Our trip to the U.P. didn't produce a single picture of me holding a fish... not one. I caught a couple of Rock Bass in the fittingly named Rock Creek in Kankakee River State Park on our way northward, but nothing worth a photograph. Kelly on the other hand caught a couple Smallies, the best of which I've already shared in my last post.
Aside from just catching a fish, I had two personal goals for the trip:
- Catch a native Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis).
- Find a Western Fox Snake (Mintonius ramspotti) in the wild.
|Dead on road ("D.O.R.") Fox Snake|
Kelly spotted it on the shoulder of I-57 in Illinois as we zoomed up the road at 65 mph (we would never speed) and thought we should at least go back to ID it. In the process of making the big loop using interstate exits to go back, we witnessed a minivan on the opposite side of the interstate flip over at high speed several times. We didn't see the cause of the accident, but it was a very surreal and scary scene... and we were right there as it happened. We slowed down to see if we needed to help anyone get out of the vehicle now resting on its roof, but amazingly a complete family emerged one after another- a mother, a father, and three daughters all walked away from what could have been a tragic accident. I wish I could tell you what type of vehicle it was (because it held up so well after rolling over repeatedly), but I'm not as good at identifying upside down cars as I am at identifying snakes.
Just up the road from where we saw the accident, we pulled over to check out the dead snake. I was excited to see a Fox Snake for the first time, but wish it could have been under better circumstances. Sadly, we saw about a dozen Fox Snakes during the trip and they all looked pretty much like the one above.
We took lots of pictures on our trip, and you know what they say about the value ratio between words and pictures... so I'll try to keep the words to a minimum from this point forward. The pictures mostly speak for themselves. I'll just explain here and there as needed.
On the way, we camped at Kankakee River State Park in Illinois and stopped to visit the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
|The Shedd Aquarium on the waterfront of Lake Michigan|
On a Wednesday morning at around 10:30 AM, there was quite a long line to get in. I would hate to try and visit on a busy Saturday.
|From this point it took us about an hour to get in.|
We liked the aquarium, but it really was a bit too crowded to thoroughly enjoy.
One of the first sights we saw in the U.P. was Miner's Falls. I wanted to fish for Brookies in Miner's River below the falls, but Kelly didn't want to hike down there. I guess we'll never know...
Under a log alongside the trail to the falls, I found this little guy...
|Redback Salamander (Plethodon cinereus)|
We spotted a pair of nesting Sandhill Cranes in a roadside wetland, and Kelly "communicated" with them so she could get some better photos.
|Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)|
On Friday, we went on our kayaking tour of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Our day started out bright and sunny...
But quickly became cloudy and foggy. The weather can change in the blink of an eye on Lake Superior.
Our guide, Mark, did the best he could to take a picture for us through the mist. It's pretty hard to dry off a camera lens when everything is wet.
Kelly got a pretty neat shot of one of the shipwrecks by blindly clicking the camera underwater.
Our guide paddling through the archway at "Lover's Leap."
The next day we headed south and camped at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Wisconsin... that's right, the Bong Recreation Area. They have a minor problem with park sign theft for obvious reasons. We fished in one of the park lakes in hopes of hooking up with a decent bass or pike, but I was skunked once again. I missed the strike on my only hit of the morning, while Kelly landed two little ones.
|"Bong Bass" a.k.a. Largemouth (Micropterus salmoides)|
|Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)|
Even when the fishing isn't that hot, I still get outfished by a girl.
On our way home we once again stopped in Chicago. This time we had new cargo strapped to the roof.
Our purpose for stopping was to visit our very old friend Sue.
While we were at the Field Museum, Kelly got the chance to fulfill a childhood dream. Ever since she saw the movie The Ghost and the Darkness when she was twelve years old, she wanted to see the "Maneaters of Tsavo" in person.
I think the fulfillment of this dream was a bit anticlimactic... not unlike the fishing we experienced during our trip.
Despite the less than stellar fishing, we had a great time and learned a lot about a unique and beautiful area of our country.
Maybe one day we'll go back... and I'll get another shot at being a hero.