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18 Nov

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.

10 Nov

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.  

Over.

05 Nov

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.

 

03 Nov

BTB

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.

 

01 Nov

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

 

28 Oct

Swamp King Throws Best-Ever Midnight Cocktail Parties

Da T’ree Bearss

Our pal Sevie, da Chippew County Swoomp Kink, gets  da mos’  innerestin’ guests to his cedar swamp parties. These three were a were a wee late.

28 Oct

Writing,Packing, Loading, and Remembering.

 

Glowsky splendor.

 

DAY 156: Saturday, October 27, 2012—It is a lot easier to pack the two vehicles over several days than to rush all at the end, thus yesterday was spent on such chores. And in between such chores, I wrote more into the manuscript I’m calling  Jabbertown. Why that title? I read once about a place in Alaska on the Bering Sea that was a whaling station and a magnet for sailors from many countries, and natives from all along the Alaskan coast and interior to come and trade and barter, and of course almost everyone speaking a different language. I also know that trappers and mountain men used to meet in July to trade and visit and drink and so forth, and  from these two semi-related knowings, I conjured a peculiar rendezvous in the hills and crannies of Ontonagon County, an isolated place where all sorts of strange people  might (and did) meet and mix, without the interference of laws or lawmen, until of course Lute Bapcat shows up where he’s not been invited, nor is he welcome and finds himself confronted by an issue that makes him question his job a a steward of natural resources, those these words would never utter from his mouth. How does a game warden deal with laws he disagrees with, or more importantly how does he  manage what he sees to be a moral wrong that no laws cover? His consternation and he settling of the quandary offer all kinds of possibilities, and thus the title of Jabbertown, the finished product of which we should see in the fall of 2014. As said before, writing is one of those human activities for which the creator needs to not be infected with the need for instant or immediate gratification. It is the tortoise’s game, not the hare’s.  This process is lugubriously drawn out and  eats time. This of checking a two-hundred-mile trap line in winter on a regular basis. You are continuously in cold and snow and while not lost, not exactly located and so burdened with daily work you find yourself not thinking about anything but that work and the trap at hand.  Then one day some stranger comes up to you and asks you about your whole trap line and why the seventh trap of several hundred was placed where it was, and you have no idea and stand with open mouth trying to conjure a response, never mind a cogent answer.

 We had a serious morning here, sunny and 23 degrees, winds stiff from the west and north. Brenda wanted Lonnie to go agate hunting with her at the mouth of the Two Hearted, but Lon said no. Max. son Matt, and one of his buddies are chasing steelies over at the mouth too, but it was too bloody cold for me for fishing. Been down that road too many times and never much cared for it. Age makes some geezers into fair-weather anglers (friend God is decidedly not one of them), but by this time in life, catching fish is no longer an issue for ego or frying pan.  The point is to be on the banks of the river, or better, out in a riffle in waders, gestalting, drinking in the whole thing. Being exclusively and totally focused on fish-catching tends to ruin some beautiful experiences, and knowing and believing this, I can still tell you almost precisely the spot where I’ve caught every trout in my adult life.  You should  interpret that sentence to mean: He must not have  a caught all that many fish.  And you might be right.

 Evening here found us engulfed in the aroma of a moose roast in the crockpot, the outside temp in the 30s, and threatening snow tonight, after some pea-size hail this afternoon. It was  a great meal for two people in a small place on a cold autumn night, in a landscape of fallen leaves and naked trees.

 As our evening heads for the barn, Lonnie is painting, trying to get closer to finishing her four-canvas sculpted painting (double diptych?). And that’s all  for today from the shores of Lake Muskallonge. Photos from Jambe Longue’s beach roving this morning follow. Over.

 

Friday night over the Pigeon River Country

 

 

“Sir!Sir! This is a PUBLIC beach!”

Kubuki actor ponders next line.

After a robust “Watch this” comes…”I’m okay, really I’m okay.”

Monkey tree.

Different folks pray for different things.

Burning daylight….

 

Another damn morning in paradise…

Woodsy lowlife.

Abbatis — by Ma Nature.

No Bambi in Nature. Here a young great blue heron, dead on Superior’s beach.

Use your imagination: Bird of prey devouring another.

Over time you see agatizing in everything!

Mother Nature’s Topiary

Northerlies bring new rock deposits for agate seekers.

Brenda’s agate necklace.

25 Oct

One Week to Go

Wednesday, October 24, 2012, DEER PARK – We depart a week from today. 30+ mph SE winds all night last night, thunder and lighting, and .1 inch of rain. We awoke this morning to find blobs of lake foam all over the yard, more than a hundred feet in from the lake and the way it was frothed up it looked very much like snow at first glance. Yuck. The area is not overly photogenic these days, but Jambe Longue continues to find interesting shots – and agates. She has the eye for those!

I got an email over the website this morning from a guy who said he enjoyed Red Jacket but was bugged by some details. I tried to email him back; his email was reported as not legit. People. Yesterday I added 3,000 words to JABBERTOWN, the newest Lute Bapcat mystery, which takes place in the Trap Hills and Porcuping Mountains in Ontonagon County. The county is grading our road as I write! Not sure why. More rain is forecast! Pix follow later. Over.

25 Oct

Thoughts From the Shower: What is Silence?

October 21, 2012, DEER PARK – I suspect many people find the shower a good location for thinking and cogitation. Is for me. Standing in the iron-laced flow I got to thinking about sound and such things, and how one of the great draws of this place is the silence that envelops us most days, silence defined as the complete absence of sound.

But this isn’t quite accurate.

Thus, it’s more accurate to say that we experience a lot of quiet, which is defined as  little or no noise. Noise, in turn, is defined as sound that is loud, or unpleasant, or that causes a disturbance. Sound’s definition is vibration that travels through a medium (e.g. air) and can be heard when it reaches the ear of a human or animal.  Disturbance is defined as the interruption of  a settled and peaceful condition, with peaceful defined as free from disturbance, or tranquil. And this condition in turn is defined as “free from disturbance, calm.”

Strange voyage through words, that one. We like to talk about the silence here, but it’s just the wrong word. This morning I can hear my own breathing, the sound of my boots on the floor, my fingers on the keyboard keys, cars passing outside, Lonnie’ slamming her car doors, the buzz of electricity in our cabin, including the tinkles and twangs of the furnace in operation. Even when all the manmade stuff is silent and inoperative, and we’re outside, we hear nature’s sounds, birds, dragon flies, hummingbirds, soughing leaves, tree branches rubbing together in the wind, the wind itself.

So it’s quietude we enjoy,  defined as a state of stillness, calmness, and quiet in a person or place, and what that definition further boils down to, I think, is the stillness inside us, not in the surrounding environment. Here we live simply and quietly and in a simple daily order of events, mostly predictable. It’s certainly true that you don’t have to travel all the way to the UP to find this. Our friend Z has it on her farm north of the Zoo, where she has it, but it doesn’t hurt to physically get yourself away from the sounds and light pollution of towns and neighborhoods if you are seeking quietude.

And Jambe Longue believes that many people, maybe most, have never experienced this condition, nor want to, because modern life seems driven by sound in the daily mass-media cacophony and  its induced decibelian debacles. People have radios blaring all the time and talk to themselves in their cars because they can’t tolerate being alone. Pretty sad. I can remember as a kid walking out in the woods and laying out to watch the sky through the leaves overhead and letting the soughing make me sleepy.

Yeah, it’ll be hard crossing dat beak britch. Over.

25 Oct

Homestretch Looms: Eleven Days and Counting on Short-Time Calendar

DAY 151: Monday, October 21, 2012, DEER PARK – Yesterday a perfect fall day, sunny, low 60’s and we spent it in first stages of packing, going through and reorganizing all of our fishing gear, and all of our books, deciding which ones will travel south with us and which (about 60-70) will go through the Brenda-Max to Mike-Monica Brown Deer Park Lodge pipeline, where they will reside for guests of Da Lotch.  Today is overcast and 45 degrees, rain not forecast until tonight, but forecasts up here don’t mean much and are written in lemon juice instead of India Ink.

Matt Cartmill was in 1993 a professor  in the Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy at Duke University, and later Professor of Anthropology and Director of Graduate Studies at Boston University. I’m well into his 1993 book from Harvard Press, A VIEW TO DEATH IN THE MORNING: HUNTING AND NATURE THROUGH HISTORY. One of the finest reads ever and should be mandatory read for hunters, birders, anglers, tree-peepers, wildlife photographers, naturalists, all lovers of nature, conservationists and, god forbid, politicians and clergy.  Cartmill takes us across time to look at how hunting was viewed by supporters and opposers, and how this changed over time. Well written, smoothly organized. Been one of my most informative and compelling nonfiction reads of summer. The author combines history, religion, philosophy, the arts and literature, and science into a broad-sweep Humanities look at hunting over time. I found it as a used softcover.

Meanwhile this morning, Lonnie is nearing the end of Bob Linsenman’s upcoming novel, SNOWBLOOD’S JOURNAL, and last night hit a heavy emotional bump involving a dog and gave me “The Look.”  We are still somewhat ouchy over the loss of Shanny. The novel will published by Arbutus Press next April.

Last night we grilled a chicken over charcoal, one left by God and Laurie. It looked like an elephant had stood on it, flat as a pancake. Photo to follow. This will be our last grilled meal for the year – weather won’t permit when we get south. And we had our last beach fire on Saturday, burning boxes, etc.

Time from here will go fast, time at home too, and then I will be out with Cos during the firearm deer season. I don’t expect to catch my breath until December, which is when I will get back to serious writing work. First priority will be to run down as much information as I can on mules, feeding and caring for them on long trail outings, and so forth. This info in the bag, I‘ll turn back to Brown Ball and I hope to bring that to a finish by Christmas or New Year’s. After the new year, we’ll be joining editor Keith and  plowing into next fall’s Grady Service tome, KILLING A COLD ONE.

Not ready to leave the Yoop, but lots of good stuff ahead, so no complaints. After a rainless summer, we have pretty much caught up to annual precip numbers, though finding authentic, reliable historical monthly rainfall on the Trashnet (AKA the  Internet) is an iffy proposition, at best. The numbers I found this time around don’t at all match what I found last time, and which I wrote down, but misplaced, and in comparing Deer Park with Grand Marais, 16 miles west of us and also basically on Lake Superior, it shows that GM gets an annual 28.82 inches vs 10.6 in Deer Park. This makes very little sense to me, and my rain gauge (99 cents at Ace Hardware in Newberry) has shown we’ve gotten 13.2 inches since May 24, which by comparison puts us in just five months over the annual average by about 2.6 inches. I know about microclimates and such meteorological folderol, but this has been called a dry spring summer by locals. Numbers don’t quite show that – or more likely I’m missing something. Ninnyvint, all from the shores of calm and clear Muskallonge Lake in northern Luce County. Our animal counts are trailing off, though we’ve finally had some night singing from the coyotes, all to the south of us and back along Trout Creek. Yesterday awoke to bear hounds in passing truck headed west for the swamp. They prolly put their dogs out over on Seven Mile Fire Trail and they are pushing the bear north through to our road, the so-called Deer Park Truck Trail. Ah the rhythms of the U.P. in fall.

Some new Limpyisms:

  • blindsight (when we can’t see what’s obvious and right in front of our eyes, the sort of blindness politicians are famous for);
  • remembery (memory);
  • pope-slap (dope slap);
  • anaconda (accost);
  • DNR testing (DNA);
  • artificial inspermination (insemination);
  • likejacket (for lifejacket, Limpy’s explanation, “Youse like ta have youse wonadem when youse iss oot in a boot, eh?); and,
  • disoreotittied (disoriented).

Don’t be shaking your head in disgust. I’m the reporter in this deal – just writing down what the old poacher says, eh.

Photos  will follow when I can find a WiFi that doesn’t take ions.  Over.

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