Posts Tagged ‘lab

10
Mar
19

Loss and the Long Road – Part One

May 4-6, 2018 and May 11-12, 2018

It was a cruel irony that the wagon I had ordered to pull Yukon along the Mississippi River on a weekend Great River Road adventure showed up the day after I had to let him go. I sat and cried, like I had so many times since the previous day, before cramming the box into a dark corner of the garage.

I came home on that Friday to find Yukon’s injured leg was swollen to double its normal size. As I was palpating his leg, I felt a large, hard mass in his groin and my heart sank. I knew what it meant, but wasn’t fully ready to let go.

The next morning, I woke early and carried my goofy dog that I loved so much to the car. We were heading to Kruse Park Dog Beach on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of Yuk’s favorite swimming spots. I walked with him slowly down the steps to the sand, despite his condition, he was amped to be near one of his favorite things, water. He enthusiastically chased ball after ball into the waves, his back end collapsing time and again, my heart breaking over and over each time. I’m not sure what others at the beach thought as I held my wet dog, sobbing before deciding it was time to leave. He was unable to walk up the stairs so I carried him, tears blurring my vision.

His body may have been broken, but his spirit was definitely not!

I didn’t want to go to sleep because I knew what the next day would bring. Yukon was my first dog and I’d never had to make the decision to end the life of a beloved pet. We were all exhausted and finally I had to force bedtime. I pulled a huge, thick ribeye out of the freezer before lightly grilling it for my pal’s final meal, then sent my vet a Facebook message and he agreed to meet me at the office in 20 minutes. I held Yukon as we took X-Rays, my fears were confirmed he had a large mass in his groin and two smaller metastasized tumors in his lung. While I knew the answer, I asked my vet, “What would you do if he were your dog?” To which he replied, “He has no quality of life and he’s in an incredible amount of pain.” It was at the same time the most difficult and the easiest decision of my life. Mira and I by his side, me whispering “I love you, buddy.” in his ear, the euthanasia drug was injected and after a few labored breaths, Yukon was gone.

See ya later old pal!

A short five days later, I had plans to take on another section of the Great River Road. I was devastated by the loss of Yukon and was ready to cancel plans and lie in my dark bedroom, clinging to Mira. Then I realized that sitting and moping would accomplish nothing, that one of the things that was helping through this loss was the many photos and videos I had collected during out many adventures together. Dammit, Mira and I were hitting the road in honor of our buddy!

Mopey Mira

When work ended Friday, I rushed home to pick up Mira, gather some things and hit the road. That night’s destination, Davenport, Iowa. We arrived late and after chowing down on some Capriotti’s and shedding a few tears while staring at the television, Mira and I cuddle close and got some much needed sleep.

One little monkey jumping on the bed!

Since our first adventure on the Great River Road, I had armed myself with more information (ordered maps, guide books, etc.) and had a pretty good idea of which route I wanted to take on this weekend trip. We started northbound from the point we began our southbound leg on the last visit to Davenport. Our first stop was Centennial Park, I pulled into the entrance to find the mighty river had broken free of its banks and inundated the park. I was still able to find a place to park and Mira and I were able to walk along the flood waters dodging debris as we went.

Mira hanging out in front of Centennial Bridge – Davenport, Iowa

Mira, I don’t think that’s what Tina Turner meant when she sang “Rollin’ on the river”

Flooding and debris along the river in Centennial Park

Driving north along the western side of the Mississippi, we enjoyed the short glimpses of life on the river (well, I enjoyed them while Mira snored in the back). The only definite stops I had planned on this drive were Effigy Mounds National Monument and Potosi Brewing. We crossed the river at Dubuque, Iowa before heading to the first of these stops, Potosi Brewing, which is conveniently located right on the Great River Road.

Postosi Brewing Company

After learning of Potosi while planning, I called to make sure Mira would indeed be allowed in the outside eating area and double checked again when we arrived. The hostess said they normally didn’t allow dogs out there on the weekends , but since it was 50 degrees and sporadically drizzling, they’d make an exception for my furry beast. Mira settled under the table as I ordered a Tangerine IPA and some chicken fingers (I know, super adult). Eating quickly as not to freeze, we headed across the road to get a photo with the giant Potosi bottle before once again hitting the road.

Mira, dogs don’t like beer!

“Giant, scary beer bottle…I’m outta here!”

Because of the high water levels, the ferry across the river I intended to take wasn’t in operation so I crossed the river once again at Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin and headed north to Effigy Mounds.

As fascinated as I’ve been about the indigenous tribes that inhabited the desert southwest, I’ve never learned much about the mound builders that once dwelled in my own “neighborhood”. Once inside the visitor center, I chatted with the ranger working the information desk and stamped by National Park Passport. She recommended a trail that Mira and I would enjoy. We wound our way up the switchbacks, squirrels flitting back and forth through the green forest. The mounds were hard to comprehend from ground level, huge earthen mounds that from the air resembled birds, bears and nondescript, circular mounds. It’s unclear the exact reason for the mounds (in some areas they were burial mounds), perhaps territory delineation or ceremonial/sacred sites.

Effigy Mounds National Monument

We reached the top of the climb through the mounds to reach Fire Point Overlook, a broad vista overlooking the Mississippi. We chatted with a couple of people that were heading in the other direction before making our way back down toward the parking area. Mira has always been a conversation starter, which is good for a solo traveling introvert like myself. A couple in the parking lot stopped me and asked if they could pet her which she of course loved. Mark and Cheryl were up on vacation from Iowa, staying in Prairie du Chien. We chatted forever about dogs and travels and motorcycle touring (Cheryl did quite a bit of solo motorcycle travel) before heading our separate ways.

The view from Fire Point Overlook

My hope for accommodations was to camp on the river at Perrot State Park but when I arrived, every single campsite was filled. As the sun was dropping toward the horizon, I checked a couple other campgrounds which were also full, camping on the big river would have to wait. I wasn’t even able to get a motel nearby and ended up driving an hour east to Tomah, Wisconsin. As much as I wanted to camp a bed and a shower sure felt great after a long day of driving!

Tired little dog, sacked out at the Tomah, WI Super 8

01
Mar
19

April Adventure Part Two – Route 66 and the Great River Road

April 13-15, 2018

The threat of an impending ice storm made me load up the dogs shortly after returning to my parents’ house after backpacking. Thankfully, it was clear sailing for the entire 3 hour drive home.

Early next morning, I woke to a dreary, grey, drizzly day. Since I still had two days left of my four day weekend, I decided to chance potentially bad roads and hea out on a “short” adventure. Because of Yukon’s bad leg, we couldn’t hike and I had been hankering for a Capriotti’s sub so Davenport, IA it would be! Since we’d be going past some bits and pieces of Route 66 that I hadn’t been on, I decided to check the ‘Roadside America’ app and see what interesting places we could visit on the 5 hour drive to Iowa.

Me: There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses. Mira:  Hit it!

First stop, Route 66 Food N Fuel to see the Bluesmobile on a Stick after snapping a couple of quick photos, we moved on to Rich & Creamy for some ice cream on the Mother Road. Looking at routes as an alternative to taking I-80 as I have on what seems like a million occasions, I decided to get off the expressway and on to two lanes, crossing the Mississippi River at Clinton, IA.

Bluesmobile on a Stick at Route 66 Food N Fuel

Rich and Creamy in Joliet – the pups loved their little doggie treat

Yukon, you have no thumbs, you can’t pump gas!

A frigid, wet wind whipped at the dogs and me as we walked down toward the mighty river for a photo. Yukon, despite a bum leg, was throwing a tantrum because he was close to a body of water and I wouldn’t let him go swimming and Mira was tired of the wind and made several attempts to escape to the warm Jeep.

The Mighty Mississippi at Clinton, IA – Yukon wanted to swim, Mira was trying to escape to the Jeep

Heading south on 30, I noticed a scenic route sign imprinted with a riverboat wheel. My interest piqued, I looked it up to find we were on a lesser known scenic route known as the Great River Road. At that point, I decided I’d do my best to trace the entire route in sections. As we were in the area, we stopped at American Pickers headquarters (Antique Archaeology) in Le Claire. Mira begrudgingly sat to have her photo taken in front of the iconic car in front (bribed with treats from the nice ladies inside the gift shop of course). It was a short drive to Capriotti’s and my delicious “Bobbie” sub followed by a stop for some of Toppling Goliath Brewing’s Pseudo Sue, a beer I’d been wanting to try for a while simply because they feature a T-Rex on the can.

A quick stop at Antique Archaeology (American Pickers) in Le Claire, IA

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The Bobbie and a 4 pack of a Pseudo Sue – the perfect combination!

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I’ve mentioned before, when on the road with the dogs, I tend to stay at Motel 6. They definitely are spartan but they’re usually pretty decent and dogs stay free. Motel 6 in Davenport was no different, definitely not fancy but clean and comfortable. Unfortunately, they put us in a room on the 2nd floor, not awesome with a 65 pound dog that is struggling to walk. I carried my giant black dog upstairs and placed him on the bed where he instantly made himself at home. Snuggled into bed with the dogs, we fell asleep to the Discovery Channel.

The dogs know how to make themselves at home after a decade of road trips!

After following a short section of the Great River Road from Clinton, IA to Davenport, I was intrigued. A lesser known scenic route similar to the vibe of Route 66 that runs along the Mississippi River from its source at Itasca State Park in Minnesota to the Gulf in Louisiana. After reading up on this road that was previously unknown to me, I decided day two of our road trip would be to follow it from south of Davenport to Alexandria, MO before heading home via back roads connecting to Route 66.

Yukon, my four-legged divining rod was beside himself with excitement as we drove along the shore of the big muddy Mississippi through Buffalo, Montpelier and Muscatine on our way to a quick stop at Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge.

Navigator Yukon at your service

Sergeant John F. Baker Jr. Bridge – I-280 over the Mississippi River

I pulled into the first parking area for the Wildlife Refuge, the parking lot being excessively muddy, I left the dogs in the car to do some exploring along the shore. I saw hundreds of fish, dead on the bank like there was a massive die off and they washed up. The smell was something special! My boots caked with a couple of inches of mud, I returned to the Jeep, today would be a driving day instead of a hiking day.

Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge and a few photos of the fish die off

White Pelicans taking flight from Muscatine Slough

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As we made our way south, we sometimes lost sight of the river, but were rewarded with rolling Midwestern farmland in exchange.  It started snowing as we drove a tunnel of trees, two lane back portion of the Great River Road into Keokuk, Iowa which was named after the great Sauk leader Keokuk.  I continued on, crossing the Missouri state line, filled my gas tank in Alexandria and started to head east toward Route 66.

I live for rural two lanes!

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A statue of Sauk leader, Keokuk, the town’s namesake

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Nearby carved eagle statue

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Made it to Missouri!

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Looking for life on two lanes on our way to Atlanta, Illinois

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We made our way east, traveling on more rural back roads in pursuit of another of Illinois’ Muffler Men (Mira and I visited Gemini Giant the previous fall) in Atlanta, Illinois.  I left Yukon in the car, leashed Mira up and started toward the imposing figure of “Tall Paul”, a muffler man formerly resided in front of Cicero’s hot dog stand in the Chicago suburbs.  I sat Mira in front of him with the intent of getting her photo, she was freaked out and dashed toward me for protection from the scary figure.

Mira says, “I’m outta here!”

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Loaded back into the Jeep, we made our way back home.  After 35 hours, 5 states and a little over 1,000 miles we were back in our driveway, a fun little adventure under our belts.  I’ll always cherish this trip as it was Yukon’s last road trip, three weeks later I had to have him put to sleep.  His leg that was a presumed CCL tear was actually a very large tumor in his hip with metastasis to the lungs that there was no recovering from.

RIP Yukon – 7/2006-5/6/2018

 

13
Feb
19

Back in Time 2018

Well, 2018 was a bit of a rough year. A year of loved ones lost, both two-legged and four-legged. But also a year of new adventures and new experiences. I didn’t keep up with documenting these adventures so I’ll be stepping back in time, via this blog, to recap the excitement (and the pain) of this past year.

04
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – On to Warmer Climes

A ferocious barking woke me up from a dead sleep, momentarily confused, I got my wits about me and realized it was Yukon.  Now, anyone who has dogs knows they have different barks for different reasons.  Well, this was  Yukon’s serious “I mean business!” bark, Mira joined in, though I’m pretty sure she was just barking to bark (she loves barking).  I had talked to a couple people that mentioned seeing bears around the campground so while I couldn’t see anything outside the Jeep, I’m assuming a wandering bear made its way through the campground.  There was no sleeping after that rude awakening, I tossed and turned until dawn when I decided to head down to see if fishing had improved.

Unfortunately, the slow fishing streak continued on into the morning.  Fish were still rising after some invisible bugs and I did manage a few small rainbows (one of which would become dinner) on the fly rod.  As I was cleaning the sole fish I kept, a couple drove up and started unloading some fishing gear.  They introduced themselves as Keith and Tina from Arizona.  After chatting a bit, I showed them the places I usually caught fish off the dock, and then left them to their fishing.

Small rainbowsimage

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I’ve always driven past the turnoff for Blue Spruce Campground, a rustic campground northeast of Posey Lake a short drive off of Hell’s Backbone Road, this time I made it a point to turn in and check it out.  It’s a small but pretty campground, only a handful of campsites and butted up against Pine Creek.  I let the dogs out to play in the water and considered grabbing a fly rod.  Pine Creek supposedly has small wild trout in it, and what better scenery to catch them in.  After realizing my Jetboil stove, that’s traveled with me since my first long motorcycle trip in 2010, was missing, I got the dogs back in the car and headed back to Posey Lake.  Unfortunately, my stove was nowhere to be found so I headed into town stopped at Utah Canyon Outdoors and picked up a Jetboil Flash so I could eat warm food for the rest of the trip!

Mira enjoying Pine Creekimage

The weather was still quite cold and I was ready to wear shorts, so after a stop at Nemo’s for a burger and fries, I decided I’d head to Stanton Creek Campground on Lake Powell for the night.  Last year we had a pretty miserable, windy, stormy experience there and ended up spending the night holding our tent up with out feet against 6o mph gusts and multiple thunderstorms.  Hopefully my 2016 experience would be more pleasant.

Burger and fries at Nemo’s – Michigan, you need to get on this Fry Sauce, it’s tasty!image

The lovely red rock formations of Capitol Reef National Park, made way for the barren bentonite hills on the park’s eastern end and soon Hanksville.  Southbound on UT-95 toward the lake, the scenery changed and the temperature rose.  I soon reached the Glen Canyon NRA entrance gate and Stanton Creek campground shortly thereafter.  I drove around the lake for a bit, looking for a shallow spot to let the dogs swim (Yukon was whining since the second he set eyes on the water).  They were in heaven, chasing a tennis ball out into the crystal clear water endlessly.  Attempting to herd them back to the car was like trying to drag a 4-year old away from Chuck E. Cheese – grumbling and whining (with a couple dashes back to the water) I finally got them loaded up so we could find the perfect spot to camp.

Happy dogs at Lake Powellimage

Typical photo of my two – Mira being photogenic, Yukon barking “THROW THE BALL!!”image


I eventually found a site right on the water with some decent looking structure for fishing. If you plan on camping down near the lake, it’s mandatory to have a WAG bag or some sort of toilet system, I just keep a box of WAG bags in my Jeep.  There are out houses further up in the campground.  I staked the dogs out, got them fed, donned shorts and sandals and started working the shoreline with fly and gear.

I caught a small sunfish that looked like something had recently chomped on it.  It was fairly slow going after that, with some sort of large fish following my fly or spinner in on each cast, but never committing (I’d later find out they were Striped Bass).  Finally, something bit and while it didn’t fight too well, I was excited, it was my very first walleye (very amusing considering I grew up on Lake Huron-currently a walleye hotspot).  Lake Powell has no limits on either Walleye or Striped Bass due to their predatory effect on bait fish and their rapid proliferation, so I bonked this one on the head and proceeded to less-than-expertly fillet it.  Trout and walleye for dinner!  With the sun going down, I enjoyed a small fire, watching the stars blanketing the darkening sky and the lights in the million dollar houseboats at Bullfrog twinkling in the distance.  Lake Powell had redeemed itself.

Stanton Creek Campsiteimage

Evening’s fishing funimage

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My first walleye – named “Dinner”image

Fresh fish on the shores of Lake Powellimage

Filthy Mira – who wants to sleep with this swamp thing?image

 

03
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Posey Lake or Bust

Camping is great, but a good night’s sleep in a real bed, followed by a shower is pretty OK too 🙂  I gassed up the Jeep and grabbed a breakfast sandwich before hitting the road, making my way to UT-12.  The mountains on either side of UT-20, the route that connects I-15 to US-89, were socked in with clouds, quite a surreal drive.

Head in the cloudsimage

Last October, we picked up an America the Beautiful pass prior to a trip out to Yellowstone to fish.  I’ve never stopped at Bryce with the dogs given the fact they can’t go anywhere except the paved parking lots and viewpoints.  With the pass, I didn’t feel guilty about spending the cash to make a quick drive through just to hit a couple of viewpoints.  Bypassing the busier overlooks, I stopped at a handful of the less occupied to take in the sweeping views of other worldly formations.  A light dusting of snow contrasted nicely with the deep red of the hoodoos as we moved up in elevation.

Bryce Canyon Viewpointsimage

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Panoramasimage

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Mira enjoyed the viewimageimage

A fellow park goer kindly offered to take a family photo – like trying to herd cats 🙂image

Exiting the park, we saw some of the park’s resident wildlife – mule deer, pronghorn antelope and prairie dogs all roaming in the meadows along either side of the park road.  Escalante is a scenic 1 hour drive east of the turn off to Bryce, the surrounding hills all had a new dusting of snow from the previous day’s flurries.  Posey Lake Road up to the campground changes drastically as you drive up in elevation.  Juniper and sage make way for tall pines and aspen as the road winds up to the lake.  The ground was covered with patchy 4-6 inches of wet snow.  The campground empty, I selected the site we stayed at the year before.  I quickly unloaded some gear and headed down to the dock to get some evening fishing in.

The past couple of springs fishing this lake had me spoiled – the fish had readily taken flies, spinners, whatever was thrown at them, the truly difficult portion of the fishing being battling the incessant wind.  The wind was still present on this visit and trout were rising after bugs left and right, but I couldn’t pay them to bite a fly.  Cast after cast, multiple fly changes and yet still nothing.  It looked as though I’d be eating a freeze dried meal for dinner this evening.

The collection of birds on this lake, ruddy ducks and coots, bring a soundtrack of mechanical clucks, whistles and whirrs.  If I closed my eyes, I could easily believe I was surrounded by their prehistoric counterparts that roamed the area in the Late Cretaceous.  A loon and its haunting, wavering call sounded out over the lake as returned to the surface after a bit of subsurface fishing (hopefully having more success than I had).  Seeing that a trout dinner wasn’t in my future, I packed my gear into the Jeep and drove back to the campsite.  The dogs happily played in the snow surrounding the site while I heated up water for my dinner.

Rewind to 3 months earlier, early February, I found myself under the knife to repair what the MRI showed as a torn rotator cuff.  I woke up in a sling and instructions for post op care for a biceps tenodesis.  What?  Apparently, once they opened me up, they found that it wasn’t a torn cuff, but rather a frayed biceps tendon and a torn rotator interval.  They clipped my tendon from its original attachment point and used a screw to reattach it to my upper humerus.  When I left for Utah, I was just beginning to work on strengthening the biceps muscle in physical therapy.  I’m sure my ortho doc would have been thrilled to see me chopping and sawing firewood with my freshly repaired arm, but what’s camping without a campfire?  I got enough wood together for the night, my arm held out,  nothing a beer and a handful of Motrin couldn’t make better!

My wood selection was damp and the resulting fire was unimpressive and very smoky.  The temperature dropped, and while it was still light out the dogs and I retired to the Jeep to warm up and read for a bit before drifting off to sleep.

Mira enjoying the campsite, and her new ballimage

Our accommodations for the trip – a bit smaller than the old Jeepimage

Mira cuddled up, watching the campsite as I readimage

02
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Snowed Out

Up early, the surface of the water was like glass, I unloaded the fly rod and headed back to the water with the dogs.  Knowing that the prolific Utah Chub was a major food source in the reservoir, I tied a bunch of white and gold streamers in the weeks leading up to departure.  I tied one on and made a couple casts, still targeting stumps and their roots.  Just as the fly neared shore, a cutthroat shot out from under the stump and grabbed my fly.  Unfortunately, it was a short lived fight as the fish shook its head and gained its freedom.

The reservoir’s water was so clear, anything cruising near shore is visible.  I saw a couple cutthroat swimming back and forth and shortly thereafter a musky, about the size of the one I caught the night before, was on the prowl along the shoreline looking for a meal.  Very neat to see!  Another of the reservoir’s resident aquatic life was slowly crawling from the shore looking for deeper water, a large crayfish I named Pinchy.  No wonder the fish get big in this reservoir, the food sources are large and plentiful!

Pinchy, my new crayfish friend.  WARNING:  Doesn’t like hugs!!13151555_10103133460207635_4257204435007531465_n

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With the dogs again wet and muddy, it was time to make our way to the day’s intended final destination, the Escalante area.  Thankfully, since we were sleeping in the Jeep, it didn’t take much time to break down camp and be on our way.  Driving south on UT-72, the winding road and scenery were beautiful, eventually opening to the alfalfa fields and pastures of Loa.

Panorama of the view to the east of UT-72image

Our first stop of the day would be to a panel I had recently read about, the Fish Creek Cove Panel.  While the panel has some visible vandalism, it’s still very nice with large headless elk in a procession, dual color shields, hunters bearing bows.  Nobody was in the parking lot when we arrived, so the dogs and I wandered the area, looking at the amazing images.

The road in to the panelimage

Mira relaxing in the cool sand under the elk procession on the panel13100748_10103133442463195_7935185213939966467_n

Procession of headless elkimage

Hunterimage

Additional images on the panelimage

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There were a couple of geocaches near the panel, so we hiked the surrounding terrain, looking for them.  We found the first, after a bit of searching, I chuckled when I finally noticed it.  As we were heading to where I thought the other cache was, a group of people arrived at the panel.  The dogs were wound up at the surprise appearance of strangers, so I decided to save the second cache for another time and hightailed it back to the Jeep.

Found it!13094249_10103133698959175_8296038805328287261_n

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I’ve hit all kinds of weather traveling over Boulder Mountain:  fog, bright sunshine, hail (on a motorcycle) and this time heavy snow.  I hoped this wasn’t a sign of how the rest of the day would end up.  Part way across the mountain, I drove down into Lower Bowns Reservoir to take a look, the snow stopping as I left UT-12.  Last year, we didn’t have any luck at this reservoir so I didn’t break out the rods, just driving through the campground and heading back up.

The road into Lower Bowns with the Henry Mountains in the distanceimage

Took Lower Bowns road rather than end up in Tartarus eternally chasing fruit I could never eat 🙂image

Back up on UT-12 over Boulder Mountain heading west toward Boulderimage

 Once down off the mountain and into Boulder, the heavy snow turned into rain and continued on and off, all the way to Escalante.  I stopped at Head of the Rocks, as I always do, because I love the different colors of rock layers segmented by the winding road below.  Over the Hogback and past Calf Creek campground we pulled into Escalante.  I hoped to head up to Posey Lake for a couple of days to fish brookies and rainbows and enjoy the solitude of the mountain.  Unfortunately, weather wasn’t our friend and the mountain was shrouded in snow clouds.  After a bit of thinking, I decided I’d make a quick trip over to Beaver for the night and come back the next day for a night at Posey Lake.  I made a quick stop out on the outskirts of Escalante to fish North Creek Reservoir for a few minutes, but after one hookup, heavy rains and stormy clouds again pushed me back into the safety of the Jeep.  The nasty weather would follow be all the way to the night’s motel where a rainbow awaited.

Head of the Rocks panoramaimage

North Creek Reservoir panoramaimage

Bad weather all the way to Beaver, UTimage

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The rainbow at the end of the dayimage

01
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Joe’s Valley Reservoir

My furry navigators snoring loudly, I was thankful I didn’t need help finding my way to the reservoir.  I drove the windy scenic road that heads through Straight Canyon to the reservoir.  There were vehicles at nearly every pullout for Cottonwood Creek, either bouldering or fishing, so I decided to forego fishing the creek this time and head right to the campground.

As it was last year, the campground was empty, only a small portion of it is open during the spring with no water available.  After driving the short loop, I decided to pick site 7, the same site we had set up on the previous year’s trip.  A cute little ground squirrel was checking us out from the fire pit as I was getting the dog tie outs, camp chair and dog beds laid out.  I was anxious to wet a line so loaded up the dogs and started driving toward the channel where Seely Creek enters the reservoir.

Our little squirrel buddy – thankfully Yukon didn’t notice it 🙂image 

Last year we neglected to check out any of the small creeks that dumped into the reservoir, so I pulled off near the bridge over Seely Creek to take a look.  The smell of creosote and sulphur were strong as a I walked down to the water.  The creek a milky white-blue color, I tossed some spinners out in a couple of likely looking places but came up empty.  Back to the Jeep, I drove down to the parking lot near the boat launch to start fishing the reservoir.

It was pretty windy, so I grabbed my fly rod and spinning rod, leashed up the dogs and made my way down to the rock breakwall.  With the wind blowing directly in my face, I selected the spinning rod from my arsenal and hooked a size 2 Mepp’s spinner and started working my way down the shoreline.  I found an interesting stump with a root system reaching out into the deeper water so tossed the spinner out, counted to 20, then started to slowly reel in. WHAM!  Something violently hit the spinner, when it surfaced the first time I could tell it was not a small Splake like we had caught a number of last year. After 4 times surfacing and the diving back down, I finally was able to, with difficulty, net the fine fish. A beautiful male Cutthroat Trout, bigger than all three of the big Yellowstone Cutts I’ve caught in the past and those were 20″, 22″ and 23″.  My best guess was a thick 24-25″, unfortunately the photos don’t do its size justice.  If this was the last fish of that I caught on the trip, I’d still be happy!

Gorgeous male cutthroat trout, this photo makes him look tiny, but he was a beast!image

After working the shoreline for a little while longer, it was time to wear out the dogs a little more.  The boat launch was gated off and the water at its base quite shallow, so I tossed out a stick for the dogs to retrieve.  Up until that point, Yukon was losing his mind because I wouldn’t let him swim in the 20 foot deep water.  He would swim forever if I let him, Mira waiting in the shallows so she could try to snipe his stick 🙂

On the walk back up to the car, I was keeping an eye on the ground and saw a round track, 4 toes with no claw marks about the size of my hand.  It appeared as though a big cat had been prowling the area recently!  My mom loves getting photos of tracks with the caption “Here kitty, kitty!”, it really sets her at ease about my solo travels.

Swimming!!image

Here kitty, kitty 🙂image

Worn out again (and wet, and filthy)image

We made it back to the campsite without being eaten by a mountain lion (one of my life goals-don’t get eaten) and after getting two seemingly starving dogs fed, I started making food for myself.  Now, I’m not a horrible cook, just lazy, especially in camping situations.  Compound my laziness with the fact that everything I seem to cook in the desert ends up having an appreciable amount of sand in it, I usually just end up eating sandwiches. I could happily survive on PB&J tortillas (tortillas survive road trips with dogs better than bread).  For this trip however, I’d put my trusty old Jetboil to work.  I found some Mountain House meals on sale and bought enough for a week; just add boiling water and wait sounded about my pace.  The dinner selection for my evening at Joe’s Valley would be beef stroganoff.  Considering that it came from a pouch, it was pretty fantastic!

Dinner Time!!image

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The wind had picked up after I finished my food and I seriously considered scrapping a second round of fishing for the evening.  Thankfully, I fought my urge to sit around the campfire and went back down to the reservoir.  I worked down the same piece of shoreline I had earlier, quickly catching a bright 14″ cutthroat.  Before leaving on this trip, I looked at the contour map of the reservoir and noticed that the depth dropped quickly from 20 feet near shore to 60 just a little bit offshore.  Again, I cast a spinner out (copper this time), let it sink for about 30 seconds. As I started to reel in, it was like a hammer hit. I started fighting whatever was on the other end of the line and was thinking to myself “If this is a trout, it’s huge!”  When I finally got it to the surface I realized it wasn’t a trout but a tiger musky.  A totally unexpected catch that made my night!

Joe’s Valley Reservoir Pano – the stump where this musky was caught is visibleimage

TIGER MUSKY – such a beautiful fish!!image

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Figuring my fishing luck had all been used up for the evening, I loaded up the dogs again and headed back to camp.  A nice campfire and a beer, one dog in my lap and another at my side, the evening finished as wonderfully as it started.

Mira, the 40 pound lap dog (really, she’s just a little scared of popping embers from the fire)image

Fancy beds a few feet away, these two weirdos curl up on on the hard ground 🙂image

Upslope IPA and the first campfire of the tripimage

 




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Found some blue bruising boletes while out mushroom hunting today. These are the coolest! #mushroom #mushroomhunting #forager #foraging #bluebruisingbolete #bolete #michigan #fungus
Rock climber 🧗‍♀️ . . . . #bluemerleaussie #instadog #aussielove #australianshepherd #australianshepherdsofinstagram #bluemerle #aussiesdoingthings #dog #aussielovers #doglover #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #australianshepherdworld #aussie #hikingwithdogs #olddogsrule #seniordog #seniordogsofinstagram #upperpeninsula #michigan #adventuredog
Got home from UP at 1:30 Saturday, had my first wood splitting lesson at 2:00, lumberjack by 3:00. We’ve split three more piles this size between Saturday and Sunday and stacked in the woodshed. I’m gonna be ripped by winter!! #woodstove #firewood #woodsplitting #lumberjack #winter #countrygym #workout
With my past few dogs, I’ve taken a road trip with them shortly after bringing them home. With Mira it was moving my sister out to Las Vegas, her and Yukon got to visit the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, drove over Hoover Dam, hung out in Las Vegas, drove across the northern Arizona desert and through Monument Valley at sunset and hiked multiple trails in Moab. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ A week after I brought Cache home, we went on a multi-state road trip following the Great River Road to the source of the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park in Minnesota followed by backpacking onto the escarpment in the Porcupine Mountains. Now with Mesa, we spent 6 days camping, hiking and fishing our way across the UP from east to west and back again. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As with the other trips with new pups, our bond was solidified on the trail, on the road and by the campfire. I look forward to so many more of these adventures with this dorky dog. As always when I’m in the UP, my favorite memories from this trip were made on this beach at sunrise and sunset. I loved Copper Harbor, I love the Porkies but if I could only visit one spot, it’d be this beach with my dogs, waves crashing, the golden light touching their happy faces. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Some of Yukon’s ashes were scattered here, some of Cache’s will be scattered here and someday (hopefully not any time soon) when Mira goes, some of her ashes will be scattered here. . . #aussielovers #aussiepuppy #aussie #dogs #dogstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #instadog #dog #aussies #puppylove #australianshepherd #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #aussielove #cute #doglover #reddog #redmerle #redmerleaussie #adventuredog #adventurepuppy #bluemerle #olddogsrule #seniordog
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