Category Archives: Uncategorized

Deep Hole

Trail to Deep Hole
The trail out to Deep Hole

One of gems of Myakka River State Park is Deep Hole. A 140′ deep sinkhole that draws alligators like a white trash bag draws ravens. The volunteer at Oscar Scherer was the first to put Deep Hole on my radar.

Deep Hole

It’s a 2 mile hike out to Deep Hole, and you need one of the thirty permits issued each day to venture out there. The hike is a relatively easy one, a bit sandy in spots, but flat terrain. I was at the ranger station by 8:15am to get the permit, then drove to the trailhead.

Alligators at Deep Hole

As many as 200 alligators can be seen out at Deep Hole, at any one time. I have no idea how many were there for my visit. There were a dozen sunning themselves on shore, and another 50 or so in the water. The number in the water was tough to estimate, as they kept submersing and rising again.

Alligators
Every black bump on the water is an alligator

At first, I had one bank of the ‘Gator Hole to myself, but eventually other hikers clambered through the hammock to join me. Still, the entire time I was out there, the gators far outnumbered the dozen or so hikers.

Alligators at Myakka

One can also kayak or canoe out to Deep Hole, although I’m not sure if actually kayaking into the Hole would be a great idea, or even if it is allowed. I talked to a father/son team that morning who were planning on canoeing out there later that day. There is a nice beach to land at on the lake which Deep Hole connects to.

I don’t know what time of year, or even what time of day, is best to hike out there to catch a glimpse of the most alligators. I was there, so I went, and I was glad that I did. Deep Hole for gators is like McNeil River for brown bears, and a place well worth the trek out to visit.


River of Grass

The grassy waters of Shark River Slough:

Bald Cypress
Bald cypress

“Here is land, tranquil in its quiet beauty, serving not as the source of water, but as the last receiver of it. To its natural abundance we owe the spectacular plant and animal life that distinguishes this place from all others in our country.”
—President Harry S. Truman
Dedicating Everglades National Park
December 6, 1947

Grassy Waters

Everglades truly is a special place, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. I admit, I am intrigued by the 99 mile Wilderness Waterway. A canoe trip between Everglades City and Flamingo. Even the shorter Canoe Trails would be a blast. Although in winter.

Shark River Slough
Looking out onto a sea of sawgrass

At one time, water would overflow from Lake Okeechobee, and slowly flow south, through a much larger Shark River Slough and the Everglades, finally entering the Gulf of Mexico. Today, approximately 1/5 remains of what the Everglades once were.

Everglades: Then & Now
The Everglades: Then & Now


Of Bears & Buzzards

Ochlockonee River
A very high Ochlockonee River

I camped in the Apalachicola National Forest along the Ochlockonee River. Driving in, I had seen a small black bear that couldn’t decide if he wanted to cross the road or not.

I hadn’t planned on staying in one of the official campsites, but thought I’d drive into one to check it out. I was surprised to find a camp host, although there were no other campers. The hosts were a local couple, he was 75 and she was 59; they had met 6 years ago and had been spending much of their time camping and fishing Florida’s panhandle together.
It turns out that their camper had no electricity, and of course, I was put to work. After a quick rewire of a circuit breaker and the elimination of a section of bare wire, they had power again.
And I had a campsite.

A beautiful night, if a bit muggy for this Alaskan. I had been invited down to share a campfire with the hosts, and we enjoyed a nice conversation around the fire comparing life in Florida and Alaska. It was going to be just one night of camping in the forest, since some severe weather was heading in and three inches of rain was called for. As it was, the hosts told me I had just missed the same in southern Georgia.

Black vulture
One of many black vultures

Black vultures have been everywhere. A string of them were dining on a roadkill carcass when I came along. They had no intention at all of moving for the Nissan, and I really didn’t want to hit any with it either. I’ve had to wind my way through herds of moose, bison and caribou, but this was the first time I’ve had to do it for buzzards.
I spotted another black bear, this one quite large. Right after that, I came around a sharp corner and startled a vulture. The vulturus, Latin for “tearer”, almost flew right through the open passenger window. It’s wingspan was wider than the window, and it rose just enough that I could catch the sight of its wing through the glass t-top. What an event that would have been. Grabbing a buzzard head with one hand, opening the driver’s window with the other, and steering with my knees.
Next time, I need to remember the Go-Pro.

Ochlockonee River 2


On The Sioux Trail: Lower Sioux Agency

The U.S. – Dakota War of 1862, Part III

Lower Sioux Agency warehouse
The Lower Sioux Agency warehouse

At 7am on 18 August 1862, Dakota warriors, led by Little Crow, attacked the Lower Sioux Agency. Andrew Myrick, who previously had issued the “Let them eat grass statement”, was one of the first to be killed. He was discovered trying to escape from a second floor window of the warehouse building pictured above. Myrick’s body was later found with his mouth full of grass.

Redwood_Ferry
Battle of Redwood Ferry marker

Employees and civilians fled the Agency, crossing the Minnesota River at the Redwood Ferry, and headed for Fort Ridgely, which was 13 miles downstream. When news of the attack reached the fort, Captain John S. Marsh left Ridgely with 47 men and set off for the Lower Sioux Agency. Company B was ambushed at the Minnesota River near the Redwood crossing. 24 soldiers were killed, five were wounded and one drowned; with Captain Marsh among the casualties.

War parties attacked settlers throughout the Minnesota River Valley the entire day, with an estimated 160 killed, and the towns of Milford, Leavenworth and Sacred Heart burned. Over 100 settlers, mostly women and children are taken hostage.


Amsoil Arena

Duluth, Minnesota

Amsoil Arena Lobby
Waiting for the doors to open at Amsoil

I had been at the old DECC Arena years ago, but this was my first visit to Amsoil, which opened in 2010. Stadium Journey, an internet site, had called Amsoil, “the best arena for college hockey”, and Duluth had run with the headline. I think Amsoil is a great rink, and I’d love to have its like up in Fairbanks, but it does fall short of Mariucci and The Ralph, and possibly a few others, in my humble opinion.

Still, it’s a wonderful place to see a hockey game, and the Duluth faithful love their Bulldogs.

US-U18 warming up
US-U18 during warmups at Amsoil

Saturday night was an exhibition game between UMD and USA’s under 18 team. When USA came out onto the ice, the first thing I thought was, “these guys are so small” when looking at them alongside the Bulldogs.

The youngsters didn’t play small however. Team USA took the lead on a beautiful wrister by Adam Fox. Fox would be in the thick of things all night long. US-U18 added a PPG by Clayton Keller, assisted by Fox for a 2-0 lead to end period one. The Bulldog fans were not happy.

The second period was more of the same as Kieffer Bellows scored on an assist from Keller and the shutout remained going into the third.

That’s when UMD’s top line woke up. Dominic Toninato scored two and assisted on a third goal to tie things up in a period that was completely dominated by the Bulldogs. The game went into OT, and Toninato hit the hat trick for the win.

Toninato had a four point night, and captain Andy Welinski had three assists for the Bulldogs. Attendance was 5520.


Kingpin

Panda gunfighter

The La Jolla Mafia


Battle for the Little Brown Jug

Minnesota faces Michigan at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, and the Little Brown Jug, college football’s oldest rivalry trophy, is back on the table.

UM vs UM in 1903
The only known photo of the 1903 game between Minnesota and Michigan at Northrup Field in Minneapolis.

As I’ve written before, the University of Michigan football team left the 30 cent jug behind after a hard fought 6-6 tie vs the University of Minnesota at Northrup Field in 1903. The iconic water jug has a mythology all its own, and that has only grown over the decades.

Athletic_Office_with_Cooke_and_jug
The soon to be traveling trophy hanging in Cooke’s office.

The jug was “captured”/collected by Oscar Munson after the game, and given to Minnesota Athletic Director Dr L.J. Cooke, where it was suspended from the ceiling in his office until 1909 when Michigan returned to Minneapolis.

Oscar Munson takes the story from there: “We didn’t play Michigan until 1909. The day before the game, Coach Yost came into Doc’s office for a visit as usual. The first thing he saw was that old water jug hanging from the ceiling. “What’s that?” he asked Doc. He told him it was the water jug Michigan had left behind six years ago. ‘That’s the first time I heard about that,’ laughed Yost. Doc suggested Michigan should try to win it back and it was all right with Yost.”

The 1903 game between Minnesota & Michigan grossed just shy of $31,000 (which would be approximately $860,000 today). No doubt both Cooke & Yost saw the benefit of promoting the rivalry.

Little Brown Jug

Minnesota will host Michigan at TCF Bank Stadium on Halloween for the 102nd meeting of the two football programs.