Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Escanaba area

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A perfect weather day.  Blue, sunny skies, high about 75*, forecast low tonight of 50*. Carol checked the weather at home; heat (misery) index of 104*. No hurry to return to that. The three of us took a nice walk this morning to the day use area of the campground. We had the place to ourselves so I let Gopher run. The Bark River dumps into Lake Michigan in the day use area. Gopher had her usually fun time swimming and playing stick.

A game of stick in the Bark River.

We cooked on the grill again. Last night chicken and zucchini, this time sweet potatoes, one of our favorites, and hamburgers.  When we’re eating dinner, Gopher lays under the dinette. Once she senses that the meal’s about over, she crawls out and sits at the end of the table. The question on her face is perfectly clear “Did you save anything for the family dog?”.  We always do even if we could have comfortably finished everything that was cooked. Gopher’s not a picky eater; fruits, veggies, meat of course, ice cream, cookies, whatever.  If she thinks that perhaps we don’t see her sitting there, although it’s not easy ignoring a dog with her chin on the table, she’ll tap us on the leg with her snout.

Some friends of our lost their long term pet cat, Oreo, recently. We don’t like to even think about such things.

Sometimes Gopher will come up to me, sit down and just stare. I look into her eyes and would give anything to know what she’s thinking. I wonder what it must be like to be a pet dog. Spending your life with a collar around your neck, being chained up, relying on someone else for food and shelter, always being in a subservient position.  Not unlike being a slave in the old South I suppose. When I’m at a zoo, I wonder if the animals prefer the incredible boredom, but total security, of life in a zoo, or would they rather live free in the uncertainty of the wild. Be a pet dog or a coyote?  A house cat or a bobcat?  My guess is they would chose to be free. I read articles about people rescuing a sick or injured animal, tending to it then releasing it back into the wild. I don’t recall ever hearing of an animal that refused its freedom.

Since it’s supposed to get cold tonight, Carol wanted a fire. The campground we were at on Thursday, had a big pile of free firewood so I brought some with us for future use. I was sitting around the fire in shorts and a T shirt, Carol was bundled up in jeans and a
sweat shirt and Gopher was just laying around chewing on a piece of firewood.

Alex and Jennifer live in Northern Virginia right in the path of Hurricane Irene. Carol called them just to say hello. Jennifer is without power but, so far, Alex is OK.  Alex and the children are sleeping in the basement bedroom tonight just to be extra safe. The kids think it’s a great adventure.  Carol called Suzanne as well to talk about soccer angels and such. Seems Izzy’s new travel soccer team isn’t doing very well and she needs all the extra help she can get. Carol’s saying some special soccer prayers she knows, or makes up. I’m not sure which.  Can’t imagine it matters either.

Drove to Escanaba to do laundry and grocery shopping. The laundry was unique in that it also housed a tanning salon. You could wash your cloths and work on your melanoma simultaneously. The waterfront of Escanaba is very nice. Mostly parks with a nice paved path all along the waterfront. Gopher and I took a nice walk. We went to the city campground in Gladstone for the night.  $22/night for a nice site with electricity right on Little Bay de Noc and another paved trail.  Gopher enjoyed swimming and playing stick with a yellow lab.  After her swim, the three of us went walking. It’s supposed to get down to 49* tonight. We have enough firewood for one more campfire but Carol thought it would be too cold to sit by a fire tonight. :-) Another time. There are still some children in the campgrounds. School starts next week so after that we’ll have our choice of prime campsites about anywhere.

In a brochure we read about the annual migration of the Monarch Butterfly from Michigan to Mexico.  The article said this migration was the only know round trip migration of any insect. The butterfly’s congregate at an area called Peninsula Point Lighthouse Park at the end of a peninsula separating Little Bay de Noc and Big Bay de Noc.  The photo of the sign tells the story.
The road to the park is paved except for the last ¾ mile which is a one lane dirt road. The Forest Service information recommends a maximum vehicle length of 16' with a height of 8' past that point. There is no way Carol's scooter could go that distance on a dirt road and we had driven too far to turn back.
Gopher and I walked the road and decided we could make it just fine. A squeeze here and there, the odd low branch, but manageable as long as no vehicles were coming the other way. The park was well worth the drive. We got there about noon time. No Monarch’s to be found. We all walked around the park and generally enjoyed a perfect day. I climbed the lighthouse for a great view of the area. Gopher has claustrophobia so she wouldn’t even go through the entry door to the lighthouse.
 The plan was to wait as long as need be, overnight if necessary, to see the spectacle. About 5:00 a nice couple showed up and I went over to say hello. They were local. The women said the Monarch’s were running late this year because of strong winds from the south. Unlike birds, butterflies can’t fly into a headwind; they can only wait for a following wind.   Our total Monarch Butterfly count for the day was maybe four. Oh well.  Turns out there is a local “Monarch Hotline” to check on the status of the migration. Quite a big deal apparently.

Peninsula Point Lighthouse

Carol enjoying the great view

Tells the story

Monarch Butterfly

View from the lighthouse

We went to the Forest Service campground of Little Bay de Noc and got what is probably the very best campsite.  Nice and sunny with an unobstructed view of the bay. We’ll be here for the next three days. We can look across the bay and see the campground we stayed in at Gladstone last night. Tonight it was warm enough to have a campfire so we did. :-)
On the lookout for the Monarchs.

Our campsite.