A Raft of Sea Otters

A Raft of Sea Otters

This photo was taken while on the Elkhorn Slough Nature Tour Boat Ride. This boat ride is on a pontoon boat and departs from the marina at Moss Landing and heads up river into the slough. As an aside, Moss Landing is where the better whale watching tours also leave. Why are they better? You can catch a whale watching cruise there or Monterey or Santa Cruz. Moss Landing is halfway between the other two launch points, which are about twenty miles apart, on either end of Monterey Bay. The whales like to hang out off of Moss Landing, because even though it doesn’t look like much of a river, Elkhorn Slough serves as the headwaters for the huge underwater canyon that runs through the center of Monterey Bay. It is this canyon and its abundance of deep sea life that attracts the whales. Now you can leave from Monterey or Santa Cruz, but you’ll spend half of your two hour tour just going and coming from Moss Landing. Wouldn’t you rather spend all of that time looking at whales?

Anyway, we’ve kind of graduated from whale watching tours. I’ve always seen whales on any of the Monterey Bay tours, but only glimpses, never any of those spectacular shots that are on all of the sales brochures. On the Elkhorn Slough tour rides you can see sea otters, seals, sea lions and birds, lots of birds. Dozens of different varieties of birds. The boat takes you as close to these animals as the law allows and they are usually pretty stationary. So, the biggest photographic challenge is the bobbing of the boat. A sunny day helps a lot with that.

Lush Paintbrush

Lush Paintbrush

There is a Confederate flag flying on Davitt Street in the Soo. I have not seen it, but Anne saw it yesterday. I can think of only one reason why someone would do such a thing, racism. I think that we are too far north up here to entertain any so-called southern traditions. It is a cowardly act, because in the five weeks that I’ve in the UP this summer, I have only seen one African American and he was a musician, performing at Pickles, so it is unlikely that he lives here and is gone.

There are two minority communities in the area, the Ojibwa and the Amish. The Bay Mills tribe are indigenous and have been living here since before the white man arrived. Their reservation serves as a focal point for their community, but intermarriage has allowed tribal members to spread out from there. When I first began coming up here “the Res” as it was referred to, was stereotypical of the “poor Indian”, with three derelict cars in every front yard. That was then. With the advent of their casinos and other commercial enterprises, they are now a prosperous community. Bicycling through it yesterday, I was amazed at the extent of the tribal services that are now available to members.

Where as the first peoples have always been here a relatively new addition to the Soo are the Amish. They are another prosperous community. In the past, they were known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, but hard work, combined with large families has led to their westward expansion. They have a thriving community in Missouri. Chippewa County is another new frontier. They’ve been here for more than a few years now, but as their numbers swell, so does their impact on the Soo. I mainly see their members driving their horse buggies down the roads leading to town, But I have also seen them in both Meijer’s and Walmart. They always seem to me to be a bit out of place in these stores, but I understand why they shop there too. We’ve counted three new Amish dwelling being erected this year, including one in town. Normally, they opt for a farm outside of town.

So, we have one racist reactionary, but there is also plenty of hope for the future. If this coward had tried his flag waving, an you know that it has got to be a he, in Saint Louis, losing his flag would be the least of his worries. It is high time to tamp down this kind of racist behavior and lock it up in the closet again. 

Baching It

Doing the Balanced Arch

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. So, while the girls were out clubbing, Carl and I went to town, baching it, sort of speak. I parked for free on Magazine, with the intension of eating at Karl’s, but all of their upstairs seating had been taken. Instead, we walked the length of Portage’s tourist row and ate at Superior Café. I had one of their varieties of avocado toast, while Carl had their Rueben. He drank a dark beer and I had a cider. It was good.

After lunch, we went around the corner and visited the Soo Historical Society. I was underwhelmed at first. Their display consisted of the usual collection of hand-me-down heirlooms / junk.  Then we met Rowan. Thirteen years old and already well over six feet tall, personable, knowledgeable and generally quite pleasant. He was volunteering at the historical society. He showed off some of the displays, but generally we just talked.

I asked if he was named after the member of the comedy team of Rowan & Martin, but that was way before his time and he didn’t know what I was talking about. He said that he was named after the type of tree. At this time his mother stuck her head in, checking out what too strange men were doing for so long with her boy. She said that his father wanted to call him Alder, but she put her foot down and picked Rowan, because of Rowan & Martin. After about an hour, we bade farewell. His mother wished us well with, “Have fun baching it.”

We walked back down tourist row, past Karl’s to the putt-putt golf course. Shot a relatively quick round and we both finished up with a hole-in-one. Meijer’s was next and then back to the cabin, beating the girls back. We did the Cozy Inn. It was slammed, supposedly because of a fishing derby. We ended up with way more whitefish than we needed, so, I see fish tacos in our not too distant future. Anne, Jay and Carl finished their redwoods puzzle last night.