Woody Thoughts

Leaving Golden Lake campground early Tuesday, I headed west on Route 2 which was pretty lonely. For miles there would be no traffic and millions of trees, mostly coniferous and often undergoing cutting projects. Logging trucks were already off and running. The pulp in Michigan is normally loaded crosswise, in short lengths (5 feet?) and the load looks neat and tidy. I think we’ve all met scary looking log loads, especially in the Deep South, but these looked safe. I must say, based on limited sample size, the logging truck guys are much more courteous than long haul drivers. They see you coming and rather than pull out and slow you down as they get up to speed, they wait. What a concept!

I crossed in Wisconsin, had some not nice thoughts about their governor and the House Speaker, but then fell in love with the piece of the state I saw. I was particularly taken by Ashland, which sits on a bay of Lake Superior. We stopped for a break at a lovely waterfront park with a walking path, lots of parking – just great.

Leaving town, I saw a mile or more of free municipal beaches with picnic areas, then a monstrous water sports store. The van swerved but I fought it – no room for more gear.

After a birding stop which I’ll describe later, I checked in at a small Corps of Engineers campground called Pokegamon Dam – because that’s the dam they operate here on the Upper Mississippi just outside Grand Rapids, MN.

It’s a small campground right next to a busy highway. The railroad goes right by it as well and while the trains are few, they feel like they are coming through the van. One went by about three Thursday morning.

A bigger issue is firewood. These are mainly local Minnesota folks and they never met a tree they couldn’t burn. Last night, the van was filled with smoke from my neighbors.

Thursday, after returning from an outing, I found that I had a new crew of Bubba’s and their progeny, and a pickup truck load of cord wood. They even brought a tarp to keep it dry. Si I went up to see the ranger and asked if they had any open sites – claiming, with some truth, that I am allergic to smoke. We got a change several slots upwind and things worked out ok.

Don’t get me started on campfires. Jen and I were coming home several weeks ago when I noticed a cloud of blue smoke over the highway up ahead. It was just the campers at Lake Elmore gearing up for the weekend. I guess it’s part of our caveman dna but while I enjoy a wood stove fire on a frigid Vermont night, roaring camp fires all day when the temps are in the 70’s? I have the feeling I made my point, several paragraph before. Here’s a shot of part of the non-smoking area.

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