Orange Lichens

On a recent trip to Warren, Minnesota for chainsaw parts I wandered off the beaten path a number of times to satisfy my curiosity for old buildings and other sites. I found this old building which once was a storage shed, hidden deep in the woods. Falling trees had crushed it and an old 1951 license plate confirmed it was at least 70 years old.


I have referred to it as orange lichen but there are a few different orange types. Note how the lichens are hardly started on the window patch which indicates it was added to the building more recently. The tree and the building have helped support each other for a long time.

100_3384 (2).JPG

I think orange is the perfect color for a dying wooden building as it fits into the surrounding scenery tranquilly.  The color red or blue would be out of place. Further down the road I saw the same orange color on some grave stones in a cemetery

KODAK Digital Still CameraThis is one of the oldest grave markers in the cemetery so I am guessing it is well over a hundred years old. It certainly makes the rest of the grave markers look rather dull and boring.  Maybe it is mother natures way of directing attention to special people who have gone on before.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

I think the design is creative and shows some artistic talent. Painting the whole thing orange would ruin the effect. Perhaps in another hundred years it will look even more different.

Woods visitors return.

In the last few days we have noticed a few small changes around our bird feeder but we were staying optimistic that our black bear had moved on. This morning the platform feeder had been licked clean and a saucer had been knocked down but not true bear signs.


To deter bear visits I have taken the suet in at night and we close the kitchen porch door. This morning I did a few yard chores and then decided it was time to refill the bird feeders. As I went up the stairs I noticed sand on the bottom panel of the door and was puzzled at how it got there. I am continually hauling things in and out and was trying to think how I could have transferred sand to the door.

As I casually walked by the door my eyes followed the sand marks up the door until I was startled to see the sand went right up to the top of the six foot door and ended in large sandy bear prints!!

My friend was back, and he was obviously trying to find a way into my porch where the stash of fifty new pounds of sunflowers were stored. This guy was getting serious and was getting ticked off, while hungry.

Naturally I had to call Eloise out and show her the latest signs of our visitor.  We moved into the kitchen and talked about the old solid wood door that so far had kept our bear out.  I happened to look out a kitchen window that had a view of our deck and there filling one pane of glass was a beautiful sandy bear print.

Having a bear peak in your kitchen window while having early morning coffee is not the way to start a day off. A quick look outside and around the yard confirmed the bear was gone.

Long ago we were trained to look both ways when crossing the street. Now we slowly look both ways when opening the kitchen door, before make an elderly run for our vehicles.

When I lived in Kenora I frequently saw the damage black bears made when breaking into cabins.  In one case the mother tore the entire door and frame off the kitchen and then went through all the cabinets and drawers looking for snacks for the two cubs that accompanied here. Each can had a large incisor tooth hole punched in the top.  If the contents tasted good, the cubs licked what they could. Their favorites were cans of condensed milk which the mother punctured and allowed to run out onto the kitchen floor where it was licked up by the cubs,  leaving large sticky white areas.

Once the mother bear had opened the pantry and every drawer, she turned to the old upright fridge. She dragged it out doors where she had room to work on it. She opened the door from the hinge side, leaving lots of claw and teeth marks doing so. She obtained a few items but it was mainly empty of everything but the smell of bacon grease.

My bear has no cubs and immediately leaves when it sees me so I am not too concerned but it’s early morning visits certainly adds some zip to our day.


Bears, Bears, Bears.

Early this morning, when I was checking my bird feeders through the kitchen window I suspected the bear was back again. Someone had licked the platform and ground and not a sunflower seed was left.

Two nights before the suet holder and a  fresh fat cake of suet had been stolen. My local black bear was becoming a regular visitor. This is my second suet holder this year – gone!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Bear licking the suet holder clean.

I keep all my seeds in two steel pails with lids in my kitchen porch.  The Suet stash is in the kitchen. The kitchen door from the kitchen into the porch has a glass window. As I approached the door to get more sunflower seeds for my feeders, my eyes met the eyes of a visitor.  The bears was sitting in the porch after finding the seed containers and partaking in a early breakfast.

Bears look bigger when sitting in your porch and peaking in the kitchen door window!!!

We both got a surprise, eyeball to eyeball, but he flinched first and headed for the woods with a bit of a trot.  The porch floor was a bit of a mess where he had opened the first container and licked its partial remains clean.  The second can held twenty five pounds of sunflower seeds (shelled) and that was half empty, lying it is side.

I am sure the bear felt he had stumbled on the mother load and certainly had plans to return. I on the other hand resolved to close the kitchen porch outside door each night. In addition I am going to take my suet in each night and leave the feeders empty.

Had I flung open the kitchen door and stepped into my porch in my usual manner this story might have been even more interesting.

I will remember Sunday, July 1st, the day when I had an opportunity to examine the head and features of a bear, up close. All the teeth were clean and shiny.

Baby Bears

The first week in May I happened to look out my kitchen window and saw a small bear cub in my yard. Because of its size I immediately started looking for the mother but she was no where in sight.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Not wishing to meet the mother, I stayed inside and the bear cub wandered off into my woods.  A couple of days later the same scene played out but this time I had two small bear cubs.  When I say small I mean they were far to small to be out and about without their mother.

The third time this guy showed up I felt safe in venturing out into the yard and obtained the above photo.  He was obviously alone, looked thin, hungry, and looking for help.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

This photo of the pathetic little orphan makes it obvious it needs help.  I went to the house for a hamburger bun and rolled a piece across the lawn to him. He immediately picked it up and started munching on a corner.

Because of his condition he was not too afraid of me and I could get within a dozen feet before he would turn and move away.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

I was hoping a bit of food would help him survive until he found his mother. From the difficulty he was having it was obvious he was thirsty so I set out a dish of milk.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Alternating between the bun and the milk he slowly did better then wandered off into the woods.  I left the milk and in the morning it was all gone. The cub never returned and even though I later searched our woods I was unable to find any of the cubs or their mother, dead or alive.

The experts tell you not to feed a bear cub regular milk as they cannot digest it and it makes them sick.  Goats milk is recommended.  Since I did not have goats milk and the cub was in serious condition I did my best.  Had I gone for goats milk the cub would have been gone before I got back.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

As the days past following the bear cub visit we kept our eyes open in the hopes of seeing the mother and her cubs.  I also contacted a few people but no one else saw the cubs again and no one ever saw a mother bear with cubs.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

I did what little I could, all the time making sure I did not get between a mother bear and her cub.  Mother nature can be cruel and I doubt of this little guy survived. All we can do is appreciate his photos and hope he made it.

World’s largest Jack Pine – died!

This photo was taken a week or so ago on the north side of the Two Rivers, on the east end of Lake Bronson state Park.  Obviously the tree has died.

I saw this tree many years ago and was always amazed that the title included the words “Worlds Largest.” I did not doubt it was a large tree but found it hard to believe no one else had a larger one.
Now that it has died I am interested in learning where and what tree now holds the new title. The tree is still standing but in sad shape and the next storm will no doubt knock it over.

Morning visitor


The day started out with my wife telling me we had a black bear at our feeder. I grabbed my camera and got a shot of the bear lying below the feeder and trying to extract suet from the suet holder. In order to get a better picture I stepped out side and the bear headed into our woods.

I could see the suet holder still held plenty of suet left so I expected he would be back.  Almost on que the bear came back, carefully sniffing the air and anxious to finish his snack.  This gave me the chance to get a better photo, seen above.

The bear looked about couple of years old and it was not too afraid of people.  He slowly sauntered across the yard to my bird bath and had a long refreshing drink, at which time I got another photos.

The bear payed no attention to me but was fully aware of my presence. He turned and strolled off into the woods but returned during the night to finish off the suet treat. While the coat was in good condition the bear looked a little thin and needed to pack on a lot more weight before he retired for the winter.



Moth Lake

Moth lake 2

This is a photo of moth lake taken in the winter. The rest stop is at the top of  the hill in the trees on the right hand side of the photo. The cliff is hidden by the trees.

Moth lake is located on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Kenora, Ontario. It is a small non descript rest stop that sits on the top of a hill with a view of the lake.

The newly married couple decided to move from the Province of Ontario to the open prairie of Saskatchewan. Everything they owned in the world was packed into a medium U-Haul trailer they were towing across Canada in the middle of summer..

They decided to pull into the rest stop to get out and stretch their legs and check the trailer. While sitting on a picnic table they noticed that the left rear tire on the car was low and needed to be changed for the spare.

When they pulled into the park they had turned the unit around so that the car faced the highway and the trailer faced the lake. Because of the weight of the trailer they would have to uncouple it in order to jack up the car.

They no sooner separated the trailer from the car and the trailer started to slowly roll backwards down the slope that led to a cliff overlooking the lake. In a panic they both grabbed the towing bar on the trailer and tried to stop it.

The trailer was full and very heavy. As they braced their feet in the gravel they were slowly dragged along.  They could not see any logs or rocks big enough to put behind the trailer tires. They dare not let go and could only hope the trailer would run into a tree or log and stop.

In a panic they couple yelled for help but the area was deserted. The trailer determinedly continued to slowly roll backwards. It was not until it was near the cliff the the couple realized they were going to have to let go or they would be dragged over the edge and down the cliff.

They stood and watched everything they owned in the world drop over the edge of the cliff and bounce its way down the slope and into Moth Lake. Amazingly the trailer floated but it slowly moved away from the shore.  It eventually bobbed into the middle of the lake and sank.

With the help of a passing motorist they contacted the police and a towing company. The next day the Insurance company hired a diver who found the trailer in the bottom of the lake and hooked up a cable.  It was dragged across the bottom of the lake, up the bolder strewn slope, and then up the cliff face,

Eventually the trailer was hauled into Kenora where everything was unpacked. The valuables were collected, the water damaged items were tossed and a few of the remaining items were saved.

They rarely ever forgot their trip across Ontario to their new home.

Journeys end – P5


Once again we portaged around rocky rapids and waterfalls, anyone of which would have made a good place to fish but we had to keep moving. The little motor was efficient and allowed us to bypass a couple of gasoline caches.


The supper hour passed and our hunger began to grow.  We were all tired of the long journey and looked forward to the end of the last portage.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

This portion of the map shows how we had to zig zag our way north. Near the center of the map where we made a right angle turn to the right, it shows the dead end lake where we had to turn around and backtrack.

Eventually we came to the end of the journey and found VM waiting at the end of the portage with a larger boat. We happily got out of the canoe and into the roomier boat. Because it was about 7:30 pm I was handed the bottle of Scotch, having won my bet with William.


We just left the canoe  where it was and headed to the camp for a hearty meal.
VM was asking lots of questions which we answered but he knew all three of us well and quickly picked up on the frosty relationship between us.

After eating I went outside in order to leave the three partners to talk freely. I was not interested in rehashing the sore points of the trip. Soon I was asked back into the tent camp and told that we were allowed to speak our mind at the camp and anything that was said would remain in the camp.

I explained how close we came to tragedy on Goshawk lake and David’s behavior. He quickly said, “I was scared.”  I pointed out, “I was asked to go on the trip to prevent that kind of mistake but I was ignored and we all almost drowned in the cold water.”

In the ended everyone had their say and things cooled down. I left the bottle to the camp and it was opened during the discussions and helped smooth the way.  At some point David acknowledge I was right about the gas consumption and later put in his hour on the woodpile.


I took this shot the next day of William and David sitting with the plane drawn up on the wilderness beach a hundred miles north of Kenora.  The large tent camp is out of sight in the trees to the left. William and I went fishing in the morning and VM flew me back to Kenora in the afternoon.

While we were having lunch I was asked why I stuck to my gas and travel times  and how I managed to guess the right answers.  I pointed out that before we hauled the canoe to the starting point I had possession of it in Kenora for a few days and had a chance to give it a trial run. I not only learned it was great on gas but was going to be slow when loaded with three me.  There were lots of howls of laughter and complaints, but in the end  it had been a successful and safe trip.

William and I went fishing Sunday morning and he quietly admitted he thought the boat was sinking and he was going to drown. I realized that he had to stay silent or it would have damaged his relationship with his hunting partners. While fishing he took my photo at the rapids on Rowdy lake.


At the time of the trip/photo I was 33 years old. Today I am a few weeks short of my 83 birthday. All my companions connected with this trip have been dead for many years.







Gas/Time travel wagers – Part 4

img645 While we drove the canoe through the chain of lakes, rivers and rapids I though about the number of meetings we held the winter of 1967-68, to work out the details of the trip to Rowdy lake.. One of the earliest decisions agreed upon was that we would go in early spring of 1968. We had to wait until all the lakes and rivers were free of ice but soon enough to take advantage of the spring run off, which would improved passage through any rapids.

The most up to date map of our route showed we could make the trip in one day, but we would have to travel lite and keep moving as fast as possible.  We would start out early and carry sandwiches for one meal only. The major portages between the rivers and lakes were obvious, but very few of the rapids and falls were shown. Because our equipment was very limited we could move fairly quickly on a portage.  We carried no tent nor sleeping bags. Any unforeseen delays meant sleeping on the ground around a fire and going hungry till we reached our destination or back tracked to our starting point.

If we failed to show up at the rendezvous the plane could be used the next day to find us  and it could land on the closest lake to provide food or assistance.

Our route was easy to determine because there was only one chain of lakes and river available to us. It should not be difficult to find us if anything went wrong.

Many discussion evolved around how long it would take to make the journey and how many gallons of gasoline would be required.  Rather than carry and portage all our gas we solved that problem by filling a number of plastic gallon containers with gas then used the plane to drop them off in three places along the route. I flew with Dave a week prior to the trip and we hid one or two gallons on prominent island locations, on lakes that were large enough for us to fly into. This way we never had more than a couple of gallons to carry at any one time in the canoe or on a portage.

All the many discussions as to the length of time the trip was going to take were interesting and highly varied.  We never came to a common decision. Because of my canoeing experience I argued that it would be a race to get to the rendezvous before dark while William insisted we would be there by supper time. The winner would receive a bottle of scotch from the loser.

Another bet involved the amount of gas that we would use during the trip. David bet me an hour on the camp woodpile splitting wood that we would use all the gas we cached on the route while I was of the opinion that we would use a couple of gallons less.

As the miles and hours dragged on we all started to get hungry and at the same time watched the sun racing across the sky.  We ate the sandwiches at noon and picked up a couple of milk jugs of gas. It did not appear gas was going to be a problem but the diminishing hours were making William feel the bottle of scotch slipping from his grasp.

When I finished my turn at the helm I moved to the bow of the boat which allowed a person to lean back on a life jacket and have a nap. David was again running the motor.  Before and during the trip I had spent considerable time examining the map and the route.



When I wok up I felt refreshed.  I looked around me at the shore lines.  I did not recognize anything. As I looked at the shore that lay ahead I could not see any opening.  Half in jest, and half seriously I said, “How long have we been going the wrong way?”  William laughed heartily while David’s eyes darted around the shoreline and his heart sank.

We stopped the motor and closely examined the map.  It was obvious there was no opening on the north side of the lake.  About a mile back, David had failed to notice the river entered from his right. The lake we were on was called Wrong Lake. The hidden lake to our right was called Right Lake. Since the lakes were labeled this way on the map it was obvious prior travelers had had the same problem. David had obviously not been reading and following the map.

I was sorry for what I had said initially in jest.  There was no point in saying more. David was mortified, his face was beet red and looked like he  might die of a heart attack.

We soon were back on the right route and other than the hum of the motor there was deathly silence.


Sturgeon River portages – P3

Now we were on the Sturgeon river our travel conditions changed.  No more open water, no more high waves, and we were protected from the wind.

On the other hand we now faced impassible water falls and rocky rapids. Some portages were short and we simply dragged the loaded canoe around the rocks and shallows. Others necessitated removing the motor and all the gear.


While the scenery was breathtaking and the weather was improving, the inter-personal petty behavior continued. In one of our early winter planning meetings, before William was there, I was instructed that we all had to see that he, William, did not carry heavy loads or overtax himself as he was the oldest and had some heart issues. I agreed and had no problems with that.  I was the youngest, the biggest and the strongest and was willing to do more than my share.

When we hit the big water fall we learned the portage was about fifteen minutes in length. Once the canoe was out of the water David grabbed his pack sack, slipped it over his shoulder and headed off across the portage with out a word to either of us.

William unfastened the motor and head down the trail with it in one hand and the gas tank in the other. I stood there looking at the empty  16 foot canoe, then lifted it on my shoulders and followed. When I arrived at the end of the portage Dave stood there looking at William and his load, then staring at me with disgust on his face.

I never did find out what David was fuming about. The small motor and gas was certainly lighter than the canoe. William was a very positive individual and he was at least twenty years old than I was. He was not going to listen to me and he was certainly going to do his share on the portage.

I could not help but reflect that had this been 150 years ago, David and I would have settled the issue once and for all, right there in the wilderness.


Instead we put the canoe in the water, motor back on, and the gear loaded. We soon pushed off shore into the current and sullenly and silently sat and watched the shoreline slide by.

I now understand the stories I have read about canoe travel in the past and how men crammed into a small canoe got into knife fights and not all of them arrived at the distant destination.