Friday, March 30, 2012


About the Morel Mushroom Season...
The morel mushroom season varies across the United States depending on the region in which you are located. Typically it arrives in the spring months for most regions. Many variables such as air temperature, ground temperature and rain levels impact the growing cycle and how bountiful the crop. There have been many studies as to how, where and why the morels make their grand appearance in certain conditions and not others. Most mushroom hunters will present all kinds of "SWATS" (Scientific Wild Ass Theories) on how, where, and when to find them.  Like when all the leaves are off the pin oak,  when the lilacs leaves are the size of a mouse ear  or when may apples are fully open.   Almost every mushroom hunter will have a few "SWATS" of their own, some with merit, while others are just that....theories.
Mushroom image

Typically they are found in moist areas, around dying or dead Elm trees, Ash trees, old apple orchards and maybe even in your own back yard. Back in the 70's Bob Malake, dad and I even found shrooms along the deer trails in the willow bottoms on the Missouri river in western Iowa. Ground cover varies and it is very likely that each patch of mushrooms you come across may be growing in totally different conditions. It is a common practice of shoomer's to hit their favorite spots year after year.  That is why I always seem to find my first mushrooms in the same general area each year and this year was no exception.  BUT,  this year  Beau and I did something we've never done before... We found moral mushrooms in March in Iowa!  Now about ten years ago when Susie and I went to Holland  I did find a moral among the tulips at the Keukenhof Gardens. Located south of Haarlem Holland. But to find mushrooms in Iowa in March!  Now that's pretty cool!    We've got the rest of weekend to look.  So, wish us luck!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


 The great  weather continues to bless us here in the upper Midwest.  We haven't had a soccer practice rained out and the warm southern winds have me fired up to catch a fish.
I took the long way home so i could swing by trout stream to wet a line.  The first pool where i caught my PB didn't raise any fish.  I worked my way down stream to the next pool that surrounds goose island and pitched a Colorado spinner in just above the rock.  I retrieved it slowly toward the ripple and a silver flash followed by a strike.
ya, I managed to take it away before he could get hooked.

 From a Sand County Almanac .                                                              
Out of the clouds I hear a faint bark, as of a faraway dog. It is strange how the world cocks its ear to that sound, wondering. Soon it is louder: the honk of geese, invisible, but coming on.

The flock emerges from the low clouds, a tattered banner of birds, dipping and rising, blown up and blown down, blown together and blown apart, but advancing, the wind wrestling lovingly with each winnowing wing. When the flock is a blur in the far sky I hear the last honk, sounding taps for summer.

It is warm behind the driftwood now, for the wind has gone with the geese. So would I--if I were the wind.”
Aldo Leopold

              Location, location, location.
It looks like this pair has found the ideal place to set up a nest, on top of the rock.

I look forward to stopping back to see how this brood develops and to try and catch the one that got away.

Monday, March 26, 2012


   The unseasonably warm weather means lots of spring projects.
 That's why I had to hit the timber early this weekend  .This  slope always produces my earliest mushrooms.  I hiked around for more than two hours all conditions seemed right. Morels favor days with highs around 60 and lows in the lower 40s.   We have already had a couple 70 degree days in Bellevue, and next week’s forecast calls for temperatures hitting upper 70*!    Theoretically, a morel in this microclimate could be poppin any day now.   

Like I said, there's lots of work to be done.  Gardens were tilled and planted with peas and potatoes.  The bees got their evacuation notice from the sauna, where they spent the winter.  The hive was alive but weak.  So, I added three frames of brood from my strongest hive and moved it down below with the other hive.  I've got a two pound package and queen on order to replace the hive that died off over the winter.

I cleaned up the wood piles and fired up the Hippy hot tub with all the scrap wood.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Top of the Morning to You!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!   Back home and the sun is rising over the Mississippi River as Captain Rich and I took Beau and Jeremiah out  to snag for paddle fish. 
Recreational anglers can still snag paddle fish here in Iowa. The daily limit is two and the season is short, usually cold weather but, this morning the temps were in the 70's*.   For the past 5 years the four of us have fished paddle fish together.  Last year we limited out.  This year we came up on the short end.  There were about 20+ boats out walleye fishing and three boats out paddle fishing.  We just saw one paddle fish hauled in all morning.  Beau hooked a little sand sturgen that we released and Jerry hooked this little kitty cat.
Rich and I didn't fish,  we just  shot the breeze while the two boys fished.
Yesterday, Beau caught eight bass and 2 little snakey  northern pike.  So, on my way home I stopped to do a little pitchin for some smallies.  I caught six and missed a few strikes.  Beau hit the stream again this afternoon and caught a few more bass and a little larger northern.

 Spring days like this are special and this will be a St. Patrick's to remember.

Friday, March 9, 2012


One of Kaanapali Beach’s most famous attractions is the daily cliff diving ceremony off of the beach’s northernmost cliffs known as Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock. Held every evening at sunset, a cliff diver lights the torches along the cliff, diving off of Black Rock in a reenactment of a feat by Maui’s revered King Kahekili.
The water around Black Rock starts at about 8 feet deep and gradually gets to about 25 feet or more as you head around the point.  We snorkeled over sand but followed a underwater lava rock ledge.  The visibility is good even in the deeper parts around the point. 

Here’s some of the fish I’ve seen while snorkeling at Black Rock, but don't ask which fish is which: Butterfly fish, parrot fish, damsel fish, surgeon fish, moorish idol, tang, wrasse, box fish, cardinal fish, perch, chub, trigger fish, the former Hawaii State Fish Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, goat fish, snapper, porcupine fish, hawk fish, jacks, mackerel, cornet fish, needle fish, sea urchins  and other invertebrates.

  Update Saturday am.Susie and I got out for one more swim around Black Rock before we go back to reality.  Out on the point I finely saw Honu,  the green sea turtle.  I swam above him and realized I had gone out a ways beyond the end of the point.  It was a great end to my snorkeling adventures.

As I swam around the base of Black Rock a group of young guys climbed up the rock face to jump off.  One set his snorkeling gear on an edge and a large wave knock them in.  I recovered the snorkel and the mask went deep another guy got that for them.  I climbed to the top of the rock, about 20ft. above the water and a two local boys were sittin there laughing at the tourists.  The one looked at me and said; "Do a back flip, man".  So, I did. Then shot him a  "hang loose" when I came up.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Island Time


Not a lot of  beach time for us today.  I got up early and took a dip.  With the storm passing through the area the waves were rollin this morning the salt air mixed well with the smell of bacon coming from the resorts.  Susie and I made an early morning run to  LAHAINA.

 You'll think you've seen trees until you come across this specimen! Indian in origin, it was planted in 1873 to commemorate Christianity's foothold in town. More than 125 years later, the banyan rises 50 feet, has added 12 subsidiary trunks to its main support, and encompasses more than 2/3 of an acre.  Seemed to be the morning gathering spot for some of the local drifters and beach bums...

After a cup of kona coffee at the local mickey D's, the best deal in town.  We picked up Kendo and Joan and took off for the Up Country to check out the Ali'i Kula Lavender farm.  The Lavender farm is located 4000 ft. elevation on the slopes of Haleakala crater

With seven different varieties of lavender and panoramic views of Maui.  Susie and I hiked while Kendo and Joan sip soothingly  lavender tea and  lavender scones. 

 I was happy to see the Meli (honey bee) on the proteas.
Beekeeping reached its peak on Maui in the early 1930s. The Kaua'i Honey company owned two thousand colonies on Maui as well as colonies on other islands.  They've had their hives at the lavender farm only for about a year or two now.   

They also had a yurt just below the lower garden.  It was sad to see their top soil washed down the hill after all the rain and trails in such disrepair.  Some parts of the island have had up to 12" in the last few days.


We discover that Japanese Buddhism played a key role in shaping Hawaii’s religious identity, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and the establishment of Buddhism in America. There is also a movement underway to save the religion – by adding a little aloha into the practice.

Om Mani Padme Hum

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Friday after school we busted out to Milwaukee in a  snow storm that rolled through the area.  20 + cars in the ditch on the way into the city.  The worst was on the belt line in Madison,  she banged off the bridge in the left hand lane and caromed off and into a deep ditch on the right hand side, right in front of us.  Thankfully we made it in, in just under 5 hours, normally about a 3and 3/4 hour trip.

Off to the Milwaukee airport early on Saturday and on the plane to Phoenix for a short lay over, the another 5 hrs to Maui.

A long walk for Kendo, then we caught a sky cab with the Dale Earnhardt of the Phoenix airport.

 The flight was a great time to catch up on some reading.  My choice was Where the Sky Began, Land of the Tallgrass Prairie,  by John Madson 
Madson describes how prairie developed as the glaciers receded, and the reasons why prairie initially advanced eastward but forest did not advance westward (soils, light, moisture, temperature); but that more recently that advance may have been checked and reversed were it not for the plow.   

 In succeeding chapters, he describes why prairie forbs and grasses are so tough (deep root systems, reinforced cell walls) and pervasive (wind and insect pollination), the roles of fungi, bacteria, earthworms and small animals as well as large animals and birds, the quick-changing and often dangerous weather, the hard lives of the prairie pioneers, and contemporary efforts to restore destroyed prairie. 
 It was a great read as I looked out the window of the plane as we flew west observing the geology of the land.  His stories of the lives of the pioneers and the animals that once roamed the Iowa landscape and the men who hunted them made me think of the hunts of my father and grandfather, when game was plentiful.

Just a day later and were on a tropical island with a natural history all it's own. 

The Hawaiian Islands, thousands of kilometers from a continental land mass, support a complex system of plants and animals.

Time and extreme isolation were essential for the development of Hawaii's unique native life. Isolated from the remainder of its kind and living in a strange environment, a small breeding population is especially subject to evolutionary development. In some instances, changes have been so pronounced that it is difficult, if not impossible, to trace ancestries to continental forms.   Even though we're staying at a GREAT resort, I'm looking forward to exploring the back roads, beaches, volcanoes, forest and cool digs on the island.  A little holoholo.