Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My temporary residence




I am here, at Edisto Beach, South Carolina for a week. This is my first real vacation in many years, and I think I needed it! Our rental house feels like a palace to me, and it is just a block away from the beach. I am sitting on that upper porch right now. Nina is taking a candlelight Jacuzzi; I have not found the time to try out that fancy tub yet!

Edisto Beach is probably one of the most laid back beach communities anywhere. No big hotels or condos, no noisy strip with college bars, just houses ranging from minimal to luxury, and a nice beach. They do a really good job of marking loggerhead sea turtle nests and educating people about what these turtle babies need to make it to the sea.

When we first arrived here, after a 24+ hour drive, made possible by Vinny taking a couple driving shifts, after saying a quick hello to relatives staying nearby, the kids and I headed towards the beach. All of the stress of trip planning and being on the road melted away as soon as my feet felt the water rushing over them. Soon we were swimming, me and the kids, and body surfing as if we'd done it all our lives.

Today as we were swimming in the late afternoon, Joe told me he thought he had seen a shark's fin. I asked him, "are you sure it wasn't a dolphin?" Sure enough, we saw several more of them surfacing just out from where we were swimming. I am so glad my kids get to see the ocean like this. Vinny bought a surf fishing rod with money he has saved up from mowing the neighbors' lawn. And some frozen squid for bait. I bet he'll be out fishing all day tomorrow.

So much more to tell, but the lesson learned is this: Everyone needs a vacation. It is good to see places that are unfamiliar, especially if there is a beach involved. I think I must have been a surfer in a former lifetime. I have this thing for beaches.

Monday, August 06, 2012

A look at a typical day at the office

Recently I invited Greg Seitz, longtime blogging friend, to accompany me and a coworker on one of our electrofishing adventures on the St. Croix River. Greg was born and raised in Stillwater, Minnesota, on the shores of the St. Croix, and his appreciation of the river is so deep that he started a Web site, stcroix360.com, to share news and stories about the river. I thought this would be a perfect outlet to highlight what my employer, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, does to monitor fish populations and manage fish on the St. Croix. I started talking with Greg last year about coming out with us; however, the state government shutdown in Minnesota last year also shut down our plans for sampling the St. Croix in 2011. This year, things came together and Greg was able to join us last week. You can read his account of the day here.


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Sunday, August 05, 2012

The real work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.


~ Wendell Berry ~



This poem was in my daily email from Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac". It is one of those inspirations that happened to show up just at the right time. The universe often works like that.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Kettle River, with a correction

A little over a month ago, the Kettle River crested at record stage, and I posted a video here Today I returned to the spot where I took that video, and with river levels at or below normal, I realized I had made a mistake; what I took for a roaring waterfall was really a placid side channel.



This is that side channel. Big Spring Falls is actually on the other side of that island to the left. What a difference from the roaring waters!

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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

This is why I love my job...sometimes





I have been spending lots of work time on a beautiful river these last couple of weeks. We had plans to sample the St. Croix River last year, but the totally partisan bickering and unnecessary government shutdown in MN got in the way. We are making up time this year. Above is a 39" lake sturgeon we caught today; this species is notoriously hard to catch by electrofishing, and it was thrilling to me to see this one roll up. No fish were harmed; the sturgeon swam off after we measured and weighed it. It had a tag from the state of Wisconsin; Minnesota and Green Bay Packer country have an agreement where we share information. :) Not much else.

I am amazed by the beauty of the river whenever I come out, and it more than makes up for the bumps and bruises from running into rocks.

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