might add, she  even lost a lot of her audience on "Fix" News  in recent years even with the "wingnut" set. 

It must have been Ladybird Johnson’s Highway Beautification Plan that got the ball rolling on its the elimination of the junkyard eyesore. The land eventually became city property.  More recently,  my GSD and I went for a hike on the site of the former junkyard. It’s now called Willow Creek Park, named in honor of the dozens of willow trees  along the State Highway and adjacent trout stream
As you can see, the former junkyard is now the location of a verdant small prairie and a hiking trail. That trail was eventually  connected to the new bike trail leading out of town to the"City Farm" property." Mid July sees the area covered with native sunflowers and other wildflowers.

On the site is a small spring-fed pond. It was once covered with oil slicks and toxics from rusting car batteries. Now, it is a haven for the frog chorus and migrating waterfowl. Someday, it may be a small fishing pond for kids.
Lets take a look at a few of the native wildflowers growing there. Some Common Sunflowers and Joe Pye Weed are most obvious.
Another native sunflower the tall Cup Plant, whose leaves can collect tiny pockets of rainwater.

Verbain is seen along the adjacent road.
Gray-headed Coneflowers.
Common Sunflowers
and Goldenrod

It took some thirty years to build the bike trail as the city was unwilling to use its eminent domain and condemnation powers. Now, according to a recent Supreme Court ruling, Wal Mart or any major private enterprise with money and influence can do that legally. Corporations are "people" now, apparently.  Willow Creek Park is a small example of the benefits of providing for the common interest over private greed or misuse. Some "junkyard dogs" try to scare us by using words like "socialism." If this is socialism, I'm all for it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Love, Greg & Lauren

A survival story in the aftermath of 9/11.  I couldn't put it down.  See Troutbirder II for details.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Rise and Fall of the History Channel

Here’s an update from one of my first blogging efforts in 2009. Close to a thousand posts ago…
The History Teacher

History is one of my things. I love reading it, especially biographies of interesting people. I tried to make it exciting for my students. So it's no wonder when satellite TV became available in our rural area, I jumped at it. Why? Well there was The Twins & The Gophers, possibly a good classic movie and most definitely the History Channel.

How sad. Some place along the line that the History Channel forgot about history.

First, it took up bizarre spooky stuff allegedly from the past. It was weird really. Then it’s ultimate downfall in more recent years.  It had started down the path of the wildly popular, so called  reality programming which is found on most channels these days. “Reality" TV. What a farce!  "Real" people searching for monsters and fearsome aliens. "Real" people having "real" personality issues while logging, trucking, surviving nude in the jungle and about everything else. They pay people to think of this crap?

The only thing they haven’t got to yet is "Hookers." But no doubt it’s on the way.  I’ve given up even checking to see if by chance something historically interesting is on this sad excuse for a history channel. I’ve  considered giving up on pay TV entirely. Or upgrading to something like HBO, which at least has the occasional well done movie on a historical subject. Of course, lest we forget there is always of 24/7 cycle of superficial sensational “news” and the even more “entertaining” exploitation of our fears and prejudices on the well known “fair and balanced” channel. 

The history channel. Or as the little old granny once said long ago, in a campaign ad for Walter Mondale, about his opponent, "Where’s the beef?"  Truth to tell, apparently a large portion of the TV audience prefers fluff over protein.
Perhaps, Newton Minow, Jack Kennedys Chairman of the FCC, who once described Television back in the sixties as a "vast wasteland" summed it up best...


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lunch on the Mississippi

During his recent visit home, my son Tony and I spent a day fishing on The Father of Waters.  We took a break for lunch, floating down the Minnesota shoreline, only to discover we weren't alone in that endeavor.  We saw a pair of immature eagles circling above us when a high pitched squawking noise drew our attention to the trees along the shoreline, slightly downstream. Take a look....
  Apparently, we weren't the only successful fishermen that day.
Nor about to have lunch!
After snapping these quick photos we drifted on past so the two circling fledglings could feel safe enough to join their mom for a fish lunch. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Fort by Bernard Cornwell

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  made a national hero out of him in his poem The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, written many years later just before the Civil War. Yet Revere  was only one of many riders who went out on that fateful eve to warn "the British are coming."  Even more surprising Revere was, later in the war,  court martialed on charges of ineptitude, & dereliction of duty bordering on treason? To find another version of these factual events read The Fort by Bernard Cornwell.  My review can be found in Troutbirder II.  Click on Mark Twains picture above for the scoop.....

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Minnesota Nice

In no way meant to be a disparagement upon the fine name of any other State, let me give an example, from a recent experience of mine, pertaining to the notion of "Minnesota Nice."  My son had recently visited from Arizona and we took the opportunity to refresh his fishing skills on some local trout streams and a day trip to Lake Pepin, a large widening of the Mississippi.  The trout fishing was great but the river was more problematic mostly due to my failure to make sure my Alumacraft fishing boat was up to snuff in spite of it's not being used much in recent years. I did charge all the batteries and lifted the gas tank to confirm it had enough for the job...

From Wikipedia:
Minnesota nice is the stereotypical behavior of people born and raised in Minnesota to be courteous, reserved, and mild-mannered. The cultural characteristics of Minnesota nice include a polite friendliness, an aversion to confrontation, a tendency toward understatement, a disinclination to make a fuss or stand out, emotional restraint, and self-deprecation. Critics have pointed out negative qualities, such as passive aggressiveness and resistance to change at a personal, but not a social level. The roots of this cultural trait, however, are Scandinavian.
Well, if you dare, come on along on our fateful fishing trip.....
Cruising up the river on a Sunday afternoon....
"Maiden Rock" just above as we were casting for the moon...
The smallmouth bass were biting as well as other less known varieties.
We continued miles upstream enjoying the day, the action and the sights...
Till , as the evening wore on, it was time to head on home. Not wanting Mrs. T. to worry about us on The Big River in the dark, I opened it up full throttle, racing downstream toward the landing at Lake City and ran out of gas about a mile from our destination.  "Not to worry, " I informed my son.  "We have the electric trolling motor", which didn't work either.  Now down to paddling one oar in the middle of the river, I could see at my present rate of progress against a wind blowing us to the Wisconsin shore,  we'd be lucky to make the Minnesota landing by midnight. Yikes.
It was then that Tony informed me that a woman on an pontoon type speedboat heading upstream had pointed us out by noting that "guy in the fishing boat was paddling with one oar."  Dropping my oar in the boat, I started waving frantically....

Minnesota nice indeed!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Spring Birding

Indigo Bunting & Northern Oriole.

This spring wasn’t the greatest for outdoor activities. That is to say, it was cold, dark , rainy and often windy. But the backyard birding was great. I have six different feeders scattered throughout the back yard. Here is the view of three of them from my station on the recliner. There you might find me reading, working a crossword, writing something for this blog or peering over the window sill to see if any new feathered friends have arrived for lunch. Take a look.

From left to right - Indigo Bunting, Hairy Woodpecker, Chipping Sparrow, Goldfinch Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak.

Swainsons Thrush & Indigo Bunting

Downy Woodpecker & Rose Breasted Grosbeak

Blue Jay

Hairy Woodpecker

Female Summer Tanager

Of course, there are always the ground feeders like this white crowned sparrow hanging around too. It's quite a show and these pictures show only part of it.