Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The queen of litter

Yep, that’s what I’ve been so far this week.  My sidekick, Rachel, finished her internship last Friday, and headed back to Cincinnati.  That means there’s no more raucous drive-by grabbings for litter pick up.  I’m on my own and slowly plod down the refuge roads gathering refuse. 73 Tamarac NWR, 201320

Considering how thoughtless and uncaring many people are about our refuges, I suppose it’s job security.  No matter how many bottles, cans, and other garbage I pick up along the roadsides, there seems to be a never ending supply. 

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Luckily, when I get fed up with this ‘crap’, I can take a slight detour down a few roads that are gated and not open to the public at this time of the year.  It’s here that I enjoy the unspoiled nature, and find indications that summer is waning.  The goldenrod has begun to flower, and the vibrant reds of the Sumac fruits are beginning to appear.  Sumac is one of the first trees to turn color in the fall, and today I found the first red leaves.


It seems that summer was a little late in coming to northern Minnesota this year, and already I’m noticing signs of fall.  Berries are ripening, the birds have finished nesting and are done singing, and the post breeding quiet is descending.  I still hear the haunting call of the loon occasionally, but time is moving on. 


I’ve been watching the progress of several pairs of Trumpeter Swans.  One pair still has two signets, another has three signets surviving.  Sadly, the pair that frequents the Chippewa picnic area along the Otter Tail River seems to have lost their young.  Life isn’t always easy out in the wild.


Tomorrow, I get a break from picking up litter.  I’ll be leading a tour of the refuge.  The tour is scheduled each Thursday during the summer, but you never know if anyone will show up for it.  I hope some folks show up tomorrow so I can show them what a great place this is.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, July 29, 2013

A couple of gems in Little Falls, MN

After visiting Crane Meadows and Sherburne National Wildlife Refuges yesterday, I headed back to the rig with a stop in Little Falls along the way.  I had seen a sign along the roads advertising the Minnesota Fishing Museum.  I’ve heard of a lot of different kinds of museums, but a fishing museum?  I decided I had to check it out.

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I took their invitation to “Stop in and step back in time to experience the evolution of fresh water fishing in Minnesota.”  This small museum contains over 10,000 fishing artifacts.

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The lady volunteer who greeted me on my arrival was most enthusiastic about what I was about to see.  There are all kinds of lures, fishing poles, and motors dating back to 1913.  The folks working there truly have a love for what they are preserving.

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Among my favorite displays were the Minnesota record size fish, where they were caught, and by whom that were displayed along the walls.  These taxidermied fish and replicas covered every kind of fresh fish caught in the state.  I don’t ever expect to catch a 54 lb. Muskie, but I sure would enjoy hooking a big old sunfish.  Open-mouthed smile 

I’m not much into the history and evolution of boat motors or lures for that matter, but I did get a chuckle out of the lighter side of their displays like the ‘record’ fish, and big bobber.  There was also a large diorama that depicted a spearing dark house on a frozen lake.  Carving lifelike wooden fish decoys to lure big fish in to spear through a hole in the ice is something I didn’t even know existed.  It’s not likely I’d ever do ice fishing…too cold for me…, but the story I read of a twelve year old ‘coming of age’ in a dark house was riveting. 


My absolute favorite lure display was this one depicting the history of the fishing lure from one million B.C. to the present.  I sure hope if you click on this pic that you will be able to read the captions.  They are a real hoot!  I even remember carving one of those red and white lures like the second one from the bottom when I was about 17 years old.  Never caught anything with it, but what fun I had, way back when, dreaming about catching a ‘big one’.  Living in the city of Chicago at that time, I thought northern Wisconsin with all of its lakes was heaven.  I even talked my best friend, Carolyn (aka: bigfoot), into letting me cut off several locks of her brilliant red hair to use on one of my lures.  Those lures that I carved and tied are long gone, but their dreams still remain.  Some day, I’ll land that big one… if only in my dreams.

The $4.00 fee to see the museum was well worth it for me.  It brought back many happy memories from my youth.  By the time I got there, I had less than an hour to visit before they closed, but they allowed me to stay parked in their lot after closing so I could take advantage of a celebration that was going on very nearby.  The Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church next door was having an old time bazaar going on.

There was a huge crowd attending, and parking spaces were at a premium.  There was a live Polish Polka Band performing, and that kind of surprised me for a northern Minnesota community.  I would have expected a Norwegian festival.  However, I had one thing in mind when thinking of a church bazaar.

IMG_9265I don’t sew or crochet, and I have been in need of some of those dish towels that have a method of hanging around a fridge or stove handle.  The best place I know of to find them is at a church bazaar.  I was not disappointed.  I bought these three towels from (I hesitate to say) a little older ladies group that supports the church.  They do such fine work, and these were just what I was looking for.


I also found these hand embroidered pillow cases at a reasonable price.  I don’t have the patience or talent for this kind of work, but I sure do appreciate it.  The fishing museum and a church bazaar.  With those two gems and my visits to two refuges, the day was a resounding success from my point of view.

Last, but not least, I added a new tee shirt to my collection at the MN Fishing Museum.  I just couldn’t pass it up.  As I purchased it, I thought of Where are the Dixons Today?  I think it would be the perfect shirt for Jim.


(As an aside, crappie is a fish whose name is pronounced differently depending on where you live in this country.  In Minnesota, it’s pronounced ‘croppie’, but in New York it’s called ‘crappie’.  The NY pronunciation is how I interpret this shirt. Winking smile)

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Being a tourist

On my trip to Rochester and back last week, I passed several places along the road that I wanted to investigate further.  I had packed a lunch last night, so I headed out early to visit a couple of them.  Only problem was, when I got up, my left ankle was giving me fits.  How in the world does a person get what feels like a sprained ankle while they’re asleep?  That painful limp persisted all day, so it put a damper on some of my plans.

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First up was Crane Meadows NWR down near Little Falls, MN.  It turned out that the only public access to this refuge at this time of the year is the 3.7 mile hiking trail along the Platte River.

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That wasn’t going to work for me today, but I did make it to the first overlook of the Platte.  This refuge doesn’t have a wildlife drive, so I was a bit disappointed considering I couldn’t walk very far.  I’d driven about 120 miles to get here, so now what to do?


I plugged the address for Sherburne NWR into Jack-in-the-Box, and found out it was a further 54 miles down the road.  What the heck!  I’d come this far, so I might as well drive another hour to see what this refuge had to offer.


I’m very glad I did.  There’s a seven mile wildlife drive on this refuge, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Even though it’s not that far as the crow flies from Tamarac, the habitat is quite a bit different.


This refuge is all about wetlands, not the big lakes that Tamarac has.  They do have a few things in common though.


Bald eagles and trumpeter swans nest here just as they do at Tamarac.  This young bald eagle was occasionally screeching, as it waited for its parents to come feed it.  It’s about ready to be out on its own very soon.

IMG_9224It took me a couple of hours to do that seven mile wildlife drive.  It was the middle of the day, and not the best time to see wildlife, but I enjoyed my tour non the less. 

IMG_3934There is a lot more native prairie land on this refuge, and the blooming prairie flowers were vibrant.  I could just envision the first settlers coming to this area and being in awe of the beauty.


I was surprised by the number of overlooks provided for visitors.  I’m guessing there’s an overlook for almost every mile of the wildlife drive.  I probably encountered about a half a dozen other vehicles along the route.  It was good to see people out taking advantage of this peaceful drive.


Since it’s almost August, many of the wildflowers are sending their seeds out for the next generation.  Life marches on.  It’s all a grand circle, isn’t it?

As I headed back north, I stopped in Little Falls and had another little adventure.  I’ll save what happened there for tomorrow’s post.  Sometimes being a tourist and going with the flow works out just right.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, July 27, 2013

First tomato

It’s been kind of chilly since I returned to Tamarac.  Highs in the 60’s during the day, and I’ve used the furnace each morning.  There have been rather brisk winds as well.  Some storms moved through the day after I got back, which afforded me another chance to exercise the generator as we lost electricity for a number of hours.

This morning dawned bright but cool, so I headed out for the farmer’s market in Detroit Lakes.

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Most of the local venders had to hang onto their canopies so they wouldn’t blow away.  Just about everyone was bundled up.  Seems a little early for such cool temperatures.  I got in line to wait for my rustic Italian loaf of bread from the Breadsmith booth.  I think it’s the most popular booth here.

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I got there pretty early, so I was able to snatch up a small basket of home grown tomatoes.  They were pretty small, but so delicious.  I’ve been waiting a year for that wonderful taste.  Raspberries are now in season, but I had bought a pint at a stand on my way back from Rochester the other day.  I got them for a much better price too. 

After a few other errands in town, I headed to Frazee, MN, for Turkey Days.  That’s the town where I got that picture of the World’s Largest Turkey in May.  Well, as far as small town festivals go, I’d say this one wasn’t worth stopping for, so I didn’t.  Thumbs down  As I slowly drove through town, it seemed that it mostly consisted of craft booths.  Not my cup of tea, so I headed back home.

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I took the round about way home through the refuge, and spotted a nice bunch of wildflowers.   I haven’t got the desire to identify them right now since it took me hours to figure out how to get my pictures uploaded to Picasa 3.  I said in the last post that I was liking Windows 8, but today’s experience almost had me tearing my hair out. 

At one point, all 19,000 of my pictures disappeared again, and I ended up calling Daniel several times.  Of course, he told me it had to be user error (which didn’t help my disposition at all!).  Eventually we (he) figured it out, and my pictures were back.  The last time I called, he told me I had reached my limit of help calls for the day.  Disappointed smile  I then reminded him, that if it weren’t for me, he wouldn’t be here!  Nyah-Nyah  I just hope I can remember the convoluted method he showed me for getting pictures uploaded tomorrow.

If the weather is good in the morning, my plan is to visit a couple of interesting places in Little Falls, MN.  Think Charles Lindberg, fishing, and a crane meadow….

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Windows 8, first impression

I thought when I fell into my bed last night, I’d be so comfortable that I’d instantly be asleep.  That was not to happen.  I tossed and turned until after 3:00 in the morning before I finally succumbed.  By the time I woke up at 7:30, my plans to get back on the job and start mowing had flown out the window.  I just couldn’t do it.  I guess recuperation takes longer the older you get, and my birthday on Monday just added another notch to the stick.

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I fiddled with the new computer for a while, and came up with this collage of pictures that my daughter Robyn took on Saturday afternoon.  It was a hot day, and when one of those ice cream trucks with the incessant song ringing came by, she treated everyone to a refreshing snack. 

I haven’t heard one of those trucks in a long time.  When I was a kid growing up in Chicago, a guy on a bicycle might pedal through the neighborhood ringing his bell.  The front of his bike had a big metal cooler on it with the sweet frozen treats inside.  It sure was more exciting to me than hearing the Rags-A-Lion man shouting with his horse and wagon as he made his way down the alleys in the city!

I suggested to Dan that everyone eat their treats outside, and he agreed.  All colors of ice cream and sherbet were squishing through those little fingers as the sun and heat helped melt everything.  I don't know smile  Robyn didn’t get pictures of everyone, but the five grandkids are represented.  Had I not been ill, I would have been clicking away myself.

Anyway, I digress.  This post is supposed to be about Windows 8.  When Dan and I were looking into a new laptop to order for me on Sunday night, he assured me that that any hesitations I had about using Windows 8 were not grounded in reality, but were all opinions I had heard in the blogosphere.  You know, sometimes we mature folks speak one language, and our children speak another.  However, I took his advice and ordered a new Dell 17.3” screen laptop with Windows 8.  He knows about all those numbers about RAM and such that are a mystery to me, so I relied upon him to not lead me astray.

Often, when he is trying to teach me something technical about my computer, we both become very frustrated.  That’s where the different language stuff comes into play.  He can’t understand why I’m not getting what he’s saying, and I can’t understand why he doesn’t understand my repeated questions.  I don’t think I’m stupid, you know. Annoyed

After all that I’ve said, here’s my first impression of Windows 8… I like it!  I like those big squares with things I can click on once.  I’ve eliminated those I’ll never use, and added my favorites like Live Writer and Picasa, and if you click on the ‘desktop’ you get right to a screen that’s familiar like Windows 7.  Yes, there’s a learning curve, but then I had someone to take me (a little tersely at times) through the basics.  Repeated prompts by Daniel helped a lot, but I was on my own once I left a few hours later.  I think it’s working out, and I’m sure anyone with questions about it would get a calm reply from RickSmile

I did have to call Dan once today though, because try as I might, I couldn’t figure out how to shut the dang computer down correctly since there wasn’t that familiar start button (that also included a shut down/restart option).  It took him less than 30 seconds to walk me through that procedure.  Perhaps now I’ve left the 90’s and entered the new millennium??  Time will tell…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I made it back home

Thanks to my son, Daniel, you know that I encountered some difficulties this past week.  Tonight I’m only going to cover two parts of my time in Rochester.  After an uneventful 300 miles drive down on Thursday, it looked like the weekend was going to turn out just as planned.  Little did I know!

I had made an appointment a couple of weeks ago to get my teeth cleaned and checked at the dentist I frequent when I’m in the area.  Piece of cake, right?  Well, it turns out that if you’ve had a total hip replacement, you have to take antibiotics before having anything done to your teeth.  My surgeon never mentioned this, but I vaguely remember it being mentioned in the booklet I was given about  hip replacements.  So, the dentist had me take four Amoxicillin capsules right there before the cleaning began.

That went along just fine until a big truck wiped out the electrical wires crossing the road in front of the office.  Luckily, the technician was done with the cleaning, but the dentist couldn’t check my teeth over since it was so dark.  They said they would call me when the power came back on so I could finish the check-up.  (I should have recognized this as a warning that things would continue to go wrong.)  In the meantime, I met Robyn and the grandgirls, and my long time friend, Susan at a local restaurant for lunch.  I ordered the quesadilla appetizer for my lunch.  It was so large, I shared some with Susan.

After returning to the dentist’s office to get the report that my teeth were just fine, I headed over to my son Andy’s house for visiting, and a cookout when Dan joined us after his work.  That never happened for me.  Along about 3:30, I became violently ill.  I won’t go into all the details, but suffice it to say I felt like Mount Vesuvius from one end, and Mount St. Helen’s from the other.  Daniel wolfed down his burger so he could take me home, where I spent almost the next 48 hours ensconced in the bathroom.  I thought I was going to die, but I was afraid I wouldn’t.

If things hadn’t quit by noon on Sunday, we were prepared to take me to the emergency room.  It was that bad.  All of the rest of the kids and grandkids came over on Saturday to Dan’s, but I barely got to see them.  I thought for sure that I had food poisoning from the quesadilla.  However, after checking with Susan on Monday, I found out that she didn’t get sick at all.  That left me to believe it was the dose of antibiotics that the dentist gave me that caused an adverse reaction.  I suppose I’ll never know the true cause, but I don’t think I want to try Amoxicillin again. 

I was supposed to head back to Tamarac on Monday, but I was in no condition to drive 300 miles.  A two mile drive to the local Hy-Vee grocery store did me in. 

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Then, as Dan posted, my laptop fried itself.  There it is in pieces in the foreground of the left picture.  We ordered a new laptop from Amazon, and Dan spent last night getting it ready for me.  It’s a pain to start everything like Picasa and Live Writer over again, but he got things going for me in a few hours.  It would have taken me days, and this evening I’m still struggling to get things back in those two programs the way I like them.  I’m thinking I may be emailing our Guru, Rick, in the next couple of days if I become too frustrated.  Confused smile


Through all of this, Emma was in heaven.  She spent the week living and playing with Buddy and Georgie; Dan’s two dogs.  Georgie, in the middle, is as hyper as she is.  They got along quite well most of the time, but having three of them blasting through the house was a bit much for me at times.  Thankfully, Dan has a fenced yard with the house he is renting.  Tonight’s pictures are the only ones I took all week, so you can imagine how under the weather I was.  I can’t remember the last time I only took four pictures in a week!


                                                                             THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, July 22, 2013

When it rains it pours!

  Welp my mom seems like she has made the turn, (golf reference, seeing as yesterday was the British Open) but put one in the bunker.  Her laptop broke down yesterday and we should receive her new one tomorrow.  After I get that all set up she will leave my place on Wednesday and maybe that night or Thursday you will get a post from the real Travels with Emma curator.  Hope everyone is having a nice day!

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Hi, My mom got some food poisoning from a restaurant she went to with my sister and her friend.  She is ok and I am giving her plenty of chicken noodle soup and water.  That is why she hasn't been posting.  Just and FYI.  Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Will wonders never cease?

Since I’m done with the bird atlas work for this season, I was all about mowing this morning.  I put on jeans, my steel toed boots, safety glasses, ear plugs and climbed aboard the big John Deere.  At this point, I would like to mention that today was the hottest day of the year so far, and the deer flies seem to be at their peak.  Uff-dah!  (I can’t remember if that’s the proper spelling, but you know what I mean.)


Along about 10:00, I took a little break and hung out my wash.  Yep, the new set of laundry lines got finished up yesterday afternoon.  I’m sure glad I mentioned this little improvement to the RV sites at a staff meeting last month. Winking smile  I don’t think Steve will be using them, but I sure will.  I love the smell of sun dried sheets and clothing.

After about four hours of mowing, and temperatures nearing 90, I was more than wilted and called it quits for the day.  I was having a little trouble with my right shoulder as well.  Not all of the places I mow are level, and I have to admit that I’m a chicken about doing the steeply slanted parts.  I feel like the mower is going to roll over and crush me.  It’s not so bad if I can hang on with my left arm, but advancing age makes slants to the left painful for my right shoulder.  At any rate, I did the best I could and doubled back several times so the slant would be to the right.  Headquarters should be good until I return next week.


The wonder of the day came when Wold’s RV showed up just before 4:00 to work on my awning.  It’s been almost two months since I asked them to come and repair it.  After a little over an hour, they had restrung and repositioned it so that it now closes correctly and locks.  They also brought along the correct new windshield wipers.  I am one happy camper now.  With the way things had been going with them, I didn’t think this job was ever going to get done.

I have to tell you that I just had to chuckle listening to the two guys and their young ‘gopher’ work.  Their heavy Minnesota accents just made me think of all those Sven and Ole jokes, don’t-cha know.  It was a hoot! 


After they left, I began my preparations for leaving for five days in earnest.  Of course that included making a bowl of travel snacks.  This time, I mixed Fritos, Cheetos, Bugles, and pretzel sticks together.  Forget the sweets, I’m a salty crunchy type of snacker on a long drive.   It’s just about 300 miles to Rochester, MN, from here so between the lunch I’ll pack in the morning and these crunchies, I’ll be all set.  My suitcase is just about ready, and Emma’s food and bowl are already in the car.  I’ve got lots planned for my visit, so I’ll have to see how it goes about posting.  I’m excited.


                                               Another view of my foggy sunset the other night.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Drive-by grabbing… a new Extreme Sport

It was a little foggy as I headed out early this morning to finish up the last two Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas blocks.  Only added one new bird to the Wauboose block, and nothing new or improved in the Balsam block.  Breeding season for birds in Minnesota is just about done for this year.  I kind of hate to see it end, as I’ve had a wonderful time trying to document breeding birds, and it also means that the mornings are going to be a lot quieter from now on.  I’ll miss the daily cacophony of nature’s symphony. 

IMG_9182 Joe-Pye Weed

In my travels, I did find a new wildflower beginning to bloom.  It’s Joe-Pye Weed.  This flower is in the Aster family and is quite common on the refuge very close to the cattails.  It takes its name from a medicine man named Joe-pye.  In a comment yesterday, Janna asked me to recommend a wildflower guide.  I really don’t have much of a recommendation for her.  I know I’m really appreciating the book loaned to me by the refuge that only covers Minnesota wildflowers.  I like it because it eliminates looking through all those species that don’t grow here.  So all I can say is that I’d get a guide that is specific to the area you are in.  I think it makes it a little easier to figure out the flowers.

After about four hours, the temps had risen to the middle 80’s, so I called it quits on looking for birds.  I would be spending the afternoon picking up litter.


In my somewhat extensive knowledge of picking up litter, it’s been my experience that the most efficient way to gather litter from roadsides is to use two people.  You can get more than twice as much work done in half the time.  So, after an hour or so, I stopped back at headquarters to see if Rachel was available to help me after her morning long meetings.  As you might guess, she was more than happy to get out of the office.


One of the roads we worked has an osprey nest on it.  In the first pic, mama osprey is not too happy with us stopping on the roadway, and screamed at us a few times.  We didn’t make any moves to get closer to the nest, so she calmed down.  Notice how she’s shielding the young chicks beneath her from the hot sun?  This nest has been used for years, but doesn’t always produce chicks.  I was happy to see two healthy young ones this year even if it is a bit late in the season.

Boad-winged Hawk

There was also a very cooperative adult broad-winged hawk that posed for us on the same road.  That’s  the nice thing about litter patrol; you get to see so much more than garbage.

To add some excitement to the litter gathering assignment, Rachel and I have invented a new Extreme Sport of sorts.  Remember, she’s young, and I’m the driver.  I must say that our technique is improving every time we go out.


Welcome to Drive-by Grabbing!  Of course, she’s posing for this shot, but just picture us tooling down the roads and spotting trash along the way.  I slow down a bit, and she leans out to make a grab on the go.  It saves a lot of time, and provides us with chuckles along the way.  I just haven’t figured out yet how I can veer over to the other side of the road, lean out the window, and do the same thing while steering the truck and watching for traffic. Surprised smile

I’ll leave you tonight with last night’s sunset and the fog rolling in over the creek just down from my patio.  It was a wonderful end to the day with the loons calling from Flat Lake in the background.


Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy