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25 Oct

MSU and Big Fish Too

As my daughter would say, OK, here’s the thing about being a Michigan State University (MSU) football fan: Our teams’ never-ever make it easy, even they have presumably good teams. For example, this year, even if they were to go 13-0 and win the BCS title, you can bet it will be ugly and painful and filled with the dumbest sort of mistakes and inconsistencies from start to finish. I’ve had green blood coursing through me for 50 years, and my brother-in-law for 60 and as we watched the Spartoons’ generally inept play against Northwestern on Saturday, we looked at each other, both thinking, “Here they/we go again.” Don’t get me wrong: I like this coach and this team, but this brain-fart uh-oh-shit-I-didn’t-mean-ta-hold-that-guy-sort of trip-over-yourself play entirely befuddles us who have watched for so long. The only thing we have learned over five decades of suffering is this: Twill be what it shall be: Michigan State 10, Notre Dame 10. Need we  say more? Sharing a few pix from here and there, this and that. Over.

This is a silver or blue turkey and they are in Michigan, believe it or not. Apparently we have four types. Thanks to Carol Athey for letting me photograph this specimen.

We almost got the boat over the dam. Almost.

I swear everywhere I look I see agate patterns, this bunch on a deer antler. Sheesh.

I'm a sucker for bumperstickers and other creative trivia.

We have a skull collection in our studio for various artistic uses, in bugus absentia.

Chris Vairo's 2010 antelope.

Jared Vairo's 2010 antelope. A great father and son success -- on all counts. Well done, boyos.

Her majesty Mary Joan and 15-pound chinook buck on the Muskegon River. Fall is a great time to be outdoors in our great state.

17 Oct

It’s THAT Time of Year

This is a loose journal of  one day [of four] with DNR officer, Dan “Nighthawk” Bigger. It begins with getting up in my hotel room at 0700 and arriving at the officer’s house at 0830.

Last night we ended patrol with a trash fire in Owosso area.  We were refueling the truck at a gas station and talking to a state Troop when county called the event in and Dan asked if they’d like for him to cover it. They did. So we went.

The guy was burning linoleum and what I assumed was the urethane liner to a fridge. The fumes from the smoke were awful and bad news.

Dan asked the guy what he’s burning.

“Ya know, just trash, cardboard and stuff.”

Dan says, “We can SMELL it’s not just cardboard. Let me see your license.”

The man  yelps, “Why?”

License finally delivered, the man is instructed to get a hose, which he does. It is a skinny thing, and all kinked and he stands holding the hose with only drops falling and keeps shaking it and Dan says, “You have to un-kink it. Turn it clockwise.”

The man proceeds to turn himself clockwise and looks confused. Dan un-kinks the hose and the water finally flows and Dan instructs him how to thoroughly dowse the fire.

Bottom line, a ticket is issued for burning without a permit and we both reek of fumes afterward.

Today’s first task is to make a telephone call to Officer Kelly Ross in Montmorency County. Kelly [DNRE LED’s elk czar] has a computer program that can be used to determine time of death [TOD] on deer. You enter ambient air temp and the animal’s temp and the computer makes the calculation. Yesterday we found an untagged, gutted doe on a woody  edge by a road.

A local had informed us the animal wasn’t there at 0700 so it had to have happened after that time. Probably someone spooked the violator in the act of gutting the animal. We happened upon the site around 1730 hours. Kelly runs the data and tells Dan that the time of death was approximately 8 hours and 21 minutes before we took temperature of the dead animal, that puts the TOD after 0700, which fits the time line we got from the informant.  When Dan took the temperature last night he made sure to take it in the leg that was  most off the ground [an likely to be warmer] and because this animal is on its back he takes reading from both legs and they are within one degree. At some point perhaps all COs will have such a program to assist in investigations

We eat a quick breakfast of fresh eggs from his chickens and buzz into Corunna to swear a warrant from an earlier deer case and he gets an ORV complaint from someone in the court. He also turns in a ticket and  picks up paperwork.

From courthouse we stop at the cleaner to pick up his dry-cleaned Class A uniforms. Next week there will be a day when all 133 COs and their supervision will all be together in one place, the first time in 9 years because of previous budget problems. 133 COs for the 83 counties that comprise the state of Michigan? And you wonder why it takes awhile to sometimes get a callback? This amounts to an average of 1.6024096385542168 officers per county. Original staffing calls for four per. Go figure. By the way, Shiawassie’s magistrates, prosecutors and judges get it when it comes to the DNRE and our natural resources. They don’t coddle lawbreakers. Such unbending support is rare in the state.

Quick swing past a complaint area, back to the Bigger residence and we switch gear over to his Polaris RAZR, put on our brain-buckets and boogie forth. The machine is small. He’s a lanky, angular six-six, I’m over six feet [shrunk by age from 6-4] and we are crammed inside. Only rule: Keep all body parts inside the roll bar if we roll her over. Roger that.

We swing by the doe we found. Body is still there. He could pick it up, but prefers to let it lie and get an estimate to figure out what sort of timeline the violators are operating on. There is poaching of deer all over the county, and BIG deer all over the county. For various reasons this one does not quite fit the profile of other killings.

RAZR away we go to visit a farmer who has been having issues with people trespassing onto his farm and hunting. We watch the largest house cat either of us has ever seen while it hunts a field and we talk about how easy it is for people to mistake such sightings for a cougar. This animal had long hair, but an inordinately long tail, which if you didn’t take a closer look through binoculars, might make you mistake it for a you-know-what.

The farmer talks us through his property and we take off to get all four corners mapped the officers GPS. This way, later if there is a confrontation, there will be no doubt if someone is trespassing. The back end of the property is sort of creek bottom land and touch as hell with deer runways all over the place and littered with a nasty tangle of high swamp grasses and blow-downs. The farmer tells us we can’t possibly get the machine “back there or you’ll get stuck.” Dan says thanks and we make our way over, around and through the debris field to the fence line to take more GPS readings. The farmer looks amazed when we return to where he is waiting. A new survey is to take place next week, so the officer will visit after that to get more paper survey maps to compare with his GPS readings.

Complainant satisfied, we head for the power line on Consumer’s Energy property, where last night we found an 80-year-old man hunting the power line from a small tent placed right at the edge – one of those deals with fabric that enables you shoot the arrow through the fabric.

And we fine a urine bottle/lure in an old fruit tree right in front of the blind. The guy gets out of the blind and says the bait isn’t his, that it’s been “hanging in that tree for years.” Dan takes it down and puts it in the truck.

Dan explains the Consumer’s Energy property rules to the man, how you can’t hunt on it, or across it, etc. and tells him he’ll talk to the company to see what they want to do about this case. He also tells the guy to get his blind out by the next day. From there we continue on and after stumbling across a whole bunch of mowed trails partly on Consumer’s property we followed them and came upon a loaded spin feeder with the timer set for three spins a day. As we are looking at the spin feeder the battery in the urine bait in the truck bed comes on and we hear it buzz as it throws urine around. Been in the tree for years, we tell each other and raise our eyes.  People. Of course all baiting is outlawed in the lower peninsula at the moment. So we marked the feeder on the GPS and had a quick dinner and then went on about our business.

But that was last night, and today we take the RAZR back to check the feeder, which is gone!

Obviously the placed had trail cameras on it and we were busted and the guy pulled the feeder. All that remains is a pile of core about 18 inches in diameter. Even without the feeder it’s a bait pile and illegal. Last night we looked at plat books and other resources and guessed who the owner was, so we raced over to the man’s place to talk to him. He tells us he lets a pal and his pals used the site for hunting. And he knew the pal had a spin-feeder there, but his friend told him it is legal to feed deer until hunting season begins. Officer Bigger disabuses him of his friend’s disinformation and also informs him that some deer hunting began in September. The man calls his pal , tells us the pal is there, and gives us directions to the guy’s house and we head over there and as we are en route we see a big truck go by us with the driver giving us the stare-down and Dan says, “That’s our boy.”  We get to the house. Nobody there. Back door of garage is open. Big  4-wheeler in there, all sorts of hunting stuff, folded, new-looking tree blind on ground outside. Dan calls the guy on the phone and he comes back.

“Saw you on the way here,” Dan tells him.

Guy says, “Yeah.” His pal the landowner had told him we were coming right over, and he told the landowner he’d be at home, but he jumped in the truck and left. Why? We’ll never know for sure.

Long story short we hear how a “clerk at the Wal-Mart” told him baiting is legal again. “Did you read the hunting guide?”

“No. How much is the fine?”

“$410 first offense in Shiawassee County.”

“How come it’s illegal to bait but stores are still selling bait?” the man demands to know.

Dan responds, “The DNRE doesn’t regulate that. Ag does. But here’s a way of thinking about it: The speedometer in your car goes up to 100 to 120 mph, but you can only drive 70 in the freeway.”

The man grunts and says, “Can’t you cut me a break?” he asks. “I’m laid off and I just like to feed deer.”

“Just feed them out in a remote field in the middle of nowhere?”

“Yah, and the clerk told me it’s legal if you have a permit.”

“Do you HAVE one of those permits?”

His eyes turn down to his shoes. The ticket gets written and away we go.

We head to a taxidermy shop out in the country  for a quick inspection and find a deer, recently brought in that doesn’t look right. I can’t go into details in the blog.

From taxidermist, our route takes us over to Owosso where we run the river trail and find a suspicious adult male sitting alone by a culvert. “What’re you doing?” Dan inquires.

“Waiting for my friend.”

“What’s his name?”

Uh, like, he’s, ya know, not certain, know what I’m sayin?

“Why are you waiting for him?”

“He’s gonna buy couple fishing rods at Wal-Mart and we’re gonna fish.”

Dan calls central dispatch at the County and asks if they have any reports regarding lone male by the river. “No,” county tells us and we continue on to check out the ORV complaint he’s gotten. “We’ll look for the guy on the way back,” he tells me, see if they’re actually fishing and if they have licenses.”

We continue down the River Trail and Dan says there used to be assaults and problems there at one time, but since he’s started patrolling it on the RAZR the problems seem to have dissipated.  We head on and check the site of the complaint and Dan formulates a plan for dealing with it and then we pull off and he calls his wife Michelle and they coordinate activities of their two kids Catherine and Ian.

All  the while we are out Dan is hacking and coughing. He is just coming off a bout of pneumonia and has finished the antibiotics and now is on a few-day steroid regiment. In his years in the navy he was a nuclear weapons technician and working around all sorts of asbestos and nasty chemicals, which cost him 20 percent of his lung capacity. It’s amazing he can work outdoors, but he is a big stubborn, dedicated officer, who believes in the job and protects resources with passion.

Having had two eggs and toast, we have not looked at food all day and decide we had better get some chow. We park the RAZR in the Kentucky Fried Chicken lot, go inside, each have a bowl of mashed potatoes with cheese and chicken mixed in with gravy, and a soft drink and honk back to his house to switch back to the truck and head out to meet Officer Brad “Bee-RAD” Brewer who is coming up from Hillsdale County to participate in a shining patrol. The plan is to work two vehicles on well-known shining area. We will be the spotter and Officer Brewer the chase vehicle.  After a quick meeting to coordinate, we let dark settle in, then  head dark  to our stations.

Unfortunately, we try to hide our truck too deep in a wood lot and get hung on a berm and Bee-Rad has to drive over and pull us out, which is done while are totally dark. Free again, Officer Brewer scoots back to his place, we find a better site and settle in.  Over the course of the night we will get six or seven shiners, one with a spotlight. Brad ran that vehicle down, but there are no weapons and it is legal to shine until Nov 1, as long as you shine before 2300 hours.

Over the course of the surveillance we are visited by a skunk and a couple of baby possums. There are deer (bait) in fields around us, five shooting starts, clear sky, all sorts of air traffic and the sound of an owl whooshing it’s wings over top of us. While sitting there we get on computer and try to check information on hunter whose deer seemed odd to Dan. And we talk to Station 20 and the personnel in the RAP room in Lansing. We decide to wait until 2 AM after the bars close and at 0205 we hear a shot northwest of us, but we can’t pinpoint it and decide not to chase around. Dan calls off the patrol, Brad heads for home and so do we, arriving at the house around 0300. I then drive to the hotel, call home, and fall asleep at 0400. At 0610 the county calls Dan. A deer has been shot in a field up in the north county and off he goes to check it out and to extract slugs from the carcass.

This is neither a typical nor atypical day for a conservation officer this time of year. A lot of work before deer season usually results in a good deer season – that is in terms of stopping a lot of violating. I have been with Dan since Wednesday and everywhere we have gone people have come up to him and given him tips and intelligence, most of which we go and check out and which he marks on his AVL computer for future attention.

I’ve been here since Weds noon and we have patrolled on foot, in the ATV, on a boat on the Shiawassee River and were scheduled to do a bait flight in an aircraft, but had to call it off when local weather went south, otherwise is three days our patrols would have been air, ground and sea, so to speak, which is pretty radical by all standards.

I’m really pleased all our officers will get to be together soon. They will be there in two groups, each group to go through some specialized firearms training, but there will be one common day for all 133 to be together. Many of them have never met so this will be a good thing. This is the time of year when all sorts of things begin to magnify in the forests and swamps.

I’ll be out with several officers around the state over the next month or so and will report when I get back to my own barn. Meanwhile, be safe and have fun  in Michigan’s beautiful woods. And be legal too. Remember your conservation officers are watching and they can pop up anywhere at any time. CO’s have the most beautiful “offices” in the world, when they have the rare moment and enjoy it.


Autumn splendor on the river.

New launch, less than one day old, made specifically for CO Bigger. Mud on bottom might be problematic.

Oops, guess we got a little far to the right. Let's do this again.

Yours truly. Job description: Ballast and snag lookout.

Neither Charon nor the River Styx. The Shiawassee is severely low right now.

How low? That light line is our keel mark from dragging.

The rarely seen two-handed nighthawk. For four days the phones are rarely silent as complaints and tips come into Dan.

ET's silhouette n that tree. I swear!

River at its best, smallmouth jumping all day.

Some years ago some waste hauler dumped medical detritus into the river -- illegally. Took awhile to clean it up. The red item is one of the old medical waste barrels. No Measuring temperature of air and meat allows officers to determine time of death.

way to tell how it got there, or when, but it’s empty.

Out of the truck and into the RAZR for patrol.

Ya sure I'm comfie in here, Dan. You betcha. Absolutely comfie, brain bucket and all. Really....

River Trail patrol

Recording coordinates for possible trespass case.

Quick dinner stop. A little boy inside asks Dan "Are you a real cop?" and his mother answers, "Sort of."

Nice reminder of the dangers of autumn and spring driving in deer country.

No idea what the manufacturer calls this. I call it the deathgrip handle.

Consumer's Energy power line.

Illegal blind.

"Two or three year old" deer scent lure.

Where the heck does this plastic pipeline lead? We start looking around.

We find groomed trails everywhere. We have aircraft patrol reports of baits in this area, and continue our search.

Score one for tips and air recon. it's an illegal spin feeder, loaded, batteries in, set to spin three times daily. Next morning it is gone.

Dan carefully measures meat and ambient air temperatures. A call to Kelly Ross in Montmorency County the next morning tells us the doe had been dead 8 hours and 21 minutes when we found it. Science is a sweet thing.

Smoldering trash fire from the previous night.

After six hours in the RAZR, we switch back to the truck for night patrol. This baby possum is one of two to come visiting. As did a skunk. Coyotes sang, we heard the wings of an owl swoosh overhead and shooting stars flew as we awaited illegal shiners. Many hours into the night, the only light we've seen inside the truck is red and muted, and outside the truck, a half-moon is setting.

10 Oct


Normally, I'd class this one as bizarre, but instead let's call it culturally interplanetary. Friend of mine's sister sent this to him from Jamaica, mon.

Tonight will be one of those weird date/time warps.

Watched the debate tonight between gubernatorial (Do we call them Goobers at this point?) Bernaro and Snyder: Ovay, this is our  –CHOICE? Neither was inspiring and I am trying to be fair to Snyder, but his Gateway computer company was hands-down until I encountered Charter —  THE WORST company I ever dealt with, re customer service, technical service, cost, product reliability, everything. And he wants to run the state? As for Bernaro, I never heard of him until he won the nomination of his party, so he can’t of made much of a leadership splash even in his own political pool. Sheesh.

One thing however,  seems fairly clear to me, based on watching this debate, and  that is that November 2,  we all  need to vote a resounding NO on Proposal 1 for a new constitutional convention (CONCON). Too damn much nastiness and discord in our government between the two major parties, which would just lead to a nasty fight to skew the constitution one way or the other.  We need teamwork and team-players at this junction, not parties looking for statutory advantages.  The last time we voted on a CONCON proposal was 1978 and it failed 77-23 percent. May this one share that one’s fate.

This is the time of year when we get out to local vineyards and woodlots to look at color and interesting natural shapes. Photos follow to share what we found. Thanks  to Ms. Emma Kruzich for allowing us to tramp through her beautiful vineyards on R Avenue, and to Jim and Sharon Forden for their excellent fruit and veggie stand on West R. Avenue. It’s called Skyline Vineyards and Orchards.  Nice time of year and we’re coming off several days of 80 or near-80-degree Indian summer days. We all know it will change, but this has been nice.

Hey, how bout them Spartans AND them Lions!

Vineyard post.

Stone bear on Lake Superior. Excuse lousy focus, but you can get the picture. I laughed when I saw fellow fishing in front of the big rock formation, which from my vantage looked distinctly ursine.

Marshmallow dude making flip cast on Carp River.

End of an autumn day.

Proverbial low hanging fruit.

North side of portage creek bike trail tells us 2.0. It does not specify, inches, feet, fathoms, kilometers, miles, minimum bet on blackjack table, or light years. Very very strange.

Nope, no help on the other side. And our tax dollars pay for this sort of bizarre signage?

Lone Pine Road. Check colors here against next photo. Fall certainly knows how to catch the human eye.

See what I mean about fall colors?

Did not catch the name of these ornamental peppers, but their colors are astounding.

mo peppas

Acorn on steroids. Mast crop, at least in the Pileated Forest looks excellent this year. Lots of nuts and lots of humongous ones.

Gourds at Skyline.

Home gourds.

Twisty: sometimes the small view is more interesting and revealing than the Big Picture.

All tied up: This structure could inspire some sort of country song.

Window salad.

For years I've been looking for ways to portray vineyards and a photo like this begins to suggest some geometric possibilities for a canvas. I love to look around outside.

Is this for real? You could almost write on this, Terrorists Dig Six Feet Down Right Here! Sheesh.

08 Oct

Iron County Autumn Splendor

My pal and the World’s Most Intense and loyal Packerbacker, Mike DeNoon, sent along the following from Stanley Lake in Iron County. Whew, doggie. Over.

Stanley Lake, Iron County, Fall, 2010. Photo courtesy of M. DeNoon.

07 Oct

Stuf: Attention Riordan Boys!

Attention, Bill, Pat, and Dan Riordan, I misplaced [I try to never use the word "lost" at this age]  the phone numbers and email addresses Bill passed to me in Munising. Please hit me with an email. Graci, prego.

With that plea made I share the final Yoop photos of the last trip. Over.

Sunrise over Muskallonge Lake. No words needed.

Longer view of driftwood seal posted earlier. I laughed out loud when I noticed the likeness!

Beach lunch: Peanut butter on fresh apricot-date bread, just the way Grady Service would like it.

Morning sky, looking west toward Grand Marais, 18 miles away. Down on the far shore there were bear tracks this summer and we often saw eagles.

04 Oct

Autumn Yoop Color Continued

For reasons unknown, some photos do not download when that process is taking place. Pain in the butt — SNAFU with computers. But here are some more from the recent sojourn into the Upper Peninsula. Enjoy, over.

Beach color. A bit of a wind this day, but lots of stone to search for agates and other baubles.

Every beach needs a gray seal.

And every beach seal needs a beach dog to keep it in tow.

With all the rain in the eastern UP this summer, fungi are everywhere.

Sudden sun makes the colors explode!

And the absence of sun can make for a foreboding landscape. Here we are headed south into McMillan on CR 415 and all that fog ahead is coming up from the Tahquamenon River. West and north of Macmillan can be pretty good trout fishing.

As it grows lighter, the color appears and the landscape softens. By the time we reached the river, the fog was gone.

Brenda Stinson left a sugar-free, fat-free birthday cheesecake for Jambe Longue. The five candles signify she is still in her fifties, the sort of numbers interpretation you expect from right-brains.

Another look at the Two Heart upstream of Reid Green Campground.

"Tangles aloft, Cap'n!"

A most excellent river view.

Bear houndsmen stopped on CR 415 for a conference. This is not an unusual thing to see during the bear season in many parts of the UP.

Close up to bear hounds. One on left is likely the strike dog.

A month ago, this field was filled with sandhill cranes.

You think about bird migrations but not the realities. We found three dead yellow-rumped warblers on the beach, beautiful, tiny little things. No idea why they died, but migrations take their toll and here is proof.

This view of another warbler gives you a better perspective on how tiny it is. That's my thumb beside it.

We came across this vehicle just north of Mt. Pleasant. Is the company name totally lacking in sensitivity to political correctness, or what? I laughed out loud.

Tis the season for tamaracks to turn to gold and are they ever beautimus!

If you've not been to the UP during autumn color, you've deprived yourself of a truly sublime experience.

03 Oct

Da Crue of Crues, E-102

From left, Yours Truly, Copilot Mike "Goose" Vairo, Pilot and Aircraft Commander, Tom "Zorro/ Boss" Davey. Due to a health problem we were missing only our super boomer and most important crew member, Nick Carter the Biggest Razorback of all.

03 Oct

Roadtrip Memories

Jambe Longue on Reid Green Bridge, looking downstream.

Bear weigh-in station at Marquette DNRE office, and LC Avery's bear.

Another view of color around abandoned homestead site.

Week of September 23 we spent fishing the east end of the Yoop, then over to Marquette for reunion of the men and women of the 46 Air Refueling Squadron. Unfortunately I deleted (mysteriously) all the reunion photos I took. So it goes, I suppose. I’ll get my friends to supply theirs and will post them later. Only one that survived in the boomer camera was one of Lt.Col. Henry Hill (retired) who was my navigation mentor in the way-back when. On the day we were to leave Marquette the Green Streamer threw the front right wheel bearing (casing) and we had to leave it at the Ford hospital and take a rental car home so Jambe Longue could teach on Monday at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. We had a KIA Sorento, which is basically a peice of crap with the worst seats ever put in a vehicle, lousy mileage and a makework automatic-standard shift device. Bizarro. I figure KIA stands either for kill in action, or keep it awful. Either one works fine.

This posting is my first attempt at putting a video up. It is of a birch tree that was dipped in the Big Two Hearted River. Shanahan thought that it was a living thing and stalked it, but Jambe Longue got his collar and led him away before he made his pounce. All for naught: he fell four or five feet into the river a few minutes later, and Jambe Longue immediately slid down an embankment adn wrapped her arm arund a tree and with her free arm hooked Shanny by his collar. Then she looked up at me. “I’m not going to last long here.”

So she let go of Bozo’s collar and I pulled her back up the bank and then we found a place where dope-wad could safely and easily crawl out. Normally I wouldn’t think twice about this but downstream was cluttered with nasty-looking Two Hearted Log Throb log jams and I kept visualizing him getting trapped so there was some urgency in getting him out. The river was up 1-2 feet and cooking along pretty lustily, but he swam upstream like it was no big deal. Still, he was glad to get out. I hope this upload works. My software now advises it can handle 8 megs, so we shall see. Enjoy. Color was peaking in Luce, Alger, Western Mackinac, and Marquette Counties and temperatures were beginning to drop. More photos tomorrow or next day. [click the blue type to view the film.]. Back tomorrow. Over.

Good Ole Shreveport boy Lt.Col. Henry Hill, king of the navigators.

The object of desire for most flyers after the mission's complete.

Yo, you lookin' at ME?

Great surprise at Falling Rock Books in Munising. Bill Riordan, brother of my friend and teammate Dan showed up and we had a great talk and I got some updated numbers. This sort of thing is what makes signings a lot of fun! Great to see you Bill! Sorry about the poor focus. Blame you-know-who.

Returning from Mike and Monica Brown's Deer Park Lodge one morning, we came upon this red coyote ambling down the road, only slightly irritated by our presence. Ironically I had only heard about red coyotes a week or so before from pal Steve Southard.

One of the Carr Lakes, off CR 410 in Luce County. Last summer we saw sandhills in there and there were moose tracks in the area in summer as well.

Old homestead site off CR 415 in Luce County.

Reindeer lichen up close.

LC Avery, weighing in his 140pound + bear at the Marquette Office. We just happened to be there and Jambe Longue wanted a look-see.

Beaver "Smile" at Pretty Lake in Luce County.

An apple for Shanny from an old woods homestead.

"Dammit, I know I had my pocket knife a minute ago."

Grand Island from Bay Furnace, across the road from Christmas, Michigan.

We've heard of Blue Man Group. This is Blue Tree Paint, or something.

Talk about camoflagically challenged (not even sure that's a word, which is just another challenge as far as I'm concerned. Hey it was COLD out there and there are no style points on Lake Superior.

Old cutover site off CR 415 in Luce County.

Lake ...with attitude.

Light at the end of the tunnel, CR 415 in Luce County.

One way to know that you've arrived Up North. A woman once publicly berated me for saying signs had bulletholes in them. I rest my case..

Wasp nest directly overhead at Reid Green Canoe put-in on the Big Two Hearted River in Luce County.

Big Two Hearted, primordial beauty. The coho were in and also some early steel.

This view of the Big Two Hearted left me almost wordless. Let the photo speak for itself.

Another look at the Two Hearted just upstream of Reid-Green campground.

Young redtail looking for purchase.

The shore of Pretty Lake in Luce County. Gorgeous little trout lake with several others in easy hiking disstance and a fantastic campground at Pretty Lake. Great place for a float tube.

More Pretty Lake. Talk about aptly named.

No idea what these are other than fetching.

Check out the haircut on breezy boy.

Still water runs deep

UP Disconnect. Racing magazine next to a gutless pay phone. Huh.

03 Oct

More Catchup

Heirloom Tamaters (which is how my mom used to pronounce the word).

The “legitimate” news media, few that they are in our popcorn-fart-lite Internet age of no thought and  virtually no confirmation of sources or facts, continue to pour forth stories of natural disasters – but only those where there is loss of lives, massive property damage, or some sort of unique aspect to the weather or natural event.

At 10 p.m.,  September 10 at Muskallonge State Park, 30 miles north of Newberry, the winds on Lake Superior wailed at 100 mph and according to the national weather service 78 mph winds buffeted the park with such fury that the park manager ordered an evacuation of all 300 campers. Two Luce county deputies, two state troopers and Michigan DNRE conservation officer Mike Hammill  all showed up post haste to help oversee an orderly and safe  evacuation. With cool heads prevailing,  the park was emptied by o200, everyone moved south to town to Newberry High School, where the Red Cross stepped in, as did local residents to feed and take care of the campers. Townies brought food and water and opened their homes, pitching in to help strangers, because that’s what Yoopers do, not because it was required, or because they were asked, or for pay. They saw the need and stepped up, as they always do, because up there the right thing to do is what matters and how you look or who you are is irrelevant.  Yoopers walk the talk much of the rest of the country only talks when they refer to “this” community, or “our” community.  In the Yoop community isn’t a nice concept, it’s palpable and real.

Unblinking in the face of danger, Yoopers face reality with action. Sociologically the area is a unique cultural blend of Tea Party conservatism, old-line hippy, off-the-grid vets and government dole liberal socialist and union values The people and their values  are a main reason I set my books Above the Britch and employ the UP as a character —  because up dere, eh, da land she commands that all live by its rules.

Our cabin this summer and fall  was 300 yards from Lake Superior, which is like living in Grendel’s backyard. We could hear the monster growl or purr or go silent (which is rare). The attitudes of people who live near the lake range from love to hate, but all respect the monster’s capability for impartial fury. There are probably other places like the U.P. but I haven’t really found them yet, and frankly I’m not looking.

Enjoy the potpourri of pix that follow. Over.

Posing with 1896 Krag Jorgenson 30/40 carbine. No I didn't shoot with that wimpy foregrip, but I might as well have!

Stopped at the Farmer's Market in Kalamazoo one Saturday morning and this gent was playing his fiddle. Couldn't quite make out the tune and the rain was coming in fast and we hurried through and over to Azteka for our Saturday morning coffee and Mexican pastries.

Hot peppas for the palate and artists' eyes.

Peppas L'orange

Les Peppa rouge.

Sundry Squashies


02 Oct


Lots to catch up on, but for now a few photos until I can get my mind out of the washer and dryer.

When this is the first thing you see when you get to the river, you can be sure it will be a fine day. This was on the Pere Marquette River in September during the 33rd Annual Bullshido Fishing Camp.

Steak night at Bullshido camp. From left, Lars Hjalmquist, Robochef Peterson, Yankcanuck Bernard, Dickiebird Chamberlin and Al the Pal VanDerBerg. Da chow vass gut.

Dick Schwikert, Long-time keeper of the flame for the Pere Marquette Watershed Council and a long time friend dating back to our days at Upjohn. He lives on the river year round and know everything about it and the environs.

Ran across this at the Kalamazoo Farmer's Market one day in September. Got my attention!

Shannland, a new painting now hanging on a wall beside the Ford River, south of Esky.

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