Last weekend was the long standing Annual Grouse Kill up at Camp O near the Wisconsin-Northern Michigan border. This is typically the weekend that reminds me that fall is in full swing and its time to dial the kayak activity back and ramp up shotgun, bow and arrow, and rifle related focus. It's also a time to hang with friends, cronies, ne'er do wells, and other folks that are seen only once or maybe twice a year. It's a weekend where a person can do pretty much whatever they want to, as many times as they want to. For some this weekend results in sore muscles, others hangovers that require sleeping until noon, and yet others a more sharpened focus on issues of the day. It's similar to the line from the old Arlo Guthrie tune, "You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant".
The Bar That Never Closes is the focal point for the dining, music, and adult beverage intake at this event and the liberating feeling of not having to worry about 'last call' is a freedom that some are unable to manage. A professional musician, who shall remain nameless, allegedly forgot the words to one of his bread and butter songs, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, after perhaps one too many duets with our pal Jose Cuervo. More than one keg went through the Karl O. Rohlich Memorial tapper but no one got anywhere near a motor vehicle, which is another charming aspect of the weekend.
There is some work to be done this weekend although I'm not sure if the dock and pontoon pulling was ever accomplished. Winter is harsh with several feet of snow in the area and things need to be buttoned down and boarded up. Wood needs to be made since that is the only form of central heat in the majority of the buildings in the complex. The water needs to be dealt with because frozen pipes are never any fun, and a number of other things need to handled to avoid headaches in the spring when the opening of the complex, the Annual Bark Bay Fishing Invitational, is held. One new addition to the joint was a wood fired pizza and bread oven that was utilized quite effectively and also used to cook the prime rib dinner for Saturday night.
One of the aspect of the fall that we enjoy/suffer with is the Wisconsin Badger football team. For the second week in a row hearts were broken and spirits stomped upon by a last second defensive choke. The WoodFondlingBarrister, a man who would overlook almost any scandal or 3.7% graduation rate if only they would win consistently, is shown in these two photos the first at the very height of elation as the Badger offense scores with under two minutes left to take the lead. The feverish high fives began when the radio annoucer screamed (question from the VOR: "why do they always have to yell all the time?".) TOUCHDOWN WISCONSI!!. The suicidal appearance in the second image is after the Badger defense forgets that covering receivers in the end zone is a key aspect to winning close games, an issue eerily reminiscent of last Saturday night in East Lansing. We were able to calm him down and steer him over to the poker table, where he was summarily cleaned out, before he could do harm to himself or others.
Even though the name of this event is the Annual Grouse Kill no grouse were harmed in this years production. Theywere pursued though, and at least three were scared badly by a loud noise and a cloud of shotgun pellets passing either above, below, in front of, or behind them. The population swings up and down on a 10 year cycle which biologists haven't really figured out yet and it would seem that we are somewhere in the middle of that cycle this year.
On a more serious note a bunch of us toured the proposed site of what the GTAC mining company would like to be the Gogebic iron mine, less than five miles from Camp O. I will write more on this in another post, but it is some beautiful land with lots of streams, waterfalls, and other natural assets. The range is clearly visible as the Podman, plat book in hand, points it out to the group. Turning it from the Gogebic range into Gogebic valley is something that needs some long, hard thinking and research.
I ended the weekend on Lake Superior, possibly the last paddle of the year on the big lake. There was a nice south wind with surfable waves and I was the only person on the water that I could see for 20 miles in any direction. I paddled around Lake O Saturday and confirmed that the water is indeed turning over, and that I should have worn gloves when rolling. The 180F sauna was very welcome after that chilly session. It was a great weekend to paddle but wandering through the woods with a shotgun, smelling the leaves and breathing the crisp fall air had definitely triggered the hunting season in my head. I will get out on the water, most notably the annual Gales of November paddle honoring the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald on 10 November but my mental switch has been flipped. Out to da blind as they say in northen Wisconsin and the UP.