Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Outdoorsy stuff, and beware of tourists

Yours truly, looking like a tourist on the shore of Lake Superior by Naniboujou Lodge

Back at the ranch, I got to spend a lot of time outside hiking around. I have come to the conclusion that Mom and Dad’s birds and animals are very spoiled. Chickadees and nuthatches will visit your hand for sunflower seeds. The red squirrels and chipmunks will actually climb the screen door and stare into the house if there is a deficiency of seeds in the feeder (this drives the cat nuts). And the wildflower garden provides nourishment for a variety of dragonflies and butterflies (I got to see a Compton's Tortoiseshell, which I think I had only seen once in my life prior to this).

A beautiful flower at Mom and Dad's

It was very enjoyable seeing that the friendly resident nuthatches, Norris and Noreen, have had their babies! What a treat to see the little 'hatches following “Mom and Dad” around the woods. They are the cutest things; they sit, chirp, and flutter their wings, demanding to be fed by the folks. It is good to know that another generation of these extremely cool and assertive birds will be hanging out in my parents’ back yard.

The chickadees all had their babies out and about as well. The little guys were indeed very little, and the young ones do not have a feather out of place. The same can't be said for their bedraggled parents who look in pretty rough shape. No doubt they are waiting for fall when they start to look crisp and clean once again.

Hanging with the chickadees

One of the chipmunks at the house enjoying a handout

Because I ate so much, it is good that I got to do a lot of hiking. But it is also good that I am a runner to burn off all those calories! I went running three times, including a couple of 5 milers and a 14 miler. The weather was almost ideal except for the 14 miler when temperatures actually got into the lower 70’s, making it a little slower going than I would have liked. But the mornings of the 5 milers were blissfully cool in the 50’s. I got to run along the shore and take in some spectacular views of Lake Superior.

I was on my 14 miler running an old road/trail along side of Minnesota Hwy 61, which is a busy, busy stretch of road (especially in the summer) as it is the only artery to the North Shore from Duluth. I saw a car stopped on the road near an open meadow.

When I say “stopped on the road,” I mean stopped dead right in the middle of the southbound lane of the highway. The car had North Dakota plates (tourists!). At first, I thought they were having problems, but then I realized they probably were looking at something.

I watched in horror as a car approached from behind, slowing down rapidly and zipping around the vehicle that was parked in the road. Realizing his error, the driver finally got a clue and tried to move his car over to the shoulder.

As I approached, I saw what they were looking at; an entire family of deer consisting of a buck (still had velvet on the antlers), doe, and two adorable spotted fawns. Beautiful animals, and a fairly rare sight! This is definitely worth looking at, but not worth getting killed over, either. The car full of “NoDak” tourists eventually left as I got closer, pulling back onto the road without signaling.

The deer, perhaps only 25-30 feet away from me, just stood there and watched. I started talking to them.

“What do you think of all these tourists?” I asked the furry creatures. The deer continued to stare.

I started waving my arms wildly and chased them from the meadow up into the woods. They were too close to the highway, and I didn’t want any of them getting pancaked by a car (nor did I want a different carload of North Dakotans watching them from the middle of the highways to get creamed, for that matter).

As the deer bounded into the woods, I froze. I had forgotten that I was carrying my digital camera in my waist pack!

What an idiot. Not as big of an idiot as the guy who stopped his car in the highway, but an idiot nonetheless.

Until next time,

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