Monday, October 27, 2008

Oh Yah! Bin Up Der.

Yah I bin back from up nort. Had some fine time too yeh? I'm sorry but every time I go up to the Tvin Cities, I come back with a damn Portuguese accent. I apologize if I slip back into it from time to time. I be gettin' over it soon aina hey? Anyway, I made my little drive to Minneapolis and back with no outstanding incidents. Sammy took a page from Grandma Jo's book on travel and slept almost the entire trip. On the way up I noted some of the better photo possibilities which I would try to capture on the return ride. The most coolest on the ride up was watching the price of gas decrease at about the same rate as the temperature. I'm not sure where the thermometer bottomed out but the price of gas hit its low in Red Wing Minnesota. (See pic)
On the ride up I encountered a mixture of rain and snow all the way there and on the way home I enjoyed periods of sun and, usually when I stopped to take a picture, periods of clouds.
As a rule when I spotted a potentially perfect picture, by the time I got out of the car and took aim, Casper the friendly cloud would race across the face of the sun. On a few occasions, I tried outwaiting the friendly clouds but then mom nature countered with a nice cool breeze. (The real kicker was, when I spotted my first "Masterpiece" the light was perfect, I was in position, ready to shot "oh boy" and my batteries were dead. A mad dash 5 miles down the road to a gas station, the one with the cheap gas, and when I returned to the spot . . . clouds. This one was worth the chilly wait. See below) In spite of her efforts to completely screw up my photo ops, I managed to get a few nice shots. The shots represent only a tiny tip of nature's iceberg I wish each one of you could ride shotgun with me on my little excursions and enjoy all the beautiful little things out there. Yah sure okay? Here a a few of the 150 or so shots from the trip.

This is the one that sent me scurrying for batteries.

He huffed and he puffed and . . .

What a farm should look like!

A bright spot on the Wisconsin side of the river.

I wasn't the only one heading south today!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Open Letter to Sally, Uncas and Those Duchettes

If there is any question about the well-being of one Sammy Sacnu, let it be known that he is in the best of care. He is experiencing some much needed educating. Here are a few of the "NEW" achievements he has mastered. 1. Stair climbing 101. Within one day of arriving at the Blume household, Sammy has learned to bound up the stairs like a Gazelle who lives in a third floor walk up apartment in New York City. Very possibly, by the end of the day today he will master going down the stairs. (Grandma Jo is working on that one) 2. He has learned to sit at the table and enjoy the same food as his hosts. (This does not include sharing liver treats with Grandpa Ron) He seems to prefer sirloin over chuck, veal over pork and quail over chicken. Tomorrow he learns pie. 3. He finds that sleeping between Grandpa Ron and Grandma Jo in bed at night provides a better night's sleep than his lumpy little doggy bed. He sleeps until 8:30 - 9 oclock most mornings. 4. He has made friends with a number of squirrels in the neighborhood and has extended an invitation to them to live in his attic in Mineapolis. 5. He has learned to fetch. He fetches the mail, the newspaper, pecan rolls from the bakery, milk from Kwik-Trip and doughnuts from Casey's. He's really handy to have around. Tomorrow he wants to learn a few computer programs on Grandma Jo's PC. Who knows he may even start his own blog. So, while you and those Duchettes are frolicking around the Sound, (I don't know if your really frolicking around a sound or not but it was a chance to play on words - It had a nice sound to it.) Sammy is putting the time away from you to better himself. Are you?

Sammy and a shy friend lounging in the upstairs computer laboratory!

PS to those Duchettes - Caiden may be really cute but I think a trip to Southwestern Wisconsin would be beneficial to his learning experience. Look how Sammy's trip is going to effect the Sacnu household.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Big Pumpkins

I took a quick trip to Minnesota and back yesterday. My mission was to rendezvous with Sally in Winona, pick up Grandpuppy Sammy and bring him home for the weekend. Sally and Uncas are off to visit best friends Lisa, Brian and "Curly" (Caiden) in Seattle. Anyway, what a great little jaunt. I had forgotten how beautiful Western Wisconsin is. High rolling wooded hills and deep fertile valleys. It was typical fall day, kinda coolish with a brisk wind blowing. It seemed like everyone was out and about. A least everyone in the animal world that is. I traveled in the company of hawks and geese and before long a few Bald Eagles. As a matter of fact, one eagle almost had a close encounter with my windshield. Here and there I would spot groups of wild turkeys forging around harvested corn fields. And, one group (or are they called a "Gang"), not wanting to outdone by eagles, flew across the road in front of me. In spite of what they said on "WKRP in Cincinati", turkeys do fly. These guys were heading to a clump of trees on the other side of the road. I immediately started thinking of "Why did the Turkey Cross the Road?" jokes and the same with Eagles. Lucky for you, I couldn't come up with any. I saw an occaisional deer (even a few live ones) and many racoons who had given their lives for "Why did the Racoon Cross....." jokes. And a few "Dead Skunks in the Middle of the Road". So much for the Fauna now the Flora. My last post was devoted to "Little Pumpkin" Saffron in her Halloween outfit. Above is a picture of some "Big" pumpkins that I ran across on my trip. Unfortunately I didn't have anything the show a size relationship. Believe me, these guys were a lot bigger than Saffron. I'd say the big green one one the right was at least 4 feet long (tall?). I guess some pumpkin farmer was just showing off his handiwork. It doesn't take too much to entertain me while I'm on a drive so the pumpkins were a real highlight until . . . I crossed the Mississippi River. As soon as I came off the bridge and my front tires hit Minnesota asphalt, I was greeted by the best fall color I've seen this year. The high bluffs were covered with reds and golds reminiscent of Michigan's Upper Peninsula or Vermont and New Hampshire. The conditions just weren't good enough to get any photos that would do justice to the view. Just take my word for it or look at some travel brochures from the places I mentioned. All in all it was such a pleasant trip that I plan to do it again on Sunday. This time I'm going all the way to Minneapolis on Sunday and returning on Monday. Maybe if the weather conditions a favorable, I can take some nearly breathtaking photos.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lil Pumpkin

Why is this kid smiling?

Could be the crazy hat...

Or the kiss from a friend!

Oh, oh, she just realized that Mom and Dad
has her dressed as a pumpkin.

You want scary...I'll give you scary!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Color

After traveling over two thousand miles a couple of weeks ago in search of autumn color, I returned home to be greeted by this bright little tree right in my front yard. And, now just a few weeks later, I am surrounded by the ravages of fall. I have autumn leaves on my lawn, (see right) driveway, porch, deck, gutters and, unfortunately, still on a few trees. In past years leaf cleanup was helped by prevailing west winds which resulted in a relatively clean lawn for me and some real leafy lawns for folks down the street. But this year, thanks to Al Gore and his "Global Warming", the winds have come from the south. This has two results. First, the leaves decide to remain in the comfort of my property and second, one can really get sweaty raking leaves in warm weather.
Another way to solve (temporarily) the leaf problem. Hop in the car and take ride. Maybe take a few pictures and just plain enjoy the scenery. Another reason was to celebrate that the price of gas in town broke the $3 barrier ($2.95). The scenery was great. One road, Grandview, certainly lived up to its name. You could see acres of puffs of color miles and miles away. Plenty of photo opportunities but few places to pull off the road. And too hilly for me to park and hike to a vantage point. So, you'll just have to take my word for it or come over and I'll give you a personal scenic tour. After I roamed around a bunch of backroads for about an hour, I ran across some new kind of color in the landscape. Around here one is used to seeing the livestock in black and white. A lot of Holsteins and Angus and a few other breeds are very common throughout the area. But that day I found some new color in the autumn scene. The color belonged to a pair of Scottish Highland cattle, a mom and calf. I've seen this breed around but never stopped to photograph them before. I found a spot to park and got some shots. At first the calf was off by himself but as soon as I approached he (or she) ran over to mom's side. She was very protctive of him and didn't take her eyes off of me until I left. Anyway, here they are.

I kinda like the hairdo.
Sort of a modified Mullet.

As Jo was leaving (no pun intended) for work this morning
she called for me to come out on the deck and bring my camera.
Here's why!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Time out from vacation talk for a little "Cute Time".
Here are a few recent pics of the Granddaughter.

Saffron, Dad and Dog.
What more could a guy want.

His Baby, his dog and the TV remote?

Saffron just being cute.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wildlife Encounters

Just a few short stories about our adventures in the animal world last week. Previously I mentioned meeting a coyote on a road in Northeastern Wisconsin. Not much of a story there. He was scared off by a passing motorcycle before we had chance to strike up a conversation (or take a picture). Although I did manage to scratch out this sketch of him.

In our attempt to recreate the past, we ventured to the northernmost part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The "Dawn Swan" pic was the first of a bunch of wildlife encounters. First stop along the way was the Seny National Wildlife Refuge. One of the best features of the area is a 7 mile self-guided drive through the wetlands.

One of a pair of Sandhill Cranes grabbing a bite to eat.

I like to call this a perfect Swan Dive.

We were about a week or two early for good fall color but there were plenty of ducks, geese and swans gathering for migration. Moving on we took a rustic (bumpy, dusty) dirt road that ran along the shore of Lake Superior to the site of a resort we stayed at a few times when the kids were little. Sorry I'm getting off the track here. Animal stories! During a stop at Tahquamenon Falls Jo made friends with a little bear cub.

Really cute but very stiff and unanimated. And so was the cub.
Tried to pose him with a Chicago Cub's cap but couldn't
locate it in the Honda's cargo hold.

Probably the best animal story occurred while staying at a hotel in Mackinaw City. While enjoying a peaceful evening on our balcony we noticed a fairly large Sea Gull strutting around the beach. He seemed to be the mayor of that area. We had some leftover doughnuts from earlier that day. (these were not very good doughnuts or else there wouldn't have been any leftovers) I figured that the mayor of the sea shore deserved a hunk of stale doughnut so, I threw a piece out to him. Bad idea! Within seconds, millions of Sea Gulls swooped into the scene. Incredible, yes. But more incredible was one smart Gull thought he would search out the source of the food and swooped down to the railing right in front of a fairly frightened JoAnne.

After we convinced him that the doughnuts weren't worth
doing jail time for assault
and that the Alewives were running,
he went off to join the herd.

Travel Tip: For real fun try this. Wait for a unsuspecting couple to come strolling along the beach. Once they get past you toss a piece of food right behind them and watch the terror when forty million Sea Gulls descend on them.

Another friendly visitor joined us as we lunched
on Ojibway Island in Saginaw. Lucky for him,
we had peanuts left from our last visit to Wrigley Field.

More stale peanuts providing a snack for our little friends.

No story just pretty.

One more Sea Gull encounter as we tried to
enjoy ice cream cones on Mackinac Island.

Not sure about this one but it followed me around for a week!

Last but not least is this deer. Not in the wild
but in our friends, Fred and Lois' backyard.

Wildlife! This is what I call wildlife.
Any donations readily accepted.
I'm only about $28,000 short.

Next installment: Scenery

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Little Back Talk

After nine days, over two thousand miles of driving and a five pound weight gain, I'm back. So let's talk. What a great trip. We encountered a lot of interesting wildlife including, a coyote (no picture, we were right next to it reaching for my camera when it was scared off by a motorcycle), many ducks, geese, cranes, herons and swans, (got some pictures of these guys), and of course, you can't travel in Wisconsin or Michigan without an occasional deer. We saw wonderful scenery, pine forests, waterfalls and grand hotels. We drove, we hiked, we took a ferry ride, and bounched around in a horse drawn taxi. We searched out places from our past lives and reunited with some dear friends that we haven't seen in many years. We drove at high speeds on divided highways and five miles an hour on one lane dirt roads. There were times when we relied on our trusty GPS (Wanda) and times when we completely disregarded "her" suggestions. I performed quite a few expert U-Turns. (most were expertly performed) During one long stretch of travel (with my copilot fast sleep beside me) I composed an hilarious blog post. It was so funny that I almost woke Jo up laughing to myself. I wish that I could remember it. You would have laughed your heads off. I'm finding it really difficult to pick out one or two particular highlights to feature although, between Jo and I, we have around a thousand beautiful photos that we'd love to share. Hey! Wait! Don't log off. I'm working really hard at edit them down to a precious few. How's this? Why don't I do a few of installments of highlights with some real special pics? I gonna go now and start editing and trying to remember that funny blog that's lurking somewhere in my sick mind. I'll close this episode with the memory of a BIG highlight of the trip. The first day out we were able to listen on the car radio to the entire game were the Cubs clinched the division championship . And, finally, as I sweat over this hot computer, JoAnne and Derek are preparing to attend this evening's playoff game at Wrigley Field.

Second morning out. Saw this beautiful little lake.
Executed a U-Turn a few miles down the road
and returned to take a picture. Only while lining up the shot
did I realize that the swans were present.
(I like to call it Dawn Swan)