Along the Natchez Trace

Thursday, August 27, 2015


We're into our last week up here in Maine....  this time next week we'll be on the road, starting our trek to the Balloon Fiesta in ABQ, New Mexico.

I still have another Sunday to work the Visitor Center...  and I'm sure Bill will be hauling a few more loads of fill for the road.

And...  I still make my morning rounds of the refuge.  Only now it stays dark until nearly 5:30, so visibility, what with the foggy mornings and the dark make photography difficult.

Still.....  sometimes I see critters...  this morning I was just turning down onto the new road and saw....
Mama Moose and her Calf
They were standing right in the middle of the road...  almost right on top of the culvert when I first saw them.  You can see the top of the culvert in the lower left of this photo.
I've not had many sightings of baby moose this summer...  only 3 or 4 times....  so am delighted when it happens.  After taking a few photos...  none real clear at that hour....  I backed back onto the main road and changed my morning route.   

They proceeded on up the road...  looking back to see if I was following.
I wasn't...  always feel like it's their territory and I'm an intruder...  so I give them all the space they want.

Just as I was driving off, a small black bear ran across the road...  but it was far enough ahead of me and he was moving so fast, I never saw him again.

I'm always thrilled when I see critters of any kind so feel like I started out the day just right!

Today...  August 27th...  would be my Mother's 100th birthday.  Even though she's been gone 25 years I am still in awe of her wisdom and of the role model she was... not only for me, but for countless folks (of all ages)... many I never met.  I still miss my Ma ....  and she's still my hero.

That's All For Today!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Morning....

I saw this guy a couple times lately.  I was in the photo blind and he flew onto a snag and stayed a while.  The lighting was terrible.  It is at 5:00 in the morning...  sometimes so foggy I can barely see.
I think it's a Merlin?
I'm hoping my birding friends can set me straight on the ID.

My game camera picked up this critter...
Usually I see the otters a few times while we're here, but this year I haven't seen the first one.
So I was happy my game camera caught him.  I know...  these guys are terrible when it comes to mortality of ducks and geese, and they can clean out a fishing hole overnight.  But... I'll admit they are fun to watch.

We seldom see Great Blue Herons until late summer.  This summer is no exception.
They are so nervous....  flying away at the first hint of vehicles or people.  So I've had to do some sneaking around to get even a distant shot.  He really does have 2 legs....  just tucking the right one under him for a while.

The goldenrod is already looking tarnished....  the highbush cranberries are starting to get red.  Queen Anne's lace now looks like a field of dry bird nests.  The leaves are coming down from the birches...
They crunch and crackle under the tires as I drive over them.

It's starting to look like autumn...  and soon will be time to move on.  I read other blogs by fellow travelers...  it's nearly the time to migrate.  Another couple of weeks and we'll be on the road.

The End

That's All For Today!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Guess it's been a week....

I didn't realize it's been a week since I posted last.  Time to catch up again.

I've been having problems with my right wrist for over a month....  of course I was hoping it would go away.  Yeah, right....   Anyway, Friday I headed into Presque Isle to the walk-in clinic.

Great Blue Heron
There are several here now, but they are so flighty...  never stay around long enough for a good photo.

As I figured...  the problem is Carpel tunnel and isn't going to just go away.  I'm wearing a brace that extends nearly half way to my elbow...  doesn't make for easy typing or anything else for that matter.

Cedar Waxwing
Reminds me of Dizzy's post...  he describe them as having the tips of their tails dipped in a can of yellow paint.  So right!

Anyway, I've really limited my computer time.  The combination of using the computer (which includes downloading and processing the hundreds thousands of photos I take) and using the mowers (my main job here is mowing and trail maintenance) probably aggravated an already blossoming condition.  

Pretty even if it does feel like a cactus!

I tried to take a photo of my lovely splint-like apparatus.  Finally figured out how to take a photo of my right hand...  using my left hand to operate the camera adjustments...  then darned if the memory card was defective and no photo afterall.  Oh well...  doubt if y'all really want to see my $40 splint.  But then...  heck...  I'll show it another time.  After all, I don't spend $40 on just anything!

I see this young Bull Moose quite often.
He's gotten so he just stands and watches me take his photo.

The doctor at the clinic says I should wear this splint 24/7 for 4 months!!!!!
Good Grief!
I will admit that it immobilizes my wrist to the point that I don't feel a lot of pain now.  He also recommended I take Aleve, to reduce pain and inflammation.  I've never been one to take much medication so was hesitant about this, but am taking one each morning.  We'll see how that works.

Fields of Goldenrod
It's starting to look like autumn here, although this week is supposed to get into the 80 degree temps.  Maybe that's Indian Summer for Maine?

Anyway, I am trying to keep up with reading other folks blogs but haven't been commenting as much as I'd like.  

Wood Duck
I keep trying to get a good picture of this little guy...  I want to see the colors stand out... and the feathers on his head look like a "DA".  (Do you know what I mean?)  I'll keep trying.

But for now...
That's All For Today!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Morning Moose....

A couple of days ago I was at the boat dock at E. Loring Lake and something made me turn around and look out at the lake.  A moose was swimming across the lake.  Even when we were living in Alaska and saw lots of moose there, I'd never seen a moose swim before.  Most times here (in Maine) I see them wading along the shore of ponds or lakes.... browsing the water plants growing there.  I was on my bicycle and had only a small "point and shoot" with me so didn't get very good pictures.

This morning, on my early drive, I stopped to check out where the lake is dammed up and the overflow continues into the brook.

Much to my surprise I saw this young bull moose swimming in the lake.  And, as a bonus, a loon was also swimming there.

I hurried to the photo blind, which is maybe a quarter mile away to try for a better view....
He was still quite a distance away, but I watched him swim across the lake and walk up onto the bank.

He shook the water off his back and headed into the brush.  

When I got back into my car I saw him cross the road ahead of me, but then a few minutes later cross back and head down to the water again.  I continued on my morning drive, but before going home I drove back to the photo blind for a second look.

I thought he might have wandered back to the water's edge for breakfast...
Sure Enough!
He'd walked back to the lake and was standing in the water finding a snack.

I love my morning drive through the Refuge....  I never know what I'll come across, but I'm never disappointed.  There's always something, even if it's just the sunrise or cobwebs covered with dew.

That's All For Today!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fits Like A Glove....

I do a lot of outside work here at the Refuge.  Actually almost everything I do is outside except the 5 hours I work the Visitor Center on Sundays.

And it's been cold here, especially in the mornings.  Days I mow, I am out and about at least by 7:00, often before 6:30, as the Chapman Pond trails take me between 3 and 4 hours to complete.

Now, Mainers love this weather...  they run around in shirt sleeves when it's 50 degrees out.  Me?  I love Maine so the weather is part of it.  But at 50 degrees I usually have on jeans, wool socks, a long sleeve cotton shirt, a sweat shirt and a winter jacket.  Oh yes..  and ear muffs and a hat.

Wool Mittens....
My hands just freeze holding onto the mower bars...  sitting for hours just barely moving them.
I use a zero-turn mower and there really isn't much action the hands have to do.  Nice mower, but I have to dress warm in the mornings.

By afternoon it has warmed up.  After lunch I often head out to pull Spotted Knapweed.  That's an invasive plant that we're trying to eradicate.  Not a whole lot of hope for that, but maybe we'll get it under control.  We pull the plant out of the ground...  trying to pull the root system up as well.
My handy work gloves.
This is the 2nd summer I've worn these and while really grungy and well broke in, they continue to give me good service.  I have no idea how many thousands of weeds these have helped me pull.
(We do have some control spraying done here for invasive plants, but that's a whole 'nother blog)

Now...  here comes my latest acquisition...
Check these out!
These are gel-filled gloves (pads on the front areas as well as the knuckles) and are for folks who use high impact equipment.  (jack hammers etc).  I have been having a lot of wrist problems and the refuge bought me these gloves so that when I use the mower or other equipment that vibrates or could cause joint damage, the shock would be absorbed.  They asked me to pick out a pair... I chose the fingerless style so I'd have greater dexterity.  
Quite fashionable, aren't they?

I've worn them a couple of days now and think they do help.  Guess it will take a while to know for sure.  However, I really appreciate the effort this refuge makes to make volunteers happy and keep healthy.  

Now...  maybe I can talk them into a manicure for my ragged fingernails....
Ruby red nail polish?

That's All For Today!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Another Catch-up Post...

August!  Only 1 month left here this summer.  It's gone by way too fast....  Sometimes I forget how long it's been since my last blog...  or even worse... forget to answer questions.  Not sure whether that's because time flies by... or I'm getting senile.  Whatever....

About that clam chowder/lobster roll lunch I had in Bar Harbor.  The cost was $19.99.  Not bad for a tourist town AND a very substantial lobster roll.  The clam chowder was just a cup, but with the fries and sandwich, it was quite enough.  Bill had a seafood pot pie which came with fries and cole slaw...  I think it was also $19.99.  Neither of us had a drink, except water...  so for $40.00 + an $8 tip we had a better than average lunch for an expensive tourist town.  We don't often eat out so a splurge occasionally is a treat.

We've been having thunderstorms some afternoons..
The cloud formations are fantastic....

Billowing cumulus clouds....  tinted with pinks and blues.  Sometimes I think Maine should be like Montana, and be called the Big Sky!

If we have a late afternoon shower, sometimes we even get a rainbow.
This one started out being a double rainbow, but by the time I got my camera the top bow was nearly gone.  Looks like the pot of gold should be right at my bird feeders...  no such luck....

And... speaking of the sky...  About that Blue Moon...
I took this about 5am on August 1...  but it's still the same moon....  looking tiny in the sky.  You can barely see the reflection in the lake.  Such a quiet, still morning.

After my morning bonaza of seeing 6 moose and 2 bear it seemed everything just disappeared off the face of the earth (or at least the refuge).  Finally, yesterday while in the photo blind I looked across the lake and saw...
A White-tail doe....  standing knee-deep at the edge of the lake.
I had never seen a deer browsing in the water like a moose.  She did this quite a while, providing me with several decent shots of her beauty.

Except for that lone moose calf I saw early in June, I haven't seen any other moose babies this year.  Finally, on my game camera...
That's Mama Moose, walking in front of the camera a few minutes after 8:00 am.

And... the next shot...
Yes!  A moose calf!
I was really happy to see this as I was beginning to wonder if there were any moose calves around at all this year.

We had visitors yesterday.  Jeff and Sandy, who are volunteering at Moosehorn NWR this summer, drove up to visit us.  Bill took them on a tour of the refuge while I was working the Visitor Center, but when I closed at 3pm, we all sat around for an hour or so at our motorhome talking about our lives and our volunteering experiences.  It is so much fun to meet others who share our interests...  we hope to meet up with Jeff and Sandy again.

Well, it's Monday morning....  I've already put 2 coats of yellow paint on the bollards at the north end of the maintenance shop.  Took a break before I put the 3rd coat on, but now it's time to get back to work.

The End!

That's All For Today!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Moose and Other Things...

We've had some really foggy mornings lately.  Probably because daytime temperatures have been getting up into the 80's....  but night temps drop into the low 50's.  A lot of days we have a shower or two during the afternoon.
It got daylight around 4 am when we got here in late May, but now, even at 5 am, while not dark enough to need headlights, visibility is still limited.
When the sun rises over the tree line, the whole area looks kind of surreal.

A couple of mornings ago I was taking my morning drive...  the fog was dense enough that I never did get good shots of what I came across...

The first critter I saw was...
A big Bull Moose...
Standing along the patrol road...  all alone.
He watched me for a while then walked off into the woods.

I continued my drive along the patrol road.  This road loops around the perimeter of the old Weapon Storage Area.  When the nuclear bombs were housed here, the road was always congested with traffic...  vehicles and sentry dogs... constantly patrolling the area for intruders.

I rounded the bottom part of the loop and to my total surprise...
There were 5 moose browsing in the field below the bunkers.
Here I could get 4 in the same shot...

There were 4 cows and 1 young bull (in the center).
I have never seen this many moose hanging out together in one place.
The big Bull Moose I'd seen just a couple minutes earlier was no doubt very much aware of the group just below him, but it's nearly 2 months before rut, so maybe he was just curious.

At any rate, I drove the same route at nearly the same time the past 2 mornings and haven't seen a thing.  Guess I just got lucky that they were together there that morning.

You can tell we've turned the corner and are heading into autumn.  The trees are still green, but the leaves just don't seem as vibrant as they were.  Goldenrod is starting to bloom.

There are fields of Queen Anne's Lace...
So lovely and delicate...  swaying gracefully in the breeze.

It's time to look for the Turtlehead flowers...  another late summer bloom.
I got caught up mowing the trails this past week, but the grasses and many of the wayside weeds are starting their decline in growth.

Two of my tomato plants have "almost" ripe tomatoes on them.  They all have tiny green tomatoes now...  and lots of blossoms.  Maybe we'll get some homegrown tomatoes yet.

We haven't gone into Presque Isle for the Saturday farmer's Market yet this year....  so that's on this morning's agenda.
In Ohio, we plant peas in mid-March and that's one of our first crops.  Here, peas are just coming on.  There's nothing tastier than freshly picked and shelled peas...  lightly steamed and served with just a little bit of butter.  

Off to the market we go...
That's All For Today!