Merikay and Craig showed up right on time at 10:00 on Sunday morning for our scheduled tour of the refuge. They are staying at a campground right outside of Itasca State Park, about an hour away. Of course, since I had all of a quarter of a mile to drive, I was a little late.
Weather wise it was an absolutely gorgeous day to be out and about on the refuge. Moderate temperatures and a beautiful puffy cloud studded sky heightened the enjoyment. I thought we might see some busy beavers at this pond along Teacracker Trail, but no such luck.
There was no lack of conversation as we made our way around to the eight kiosks on the refuge so I could restock pamphlets at each of them. Merikay and Craig are fulltime RVers that have only been on the road a couple of months. Seems like that was a long time ago for me. The selling of my house and such is but a distant memory.
While we didn’t see any mammals throughout the day, we sure did see a lot of butterflies. Catching them sitting still long enough for a photo can be a challenge.
I had planned that we would have lunch at the Chippewa picnic area, but time was marching on so we just pulled out our sandwiches at the roll-over dam bridge. The Otter Tail River was gurgling in the background as we lunched, and the breeze along the fast moving river kept the mosquitoes and deer flies away while we ate. It is one of my favorite locations.
There were claw marks and black hairs stuck on a couple of the wooden bridges that we crossed during the day. Black bears seem to like these bridges as places to scratch their backs. We also found some pretty fresh wolf dung nearby. We didn’t see any of these creatures, but I think it’s exciting to find evidence of their presence.
After finishing with the kiosks, we had enough time to take the Blackbird Wildlife Drive. I asked Craig and Merikay to pose for the obligatory blog portrait at the Blackbird Lake Overlook.
Blackbird Lake is one of the few places on the refuge where kayakers can enjoy a nice paddle. This is the first time that I’ve seen any out on the lake. It sure looked like they were having a good time. A bald eagle was also soaring overhead as they made their way down the lake.
Eyed Brown butterfly
As we were finishing up the wildlife drive, Craig asked me if I knew anywhere to find some wild rice to purchase. I had told them how the Chippewa/Ojibwa Native Americans harvest some of the wild rice that is abundant on the lakes of the refuge each year. With a smile on my face I said, “Of course. Right in the visitors center nature store.” We sell bags of rice harvested on the refuge in the old traditional way. Next stop… the VC!
Dun Skipper (?)
We then headed back to the rig, and I got ready to grill some burgers and dogs on my new Weber Baby Q. I’ve only had it a couple of weeks, but I’m really liking it so far. Merikay had brought a Key Lime Pie for desert, and I had invited John and Bridget to join us. It was a tasty meal, and soon afterwards it was time for our visitors to leave. Another enjoyable day with friends to put into the memory book.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy