Posted by: greentangle | July 15, 2015

Let There Be Lake Breeze

There has been some horrible humidity lately, mixed in with smoke coming from Canadian wildfires, but yesterday was glorious with a breeze off the Lake. The glory lingered into today so I got out for a hike I wouldn’t usually do at this time of year.

I got lucky early when I encountered a grizzly munk who stood up on his back legs to get a better look at me.

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I’d forgotten to bring my munk spray, but fortunately he decided to go the other way rather than charge me.

There weren’t anywhere close to as many mosquitoes as there were on a hike we briefly tried to do in the UP last month, but I was getting bitten enough that my time in the wooded parts of the hike were mostly focused on getting out of the woods as quickly as possible. I did stop for several minutes trying to get a good photo of this flower.

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I’m fairly happy with that, but not with the amount of work it took to get it with the Nikon camera I bought before my last year in Yellowstone. As many people have written in reviews, it has big problems focusing–before I took the above photo, there were dozens of attempts when the camera would either focus elsewhere in the frame or focus on the flower but then completely blur. I think I’d have fewer bites right now if I’d gone with the Canon which was my second choice.

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When I got to the canal, I thought back to the many other times I’d made this hike and decide to take a few photos with the Nostalgic Sepia setting.

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My legs got a good workout hiking back along the beach, and I’d put the camera away as I headed for the bus stop when this gull seemed to demand a portrait.

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And a family one to boot.

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Posted by: greentangle | July 1, 2015

Hit the Trail, Jack

I borrowed a couple big, heavy books from the library this week. The Year Yellowstone Burned  by Jeff Henry, who was a seasonal ranger that year and has worked in the park in many capacities for many years, covers the period from June 30 to September 12, 1988 when more than a third of the park burned. It’s a large paperback of text and photos on heavy paper.

I also got America’s Great Hiking Trails, a hardcover about the size of an LP. This one has text about the trails by Karen Berger, but is primarily photos by Bart Smith, the first person to hike all 11 national scenic trails from end to end.  Each of those trails has a chapter, and another chapter has a couple paragraphs about each of the other long trails in the country.

I won’t be getting any more free advance copies of books or anything else from Amazon’s Vine program. They gave people a week’s notice that starting July 1st, social security numbers had to be submitted because things were going to be taxable and 1099s would be going to the IRS. I quit because I had no interest in giving them the number or complicating my taxes, others quit because of concerns that the extra “income” would jeopardize their various assistance programs, and most of the people staying in the program are saying they’ll take a lot fewer items to review. Others may be taking more hoping to make a profit on eBay. As is usually their way, Amazon is doing a terrible job of providing information about the changes to people, and it seems to me this might well be the beginning of the end of the program.

As several people wrote on the Vine forum (open to the public if you’d like to Google it and see the fiasco yourself), I’m looking forward to having more time to read books that mean more to me on my own timetable. The only drawback of quitting will be the loss of a steady stream of free reading material if I go back to Yellowstone this winter and am without a library.

Yes, it’s time to decide that once more–the winter jobs were posted today. Enough time has passed that I know that if I don’t go back this time, I won’t consider it again. I do expect to apply for a job from December to June, thus being there for most of the quietest times and spring birth and bear season, while getting out before the biggest crowds of tourons arrive, and also avoiding fire season and the elk rut (which can be fun to see, but refer back to tourons). But there are still many factors which will eventually decide if I actually return.

In theory, I could have mostly hiked the North Country Trail to go back to visit my friend in Marquette again a couple weeks ago, but I took the bus instead. When I got back to Duluth after dogsitting in May, the traffic here made me feel like I was in New York City.  And there seems to be more road and building construction going on than in all the years I’ve lived here–it’s difficult to walk from here to there. Who knew that a former Bostonian would come to regard Duluth as too urban? And as much as I once loved Duluth and thought of it as home, I probably have less emotional connection to it now than I do to Yellowstone or Marquette.

I don’t know where I’ll wind up, but there are worse places than on a beach with a dog.


Posted by: greentangle | May 17, 2015

On the Beach

I had a wonderful ten days living in Marquette with a dog, including a few days on the ends with his human. It was my first time taking care of a dog (and a large number of plants) as an adult and it was interesting to notice how it changes one’s life–not quite as free, but more active and more aware of and connected to one’s immediate neighborhood.

When I first moved to this area in 2001, I preferred Marquette to Duluth but didn’t think I’d have much luck finding work there. As it turned out, I didn’t have much luck finding work consistently in Duluth either. Now I’m within a few years of work not mattering anymore.

Marquette is smaller and quieter, but the Lake and a university and its status as the UP’s largest town help give it a good mix of restaurants and breweries to sample, two bookstores within a block, a good library, and a coop larger than Duluth’s. And although this sandy beach isn’t as convenient as Duluth’s, it’s a lot emptier.

Let’s take a look.

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To the left . . .

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To the right . . .

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I see more Marquette in my future, and we talked about going to the Porkies in the fall.


Posted by: greentangle | May 9, 2015

Black Bears and Ignorant People

This one’s hitting the news all over, but here’s the original place to witness the type of tourons and professionally irresponsible photographers I saw every day when I was working in Yellowstone.

Posted by: greentangle | May 7, 2015

Best Friends

I arrived in Marquette a couple days ago, and yesterday we made a trip to pretty Wetmore Pond.


As of early this morning, I’m solo dog-sitting for the next week with my new best friend who had a great time splashing through muddy puddles and jumping off high rocks.


Photos taken by the canine’s real best friend–he’s still watching the door waiting for her return.


Posted by: greentangle | May 6, 2015

What’s that you say?

Of course, as soon as I go out of Duluth for the first time this year, a bear shows up downtown, a block from where I work. Nice video of the bear, but the highlight is probably the old guy at the 1:10 mark getting the news that’s there’s a bear right around the corner.
Posted by: greentangle | May 4, 2015

On the Edge

When fire season would arrive in late summer and fall during the years I worked in Yellowstone, breakfast tables in the employee dining room at Mammoth Hot Springs would sometimes fill with firefighters and the smell of smoke would fill the large room. Those mornings and the memory of the sight and smell of smoke in the park (as often as not brought by winds from great distances) along with a general interest in the West and its drought and fire caused me to read On the Burning Edge: A Fateful Fire and the Men Who Fought It more than an interest in the particular Yarnell Hill, AZ fire of 2013.

I think the book will be best appreciated by those who do have a specific interest in this fire, this area, and these people. Discussion of the bigger picture of the increasing likelihood of major fires in the West, and even analysis of this particular fire, is very limited; most of the book involves the lives of those who died in this fire.

I mean no disrespect to the dead, and their fate and the grief of those who knew them are certainly moving at the end of the book, but macho young men with guns, trucks, listening to hip hop music, making racist jokes, and living a militaristic life of hazing and competition just aren’t the kind of people I choose to spend time with, and reading a book about them wasn’t that enjoyable for me.

I think many people will appreciate the book, but I would have preferred a less personal and more issue oriented approach.

The cover story in the current issue of High Country News is about another edge—that between Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Bakken oilfields. A man who grew up on a ranch in the area where he still lives simply, and who has been a ranger in the park for over forty years, is so disgusted by the crime and other side effects of the boom that he’s considering leaving and wishes he could take the wildlife with him. My occasional neighbor who works six week stretches in North Dakota tells me many people are being fired and leaving since the drop in the price of oil so maybe there’s hope.

A column in the same issue looks at the edge between health and illness for older people and how it forced a couple who had lived in rural Wyoming to move to the Denver area because of the lack of needed healthcare support. So along with illness, they had to cope with no longer being able to live where they wanted to, and no longer having that emotional support of being close to the natural world at a time when it’s needed most. Beginning to approach those edges myself has certainly become one of the factors to consider in whether I’ll ever work in Yellowstone again before reaching the final edge.


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