Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fledging Another Chick

OK little one...time for you be on your own now...

My daughter Dedra has graduated. 

Yes folks it happened last weekend just like it was happening all over the country to countless other "Dads"...their only daughter was finished with high school.  While Dads don't have it "easy" in this regard, they do tend to have it "easier" than the Moms.  Dads by their very nature are not as emotional as their better-halves generally are.  Dads are mostly "rub some dirt on it" types who go immediately for the solution to the issues; not stopping for a good cry along the way.  That's how it "usually" goes isn't it?  Well, here is one Daddy who felt a growing lump in his throat when he witnessed his one and only standing there so straight and tall - ready to take that last long walk across the high school gymnasium floor.  I guess I am a big softee after all.

Sitting there on the God-forsaken, unforgiving pine bleacher seating, the mind goes into rapid playback mode on all the mental images taken along her way:  The first steps taken and precious words spoken, (I want to believe it was "dada") the multiple birthday parties, badgering for homework completion, countless school concerts attended, cell phone probations, dates with "boys", after-school sports and activities, friendship train-wrecks, scraped garage doors, money borrowed,  job interviews, tears shed, and oh the many, many laughs and smiles along the way.  College awaits you - and then you name it...

I am so very proud of you - my Dee go grab the world by the handles and haul it in...because I know you CAN do it!  But don't forget to write. thing ends, and another begins...always.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Weborg in May (Part Two)

I just love it when a plan comes together...

So it was with my plan to camp at Weborg Campground in Peninsula State Park on May 21-24 - 2010.  The weather was (mostly) nice and the birding was as phenomenal as I had dreamed (hoped) it would be. 

Lured in to my early spring junket to Door County, WI by a promise to rent those little motor-scooters when we got to the Park; son Nelson had agreed to come along.  Now Nelson probably would have gone along regardless with his old-man, however the chance to zip along on something motorized and different appealed to him immediately.  The intense birding I was planning on doing - probably not so much.  I will give him a lot of credit for even pretending to be interested in the constant avian anecdotes and factoids which I was gleefully spewing, as his face never betrayed anything different.  I actually kinda' sorta' think he may have really enjoyed the intensity of the hunt, but I'll gladly wear his admission of, "No, Dad I didn't mind at all...I really learned a lot" as a badge of honor.

While moving around the Park in our three and 1/2 registered days, both on foot and on bicycles we had brought with us we saw over 76 species of birds; many of them migrating warblers.  (No...sorry...I choked on the $ 48.00/hour quoted charge for a single motor scooter, and Nelson didn't even seem to mind my backing away from that idea) I made it up  for stiffing him on his scooter-ride the best I could, by playing three rounds of stimulating mini-golf and competative go-cart racing in amongst stopping for locally made ice cream in delicious waffle cones and other area confections.  One of the more famous of the must-do stops is in Ephraim.  The signature red and white themed place is called "Wilson's" and is a local iconic (104 year-old) restaurant and ice cream parlor that serves your basic hamburgers, fries and malts, while filling the summer-time college kid need for steady employment between semesters.  I particularly LOVE their home-brewed draft root beer.   This year I bought both of us commemorative ball caps...why?...cause I just love ball caps.  (and tee-shirts...I love those too, so I bought one)

One of the most memorable things particular to this trip to the State Park was definitely the enormous patches of brilliantly blue forget-me-nots.  Because I had never been in the park this early in the year before, I didn't know about this particular stunning display.  As I rode along one of the many bike paths in the park, I was taken with the incredible beauty of these simple flowers.  The sheer concentration of them seemed to cause the ground to glow with their natural iridescence.  Another first for this trip was the amount of trilliums in bloom and the occasional delicate yellow Lady slipper along the trails.  Mostly I just enjoyed the company of my first born, as he gladly accompanied me on each adventure I dreamed up.

The two of us had nice fire-side talks while sitting and sipping beverages, and allowed the time of day and amount of natural light to slowly lull us into a non-typical bed-time each night.  The crickets and frogs on our side of Weborg's natural marsh, cranked it up to full volume at dusk.  The cacophony was truly spectacular and would probably keep most light sleepers from drifting off to La-La land...not me...I absolutely enjoyed each chirp and croak until dawn came to nudge my eyelids open.  Bacon on the camp stove, coarse ground camp coffee, and blueberry pancakes made the trip that much more memorable, and having my oldest child along to share in the simplicity of the natural world around us, was priceless.  Memories are made of these...indeed.

Thanks for allowing me to wax familial for a bit...It meant a lot to me.

Here's our bird list from the trip:

Forget-Me-Nots in Bloom!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Weborg in May (Part One)

I was right...dammit..I was soooo RIGHT!

...So there's this tiny (little) campground spot within a more massive campground in Door County, WI and I was bound and determined to actually "camp" there one day.  That day came recently the weekend before Memorial Day 2010, but not without some careful, strategic reservation.  If you have read my blog, you know that I have written at length about the Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek, WI. and how much FUN there is to be had there in general.  Well, just add to that "usual fun" the possibility of being in the slipstream of dozens of migratory birds and voila...nirvana!

From the many other times that I had camped within the State Park, I had gathered enough of a sense that all that I needed to do was rely on timing and location, to substantially pick up the avian action.  To that end, I started HERE on the greatest camping reservation system known to modern man; Reserve America.  Weborg is a tiny footprint made up of only 12 sites.  It has both its own flush toilets and showers however and is one of the more sought after areas in the entire Peninsula State Park.  Firing up the old computer, navigating my way to the RA site; I then read the caveat on the RA site that said: Booking Window - Reservations must be made 2 day(s) ahead of arrival and can be made up to 11 month(s) in advance.  To put the whole experience into perspective;  I had to "back up" from the weekend I had targeted, 11 months and cross my fingers.  That basically meant putting something on my calendar for 12:01 AM, June 21st to get me in there (if I was fast and lucky enough) on May 21st of the following year.  Crazy eh?   Yeah, crazy like a fox.

I will tell you that when that date and extraordinarily early time came, even though I was Birdstudy-on-the-spot, I still only barely landed my site, getting the final one available within Weborg.  Don't think that me (Mr. Sceptic) doesn't wonder if there's some under-handed tom-foolery going on there within the bowels of the RA hierarchy, offering clandestine sweet-heart reservations to big money contributors...  C'mon, you just KNOW that's got to be happening...right?  The next thing was to explain to my wife why in the hell I would reserve a campsite in May, in (almost) northern Wisconsin.  Yep, it can still be doggone cold then.  I fretted over that one for a few moments on how to justify the insanity, then decided it didn't matter to me...I had NAILED one...YES!

When the time actually came to gin up familial interest and excitement in my admitted folly that next spring; a wedding invitation and graduation party threatened to derail my train.  Still unassuaged I soldiered onward, committed even if I were to go by myself.  Thankfully my oldest son Nelson (just finished with his Junior year at U of M, and home for a spell) gleefully signed on for the trip.  This was shaping up to be a real honest to goodness "Dad and Lad" time for the both of, could I just get Nelson to watch a few birds with me? 

(Watch for Weborg in May  part two...)