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Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, May 22, 2014

One of those ‘diamond’ days

It was a bit foggy when I awoke today, but there were no clouds and soon the sun was beaming down.  Yahoo!  First up on the agenda was to bid Paul and Carolyn Cardile adios.  They were RV volunteers here for two and a half weeks.  It was their first venture into volunteering for the Fish and Wildlife Service.  It turned out I knew Paul from my time at Laguna Atascosa NWR back in 2008.  At the time, he was the new Visitors Center manager there, and he’s been doing it ever since.  Small world, as they say.

After fixing a hearty brunch, I was ready to get outdoors and enjoy my day off.  Tom, one of the brown shirts, hopped off his big tractor type thing to talk to me.  He had heard I was looking to find some morel mushrooms (thanks to the refuge grapevine).  Actually, I’ve been looking to find some morel mushrooms for years.  I’ve just never been able to find any.  It’s been on my bucket list of things I’ve wanted to do.  Unlike most morel mushroom people, he was actually willing to give me some pointers. 

People who hunt morel mushrooms don’t like to give away any of their secrets or favorite places to go.  Tom, on the other hand, told me to look in quaking aspen groves, and even told me where on the refuge I might find some.  I like Tom.  He’s also the guy that makes wonderful maple syrup each year on his homestead.  I’m going to have to buy some of this year’s run from him.

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After teaching the tree identification class to the school kids last week, I certainly knew how to identify quaking aspens.  Winking smile  Notice the lovely blue sky.  I was off to the woods.

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I tromped around for a couple of hours, and all I found was another sleeping porcupine.  It was the right kind of tree, though.

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                                               I guess my scrounging around woke him up.  Sorry.

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I did finally find some mushrooms, but they just didn’t look right to me.  I remember talking to a woman last year that had a whole bag of these kinds of mushrooms that she said she fried up for a breakfast with eggs.  I could have picked a couple of dozen of these, but I didn’t.  I’ll have to Google them later to find out if they’re edible.  After all, I don’t know if that woman lived to pick more shrooms.  Thinking smile

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Along the way, I also saw a ruffed grouse, a broad-winged hawk, and these little interesting pot like growths.  I have no idea what they are, and don’t even know where to look to begin to identify them.  They weren’t just lying on the forest floor, they had grown there and were attached to the ground.

After about three and a half hours of bushwhacking through the forest, without a bushwhacker, I was about to pack it in.  Then, as I stepped over a downed log, I almost fainted…

_MG_0118Hidden amongst the leaves were two morel mushrooms!  I shouted out in joy, “FINALLY!” _MG_0120

I knew instantly that I had found the treasure I’ve been seeking for many years.  Check that one off my bucket list!  I was one happy camper, and did a little dance in the forest.

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                                                                     Aren’t they beauties?

I’m thinking that shrooming is something like birding.  Once you find a few, you’re hooked.  I ended up spending over five hours searching up and down the hillsides for more morels.  I only found two more, but the call to find a ‘mother load’ is strong. 

I stopped at a couple of more locations, and have to admit that I panicked a little at one of them when I felt totally lost in the woods.  I had no idea which way the car was.  I eventually found my way out, but learned a lesson.  Since my sense of directions isn’t the best, I’d better only hike up hill with the car below me.

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On the drive back to home there was, what I thought, the perfect ending to the day.  A majestic bald eagle perched in a dead tree.  Little did I know that as I sat outside with Emma, a red fox would come waltzing (or maybe fox-trotting) along the gravel road in front of my site with something in it’s mouth.  My guess is she had snatched up one of the young ground hogs to take home to her kits.  Sorry to say, my camera was inside the rig.  Sad smile

Anyway, this was one diamond of a day.  I found my first ever morel mushrooms, and even though I only found four, I’d wager that they’ll be the sweetest mushrooms I’ve ever tasted! 

The tick count for today after wandering around in the woods for over five hours??  Six dog (wood) ticks, and four deer ticks removed.  Diamonds don’t come for nothing you know.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

41 comments:

  1. Congratulations! Is that the only requirement for morel mushrooms - quaking aspens? I have some occasionally in my garden (no aspens there!), but I'm lost as a goose as to whether they're real or false! Good show!

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  2. Yay, you found the morel mushrooms. So you say you created the "mushroom" dance...sorry I missed it.
    Glad you had such a grand day Judy!

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  3. Well a huge congratulations. I would be scared to death I would pick poison mushrooms. But I know you know your rooms!

    Live bald eagle photo. Good eye.

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  4. Congratulations! We have yet to find morels....much to our dismay. That surely beats falling in the dog poo!

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  5. I never have trouble finding mushrooms. They are right next to the cucumbers in the produce isle... :cD

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  6. You sure did have a Diamond Day. Great shot of the Bald Eagle.

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  7. Congratulations on the "diamond" day. I love mushrooms, but I'll find mine in a store.

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  8. Judy, what a lovely day you had! Just walking around in the woods is a great pleasure in itself. Plus, finding a treasure you have been searching for. I don't know anything about searching for mushrooms so I will take your glee for it!! :-)

    Well, I certainly don't like the tick count! Hope you got them all.

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  9. The little pods are also mushrooms, so look in your mushroom book. Good find on the morals, tasty little guys. I find these guys to be flavor enhancers. Yummmmm.
    Bob

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  10. Haven't found a morel mushroom in years.

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  11. i think if i were you i would try avons skin so soft original scent stuff for the ticks n stuff....my father in law used to swear by it when he worked fence .... Congrats on your diamond day !! love the bald eagle pic!!

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  12. The little pods look like exploded puffball mushrooms.
    Congratulations on the morel find. They also like to grow in old apple orchards. There is one in the Smokies that renders a fairly decent crop of morels.

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  13. Always nice to check one off the bucket list ... make sure you add something new to the list though ;-)

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  14. Five hours for four mushrooms. That's dedication! Love the eagle picture. I so hope to see an eagle in the wild sometime. We've been in many places where they reside, but just haven't been lucky enough to see one.

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  15. We live in the land of the morels and do you think I can ever find any, NO!! And you are right, the folks who do know where to find morels keep those locations very secret!! Great eagle photo!

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  16. What an awesome day! The aspens and blue sky sure make for a great photo! I have never seen morel mushrooms...they are really quite pretty! Enjoy...

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  17. Now you've gotten me interested in finding a morel mushroom, and I don't even like mushrooms! Guess I need to google where they are found.

    I have a neat little free phone app on my android phone. It's called My tracks. It's easy to use and you can use it to back track so you don't get lost. I don't know how it works, but it seems to even work if I don't have a good signal.

    So, how did you cook those shrooms?

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  18. Fun post. Good job on the Morel mushroom hunt.

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  19. I saw my first morel mushroom a couple of weeks ago here in northern Idaho. I'm not very adventuresome when it comes to eating things I find outside so I’ll be interested to hear how you like them.
    Teri

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  20. Mushroom hunting scares me. I just know I'd pick the poisonous one and be the lady that never hunts mushrooms again :)

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  21. As I was reading this I thought, what a great day that was, until I read the part about picking off ticks!!

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  22. You know, I could wander those kind of places for hours - except for the ticks. You lost me there. Just cannot abide those things!

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  23. Boy you did have a diamond of a day! I have searched for those morels for years with no luck. I am so envious. Makes my mouth water. Can't wait to hear what you do with them. And then to have an Eagle and a Fox, you are just livin' right. I'd be smiling ear to ear.

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  24. Dave and I have been watching a TV show called Filthy Riches which is shown on the National Geographic Channel. The last episode featured mushroom pickers in Michigan. They sell them at a farmer's market.

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  25. A handheld GPS might let you expand your search area with less fear of getting lost. I used to hunt up to a couple of miles in the back woods and before GPS I had a couple of scary dark nights trying to find my way out with clouds hiding by star orientation.

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    1. Heavy tree cover will block the GPS signal so relying on one in those conditions may not be the best idea. There were people moving around in the hills and forests without getting lost long before there was such a thing as GPS. The culture we live in now thinks GPS is the holy grail for finding directions. The best thing Judy could do is pay attention to where she is going and where she has been. Look around for landmarks, look behind to see what it looks like when returning - those simple things will do a lot to keep her from getting lost.

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  26. I've never tasted a morel...we'll be waiting to hear how you cooked them and what you thought. Sounds like a perfect day to me!

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  27. I'm sooo jealous of you and your morels!..Den and I found them once beneath huge Oak trees...Now you have my mouth watering for sauteed morels! I love that photo of the Eagle...fitting you should see him just before Memorial Day..

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  28. ahhh. . .what a fabulous day. . .five hours doing something you love. . .and an eagle to boot! Yaaa. . .

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  29. Great Day for sure! I seen one morel..... when I was 12 years old
    my moms best friend took me to the woods behind her house
    the show me the jewel she had found there... it was one very large morel mushroom
    Something I never forgot.... but I didn't get to eat any of it.. so I really didn't find one in the woods but I seen one in the woods! ;)

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  30. Some days are diamonds, some days are stones. Hopefully, your diamond day made up for the fiddle sticks day! Enjoy the mushrooms.

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  31. there was a bumper crop of morels this year in missouri and illinois. my son got about a dozen and one friend had one as
    big as your hand......always nice to put a check mark on the bucket list

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  32. What a fun day!!!! Loved seeing the little ( big) sleeping guy in the tree!

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  33. I am very curious about your picking mushrooms on refuge property...isn't that a no no?

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  34. Check out "devils cup fungus".... mushroom ID is such fun... but if I'm eating them, I'd rely on a spore print on about everything except morels and puffballs. Glad you finally found your little treasures... yum! (even if when you saute them you might get a whole tablespoon).... Love it that you had such a perfect day... sure beat days of dust (or is it rust?).

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  36. Congradulations on the mushrooms. I started reading about collecting them last year and they are on my bucket list. Don't they come up a few years after a fire? Seems to me that was one of the pointers - get a list of the wildfires and then go there. Be sure and show us your product - of what you cooked with them.

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  37. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your Blog

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