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Latrine duty?

Friday, 31 May 2013

Yep.  That was on my work list for this morning.  At least there were three of us working on that detail.  Remember all those hundreds of kids that have been visiting out at the Chippewa Picnic Area the last couple of weeks and all the rain?  Use your imagination to picture what this does to a pit toilet bathroom with five stalls.  Yuck! 

Add to that the fact that there is no running water there.  We had to haul in two of those big yellow 5 gallon water coolers that you see strapped onto construction trucks so we could wash the floors.  Apparently the mops have disappeared so we had to use a toilet brush and rags to clean the muddy floors.  Did I mention these were pit toilets?  P-U!!  After the picnic area, there was one other pit toilet to clean several miles away.  It was only a one holer, so we thought it would be a breeze.  Ha!  Turns out someone had gotten sick and spewed their guts all over the throne.  Sick smile  Our clean up crew consisted of myself, an intern, and a staff member, but I’m sure glad I won’t have this assignment very often.  It may be hard to believe, but the three of us really made the most of this chore and had a good time.

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I had a much more pleasant assignment for this afternoon; driving around to make sure the seven refuge information kiosks were well stocked with brochures.  Tomorrow is National Trails Day, and the refuge is celebrating by having the grand opening of the 14.5 mile section of the North Country Trail that weaves through the refuge.  I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Appalachian Trail, well the North Country Trail will be similar offering over 4000 miles of hiking from one end to the other.  I’ll get more information on it tomorrow at the celebration. 

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Because of all of the big wigs coming for the ribbon cutting ceremony tomorrow, making sure the kiosks were well stocked and spiffed up was on the priority list.  That’s my kind of assignment!  I could be that mallard duck in the sign above.  I’m sure glad that Rachel Carson woke up the world to the plight of our wild things.  She is one of my heroes.

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Of course, I grabbed my cameras before going out into the rain and driving to the kiosks.  With the dismal skies, the red-tailed hawks were hunkering down.

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                                               That is until I stopped to admire this beauty.

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                                                It decided to move on to a more remote location.

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I also found out where the white pelicans were spending this day… on Height of Land Lake.  This afternoon’s journey covered most of the roads on the refuge, and I was able to now feel comfortable with where things are at.  It takes a couple of weeks to get familiar with each different refuge.

Tomorrow I’ll be attending the National Trails Day celebration, and helping with the Photo Hike in the afternoon.  It’s supposed to be only in the 50’s with a brisk wind out of the north, so I’m really hoping the rain gets out of here over night.  I’m yearning for some warmer temperatures and sunshine.

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                                                                              THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

It’s official, mosquito season has begun!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

As of 7:00 pm this evening, I declare that the mosquito season in Minnesota has begun, and I’ve got the first two bites to prove it.  So now I’ll have to deal with ticks and mosquitoes.  Uf-duh.  I haven’t been to a National Wildlife Refuge yet where I didn’t have to battle biting bugs.  I guess it just goes with the territory.

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                                                                  Red-bellied woodpecker

The other 120 fourth graders from Moorhead, MN, cancelled their field trip to the refuge this morning.  It was a good thing they did because overnight and throughout the morning we had another inch of rain.  Kids and adults would have had a miserable time of it had they come.  That wraps up the school groups for this spring.

IMG_3038 IMG_3041      <-----/--^            Male purple finch.

Since my work for the day was cancelled, I decided to head to Detroit Lakes to take care of several errands.  Rainy weather really doesn’t matter when you need groceries, new windshield wipers for the rig, and scheduling the awning repair.

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                                                                      Female purple finch.

First off, I headed to Wold’s RV where I was able to order the new wipers, a set of throw rugs, and talk about the awning repair.  Two mobile RV techs will be coming out next Tuesday to get the awning restrung. 

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                                             Ruby-throated hummingbird visiting the oriole feeder.

Paul Dahl had a question about having the awning restrung, and I’ll try to better explain that with photos as the RV techs get it done on Tuesday.  Basically, the awning hasn’t ripped, but has started to come out of the groove on the roller bar at the bottom near the front of the rig, and at the top where it attaches to the roof in the back.  I’m sure that is the reason the awning arms where out of whack for closing properly.  I did check the motorized awning recall site, and my awning is not covered by that recall.  I feel it was those awful winds in the Dakotas that were the culprit. 

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                                                                 Female American goldfinch.

The skies cleared in the afternoon, and Emma and I were able to sit outside this afternoon so I could get these photos at the bird feeders.  It was a brief respite from the rains.  They have now started up again. 

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Emma on her thirteen-striped ground squirrel watch.  One of them has a tunnel right beyond the Hard Rock Bird Café pole.  That squirrel drives her to distraction.  Annoyed

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Minnesota Nice

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Didn’t think I’d have anything worth posting about tonight, but I was wrong.  We had 120 or so fourth graders from Moorhead arrive this morning for four different environmental education presentations.  I was slated to help out at the Water Cycle station.  Local volunteer Craig was doing the presentation to groups of 36 students at a time for 50 minutes each.  Since I’m new here, my assignments have been about helping rather than presenting.  This refuge has a great support system of local volunteers, many of whom are Minnesota certified Master Naturalists.  What a resource for these visiting school districts!  They do a marvelous and exhausting job each day that students visit.  These school groups are busy enough for all of us that there is no time to take pictures.

We got the whole four hour program in just in time before the rains began again.  I decided to give the wildlife drive a go on my way back to the rig even though it was raining.  I’m glad I did.

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The chestnut-sided warblers have arrived.  This fellow was the only thing I got pictures of today.  With dull overcast skies and rain, it didn’t make for many photo opportunities.  Can you see how puffed up he is against the inclement weather?

Once I got back to the rig, there was a break in the rain so Emma was able to spend some time outside.  Soon I heard the rumble of a lawn mower.  What?  Didn’t I just mow this whole area yesterday?  Cody, a staff member that looks like he’s about 14 years old, began to mow the same areas I covered, and looked perplexed as he approached all of my bird feeders in my front yard.  I hopped out so he wouldn’t mow them down and told him I had just mowed this place yesterday.  Apparently he didn’t know anything about that.  It would have seemed obvious to me, but then I’m an old fart and have the time to notice things like 2” grass as opposed to 8” grass.  Uf-dah!

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As I was sitting at my computer around 5:00 this afternoon, I noticed a van pull into Steve’s site next to me with a Wold’s RV sign on its side.  I threw open the window and asked if he was a mobile RV tech.  He was, so I asked him to stop by when he was done.  I figured he was installing a new invertor for Steve.

When he came over, I told him about my awning issues.  He took a look at it, climbed up the ladder to the roof, took out some screws, and re-aligned the awning and arms.  It now closes and locks like it is supposed to.  There is still a problem with the canvas needing to be restrung (?) through the tubing because it has been blown out of whack, but he suggested I call the Wold’s RV service department in Detroit Lakes about having that taken care of.  He felt it could be done here, on site, but that it would take two people to accomplish it.

I thanked him for fixing what he did, and told him I would be sure to call soon.  The charge for all of this?  Zero…Zip… Zilch!  Now that’s Minnesota Nice!!  I’m sure you can imagine what a relief this is for me.  I’m still going to investigate the recall on automatic awnings that a couple of you informed me about before I call Wold’s, but for now at least the awning is secure.

IMG_3000A bit out of focus, but I couldn’t pass up posting this last pic.  That little guy was just singing his heart out… ♫ ♪ ”Joy to the World!… Joy to boys and girls… Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea… Joy to you and me!” ♪ ♫

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy 

Got new wheels today

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

To celebrate Memorial Day, yesterday, Jack and I each got to do something we wanted to do.  First we headed for a casino.  What?  I have no interest in casinos, but Jack was on a mission.

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He was on the hunt for a couple of $1 poker chips.  He uses them for the center of some of his pine needle baskets.  Some of you may remember our escapades around Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR when we went out hunting longleaf needles when he visited me in 2012.  No longleafs around here, but there are casinos.  I think it takes about eight hours of work to weave a basket this size.  Of course, that doesn’t include the finding of the needles or their preparation for weaving.  This is an old Native American craft, and I think it’s rather poignant that these baskets are a melding of the old and new Native American culture.  Kind of sad to me.

After lunch at the casino, it was my turn to enjoy a different kind of hunt.  We went back to the refuge to try to find some morel mushrooms.  I have spent many an hour looking for them, but have never been successful.  Morel hunters won’t tell you where to find them, and it is a real social no-no to ask. 

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I did find some unusual looking mushrooms, but sorry to say, they were not morels.  Shucks!  I struck out again.  I believe ideally there should be rain and warm temperatures.  I did see a refuge visitor with a mesh bag of morels a few days ago, but that was right after our 3” of rain.  I’m not giving up though.  This could be the year I finally get to fry up some tasty morels that I’ve found myself.  The going price for them right now is $25/pound!

As for my new wheels?  It was back to work for me today, and as I attended the weekly staff meeting, I asked if I needed special training to operate a riding lawn mower on this refuge.  The grass is getting pretty long around the RV sites, and I offered to cut it.  Several eyes lit up around the table when I said that.  The deputy manager asked if I could start mowing today.

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So here is my new, to me, set of wheels.  I’ve never ridden a Deere before.  Winking smile With a big celebration planned for Saturday with lots of big wigs arriving, they were thrilled that I could help spruce up the place.  I’ve never minded mowing as long as I can ride and not push.  So now I guess I’m the new groundskeeper for RV pads, bunkhouse, maintenance area, and temporary headquarters for the duration of my stay.  Sure beats being inside!  Of course, there was some training involved… mostly in the safety area.  I put on my boots, safety glasses, and ear protection plugs, and off I roared.  I think the area is looking pretty spiffy!  (and I can drive home for lunch!)

After work, I drove to Detroit Lakes to meet Jack for a fare thee well dinner.  No Waffle House this time!  The Ice House Restaurant had linens on the table and cloth napkins.  That’s what I’m talkin’ about!  I had the garlic steak with wine cooked mushrooms while Jack had the broiled fresh Red Lake walleye.  Very tasty, indeed.  We had a nice visit this go around with lots of fun activities.  I look forward to the next time our paths cross.

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When I got back to the rig, I sat outside with Emma for a while and replenished the new addition to the Hard Rock Bird Café.  I bought an oriole feeder the other day, and boy has it been popular with the locals!  You can see how they’ve attacked the orange half, and Ms. Baltimore Oriole finds the grape jelly irresistible.  Seems like it might be about time to hang out some string pieces for the orioles to use to build their nests.  Maybe tomorrow if I get the chance.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

The Mighty Mississippi

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Well, we were off again yesterday morning on another road trip.  Eventually we made our way to Bemidji, MN, to find Paul Bunyan and Babe. 

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And find them we did at a nice park downtown along the lake shore.  We also encountered Chief Bemidji and a marvelous metal sculpture dedicated to all pow-wow dancers.  Jack got up close and personal with Babe, and found a bird’s nest in her nostril!  Did you know that these statues are thought to be the second most photographed icons in the nation, behind only Mount Rushmore?

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Then it was on to Itasca State Park.  Itasca was the first of all the Minnesota State Parks, and is famously known as being the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River.  Because of all the recent rains and the spring thaw, we were not able to straddle the headwaters that emerge from Lake Itasca, but what a difference from crossing the Mississippi down in, say, Baton Rouge.  I tried to get Jack to hop the rocks into the middle of the headwaters, but he just wouldn’t do it! Baring teeth smile  I was looking for a good action shot.  He sure can be stubborn at times.

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Today was a much more relaxing day as we stayed on the refuge and decided to drown a few worms in Lost Lake.  I’ve always enjoyed fishing, and it has been way too long since I’ve taken time to do it.  The weather forecast was not good, but it turned out to be a simply gorgeous six hours spent enjoying the solitude by having the whole lake to ourselves.  With it being Memorial Day Weekend, I was happily shocked that no one else came to take advantage of this beautiful place.  The birds were singing, the sun was shining, and the fish were biting!

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Here’s Jack’s monster catch of the day.  I’m surprised he can hold it with one hand! Rolling on the floor laughing Ha Ha!  He was mostly using artificial lures, while I just stuck to the worms.  (I do have to admit that I didn’t take a picture of the Northern Pike that he caught and released to grow up some more.)

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And here is what I ended up with using my lowly worms.  Enough perch and one biggie sunfish to provide me with about three meals.  What a fun time I had, and it was such a treat to have someone help me with tangled lines and behead and gut the fish!  You rock, Jack!  Guess I better quit for now and get busy trying to filet those fish…

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                                                                                THE END!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

It was a very LARGE day… Part 2

Saturday, 25 May 2013

After visiting the Big Books at the Fergus Falls library on Friday, we headed out to find the last big thing in Fergus Falls.

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It was the Big Canada Goose that was located on the grounds of the Otter Tail County Historical Museum.  It was not as impressive as some of the other big things we had seen, but the bonus was that the museum was open and it was free.

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It turned out to be one of the largest and best county museums that I have ever visited.  I couldn’t believe all of the displays they had depicting life in Otter Tail County from the time of the early Native Americans to the present.  Two of my favorite things were the information on how the county, lake, and river got their name of Otter Tail, and the cedar waxwing portrait made out of butterfly wings. (top right pics in the collage)

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As the skies were darkening with rain clouds, we hurried on to what we thought were the last two Roadside America attractions for the day.  How do you like this ‘Booming Prairie Chicken’?

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It’s located just off the exit for Rothsay, MN.  I’m not sure if this bird is endangered or not, but it is quickly declining.  I sure would like to see one of these males displaying like this in early spring.  It’s on my bucket list.  Next week, I’m going to check to see if it’s too late to get a peek at this ritual.

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Charles Caleb Colpon once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  Ha!  Okay, Jack.  What do you think you’re doing?  Buzz off!  Don’t you know I’m trying to become the queen of ‘The End’ shots? Nyah-Nyah

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The last scheduled stop on our tour on Friday was in Pelican Rapids, MN, to see the World’s Largest Pelican, and we found it perched at the dam overflow behind the visitors center.

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The rain was beginning to fall as we hurriedly got these shots while not so legally parking Jack’s big dually truck in a fifteen minute space for Post Office customers.  Of course, one of Jack’s hobbies is taking pictures of Post Offices, so I didn’t feel too guilty about parking there and hopping out for these shots of a breeding white pelican.  I think I’ll probably make a trip back to Pelican Rapids some time this summer to get pictures of all the pelican statues around town.

From there, we beat a trail back to Detroit Lakes, but it turned out we had one more stop to make.

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As we were tooling down one of the county roads, we spotted this roadside oddity that isn’t listed on Roadside America.  It seems a John Deere green-headed ostrich was pulling a John Deere wagon down the hill.  Jack thought it might be a manure spreader, but I’ve had enough of crap dusters for a while so I chose to think of it as a Conestoga wagon. Winking smile

We went on another long adventure today, and the plans for tomorrow could be a total bust or a most memorable experience.  I guess I’ll be a bit behind in posting and reading blogs for a few days, but you know how it goes… Carpe Diem!  (Seize the Day!)

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                                                                               THE END!! 

(I have to add that this is one of the more anatomically correct ‘the ends’ lately.  It even includes a ‘vent’. In love)

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

It was a very LARGE day… Part 1

Friday, 24 May 2013

I had compiled a list of seven oddities I wanted to see today with the help of my Roadside America investigations that I made late last night.  Jack was up for the adventure, so early this morning I drove over to his campground on the outskirts of Detroit Lakes.  The first place we stopped wasn’t open yet, but the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center for Detroit Lakes was, so we stopped there and I picked up a bag full of information on interesting things to do in the area while I am here for the next four months.

_MG_8726                     Then we were off to the town of Frazee, MN, to see the World’s Largest Turkey. 

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It was located in “The Best Lion’s Park By a Dam…Site”!  As we arrived, we both needed to visit the rest rooms first.  Interesting… no door to the restroom and no doors for each of the three stalls.  Surprised smile I was sure glad it wasn’t a busy day at the park!  The toilets did flush, however, and there was TP.  Makes one wonder what other Lion’s Parks are like…

An interesting side note about this large turkey, is that a number of years ago they were getting ready for their annual turkey festival, and members of the fire department were doing some repairs to the big bird.  One of them was using a torch and guess what?  The bird went up in flames!  It created quite a stir.  The bird was rebuilt, and I assume repairs are now made without torches.

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As we then headed to Fergus Falls, we drove through the town of Vergas, and lo and behold found the World’s Largest Common Loon in a small park along side a lake.

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This gem wasn’t even on my list as I thought Vergas wasn’t near our route.  I’m not sure why I get a kick out of these big things, but I do.  I remember dragging my daughter and 87 year old mother to see the World’s Largest Sausage in Canada on our trip to Alaska in 2004.  It’s kind of like geo-cashing to my way of thinking, only there’s a BIG bonus when you get there. Rolling on the floor laughing I thought it was fitting that we visited the Minnesota state bird.  Jack just groaned.

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First up on my list in Fergus Falls was “Otto” the large river otter.  Seems he was built by a bunch of high school students. 

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Otto is located in Grotto Park in the city, and several people were taking their lunch in the park as we visited.

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As an added bonus to Otto, there was a great egret rookery located on a small island in the lake that the park surrounds.  Lots of egrets were busy bringing nest building supplies to the tree tops.  A little surprising to find this rookery right in the middle of town.

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The Fergus Falls Public Library has a large sculpture of a stack of books at the corner of it’s parking lot.  It was a nice touch, but not as huge as the other things we had found.  I would have liked to see some titles on the spines of those books.  If you look closely at the background in two of the pics, you’ll see the grain silos.  I got a kick out of those in the middle of town too.  It surely shows the importance of agriculture to this area of the state.

By this time, we were only done with half of the list, but I think I’ll leave the rest for another post.  This is long enough for tonight.  We were having a great time, but needed to stop for lunch before pressing on with the rest of this adventure.  The clouds were also creeping in after a beautiful morning.  As I’m writing this tonight, it is once again raining…

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                                                THE END… TO THE THIRD POWER!!  Open-mouthed smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

 

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