Monday, 31 May 2010

Curious News About Tourists

Reading news abut tourism I found some of them very curious.

UK. A 29 years old woman took sun on the beach in Brighton. She was with her baby and left him all the day under the rays of the sun. Other persons told her to cover the boy but she did not understand them. Her neighbours called police when they saw vesicles on the skin of the baby. They say, it's probably the baby will not survive.

Ibiza. A group of young British tourists came in their hotel after they drunk somewhere. One of them decided to jump in the pool of the hotel situating under the windows of their room directly from the window. He missed the pool landing on the grass 3 meters far from it. The meditians try to save his life.

Milano, Italy

India. The government of India declared that many tourists do not want to turn home when thier visa expire. India does not extend visas. But they do not have the "black list" of the transgressors, they say. Probably, India has irresistible attractions to prefer it to other countries. -Mmmm... Do you believe in it?

Swiss. Tourists from Germany (specially) like to walk through the valleys of the Swiss (canton Appelzell Innerrhoden) wearing only backpacks and shoes. The residents that are very religious and conservative do not understand this behaviour. But the court of law acquited one of the tourists.

Italy. The "tourist tax" of euro 41 for those Italians who wants to visit non European countries was not enough to save the economy. So, the government seems to introduce a new touristic tax for those who decide to visit Rome. They will pay about euro 10 for every night in the capital.

Tutshill Woods

In a quest to find places to walk my dog which aren't too far away from where I live I searched the internet this morning and found Tutshill Woods. If you drive out of Barnstaple toward the hospital and turn left you can park your car near the entrance to the cattery and find, almost hidden away, a public footpath which is a narrow lane between trees with fields behind that.
This leads down to a river where, to the left, the popular play area of Mannings Pit can be found.

We went right, across a nice wooden little footbridge, then on across the field in the photo above and into the woods. The way through the woods (ooh, sounds like a poem!) is narrow and pretty with the ivr tinkling along far below you. It goes out to a road leading back to the main road but we didn't go that far. We turned around and headed back to level ground next to the river bank where we sat and ate sandwiches before returning home with a very knackered dog.

We met a few other people walking thier dogs, so its a popular spot. I liked it, so I think we'll be going again.

Make Way

The exercise of clearing out stuff from our storage building resulted in treasures finding new homes, and fresh, open spaces where the items used to be. What a great maybe I am regaining a bit of order in my life. It's amazing how possessions can have the power to control us at times. The key, I realize, is management, and that I haven't been managing well. Now I have the chance for a new start.

We had a discussion about space...can it be created?...because that is what I feel like we did. More likely, space is like matter, and can neither be created nor destroyed. It just is. So even if I didn't create space as such, I realized some now-empty room, and I can make use of it in a different way. In the immediate case, I am going to continue the clean-out, and I can do it in the storage building (also known as our laundry building. A long time ago, Peggy would do laundry out there.) Yesterday, we worked outside on the lawn. I guess we don't have to air our dirty laundry in public anymore! Sorry--bad pun.

Greg and I have lived in the lodge building for twenty-two years, and only a time or two have we done a major clean out. The most recent was in 2004 when we re-roofed the building. Actually, it's taken me a few years to finish that sorting project. At least with the storage building, I don't need to look at it everyday. The constant sight of the mess didn't necessarily motivate me to get it done quicker, it just depressed me. Time was the biggest challenge. I guess like space and matter, spare time also cannot be created. But I find if I can remove some things that have served a purpose for us and are no longer needed, then my mind opens up to think more creatively.

One aspect of this cleaning is that we are making room on the screen porch. Since the roofing project, it has been housing old stuff, and we haven't really taken the time to re-do the screens and enclose it again. That will be happening, and none-too-soon for me. June evenings on the screen porch, with daylight until nearly ten, are a treat I really enjoy. It will be nice to reclaim them.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Coastal Walking Holiday

This year we are walking on the north coast of Finistere, staying at the restored fishing village of Meneham, which is now a classified heritage site. The route is easy going - no cliffs, just endless bays, dunes and a few marshes. Great for bird-watching, and some interesting things to see - Men Marz, one of the largest menhirs in Brittany, and Iliz Koz, a church and cemetry with engraved medieval tombs, which were buried under the sand for centuries. We also get a glimpse of Ile Vierge, the tallest lighthouse in Europe. Rain or shine, it will be a great trip!

Two More Raven Poses

Greg took these two photos, as well as yesterday's picture, of the ravens. Not only does he have a better camera than mine, he also has a better eye for it. It probably helps that the ravens like him the best, too.

In Portugal

Just a quick hello to everyone from Portugal. Quick, mainly because the "computer" is actually the TV in our hotel room, and although that sounds fancy, it's a lot more frustrating than you might imagine.

In any case, Portugal is great, and the rest of our trip has been great so far, too. I've also been keeping up on the pictures of the day, so we'll have a big backlog when we get to Colorado.

Hi to mom, especially, since I can't seem to reply to emails on this system. Also, a trip to Costa Rica to visit us sounds great!

And finally, if you happen to be reading this, Tessa, you were right: Portuguese does sound like Russian.

The Battle Of Point Judith

It was May 5, 1945. Adolph Hitler was dead, and the European campaign of the second World War was drawing to a close.  The Nazi government had issued a cease-fire for all U-boats patrolling the North Atlantic. German submarine U-853 never received the order.
Twelve days earlier, U-853 had fatally torpedoed PE-56, a patrol boat working off Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Only 13 of the 67 crewmembers survived*. To avoid detection, U-853 moved south and remained submerged as often as possible, with no communication. 
Meanwhile, the U.S. collier Black Point was transporting 7500 tons of coal from Norfolk to Boston. Built in 1918, the 369 foot ship had left her convoy in New York Harbor, and proceeded eastward through Long Island and Block Island Sound.  At approximately 5:40 pm, 3 miles south of Point Judith, a torpedo ripped into her stern, sending her to the bottom within minutes. Twelve crewman lost their lives.
An SOS signal was immediately sent out by the Pt Judith lightkeeper, and the Yugoslavian freighter Kamen, which had witnessed the explosion. The anti-submarine warships USS Ericsson, Amick, Atherton, and Moberly had just left New York, bound for Charleston, and were redirected to Pt Judith. On the morning of May 6, two blimps arrived from Lakehurst, New Jersey to assist in the pursuit.
After a 16 hour attack of hedgehogs and depth charges, a liferaft, chart table and officers cap floated to the surface, seven miles east of Block Island.
The wreck sits in 130 feet of water, with its periscope still extended, and the remains of the 55 crewmembers  aboard.
On May 7, less than 48 hours after the sinking of the Black Point, Germany surrendered. 

Ralph DiCarpio: Battle Of Pt Judith (well researched)
Providence Journal: Nazi Sub Sunk Off Block Island
Providence Journal: Vets Honor Merchant Ship Crew
Wreckhunter (go to Wrecks Of Rhode Island)
AquaExplorers: U-853 & Black Point
Wikipedia: Battle of the Atlantic 1939-1945

* The sinking of PE-56 is an entire story unto itself. For decades, the US Navy denied that she had been torpedoed. Only in 2001 were the crewmembers awarded Purple Hearts.
Boston Globe: The Truth About PE-56

photo credits: USS Moberly launching hedgehogs (top) Wikipedia
U-Boat 853 (middle) AquaExplorers
USS Black Point (bottom) Ahoy-Mac's Weblog

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Ravens in our Midst

The raven buddies are still hanging out with us. They were especially vigilant yesterday when we were working in and around the storage building. As we put things outside to sort, discard or ready for the rummage sale, they circled the sky above us. I'm certain that they figured any moment now, a morsel of food would appear for them. Of course, it didn't. But they persisted in the watch. Funny birds.

Today, we had several black bags of garbage in the back of one of the pick up trucks. I watched as one tested the territory, by first landing thirty feet away, then hopping to twenty feet, and then finally zeroing in on his target. There he was in the back of the truck, ripping into a bag. I chased him off...several times. Then a neighbor stopped by with a dog, and the dog happily chased him off. Finally, Greg covered the stuff with a tarp, so they couldn't see the bags any longer. I wondered if they knew that the bags were still there, but underneath. I didn't have time to observe long enough, but I'm curious to know if their "smarts" extend that far. I'm sure I'll get more opportunities to look for the answer. Seems I can't forget a trash bag in a truck or on a porch for more than five minutes before they find it. Good eyesight.

I was a bit concerned that when we were making pizza tonight, we might have these guys for visitors, too. No worries, though, as they made themselves scarce. Just a chipmunk or two to keep an eye on, and so far they aren't bold--0r savvy--enough to have figured out the tables full of temptations. Not so for me....the pizzas tasted great, and the brownies our neighbor John brought were delightful. If it weren't for the no-see-ums eating our ankles, I may have stayed out there longer. Now that's a new way of dieting and portion control!

Friday, 28 May 2010

Hopping Along

Today has been a very busy day. Lots of cabin folks arrived, neighbors stopped in, the gas man brought a delivery of gasoline, and we attempted to find stuff to put out for the first ever Trash and Treasures Gunflint Trail Rummage Sale. Tomorrow, many of the businesses, as well as cabin and home owners who feel so inclined, will host rummage sales. We all know that each other has a stash of will be a great day to be out and about, trolling for goodies.

One of my most important jobs today, however, was not related to the sale. Instead, it was about the beer. Two years ago, Greg's trellis for his hops was knocked down by a falling birch tree. He has been growing hops behind the workshop for several years, and they produce a beautiful wall of vines and leaves, and eventually flowers, which can be used to flavor the homebrew that he likes to make. We didn't have time to resurrect them last year, so the vines just grew willy-nilly all over the place, and as a result, we didn't have much of a harvest. When he told me this year that he mostly enjoys just seeing them growing, I was determined to get them back in to operation.

Paul and James helped me. I got new strings tied on, and then the guys hoisted the poles and I put in the bolts. I then strung the twine to the posts in the ground, and guided the new vines over to the lines. A couple of them are already six feet tall! This warm weather has definitely been making an impression on them. As long as we get some rain, the harvest should be good enough for a batch or two of beer. As a back-up plan, we have a spigot nearby, so that I can give the hops a swig or two....they deserve that, right?

Many years ago, when our boys were much younger, Greg worked with them one fall to make a moose calling device. They went out by our powerline to test it out. Back then, Greg was growing hops under the line, as it was a great spot for full sun. The trellis system was a bit different---one twelve or so foot pole for each hop vine, again with a long piece of twine for the vine to grab. They tested out the moose call, but no one answered, so they came in for dinner. It wasn't until the next morning, when Greg was driving by, that he saw the result. Evidently a bull moose had indeed heard the call, and had come looking for what he thought was going to be a lovely lady. All he found was a big old trellis, and he got his antlers tangled in the line, to boot. Such disappointment. Greg could see that the top of the trellis had been snapped off, and that very determined (and angry?) tracks trailed down the hill, as the lonely moose ran off. At least now we know how to make a decent moose call if we ever go moose hunting again!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

In Pursuit of a Good Burger

In our travels in the past year, Greg and I have found places that advertise "The Best...(whatever)" their specialty might be. We don't usually go for things like that, but we decided to test out the hamburgers at a couple of places making this claim. While good, we both agreed that the best burgers we have ever enjoyed have been right here in Cook County. Last Sunday, we had the chance to re-test that theory at one of our favorite local spots.

Once again, it was a Sunday that took us to Sag Lake Trail, this time to retrieve the dock that we had recently purchased from a neighbor. In order to recruit the young muscle around here to help us, we bribed them with the promise of lunch at Trail's End Cafe. After loading the dock into the back of Greg's truck, we headed up.

When I walk in the door at Mark's cafe, I always know exactly what I am going to eat: a mushroom and Swiss burger, fries, and coleslaw. Last year, I took Greg there for his birthday, and had that. When you know a winner, there is no reason to switch. The burgers are hand-formed and are generously portioned, with an excellent seasoning blended in. Juicy, flavorful, cooked to order and served on a french roll, I am always satisfied. The fries are a treat that I only allow myself once a month, and the slaw is crunchy and tasty, not too strong the way cabbage sometimes can be. Overall, an excellent meal and one we highly recommend. Why we take a chance on burgers at other locations is mystery to me, when the best burger I've had on the Trail is just a short--and beautiful--drive away.

And if you happen to be in that neck of the woods and have a call to make, this rare find, a pay telephone, is in the parking lot adjacent to the restaurant's driveway. It's not easy to find those dinosaurs anymore, in the age of cell phones.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A Sign of Good Things to Come

Up on Sag Lake Trail on Sunday, I spotted this bush. Yup, those are early blueberries. With luck and enough moisture, we should have another good crop this year. Our friend who owns this land told me that many more bushes in the woods looked bountiful as well. We got a little rain last night, and a bit this morning. Keeping our fingers crossed for more, since this will be the reward.

Pink Granite Coast

We had a great day on the Pink Granite coast aorund Perros-Guirec, although weatherwise it was a game of two halves. The pink granite shone in the sun during our morning stroll past the famous formations, but we had some light rain for the extended afternoon walk. Thanks to everyone, especially Karen and Dave for the photos.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Straight From Spring to Summer

It's not really unusual for Gunflint Lake to go straight from winter/early spring into summer, when it comes to the weather. That has definitely been the case over the last week. Our daytime temps have been in the eighties, and it is cooling down to the sixties at night. For me, this is a real treat. I love the hot weather, and still have many memories of how cold it was last summer. I'm not complaining. Never mind that I haven't had time to find my lighter least my Hawaii wardrobe is still nearby, so I can grab those things. Greg, on the other hand, is not pleased, and keeps reiterating the fact that it is soon to cool off. Five degree declines are predicted everyday, and for him, they can't come fast enough.

Because of the early onslaught of summer, the plant life has taken off at rapid speed. Suddenly, my lawn needs mowing. The weed whacker is in for a work out soon. The leaves are turning from the early chartreuse to a deeper summer green. The rhubarb has gone ballistic. I'm tempted to make only pie and sauce for every meal, just to use it. Putting it in the freezer generally doesn't work too well for me. I tend to forget about it until late winter, and by then it has totally shriveled up.

This would have been one of those years when I could take a chance on early planting in the garden. Had I done that, I would probably have loads of lettuce and peas, and be well on the way to some lovely tomatoes and beans. But the words of my grandmother, passed on by my father, are that wisdom in Duluth says not to plant before Memorial Day. This year, the holiday happens to fall on the traditional day, the 31st. I guess that means that I am shortening the season even more. That's okay. I'm at best a casual gardener. I sow the seeds, attempt to pull weeds, and generally expect the plants to survive without me. It seems to work well enough.

Today, however, I am going to cheat a little. When I am in town, I plan to pick up some flowers to spruce things up a bit. You can't beat that instant punch that some bright colors add to the landscape. Even on a bad day, the happy faces of pansies perks me right up.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Portaging Boat Ramps

Saturday brought together a crack team of carpenters to accomplish a long-awaited task: new boat ramps for the beach. Greg organized the labor and supplies. Working off a sketch on a scrap of paper, Paul and Joe put together the prototype. After putting the winch on the front of the ramp, we carried it down to the beach to give it a try.

Only the barge has been put into the water thus far, so we took advantage of the extra young muscle, and pulled the Lund down to test it out. We got the boat into the water, and then with the aid of the winch, I was able to crank it up and out of the water. Hooray! I am always searching for ways to make my life easier, and these fellows had just done it for me.

They came back up to the workshop, and our friend James joined them. In under an hour, three more ramps were assembled. The guys portaged them down to the beach, where they now wait for a bit of rearranging. (Isn't that the hallmark of a woman? I just want them in a certain place on our beach!) Soon we will have boats and motors sitting pretty on their ramps, all set for fishing and exploring.Finally! A smart way to store and move our boats, in and out of the water. I thought back to the fall of 2005, when Greg and the boys went to Alaska for four weeks. Addie was home with me, but between the two of us, we couldn't budge the boats very far off the beach. Greg rigged up some of his tree-removal equipment for me to use for the task: a strap and a rope come-along. While it worked adequately, it was cumbersome to carry back forth, as well as to use. This solution will be so much better.

Thank you to Greg, Paul, Joe and James!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Braunton Burrows Update

I popped out here this evening to take the dog for a walk (are you spotting a theme to these posts?) and although I've mentioned it before I thought I'd just update you on a few things. Last time we came we walked through the burrows but there is a beach at Braunton which is accessed directly from the end of the toll road. This is it at low tide. There were a number of people leaving with their rigid inflatable boats towed behind their cars as we arrived and a few who were just starting barbeques.

The toll road seemed particularly long today, I don't remember it being that long, so I measured it on the way back, it's 1 and 1/2 miles, the sign, which says 1 and 1/4 miles of speed bumps, is inaccurate.

The other thing you need to know about is that now there is an automated gate at the entrance to the toll road. You have to feed it with coins to obtain entrance. Good job I had some with me. It costs �1.50 for cars.


Bickington is normally just a town I drive through on my way to somewhere else. Up until now all I have seen of it is the main street and in the inside of the post office (which is much more efficient and quick to use than the main one in Barnstaple). I was in there the other day and notice a leaflet called '5 walks in Fremington'. Fremington is the town next door. I picked up the leaflet and walk no.3 is actually around Bickington taking 40 minutes, the shortest of the walks in the leaflet. Ideal for my new dog, I thought.

So yesterday we went for a walk. I parked in the small car park just off the main street for a very reasonable 60p for two hours. The walk then took me, my dog, and daughter no.2 down a pretty lane full of charming cottages. At the end of lane we were slightly confused as the sign post said the footpath went in two directions, but a very friendly farmer in his tractor pointed us in the right direction, through his field and up to the top of a hill where lovely views of the River Taw and the villages on the opposite banks greeted us.

We progressed onto a bridleway and round the back of village til we reached the end of the lane where we had first started. It was very pleasant and let us see that there is more to Bickington than meets the eye. I think I will try the other walks when my dog is old enough to go for longer walks.

Back From Cuba II

Here are some more photos of the Amistad in New London. I have been taking many of my photos early in the morning recently, with good results. Yesterday however, there was fog, and it was not the spooky, mysterious, and photogenic kind. Instead, it was  just a heavy haze that burned off later. These are not my best pictures, but the Amistad is  attractive  enough that I decided to post them regardless.
One of these days, it would be nice to catch her under sail, with clear skies. 

Soundbounder: Back From Cuba I

Sunday Photos

A not-so-random collection of the doors we have around here.

Can you identify the buildings that belong to the doors?

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Back From Cuba

While some of us motored down a river and through a drawbridge to reach our summer destination, there are other vessels that have returned from much more distant harbors. The Amistad docked in New London on Thursday after an eight month, 4,000 mile journey to Cuba this year. That certainly puts things in perspective.

Today,   free tours of the ship are available, as well as an exhibit at the New London Customs House Museum.

Customs House Museum: Revolt To Freedom 
Provenance Center: List Of Events
Amistad: Website
Soundbounder: Amistad In Noank (2008)
Soundbounder: Back From Cuba II (more photos)

Like a Bowl of Cherries

If this is what summer vacation looks like, then I want to go there! Read more about what's new in the sewing department at Matey Couture. Looks like it's going to be a great summer.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Getting Buzzed

When I stepped out on the porch this morning, it wasn't long before I got myself a hummingbird, that is. They're back! (Sorry, I can no longer remember what movie that is from, though I can see the picture of the little girl in my mind.) WTIP is very good about reporting regularly on the hummingbird migration. As of Monday, I heard that some had been spotted at various locations throughout the county, but I hadn't been home long enough to notice any here.

I chose not to hang out my feeder after hearing that, mainly because I knew that I would be gone for a few days. It's best if I am around when I have it out....I tend to notice more quickly if it has gone empty, or if the ants have invaded it. A second reason for waiting was because I had heard that we have a bear making the rounds this week. He was a little guy last seen on the porch at Cedar Point. He helped himself to the cooler, removing a loaf of bread from it. Aptly, he earned the name Boo Boo by the owners of the cooler. Now I need to remember each evening to bring in the feeder, so that we don't add to our collection of claw marks on the post where it hangs.

So after this little bird informed me of her return, I searched out the hummingbird feeder. Not surprisingly, I couldn't find our usual one. So I tried a substitute--a very small feeder meant to be stuck into a planter. After filling it and hanging it up, the little lady returned. She hovered a moment, and then took off. I could almost hear her harumph.

I dug a little deeper, checked a new location, and sure enough, found the old familiar feeder. It now is hanging in its usual spot. The male has been back, as I watched him come to sip some of the sugar water. He then did a hover near the newer feeder, and he, too, gave it a feather's down. In fact, he barely gave it a sidewards glance. Could they really be that smart and discerning?

I believe that the ravens can be, but I guess I should give those hummers a little more credit. After all, they can make it all the way from Mexico to here, and they don't carry much in the way of luggage.

Pink Granite Coast - Tues 25 May

We have a day out on the beautiful Pink Granite coast next Tuesday. Meet at 10.30 in Perros Guirec, by the Gare Maritime which is situated at the end of the Plage Trestraou to the west of the town. There is plenty of parking in that area which should be OK at that time of day. If you approach on the D788 from Lannion, stay on this road right through the port and on round the outskirts of the town (centre is up on hill to the left) near to the sea, and the Plage Trestraou is signed off to the right after you've rounded the head of the peninsula.
In the morning there will be a guided walk with commentary along the famous Sentier des Douaniers, past the fabulous pink granite rock formations. We will go on to the beach of Ploumanac'h and have a long stop there for lunch - bring a picnic or eat in one of the many restaurants and bars. The morning walk is easy and those who do not want to do the more strenuous part in the afternoon can retrace their steps at at leisure past those stunning views.
Otherwise we will continue with an inland circuit through an atmospheric wild valley (steep descent/ascent) and on quiet roads past the pink granite quarries to reach a viewpoint over the sea at La Clart� before rejoining the coastal path and returning to the Gare Maritime 4-4.30pm. Cost is 5� for everyone.
NOTE: if you arrive late. Walk a little way up the road behind the Gare Maritime and the Sentier des Douaniers goes off to the right soon after. We'll be just ahead!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Driving the Trail at Night

The older I get, the more my desire to drive the Trail after dark diminishes. In my younger years here, I thought nothing of evening meetings or late drives home from Duluth, after running a day full of errands. Oftentimes, I had a baby or a kid, or two, in the car with me. We would get home close to midnight, and after getting them off to bed, I would then need to unload the car. It just didn't bother me.

Now it has to be a very good reason for me to plan a night like that. You may notice that this is being posted rather late on Thursday, the reason being that Addie and I just returned from our trip to Wisconsin. All of those hours on the road gave me lots of time for contemplation. One thing I decided is that if I am driving the trail at night, I like it best in the spring and early summer.

First off, the sun goes down so much later. At 9:20 on the North Shore, it was still light enough to drive without using the bright setting. The sky held streaks of faint light, but the reddish glow had faded. By the time we were on the Trail, the stars were out. And we had a half-moon to shine down on us, all the way home.

I thought about other nights out there, when I had the good fortune to see shooting stars through the windshield. Occasionally the Northern Lights have been dancing a good show, making it difficult to keep my eyes on the roadbed. Of course, there is always the need to be vigilant for wildlife. Tonight was a quiet one in that respect. Several insects filled the air, and some dark animal scooted across while I drove down our side road. I still am wondering what it was....small enough to be a pine marten, but it didn't run like one. Quick enough to be a fisher, but too small. Larger than an ermine, very dark in coloring. Mink perhaps?

Hands down, though, the very best reason for driving the Gunflint Trail after dark is this:

Don't worry that the picture doesn't show was too dark out!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Hit the Road, Jack

With the trek to Morris fresh under my belt, Addie and I are ready to hop back into the car for another short road trip. She needs to register for fall classes, so today we are headed to the lovely state of Wisconsin.

This is such a treat for me, to be able to travel in the summertime. I get to see all of the spring colors, and in particular the Green of everything! April, our usual travel month, is generally not very green for sightseeing. This year, of course, was an incredible exception with our trip to Hawaii. But for the most part, I haven't been on a summer road trip for nearly thirty years. That makes even the smallest parts exciting for me.

During my college years, I would experience three separate blooms of lilacs. In mid-May, they came out in southern Minnesota, right around the end of the semester. Then as I was headed home at the end of May, they were blooming in the Twin Cities. Once I got to Duluth, the lilacs would come out about a week later. It is full-bloom time in Morris right now. I had a moment when I could bury my nose in a large and beautiful lilac bush, loaded with flowers. I had to take a picture of it.

Now that I live in the far north, my lilac bush blooms really late. Here is what it looks like right now, as compared to the ones in Morris. It definitely looks sparse, and I still don't see buds. Most years it produces at least a few purple flowers, and that is enough for the lovely scent to waft onto a breeze. It's enough to make me happy.

As we are driving southeast, it will be fun to see the progress of flowers and trees, and how things compare to home. I'll probably get to experience some other plant life cycle twice 'round, kind of a double pleasure, just like Doublemint Gum.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Summer Favorites

June has always been one of my favorite months here on Gunflint Lake. Currently, May is working its way up in popularity as well. The beautiful sunsets are one reason why. Because the days are longer, the sun goes down around nine or so in the evening. All that daylight is a big bonus. But then to have the beauty to end it all is just the icing on the cake, as they say.

I love the return of all the warm sunshine and temperatures, and the promise that the summer ahead brings. The days are extra busy, but it seems there is usually time for a quiet moment on the porch in mid-afternoon. The birds are busy singing while I sit there, and often the hummingbirds will come by. I am hearing the return of old favorites, and occasionally seeing them, too. A black and white warbler was busy in the birch tree at the corner of the lodge yesterday. The leaves are still pretty small, so I had excellent viewing of this particular bird. I also like it when a bird has a straight-forward name such as this one. Sure makes it easier to remember!

The lake has remained calm for today, and that always seems to be an invitation to go out in a canoe. I have yet to do it, but as mentioned above, the promise of summer should allow me that sometime soon. How about you? What do you look forward to this summer?

Monday, 17 May 2010

Have The Main Tourist Destinations To Be Closed?

This article attracted my attention because I think about it often when I watch documentaries about the nature:
Some of the world's most famous tourist attractions, such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef and Italy's Amalfi coast, could be closed to visitors within a few years because of worries about environmental damage and climate change, a report warns today.

Some destinations could be permanently closed to tourists by 2020 or face restrictions on numbers and a sharp increase in admission prices, the study, carried out for the insurance company Churchill, predicts.

It warns that in 20-40 years' time the Great Barrier Reef could be "severely damaged", forcing its closure, while other parts of Australia would be off-limits because of a rise in bushfires and insect-borne diseases. Other affected destinations include the Taj coral reef in the Maldives, Goa in India, Florida's Everglades and Croatia's Dalmatian coastline.
I don't think it's real for the Amalfitan coast -I wrote here about it. The villages are really difficult to reach. The only road is eng and dangerous. THIS is their problem. From other side, if they would close the coast for tourists, the population will die from starvation. As for me, they could solve it if there were more and easy possibilities to make this trip by sea. There are ships from Salerno and Naples but most visitors prefer cars.

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For very fragile destinations like Great Barrier Reef etc they need more controls, as for me. So many times we not only ruin such places but we "teach" wild animals they have to see humans as friends. And it's not good, I think. Not all humans are good. And animals surely will learn it paying high price for their faith. And it's possible, this price will be their lives.

I would create "aquariums" for people in such places. Do you want to see whales or underwater life? Simple! Do not disturb it diving there but pass an hour or two in that "aquarium" watching that life as you do in the most modern zoos.

Is it not the right way to avoid human impact and to allow to the visitors to see what they want?

Homecoming 2010

As a homeschool, we didn't attempt some of the usual school traditions, like prom and other dances. But in a way, we do celebrate Homecoming, even if it is at the wrong time of the year. I just returned from picking up Paul and Addie at college. Now who wouldn't want to arrive to a scene that looks like this?---What a lovely sight on Gunflint Lake to greet us this morning. I suspect that I missed a perfect-weather weekend here on the Trail. But if this is an indication of what is ahead, I am grateful to be back home. Paul and Addie feel the same. Addie said that it was hard to fall asleep last night, because she was so excited for morning to come---just like Christmas!

Miss a day, miss a lot...twice that for me. In my absence, the black flies returned. They are a necessary component in the blueberry plant's lifecycle, in that they pollinate the berry bushes in early summer. I'm hoping all the rain we received last week will nourish those little flowers so that we will later on have an excellent crop. We have just a few bags of berries left in the freezer, so it's nearly time to replenish the supply. Summer brewing plans include a batch of raspberry mead, so the rain should help those bushes as well. I noticed my tulip plant has bloomed, too, while I was gone. Its cheery red is a welcome spot in my otherwise-still-green flower patch. Now who would plant only one tulip bulb?! Evidently me, though I don't remember when. Or maybe I can blame it on a squirrel for digging it up somewhere else, and replanting it here. If that is the case, I wonder whose bulb it was?

The rain probably brought the lake level up a bit, but not enough yet to be real noticeable. As this photo indicates, our dock is ridiculously high out of the water. This is due in part to it not being pushed in all of the way yet. We are transitioning from a long wooden ramp to a roll-in one, another step in making the work easier. Soon the newer extension will be here and ready to go, so then we can position the dock further out in the water.

My flickers are calling right now, as I sit and write this on the porch. I should go and spy on them, in case there might be new little ones around. There just might have been another change that happened while I was gone.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Favourite Forest Walk

Brittany has some fabulous forest walks. The beech forest just north of Foug�res is a delight in autumn, and the magical atmosphere of the Foret de Paimpont (or Arthurian Broc�liande) includes many megaliths and lofty viewpoints. At Huelgoat, the memorable granite Chaos and old silver/lead mine fill the extensive woodlands with legend and history, like the forest of Carnoet, south of Quimperl�. But my favourite of all is the Forest of Cranou, with many miles of trails, where carpets of daffodils and bluebells greet the spring and the beautiful trees offer shade or shelter for walking at any time of year.

Random Sunday Photos

Getting a little braver.

The patience of a fisherman.

Posing for the camera.