Wildlife Bonanza! Plus a Spaceman

Huron River, around the Obama and Foster Bridges


12 May 2016

Ellen snapped the awesome photo above of a muskrat who joined us for a little morning paddle-around before some rain comes our way later this afternoon. I think it’s an excellent shot: The whiskers! The vegetation it’s hauling across the river! The furry little rump! But it’s only one of several amazing animal pictures Ellen took this paddle. Check out the slideshow below, which has an oriole, a wood duck, and a swallow or swift we cannot identify and are hoping our bird-savvy neighbors (you know who you are!) can help with, plus some coy deer and more!

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And one last one–this fantastic spaceman located under the train bridge!


There’s something you don’t see on the river every day.


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Nature’s First Green: Finally Coming Along

Huron River, Hudson Mills to Dexter Metropark


3 May 2016

After 3 days of consistent low-grade rain, the sun came out in Ann Arbor this morning, and Ellen and I took advantage of it to hop on the river for this 6 mile paddle.  Turns out April showers really do bring May flowers, and also tons of tree buds and, finally!, more green on the river. We shared the river with literally a million turtles, songbirds of many varieties, and two nice fly fisherman after small-mouth bass.  An excellent spring paddle!

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Nature’s First Green: Still Mostly Brown

Huron River, Argo Park to Gallup Park


27 April 2016

At long last, after a winter that wasn’t so harsh weather-wise but that came with its own special trials for our house, Ellen and I finally got out for our first paddle of the year. Spring has sprung all over Ann Arbor, making it hard to do something as simple as walk down a sidewalk without wanting to quote the start of Robert Frost’s great springtime poem: “Nature’s first green is gold.” On the river, though, as my title suggests, we’re mostly still waiting for the green, a fact most evident if you compare the photo above to the one in the post immediately previous, taken on Christmas Day: except for some baby leaves on the lower trees, they’re pretty similar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, nature was mostly brown based on what we could see from our boats, but there were places where it was, though still not green, surprisingly hot pink.

As awesome a concept as nature sporting punk colors is, I’d just like to say: come on, spring! Shake a leg!

We’re weren’t the only paddlers on our stretch of the river, but our company was scant–only three other boats.  But we had tons of excellent sightings, starting with one before we even got on the river, when Ellen spied most excellent pet-sitter Sue negotiating rush hour traffic near our put-in spot! Then we saw the menagerie of animals Ellen caught on film below, including a duck trying to blend into the landscape and a righteous mink action shot.

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A Merry Paddle

Huron River, Argo Park to Gallup Park


25 December 2015

Late December in Michigan, sunny, 48 degrees, and no wind to speak of? Heck yes we’re merry!  We did this short, in-town paddle and enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather immensely.  And we weren’t the only ones with the idea to get outside today; the path along the river was chock-full of runners, bikers, dog-walkers, and, remarkably, a cat-walker.  We even saw another paddler on the river!

We are leaving the boat racks on the car, just in case the nice weather holds. . . .

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Paddle Eve

Huron River, between the train bridges around Honey Creek


24 December 2015

It got up to a sunny 46 degrees today in our corner of Michigan, and yeah, okay, sure, the wind was gusting up to 10 mph, but so what?  It was sunny and nearly 50! We found our way to the river for a quick paddle.

Though there were a ton of cyclists on Huron River Drive, we were the only humans on the river, though we had the excellent company of a beaver, a soaring bald eagle, and a viaduct monster–and Ellen managed to get photos of all of them!

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The weather forecast promises highs in the upper 40s again tomorrow, more sun, and light, variable winds–so we look forward to the holiday that will follow Paddle Eve for us–Paddle Day!

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Finding the Edge

Huron River, Island Lake State Park to Placeway Picnic Area


29 November 2015

Ellen and I and our paddling pal Doug thought that, if the temperature were above 40 after Thanksgiving, we’d squeeze in this short paddle of just over 5 miles on a scenic, meandering part of the Huron River. It’s a treat to paddle in November in Michigan, and really, 40 isn’t so cold, is it?

IMG_3504The weather forecast for today promised temperatures just over 40, so we made our plans. Let me emphatically tell you it was not over 40. As we headed out to the river around 1 p.m., all temperature gauges read 37 or so, and it got colder as we paddled. Consistently, there was frost on the river grass, and ice was forming on the more still edges of the river. Intrigued, Doug decided to use his kayak as an ice ram.  It’s not everyone who has rammed river ice with a kayak, but Doug has–and Ellen and I got to witness it. It was thicker than it looked, and it made an unsettling iceberg-ish sound when he plowed through it. I thought “Titanic!” but didn’t say so aloud; likely Ellen and Doug didn’t have this same idea. But that’s no surprise: I’m the one in charge of thinking up catastrophes.

IMG_3501As we paddled along, in the distance we could hear guns at the nearby firing range, and there was at least one deer hunter out there with us, plus scads of mountain bikers and two other paddlers way off in the trees taking a break, but there were not many birds nor beasts on the river. We saw this kingfisher who made up for being the only one there by being extra fancy.

At some point when it seemed like it was getting colder and we had been out on the river long enough, Doug says, “Did someone make a wrong turn and miss the end of the river?” And I, slow on the uptake, go: “Us?!”  And then we paddle faster for a while, panicking a little, wondering where the takeout is.  We did not make a wrong turn; we soon got there. It’s not the coldest paddle we’ve ever been on (for that paddle, click here), but it was cold–maybe the edge of what we’d paddle in again in terms of low temperatures. Still, it was a great paddle, so we decided that it deserves the blog tag of epic journey!

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26 November 2015

You what’s something to be thankful about? A 60 degree day at the end of November in Michigan!  Recent good weather melted the 8 inches of snow dumped by a winter storm last weekend, so Ellen and I took advantage of the nice day and headed to Argo Pond, a little bump of wider water on our local river, the Huron, for a late afternoon paddle. It was unbelievably nice out–especially after having so much snow around for a week. The sun was low in the sky but shining, and a little wind kicked up some small rolling waves and did ridiculously dramatic and beautiful things with the clouds–I mean really, can you believe this photo?

IMG_3490We shared the river with one other paddler we saw and a welter of water fowl, including this lone, cute American Coot who has hanging out with some wood ducks.  We don’t see American Coots a lot, but when we do, I always think of this song, which seems sort of appropriate, given the holiday?

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from Gina and Ellen on the river!

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