So Much for Avian Dignity…

I seem to have a talent for finding “noble birds” in awkward places, at least awkward for this human’s ideas about where one is supposed to see eagles and falcons.

Er, ah, not exactly…

I’d always wanted to see a bald eagle up close, as in “less than 100 feet away, perched 50 feet up in a tree.” This is where one commonly finds bald eagles in the central US – in trees, well away from where you are. The Feds tend to be touchy about letting you walk right up to eagle trees in federal nature reserves. So I assumed I’d have to go to Alaska or one of those other eagle-rich locations.

Wrong. Continue reading


Autobahn Adventures: The Prevention Of

Someone else drives in Germany. I can, and have when I was at university there, but I didn’t like it then and I like it less now. The rules of the road are not the same as the US, for all that things appear similar on the surface. The autobahn not having a speed limit (in good weather, when a limit is not posted, and there is not a wreck, and not in a construction zone) is just the start. So here are a few observations I’ve made over the years: Continue reading


On the trip this past summer, my group opted to go out onto an island to look at the Baltic. The island is rather large, and protects the city from the Baltic’s infamous winter storms. However, that day all was well, and we hoped that since tourist season had not officially started, things would be pretty quiet.

So peaceful, and quiet. It was about 75 degrees F, with a light breeze to keep the bugs away.

The island of Rugen, where we went, is a lumpy chunk of north Germany, rockier and with more variety of scenery than the mainland. We passed freshwater marshes, forests, nice farms, and lots of cars. Apparently we were not the only people trying to get ahead of the rush. Continue reading

Things I learned Downstate…

It is possible, nay probable, to have a headwind no matter which direction you are traveling.

Head colds are no respecter of season or event.

“We are NOT going to have too much food this time” never works out as planned. There was, once again, more food than anticipated, because everyone brought a “little extra just in case.” (Did I mention that my friends all believe in over-preparing?)

Unless the food is a magnificent pot roast, in which case there is never too much. We had just enough, and that was with one person out with the aforementioned head cold. Continue reading

Put Castle Here

When you do something regularly for a while, or when your final exam grade depends on learning how to see and evaluate certain terrain and aquatic features, you develop a bit of skill. If your survival depends on reading the landscape properly, the learning curve is a lot steeper. And if you are exposed to something, even though you are not trying to learn how to read the land, after a while you start doing it. I can’t not evaluate a stream as I walk past it. And I can’t go through rolling or mountainous countryside without mentally adding strong points, choke-points, and castles. Continue reading

The Perfect Fish?

Not for everyone, I know, and not really compared to what most people think of as piscatorial perfection. But herring has some advantages over salmon and trout, which helps explain why it is now the fish of the North Sea coast. Let’s just say you will find one or two salmon things at most on the breakfast buffet, and at least four different herring dishes, and entire fillets are very popular tinned fish.

I’ve had salmon since I was rather young and it came in cans. And trout I first met in Montana. I enjoy it, but it does not travel well, so you have to be in places where trout is raised, or go fishing with a friend in a trout stream that allows you to keep the fish.

I had not encountered herring in large quantities before this past summer. I’d walked past the cans of tinned herring at World Market (aka Temptation Market), and had tried Rollmops once or twice even though I was not suffering from a hangover at the time.*


And I’d collided with pike-perch and lost while in the Czech Republic. The problem wasn’t the fish, it was me. I was presented at dinner with a very large plate bearing a very large and bony fish (complete with eye), a fish knife, and a fork. What little I managed to de-bone before we had to leave for our next stop was not bad, albeit bland and a little dry.

Zander, or pike-perch.

Continue reading