Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Some times our traditions change, just like for the opening of pheasant season.  We also spend thanksgiving morning hunting round my home town of Independence.  This year Beau and i set our sights on grouse hunting.  30+ years ago Big Jim took me to a magical place:

White Pine Hollow State Forest

White Pine Hollow is located in northwest Dubuque County, just northwest of the town of Luxemburg. This 944 acre area consists of a 712 acre state preserve, dedicated in 1968 and 232 acres of state forest. The area was given preserve status to protect one of Iowa's oldest and largest natural stands of White Pine. In 1972 the National Park Service designated the area a National Natural Landmark.
Two federally listed threatened or endangered animals, the Indiana bat and the Pleistocene snail have been recorded on the area. The area is home to several species of deep woods migratory birds, ruffed grouse and woodcock  and wildlife normally found in northeast Iowa.  In those days there was a old log cabin that sat back in the woods among the mighty pines.  The cabin has sense been burnt down by a group of young kids camping.   Whit pine hollow  is a huge area and I've heard many stories of hunters and hikers getting turned around and lost in the big timber.  Dad and i hunted the great timber several times and one year we hit the grouse at their peak.  I remember shooting close to a box of shells and not dropping a feather all day.   

White Pines

So with that in mind Beau an I took off Thanksgiving morning for the public hunting areas in Allamakee county just 5 miles south of the Minnesota boarder.  My pre-hunt research involved rereading “A Sand County Almanac: And Other Essays on Conservation from Round River” by Aldo Leopold.

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) worked for the US Forest Service for many years.  He became the Associate Director of the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin in 1924.  In 1933 the University of Wisconsin created a chair of Game Management in his name.

His writing has been compared to the nature writing of Thoreau.  He loved the land and had an unparalleled understanding of the ways of nature.  The main premise of the book is his observations, on a monthly basis, of the changes of the countryside in Wisconsin.  The book also has a section of informal pieces written by Leopold over a forty-year period as he traveled through the woodlands of Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, Sonora, Oregon, Manitoba, and elsewhere.  In the last section,  Leopold addresses the philosophical issues involved in wildlife conservation.  But it was in the essay titled October that i had read years ago that i remembered him saying to look for the red lanterns when hunting grouse.... but i forgot what they were so i had to reread it.   If you want to know what they are you'll have to read too.

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold       

“In our attempt to make conservation easy, we have made it trivial.”
–Aldo Leopold

  We put in the leg work and walked for several hours with out flushing a bird.  But I'm sure this won't be the last time that Beau and I hike the hill looking for grouse.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Post image for Vardo Truck Camper
This got me daydreaming about building a DIY truck camper on top of my pickup truck.

  not anything i'm going to get started on right away, but i'll be keeping my eyes open for just the right parts.

 Post image for Handmade Rolling Homes
A few images from the 1979 Rolling Homes, Handmade Houses on Wheels by Jane Lidz, a rare and valuable book nowadays. I think most of these trucks were from the Eugene, Oregon area.


oh, the places we could go....i might need another project.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

11 -11 - 11


Palindromes are words or phrases that read the same in both directions.  11 - 11- 11, last years 10 -10 - 10, or 9 - 9 - 9.  Growing up in Independence i've always been fond or  Pat's tap.  But Beau loved 11:11 when ever we were on the road.

Its Friday afternoon and the fall weather is beautiful.   On my way to the Friday afternoon council meeting I drove past a beautiful old European larch one of the largest in the area but I've not found any native tamaracks growing in any of the local swamps where you would expect to find them.   A quick stop at the top of the world to pay my respects to Miguel and admire the view of the Mississippi river valley in the fall.

  Then dropping down to chappy land for a walk along the trout stream. Only brown and brook trout reliably spawn and reproduce here in Iowa. These trout are the only Iowa fish that spawn in the fall, generally October and November.

Trout construct a spawning nest or redd, a depression excavated into the stream bottom by the fish. Redds are very visible in the fall in areas of very clean gravel, good water flow and well-oxygenated water.

All in all a great Friday afternoon.  Tonight we're decorating a country Christmas tree for the gallery in town. 
Do geese see God?                       11-11-11