8.01.2014

Bears, bears, bears



So the pictures pretty much represent what goes on up here in the North Woods...


Lions and Tigers and Bears- on my!  Bears, wolves, coyotes, foxes, chattering chipmunks, sly, slithering snakes- OH MY!!! Life in the "UP", as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is commonly known as- "Yoopers" affectionately...  

I originally thought I would get so much done here.  I mean, there is nothing but woods here, right?  Wrong. There is my family- who are pretty active actually. There are my neighbors, who I visit daily for morning coffee and evening wine :) There are all the running routes in the woods where I run with my hands tightly gripped around either a whistle (for the bears), a few rocks (for the wolves and coyotes) or the mace canister (for the bears)... You think I'm kidding?  I'm no city slicker, but there is evil nature out here in the North Woods :) I jest... There is the nightly jaunt to Pine Mountain Ski Jump where Yoopers tackle a series of 500 steps up to the ski jump.  You can also climb the rickety stairs to the top of the ski jump as well to have an excellent 360º view of Iron Mountain and environs. I've become accustomed to doing 3 rounds of the stairs ever since my brother dared me to last week.  It takes about 42 minutes to complete the total 3000 steps and yes, going down is nearly as difficult as going up- for people with bad backs anyway...

We've went up to Marquette a few times to spend the day there. Marquette is the largest city in the UP, and a very cool city at that. It's a huge university community and it is right on Lake Superior.  There is an incredible park, Presque Isle, right in the small city that borders Lake Superior.  There are a series of trails for running and going to the beach or rock-hopping.  Apparently people surf there as well.  Yes, you read that right!  It's a favorite picnic area.  Shopping is also fun in Marquette. I have a few favorite stores that I frequent when in town. 

Marquette also hosts a large athletic population.  Hockey is obviously popular.  In summertime though there are an abundance of kayakers and other naturalists that are all too happy to be outdoors during their 10 days of summer annually... I jest (kinda)... Everybody is always out biking and running through town.  I have to say that I really, really like the community.

Because I've never lived in the UP (the rest of my family grew up there), I really enjoy visiting.  In a way it does feel like another home of mine. I was just thinking while on my 2014 Semi-Truck "Truck" Tour that Southern California, where I was born and spent my wonder years, doesn't feel like home.  I haven't been there for ages really.  It doesn't even sound 'right' to say that I'm a 'Californian.'  I'm definitely 'from Hawaii.' Over half my life I've lived there.  I still do in spite of the fact that I've lived abroad for the past 5 years.

So, what have I been doing with my time here for the past 2 weeks?  I've been ordering up a storm of online shopping items.  It's been like the 6 days of Christmas the past week for me.  Every day another box either shows up at the mailbox at the bottom of the road, or at the doorstep... I've been buying a lot of stuff that 'I need.' Seriously, I need all this stuff... Honestly though, it's cheaper to buy it while on vacation in Michigan and get free shipping rather than get it shipped to Hawaii (ridiculous shipping rates) or Bahrain (extremely ridiculous shipping rates with the added challenge of even making it there).

I just finished my final report for my past ten months as an ELF (the teaching grant I was granted from the DOS/Georgetown University). I generally don't talk about my work on my blog, but this is relevant and a big part of my life actually. I'm crossing my fingers that the story I submitted with my final report gets selected for publication.

I've been cooking some breakfasts and dinners for my family.  I made Turkish kebabs one evening. This night is always a huge success when I do it- at least once every year I visit.  My French Omelette is also quite popular for breakfast so I always pull this recipe out of my hat along with the requisite rabbit.

I go grocery shopping with my mum a few times a week!  This is always an adventure to look forward to.  I mean, I get to 'buy' stuff (okay mum buys it) that I would never normally buy.  Also, for added amusement, my mother reads EVERY LABEL on the food and heckles me accordingly... I'm a pretty conscious eater, but really... She won't quit. 

We go for drives around the UP.  Yes, this seems old-fashioned because it really is. My mum loves to go touring.  This past week we cruised around Lake Antoine and Fumee Lake, we visited the Alpaca farm in Norway, we hiked around some gorge with loads of waterfalls and river rafters, we went to the iron mine in Norway, etc.

Today I took my mother and brother to a geocache in Iron Mountain.  We had a blast.  The hint from the website stated that it was in pine trees.  Well, it was a bit difficult to find because they were actually fur trees where the cache was located. 

Some days we don't even leave the house as there is so much to do around it- meaning work- yard-work specifically. Living in the woods means constantly clearing the woods so your home doesn't get consumed by the woods.  I tend to do the fun stuff like cracking the Lupine seeds open and broadcasting them around so that they will sprout next spring.  Feeding the deer leftovers is also another past-time.  Watching to see how close the overly friendly chipmunks are brings me moments of anxious glee. My brother feeds, and names them, them so they are quite friendly, and chatty.  They come right up to me and are not afraid in the least.  Silly animals don't realize that we Homo Sapiens are evil creatures comparatively...

All this talk about wild creatures has me wondering if I will really see one.  I did see a few young foxes in the past week crossing the road, but as much as I prepare for 'the big one", I haven't seen them yet (bears and wolves).  They are all over the area, but elusive- thank goodness. They are smart after all.  They, unlike chipmunks, avoid Homo Sapiens' for obvious reasons... Regardless, I carry my mace, whistle and handful of rocks with me every day on my run. 

The one 'evil' thing that I do see every day is poison ivy- now that I know what it actually looks like... I don't think I've ever came into contact with it, or if I have I haven't had a reaction. I've had to make pit-stops in the bushes a few times...

Yesterday on my run to the Iron Bridge there were a few groups of kids jumping off the bridge into Bear Lake.  Yes, the weather has been warm (80º- which is considered to be quite warm here in the UP), but the water still is pretty cold. As I was watching them jump, or try to jump, I noticed all the poison ivy EVERYWHERE! 

Honestly, just sitting on the tailgate of my brother's truck in the yard and watching the world go by is enjoyable. 

When my sister was here we were sleeping out in the tent, and then I did a few nights alone after she left, but that ended when I kept hearing 'strange' sounds.  Yea, I know... Probably nothing, but a tent in the woods- alone- paranoid- you get the idea.  A few nights ago I heard the neighbors horses making their 'nervous horse sounds' . I'm thinking bears make horses make 'nervous horse sounds' in the middle of the night, or wolves.  So, that ended my nights in the tent.  Besides, I discovered that Duck Dynasty is on late night on A&E channel... So there's that...

I also engage in doing quite a bit of nothing- and THAT is time-consuming...



Holy shit- Just saw a big bear in my mom's backyard earlier this evening at twilight. I can't believe it finally happened. It was strangely awesome.  I knew they were always there, but right next to the tent where I had previously been sleeping... That is just too much to process.  I don't even know if I'll be able to go on a run tomorrow morning...