Home at Last!

It was a long drive from Regina, SK…I never want to sit in a car that long again.  But we had fun, and even got to stop off in Franklin, PA for our last night.  We enjoyed our  2 liter bottle of Honey Thistle Ale with friends, and enjoyed some of the best meals of the trip!

I’ll try to get the missing pages posted for the few of you who were actually reading this and interested in what we were up to.  In 18 days, we covered 6000 miles (14 states and two provinces), visited 18 brewpubs and saw almost 200 birds.  (Oh yeah…and I gained 8 pounds!)  It was a really great trip, but I’ll be doing a lot of walking now…

Oliver T’s (Flint, MI)

We enjoyed birding at the Seney National Wildlife Refuge – added Common Loon, Trumpeter Swan, Osprey and two warblers to the trip list.  Also saw loon chicks, and a pair of Sandhill Cranes with young. 

We found a pasty shop for breakfast on the go, also bought some smoked fish, and then didn’t stop until Flint for beer-to-go at Oliver T’s (this store is amazing for food, wine and beer selections!)

Weathered through an awful thunderstorm near the Ohio state line, and found ourselves happily in Franklin, PA before 8 PM.  I walked the 3/4 miles from the gate to Kathy & Jerry’s door because I’d been sitting for SO LONG!  It was great to hang out with them and the Grove’s (visiting from Carlisle) and share our IPA from Fitger’s and the Honey Thistle Wit from Bushwakker.  Kathy made a fabulous turkey dinner accompanied by her garden vegetables and new potatoes (dug up today!), plus fresh blueberry pie for dessert!

I voluntarily started my night sleeping under the stars on their deck – listening to gray tree frogs, katydids and other fun night sounds…until the rain came!

Angle Inlet, MN – The Northern-most Spot in the Contiguous 48

We didn’t do much except drive today…decided to visit a part of Minnesota that is only accessible by boat or by driving in from Manitoba. The customs information is all done by videophone. That was the most interesting part…not much to do there unless you are staying to fish.

Speaking of fish, I got my photo taken with Willie the Walleye in Baudeette, MN. We decided to stay in this town since the AmericInn was trying to sell their last room – a two-room executive suite called “The Bear’s Den” with a hot tub and King-size bed. It was way more than we needed, but the price was right!

We had a picnic supper in an empty campground (I wanted to put up the tent, but D said (and it was true) that it was just too hot for camping.) We added some birds to our trip list, and enjoyed a Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company (Lincoln, NE) with our wrap sandwiches.

Tomorrow we are heading to Voyageurs National Park, then on to Duluth (Fitger’s Brewhouse!)

Oh Canada! (Good birds and Great Beer – Bushwakker!!)

We crossed the border into Montana and spent the morning birding at Medicine Lake NWR (I had terrific looks at my lifer Baird’s Sparrow, heard (and saw Sprague’s Pipit displaying and there were Marbled Godwits everywhere – lots of good birds on this large expanse of habitat!)

Then it was on to Regina, Saskatchewan where we enjoyed a long lunch at Bushwakker Brewing Company.  Mitch, the brewer, gave us a great tour with a taste of a few things to come.  This place is TERRIFIC!  I’ll get details posted later.  I have SO much to say about it.  This place was absolutely worth the trip.

Tonight we’re sleeping in Brandon, Manitoba (we slipped off to Douglas last night to listen to Yellow Rail in the marsh – another life bird for me, if I count “heard birds”), and searching for a route home.  We’ll probably go across the top of Lake Superior and drop down through Michigan.We’re at 17.5 hours of daylight, but D says we can sleep in tomorrow!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (ND)

We stayed at the funkiest little place last night in Buffalo, SD with a bunch of paleontologists.  Got up early, and headed for a day of birding, hiking and sight-seeing in North Dakota.  It’s beautiful country out here, but really lonely… 

We stopped in Williston, ND and are headed out tomorrow for a morning of birding in Montana before going to Regina, SK(Canada) to try the microbrews at Bushwakkers.

More details as soon as I can keep up!

Birding Nebraska

Terrific opportunities for hiking and birds here!  The West-of-Mississippi trip list is up to 140 now. We visited the Nebraska National Forest, Miles Ranch on US 83, Valentine National Wildlife Refuge. Snake River Falls, Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, Smith Falls State Park and slept in Pierre, SD.  Details to follow.