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. 

Baby Got Back

Industrial Swift

I like big boats. I cannot lie. You other boaters can’t deny that when a ship sails by with an itty bitty waist and with big round turbines spinning in your face. You get sprung. You want to pull up to dock, because you notice that boat was stuffed.

I know that I’ve done this parody before, but this boat inspired me to do it again. Up here at the cabin, we regularly monitor the passing marine traffic. We even have an App for that. A salty or ocean going vessel (As opposed to the more common lake boats.), like this one is always a big deal.

Frequently, they require the services of a pilot, who has to be ferried out to meet them. We are positioned to see these down bound meet and greets. There is an area just outside the shipping channels that we refer to as the parking lot (Think a cellphone lot for big boats that I like, or did I mention that already?) and is where the courageous pilot leaps from his bobbing pilot boat onto the heaving gangway of the visiting international ship. Not a job for the faint of heart.

More than a few of these salties have been hauling these turbine blades. Always up bound, I think that they are made in Germany. Driving around the Midwest, it is now not uncommon to see windmill farms stretching as far as the eye can see. Canada seems to be even more aggressive in the adoption of this new technology. No matter what President Blowhard says, coal is dead. You can think of everyone of these Yuge fan blades as another nail in its coffin. 

I enjoyed a quiet birthday. We went out to dinner at Zorba’s on Portage, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. Afterwards, back at the cabin, we enjoyed hummingbird cupcakes that Anne and I had made.

Today was laundry day. We got an earlier than normal launch to the laundromat, but in our haste, we forgot to bring Bubs and Harry’s laundry. Harry ran it into town, arriving at about the time that we were finishing up the first round. So, a day of double duty laundry. When we eventually finished, we went to lunch. We tried a new place, at least new to us, Superior Café. This is a multiheaded place that features outdoor recreation gear, beer, the accoutrements for live music, a full coffee bar, food and games. We had lunch there, but it looks like a great place to hangout. When the boys get here, I’ll recommend it to them. I’m sure that they’ll love it, with its excellent selection of gear, beer and joe.

A Convocation of Eagles

Immature Golden Eagle

I’ve always said that when it is hotter than hades in Saint Louis, the weather here on Lake Superior is perfect. During this week’s heatwave I have been judicious in refraining from pointing this out, but now that the heatwave is passing, I feel that I can do this without flashing too much schadenfreude about the web. It was sunny, but there was a pretty good blow today. We kept a fire going, to ward off the cold. I of course wore just shorts and a t-shirt and only occasionally a vest.

Both Anne and I spent a good deal of time in the kitchen. I made another batch of “California” chicken salad for lunch. We made Hummingbird cupcakes, but not with real hummingbirds. It’s a Jamaican dish. We made dinner réchauffer, repurposing the Chicken Tartarin, adding a medley of veggies and couscous. I also turned the leftover garlic bread into Texas toast. After dinner, I helped Anne ice the cupcakes and of course performed the task of being chief bottle washer.

Pictured is an immature Golden eagle. We also saw, but didn’t photograph Bald eagles. I say this even though Golden eagles are rare east of the Mississippi, because our tour boat captain said so. He first told us this and then later added justification. Like, “the height of a female Golden eagle is 41″, while the height of a Bald eagle is only 36″ and the wingspan on the Golden eagle is 45″, while the Bald eagle only has…” You get the point. I’m a birder or at least I like birds and in the past, I have gotten a bit fanciful in my bird identifications. I shouldn’t impugn this guy’s expertise, because he seemed more knowledgeable about natural science than I am, but the more he spoke, the less convinced I became. Still, who am I to question authority? 🙂

On the way back, our illustrious captain began to riff in his running patter. He saw a group of geese swimming and told us that they were called a gaggle of geese, but if they had been flying above, they would have been a wedge. He went on from there, elucidating that a group of hummingbirds is called a charm.

Then he departed from the avian class, with a query to the ship’s company, what do you call a group of baboons? The answer to this old joke of course is a congress, which elicited a few chuckles, but I was concerned. With the past week’s racist attacks on congresswomen of color and the history of racists comparing people of color to primates, I couldn’t help wonder if there was some racist subtext going on here? Maybe I’m being too woke? Maybe he wasn’t woke enough? Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt? Maybe not. 

Terrible Tilly

Tillamook Lighthouse, Oregon

For years, Tillamook Rock was a sanctuary for wildlife. Then in 1879 the birds scattered, when high explosives were used to blast this basalt rock. A boom marked the commencement of lighthouse construction. The top third of the rock was removed. For 500 brutal days, through howling winds, pounding waves, dense fog and bitter cold the lighthouse was built, earning it its nickname. For 76 years until 1957 the light from Terrible Tilly shone its warning beacon out to sea. While it was operating the wildlife stayed away. After the lighthouse was shuttered, the wildlife began to return. Closed to the public, it is an important nesting site for the Common Murre. If you look closely at the above photo, you can see dozens of sea lions resting at the base of the rock, just above the surf.

Today was laundry day. Anne and I did it all. Bubs and Harry came into town and we joined them at Penny’s for lunch. Later we shopped at Meijer’s.

Switching now from Terrible Tilly to Terrible Trump, I cannot stay silent over his recent spate of racist tweets and statements. He has repeatedly attacked four freshmen congresswomen of color, using the racist dog-whistle of telling them to go home. Three of the four have known no other home than this country and all four are US citizens. While it is certainly permissible to disagree with their politics. It is unacceptable to employ racists tropes, as Trump has done. While his behavior is hardly surprising, the silence from the Republican Party is even more distressing. Their silence enables the #RacistInChief. 

Baby Sea Otters

Sea Otter with Clam

When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.

Jane has been asking me for pictures of Sea Otter babies. Nay, demanding them! Upon careful review of our photos, I did not find any pictures of quality that I could publish. I offer this dining otter instead. The problem is that we were shooting from a bobbing boat that by law was not permitted to approach the marine mammals closely and they are dark furred creatures, which slows shutter speed, further exacerbating the difficulty of getting a good shot. Instead, I offer the above photograph as substitute. I do not expect Jane to be fooled, a shellfish is not the same as baby otters, but maybe we can just clam-up about this now?

Turning now to more local wildlife, of the six-legged variety, the state bird of Michigan, the mosquito, which up north here is especially troublesome this year. Like the rest of the Midwest, the UP has gotten more than the usual amount of rain and these little demons have multiplied as a result. Light winds have made venturing outside unpleasant. Even Harry has resorted to using Off! bug spray. On our first night here, I was sitting around with Anne and Anne and Bill. I was the only one with Off! on and the other three sat around swatting.

On this 243rd anniversary of our nation’s birthday, it is worthwhile recalling the revolutionary origin of this country. Harkening back to the beginning, it is easy to draw comparisons between the tyrant King George and the reactionary nitwit who currently rules, but that’s no way to celebrate the 4th. Tanks, but no tanks.

Instead of getting our undies all in a bunch because of it or even worse tuning into Tonald Dump’s 4th of July’s celebration of himself, Anne and I channeled our political sensibilities through NPR’s annual broadcast of the politically inspired, musical comedy group, Capitol Steps. The only problem with political jokes is that sometimes they get elected.

A recurring meme in their performances is a song where word-initialization-rejuxtaposition is used to create funny words and phrases. Tonald Dump is a perfect example. At one point this act was composed of Congressional pages, but I think that they have long since moved beyond that stage. They are bipartisan, but I prefer to highlight one side over the other. Happy 4th of July!

The Devils Golf Course

The Devils Golf Course

We interrupt this epic western road trip for a political rant. In Death Valley, one of its many dried salt pans is called the Devils Golf Course. I don’t know why this feature got this name. There is a perfectly normal golf course down the valley road, but wind has caused this salt pan to form a jagged sea of rock salt that is both delicate and dangerous. Cuts and broken bones have resulted from people who have tried to walk on it.

This otherworldly scenery creates a landscape that is so mind-bendingly weird that only one person comes to mind as a potential developer for this property. Folks, I give you the future site of Trump International – Death Valley. All true sycophants would be more than willing to drop dollars and spend time here too. They would be honored to receive a 4 PM tee time, even if it is 112 degrees. I’m just saying, it’s already named after him.

Meanwhile, here in Monterey, we are beset with other demons from the links. The PGA is putting on the US Open at Pebble Beach next week, but all the hubbub that usually accompanies these events is already in full swing. The place is way more crowded than usual and it hasn’t even started yet. I would say that it is just bad timing on our part, but it is also peak season here, so it would be crowded anyway. It is one of the big little lies about Monterey that summer is the best time to come. Spring and fall have better weather and fewer people.