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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June 2015

It has been a most eventful, and drenching, month.

One highlight was kayaking the Wyaconda River again, this time with my nephew Racin.  This was his first float of a stream in a kayak.  At 10 miles, it is a good introduction to the sport.  There was relatively high water, and so none of the usual pulling through shallows.  Instead, there were some fun rapids.  It happened to be a cool, overcast day as well.  We saw eagles and their nest, swallows, turkeys, wood ducks, deer, and a cuckoo.  On a gravel bar I found a nice coral fossil, while Racin picked up a cool geode.  Some flowers were in bloom and the gnarled trees on the banks were interesting.  When we rounded the corner into the Mississippi River, it was into the teeth of the wind.  Said wind was in opposition to the current, resulting in whitecaps on the water.  Some jumping Asian carp added to the excitement.  We had lunch at the Riverfront diner.  At this writing, the rainfall has caused the Wyaconda River to come up so much that it is not safe to float it.

One Saturday Stacey and I took the dogs down to the dog park in Hannibal.  Though there were wet spots on the greens, the dogs had fun.  There's a partial agility course there, and I was able to get Isabel to run through the tube, jump through the hoop, and jump over the bar.  Gretchen layed down in a big mud puddle.

I've had some good days of insect photography.  There was a huge bloom of Great Spangled Fritillaries this year.  Though I'm not sure I have the definitive photo yet, I am at least inching closer.  The dragonflies have been really abundant, and I got a great sequence for the Spangled Skimmer: male, female, both mating, and female ovipositing.

I spent a day at Henry Sever Conservation Area with the LaGrange Garden Club.  It was the first time I'd been there without fishing the lake.  We got a tour by our member and conservation biologist John Pinkowski.  I learned some new plants and some new quail habitat strategies.

One evening I was invited by my friend John to fish a lake that holds some big bass.  I get this opportunity a couple times a summer.  It's my best chance of landing a 5-lb bass all year.  I didn't catch one that big, but it was great just hanging out with John and Steve.  The bonus was at sunset when Steve set some corn on his squirrel feeders and the flying squirrels came sailing in.  I got some decent photos of them, using flash, of course.

I've been out to Lowell's a couple of times to begin cutting firewood and do some fishing.  The fishing has been good, and the average size of bass seems to be going up.  I loaded the trailer with firewood and my truck got stuck in the mud, in spite of 4-wheel drive.  Lowell pulled me out with his tractor.  Things got more interesting on the way home.  I saw smoke in the rear view mirror and pulled over.  The trailer was overloaded and the tires were rubbing the fenders.  I drove to the nearby Baptist Church's big parking lot, and a tire blew on the way.  I got it changed, but the spare was low on air, and I didn't think I'd make it home.  I called Lowell, who I knew was out mowing, and Bob, who came pretty quickly.  I put as much wood as I could in the bed of the truck, drove back to Lowell's, dropped the trailer there and went home.

The next time out was when we took the NCCC team fishing.  These are Americorps volunteers in their early 20s.  I had replaced the bad tire.  We put more of the wood in the bed of the truck and hauled the trailer home without mishap.  I did some work on it after that.  The NCCC kids had a good time fishing.  The fish were really biting, and I think everyone caught at least one.  We grilled hot dogs and had a nice bonfire.  As Racin and I were driving home a huge thunderstorm was moving in.  We had great views of the storm front and lightning on the way home, but were spared any difficulty.

Big BAM finally came to town.  The first bicycle across Missouri tour was held, and Canton was to be the last stop.  I am not only on the Canton Tourism Commission, I was the Project Leader for local arrangements for BAM. We have been planning this since last fall.  I had designed a really cool finish line at the riverfront, where people could dip their wheel in the Mississippi, see their friends cross, then walk over our levee walk to the venue with the beer garden, vendor area and bandstand.  Nothing happened the way we planned.  Heavy rains had flooded many of the area roads.  The cyclists would have had to ride 160 miles (instead of 80) to make it to Canton, so the tour organizers bused them all in.  Of course, those who were able just went home from the previous stop (Kirksville).  Most of the people who had vehicles parked in Canton just went home.  That left us with the handful that had to stay in Canton until the bus left the next morning.  Rain was forecast for pretty much all day, so we canceled all the vendors.  The bandstand that had been ordered didn't have a roof, so we couldn't have the concert in the planned lot.  Stacey saved the day by agreeing to have the bands play in the Lewis Street Playhouse.  I was kept busy running errands (fetching allen wrenches, storing people's bikes in my garage, etc.)  Some bicyclists did come, and locals as well.  We didn't exactly fill the playhouse, but it was a good show.  Racin and I particularly liked this group called Clockwork from St. Louis.  The next day, we went around and picked up trash.  There wasn't much.  There had been a lot more when we cleaned up the lot earlier in the week.  The conservation area, where the finish line was supposed to be, was under water by then.

The only upside to all the rainfall has been that the flooded fields have produced excellent bowfishing, as big fish from the Mississippi River (Asian, common and grass carp, gar, buffalo) swim out into the shallows for food and spawning grounds. One of my students had set a personal best, shooting 41 in a single day.  He's hardcore.  I shot a few Asian carp on my first few outings, but I had some technical difficulties.  I stopped at Butch's in Palmyra to get a new bowstring and arrow.  I still use my old Bear Grizzly recurve.  I bought it for $35 when I was about 17.  It turns out they still make it.  It sells for $339 at Cabela's.  I took Racin out for a little while.  I don't think he'd seen bowfishing before.  I shot one pretty quickly, which was exciting.  We watched a gar swim to the shore right in front of us.  It was slurping beetle larvae off the surface.  There were also lots of baby gar in the water.  They're so damned cute. I went out a few more times, had more technical difficulties, but still pulled out an 11-fish day.  I rigged up my action cam on my bow, but I never landed a fish while it was running.  The batteries were dead while I had my best run of luck. So my "greatest hits" video can be no better than two fish that were hit but not hauled in.

We've had a photo show on display at the Keokuk library all month.  This was our third year of this event.  It's fun and we all eat dinner together on the opening night.  We took our photos down on the 30th and had dinner again.
Once the school year was done I started getting things fixed, one of which was my boat.  It wasn't cheap, but now it runs and I can sell it more easily.  It is on consignment at J&J Marine in Quincy.  I also got the Honda 70 fixed.  I was going to use it to run around town during Big BAM, but that didn't work out.  I haven't had much opportunity to ride my big motorcycle either.  Too much rain.  The dogs get filthy almost immediately after each bath, and every time we let them out we have to wipe 16 feet when we let them in.  Still, it's a challenge to keep the house, especially the floors, clean.

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