Friday, September 11, 2015

August 25: Short Trips and Long Lens

Breakfast in camp was quick but nothing short of enjoyable. Nothing beats a cup of good coffee while sitting on a lake shore.  A dozen marauding Mallards, who had clearly been fed, poked around for handouts adding a comical dimension to the day’s start.

By 9:30am or so, we were in the metropolis of Greenville (population: -4) securing our canoe. The plan was simple. Hug the south shore of Moosehead Lake and make our way to Kelly’s Landing for lunch and then return. What could possibly screw that up?

First, in order to have lunch, one should have money. Easily a mile into our trek, we realized that neither one of us had any money as the wallets were in the car.  That added some extra paddling, for sure.

Second, how about that storm?

Radar on our phones showed a storm hours away. We had plenty of time for our adventure. By the time we arrived for our lunch, however, the threat was getting real.  My calculations of its approach speed and the fact that it was getting more severe showed there was no way we could return to Greenville in time. 

Weather estimates showed it was the Storm of the Century.  1,000 mph winds.  Basketball-size hail.  Had we been in the water, the 30 foot swells would have killed us despite our mastery of the paddle.

So what should one do before the storm arrives?  Go for walk in a new part of town and then hunker down when the rain hits.  Radar showed, while severe, it would pass and we could resume our day.

Except it didn’t show that any more.  It was getting larger and showing that it would rain like hell all day.  So what does one do?  Pontificate over a beer. That allows time for the solution of all problems. 

Finally, we broke and called the canoe livery.  The manager, aware of the unfolding apocalypse, said she would come get us!  So she did.


…you know how this is going to end, don’t you?....

…it never rained a drop.

While the sun never came out, the storm completely fizzled and it did not rain at all though it appeared it could at any minute. Hitting the lake again did not seem like an option, but in hindsight, it would have worked. 

Frustrated, we walked the town a tad and then opted to go find a moose.  Really, we did.  Moose are a big deal up there and literature pinpoints different locations to find them. After a quick stop in camp, we drove north.

Shortly thereafter, we saw a woman on the side of the road near her car taking pictures. Knowing the Yellowstone-National-Park-Clots-of-People-on-the-Side-of-the-Road-Means-Big-Mammals Postulate would be in effect, we slowed to her position.

Sure enough, 50 yards off the road, we saw mom moose and her calf. Total time from camp departure to moose?

Four minutes.

I’m not kidding. It was the same as saying “Honey, let’s go to the store and get some milk. Oh, there it is…right here on the shelf….”

Fortunately, I had my long lens (100-400mm) ready to go.  For those of you who aren’t sure, each 50 mm of lens works like a single power on a pair of binoculars.  50 divides into 400 8 times so my lens functions like a pair of 8-power bins.  It certainly worked in this case. 

Excited but pooped, we returned to camp for a nap.  Dinner was on site where we were joined again by the 12 Mallards and what could be the ultimate Northern Experience – loons calling on a lake while an Osprey chases off a Bald Eagle.  Truly magical. 

Realizing that the remaining days of the trip had not been completely filled in, we knew we needed to do some planning. Nat was still hankering for some canoeing given our no rain rain-out.  We knew we needed to move along with the rest of the trip and start doodling our way back west. 

Heading back to Greenville, we parked ourselves at the StressFree Moose Pub and Café to hit the books.  Going three for three in her seafood tastings, Natalie enjoyed the pan-seared bacon-wrapped scallops drizzled with a maple syrup glaze. I certainly did, too.

The middle of the night saw the storm we feared during the day.  Rain. Lightning. Thunder. What a night in a tent.  In between rain squalls, the loons still called. Who woulda thunk it.  

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