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K-9 Dog and Minocqua

June 15, 2013

025Wisconsin – Monday, June 10

I spent some time on the computer this morning, and sent a lot of pictures to the kids, now that they reminded me how to do that! And then I reorganized and cleaned out the van before heading out again. Last night something had hit my windshield as we were driving through the U.P. in the dark, and I thought it was a small bird, but this morning I saw that it was one of the biggest, most colorful moths I’ve seen. I had no idea a moth could clunk the windshield like that! I felt bad it flew into the windshield. I stopped for a very late breakfast at the same place Mickey and I had eaten a couple days ago because at that time I had seen a large jar by the cash register asking for donations for the Tomahawk Police Department’s new K-9 dog. The cashier had told us that the restaurant had also helped with several fundraisers for the K-9 dog. This was a new donation opportunity for me, and I think K-9 dogs can be a real asset for law enforcement. So I was happy to make this my donation-of-the-day.

Then I was ready to get back out on the road. My intent was to drive north a bit more up to the town of Minocqua (just because I like the name!) and then head west. This is northwoods country and there are lakes all over the place. It’s also loon country, and I really wanted to see or hear a loon! Minocqua is a pretty lakeside town (it’s in an area of northern Wisconsin that has over 3000 lakes) that is popular with summer visitors. Although I noticed parking meters in town, they were optional – any money that people put in them would go toward a food pantry. It reminded me of Nashville with the special parking meters to benefit homeless people. Tula and I walked a mile and a half around town, then she stayed in the car while I headed out for a 5 mile walk on the Bearskin State Trail, which was an old rail trail that started off with a bridge to an island…or maybe it was a bridge between lakes…there’s water all over the place! I’m pretty sure I heard a loon at the beginning of my walk, but I wasn’t positive. There were quite a few boaters out on some of the lakes, and then I passed a lake that was very quiet and there didn’t seem to be houses built around it. There was even a little nature sign saying loons can often be heard there in the early morning and late evening. I made a mental note to return!

I drove north of town a little bit to take a look at a possible donation place for tomorrow, and also considered heading up to the next town for a look-around. I hadn’t actually driven too far today because of my late start, and didn’t get west at all, but I decided to stay in Minocqua for the night, because towns are few and far between in that neck of the woods, and I didn’t want to be driving in the dark and missing the scenery. Plus I had passed a northwoodsy looking motel, and even though it was earlier than I often stop, I thought if they were pet-friendly and reasonable, that would be a good spot for tonight. I asked the proprietor about the loons, and he told me they’re definitely around, and suggested I go look under one of the bridges in town where the loons are sometimes seen fishing. I found the place he was talking about, but I only saw people fishing! I was determined to do my best to see or hear a loon, and someone else told me they like to be out and about when the sun is setting. So I got a quick bite to eat and then took Tula out for a mile walk by the lakes on the Bearskin Trail. I asked a couple more people about the loons, and one person told me they like quiet spaces, and another told me they like deep water and that they usually see them while out boating, not along the shore. And while everyone agreed there were lots of loons around, there was no fool-proof way to know where to go. I simply decided I would walk all the way back to the quiet lake I’d seen earlier in the day and sit for a while. I didn’t take Tula back there – there would be long grass and ticks are a big problem up north in the woods, and Tula doesn’t need any more problems! The sun was beginning to set as I walked nearly 2 miles back to the quiet lake. I saw some herons, and as I passed some marshy areas, the noise from all the frogs, crickets and peepers was nearly deafening. Such a racket! It got quieter as I got closer to the lake. When I found the spot I was looking for, I walked down the hill to the shore and found a comfy tree root and plunked myself down for a good 20 minutes to watch and listen. Lots of mosquitoes discovered me sitting there, so I was swatting at them and waving them away the whole time. I stayed out there til nearly 9:30 and didn’t hear or see a thing. I had to leave since it was almost a 2 mile walk back to the car. I walked nearly 11 1/2 miles today, and so far the loons have eluded me, but someday I will see them!

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