New Angle on Rule Compliance in the Woods

My first morning back in Portage I  stood outside and watched cars at our local stop signs, one on either side of  our house and realized driving  provides a fair analogy for hunting, as it relates to following rules.

1.      Both require you to have a license and training.

2.      The rules change from time to time, but not often and rarely in any significant way.

3.      Failure to comply with the law and safe practices can take the hunter’s life or another person’s.

4.      Both kill deer, hunters intentionally (usuaoly) and vehicles accidentally. Hunters kill roughly 400,000 animals a year with weapons (bows/firearms) and vehicles kill about 70,000 deer. The actual hunter kill may be higher, But 400K will serve to illustrate a point, and that is that  drivers unintentionally account for 10-20 percent of the annual deer kill.

5.      Few, if any drivers follow the rules all the time.

6.      Most of us speed on occasion, sometimes because we are late, or because we are not thinking.

7.      Some of us don’t always practice safe passing.

8.      Some drivers piss off other drivers and we get road rage; same thing happens to hunters and we then get harassment complaints.

9.      Some of us roll through stop signs, instead of stopping.

10.  A few ignore stop signs and run them all the time, some from ignorance, some from poor planning, some from just not giving a shit. A few do it as a game with cops.;

11.  All these attitudes show themselves in hunting and among hunters: lack of knowledge of laws, poor judgment, poor skills, or sheer outlawism. Conservation officers try to concentrate on safety issues first and then fairness issues as they relate to resource consumption.

12.   Most people who violate don’t seem to do it from evil intentions, but from being momentarily overwhelmed by pure greed and change their ways after a ticket or warning from a CO. This past season in Iron County, CO Wicklund and I worked with two USFS personnel to greet two camps at night, a camp Sgt. Webster and CO Painter and I visited in 2004 and took an illegal deer and wrote about a dozen tickets. Ironically, this was the same group and CO Wicklund asked them how long they had been camping and hunting in the loke and they told him 10years and he said, “Then you were part of the DNR roust around 2004,” and one of the men said, “Yep, and that’s why you won’t find us carrying loaded guns or breaking laws here. We NEVER want to go through that again!” Great to hear, and it sounded genuine because the feds got the same sort of answers in the second camp down the road.

Just a few thoughts to start the day. Go Ishpeming Hematites in today’s football final at Ford Field.



Waht happens when some hunters get greedy or thoughtless.


Glimpse of The Real Limpy — Linguistically

We were at dinner on my birthday last month, when a local gent floated  in and  he and I proceeded to commence a discussion of cougars and bears, and all that, and of course, the federal government, the “Endandied” Species Act, all manner of conspiracies,  and the Damn Near Russian DNR. Naturally. People think I make up Limpy Allerdyce, but his sort of malaprops crop up all over the place, above and below the bridge. It’s just that Limpy and a few like him take such bruised language to new heights (lows). Here’s what Lonnie and I heard last night (she was writing them down while I talked. (Where needed, my translation is in parens):

  • “I’ll skip that record.” (I don’t want to talk about or hear that.)
  • “Even Stephen Steelbird couldn’t make up that shit.”
  • “You can update my information status.” (Answer a question for me)
  • “You won’t smoke my cloud.”(I won’t be offended.)
  • “You are talking to a man who is an icon.” (And therefore,and therefrom, I know of what I speak)
  • “Yep, that was a Kodiak moment for sure.”
  • “Are you programmed to receive? I’ll tell you my story.” (Are you listening? Pearls to follow.)
  • “Do we need DNR testing on those cats?” (Uh, like DNA testing?)
  • In relating bear-hunting stories (he used to be a houndsman) he would repeatedly make a couple of chirruping sounds, like those you hear on the radios of houndsmen rushing all around the two-tracks, after their dogs and the bear. Schkeek-schkeek, or Qrrrrk- Qrrrk. It was funny and I can’t yet figure out how to phonetically reproduce it. Think in terms of the initial throat-gathering  of a loogey  to hock or propel into the environment. Just saying.

Material and language for a writer are everywhere. Like air, sometimes pristine, sometimes a  smidge polluted, but always hanging there, waiting to be plucked from the social ether.

The people on the corner had their X-mas liughts and inflatable snowman  up before Thanksgiving.  Ugh.


Photo Story: Eagle in a Trap

Up close and personal, immature bald eagle (3-4 yr old).

I’ll let photos tell this story. CO Dave Painter and I responded to a citizen’s call of a young bald eagle caught in a coyote trap along the Michigamme Reservoir. It was about a half-mile hike into the bird. Once there we discovered there were two traps, and looked to make sure there weren’t more. CO Painter then began the “procedure.” Pretty special to get to see this up so close.


The patient.


This photo slightly out of order. Having covered the bird, Dave lifts it, to move it to beach tgo check flight capability.
Alarmed bird.
The bird is alarmed at our approach and flaps its wings frantically. We wait for it to settle and talk softly to it.
First try at cvoverfng the eagle’s head to calm the bird fails, so we have to use a second heavy coat.
Here Dave is trying to relase the trap jaws to free the foot, yet stay clear of the other one in the process.
Here’w the inujured foot. See blood at the “ankle” and the foot is swollen, indicated an internal bleed.
“Geez, there’s a second trap here.”
“Okay, wshere’s its hed and that good set of talons?”
“Okay, I’ve got him and I’m going to walk him onto the beach.”
“Don’t give me that LOOK. I’m going to put you down and see if you can fly.”
Dave whispers to the bird, behave. I am NOT offering you an eyeball sandwich..
The bid struggles to lift off, but can’t make it. The one foot is too injured to put any weight on. Ane how would it fish one-footed?
After Dave puts the bird down, lit flaps a bit, but can’t fly and Dave decides we need to get it to rehab.
The birfd can’t fly, or doesn’t want to and I block it on the beach, while Dave and Darryl collect the unmarked traps.
Finally our bird is in the animal c rate to awaait pickup in an hour or so by the raptor rehab center in Gladstone. Will try to check on outcome down the road.

Seven Days in a Truck

Friday, November 21, 2012, PORTAGE – Back from the Yoop. Spent a week in trucks with COs, the usual paroxysms of weirdness in the backwoods and some weather not conducive to deer-killing. Days in the 50s made if easy for hunters to sit on stands all days, which many did – with results. Obviously I am leaving out a lot of juicy details and referring to offenses only in general terms because adjudications have not yet taken place.

We saw deer hanging in most camps and when I crossed the bridge south on Weds morning, the deer count was down about 50 animals from the far west of the UP.  Number of hunters seemed down, but there is no way to measure. Wisconsin’s season opened two day’s after Michigan’s so we had some Cheezies in the cedar swamps for a couple of days. I’ll hit the highlights day by day and keep this short and hen post a photo piece on CO Dave Painter rescuing an immature  bald eagle from a coyote trap.


Snow spit a bit briefly during the day but an otherwise mild day.  Checked the south county for a load of outlaws who usually operate there, but they didn’t appear to be there. Spent our time investigating complaints (mostly trespasses) and had dinner with retired warden and his wife.


Firearm opener, visited some “fellas” out on the Panola Plains. Day before they had disrupted a hunter setting up for a teenager and driven off another. Said we’ve hunted here 25 years and we’re not making room. The notion of first-come first serve on Public land was explained. Later in the week we heard they were back to their original obnoxious ways. They’ll probably geta visit next week. Large group of guys from various Detroit suburbs. We spend all afternoon helping a county deputy with a case of larceny. Some young men came up from Milwaukee and set up  blinds including one for a fried arriving late last night. When they took him to his blind this morning, it, his heater and trail camera were all gone. The deputy tracked to a guy on s stand who denied knowing anything, but the deputy suspected he was lying and we went to the man’s camp where we met a relative, who claimed to know nothing. Long story short. The original contact got pissed off because Milwaukee boys set up in “his” spot (CFA Land) and so he took all their gear, he  took it back to his relative’s camp and hid it. As it turned out had we arrived 30 seconds earlier we would have caught the perp’s brother carrying the stolen heater out to his blind. In any event the perp was charged and taken to jail in tears and we later heard from other camps how this same guy would shoot deer on their property and when challenged he would blurt, say “Your land, our land, what’s the diff?” The accused is from the Iron Mountain area. The property was recovered and returned to the Milwaukee hunters. Afternoon we got a call from our county partner to go to an address in Iron Riverto confiscate a deer. Out of state hunter shot two deer and got his hunting partner from Michigan to tag one of them. We took the deer, as requested. Our partner also got another deer from a hunter not operating within the law.


Diff partner today, and we got called immediately down to an area along the Brule River where road-hunters were operating and we checked in with hunters who saw the three men shoot and got a truck description and wsent looking for them, to no avail. From there we headed  west to meet Steve Drake and Randi Brown of the USFS. They had found a Pat all covered with Frost on the side of a toad and picked it up. Looked like shotgun pellets had perforated the wing, so they passed it to us and we passed it to a rehabber where I got a chance to meet Lois  Bono’s pet porcupine, “Wilbur.” The porky loves to play with stuff animals and has a personality surprisingly close to that of a sedentary dog.  Lois took the bird. We got a complaint of a road-shooter in southwest Iron County and rolled as reports came in from witnesses who saw shooters knock down two deer on private property, from a road, property where they had no permission to hunt. An Iron River cop pulled over the vehicle a minute before we arrived and then our patner went and picked up the wintnesses and drove by so they could ID the vehicle and show where the deer had  been shot. Long story short: Probably shot from the vehicle, but no way to prove this. Both deer were confiscated. Neither tagged nor gutted,taken on private land without permission and transport loaded gun.  Why aren’t the deer gutted?” we asked. “Wanted to take back tgo camp tgo let young kids learn how to do it. Really? Theyt lied with straight faces, three guys from Detroit suburbs. Someone told tghem they could go to the UP and drive around shooting deer. Not. We loaded the deer into our partner’s truck (we were hauling an ORV) and headed north toward another complaint while he got a call with yet another and rolled to it where he got led to two deer shot, gutted and hung in the swamp, the bodies covered in pine boughs, both animals untagged. The hunters helped him drag both out of the woods to his truck and gave him some descriptions of shooters, hunting in camo, no orange. He called us and we joined him in a  hunt for the offending camp, but found they had pulled out that afternoon. We stomped around the woods, found some over -baited  blinds, etc and repaired for the night, to continue investigation next day, but my partner stopped at a camp where we checked three deer and  that these hunters had encountered trouble with the same group our partner was looking for. This hunter said he had the man’s name at home and would send it to us.  


Foggy, drizzly morning. We were headed north on a complaint when we got a call of an erratic driver on US-41 near Amasa and jumped in to help a deputy. We got the vehicle pulled over. Female driver acted goofy, asked if she was in Wisconsin, couldn’t remember how she got to Michigan. Plates came back to a different vehicle than what they were affixed to. Woman had all kids of Rx drugs in her purse, all of which she said were her husband’s but her name was on them and she had one  bottle with no ID on it, which is illegal. That drug, thanks to a drug ID ap showe3d a powerful opioid. The other prescr4iptions: hydrocodone-acetaminophen  500 mg; amphetamine 300 mg; methadone HCL 10 mg; alprazolam, 1 Mg (Xanax), and oxycodone 30 mg.  Turned out she had revoked license and gave her name as Crystal  Ball. Also turned out she had been declared a habitual criminal by one of the southern states. The deputy took her to the hospital for a blood test and we went on our way.  

We soon got a complaint of an road-shooter a few miles from my partner’s house in west Iron County and we rolled as reports came in from witnesses who saw shooters knock down two deer on private property, from a road, property where they had no permission to hunt. An Iron River cop pulled over the vehicle a minute before we arrived and then our partner went and picked up the witnesses and drove by so they could ID the vehicle and show where the deer had  been shot. Long story short: Probably shot from the vehicle, but no way to prove this. Both deer were confiscated. Neither tagged nor gutted, taken on private land without permission and transport loaded gun.  Why aren’t the deer gutted?” we asked. “Wanted to take back to camp to let young kids learn how to do it. Really? They lied with straight faces, three guys from Detroit suburbs. Someone told them they could go to the UP and drive around shooting deer. Not. We loaded the deer into our partner’s truck (we were hauling an ORV) and headed north toward another complaint while he got a call with yet another and rolled to it where he got led to two deer shot, gutted and hung in the swamp, the bodies covered in pine boughs, both animals untagged. The hunters helped him drag both out of the woods to his truck and gave him some descriptions of shooters, hunting in camo, and no orange. He called us and we joined him in a  hunt for the offending camp, but found they had pulled out that afternoon. We stomped around the woods, found some over -baited  blinds, etc and repaired for the night, to continue investigation next day, but my partner stopped at a camp where we checked three deer and  that these hunters had encountered trouble with the same group our partner was looking for. This hunter said he had the man’s name at home and would send it to us.  


Met briefly with out other CO after we got a request to deliver something to another CO up in the north county, so we headed that way and made the delivery, then checked in with the acting sergeant for the north area and three COs and headed west past Sidnaw to the Kaisick Holes in extreme South Houghton County. There was a tent camp there, which we sat on till after dark and then checked the guys coming back, everything legal and copacetic, the guys all from Ironwood. Been hunting out of a tent camp in same location for 25 years, had not seen a CO in 20 years. Last CO in warned them they needed to sear helmets when riding their three-wheelers, so an old Yooper got a metal pan, drilled holes in it, attached a leather strap and when he rode by the CO the officer laughed and waved him on.

We visited the CO’s uncle’s camp after this, had dinner and moved on to covered complaints back in the south county. My partner said he had logged 1,000 miles in five days. Stopped a couple of slow rollers, but no loaded weapons. Then came a report of two deer, heads cut off, bodies pitched on private property and we went looking and eventually found the deer, which appeared to have been shot several days before, but we also talked to someone who had heard night shooters at 0230 am the next night and we went looking and set up surveillance to no end.


Went to courthouse to drop tickets with the magistrate, and stopped at sheriff’s office where Undersheriff Tom Courchaine was and chatted with him and Deputy Lenny Brezek. Tom as captain in the DNR before he retired, and was a major reason I was able to get involved so closely with the DNR. My partner and I then got word of yet another deer found gutted and hung in the woods, and headed that way,  but spun our wheels in the mud all afternoon: the camp we were looking for had changed ownership and by the time we made contact with hunters from that camp they said a hunter leaving a neighboring camp had found a four-pointer on his property and they had gone looking for it  but were unable to locate it. The deer was probably wounded by a hunted and died on the property. It was un-gutted, untagged and allegedly lying in the open on a pine plain.

From there we proceeded south to where we saw one flash of a light in the woods behind locked gates, and after sitting on both gates hoping to intercept shiners, we ran out of hours and had to head for the barn.


Back with my first partner. We got called out to the Way Dam area on the Michigammee Reservoir, where a bald eagle was caught in a coyote trap. My partner released the bird, but it was too hurt to fly, so we took it back to Crystal Falls, with me  driving, and my partner holding the 3-4 year-old eagle;  we called the raptor rehabber from Gladstone, put the  bird in a big dog crate and the rehabber came over to get the bird that afternoon, while we headed back on patrol . Turns out the out-of-stater who had a Michigan guy tag his two deer for him pled not guilty at the court. Step one when that happens, SOP is for the sheriff to run a criminal record  history and voila, our boy had served time in a southern lockup and  as a felon was not allowed to own or be in the possession or presence of weapons.. Our partner sent us to grab the second deer while he went to find the miscreant, whom he located in his blind ad the man admitted to having shot four deer illegally and to having 8-10 firearms in his house, which were confiscated along with the deer.

We ended the night a a closed gate property owned by a logging company, same place where another CO and I had chased night shooters some years back. This time we found a 4-wheeler trailer and t trail around the gate. We moved inside, locked the gate, blocked the trail and awaited the hunter’s return. They were ticketed for failure to register their four wheeler in Michigan.


Heavy fog. It took almost 3 full hours to get to Escanaba, and I saw only one dder, but a live coon and a live bobcat, which just looked at me and walked on. In places visbee was  about six feet.  I saw only four vehicles between Crystal Fall  and the outskirts of Escanaba. Ten and a half hours to get home to Jambe Longue. Next blog – tomorrow — I’ll post video history of the eagle rescue/capture. Hope everyone had a great Turkey day. We have a little snow today, emp in high 20s, snow on decvk. Close to 60 and sunny yesterday. Ah My Michigan! Over.

On Patrol

Game warden lunch: Smoked brook trout with crackers and cheddar.

Saturday, Nov 17 ,Western Upper Peninsula — The usual shenanigans up here, and warmish weather to boot.  Today we took four illegal deer from scofflaws, two shot in broaddaylight, loaded gun in truck. Lied about everything, as usual, but witnesses saw both shoots. One of the deer was shot in the guts and in order to turn  over to charity, we needed to clean it so the COs took it to a local lake, broke theskiff  ice and washed it out. I made a movies of two officrs loading tghe deer intgo the patrool truck.  Later one of the officers found two untagged deer, hidden in a swamp, and took them and we spent several hours looking for the perps. Will resume investigation in the morning. Wanted to upload a movie, but it’s too large for the softgheadware. Stills will have to suffice. And it ain’t over.  It’s a privilege to work with fearless, smart, hard-working, motivated conservation officers. They shine! Over.

Four on the Floor: Four eillegal deer all taken today. Two more aken yhesterday and one tip passed to another CO which accounted for another, who had three yesterday. And two nearby COS also took 2 others thise evening, for a total among the four five officers of 134 illegal deer in two days. And the wolves are killing all the deer? Nobody ever totals up the number poachers and violatgors kill. Many yearfs ago the state wildlife chief westimated 100,000 poached deer per season, a time when state herd was smaller.


CO breaks ice to clean deer after illegally shot and guts broken. Confiscated deer are given to needy people in the community.

Spinning Up To Patrol Time Up North (OTB)

Saturday, November 10, 2012, PORTAGE – Two more wakeups until I mosey north again, this time for some days or ride-alongs with COs in the UP. Deer season can be the defining time for a game warden’s year, but not all Cos. In some locations the “deer season” lasts about three days and other things take up the CO’s time and focus. But in most places the firearm deer season is pretty much the top of the game, with lots of folks afoot and out and about.

Packing gear is a special challenge: how cold, snow or no snow, etc. I follow3 the Navy SEAL approach in terms of clothes and gear: One equals zero and two equals one. Losing stuff is my specialty, or leaving stuff in CO’s trucks. Over the years I’ve managed to leave behind a fair amount of gear.

Here’s what I usually carry inside the truck: bag of snacks; small equipment bag for batteries, flashlights, hot packs for hands, regular gloves, cut gloves, latex gloves, first aid materials; a knife or two; two cameras; 10 x 42 waterproof binos; NVD and batteries; sunglasses in cases (brown lens and dark lens); notebooks; and, pens.  I also carry a bag of baseball caps and chooks, which we switch off according to circumstances and location – sometimes black, sometimes hunter orange. I sometimes bring plat books with me, even though mine are largely out of date and officers have the Automatic Vehicle Locator system rolling maps to guide them, my map-reading skills are above average, and I can be of assistance. I also carry a cigarete-pack size digital recorder, but rarely use it.

I also usually have a cooler or board for making cold lunches,  And an eight-pack of Diet Pepsi in plastic bottles.

In my waterproof “dry bag” I carry extra warm outer clothes and a change of dry clothes; sometimes I have waders in the truck, but not usually in deer season. And, one pointed, metal walking stick, for out-of-truck ambulatory events.

And I wear body armor under my outer gear. Makes no good sense not to.

Heavy boots, usually 200-800 grams of Thinsulate, though if my partner warns that we may “sit” on a situation for any time and it’s cold, I might throw on my 1200s, which keep the cold out longer when you are not constantly moving.

Between two of us, the truck is cluttered and as the days wear on we have to constantly juggle gear to keep things handy. Much of what I need goes on the dash in front of me, or between my legs, within easy reach.

Much of my time now is spent visualizing what will be coming, the sort of contacts we will make and varied locations and contexts, and I try to remember what we did in past situations and how that turned out and what we learned.

Most of the patrol day will be spent in the truck and on the move. UP counties tend to be physically large and it takes time to cover ground. As we move, my eyes stay out the window and I provide any feedback my partner wants. As night comes in, we often settle into a single area where we might suspect something might occur that is a bit off the reservation.  Some of these places are quite remote and backup is either far away or doesn’t exist. If we have something that looks potentially dicey and there is another CO in the area, we will ask him or her to start moving toward us as we make our contacts – in case backup is needed. Usually backup isn’t needed.

If we (figurative “we)  have to make an arrest, we sometimes transport the prisoner to jail; other times we call other police agencies to transport for us.  Hauling people to jail is fairly rare, at least in my dozen years of doing this thing with COs.

The time I meet my partner varies, depending on number of hours she or he has for the day (how much overtime from the state), and what the partner thinks might be most productive that day. Pat patrols would run typically 8-12 hours, with a  few up to 17 hours, but there is a pittance of overtime now and officers sometimes have to disengage because they have no time left. This typically pisses them off because our Michigan COs are highly motivated individuals, sworn to do the resource protection job, and they take their mission seriously.

The time problem is a continual irritant this time of year with so many folks in the woods and all I can think of is how the National Rifle Association worked hard to block Governor Grandholm from working to increase funding for DNR and DNR law enforcement because she was of the “undesired” party.  What we need to do is apportion a percent of sales tax to the DNR, as Missouri and other states have done; this would allow us to staff fully and do the job as it’s meant to  be done. You’d think republicans and democrats cold agree on this, but they can’t. or won’t and shame on them for their self-serving short-sightedness. 

This country is changing. The breakdown on voters from the just finished presidential election shows this pretty clearly. The number of people in the population hunting and fishing has fallen steadily over the past 20 years and we rarely see young hunters in the field during firearm deer season. Deer hunting in the UP is an old white guy’s game.  Black, Asian, or Hispanic hunters in the UP, and generally across the northern lower are statistically insignificant.

The NRA, which was started by a New York Times reporter long ago to help Americans males improve their shooting skills (sort of an unofficial preparatory scheme  for wartime and a citizen-based Army), has morphed into the gun manufacturers’ lobby, which sings of defending gun ownership rights, but operates  primarily to sell guns and help manufacturers. Think of a National Warmth Association whose publicly stated mission is to keep the people of America warm in winter, but who is funded  solely by  utilities, and actually intended to push forward their funders’ agenda, which is to see more and more power.

What little respect I had for the NRA disappeared when I saw the games they played in this state, games that ended up negatively affecting our state’s sportsmen.

Right now, I think only about what is ahead with my partners, and getting the Green Streamer truck loaded. My favorite time of year, and every single year is different in experience and tone and lessons learned.

What I look forward to most is working with the greatest collection of individuals I’ve ever had the privilege to work with — and I’ve had some pretty good ones in other parts of my life.

Let the season — and the games — begin. And, be safe out there. Please.  


Body of Earl Smith Found in Dismal Swamp

Fact-Stranger-Than-Fiction Department. The headline above is from a bit was in the November 1, 1912  edition of the Newberry News.  And reprinted in the Nov 1, 2012 issue by Caroline Diem. 

Earl Smith, who disappeared from a hunting camp 10 miles west of Mackinaw City October 7, was found dead in a thick swamp Monday, about two miles from where the young man was last seen alive. Smith was 25 years old and unmarried.

           Young Smith is believed to have yielded to despair in an unsuccessfull fight to cure himself of alcoholism, and to have lost himself deliberately. With two friends he planned a hunting party to break away from liquor.

          The three wee to have remained in the woods, far from amy liquor supply, for two weeks or a month. He determined to wage the fight in the open against an overpowering desire for stimulants. He said he was coming back to Mackinaw a free man in full control of himself.

          One of the men secretly took with him a pint of whiskey. Smith became delerious after a day of total abstinence and was given a glass of liquor. He grew worse and consumed the entrie pint. Then he quieted. Two days later he announced that he was going to return to his home. “I am going to fight this out with booze before me,” he said. “Any other way would be cowardly.”

         He started to walk back to town, accompanied by his friends. He walked fast and his companions had trouble to keep up with him. They had gone about three miles when Smith, who was in the lead, turned to his friends and said, “So, you’re following me, are you? Now see if you can catch me.”

          Thereupon he disappeared into the densest woods. His friends began a search, but found no trace of their companion.  They were forced to return without him to Mackinaw City. Since then searching parties with bloodhounds had scoured the woods for 25 miles around the spot where Smith disappeared.”

Alcoholism is no joke and stll savages millions of people. The situation in the paper is a head-shaker.



November 3, 2012, PORTAGE – Still unpacking (digging out), slowly. Our backyard doesn’t have the visual magnet of Muskallonge Lake.  Looking at short stories to be published as singles this winter, and the collection after various editors got done with it. Lon’s sis, Mary, coming up this afternoon, here for a few days, while Mary’s daughters are on tour somewhere. Amazingly we still have some leaves on trees here. Leaves were all gone at Deer Park three weeks ago, and seemingly overnight. Even the oak leaves down.  Over.

Summer digs.


Final Road Entries of a Memorable Summer

DAY 158: Monday, October 29, 2012, DEER PARK – Two wake-ups remain: Packing and loading continue at a more or less leisurely pace. “Brunch” this morning with Brenda and Max Stinson at their place, the log cabin in the sky. Brenda has Alabama roots, loves to cook and bake. Whew. We continue to monitor storms and weather to our south, but so far looks  like no prob for our return trip. Laying over a night in Gaylord makes good sense by the time we clean our way out of here and get underway. The place is already looking naked and bare as we stage stuff out to veeks. Seems most bare without Shanahan underfoot and monitoring all events. See, he was in charge. All you had to do was ask him.

Have collected all sorts of driftwood, with hope of doing something with it this winter. Lonnie made another necklace last night, this one for herself, a rarety. She always thinks of, and takes care of others first. 

DAY 159: Tuesday, October 30, 2012: DEER PARK – We lost power again, this time at 0400. I was up reading when it popped off. Awoke this morning to County Road Commission grading our road! And power back on by 10ish, those two facts not connected. Lonnie and I took cleaning break and went over to Lake Superior for a look-see. The Gray Lady is in a spate, 7-8 foot waves, 40 mph winds, waves from the north, wind from the northeast. I shot movies, but when I looked at them later they were sideways, and I see no way to flip rightside up unless I can edit when I dump onto website or Facebook. We’ll see. Or not.

Afterwards, Lonnie hoofed back up there and visited with “The Mayor” (Don Madorski, and faithful companion, Super-Jake). She shot lake movies on smaller camera, so we’ll see how that turned out. Last lunch at the cabin until next May is BLC (Bacon, Lettuce and Cheese) Sammies. Lonnie’s food planning for past five months was as close to perfect as it gets. Tonight for dinner: locally made venison pasties! We’ll hit the road late morning tomorrow for easy trip to Gaylord. Will post more photos at some point, probably from Gaylord. Snowing off and on today, but not with any real intent we can detect, and ground is still too warm for any long-lasting accumulations.  Sounds like Hurricane Sandy was a memorable one. Hope they can get back to normal as soon as possible with minimal disruption. Today is the late Ginny Phillips’s birthday: she would have been 91, if my math is right. Ginny was my mother-in-law, my late wife Sandy’s mom, and a great lady. And tomorrow is the birthday of my late mom, the diminutive Wilma Catherine (Hegwood) Heywood, of Mize, Mississippi. She would have been 94. Both grew up in the depression, both married servicemen and wemt through World War II, (in my mom’s case, Korea and Vietnam too). Bolth had sons who served in the military (Ginny had one, Wilma three). Both lost husbands too damn early, Damn strong, tough and resilient women with different styles and a lot more tolerance for others than is  common among too many people today. Where did we lose that sense of we’re all Americans and we’re all in this together? Is it lost or simply misplaced for a moment? I hope it’s the latter.

Our friend Ellen dropped by this afternoon. She and hubby Rick been installing a tin ceiling at her house! Lots of work, but well worth the effort. She and Lon made a run down to the big lake to look at waves, said bigger than they were midday. We continue to clean. Hard water makes for some tough stains on the way out the door.

DAY 160: October 31, 2012, DEER PARK/GAYLORD – The final day, our trip bookended  by the Duck Lake Fire on our arrival of May 24, and the so-called Storm of the Century’s dregs, which swept up and over from the eastern U.S. (Hurricane Sandy).  Venison pasties for late dinner last night, we got most of the cleaning done and will do final loading and hope to blow this  popstand late this morning, en route for Gaylord. More than five months in 288-square feet. We’ll feel lost in our BTB home. Expect rain going south, which is fine, long as it’s not snowy, icy, we can deal with it. Seems very strange not having Shanny in our footsteps and shadows. He hated packing because for a long time that meant I was headed north for a long trip to work with Cos and he hated to be apart from me. Swapped notes with Bo Brines of Little Forks Outfitters in Midland.

From Gaylord: Snowing when we left Deer Park at 1330 this afternoon, Lake Superior still thundering, the snowflakes the size of quarters and they looked like tiny paratroopers feet-firsting into my windshield. Snow on the ground in the Pine Stump Junction area and some breadloaf-size “road bergs” (off trucks) melting on M-28 en route to Borgstrom Road route through the Arsenic Hills down to US-2 at Garlyn Zoo. After that, a little intermittent driz and a smooth sail south, three hours from our door to motel pull-up. Tomorrow, the rest of the way, leaving at a leisurely time. Hard to believe we were ATB 160 days.

 We’ll be signing books at Little Forks Outfitters in Midland, Noon – 2 P.M. Saturday, December 8.

Sandy on Monday
Moose Gravy