September 20, 2011
Yesterday…on our final full day at Thousand Trails Thunderbird RV Resort in Monroe,Washington…Mary and I took an afternoon walk on Bear Gulch Trail which runs along a ridge above the campground. It was a delightful day to take some photos. You may click on them to see an enlarged view…
In case you are wondering…no…we did not see any bears.
All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
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July 12, 2011
Last night, shots rang out and I knew the feral pig hunters were actively patrolling. The picture above is a skinny pig compared to the pictures my neighbor, Gary Gonzalez got of five pigs invading his yard July 4th. Sunday night, one of my Hanging Tree neighbors in a golf cart-like vehicle, with a powerful strobe light and a cross bow, was cruising the road flashing the woods looking for pigs. I’d planned to take a cool evening walk Monday night and thought better of it. Not only because of the hunters but because Gerry Baumgartner, another Hanging Tree neighbor reported he had been visited by a bear twice in the last two weeks and the neighbor above him has had three visits from two different bears. Both have armed themselves with canned horns. Its beginning to feel like an armed encampment here.
Bears and pigs are related and their meat tastes similar. I know that for a fact since I once butchered a bear for my brother who hunted and killed a bear in neighboring Tuolumne County when he was only 18 years old. Bears and feral pigs compete for the same food. Both can be aggressive and can and will attack humans if cornered or threatened, though that rarely happens. In the 1980′s I encountered feral pigs in Wilseyville and Railroad Flat, the upper, mountainous western part of Calaveras County. I’ve lived in Murphys since 1978 and have never seen a bear within two miles of my place, nor have I seen feral pigs. I find it somewhat disturbing to realize that the bear population and feral pigs are wandering into new territory. It makes me wonder what shift in the environmental balance caused them to hunger out of their range? From past experience, it is usually human activity that upsets the balance. In any case, one neighbor was feeling very sympathetic to the feral pigs being hunted and considered setting out corn for them. It seemed to be the right time to get educated about feral pigs and the damage they do. I looked at a couple of sources but Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has the most thorough information on feral pigs and I copied my pictures from them:
There are approximately four million feral pigs in the United States. Fact: more people are killed by pigs than sharks. Domestic pigs were originally brought here from Spain and allowed to propagate in the wilds of California. Russian razorbacks and pigs from Germany were brought to New Hampshire, the Carolinas and California in the early 1900′s. They are ferocious fighters, can produce two or more litters per year and live for 25 years. They’ve become a serious problem in 23 states.
Mountain lions, bobcats and bears will feed on young pigs but the adult pigs are voracious predators. President Roosevelt once watched a pig dismember a jaguar.
” They especially relish acorns as well as hickory and beech nuts in the autumn. At other times of the year they eat forbs, grasses, leaves, berries and other fruits, roots and tubers, corn and other agricultural crops, insects, crayfish, frogs, salamanders, snakes, mice, eggs of ground-nesting birds, young rabbits, fawns and young livestock, such as lambs, calves, kids. They can also kill larger livestock that are weak from illness or injury. When fresh meat is not available, feral pigs will also readily scavenge carrion.”
They destroy wetland habitat, muddying the waters, breaking down the banks of rivers, destroy aquatic plants and have been known to corner larger prey and hunt as a group, breaking legs and getting an animal on the ground. Their powerful bite can snap a kneecap or crush a peach pit with equal ease. They have been known to gnaw down a small tree and trample bushes in the wild. In domestic gardens and landscaped areas the damage is formidable. So, I say to my neighbor, don’t feel sorry for these invaders and let us support our hunters. In Wisconsin, they can be taken at anytime. In California, hunters need a pig tag, unless you are defending your property or livestock. I’m told they are better tasting than what we buy at the store. Luau time.
October 17, 2010
This old female Bengal yawned on the warm sunny hillside as though to affirm, life here is good.
Richly colored coats of tigers in Calaveras County are so out of place, and beautiful. The lion habitat, nearby, has a huge maned male who couldn’t keep his eyes off the females. They are separated since PAWS is not a zoo. They don’t encourage offspring. The lions and bears managed to keep clear of the fencing and were not interested in photographers
And at each area, the food and wine are plentiful and delicious. Here Jan Hovey pours Hovey Wine. Steve Hovey has been making wine for over 20 years and is now proudly presenting his expertise under his own name.
This female Asian elephant has a missing toe on one hind leg and a deformed ankle from long years on a chain. She seemed so happy and comfortable. And it is a cheering sight to see her free at last.
Man’s inhumanity to man is nothing compared to what humans do to animals. This, of course, is not the worst of it. She happily nudges and scratches her trunk on the fencing. Some trees in the sanctuary have steel posts around them to protect them from being pushed over by the pachyderms.
At first the sanctuary did not take in bull elephants. They can be dangerous and are unbelievably strong. They had to increase the fence strength for bulls and now they have two.
At the final buffet and auction area, near the African and Asian elephant barns, we visitors enjoyed dozens of different wines. A wine glass comes with your ticket and you carry it from kiosk to kiosk. Here Margot Osborn pours Chatom wines.
Irish has Pog Mo Thoin, which is Irish for a mixture of whatever is left over. Well, sort of. It has three varietals and was quite tasty at that.
This marvelous dish of pesto flavored broiled tomatoes with mozarella was stellar, but the caterers, Jeff Newland and ll Fornaio, prepared pumpkin ravioli to die for. Of course, the whole luncheon is vegetarian. I keep promising myself to commit to becoming a vegetarian. Living on the road as much as Jim and I do makes it a harder fit.
At the parking lot, is a recycled old derelict put to good use. It reminds us not to stay over long. PAWS, the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary has a program where families can visit. This event was adults only. They are very protective of their charges and the employees know them by their names and can identify one from another. They have pictures of the animals with their names and can tell you stories of their muddled past. A great project that we in Calaveras County enjoy along with out of town visitors.
August 19, 2010
Smethport was a nice town, friendly and pretty with a good sized lake and park.
A huge flock of Canadian Geese make this lake their home. Above is a small portion of the lake and a small portion of the flock.
I walked around the lake on Goose Chasing Trail, appropriately enough. I saw along this wall of greenery on the trail many berry bushes and a huge plop of bear scat. Not a place to walk at night. The park had ball fields, several childrens playgrounds, tennis courts, a skate board area; You can fish and kayak, and sail boats and swim here. A huge barbeque area for group affairs plus many strategically located more private picnic areas with benches. I crossed two bridges over the water. For a small population of about 19,000 people, it was commendable. If I were to chose a place to live in Pennsylvania, this might be it.
Down the road apiece was this figure attached to a hunt and bait shop. Methinks the area is a great hunting, fishing and skiing area, judging from the mountainous terrain of the Allegheny Mountains. And, the main grocery here had better prices compared to what we were paying for items in Ivoryton and Dartmouth.
Yesterday, I attempted to get a picture of a snowmobile crossing sign and missed several of them. But, I finally succeeded after three tries on this stretch of road headed for Ashtabula.
Our journey was somewhat eventful in that a truck turning right pulled within inches of us at a stop light, then backed up and made the narrow turn. I was so transfixed I didn’t get his picture. Likewise when we came to a very narrow underpass. This one, pictured below, was lower than normal, but not so narrow. The transportation department gave plenty of warning that it was coming up. Twelve feet seven inches. The motor home is Eleven feet two inches.
Then, we stopped for lunch and a stretch at Union City and wondered what all the yellow ribbons were for? Maybe vets? Maybe cancer awareness? Its a local thing.
Signs we saw, but not in time to get a picture:
HOME OF FLAMETHROWER BURGERS
(That was Conneaut)
BLIND PERSON AREA
(On cape cod, we saw a DEAF CHILD sign.)
BUCKLE UP ITS YOUR LIFE ITS OUR LAW
SOULSHINES BETTER THAN A SHOESHINE
WORLDS STRONGEST REDNECK
That last one really has me curious. We saw it in three places in two small towns???
Life on the road is fun even whizzing by. We made it to Ashtabula.
July 2, 2010
Ken, his wife Laurie, three teens and two dogs left Las Vegas at 4 A.M. and arrived around three P.M. Thursday. Over 9 hours of driving with a couple of rest stops.
Consider totally jet lagged Romain Chemiere, who flew from his native France to Las Vegas and arrived Wednesday. He slept most of the day and evening June 30th, only to be loaded into a car with my son’s family for a long road trip yesterday. He is the son of Catherine (Carre) Chemiere. She is the AFS sister to my youngest daughter Virginia.
Romain will spend a month with family members in the US.
Grandson Stewart was hep. He brought his uke and guitar, so we are in for a treat. He and his brother are both credible musicians.
Son Ken did most of the driving and was stifling yawns and struggling to stay awake.
Makes you wonder if dogs suffer jet lag? Probably not. They just seem to go with the flo. They do bark, however, but this pregnant doe browsed the weedy side yard for a snack when all was a bit quiet.
Deer are pretty common visitors, but the night before, we determined we had a noisy, growling, grunting bear in the yard. Possibly two. Couldn’t see clearly in the dark, to be certain. A neighbor dog inspected the yard with his hackles up for several minutes in the morning. And, every dog in the neighborhood was sounding an alarm. They’ve been spotted nearby. Its the time of year before the wild blackberries ripen, my orchard isn’t fruiting either. Its their hungriest time. They like the compost pile and other succulent plants. We just have to hope they don’t like dogs for snacks.