NOTE: There wasn’t anything particularly special or unusual about our trip East in 1994. It’s just a good example of the kinds of places we went, and the things we saw and did, on our various cross-country drives.

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  This year – 1994 - was the year of "early retirement". The Government was downsizing (at least, on paper) and they made me such a good offer that I didn't see how I could refuse. I was ready, anyway.  So, in just a manner of weeks we went from the fully employed to the fully retired. We decided to make the most of it, and decompress in New Hampshire for a few months.

   Thursday 9 June 1994 - After some last minute packing, plus a trip to the dentist to make sure that Sally's tooth and gum were healing okay (tooth abscess), we started east for New Hampshire. Left Gresham about 1000, got to Wallace, Idaho, in late evening.

  Friday 10 June 1994 - On the road from Wallace, Idaho, to Billings, Montana. We bought a loon welcome sign for Camp at Big Sky Carvers near Bozeman, Montana. [Note, 2021: It was on our door at Camp until we left in 2008; now it’s here in Gresham.] In the evening, we drove from Billings out toward Halfbreed Lake National Wildlife Refuge - never found the water area, but had a fun time with lots (!) of lark buntings.

Lark Buntings. This photo wasn’t taken on this trip, but at a similar place

   Saturday 11 June 1994 - Billings to Mandan, North Dakota. Pretty much straight driving again, but we spent a couple of hours in the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Saw a porcupine, coyote, lots of prairie dogs, and several bison. Sally remembers visiting with her parents in the 1940s, when Archie Carr (later, renowned sea turtle expert) was living there, and took them on a very muddy walk and drive around the Park.

   Sunday 12 June 1994 - Billings to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. The bad weather that has been tailing us and coming up from the south threatened us, but all we got were sprinkles. Southern Minnesota got severe storms.

   We birded for several hours at Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge just east of Bismarck, North Dakota. Almost all the prairie ducks were there, also sora, Virginia rail, and Franklin's gull. Two life list birds: clay-colored sparrow and chestnut-collared longspur.

   In the evening, we drove north from Detroit Lakes to an area Pettingill (in his 1981 guide to bird finding) calls Wapun Marsh.  At that time, it was thought to be one of the last places in the state where there were prairie chickens, and it was also a good place to see yellow rails. We didn't see either.  The area looks like it has been much fragmented by agriculture since Pettingill's time, but it is still interesting.  Parcels of prairie and marsh have been set aside by the State, and we found two species of lady's slippers, lots of snipe winnowing, and one life bird: upland sandpiper.

   Monday 13 June 1994 - Detroit Lakes to Silver City, Michigan. We explored a little of the Porcupine Mountains area (including Lake of the Clouds overlook), stayed in a motel on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Porcupine Mountains - Lake of the Clouds and Lake Superior

   Tuesday 14 June 1994 - Silver City to Sudbury, Ontario.  Severe storms predicted for the Upper Peninsula, but we outran them and it was clear by the time we reached Sudbury.  It rained in Sault St. Marie, and there was some lightning.

   I got really scared at one point.  As we left Marquette, we looked back over Lake Superior to see an amazing black wall stretching for miles.  It was like an ocean wave breaking through the sky - the overriding of the very warm and very cold air masses predicted for several days.  Lightning flashed up and down and across this mass in a truly threatening display.  I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture, I was so scared we might be caught in it.  Without thinking, I had the truck going 75 mph away from that sight. I finally got over the shakes, but I was still traveling about 65 mph (on a 55 mph road) all the way across Michigan.

 Wednesday 15 June 1994 - Very hot and humid as we drove from Sudbury to North Hero, Vermont. Temperature in the 90s. Otherwise, it was a very uneventful 500 miles. We stayed in the same motel on North Hero Island that we had stayed in 10-15 years ago. Lots of purple martins flying around.

North Hero, Vermont

   Thursday 16 June 1994 - Arrived at Camp about 1300 after leaving North Hero at 0700, shopping in Lancaster, and eating lunch with Walter and Becky. The road was hard and mostly dry, rutted pretty badly at two culverts and on the hill up to the pad, but overall in pretty good shape.  It looked like someone had been doing some cleanup logging out near the highway where they logged last year, but nothing new, it seems.

   The house was in good shape except for mouse droppings on the table, and one chewed throw-rug.  We managed to get the minimum done today - outhouse shoveled out, shutters off, a little bit of cleanup - but we had to do it in 5 minute bursts because it was so hot and humid. The high was about 96! There was a light breeze at times, which helped a little bit.

   The dogtooth violets are long gone, and it looks like the trillium and apple bloomed some time ago.  The grass is growing pretty good, and there are bluets, Canada mayflowers, purple violets, erigeron, blue-eyed grass, and "sanicula" (or a relative - yellow flowers) blooming. In the garden, there are lilies-of-the-valley, bachelor's buttons, chives, phlox, highbush cranberry, and 1 iris.  Lemon lilies look like they will bloom shortly.

   Dixie the cat got extremely hot in the truck at Mullins', and scared me pretty bad - panting, didn't react at all when I poured water on her - but she was fine when we got into camp. She immediately went upstairs, and found others of her old haunts.  She had an encounter with a garter snake in the house, but it got away.

   The woods are pretty quiet in the heat, but singing robins and ovenbirds around camp. There was no evening thrush chorus, but an excellent dusk (2100) chorus of 5-6 coyotes, our first for camp, I think. They started and stopped abruptly in about a minute.

   A short walk to the pad in the evening yielded fresh moose tracks, a chipmunk, and one blooming lady's- slipper.

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