Twenty-one Days in Britain (Days 8-15

This is heaven for Pam as she walked the beautiful gardens in this magnificent estate now in trust for the world to see and appreciate. 

On this day we embarked on a comfortable coach ride through the splendid British countryside- a landscape which English author Ben Aaronovitch described as being  so photogenically rural.  Along the way we stopped at Bodnant Garden a historic horticultural gem located in North Wales.

We have time to wander the paths of this beautiful estate and smell the flowers.  Then we continue on to the seaside resort town of Llandudno for the next two nights.

This is how the landed gentry used to live.  Our guide told us that many of these enormous estates were now in a trust and maintained for the public to enjoy. 

 

 

All we have shown here is four pictures, but we took over 40 as we strolled through the gardens.

Checking into our hotel we were met with a seagull that kept itself on the ledge of our window.  It was obvious someone had fed it and it would not leave.  We were unable to open the window and enjoy the great smell of the ocean.

 

Persistent cuss.  He would not leave. 

Next morning we were off touring the land of castles and the land of song.  Wales is also a land of fierce natural beauty as we saw for ourselves on the morning’s visit to Snowdonia National Park.  Named for Snowdon, at 3,560 feet the tallest mountain in England and Wales, the park comprises some 840 square miles of unspoiled wooded valleys, mountains, moorland, lakes, and rivers.  This is Wales first national park, and covers more than 10% of the land area of the country.  We toured the park riding on the Welsh Highland Railway.  The train is pulled by a steam locomotive and provided a scenic ride through the park. 

 

The park is magnificent 

 

The park was very rugged, and as you can see it was very damp. 

The next stop was the port town of Caernarfon for a visit to the 13th century Castle, a medieval fortress whose brute appearance symbolized English domination of the Welsh.  Strategically set at the mouth of the River Seiont as it empties into Menai Strait, the castle was built by King Edward I of England.  Edward I (the first) was better know as Edward Longshanks and also “the hammer of the Scots.”  If you recall from the movie Braveheart it was Edward I that William Wallace of Scotland fought against.

Entrance to the castle. 

The castle occupies almost a city block and was a small city unto itself.  

 

The castle was immense in size.  To get a description go on line and type in the name.  There is some excellent information about why and how it was built. 

 

The round circular disc in the picture is where the ceremony called investiture occurs.  The UK still has a Prince of Wales – nowadays, it’s Prince Charles (who’s next-in-line for the throne). The ceremony of ‘investiture’ (effectively a ‘crowning’, or giving the Prince his formal title) takes place in Caernarfon Castle. Charles, Prince of Wales, received his title here in 1969, and he did not do a thing to earn it except be born into the royal family. 

Caernarfon was the birthplace of the first Prince of Wales – a man who could ‘never speak a word of English’

As you can probably imagine, the Welsh people weren’t too thrilled with the English domination of their native country. However, the birth of Edward I’s son in the castle, in 1284, was a perfect opportunity for Edward I to ‘spin’ the story to his advantage.

The child – Edward of Caernarfon – was legitimately a Welshman, and was crowned ‘Prince of Wales’ in 1301 – demonstrably a Welshman, ruling over his own people.

This persuasive story-telling didn’t end there. It’s said that Edward I sold his son to the Welsh people as “A prince born of Wales, who could never speak a word of English”.

However, it was a bit of a crafty piece of propaganda – and it definitely didn’t mean that son Edward could only speak Welsh. The language of England’s nobility back then was still French, and so it’s almost no surprise that Edward of Caernarfon couldn’t speak English!

The history of the royals was very entertaining as we traveled through the countryside.

The next day we had a coach ride from Wales to Stratford-upon-Avon.  This was the longest coach ride we had for the trip and as we were always on the move, and the break felt good as we just looked at the beautiful Welsh and English country-side.  Pam and I both agreed Wales was one of the most scenic countries we had traveled. 

The first stop was at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Gardens, the thatched farmhouse of Shakespeare’s bride. The cottage is a bit of a misnomer as it has three chimneys (an indication of the number of fire-places) and twelve rooms. 

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.  This is far from we think of as a cottage.  We took a lot of pictures of the inside of the house, but as an amateur photographer they do not look good.  Online there are some excellent photos shot by a professional with expensive equipment. 

Gardens at Anne Hathaway’s

Next stop was a visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace.  The restored 16th century half timbered house where the Bard is believed to have been born in 1564.

House believed to be Shakespeare’s birthplace

 

The tomb of Shakespeare located in Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon. Written on the grave is the following verse: “Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.”

 

The next day we set out for the postcard-perfect Cotswolds.  England’s south central region of gently rolling hills dotted with villages of honey-colored limestone, market town, and unspoiled countryside.  The Cotswolds looks much as it did 300 years ago.

We took this picture because all the roofs had thick tile or roofs made of rock looking like old stuff. That is a poor description, but there was no one to ask.  All the men made comments about upkeep on the roofs and here is proof it does take place with a lot of scaffolding. 

All the homes we saw on the trip were decorated with beautiful floral displays.  

Rock walls were everywhere especially in the farmlands. 

The traditional British Red phone booth.  This is the only one we saw.  

Next stop was Bath and we arrived late in the day really tired.  Checking into our hotel we were so pleased that this one had air-conditioning in the room as all the previous hotels did not.  Also this was the period where England had a heat wave and we got stuck in it in the evening.  For Iowa people used to air-conditioning, it was tough on us.  That evening we arrived at Bath.

Thank goodness we arrived in Bath and immediately contacted the front desk for help.  We had run out of clean clothes and needed to have laundry services.  It was outrageously expensive, but what were we to do.  We still had over a week of touring to do.  On our trip to S.E. Asia in January, we ran out of clean clothes in Laos.  Fortunately the guide had arranged for a person to pick up laundry and almost everyone of the tour had a bundle of clothing to be washed.  The best part was it was immensely cheap, so things balanced out.

The area where the city of Bath now stands show evidence of habitation from before recorded time.  It is best known as the location where in 60 CE the Romans built baths and first took the water at England’s only hot springs. We learned about this historic site on the morning’s tour as we visited the Roman Baths Museum.  These were a couple of buildings which included the original Roman era baths and temple.

The roof over the bath has long been destroyed.  This view is above the bath. 

The lady at this location on the ground level of the bath, played the part.  When we asked if we could take a picture, she responded with, “I don’t know what a picture is.  I am here to help you with the bath.  If you would like to leave your attire with me, I will see that it is taken care of, and I have towels for you.”  We got a good laugh out of all that.  

Nearly 2,000 years ago, a golden bronze head graced the center of the “Temple Sulis Minerva” at Bath. In pre-Roman times, during the Celtic polytheism practiced in Britain, the goddess Sulis was worshiped at the Bath thermal springs as a local deity.

The location where the Romans got the thermal water flowing from the ground and furnished the water for the baths. 

Next we visited the 7th century Bath Abbey, a majestic Anglican church noted for its intricate, fan vaulted ceiling and for hosting the coronation of King Edgar of England in 973.

 

The Bath Abbey. 

The ceiling in the Abbey is one of a kind. 

Beautiful stained glass adorned the wall of the Abbey. 

Next day the guide requested we all assemble at 7 a.m. in the hotel lobby.  A continental breakfast was available at 6 a.m. and the group was showing low caffeine levels due to lack of coffee.  We are supposed to be on vacation.

The reason was he wanted our group to be first at Stonehenge as the later you get there, the crowds get larger.  We were on our way to London, but this was the first stop with the second being Windsor Castle.

I shot this picture out of the coach as we went by a small village.  If you notice the chimneys all have several stacks.  This is because each stack serviced a fireplace in the house or apartment.  It really must have been smokey in the wintertime. 

Stonehenge is the Neolithic monument that remains something of a mystery today. Archaeologists believe that the massive stones were erected sometime between 3,000 and 2,000 BC.  The prehistoric circles of stone are a masterpiece of engineering and building is undisputed.  The why is less certain, although many experts now believe the site was used as a burial ground.

 

We walked all around the structures.  We soon found out why we were up so early.  It wasn’t but 30 minutes after we reached the site the crowds started to arrive. 

 

This stone has a special significance.  For the first 10 people that send me an explanation of what it is all about, I will send you a free book.  Post on FB your finding and email me your address to hhoutdoors@cox.net.

Our next stop was famed Windsor Castle.  Originally built in the 11th century after William the Conqueror invaded England, the sprawling stone fortification has been expanded in the centuries since to become one of the country’s most impressive sites.

Windsor was one of Queen Victoria’s favorite places.  The image of the queen is not at all like the image of the beautiful young woman who played the role of Queen Victoria on TV. 

 

 

 

Pictures were not allowed inside the castle. However, the government supplied a recording device that hung around your neck and you lifted to the ear and moved through the building with the history and background of each room.  This was absolutely outstanding and a tourist could move through at their leisure and pause where you wanted to take in the room and the sites.  I would recommend you go on line to see the inside of Windsor Castle and there are a lot of photos of rooms used today by the royals.  It was an enormous place and very fascinating.

This is a picture of a wedding and has nothing to do with the castle.  We were walking by and I just raised my camera and shot this picture.  Pam wanted it for the hats the women were wearing, and everyone was dressed to the nines.  We paused momentarily but were unable to get a shot of the bride and groom.  Really neat. 

We left the castle and continued on our trip to London.  This tour is not a tour for you if London is what you want to see as we only spent a day and a half there. you can’t see what there is to see in that amount of time.  However, there was a post trip for those who wished to spend more time in London. We arrived late in the day and dinner was on our own.  The questions were: where do we eat, how much do we want to spend, and what do we want to eat?  There were plenty of options and even a McDonalds. 

Next morning we toured in the rain and drove by some of the city’s landmarks.  We also visited two of the museums and the tour was over for us.  But the next part of this trip was about to start.  Read the next blog about where we went and how we got there. 

Trafalgar square.  Our hotel was just a block away. 

 

London Bridge, Just a little rainy. 

Westminster Abbey, Just a little rainy. 

   

Buckingham Palace.  The rain had let up a little, the next shots the lens was covered with water. 

We ended the day by touring some of the museums and enjoyed the art museum which contained many of the old masters painting along with some more temporary art.  This concluded the tour of Edinburgh, Wales, and England.  Next day we started on a new tour of the Scottish Highlands.  This was a great trip, but the Highlands was a WOW!  Read the next blog. 

 

My book makes a great gift for your hunting and fishing partners. 

Click on the book and buy from Amazon.

 

God hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

Twenty-one Days in Britain (Days1-7)

 

The national flag of the United Kingdom is the Union Jack, also known as the Union Flag. The current design of the Union Jack dates from the union of Ireland and Great Britain in 1801.

Stepping off the plane after ten flying hours out of Omaha, and four hours on the ground in Newark we arrived in Edinburgh Scotland in the morning.  No activities were planned this day as people joining the tour would be arriving all day.  The first thing that struck us was how easy it was to go through customs, and then onto immigration.  We did not get our passports stamped as this is the European Union.  This was a major disappointment as we like to have our passports stamped for each country we have visited.  We were met at the airport by our guide and brought this up to him.  He just shrugged it off as he travels Europe all the time and goes from country to country.  Fortunately this was our only disappointment for the trip. 

Arriving at our hotel by 9 a.m., our rooms were not ready, so we just walked down the street and found a step on and step off bus touring the city.  We climbed up to the top of the double decker bus and enjoyed the scenes, the city, and the fresh cool air.  The camera was left back at the hotel, but we would be touring the next day.  Pam and I are not usually big city fans, but Edinburgh was really interesting and inviting.  This was a great place to visit.  We were now ready for the next day.

The Scottish capital since the 15th century, Edinburgh boasts a rich architectural heritage centered on two distinct districts: 18th century Georgian “New Town” and the medieval “Old Town, featuring the Edinburgh Castle and the lively Royal Mile.  We explored both areas on the morning tour.  A masterpiece of urban planning, the New Town retains many of its original Georgian and neo-classical architecture dating from 1765.  Historic architectural highlights that we saw here included the National Gallery of Scotland, the Royal Scottish Academy, the Assembly Rooms, Waverley Station and the Scott Monument.  The New Town also boasts Edinburgh’s main shopping areas on Princes and George Streets.

This magnificent rock is called Arthur’s Seat.  It is an 800-foot hill on the edge of the city and provides a breathtaking view of greater Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. The Firth of Forth is the estuary of several Scottish rivers including the River Forth. It meets the North Sea with Fife on the north coast and Lothian on the south.

 

Looking out over the city

 

Monument to Sir Walter Scott
 
 

This is typical Georgian architecture. 

This afternoon we toured the Old Town including the Royal Mile.  Tiny medieval streets and alleyways, the Old Town presents a contrast to the more orderly New Town.  The district stretches along the Royal Mile from the medieval fortress of Edinburgh Castle and is high above Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the Queen when in Scotland.  The Castle was one of the highlights of the day.

A tavern on the long walk up to the Castle. 

 

At the gate to the Castle, we are met by a statue of William Wallace.  We all remember the movie “Braveheart.”  This is a statue of him before he was hung in England and drawn and quartered

 

 

The final gate into the castle.  This is what summer time is like at major tourist spots.  Lots of people

The castle took most of the afternoon to tour as there were so many buildings, halls and living quarters.  I said to Pam,”What would our readers like to see?”  She said, “Your people are hunters and fishermen, and they want to see the armory.  So here goes. 

 

Everyone needs a suit of armor

 

 

Every home needs a sword and a pike.  

 

This is a cemetery for dogs that lived with the people who inhabited the castle. 

 

This is a wall in a prison, and it was a carving made by a prisoner after our war with England in 1776. A prisoner carved the American flag into the wall. 

Next we walked down the Royal Mile filled with shops and great restaurants.  Along the way there was plenty of street entertainment.  I thought we would never get through as the women on the tour wanted to stop and shop.

 

If you  like music made by Bagpipes, you can hear it everywhere.  The best part of Scottish music was the last day when we came back to Edinburgh for the Military Tattoo. 

Nest stop was Holyrood Palace. Holyrood has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining.  Queen Elizabeth spends one week in residence at Holyrood at the beginning of each summer.

The tour was exciting as we visited the quarters of Mary Queen of Scots, and where the royals lived centuries ago.  Unfortunately, photos were not allowed but we felt fortunate to tour as much of the palace as we did.  When members of the Royal Family are there no tours are allowed. 

Our final view of the Castle on the hill.  Our guide told us that during the war Hitler did not want the castle bombed as he wanted for himself. 

The next morning we departed Edinburgh and headed for the beautiful and beloved Lake District of northwest England.  The most-visited national park in the United kingdom, the Lake District comprises a diverse landscape of lakes, rivers, ancient woodlands, and small towns and villages.  Some of England’s most celebrated literary figures call this corner of the country their home.  William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter lived in this region and we visited their homes. 

 

 

Traveling south we passed by a small bay holding  the Britannia.  This is the Royal yacht of the Queen and her family.  The Royals really know how to live

 

 

This is typical countryside that we saw as we sped down the highway heading into the Lake District.  It is a bit hard to see but at the top of the field is a stone wall.  These walls were everywhere dividing up the land between farms and fields. Also, we saw a lot of sheep.  Coming from Iowa this was a bit of a treat as we saw few cattle. 

 

We took this picture of the window where the group had lunch.  This was a typical small village restaurant. It was the name, “Four and Twenty,” that caught our eye and reminded us of an old poem. 

Arriving at William Wordsworth’s family home on Rydal Mount, we had the opportunity to tour the home and his gardens that he loved so well.  He lived at this hillside home from 1813 until his death in 1850.  He designed the gardens and a writing hut that sits overlooking the grounds and the nearby lakes of Grasmere and Windermere.  

 
 

Home of William Wordsworth

Example of the gardens

The only reason for taking this picture is because the cat would not move for anyone that came and went from the house.  This is his/her house and I am sure it was thinking, “I am not getting out of the way for any trespasser. It’s my house.”

Next morning our excursion began with a boat ride on picturesque Lake Windermere.  This is England’s largest lake at over 10 miles long.

Castles and summer homes for the rich and famous line the lake. 

 

Castle remains along the lake.  Notice the rock wall at the waterline. 

Next we visited the village of Hawkshead, home to less than 600 people.  This is home to Beatrix Potter Gallery and the Beatrix Potter’s home.  The town is tightly packed with white washed houses lined along cobble stone streets.  Beatrix is world renown for her famous work “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.” 

Hawkshead, home of Beatrix Potter

 

The original Peter Rabbit.  He made her rich and then the town famous. 

Next stop in Hawkshead was the Grammar School.  Founded in 1585 the school was most interesting, and was where the landed gentry sent their children to school.  You and I would not have attended this school unless your family was upper crust and wealthy from taxing the peasant farmers.  The little boys came from the surrounding areas and lived with local villagers.  What was interesting as explained, they did not bathe in those days, so the little boys were stinky little boys.  Now since you could not drink the water then, you drank beer that had a very low alcohol content, and the stinky little boys were given two quarts a day to meet their liquid needs.  There is more.  The stinky little boys were given a knife to sharpen their quill pens.  So, when they were not busy they would carve their names in their desks.  As we walked around the school room, we could see the names of the stinky little boys carved in the desks.  There is a lot more.  The stinky little boys all had a clay pipe they smoked and brought from home.  So, they were given tobacco to smoke.  So, now you have a bunch of stinky little boys who drank and smoked.  Oh there is a lot more.  The stinky little boys were given an allowance to gamble with.  They gambled every day on cock fighting. Picture that today.  There has to be some organization that is against that sport.  What you have is a bunch of stinky little boys who smoked, drank, and gambled.

Discipline was very strict and they were required to read Latin and Greek and around age 14 they graduated upstairs where they learned how to be gentlemen.  Fencing was part of the curriculum, along with going downstairs to help the stinky little boys.  It was never mentioned whether the boys upstairs were also stinky.

The majority of the stinky little boys went to Oxford College and the majority became leaders in the government or military.  That is what you get when you are a stinky little boy who gambles, smokes, and drinks.

If you haven’t read the narrative above, now is the time. 

Entrance to the school

The school classroom

Next day was a travel day as we made our way through the Welch countryside.  We have never heard anything about Wales, but it is truly a beautiful country and the landscape looks like something out of “The Hobbit.”  Stopping for lunch at a very busy tourist town, we had the opportunity to walk down cobblestone streets centuries old, lined with buildings of the same era.

Just as a quick note, whenever we travel overseas, our main meal is breakfast.  The hotels always have a European style breakfast and we torque up then.  You never know what is out there for lunch and dinner even though many of the meals are provided.

Now that is an old building.  We had lunch right across the street. 

Lunch

We were beat and when we hit the hotel, it was dinner, and then to bed.  Breakfast was at 7 the next day with the coach leaving at 8 a.m.  This is vacation.

Looking forward to my Elk hunt October 7th into northeast Idaho.  I have hunted this ranch before and there are a lot of big bulls.  going to try to make a fishing trip to Lake Elwood south of Lexington, Nebraska in September.  My good friend that I hunt ducks with has his spot all set to go and is turning on the pump for teal season.  Will I hit any?  Maybe, but I will put a lot of shot in the air.

For an entertaining read buy my book.  Makes a great gift. 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck, Hank

 

The Eagles Have Landed


He is watching you. 

The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States of America. The founders of the United States were fond of comparing their new republic with the Roman Republic, in which eagle imagery (usually involving the golden eagle) was prominent. On June 20, 1782, the Continental Congress adopted the design for the Great Seal of the United States depicting a bald eagle grasping 13 arrows and an olive branch with thirteen leaves, with its talons.

The eagles are flying up to the roof tops on the houses in the neighborhood.  This shot is right next door to our home. 

We have the fortune or misfortune, depending on how you view it, of living close to the Missouri River.  It is out of its banks and up to the base of the levees surrounding Council Bluffs.  Living on a golf course we have a beautiful lake adjoining the golf course that we can enjoy from the back of our home.  The lake is actually a retention pond that drains the streets and the houses in the development, and also the golf course when it rains.

Master of all he sees.

This year the lake overflowed and is slowly draining, provided we do not get big pounding rain storms.  On the golf course small ponds formed leading to the main body of the lake and fish were seen flopping around in the ponds.  Then they came.  First it was the egrets.  These tall stately looking birds were very hard to photograph and arrived just at daylight.  Slowly they would walk along the edges of the lake and ponds grabbing fish.

Pam and I got up at first light and sat out on the deck to drink our morning cups of coffee. Just then, two bald eagles flew in and landed along the edges of the ponds and lake.  They would each grab a fish and fly off to one of the roof tops across the lake to devour it.  They were immensely patient and would stand in one place or slowly walk along the banks and pause, then jump up and grab a fish.  Periodically, they would leap into the air, circle around and come back to land in a different place or swoop down with talons out and grab a fish out of the water.  (I am going to go buy a video camera).  Watching the eagles is the best way to start off the morning.

We were amazed at this. He walked out into the standing grass and Wham! He picked up a fish and flew away.  What a way to start a morning. 

 

They hang out right at the edge of the lake or fly up to a rooftop and observe.  That bird is in danger of being eaten. 

The best part came when one morning Pam called to me to come quickly and see what was next door.  There standing on the high point of our next door neighbor’s roof was an eagle.  I shot pictures through the kitchen window and then went outside to the front to get a better shot.  The bird never moved when I went outside.  It just sat there in a stately fashion and looked around.  He leaped into the air and floated down to the lake, grabbed a fish, and dropped down to the edge of the lake and dined.

Check out his talons.

Next, we saw that two birds would fly up to the same roof top and hang out.  Pam walked out the back door onto the deck and there were the two of them looking down at her from the roof top.  She grabbed the camera, went back out, but one flew away.  The other just sat there.  Then it flew to a neighbor’s roof to join its friend or mate.

This was the first time we saw the pair hanging out together.  Generally they are not close to one another and each will perch on a different roof top.  

These birds are magnificent, so it was time to do a little background reading on them.  The bald eagle is an opportunistic carnivore with the capacity to consume a great variety of prey. Fish comprise 56% of the diet of nesting eagles, birds 28%, mammals 14% and other prey 2%.Bald eagles can fly with fish at least equal to their own weight, but if the fish is too heavy to lift, the eagle may be dragged into the water.   It has been estimated that the gripping power (pounds by square inch) of the bald eagle is ten times greater than that of a human.

 

We believe this is what she is saying to him, “Look bud, I am sick and tired of eating fish all the time.  Why don’t you find some tasty rodents to eat or some road kill.  You have to do better than this.  Our relatives over at Lake Manawa have a variety.”  And he says to her,  “You have a nice nest here by the river.  You are never satisfied.”  

What we would like to find is the nesting area.  With all the water next to the levees, our plan is to walk the levees south of where we live and look for large trees that have a lot of elevation and the boughs are big and spread out.  We plan on waiting till fall to do this as we do not want to disturb the nest.

Ahhhh, peace and quiet.  Now to wait for a nice tasty fish to show itself. 

We will be up early next morning to catch all the action watching them soar and plunge towards the water with talons extended to pluck breakfast out of the lake.  

For an entertaining read, buy my book from Amazon.  Click on the book and go direct to Amazon. 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

Two Days on Lake Francis Case (Day 2)

 

Platte Creek Lodge and Guide Service. 

 

Wow, Wow, and more Wow!  It just can’t get much better than this.  My guide and I hit the lake at the same time and struggled through the crowd at the only boat ramp available.  Yesterday we limited out, but came back to fish and pitch for another day of action.

We got to the boat ramp a little earlier and that helped a lot getting on the lake.  On the water the guide hit the pedal and off we went flying across the water to another fishing spot he knew about.

 

Looking out the back of the boat, and this is what 50 mph looks like as we sped across the water. 

Looking out over the bow of the boat.  This machine really flies and it does not take long to cover a lot of water.  The white box with the red handle is a box holding crawlers or as we say in Iowa, worms. Around the edge of the box is a liner for ice and that way the bait is kept cool.  

We pulled up to the first spot and began fishing.  Immediately the action started, but we were throwing them all back as we just could not catch a 15 inch fish.  The rods used were light action and were long, but it still felt like we had a really decent size fish.  I think I mentioned in the previous blog that this lake should be a really hot spot for legal fish next year.

Spot one we fished for about 30 minutes along the face of the drop off starting from the point and working along the bank.  What was really interesting was that we were so close to the edge of the bank and still fished in 10 to 12 feet of water.  The lake is way over full so this spot would look different than it does when the lake is back to a normal level. 

 

It was time to keep moving.  It was not for not catching fish, it was for not catching legal size to keep.  Again, the big motor was fired up and off we flew across the lake to another spot. 

 

 

Notice the house along the bank.  The question I asked was how can a person build a house or cabin along ground that belongs to the government by way of the Corp of Engineers.  Apparently it was built about the same time the reservoir was completed and just got grandfathered in.  The guide wants that house and if I win the lottery, I have promised I will buy it for him.  Neither one of us will lose any sleep over it. 

I have fished and hunted with a lot of guides, and I have never had one that was not good.  I have enjoyed the company, plus harvesting a lot of  game and enjoying the outdoors. We fished really hard at this location as we  had success there before, but today it was fleeting.  We did not catch a thing.  It happens, and it is called fishing, not catching. Onward, upward, and ever forward.  There is always another spot along this wide and meandering lake.

 

This was really interesting and it was the only place where we saw this geology.  Notice the color of the water.  It is similar to the color of the rocks.  As you moved out away from the bank the water darkened up to the color of the rest of the lake.  Depth at this level was around 15 feet.  It was at this level we caught keeper fish.  I am forwarding this picture to a geologist and have him tell me about the rocks and the layers.  Interesting. 

We were not limited out yet, but had two more fish to go.  All of a sudden it shut off.  I have seen this happen before, but have no explanation for it.  The only thing I can think of is walleye are finicky fish and something turns them on and then turns them off.  The wind did go down and the late went flat.  I did not like that environment and neither did the guide. We moved to the east side of the lake. 

 

 

The graph and trolling motor moved us along the bank in 15 feet of water.  Then the cattle that were up on the bank came down and paid us a visit.  We caught no fish here, but as we moved by they all stood and stared at us as some waded into the water.

 

We continued down the east bank.  Where the grass was standing, we finished out our limit and it was only 2 p.m.  The graph displayed 10 feet of water and we were about 10 feet from the grass line. I did not get a picture of this, but we both agreed the bait fish were hiding in the tall grass and the game fish were working that weed line.  We had a great time catching and pitching.  Some of them were bigger than what we had in the live well.  

 

I just put this picture in because it was such beautiful scenery.  Picture Lewis and Clark going up the Missouri River and seeing this rise in the land. 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

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Two Days on Lake Francis Case (Day 1)

Lake Francis Case is the large, gently winding reservoir behind Fort Randall Dam on the Missouri River in south-central South Dakota. The lake has an area of 102,000 acres and a maximum depth of 140 feet. Lake Francis Case covers just over 100 miles and has a shoreline of 540 miles.

A good friend and his wife had just come back from a two day fishing trip and gave an outstanding recommendation for a guide, using his boat and equipment, and a lodge to stay at.  The pictures they had were of some excellent walleye fishing.  The fish caught were not big lunkers, but really nice size  fish in the 15 to 18 inch class.  These fillet out really nice and fry up even better. 

Fort Randall Dam, South Dakota.jpg

Picture is produced by Harry Weddington, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Digital Visual Library

 

The Fort Randall Dam is located within sight of its namesake Fort Randall, an early U.S. Army Frontier Post. Fort Randall Dam is one of six Missouri River dams.  The next dam upstream is Big Bend Dam near Fort Thompson and the next dam downstream is Gavins Point near Yankton. The dam forms the southern end of the lake with the northern end at Chamberlain, SD that form Lake Sharpe.

 

Comfortable room and lodge area made this a great place to stay. 

Upon contacting the people at Platte Creek Lodge and Guide Service in Platte, SD, there was an opening for two days of fishing with a guide and a room.  I grabbed it.  Pam could not go along due to another commitment and was terribly disappointed as she really likes to hammer walleye.

Arriving late afternoon, I met my guide and we talked about the next morning.  We would depart for the lake at 7 a.m.  The water was extremely high and all the boat ramps were closed except one.  There was limited parking for this one and the guide was very pleased that I was a boat owner and could back the boat down and drive it out.

For meals a person could drive into town as there were restaurants open in the morning for breakfast and dinner.  A person could bring his own food and fix it at the lodge.  I just grabbed some TV dinners for breakfast and dinner along with snacks for the afternoon and that worked well for me.

 

This is where I hung out and sat and watched TV in the checkered chair with the brown pillow.  Tables are to the right and another dining room in front of me for other people cooking their own meals.  

The boat shown below was the boat we would be fishing in the next morning.  Wow, a brand new 19 foot+ Lund purchased in January.  This boat had it all.  Eighty pound thrust trolling motor on the bow that unfolded down into the water electrically and pulled itself back out when it was time to go.  The best part was it was controlled automatically by the Hummingbird graph at the drivers seat.  Set the depth and the motor kept the boat moving along at that depth.  This was hands free fishing.  Two 4 stroke engines were mounted on the rear.  One was a 200 hp Mercury and the other was a 15 hp Mercury.  Both were totally controlled at the drivers spot for steering and running the fuel.  This was way more boat than I own.

 
 

This boat would really move when it was opened up and the seats had a suspension system that kept the ride really smooth. 

Next morning it was off to the lake.  When we got to the boat ramp area we were fourth in line for a single boat ramp.  Boats were piling up behind us and boats were floating just off the single dock waiting for the driver of the truck to come in from the parking to mount up and ride off into the morning light. The big boat came right off and I drove the trailer up to the parking area and hustled down to the dock. We were off, and oh how this boat would fly over the water with just the two of us in it and the 200 horses pushing us along!  (I keep talking about the boat, but it was exciting.  Plus, I don’t have to maintain it.)

My first view of Lake Francis Case. 

 

 
 

Highway 44 out of Platte, SD crosses over the lake.  To our left is a campground where we would launch the boat.  The area has 5 boat ramp areas, but all are underwater due to the precipitation and moisture South Dakota has had this spring.  

 

I shot a quick pic trying to get a shot of the traffic, but we were so hurried that this is the best I could do.  I have never seen so many people lining up to get onto the lake.  This is in the middle of the week and Father’s Day was the coming weekend.  Holy Cow, what will it be like then. 

 

My guide said the lake was about 15 feet higher than normal and he has lived in the area all his life.  In the water we were off and flying over the water.  Moving to the east bank he set the depth at 10 feet for the motor and graph to keep us at that depth just following the shoreline.  

 

There is that Hummingbird telling the trolling motor where to go.  How sweet it is! 

We started immediately picking up fish, not real rapidly but enough to pay attention.  Each of us fished with two rods in rod holders on each side of the boat.  This was a new experience for me, as I have always run the trolling motor, watched the graph, and operated one rod.  Wow, gentleman fishing is what was taking place.  At my age, I need all of this I can take. 

The fish we picked up were below the 15 inch minimum.  But we picked up a lot and it was relatively constant.  This is a great sign for the lake, as all those small fish grow into big fish. A couple of decades ago a close friend and I fished Waubay Lake in the Glacial Lakes area and would pick up 50 to 100 fish a day all below the legal limit.  It was fun catching a lot of fish.  Next year we picked up a limit a piece in less than half a day.  This will happen here.  Good for the minimum.

Decades ago, my son and I fished with a native of the Iron Range in Minnesota.  We fished the B.W.C.A. and he said wherever you are catching small walleye, you need to move on as that is all there is in that spot.  Over the years I have found some truth in that statement.  We moved.

The next location we picked up a couple of keepers in the 16 inch range and when it went sterile, we moved again.  The guide just seemed to know where to go and where he had caught fish in the past and this year.  He told me we could have it all done by 1 pm, but it was not meant to be.

 

I fished the bow of the boat and the guide fished the back end.  I don’t think he was trying too hard because he was slow to set the hook and it seemed like sometime his line went slack.  He was more interested in keeping on a certain depth and monitored the graph and changing our depths at times.  Note the rod holder.  There was one on the other side of the bow. I am not used to this at all as I have always held a rod in my hand.  Time to teach an old dog new tricks. 

That is my spot at the front of the boat, unless we are rocketing across the lake to a new spot.  I got behind the windscreen and took off my hat so it did not blow away.  The white box on the floor has worms in the center and is surrounded on the outside by ice to keep them cold.  

By 4 p.m. we had caught our limit for the day for the two of us. I was cooked as the sun had come out after 2 p.m. and the lake went somewhat flat.  Not good walleye water, but we kept at it until we had the limit.  I was ready head to the dock and get off the water.

We did well and also picked up a white bass.  We will be back at it on the next day. 

 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

 

 

Click on the book and buy from Amazon.  I need to drink something other than Ripple. 

The Floods of Southwest Iowa

 

This picture taken from Lewis and Clark Monument north of Council Bluffs.  Downtown Omaha is at the upper right of the picture with the Missouri River weaving around Council Bluffs.  You can see I-29 with the water flooding the east side. 

 
 

In 1953 the year of the big flood in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area was a highlight of a young boy’s experiences.  The west end of Council Bluffs was totally evacuated in case the levees did not hold.  Our group of rowdy little boys spent the week we were let out of school on a bluff that overlooked the city.  One of the boy’s fathers had been in the Navy during the WWII and we were supplied with an enormous pair of binoculars that took two of us to carry. We sat and watched the action going on along the river.  The levees held, thanks to all able bodied men who worked on them. 

 

In the meantime the Eisenhower administration looked ahead and constructed a series of dams up the river for flood control and hydroelectric power.  Recreation was way down on the list, but apparently has moved up to the top. 

 

In 2011 it happened again.  The local paper had an article that we were going to have a flood of “biblical proportions”.  “What does that mean?” was the question everyone I know asked?  A number of reasons for the flooding were published but thankfully the river around Council Bluffs did not breech the levees and work on them went on around the clock during the crisis. 

Now it happened again. The Missouri River basin has experienced more than a year’s worth of runoff in the span of three months as reported by the Army Corps of Engineers.  

 

The Missouri River endured 26.3 million acre-feet of runoff in March, April and May, This was reported by the reservoir regulation team for the Corps. It normally sees about 25 million acre-feet in an average year — making 2019 a record for runoff, he said. 

 

That runoff can be attributed to the “tremendous amount” of precipitation seen in South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas over a short period of time.  I fished Lake Francis Case part of the Missouri River system mid June and the river/reservoir was 15 feet over the bank and at Platte, South Dakota all but one of the boat ramps was available.  Limited parking and only one ramp to get in and off the lake was all that was available.  More on that experience mid month.

During the drive up, I listened to South Dakota radio stations, and it was reported that from June 2018 through June 2019 the state had experienced more moisture than ever recorded in the last 124 years.  

 

Historic runoff has caused the Army Corps of Engineers to step up its releases from Gavins Point Dam, the flood control reservoir in Yankton, South Dakota. The release of water into the Missouri River is about 2.5 times the release in a normal year. 

 

The interstate I-29 was closed from Glenwood, Iowa to the Missouri line, and from Council Bluffs to Missouri Valley, Iowa.

 

We live on a golf course and the lake is out of its banks and flooding part of the course.  Not good for the golfers, but it has brought a plethora of birds.  This Egret is one of the many fisher birds that come early in the morning for a meal.

 

 

We have the pleasure of seeing two bald eagles that come every morning to fish.  It does not take them long to pick up a tasty morsel.  One morning an eagle snatched a fish and flew upon a neighbor’s roof and consumed his/her breakfast. 

 

 

Looking from Lewis and Clark Monument to the west.  I-29 going north and south is at the bottom of the picture.  The Omaha Airport is at the left of the picture with a road around the airport in the picture.  Somewhere in the mass of water is the Missouri River that stretches all the way to the hills in eastern Nebraska. 

 

We drove up north of Council Bluffs to Crescent, Iowa and followed the road that ran along the bottom of the Loess Hills.  South of Missouri Valley is a housing area winding up into the bluffs and we captured the following pictures of the flooding. 

 

At the bottom of the hill the railroad track is visible along the flooded farm land.  The whole bottoms are flooded and there will be no planting of this ground this year. 

 

We would stop and grab a quick picture where there was an opening along the highway.  

We drove south of Council Bluffs as far as permissible on I-29 and at the Glenwood turnoff we had to exit.  Following Highway 34 east toward the town we were looking for a highway or road that would take us up into the hill where we could look out over the valley.  Waubonsie State Park sits on top of the bluffs over looking the valley, but we could not get to it.  Also, we understand it was full of campers who had been forced out of their homes along the river bottom.

 

Along I-29 we were able to get a couple of pictures as we headed back home.  South on the I-29 was closed. 

 

In the distance is a farm underwater.  

My elk trip has been booked for the fall in Idaho in mid October.  

Buy my book and read about the trips taken and how it was done. 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

Memorial Day

 Fort McPherson National Cemetery

 

The day before Memorial Day, Pam and I started out across Nebraska to Sidney where she lived before going off to school and marrying a very charming gentleman, me. Sidney, Nebraska is the resting place for her family spread between two cemeteries, one in town and one in the country on the plains. 

 

We have driven by on I-80 hundreds of times and each time, we said next time we will stop and see the Fort McPherson National Cemetery south of Maxwell.  This was the time.

 
 

Fort McPherson was established in 1863 to ensure peace between the immigrants traveling along the Oregon Trail and Native Americans.  Troops originally provided protection from hostile Natives during construction of the railroad.

 

Establishment of the 20 acre cemetery in 1873 afforded space to re-inter remains from cemeteries abandoned by the Army when conflict between settlers and Native Americans decreased. A monument with a statue of a Civil War soldier marks the site of the old military post’s flagstaff.  Another monument marks the site of the Cottonwood Springs Pony Express station.  The Oregon Trail passed through the cemetery in a section that became known as Section H.

 

Twenty-eight soldiers killed by the Sioux on August 19, 1854 in the Grattan Massacre named after Lt. John Grattan, who commanded the soldiers during the fight, are buried there also.  The soldiers originally buried at a site near Fort Laramie, Wyoming were re-interred at Fort McPherson in 1891.  Historians consider the fight to be the opening salvo in a 36 year period of intermittent hostilities between the Sioux Nation and the U.S. Army, ending with the massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1890.

 

Soldiers that were buried in Boot Hill in the Sidney, Nebraska were moved and buried in the cemetery in 1922.

 
 

After this stop we headed to Paxton, Nebraska for dinner at Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge established in 1933.  Paxton is at the 145 mile exit along I-80 and it is a short drive into town.  Ole’s is on the east side of the street and you cannot miss it.  

 

Over a period of 35 years, Ole traveled to every continent and the lounge became the showcase for his adventures. More than 200 mounted trophies from his hunting safaris are displayed at Ole’s. Photographs and other memorabilia of his travels in the 30s and 40s line the walls. 

 
 

The Polar Bear greets you as you enter the front door.  

There are two large rooms and you will be having dinner under an elephant or a giant moose shot in the Yukon.  The food is outstanding too and they serve Buffalo Burgers along with great steaks.  After all this is Nebraska. 

Summer is upon us finally.  Be safe out there. 

Click on the book and buy from Amazon for an entertaining read.  Hank

The Beautiful Orioles are Back

They have appeared again and we do not know where they came from.  A neighbor who is really into birds told my wife to put out some grape jelly and we would see a beautiful bird come and feed on the grape jelly.  It is the Baltimore Oriole.  The oriole is a singer with a rich whistling song that echoes from tree tops and parks.  Now the birds are in our neighborhood.  We always thought this bird lived in the eastern states, but here it is in Iowa.  The male has brilliant orange plumage while the  female appearance is much more subdued.

 
 

Click on my book and buy from Amazon for great entertainment.

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

 

Funky Chicken Scores Again

There he is Funky Chicken

This decoy has been in my stash of turkey decoys for going on four years.  When I first saw this funky looking decoy advertised in Bass Pro, I said, “No way.”  Then a friend used one and said it was dynamite.  It makes the toms really mad, and like the Charles Atlas advertisements of decades ago, the weakling got sand kicked into his face by the big bully.  The manufacturer advised adding a couple of feeder hens to give a feeling of security.  

 

 

There is my spread.  The funky and two feeding hens.  It can’t get any better than this for Mr. Big Shot to come up the hill and pick a fight.  In other words, kick sand in the eyes of the wimp. 

 

I set up my gear behind the large bush to the left of the top picture of funky.  I set my chair down, laid my gun across my lap, kept my camera at hand and grabbed a call. This was hunting.  After waiting for about thirty minutes, the woods behind me settled down.  The birds flew around and came alive along with the squirrels and other creatures scurrying around.   The one thing forgotten was Deet.  The TV news said the ticks were out and people enjoying the outdoors should be prepared.  I  definitely checked myself over when I got home.  Our area has been known for Lyme Disease.

The gobbling of toms was echoing through the valley on each side of me and an occasional hen made a little noise.  A couple of yelps were given on the call to let the big boys know a hen was in the area and was looking for love. Now, the truth is I have no idea if that really sends that type of signal, but without it, they don’t always come. Then I settled back and opened up a book.  Life cannot get much better than this.  Now to enjoy nature and wait for Mr. Tough Guy to come up the hill and pick a fight with the funky chicken.

The morning could not be more beautiful with some low hanging clouds and the sun peeking through the overcast.  To my left, I was well hidden and in the shadows.  Straight ahead was adequate as long as I didn’t move around a lot if a tom came in, but to my right, I was wide open.  Not good. This should have been taken care of before settling down to hunt.

Looking straight ahead, you can see the funky and there is good vision to the front.  To my left it is totally obscured.  That is fine if anything comes from that direction.  

 

To my right are the two feeder hens and it is wide open.  Not pictured is a bush about seven feet from where I am sitting.  If something comes from that direction, being absolutely still will be the order of the day.   

An old turkey hunter told me years ago that most big toms are shot between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.  I was set up by 8 a.m. and the waiting was on.  The gobbling continued and as the time moved on, the noise slowly subsided.  At 9 a.m. another couple of yelps were given that echoed through the valley and then I picked up my book again.

Off to my right a couple of black looking dots were spotted moving directly toward me.  As they got closer it was obvious they were  turkeys.  Finally, they were identified as a decent size tom and a Jake. I reached very slowly for the camera and got a picture of the two.

The one on the left is the target.  

They slowly approached, feeding and scratching the ground as they made their way up the hill.  The line of approach never varied from the time they were spotted. The range finder said they were initially out about 200 yards when they were first spotted. 

 

Not a giant tom, but he will eat well. 

Moving slower than molasses in winter, the camera was slowly lowered onto my lap.  They were still out too far, so the wait was on as they continued to make their way toward the funky.  Each time they  dropped their heads down to peck at the ground, the gun was slowly moved upward toward a shooting position.  Things were getting heavy and now the lack of cover to my right was going to spoil the shot.  

I could wait no longer, so at about 20 yards instead of moving slowly, I started to move rapidly.  Bad idea.  They were off running like a scalded dog.  The gun was never up to my shoulder, and I began to swear like a drunken sailor at screwing up this shot. (No Offense to the Navy). I reminded myself that patience was not one of my virtues, and this was a lesson I needed to learn again.  Notice, the word again was used as this is not the first time a shot has been screwed up.  The only good thing from this experience is that the 3.5 inch shells are expensive and none were wasted on a wild hurried shot.

Settling back down, the warm sunlight soothed my disappointment and I kept nodding off.  Twenty minutes went by as my book slid off my lap onto my boots.  I looked up.  There right in front of me came two more birds.  One was a decent size tom and the other a small Jake.  They were not 20 yards out and the gun was very very slowly moved to my shoulder.  The wait was on.  The tom was definitely going for funky chicken as he spread out his fan and became aggressive.  Right before he got to the decoy, his lights went out and he rolled backward.  As I was standing up, the Jake just stood there and did not take off until I came out from behind the bush.

Hats off to the Funky Chicken, He sucked one in again. 

Once the toms have this decoy spotted, they always come in a straight line.  After using this decoy for the last four years, a tom was always shot on the first day and before noon.  If they are in the area, you will score.  Bass Pro is not selling them on line so you must go to a store to buy one.  I am sure there is one to be bought somewhere on line. 

 
 

My book makes a great gift. Click on the book to buy from Amazon. 

 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

 
 
 

Don’t Feed the Dinosaurs

Don’t feed the Dinosaurs. 

I have some friends that were asking me  about a new rifle scope I bought that was not needed.  “How do you get away with that stuff?”  The answers is simple.  My wife likes to go to faraway places and we make sure we do a trip once or twice a year.  The second thing is she likes flowers and the botanical gardens at Lauritzen is one her favorite places to visit. If she wants to go to the gardens, dropping whatever I am doing is the right thing to do.  After all, I hunt and fish when and where I want and buy all that equipment that is not really needed. 

The gardens are a living museum of unique four season plant displays maintained to the highest standards of environmental stewardship.  A visit is an escape to an urban oasis of beauty and tranquility.  The gardens are a sanctuary in the heart of the city.

When we got home from S.E. Asia, the display had just started.  It took us almost a week and a half to get back to central standard time in Iowa from being on the opposite side of the planet.  Then the heavy snows rolled in with severe cold.  We hunkered down.  When the skies cleared and the weather turned decent, over to Lauritzen Gardens we went to see the display.

Dinosaur UpROAR offered a realistic glimpse into the prehistoric world, allowing visitors to experience what life was like millions of years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  The indoor exhibit features 20 life-sized installations positioned throughout the garden. Massive creations appeared right at home nestled among plants that have survived through the ages and jungle-like landscapes.

Nebraska was not a breezy prairie dotted with grazing bison during the Cretaceous Period.  It was a steamy tropical forest at the edge of an ocean swarming with Plesiosaurs-the seagoing equivalent of dinosaurs (the meat eating kind).

Most of the plant fossils on display date back to the Cretaceous Period when what is today Nebraska was almost entirely covered by an inland sea that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean.

Kritosaurus

Allosaurus

 

Parasaurolophus

 

Tyrannosarus

 

Dimetrodon

 

Camarasaurus

Back in the time of dinosaurs, you were basically a plant eater or you ate plant eaters.  Then as now, plants were the foundation of life on Earth. Nebraska is famous in the world of paleobotany(the study of ancient plant life) for some major fossil discoveries.  The most important of these have come from the Rose Creek area in shale and sandstone rocks of the Dakota Group. The majority of the Rose Creek fossils are imprints of leaves, many so beautifully preserved that the network of veins is still clearly evident.  The fossils are on loan from the University of Nebraska State Museum.

Crocodile

 

Chasmosaurus

 

Watch out for the dinosaurs ahead as they may be hungry. 

 

Daspletosaur

 

The king of meat eaters, T-Rex.  

Placerias

 

Bambiraptor

Rose Creek is world-famous among paleobotanists for the flower fossils discovered there.  The tissues of flowers are more delicate than leaves or stems, and much rarer in the fossil record than other plant parts.

Syntarsus

Citipati

Postosuchus

Velociraptor

Wow, this was time well spent after the winter everyone in our area just went through.  It was so refreshing to see the green plants, fossils, and of course the dinosaur displays.

Turkey season is right around the corner and talking with a landowner where I hunt, he has seen some big boys.  It is time to smell some gunpowder.

My book is a quick read for entertainment and enjoyment.  Plus you find out how I did it.  

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank