Wednesday, August 09, 2006
UP pictures and the fish story
We would all say that we had a great time, despite the fact that we didn't catch anything bigger than a panfish and never caught one glimpse of a wolf. We enjoyed staying with our hosts, 'Doc' and Sue Lord, as seen in front of their country chalet.
Spotted: Two eagles, a loon, one moose, one bear but no otters and no wolves. I saw the bear from behind, so when I got home I had to tell my grandsons that I saw a bear butt on the trip.
Collected: A large number of very cool rocks - granites, agates, fossils and so on. Most of the rocks were from Little Girl's Point on Lake Superior, a beach composed almost entirely of various sizes of water-rounded rocks. My better half also found a great piece of driftwood which now graces one of our gardens. Our house is largely surrounded by gardens garnished with rocks from all over the United States and some driftwood pieces.
The story: The big fishing expedition on Island Lake was an unmitigated disaster. My wife took the canoe with Doc, a friend of hers since kindergarten, and I helped them launch out and paddle away before grabbing the rowboat off of the trailer. Did I mention that we hauled a rowboat and a canoe on an ATV trailer, which meant I did some creative things with rope? But we got there in one piece after traveling maybe fourteen miles down a gravel track through thick wilderness.
Did I mention that the canoe paddled away? I do mean far away, because it is a big lake with lots of islands and they took off far to the north to check for river otters before settling in to the business of fishing.
So I have Nathan and Amanda with me, which made sense. I'm a veteran of all kinds of boats and I figured rowing would be good exercise. It seemed that the kids would be less likely to fall out of a rowboat than they would a canoe, and less likely to tip it over as well. So we dragged the boat down the ramp into the water, threw in a few things like a tackle box and the floatation cushions, and then I steadied the boat as Nathan got in. Troubles! Just as I began to get in, too, I saw that a leak had sprung under one of the seats. In fact, it was a steady stream spurting water into the interior of the boat! I got Nathan to get out quick and we muscled the boat back onto the shore. We got everything out and tipped it upside down for an inspection. Three holes in the sides of the boat! Doc said he hadn't used it in a long time.....
So here we are with no means of getting out on the water. We fished off of the dock for awhile with no results. A bit of rock collecting and woods exploring took place, but mainly we talked and listened to the Durango's radio - good sound system, anyway. The sounds of The Who were blasting out over the previously serene waters.
It turned out that the canoe didn't fare too well, either. You should have a darned good reason for standing up in a canoe, and if you do you need good balance and the other person needs to sit quite still. I wasn't there to observe, but some part of that formula was not followed. Doc stood up in the canoe for some reason, lost his balance, and fell into the lake. They were in a shallow area near an island, so he wasn't in over his head...but he did wind up in a place where the water was two feet deep and then there was two more feet of muck. Debbie had a hard time helping him get dragged out of the muck, being on the petite side (I sometimes call her "My Portable Wife"). In the process of all of this, Doc lost his glasses. Now, Doc cannot see a darned thing without his glasses. Debbie does not, to say the least, have a natural navigation system built in to her brain. Therefore, much of their time was spent getting Doc out of the muck and finding their way back to the boat ramp. They didn't catch one single fish.
I had never visited the UP before without catching at least a few good-sized fish. Then again, this time we made exploring a top priority and allowed only a few hours for one fishing expedition, which failed miserably. We did catch a lot of rocks!
The drive up through Wisconsin was great in both directions. (You really need to stop at Kel's Diner if you ever wind up in Wausaukee!) The travel in the UP was terrific as well, smooth roads, beautiful scenery...in stark contrast to Illinois!
Driving to the north from Indiana, you either go up through Michigan, cross the Mackinac and then you are in the UP. It would be a very long drive West to arrive in the Hurley, Wisconsin area. So we had to drive through Illinois to travel through Wisconsin. But Illinois has had a very corrupt, Democratic administration for years, which in the case of the roads means lots of confusion and all sorts of toll booths. I like to say that the Democrats put the extra "I" in IDOT. (IDIOT, get it?) Heading up through Chicago, we figured, would be fine if we got there by 5:30 in the morning. NOPE! The Dan Ryan Expressway is down to one lane in one place and I cannot imagine what rush hour must be like these days! The very short expressway heading out north of Chicago demands $2.60 in tolls!
Coming back was worse! We came into Illinois far to the West, hoping to connect with the 294 bypass and then go around Chicago altogether. Haphazard road construction lengthened the trip as billboards bragged of "open road tolling" in which fewer toll booths would be employed. I don't know about that, but we paid $5.80 in tolls to slide around the city and head towards Indiana. Gotta feel sorry for the poor suckers who travel those roads every day! Then again, they voted the idiots in, didn't they?
Well in fact I am back and rested and will resume normal blogging. Cheers!