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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

August 2015

We started the month out with a quick camping trip to Wakonda State Park.  We couldn't get our favorite site, and had to settle for one that wasn't very level, and too close to the mosquito-producing swamp.  Nonetheless, we had a good time.  The dogs were constantly entertaining, and enjoyed many walks through the park.  I took one good bike ride, though the best part of the trail was closed.  I suspect the heavy rains had made the road too swampy in places.  I got 15 miles in, which was pretty much my goal. I saw lots of wildlife--butterflies and birds, in particular. I always see a cuckoo there, for some reason.  I took the skateboard out and had the sisters pull me around, as well as taking some rides by myself.

The next weekend we went for a longer trip to Keosauqua, Iowa, where we had camped last year.  I took two good bike rides, 20 and 22 miles.  A tremendous diversity of butterflies appeared on the latter ride, mostly puddling on the gravel roads: monarch, viceroy, black and giant swallowtails, cabbage white, various sulfurs, pearl crescent, many red-spotted purples and uncountable hackberry emperors.  I found a 2-mile bicycle trail in town, part of which was a rail-to-trail.  We also found that they had recently constructed a small (and exceedingly cute) band shell in a park on their riverfront, something we'd like to do in Canton.  I figured out that Isabel and Gretchen are the best pullers, and had them draft me on the skateboard.  It worked out well.  Stacey bought a blackberry pie at the Dutchmen's Store in Cantril.  Every night I drove down to Misty's to get some soft serve ice cream.  The combination gave us a heavenly dessert.

Aug 15 Kayaking the Salt
I jumped at the chance to kayak the Salt River, as it had been on my list for a long time (part of my quest to kayak all of northeast Missouri's streams).  I was asked by my fellow photographers Jim & Marcia Lewellen.  Jim grew up in the area, knew its history and lore, and I knew that would make the trip special.  We shuttled our kayaks using Jim's Jeep with a trailer and my pick-up truck.  We dropped my truck at the take-out, an obscure site known as the Cincinnati Road Access, and drove to the put-in, the Spillway Recreation Area.

This site is just below the Clarence Cannon Dam which forms Mark Twain Reservoir.  The flow on the Salt depends on how much water the Army Corps of Engineers is letting out of the dam.  This day the flow was strong, which would make for some good current.  Most of the streams in this area have slow current, at least when they're safe to float.  It was a nice change to be carried along.  Fish were jumping in the foamy water downstream from the dam, and Double-crested Cormorants were taking full advantage of them.  Fishermen in bass boats were patrolling the shores  as well.  I tried fishing myself a bit on the way down, but had no luck.

Other birds we saw included Bald eagle, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  Butterflies were abundant, especially Giant Swallowtail, Monarch, Red-spotted Purple, Eastern Comma, Common Buckeye, Pearl Crescent, Eastern Tailed Blue, and the rare American Snout.  Wildflowers were in bloom, including various sunflowers, cup plants, morning glories, swamp milkweed and the bright red cardinal flowers.  The real bonus wildlife we saw were three river otters that crossed in front of us at some distance.  I took some photographs, but as I was digging out my long lens, for greater magnification, they dove under the surface and we never saw them again.

The water level was a bit too high.  There were no exposed gravel bars, which would have provided a break for our legs and rear ends.  It would have been nice to take a swim as well, since it was a sunny, blazing hot day.  A greater disappointment was that Jim knew where some Indian pictographs were located up on the bluffs, but we had no place to safely land and hike up to look at them.  The stream is very scenic, having very few signs of human use.  Power lines cross in one spot, and there are a couple of cabins on the bank.  Otherwise, it is heavily tree-covered, green and beautiful.  We completed the 7 mile stretch in 2.5 hours, averaging 3 mph.

When we were done we went to the little dam at Bluffs Recreation Area. The Reregulation Dam is there, and the water was pouring out of it in a torrent.  There was only one guy fishing.  There was a little eddy on each side of the strong current coming out of the gates, and the silver carp were jumping there.  I tried to get some shots of them flying, but it was harder than I thought, at least to get a good one.  You could even see them swimming through the shallows at times.  We had an interesting time driving home, as Jim's kayak racks kept falling off of his trailer.

Back to work
After a summer that was filled with work and play, it was time to go back to the office.  The semester is shaping up to be a good one.  I'm teaching Marine Biology for only the second time, and it feels fresh.  I get to teach Tropical Ecology later in the semester.  My classes are relatively small, and the students are mostly familiar ones.

Savannah had bought us tickets to the Alice Cooper concert for my birthday, and we drove out to Indianapolis to cross that off our bucket list. Alice gave a killer show.  Though he's 67, he could have been 27 with the way he sounded and moved.  He had the guillotine, the giant Frankenstein monster and a few other show tricks.  Motley Crue gave a good show too.  I'm not a huge fan of Tommy Lee, but he brought his A game for this concert. We stayed at Jarrod and Becky's and enjoyed the hospitality.  The next day I picked up a Yakima bike rack from a Craigslist ad for the Lil Egg while I was in the big city.  Jarrod treated us to an excellent lunch at Squealer's, a barbecue place.

Bike ride on 8/23
I took a training ride in Lewis County via 16, F, E and 81 (locals will understand). I saw a nice little buck on the 7-hill road.  He was still in his red summer coat.  I saw an eagle much later.  The only traffic consisted of Amish buggies as they went to church.  I stopped on the bridge over the Wyaconda to photograph the river and waited for a buggy to pass.  As the horse trotted onto the bridge, it began to bounce up and down.  This was not an imaginary oscillation, it was like inches of displacement.  I got off of it before the next buggy came.  Bridges can fail due to resonant vibration. Scary!  I stopped at Savannah's house just as she arrived, and got to play with her dogs, Max and Roman. When I got back to Canton I only had about 25 miles done and I wanted 30.  Even though my legs were already burning, I rode downtown and added a few more miles.  I had to ride up the big hill on the way home and my legs were shot by the time I was done.  At least I made the 30 mile goal.

Bridge lighting
The Canton Camera Club met on 8/22 for dinner and to photograph the long-awaited lighting of the Bayview Bridge in Quincy.  The fireworks were pretty good, and even the lighting on the bridge was better than I expected.

Bike ride on 8/30
Racin and I took a training ride to Wakonda State Park.  We saw a red fox on the way.  There were many butterflies on the way, and we had a good opportunity to examine the difference between monarchs and viceroys.  The dirt track trail at the park was dry and smooth, unlike the last time I was there.  I caught a glimpse of a snake, but it got away before I could identify it.  It was a nice cool day, overcast at first, with no wind.  On the way back, Racin hit some gravel and took a header.  He emerged unscathed, but his front derailleur had turned.  By luck, I had just the right tool to fix it.  When we got back to Canton, we didn't have enough miles in.  We puttered around the riverfront for awhile, and ended up with the above-goal 32 miles total.

We've been nursing Indigo through a case of pancreatitis.  It has not been fun, as digestive products come out of both ends.  For one stretch she did not hold down food for 24 hours.  We think we have it beaten now, but it was very stressful and challenging.

Here's an animated GIF of Savannah getting some attention from Indigo.
From August 2015

Photos should appear in a slide show below.

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