Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Some pig

For a while, several years ago, I was moderately addicted to outdoors television shows. These were of the variety shown late at night on the old Outdoor Life Network or early mornings on ESPN. A personal favorite was Fish'n Canada, hosted by Reno and Angelo Viola. Believe it or not, Fish'n Canada is still on the air although the episodes I watched were filmed in approximately 1985.

For some reason, several old sports stars hosted these types of shows. Larry Csonka. Dick Butkus. Even Bob Knight--before he capped a friend with birdshot. It was Butkus who introduced me to wild boar hunting. I learned that boars were not shot with guns or crossbows, but rather they were surrounded and wrestled into submission. I think a knife may also be involved, but TV omitted this part of the process. This must have been at least a decade ago because even No. 51 was running after the pig.

This is all an excuse for pointing out that there is a population of feral pigs in western Wisconsin and they may have crossed the border into Minnesota, near Red Wing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Leafing pages

It feels like fall here today, and so I took a spin around the Web to check out fall foliage. Tourism Web sites are full of pages devoted to changing leaves. Michigan has its requisite page, just a few clicks from those annoying Tim Allen-narrated Pure Michigan ads.

Indiana has a number of leaf cams throughout the state. I learned, though, that these are particularly ineffective at conveying the Hoosier State's beauty in the nighttime hours.

Like a lot of things in Wisconsin, the state's fall foliage site is rather nifty.

The Eastern Region of the U.S. Forest Service has a fall foliage site, but only a few forest units have updated their reports. Superior National Forest gets the award for best update, including a small image gallery.

Pleasant peninsula

The U.S. Senate passed an important piece of legislation last week. The bill addresses invasive species, pollution and wetland expansion in the Great Lakes. It also protects areas near the Sturgeon Gorge, above, in the Upper Peninsula. Supporters are still hopeful that the bill will be fully funded at $475 million.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Stink raiser

In case you woke up this morning wondering if a skunk can get stuck in a mayonnaise jar, the answer is 'yes.' The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that animal control officers had freed a skunk that had gotten its head stuck in a jar of mayo. The officer used a systematic approach when avoiding the skunk's spray--he "ran like heck."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sphagnum blog

In a frenzy of mid-September boredom, I updated the blogroll on the left side of driftless area recently. A quick rundown of some of the additions:

Birds and Blooms. Find a picture of a child sleeping in a wagon AND a way to get designs for a cowboy boot birdhouse.

Midwest HazeCam. This provides some neat pictures, but such a depressing name. Can't we call it Midwest FunCam or something?

Moosejaw Madness. The bizarre ramblings of the most well-written outfitter in the universe.

Prairie State Outdoors.
It's a bit hunting and fishing focused, but still a good barometer of what's going on in the great state of Illinois.

Stray Casts. Only one paper in town still has an outdoors writer, and it's the Chicago Sun-Times' Dale Bowman.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Carp time

In news of the inevitable, Asian carp are now just a mile from the electric barrier in the Ship and Sanitary Canal and north of the barrier but within the parallel Des Plaines River (not in the Lake Michigan watershed). The Army Corps acknowledges that a good rain could send the river over its banks and into the canal, spilling a few carp along the way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bottle brush

Before 1994 or so, the only water bottles I owned were discount store-types. The kind that inserted into a bicycle holder or were given away as promotional items. Then I got to college and everyone was sipping from these hard plastic things called "Nalgenes."

I succumbed to the inevitable and got my first Nalgene soon thereafter, a cheapy one from the Campmor catalog. From there, I went on a Nalgene rampage. Soon enough we probably had a dozen of them, many brightly hued and in all shapes and sizes.

Then whispers about BPA kept floating around and somewhere about 2005 I got a metal Sigg bottle. Whew, what did we do before Nalgene and Sigg? Before the time when sipping a sports bottle at work just seemed weird.

So we accumulated a Sigg collection, too. A couple different shapes and sizes, smug in our progression from the Nalgene tyranny. Then this article came out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Swimming lessons

I was discussing my favorite swimming holes with a group of people recently and many of them laughed, perhaps thinking I fancied myself a Slovenian Huck Finn. The top five swimming locations:

1. Krause Springs; Spicewood, Texas. An oasis in the Hill Country. A deep, spring-fed pool surrounded by bluffs and lush vegetation.
2. West Clear Creek; Camp Verde, Ariz. A 20-foot plunge into a relatively small pool.
3. Lake Michigan. My annual swim this year was nice and cold for mid-summer. I prefer Foster Beach or Osterman Beach.
4. Judge Lake (pictured); Noelville, Ont. There's an 8-foot leap off of granite that is ideal.
5. Ocean Hole; Eleuthera, Bahamas. Gigantic inland lake. Cousteau dove here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Austin's powers

Central Texas is a land of rolling hills, karst topography and juniper forests. The Edwards Plateau west of Austin features endless tablelands interspersed with emerald-blue rivers and spring-fed swimming holes. The area includes a nice diversity of bird life, including Texas specialties like the black-crested titmouse.

This past weekend, we spent some time in Pedernales Falls State Park. We stumbled across a "bird blind," which lived up to its billing. There we saw a ladder-backed woodpecker (to add to the life list) and a Bewick's wren (also a new one for me). It was punishingly hot--upper 90s, but we made the short walk from the car to the falls overlook, mostly dry this time of year (above).