Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Who knew?

 

Our Allison transmission has 6 gears.  I always took that at face value.  Our Aladdin system has a digital display that shows what gear the transmission is in.  I can watch it shift from 1 through 6.  There is a letter that follows every gear; the letter “L”.  I took that to mean “Low”, and that maybe some heavier duty version of the transmission, for a bigger rig or maybe a semi truck-tractor, has a “High” range to go with the Low range.  But driving on a slow steep winding road to a campground, when first gear wasn’t quite getting it, I noticed that the transmission downshifted.  It downshifted from 1st gear Low, to…. …what?  I switched over to the digital display to watch while I messed with hills and gears and figured out that there are two more gears than I knew about.  There is 1st gear “C” and 2nd gear “C”.  If terminology I remember from my youth still applies, that would be a compound low for first gear and second gear.  Our six speed transmission has eight different gears.

 

Who knew?

 

 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Loons

 

One of the reasons we were up in the Great North Woods was to hear the loons calling.  Here is a link to a terrible video, we were in a canoe, but we got the audio of at least 8 Common Loons all having a conversation with each other at once.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kz88vhZrGLI

 

 

Friday, August 27, 2010

St Vrain State Park

A little evening fishing with the grandkids.


This is just *the* place for sunsets.



Colorado

 

That particular travel loop is done.  We’re back in Colorado to hang out with the kids again.  We’ll stay here for about a month; until the end of September.

 

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&ll=43.389082,-92.504883&spn=8.987598,28.45459&z=6

 

 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another achievement

Is there no limit? Not only do we apply our advanced observational skills to birding, we use them to enhance other aspects of our lives as well. This may top our best bird identification ever.

See this?


Alongside the trail…



Black Bear!


Monday, August 23, 2010

The morning view






It really is this empty here. It’s a boater’s lake though, and it gets really busy on the weekends.


Barn silos. Apparently silos are never for storing stuff the farmer/rancher produced and is going to sell. It’s always for storing stuff the farmer/rancher is going to use. The stuff in it is called silege (makes sense). I’m familiar with ensilage. We’ve seen and smelled plenty of that at Bill and Marge’s farm. It’s corn or maize shredded into bits, piled in a trench covered with plastic with old tires on top to weight it down, and allowed to ferment. It makes a cattle feed for the winter. We didn’t put the two together. Sileage (ensileage) from silos. A different way of doing the same thing. An anaerobic decomposition of chopped up crops so it ferments and preserves (and is easier for the livestock to digest).


Part of the mystery for us is that all over the upper Midwest we saw these silos, but we rarely saw enough stock to make us think that these properties needed a source of stock feed.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Parting shots

of Lake Superior around Marquette:




Spent the day driving through Norman Rockwell’s head. Every barn looks like this:


What do you suppose the attached silos are for; storing stuff they’ve grown, or storing stuff they bought to feed to other stuff?

Through Madison, crossed the Mississippi into Iowa at Dubuque, down through Mount Vernon to the Army Corps of Engineers, Sandy Bottom campground, on Coralville Lake. Here’s our camp.




Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wisconsin

 

We’re headed south.  We crossed out of Michigan at Iron Mountain and back into Wisconsin.  South through Green Bay, Fond du Lac, and Oshkosh.  We’re settled for the night at the Playful Goose RV Park in Horicon.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&ll=45.874712,-89.143066&spn=8.612083,28.45459&z=6

 

Judy and I talked about extending our trip and going to Niagara Falls, but Judy read some campground reviews for that area.  They were terrible.  They go into lockdown every night and still stuff get stolen or trashed.  I told her to look at campgrounds on the Canadian side, because they’re so much nicer than we are, and she said that’s where she was already!  We decided to go to Iowa instead.

 

The weather is warmer here in Wisconsin.  We’re back into the mid 80s.

 

We were in Michigan for three days, but we didn’t see very many birds.  Either it’s not very birdy where we were, or most of the migrants have already headed south.

 

Our Upper Peninsula count:

Canada Goose

Mallard

Common Merganser

Double-crested Cormorant

Broad-winged Hawk

Killdeer

Ring-billed Gull

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Red-headed Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Blue Jay

American Crow

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

American Robin

European Starling

Common Yellowthroat

Common Grackle

American Goldfinch

 

 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Along the way

Some curious black bear yearlings.



If you’re in Ely, Minnesota, you have to stop at the Stony Ridge CafĂ© for a burger. They have 50 different hamburgers on the menu.

It’s hard to find. It’s well off the main drag, and when you first get there, it doesn’t look like much. Just one little door.


But go through and out back, and it gets better.




Everything about the meal is homemade. It really was a very good burger.



Thursday, August 19, 2010

Along the way




Keep out of skunk trap? You have to tell people to stay out of the skunk trap?

Birds

 

Still seeing good birds.  Green Heron, Osprey, many Bald Eagles, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-eyed Vireo, Grasshopper Sparrow, Purple Finch again.

 

The Iron River area birds from earlier this week:

 

Canada Goose

Common Merganser

Common Loon

Double-crested Cormorant

Green Heron

Turkey Vulture

Osprey

Bald Eagle

American Kestrel

Merlin

Ring-billed Gull

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Kingbird

Red-eyed Vireo

American Crow

Common Raven

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

American Robin

Nashville Warbler

Grasshopper Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Brown-headed Cowbird

Baltimore Oriole

Purple Finch

American Goldfinch

 

 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yoopers

 

We’re not really Yoopers.  We just found the hat.

 

But here we are.  The Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&ll=46.528635,-88.000488&spn=8.510549,28.45459&z=6

 

Not far from Marquette.  Still around Lake Superior.  We’ve been to the lower portion of Michigan before, but never the upper.  In California parlance, we’re in NoMi (as opposed to SoMi).  (NoCal and SoCal.)

 

It was raining this morning when we woke up in Wisconsin, and it rained all the way here.  I think we need a windshield wiper on the Rearview Camera in back.  When it’s raining while we’re moving, all I can see in my camera screen on the dash are giant water droplets dancing.

 

Driving in the rain gets me to thinking about the weight of various machines and their tendency to hydroplane.  It occurs to me that because we’re so heavy, we might not have the same tendency to hydroplane as a car would.  I wondered this in a trip report a year or so ago, and got some answers, but it’s still an issue in my head.  I don’t know the physics of it, but it seems to me if you have a vehicle with a certain size tire (say, a bicycle with bicycle tires) it will have a tendency to hydroplane at a certain speed.  If you multiply the weight of that vehicle by ten, on the same size tires, I would think it would push the tires through the water and keep it on the road longer.  Which brings me back to the motorhome.  We weigh 35,000 pounds, so we’re pushing down really hard on the road.  We have bigger tires than a bicycle, though, so we can’t really address the tendency to hydroplane just from weight.  It must be a calculation of weight, combined with the footprint of the tires.  But on our tires, if we multiplied the weight by a factor of ten, would we be less likely to hydroplane?  (at least until the tires burst because they’re not rated for ten times the weight.)

 

Now we’re in the Eastern Time Zone, but we’ve left our clocks on Mountain Time.  No struggling with time zone changes for us!  We still stay up for the news (Colorado channels).  All our neighbors go to bed really early.  And you wouldn’t believe what time it gets light!

 

 

Tower/Ely

The Tower/Ely bird list from last week.

Mallard

Ruffed Grouse

Common Loon

Osprey

Bald Eagle

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel

Ring-billed Gull

Common Nighthawk

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Eastern Kingbird

Blue Jay

Black-billed Magpie

American Crow

Common Raven

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

American Robin

Cedar Waxwing

Tennessee Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Savannah Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Common Grackle

American Goldfinch

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wisconsin

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&ll=46.619261,-90.98877&spn=4.248153,14.227295&z=7

We love this park. It’s beautiful. It has full hook-ups, 50 amp service, the people are friendly, and the rates are reasonable. It’s quiet and has forests, clearings, birds, a lake, canoes, and boats to rent. The weather is cool at night and 70s during the day.





We can’t stay here.
We hardly get any cellphone and the Verizon internet works at a crawl. I say that I can work without internet if I already have something on my computer to work on, but it doesn’t really work out that way. When the internet is slow, I realize so much of my work involves exchanging information, I really need a good connection or I spend way much too much time waiting for uploads, downloads, transfers, and research.

But still, Loons. Eagles…





It’s a great place.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Birding adventures

From Colorado in July, we traveled to the Fargo/Moorhead area to get the Bobolink, a life bird. We figured we could work hard to get one in Texas in the winter (or get lucky), or just go where they live in the summer and get them easily. Based on Thayer’s abundance graph, we expected to see 30 to 100 a day. With considerable effort the first day, we got exactly *one* male Bobolink. We spent a week where they’re supposed to be common and that was the only one we got. Maybe fall comes early for Bobolinks and they all scatter to somewhere else as soon as they’re through nesting.

Meanwhile, much farther north in Minnesota, Bald Eagles every day. Common Loons in breeding plumage. And another life-bird. Ruffed Grouse! (Through the windshield, so he’s a little hazy.)


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Birthday surprise

Lindsay surprised Matt for his 38th birthday. A Lamborghini for a day!


Happy Birthday Matt!

Wisconsin

Now we’re in Wisconsin, and it’s totally different from Minnesota:


You can see that Wisconsin is totally blue, while Minnesota is totally green.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

We have a problem

There are blank states on our map. One of them, Wisconsin is only one state away from where we are now in Minnesota.



Friday, August 13, 2010

Who knew?

Just as we were leaving town, we discovered the only Frank Lloyd Wright designed service station in the country right there in Cloquet, Minnesota.






Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pileated Woodpeckers

One of our all-time favorite birds is the Pileated Woodpecker. We got lucky, and got some good looks at two of them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A milestone

 

The medicated stent keeps my heart working.  As part of the deal, I take Plavix for a year to keep the stent working.  Plavix is not a blood thinner.  It’s more like a blood lubricant.  It prevents clotting by making the blood platelets more slippery.  Whatever, it’s working.  I’ll idly scratch a mosquito bite and next thing I know, blood is running down my leg toward my shoe.  No clotting by Band-aid Boy!

 

The side-effects aren’t fun.  My neck aches and it feels like someone poked me in the solar plexus.  No problem though.  Advil helps the sore neck.  I make a mess from time-to-time and ruin some clothes, but what the heck.  It’s for a good cause.  So what’s the milestone part?  I started the Plavix a month ago.  One bottle of pills per month.  I finished the first bottle today.  Only 11 bottles to go!

 

 

Meanwhile, we’ve moved north.  We’re at the Fortune Bay RV Park outside Tower, Minnesota.

 

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&ll=47.41322,-92.345581&spn=2.092764,7.113647&z=8

 

 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday

There is a blues festival in town starting tomorrow. The KOA here is all booked up. We’ll head north tomorrow.

While we were here we had good looks at Common Loons,


…a juvenile Peregrine Falcon,


…and pitcher plants.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Day-trip

Sunday was a driving day. Exploring the North Shore of Lake Superior.

135 miles up the coast to Grand Marais for a fish and chips lunch on the waterfront. Back by way of Temperence River State Park. They have a really nice campground there, you can hear the water lapping at the shore, but it’s booked solid for the rest of the summer so we can’t go stay there.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.




Gooseberry Falls State Park:




It was a four state park day.

And we got the Purple Finch.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bemidji area birds

 

We Saw White-Winged Scoter, Ruffed Grouse, Pileated Woodpecker, and several warblers while we were in the Bemidji area.  The Scoter and Ruffed Grouse are life-birds.

 

Here’s the list:

Canada Goose

Trumpeter Swan

Wood Duck

Mallard

Ring-necked Duck

White-winged Scoter

Common Goldeneye

Common Merganser

Ruffed Grouse

Common Loon

American White Pelican

Double-crested Cormorant

Osprey

Bald Eagle

Broad-winged Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel

Peregrine Falcon

Franklin's Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Black Tern

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Kingbird

Warbling Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Common Raven

Tree Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

Cedar Waxwing

Golden-winged Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

American Redstart

Common Yellowthroat

Chipping Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Red-winged Blackbird

Common Grackle

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

 

 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy Anniversary to us!

Five years in the Beaver Monterey. My how time flies.

I misrepresented the Bemidji KOA. It’s a busy place; mostly with overnighters. It fills up every night and clears out the next day. I took a picture of the wide open view out our windshield in the late morning. We really enjoyed the KOA and so did Annie. She immediately adopted Roger and Sue next door. She went to their house for a play-day every day. Now we’ll stay in touch with them as we travel and watch for the next time for Annie to get her Roger and Sue Fix.

It didn’t feel like time to go yet, but we left anyway. There are a few more things in Minnesota we want to see.

Off we went to the east on Highway 2. Know what we noticed about Minnesota roads? They’re really stingy with their speed limit signs. They don’t put them out after major intersections. If you turn onto a highway, you can drive for miles and miles and not know what the speed limit is. The only way you know is when you get to the next town, and it tells you to slow down to 30 mph. On the way out the other side of town, there will be one sign telling you what the highway speed is. Don’t miss it. It’s going to be the only one until after the next town.

We arrived at the Cloquet KOA. (Think Croquet when pronouncing the city name.)

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=107013362562471418011.00047964b60d16d130156&ll=37.788081,-93.427734&spn=38.763291,113.818359&z=4

It’s outside Duluth. We keep hearing about the North Shore of Lake Superior above Duluth. We’ll day-trip to check it out tomorrow.

We looked around for a place to take a walk here near the RV Park and discovered Jay Cooke State Park. It’s right on a scenic section of the St. Louis River.





Their bird list says they have Ruffed Grouse, American Woodcocks, and Purple Finches here. The thunderstorm sent us back to the car wet before we could find out.



Friday, August 6, 2010

Blast from the past

 

You just never know.  We’re in Bemidji, Minnesota, having a visit with the motorhomers next to us and it turns out there is a connection to our past.  As we were growing up in Southern California, listening to tunes like the Bristol Stomp, our now-neighbor Mark, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was busy singing it.  Remember the Bristol Stomp?  He’s still singing it.

 

http://www.thedovells.com/index.html

 

You just never know.

 

 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bemidji KOA

Enjoying it here. Comfortable summer weather. Full hookups. Good cellphone and internet from Verizon. Nice people. Interesting places to explore.

The morning view.



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Advanced birding

As experienced birders, we pride ourselves on being able to identify birds from any of a number of different characteristics. It might be plumage, location, silhouette, voice. A single call note. A flash of color. A single feather.

Here, our crowning achievement….

Canada Goose




Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday

 

On this day, today, August 3rd, 2010, absolutely nothing happened in Bemidji, Minnesota.  Not as far as I know anyway.  Sat at my desk.  Worked.  Judy did some errands.  Saw a few birds out the window.  Ran a mile at midday.  Walked back.  Saw a Vesper Sparrow.  Talked with a potential client in San Antonio, New Mexico.  Friends of Bosque del Apache NWR.  Bosque del Apache NWR is a place Judy and I love.  They have quail running about.  It would be fun if we got that job.  Saw a Downy Woodpecker out the window.  Ordered out pizza for dinner.  Watching for the Northern Lights.

 

Nothing.

 

 

Monday, August 2, 2010

July

 

July was a good month for birds.  Traveling through Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota, we saw Trumpeter Swans, Wood Ducks, Brown Creepers, Golden Crowned Kinglets, Golden Winged Warblers, and a Bobolink.  Good variety.  Here is the whole list:

 

Canada Goose

Trumpeter Swan

Wood Duck

Mallard

Common Goldeneye

Common Merganser

Common Loon

Pied-billed Grebe

Western Grebe

American White Pelican

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Turkey Vulture

Osprey

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Broad-winged Hawk

Swainson's Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

American Kestrel

Killdeer

Spotted Sandpiper

Ring-billed Gull

Black Tern

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

Great Horned Owl

Common Nighthawk

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-headed Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Western Wood-Pewee

Eastern Phoebe

Western Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird

Warbling Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

Black-billed Magpie

American Crow

Common Raven

Horned Lark

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Violet-green Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

Rock Wren

House Wren

Marsh Wren

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Golden-winged Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

American Redstart

Common Yellowthroat

Spotted Towhee

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Black-headed Grosbeak

Lazuli Bunting

Bobolink

Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Orchard Oriole

Bullock's Oriole

House Finch

Pine Siskin

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

 

And to start off August, on Sunday, we got a lifer.  A White Winged Scoter on Bemidji Lake!  Now we have all three North American Scoters.  Lucky us!