Saturday, June 30, 2007

June 30

We're sitting in the laundromat right now. It's sunny, 73, but breezy by the water in Munising. We will go to the beach one last time today before heading out tomorrow morning, sadly. None of us want to leave.

Chris has been practicing his accordian, and the girls keep yelling at him that it's annoying.

Friday, June 29, 2007

So many pictures! June 28, 2007

Puppy Run #3 of the day!

Cool things on trees.

Bugs, and my Gracie dog.

"Daddy, whatrya doing?"


Today we did my favorite thing: walked, and walked, and walked. I started the morning with about a 2 mile puppy run. Then we went into town for a bit, then hit a trailhead in Hiawatha National Forest and walked some more. Then tonight, after making a fire and eating dinner, we went for another walk. I had the chance while walking to explain to the girls the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees, looked at various fungi and found more bugs. The woods beyond the cabin is a living science class.

I also became depressed tonight at the thought of leaving here shortly. As it turns out, we do have the cabin until Sunday morning as I thought originally. That helped my mood a bit tonight. And knowing that I’ll be back here in a few months helps too.

Today, in town, the thermometer on the bank said 53 degrees! It’s wonderfully cool here now. We spent time around the campfire tonight eating marshmallows. Time seems bigger here. Lots of things seem bigger here.

Tomorrow, we’re going back to Newberry through Seney National Wildlife Refuge. We’re going to attempt to find the Shaw kennel again.

June 29, 2007 Happy Birthday Mom!

Finally found the Shaw kennel, and no one was home but the dogs! I was so disappointed! We at least got to visit the dogs for a bit before getting in the car to head to Newberry.

One of our pooches was lucky enough to get to come along on the trek to Newberry today. Karma is so neurotic. We left her at the cabin the first day in a crate and she was so upset she had diarrhea, bent the bars of the crate, then opened the door and broke out of it! The second day, we put her in Marley’s bigger, stronger crate, and not only did she break out of it, she also tore some of the carpet in the room the dog crates were in trying to get out. So we have to pay for that now. For the rest of the week, we took her with us every time we left the cabin. Poor Karma! She’s so scared.

Once again, the kids found very creative ways to entertain themselves on the drive today. Let's hope they don’t run out of ideas in a couple days when we make the long trek home.

Yesterday, we stopped in an old antique shop in downtown Munising and found a really old accordian that Chris could not get out of his head. So today, we bought it! It's pretty cool and will add to Chris's collection of strange musical instruments (including the Tibetan Singing Bowl) for the next Angry Bird performance.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

June 28 -- Notes from the North Country

We're in the Falling Rock cafe again, our little home away from home. They have a cute little kids' area here with all sorts of toys stacked inside an old non-working refrigerator and a table on top of an old claw foot tub for playing checkers, etc. The kids love it here, and they have great cappuccinos and pasties, and wireless. It's a nice break for all of us.

It's bright and beautiful, but windy and chilly today, about 73 degrees. Near the lake, that feels more like 63. We're all wearing sweatshirts.

I am making the trek into the Munising Memorial Hospital today to follow up on the resume I had sent them a couple weeks ago. Then, we plan on finding a trailhead and going for a long hike. I took the dogs on a long puppy run down the snowmobile trail by our cabin this morning. I am sad at the growing reality of our departure coming up in a couple days; I could seriously stay here forever.

There is a bird here that I used to hear a lot out in Wyoming and Idaho. It sounds like a wind up toy. I wish I knew what it was. I'm also surprised at the amount of aspen trees here.

We will return on Monday. Chris leaves for Chicago on July 16 - 18. So we're no longer home, than he leaves again. But soon enough, I will be the one traveling. I think so much about winter, and am so excited about this coming winter. We're stopping at the Shaw kennel tomorrow, and I'd really like to find a good female gee/haw leader who's intact. Yeah, right. What's the likelihood of that happening!

No new pictures at the present time, so I've posted more from yesterday. Will post more later.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Footnote to "Thoughts on Hunting"

I realize many people rely on hunting for their living, especially trappers and those in the far north. I have no problem with this, I want to clarify. What I take issue with are those people who seem to have taken the sport out of hunting. Hunting, in it's natural state, has an element of danger to it. One should be in good physical shape, and have to do some amount of work for a kill, in my opinion. When I hear stories about deer baiting, it enrages me.

One of the things that makes this country great is opinions. If I've offended anyone with my entries on hunting, please keep in mind: it is only one person's opinion.

June 27, 2007

Today, we escaped the heat. The dampness burned off by morning, and today was the perfect day. We went to a secluded little beach one of the locals told us about near Munising Memorial Hospital. It was about 77 beautiful degrees, not a cloud in the sky, so we donned our sunscreen and played!

We found an abandoned dingy on the beach that had been badly beaten by the waves. The girls played little Mermaid, and the dogs went nuts in the water, that was actually warm enough to wade through.

Then we traveled to Marquette, the resting place of several large sleddog races in the U.P. We milled around town for a bit, marveling at the beautiful and huge sailboats (and other weird stuff on the water) and the rough Lake Superior smashing on the rocks.

We wandered into a jewelry story (my fault) but discovered a giant skeleton of a cave bear, which the girls thought was pretty cool. I was distracted by prettier things which will show up on our Discover bill. Then we headed back to the cabin for another fire. It was chilly in Marquette – only 63 degrees – and we readily welcomed the break from the heat.

Bug update

Dogs: probably close to 10 wood tic extractions at this point

Elise: 0 new

Sophie: 0 new

Mom: ….(sheepish grin) still the same original 2

Chris: countless

Spending a week in the woods in the U.P. watching Chris freak out about the bugs? priceless

One thing that has amazed me about the U.P. is how much it reminds me of Wyoming. I was surprised to find aspen so plentiful up here. And the smells remind me so much of the Forest Service cabin I stayed in at Frank's in Wyoming.

Here's the waves outside of Marquette. It was very windy and cold by the water.

June 26, 2007

June 26, 2007

We came this far north to escape the heat, and what did we find but heat! It was 87 degrees today again, but it was humid, the very thing I hate. We escaped by going into town for lunch at the Fallen Rock, the cutest little coffee shop/used bookstore in downtown Munising. The Fallen Rock has free WiFi, so Chris could check his work e-mail (you can take the boy out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the boy) and I can post these pictures on my blog. I had another pastie (pronounced PASS-ty), yum, and then we cooled off by swimming in Lake Superior with the dogs!

We came home and made more whitefish over an open fire, by far my favorite. And had more wine and a nice cold Molson, and toasted marshmallows when it cooled down.

Bug update: Chris is nursing about 20 bites from various insects, mostly black flies, and he pulled a wood tic off his leg yesterday; Elise has about 8 bites just on the back of her neck, Sophie has about 5 bites, and we pulled four wood tics off the dogs today and they have tiny deer tic bites on their bellies. But, as for me? I have a total of two bites.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thoughts on Hunting - June 25, 2007

Today, we spent way too much time driving around the U.P. looking for various sled dog kennels and not finding them. We did stumble on Sled Dog Lodge owned by Jim Warren where I will be staying this winter, thanks to Tom. I left a note on the white board outside the cabin since no one was around, and we used the outhouse (thanks Jim).

Newberry was beautifully hot today: 87 arid, freckle-popping degrees, and I soaked up as much of it as I could. Ah! Made me homesick for summer in Idaho.
We then went to Oswald Bear Ranch eight miles north of Newberry, which was the highlight of the day.

When I first heard about the bear ranch, I envisioned something far different than what we found. I pictured bears caught in the wild and kept in small cages, like a zoo.
In fact, the bears at the ranch have been raised by the Oswald’s on their 80 acre habitat. An informational plaque hung along side of one of the enclosures reported 2,000 black bears killed annually in Michigan by hunters every year. Aside from touring the grounds of the bear ranch – home to some 30 grown bears – we also got to enter the enclosure of two cubs rescued from Minnesota. Patton and Dakota Joe, the five month old cubs, were just as playful and content as any cub could be. Dakota thought Sophie’s arm tasted really good, and she also liked chewing on the Valley Road Outfitters hat Tom gave me before we left. Sorry Tom.
I left regretting once again that I ever switched majors as an undergrad from Biology to English. Organic Chemistry couldn’t have been that scary. Being in an enclosure with those bear cubs reminded me of when I was a zookeeper, petting a jaguar knocked out for surgery whose paws were bigger than my hands.

My best souvenir from the bear ranch was priceless: a pretty significant bite on my right thumb from Dakota. Amazingly powerful jaws for something so young. She barely broke the skin, but my thumb nail was numb an hour afterward from her vise-like jaw grip. Ouch.

Chris and I marveled at the hairy beasts. I can’t imagine killing one of them.

Mark, the guy we rented our cabin from, said it is legal in Michigan to bait deer. He said hunters will throw out giant piles of sugar beets and apples, waiting until the deer come up to eat, and then BAM!
How is this a sport? I’d even go further to say let them hunt with bows and arrows instead of guns – separate the men from the boys, for sure.

Anyway, the rest of the day we drove around Tahquanmenon Falls, stopped at the Berry Patch to eat some pasties (an odd Yooper concoction consisting of potatoes, rudabega, onion, wrapped in flour pastry like a pot pie. When we first saw signs for them, however, we thought everyone in the U.P. was wearing the things instead of eating them! Quite yummy.) Now we’re heading back to our cabin where we will stay for awhile. We’re tired of driving!

Tomorrow, we will mill around the cabin, perhaps rent a canoe, maybe do some laundry in town, and stay out of the truck. The dogs will appreciate it. Every morning, before I’ve even had any coffee, I swing the cabin door open wide and take the dogs on a ½ mile puppy run with Sophie and Elise before we’re even out of our pajamas. It’s a great way to wake up; I wish I could wake up this way every day.
I can’t wait until winter.

Monday, June 25, 2007

More pics from Pictured Rock

More pictures from Pictured Rock.

June 24, 2007 water water everywhere

Today, we took the obligatory (and expensive) boat tour of Pictured Rocks in Munising. It was difficult keeping Elise occupied for a two and a half hour boat ride. She just didn’t see the allure of sandstone striations or beautiful blue-green water. She entertained herself in a variety of ways, some of which were more welcomed by our fellow boat riders than others. She convinced herself that she saw the Little Mermaid, Ariel, waving at her from one of the caves in the rocks within the blue-green water. The picture above is one of the more annoying ways she entertained herself.
We went 37 miles out, almost to Grand Maris. It was 87 degrees, but we found out the temperature of that water that numbed our toes within 20 seconds yesterday at the beach, thanks to the captain of the ship. He reported a bone-chilling 53 degree water temperature. Brrrrr! Chris insisted on getting life preservers for the girls, just in case, but at that temperature, I said they’d be hypothermic within five minutes. Still, daddy wanted to err on the side of precaution.
While we were out at almost the furthest point, a beautiful point where water cascaded down the striated rocks, the captain told the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The boat was caught in a storm and forced against the rocks under the falls. The storm beat the boat to shreds; 46 people died at this point of such beauty. Ironic.
After that story, and putting up with Elise’s shenanigans for two hours, we were happy to get off the boat. We bought two pounds of fresh whitefish pulled from Lake Superior at the creatively named “Fish House” in town. Tonight, once again, I cooked it over an open fire outside the cabin. We also bought some fish sausage. I’m not a fan of sausage of any type, but Chris said it was delish. I’m not convinced enough to try it.
After dinner, I took the dogs on a three mile puppy run up the ATV path to Wyman Road, a northbound dirt road. The sun was setting, and it was absolutely, blissfully silent, except for some songbirds singing an evening lullaby. Aspen shimmered their tiny leaves, waving a silent hello, and the air smelled so good. I can’t wait to be back here in winter.
Tomorrow, we’re planning a trek over to Newberry to the Warren’s mushers’ cabin and to see some wolves and Oswald’s bear ranch.