Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lake's up and we're heading north

Despite dire predictions, including from me, Lake Superior continues to rise. There was talk that the dredging in the St Mary's river north of Detroit was draining the lake and that global warming and its accompanying lack of ice cover had speeded up winter evaporation, but the lake inexplicably keeps rising. It is 6" higher that it was a year ago and lost an inch less water in December than the 3" it normally loses.

I think that's a good thing. Other than higher water and its accompanying higher waves impacting fragile ecosystems this and rare and endagered that, more clean, fresh water in the largest holding reservoir on the planet is generally a positive thing. Something tells me that this cycle of rising and lowering lake levels may have happened before a time or two. The power boaters and sailors can get back into their favorite spots without feverish NPS efforts to install vertical rub rails on various docks. Marina owners and marine mechanics will see a precipitous drop in lower unit and keel replacements but I think they will survive. As a kayaker, I will welcome the additional water. No more picking my way through the Manitou reef in the dark,between the island and the stinking, cormorant infested light beacon rock, and no more slurping through 10 yards of muck to launch in the Bark Bay Slough. We won't see as much of the wreck of the Fedora, off Red Cliff Point (above image with the VOR bobbing in the background), but a changing lake is what it's all about. Part of the draw and appeal of the lake is its changing moods and environment. Heck, one of these years I hope to even round Point Detour in flat calm but I know that's probably physically impossible.

We will check out the lake in person since the VoiceOfReason and I are headed for Duluth and New Years Eve in a few short hours. From there its on to the Bayfield Peninsula and a rendezvous with RangerMark and the GreenThumbChef for some outdoor winter activity, be it snowshoeing or cross country skiing. A foot of lake effect snow is forecast for the Gogebic Range so we may need to move in the direction of Ironwood/Hurley at some point as well, where a few of the SKOAC Renegades will be also enjoying the winter experience.

Enjoy the new year! I really am not a 'resoulution' type of guy but I have vowed to swear off light beer and severely limit chlorine exposure. Before we know it the ice road to Madeline Island and the sea caves will be frozen and shortly after that Canoecopia will be popping up.

Lets all hope and work for a great 2010. Skol!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Middle east extremists and Asian carp - What to do?


There seems to be some interesting parallels in the Asian carps attempts to get into the Great Lakes via the Chicago River to wreak havoc and Muslim extremists attempts to get into the US to wreak havoc. We brought the carp here to fight the threat of weed choked lakes, never for a minute thinking what would happen when they got loose. We gave the forerunners of the Taliban training and weapons, including Stinger missiles to fight the threat of the Soviet Union, never for a minute thinking what would happen when they got loose. Unfortunately, both are loose and I fear our attempts to stop both types of vermin will be futile, since in both cases the 'cat' is well out of the bag.

My guess is that the carp are right now patiently waiting to see how the US Supreme Court rules on January 8 about closing the Chicago Canal that connects Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River system. Likewise, the terrorists are patiently waiting to see what equally effective underwear based detection scheme is being implemented to stop them. Carp of course, don't wear underwear or shoes, or carry dangerous half inch pocket knives to open aggravating packages or clean the dirt from beneath their fingernails. They will simply stow away in some guys bait bucket water or some cheap ass fisherman will seine some 'free minnows' from a river and dump the unused ones in Lake Michigan. I fear that sooner or later the terrorists will also get through the patchwork hodgepodge of 'security measures' and succeed in their brutal mission. The masthead of this blog sums it up in a nutshell - "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement".

I have to fly for work 2 or 3 times in January and I am already dreading it. Rather than producing and utilizing the explosive detection systems that are available and operational, our government has decided that I need to sit quietly in my seat, carry on luggage including magazines and Ipods stowed, and that I can't go take a piss for the last hour of the flight. If I was a prostate sufferer and my Flomax was in my stowed luggage, not being able to hit the john for an hour would be a bad experience for everyone around me on a number of levels. I think pregnant women would have the same reaction. I know first hand that explosive screening works. I'm not a guy that has sets of luggage for all occasions. My Duluth pack shell bag is a lovely little canvas and leather shoulder bag, was used for trap shooting, hunting, and as a carry on. That was until the explosive swab guys yanked me out of line at O'Hare after detecting powder residue. Since it was used to hold recently fired shotgun shells, I told them, it sure as hell should have some powder residue. They questioned why I would use such a bag and I told them that I had no idea they would be testing for that sort of thing since none of the airline security information ever mentioned that angle.

Like the French military from about 1870 on, our security apparatus seems to be looking backwards to prevent the threat that just occurred rather than forward to prevent the one that is about to occur. The Germans invade France in WWI, the French build the Maginot Line at huge expense and the Germans go right around it in WWII. Richard Reid tries to ignite his shoes and millions of us are taking our shoes off to get on the plane. Then the nut jobs come up with gel based explosives and they make us all use 3 oz containers stored in a zip lock bag. Now the exploding underwear. I guess I can see some advantages to us all taking off our underwear in the security line and putting it in the gray plastic tub but I'm sure our prudish social mores will prevent that from being implemented.

Get some sophisticated explosive screening and detection equipment in place (we apparently already have it), put up a weir and close the Chicago canal to the carp, and let me read a magazine, listen to some tunes, and take a piss on the airplane during the last hour of flight. Knee jerk and ineffective methods, designed to make the public think the government is doing something, are not the way to go. Both carp and terrorists need to be thwarted, contained, and with any luck eradicated. If we use our technology in combination with a well thought out plan and citizen involvement (in addition to burnt testicles ol' Umar took a bit of an ass kicking from his fellow passengers and I like that) I think we will be much better off. I just hope something gets in place before a disaster, on either the carp or terrorist front, occurs.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Beware - Snow snake season

Our annual 'Storm of the Century' was the usual bust. We got about 10' of snow in two separate events and zero wind or drifting. Total snowfall did not even equal half of the 20 plus inches that the breathless weather alarmists in the media were predicting. Thousands of people changed their Christmas plans based upon what the media was trumpeting about this piss ant storm and nothing really happened. My VW Jetta Sportwagon has a ground clearance of about ten millimeters and I never heard the bottom scrape once on snow, other than on the snowplow berm at the end of the driveway. The fact of the matter is that the last time we had a blizzard in the Minneapolis/St Paul area was the Halloween Blizzard of 1991. Duluth had a classic blizzard that pretty much buried Park Point in 2007 and GalwayGuy and I were up there, barely escaping the rampant cannibalism mentioned in the sign below. You can read about the real blizzards of the last 100 years here. One winter threat is real and active now however, and people would do well to be alert. Snow snakes have been spotted over most of the area since the recent snowfall.

I got my first cross country ski in Sunday afternoon at a local golf course that had been trackset in the aftermath of the 'Storm of the Century'. Due to the wide open fairways and greens that we were skiing over, being attacked by snow snakes was not much of a danger. Last weekend on Reefer Creek though, was a much different story. We spotted snow snakes coiled on a number of trees, ready to strike, and it was only by care and experience that we were able to successfully avoid them. Many can reach 12' to 15' long like the ones in the images.

The beasts can sense your presence from vibration. Any sort of loud noise or concussion will cause them to drop from their perch in the tree, usually on your head. Once you have been struck you need to act fast.You normally feel the concussion on the top of your head and then a cold, wet feeling at the back of your neck. Like certain species of bees, they can only get you once but that's not very comforting once you've been hit. The key to survival is to immediately remove the cold, white venom from your head, down your neck, and down the front of your jacket. If left in contact with your skin, this white substance will morph into a cold, clear liquid which can cause hypothermia if untreated.

Fortunately, this is a very treatable condition. Quick removal of affected clothing and brushing off the venom is usually all it takes. In more extreme cases where the venom has melted, a prescription of several doses of Bushmills Irish Whiskey can alleviate some of the more aggravating symptoms. The presence of these creatures is no reason to avoid enjoyment of the woods in winter though. Get out there and ski, snowshoe, hike, and have fun. Just be sure to remember to have your first aid kit with a flask of Bushmills tucked into the corner. It's cheap insurance in case you're attacked.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Winter comes to Cornie

Last Sunday found me in Cornucopia, WI to drop GalwayGuy and TheLegend off at Mass at St Ann's. My normal routine would be to make a beeline for the Village Inn to do a quality check on the South Shore Nut Brown Ale tap line, but the weather was just too inviting to head to the bar. Since many of us kayak up there in the summer and don't get to the northermost point of Wisconsin in the winter, I figured a Christmas Eve photo tour of the area might be the perfect post for a lazy blogger such as myself.

My first stop was at Meyers Beach, the main jumping off point for the mainland sea caves and the scene of a couple of fatal kayaking accidents in the past few years. It sounds like the real time wave observation system will be functional next season, giving folks a look at the conditions around the caves before venturing out. There weren't many waves to worry about last weekend and parking was ample since I was the only one there. It was plowed but a bit snowy.

The sea caves looked like their annual ice sculpture show was beginning but walking to the caves may be a few weeks off.

Eagle Island looked inviting off in the distance and it has a skein of ice around its shore as well.

I stopped like I always do at the artesian well on the east end of the harbor and park area.

Water flows year round from the well into the lake from the pipe in the foreground. Squaw Point,now called Mawikwe Point, is in the background.

The breakwater at the entrance to the harbor is right in line with the ice crusted motif of the rest of the lakeshore. The commercial guys are still fishing and were off loading an impressive catch of herring when I went past the docks.

The sailboats are all out of the water for the year. Only the commercial guys are still out in boats.

The old eastern rite church, onion domes and all, looks right at home in the snow.

After this latest blizzard that we are in the middle of right now, things will be downright wintry up in Cornucopia. The ice should freeze late January or early February for the walk to the caves and the empty parking lot will be full again. Ski and snowmobile trails should be set for the winter and before we know it spring will arrive and the Meyers Beach lot will be full of paddlers and hikers again.
In the meantime, have a merry Christmas and a productive and fun filled New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An enjoyable five minutes at the mall


When people ask me if I'd like to go to the mall with them this time of year, I generally tell them I've scheduled outpatient surgery for a thrombosed hemorrhoid. With apologies to Frank Zappa, I'd much rather be 'buns up kneelin' than within five miles of any holiday shopping mall. Nonetheless the perfect storm of circumstances combined to drive me to the mall to replace my dead iPod at the Apple store.

The inevitable traffic snarl is the first of many aggravations. Waiting for the fat lady to carefully load 8 shopping bags into her trunk before plopping into the drivers seat and fixing her makeup so a person can park three stalls closer does not help the traffic situation, or my mental state, one bit. After parking in the very first spot I see, no matter if its 40 acres away from the door, I made a beeline for my destination like a guy in Mercedes blowing by Volkswagons and Fiats on the autobahn, trying to breathe shallowly to avoid inhaling the ever changing mall stench. Once at the store I figure my frustration and aggravation has only begun, with insolent, gum popping, high school aged clerks, checkout lines, and 'associates' who not only don't know the product they are selling but couldn't find their own ass with either hand. Imagine my surprise when that scenario didn't play out.

I went in armed and seeking battle. I had heard that Apple offered a 10% discount and recycling for dead iPods. I fully expected to hear the offer had expired at the start of the holiday season but the pleasant and knowledgeable young woman that met me at the door told me the offer was indeed still in place. She answered my 3 or 4 questions and volunteered that the new Ipods were more reliable because they did not have a spinning hard disk.I told her I was in and it took her less than a minute to walk back and grab me a new iPod Touch. As I eyed the long linesshopping she informed me that was the tech help line and that she could check me out where we stood. She pulled out a device about twice the size of a transistor radio (you now know just how old I am) and scanned my credit card. I was waiting for her to pull a receipt printer out of her pocket but she simply asked if it was OK to send the receipt to my email and automatically register me for the warranty. Hell yes! I thanked her, took a deep breath, and headed for my car as fast as I could walk, Apple bag containing new iPod clutched in my hand. I had spent right around 5 minutes in the store.

It was a good experience, maybe the only good experience I can recall having in a mall except for maybe the time my whole company was ejected from Gatlins Music Club in the Mall of America for disrupting a country line dance. Even the packaging for the iPod was well thought out and I didn't have to recreate the shower scene from Psycho trying to open some miserable clamshell. The package can also be used to store the device and cords rather than adding to the landfill. Good design all around.

The iPod worked flawlessly and TheLegend, GalwayGuy, and I listed to famous Big Top Chautauqua performer and deer camp member, Phillip Anich and other artists as we headed north. My five minutes spent in the mall this year was painless, productive, and efficient. Maybe I'll just cancel that hemorrhoid procedure for the time being.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A good weekend at camp

I'm still not sure how we all managed to pull this off, but five of us disengaged from the holiday madness and spend the weekend at the deer camp. Bow season is still open and there was some hunting and deer were seen, including a small buck and the usual doe and fawn families. The main reason for the trip however, was to show the camp to TheLegend, a guy who has been a connoisseur of fine deer camps for the better part of 60 years.

The weather was perfect, 20F and a foot of nice, fluffy powder on the ground. Reefer Creek was frozen for the most part, and there was only a breeze off the open Lake Superior rather than the normal bone chilling northwest wind. GalwayGuy, TheLegend, and I rolled in late morning on Saturday and were preceded by the KingOfIronwoodIsland. We were all happy we got there Saturday morning because Podman arrived Friday night to temperatures of 20F outside and 10F inside the camp. After a few hours of serious stoking of the pot belly stove, he had managed to get the temperature inside up to 45F and enjoyed supper in his snowmobile suit. The King brought his ATV and TheLegend and I took a tour of the property. We checked out the old logging camp, the dozer trail to the creek, the select cut, and the spot where we left the deer carcasses. It would appear from the tracks in the snow and whats left that everybody from the chickadees to the fisher are feeding off the bounty. We returned to camp and TheLegend browsed the ample camp library while GG and I stoked the sauna and snowhoed down the creek. We went through the ice 3 or 4 times but if we kept to the inside of the bends the water is very shallow. The video clip is of the look and sound of water running under the frozen ice and snow. Turn up the volume. We both think we needed to create a tape loop of the frozen creek to soothe the mind during the brain numbing routine of urban life. The boys returned from their blinds and happy hour began under the Humphrey propane lights. Fresh ears for the stories that we've all told and heard countless times made for a fine evening. We even heard a number of good stories from the old deer camp north of Mora, MN. A meal of fork tender venison backstraps combined with the smell of wood smoke and damp wool was a magical elixir for holiday induced stress. I had brought a bottle of Fat Bastard merlot to complement the venison but never even got a sip as the King, with some help from GG, drained it as I put the finishing touches on supper. I did notice that he was not up at the crack of dawn to head for his blind though, so he likely saved me from an equally slow start to the morning.

A final trip to camp for 2009 was just what the doctor ordered for all of us. I'm already thinking about the next visit when the ski trails are tracked and creek is frozen completely solid. The VoiceOfReason manged to get in 10k on Sunday and now I'm behind. I guess I can count my snowshoe hike as aerobic winter activity but it makes no difference. There is no place I would have rather been this weekend than up at camp with the crew.

video

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chlorine or gunpowder: An easy choice for me

GalwayGuy arrived home via Amtrak late Saturday night after a rigorous semester at grad school in St Louis. The last time he had tipped over his Capella was in the brisk waters of Lake Superior off the Keweenaw peninsula in late August. This meant that I would likely be inhaling the fetid, chlorine saturated air of the Brooklyn Park community pool during Sunday's rolling session. I discovered however (perhaps a Freudian slip?) that I had double booked myself.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher had invited a number of folks to shoot with him for charity at the county indoor range. Foreclosures in Ramsey County, MN are up significantly and one of the little publicized effects of this increase is on renters. If a property owner is in foreclosure they have no legal obligation to inform their renters. This means honest folks who have been paying their rent can be thrown out of their homes with zero notice when the property is foreclosed. The sheriff, who's department 'gets to' execute these foreclosures I would imagine, decided that something needed to be done and came up with the first annual "I Shot with the Sheriff" pistol shoot. For a modest donation to one of five charities that serve people that are vicitimized by this practice, a person could shoot 50 rounds at increasingly longer distances with the sheriff's department personnel, including the sheriff himself. If you managed to beat him, you were awarded an "I Out-shot the Sheriff"certificate.

I failed to outshoot the sheriff. I learned from one of the SWAT team guys that the sheriff is a ringer, one of the top 5% of marksmen out of roughly 400 people in the department. I was a bit rusty and the first couple of rounds got away from me but it was a very nice afternoon and for a great cause. I had dropped GG off at the pool, holding my breath to avoid chlorine poisoning, and then picked him up so we could head down to Grumpys Bar to watch the end of the football game. He needed to wash the foul taste of all that St Louis Budweiser from his palate with a bit of Surly Bender and I need to help drink up the Summit Kolsch to make room in the tap lineup for the Summit Winter Ale.

It was a pretty good Sunday. All of the mornings goals for both of us,with the glaring exception of beating the sheriff , were accomplished by about 4pm that afternoon. Summit Winter Ale is still not on tap at Grumpy's so we went down there last night and continued to chip away at the Kolsch but everything is moving in the right direction. GG's stick roll came back, my tight groups returned on about the third five round series, and Catholic Charities, the Union Gospel Misson, and the other three charities have several thousand bucks that they didn't have before Sheriff Fletchers fundraiser. A great start to the holiday season.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Paddle club rendezvous

Even though the paddling season is ending in this area, evidenced by the appearance of portable ice houses on Pokegema Lake yesterday, people are already mentally transporting to spring and ice out. I got an email last week from SteveM, noted Illinois paddler and fellow fine beer afficianado, letting me know about a rendezvous of midwest paddling clubs that will take place on the Saturday of Canoecopia. The plan for the evening is below.

First Annual Paddling Club Rendezvous

Mark your calendars for March 13th 2010 at Canoecopia. Rutabaga and The Illinois Paddling Council will be hosting the first annual Paddling Club Rendezvous on Saturday evening from 5:30-7:00pm in the Superior Room at the Clarion Hotel next to the Alliant Energy Center campus. Piizza and soft drinks will be served. All club members and non members are welcome! The Rendezvous is an opportunity for paddling club members from all over the Midwest to get together to network, share favorite paddling destinations, plan joint activities, recruit new members, and just get to know each other over pizza and soda.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS !


This sounds like a fine way to interact with members of other clubs in the midwest and learn about some paddle destinations other than the usual ones that everyone knows about. It does however, run directly opposite the annual Lake is the Boss Canoecopia Debriefing, held every year at the Crystal Corner Bar on Willy St in Madison. Last year high ranking members of the Missouri River Paddlers, Central Iowa Paddlers, SKOAC, Mad City Paddlers, and the Inland Sea Kayakers had a long and productive meeting at the west end of the big horseshoe bar at the CCB. This confab at the Clarion Hotel has the potential to replace the Lake is the Boss event but for one glaring omission: beer.

I'm sure an overwhelming majority of paddlers, at least the ones I know, would agree that 'pizza and beer' is much more resonant and rolls off the tongue much smoother than 'pizza and soda'. As luck would have it, I even know a few brewery folk that would probably be happy to donate a bit of beer to a fine event such as this with hopes that new paddling destinations and their beer might be introduced to what should prove to be a fine group of potential customers. I might even be able to make this happen with a minimal amount of effort, which is the amount of effort I usually like to expend. I'm sure there is a dizzying and malodorous pile of legal crap that can be trotted out to pooh pooh this plan, but most organizations hand out two drink tickets when folks walk in the door to placate the plaintiffs bar and that's all you get. Of course an immdediate black market in drink tickets springs up, but that's what our capitalist system is all about.

I like the idea of a paddling club meet and greet. This should even lure my two Madison paddling cronies, the FrugalFisherman and the Commish. One is too cheap to even attend Canoecopia and the other sticks me with parking every time we go. I do feel that crowd size, ambiance, and social interaction can all be enhanced by the presence of a little barley pop. Just let me know. I can git er done.

PS I also heard that, like This is the Sea 3, Justine Curgenven will debut This is Canoeing at this years event. I'm looking forward to that almost as much as the beer!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Back from Portland



This weekend the VOR and I, accompanied by my sister and her hubby, visited No1 son and lady friend out in Portland, OR. A car rental snafu had us (me) accusing my sister of renting the car in Portland, ME but it was sorted out and we were on our way. On our last trip we hit the ocean by driving about an hour and a half west of the city. This year it would be the Columbia Gorge and Mt Hood about the same distance east of Portland.

The normal angst of air travel seems to be minimal in the Portland airport. We remarked on this years ago when the Dr Jekyll Northwest employees surprised us after being herded and barked at by their Mr. Hyde counterparts at Minneapolis/St Paul. The presence of a Powell books outlet and a Rogue Brewery brewpub, both featuring non airport prices by the way, makes the normal airport stress much more manageable. The city itself is also pretty stress free due to its compact size. Both Denver and Portland were at roughly the same point in the early '70's. Portland chose planned growth, defined city boundaries, and mass transit. Denver sprawled out like a fat guy watching the Viking/Cardinals defeat in his Lazy Boy, belly protruding from his Favre jersey, a trail of chips and beer bottles between the kitchen and his chair, and crumbs and empties strewn haphazardly around him. I've spent a bit of time in both cities and I'll take Portland, thanks. We stayed at a brewpub, one of the many McMenimans properties, which is convenient on any number of levels. Portland has 42 operating breweries, making it the national leader. Non beer drinking outdoor activities began with a hike up a waterfall laden creek that flowed down to the Columbia Gorge. The temperate rain forest climate has everything covered with moss and lichens,a pretty radical change from our woods around here, even thought the temps did hover around freezing,which made it feel like home. From there the plan was to hit Mt Hood and the historic Timberline Lodge, one of the more successful uses of 'stimulus money' from the WPA program of the 1930's. We had wanted to do a bit of snowshoeing but temps of 6F combined with wind gusting to 50mph forced us into the bar. We had planned to visit the famous Japanese Garden and Rose Garden in Portland for some hiking as well but the winds and cold followed us down the hill. We opted for some indoor touring at the historic Pittock mansion, one of the founders of the Oregonian newspaper and investor in many of the popular extractive industries of the early 20th century.
Thus concludes the Portland travelogue. We did pass a few kayak shops in Hood River but they were far outstripped by the windsurfing shops. Kayaking and beer drinking overlapped at the Full Sail brewery in Hood River, where a lovely handmade wood strip sea kayak was on display. At 17' x 22" wide with a retractable skeg and flush hatches, it looked like a fine sea kayak and could be yours for a mere $6,500. It was probably good marketing because the more beers I had the better it looked, but in the end we decided to pass. Next year I have a plan formulating in my brain to ski Mt Hood one day and paddle the Pacific the next. The VOR wants to climb Mt. St Helens after hearing No1 son talk about his ascent. Plus, we barely scratched the 42breweries. Looks like we're heading back.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gitchee Gumee's getting windier

I suppose I better kick out a kayaking post. I'm sure some readers are indifferent or even slightly offended by my two month long deer hunting obsession. I will however, have nearly 50 pounds of ring bologna, all meat weiners, bacon, Ukranian sausage, and brats, not to mention the steaks, chops, and backstraps. Its a good start to the winter larder. One of the crucial elements of successful deer hunting is an acute awareness of the wind. If one looks at the gigantic whitetail snout, it becomes apparent that they can smell any faint unnatural smell in the woods from a long ways away. In a way, the wind is the deers friend and the hunters as well if you take it into account when you enter the woods. As a kayaker on the other hand, I can't think of a time when I thought the wind was my 'friend' and apparently its getting windier all the time on my favorite lake.

Chad Dally wrote an article in the Ashland Daily Press entitled, "Research Showing a Warmer, Windier Lake Superior". The theory is that greater differences between the air and water temp make for more stable weather. A convergence of the two causes windier conditions. It's an interesting read and made me think about wind conditions on the lake over the past dozen years or so. In my unscientific, anecdotal, and completely subjective opinion, I will hereby confirm the observations of the scientists at UW-Madison and UM-Duluth. I'm sure they will be ecstatic when they get the news.

In the first five years of the past decade, I don't remember being windbound at all. Maybe we should have been but were too dumb and inexperienced to realize it. In the past five years though, not only have we been windbound, but on at least a half dozen occasions we've been forced to turn around. The usual scenario involves coming around a point, paddling for a half mile or so, and turning to look your paddling companions in the eye and wait for the first one to say, "Screw this shit, lets head back and have a beer". On the other hand, last season the VOR and I slogged for an endless nine miles from Devil's to York Island into the teeth of a gusting 20 knot northwest wind. We didn't feel nearly so old or so tired when we found a group of college students from UW-Stout setting up camp on York after deciding they were 'windbound'. One of the leaders told me that it had taken them nearly two and a half hours to paddle the three miles from Raspberry to York and they felt it prudent to bag it for the day with the group of rookies.

Surfing when windbound can be tons of fun, the most fun you can have sitting down as they say. When its as windy as the image at the top of the post however, with the only reason the tent isn't blown away being the carcass of the FrugalFisherman holding it down, even surfing becomes problematic. It was that very same day that RangerMark took the flattering photo of me doing my pitcher plant imitation at the top of this blog after a wine and cheese party in a sheltered bog on Rocky Island.

Nope, I can't say that I enjoy wind much at all when on the lake. Providing a bit of chop or a few waves to make paddling a bit more interesting or maybe to give an assist in drift fishing is OK but I'd have to call those breezes. When it comes to a real wind on the water, you can keep it, thanks.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The GurneyGranny's organic venison tenderloin recipe


Prep time: 14 hours

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
-Fresh venison tenderloins
-Sea salt
-Freshly ground pepper
-peanut oil
-Browning A-bolt, .257 Roberts caliber
-Sharp knife
-Stout rope

Prep: Put bad Maxwell House coffee in percolator at 5am. Trudge off to blind at 6:15am. Identify 9 point buck at 8:30am. Shoot. Field dress. Drag. Register with DNR in Iron River. Graciously accept their, "nice buck! comment. Hang on buck pole to cool. Return to blind for afternoon hunt. Identify 8 point buck at 4pm. Repeat above procedure. Variation: holler for the BearWhisperer since you no longer have a valid buck tag. Note that 'party hunting' within shouting distance is perfectly legal in Wisconsin.

Cooking: Filet tenderloins from deer. Heat oven in Detroit Jewel to Very Hot (check out dial settings in image). Insert heirloom cast iron skillet. Rub the tenderloins with peanut oil and salt and pepper liberally. Put hot skillet on wide open burner and sear for one minute on each side. Return to oven to finish, 2 minutes per side. Tenderloins will be perfectly medium rare and can be cut with a butter knife. Be sure to ask camp members how they want their steaks done, even though you plan to make them all medium rare. It tends to empower them and build their self esteem. Sides include fresh frozen sweet corn, garlic mashed potatoes, and fresh bakery bread. Oh, and maybe a few bottles of wine.

This years efforts of the menly buck hunters at camp were eclipsed by the GurneyGranny's two buck performance. She richly deserved it however, after all the 'butt hours' she put in over the last few seasons. Since she is a moderate woman in her alcohol consumption (unlike the KingOfIronwoodIsland), I was forced to jump in and pick up the slack to help her celebrate her two bucks vicariously by sipping a Bushmill's or three.

This year Wisconsin sold 626,000 deer licenses. Of that, roughly 8% were women. Among young hunters however, girls made up 20% of the licensees. When we were kids, a woman in the woods was very rare. GG's dad, ButcherBlockBob, drove up for a couple days to deliver his exquisite handmade butcher block table for the cut up shack. I think he was pretty proud that his eldest daughter was the leader in the clubhouse, so to speak.