Friday, August 29, 2008

Hanging in Ely

To both of my loyal readers, who may be wondering about my next North Shore adventure, I just wanted to say I'm alive and well in the North Woods, hanging in Ely, hiking, canoeing, sleeping in.

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

If an adventure occurs, but there is no cable to connect the digital camera to the computer to post the photo to the blog, did it really happen?

I'll leave it at that.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

North Shore plants...but in Montana!

As a North Shore naturalist, I have often explained how thimbleberries are found all around Lake Superior...and nowhere else in the eastern US. I tell folks that you have to go to the wetter western slopes of the Rockies to find thimbleberries again. So I was thrilled to find some of those huge leaves and delicious berries somewhere else---west! This is a geeky nature concept, but stick with me on it.

After three days of hiking at treeline in the Beartooth Mountains and on their dry eastern slope, Sally and I did a hike up Pine Creek, on the wetter western slope of the nearby Absorakas. Western slopes catch the moisture coming off the Pacific Ocean. And a parade of familiar plants had me feeling right at home. Not only thimbleberry, but also giant cow parsnip, wild rose, and these familiar fruits:

Not exactly Minnesota blueberries, but Montana huckleberries. Here's the plant itself with a berry:

As a naturalist, I'm always tossing out fun facts, some of which I only know from books. It's particularly nice to confirm what I've only read with real-life experiences like this!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I hate my dog...isn't she CUTE?

I hate our poodle, Chloe.

She's a standard poodle, supposedly. But she's small for her breed, the runt of the litter and nowhere near as "fun" and "loving" as poodles are supposed to be. I call her a sub-standard poodle. My friend Lisa Johnson of KUMD wanted a label here for's her first AND ONLY post, just for you Lisa.

Here's Little Miss Prissy-Pants and I at Artists Point in Grand Marais:

Sure, she's adorable, until she eats your coin purse or your watchband. If she likes you, and finds anything that smells like you, she destroys it.

Yeah, we had some fun this spring checking hiking trails, when she gets to run off leash because no one else is out mid-week in May. And after a long hot hike at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, it was sort of cute the way she drank up half of Little Two Harbors Bay.

Now, if we ever wanted to leave home as a family, we have to ask "What about the dog??" And darn it all if she doesn't enjoy the outing, the hike, the party. And it's pretty cute the way she sleeps so solidly after a five mile hike, wittle doggie dweams and all.

Aren't you a good girl now, aren't you??!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I saw three ships come sailing in...

On a perfect summer afternoon, three tall ships sailed into Duluth to kick off the maritime festival. It was one of those "I love Duluth" days. If I didn't live here already, I would have been talking to real estate agents before I left town. But as the picture suggests, we live here already and were swimming in the luscious water as the ships came in.

I love that feeling of being in the water with something magnificent. Chemistry tells us that a body of water is fundamentally one long string of connected water molecules. So as we're in that water with those tall ships, we're very nearly touching those ships, even though they were 2000 feet away.

The ships had been gathering far off shore all afternoon, waiting for their planned arrival time.

Then at 4:00-ish, right on schedule, they lined up and came, full sails a-flying, through the Duluth ship canal. "Little" Schooner Madeline led the parade. The "Pride of Baltimore 2" set off its cannon when it reached the piers. The US Brig Niagara, not to be outdone, set off its cannon too when it hit the piers...suffice to say, the bigger the ship, the bigger the cannon.

Yeah okay, I love Duluth. The crowds in Canal Park were super bad with the ships in port, but we expect that anyway, part of the price of living here. This could be a great annual event.