My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Pride goeth before the fall

But it isn’t fall yet, and I am somewhat torn about that. On one hand, I love the greenery that comes with Michigan summers, the heat, not so much. I know to those living in other parts of the country, or other parts of the world, 97 degrees with a 75 degree dew point is considered a cool day. But not here in Michigan.

Our summers are really way too short here, the trees don’t really finish leafing out until near the end of May. By the middle of September, fall is arriving, the trees are turning color and beginning to lose their leaves. I love fall, spring even more, but we go over 6 months, from November until April, with no leaves on any of the hardwood trees. Fortunately, we have lots of evergreens, or I would go bonkers. I do love me some green trees, even if I don’t care for the summer heat.

This heat wave that’s been going on all this week, and really for the last few weeks, is wiping me out to the point that I don’t have a lot of energy left for anything, not even blogging. I have been walking every morning, and ending up wringing wet with sweat. This morning I got back to my apartment and found the sleeves of the shirt I wore had white stripes from salt stains because I had been sweating so much. It’s even worse because of my job.

In the first place, I can’t get the air conditioning in the truck repaired. It started going out last August, I told my boss about it, nothing happened. Soon after it conked out completely, the weather cooled off nicely, and we had a very pleasant fall last year. As soon as it started to warm up this spring, I told my boss about the AC again, and I have been writing it up on the daily vehicle inspections I am required to turn in every day.  The truck has been in the shop a couple of times for regular service, but the AC has never been repaired. In fact, I picked the truck up yesterday from the shop, and still no AC. If you have never driven a big truck, you have no idea how much heat one of those big diesel engines radiate back into the cab.

Being in the trailer to unload and load it is even worse. The trailer is nothing more than a long metal box sitting out in the direct sun getting hotter and hotter inside all the time, with no air flow at all inside. I tried stopping at the beginning of the dead-end street the Lansing branch is located on and opening the trailer door before I pulled into the branch and to the loading dock, but the manager there had a fit. He accused me of driving with the door open all the way from Grand Rapids, even though I told him I was pulling over to open the door almost in front of the branch, but he threatened to call the owner of the company and have me fired, so I quit doing that. Of course the manager in Lansing is always threatening to call the owner and have me fired, for things like turning one of the carts around so I can pick it up with the power lift the right way to get it on the truck, or not saying “Hi” to him before I start my unloading. My boss refers to the Lansing manager as “The Child”, and tells me to ignore the manager, but it’s no fun being threatened with being fired on a regular basis, I need a new job.

I half suspect that the company I work for is not having the AC in the truck repaired on purpose, thinking they will save a few cents a day on fuel if I am not idling the truck with the AC on when I am unloading and loading the trailer.  Oh well, enough whining for now.

Like I said, I am doing my walk every morning, but it is so hot by then that I have missed so good photos, because I don’t have the energy to chase bugs, birds, or critters around like I normally do. Like yesterday, I learned that a pair of cedar waxwings had a nest in a small maple tree, but one time around the tree looking for the nest and the young were all I wanted to do. Normally I would have circled the tree until I spotted the nest, but it was too darned hot, I broke off the search and headed for the next shady spot on my path to cool off a little.

Today I saw a couple of small, very pretty light blue butterflies flitting about, but I wasn’t about to follow them around hoping they would land where I could get a good picture, although I did manage this one.

Small blue butterfly

That picture really isn’t very good, and it doesn’t begin to show you how pretty the butterfly was, but I wasn’t going to stand there with the sun beating down on me in hopes of getting a better one. It has been the same with birds, not just the cedar waxwings yesterday, if I know they are in a bush or tree within range of my camera, I will normally wait them out, circle the bush until I see them, or go in after them to get a picture, but not this week. It’s too hot, and I am also worried about stressing the wildlife out as well. I see most of the birds have their mouths open most of the time, I don’t know if birds pant similar to dogs to try to cool themselves, but I never see birds acting that way in cooler weather.

I did also get this picture of a caterpillar.


Again, not the best shot in the world, but it wouldn’t sit still, and I wasn’t going to wait until it did. With hot weather, insects are even more lively, since they are cold-blooded, like frogs.

Frog on a rock

97 degrees with a heat index approaching 110 degrees, and frogs are still sunbathing on rocks, I would fry! The water looked good though, even though you can’t see it in the picture.

Speaking of water, I joined a kayaking group this week. It is kind of funny really, the group I joined is an offshoot of a group I started a few years ago. I started a kayaking group through a web-based company called Meetup, the premise being to use the Internet to bring people who enjoy the same activities together. At first I was very happy with Meetup, the groups I joined, and the kayaking group I organized, but then a number of things happened all at once.

I guess I need to explain how Meetup operated. It is free to members, the people who organize a group pay a fee to be an organizer. That was no big deal to me, the fee was reasonable enough considering everything. But then, the programmers at Meetup decided to make wholesale changes to the way the website operated and its appearance, to make it more like Facebook or Twitter, and to downplay events scheduled through Meetup. Hundreds of other organizers and I protested the changes, but the management at Meetup told us if we didn’t like it, too bad. If I am paying for a service, I expect the people selling me the service to listen to its customers, and not try to force me to purchase a product that I don’t want. The management at Meetup paid no heed to its customers, and rammed the changes down our throats despite our protests. I see that those changes must not have gone over too well with the non-paying members either, because Meetup has gone back to their old format and discarded the changes they were making back then.

At the same time as that was going on, there was a member of the group who was cheating on and beating on several women at the same time, and the women were also members of the group. I was getting Emails from both the women asking about the other, and other Emails from them as well. I got fed up with the entire situation and deleted all three from the group. The jerk got ticked off about being booted out of the group and threatened to sue, and Meetup took his side in the matter, to the point of threatening me by telling me that if the jerk did sue, Meetup would join his lawsuit against me.

I had wondered about the liability of organizing a group that engaged in a dangerous sport like kayaking, I didn’t expect to face a lawsuit over kicking a woman beater out of the group, so between that and Meetup’s poor customer service, I dumped the group.

The group continued on under new organizers, letting the woman beater back in, but I wasn’t involved at all. A few days ago, my friend Mike who also left the group at the same time I did, sent me an Email telling me a splinter group had formed. We’ll see how this one goes, I don’t hold out much hope for it as far as my continuing with it.

I am not to sure about the new organizer’s ability. So far, the only scheduled trips I see are on slow rivers, and on the same rivers multiple times. I don’t mind a slow river now and then, but that’s not all I want to paddle. And as much as I love the Pere Marquette, I don’t see a reason to paddle the same stretch of it twice in two months, when there are many other sections of it to run, and other rivers just as good. Variety is the spice of life. Give me a fast run down the Jordan one weekend, and a slow float on the Muskegon on another.

So we shall see how it goes, if it turns out to be what I think it will be, people who think they are hardcore paddlers doing slow rivers as quickly as they can complete them, I’ll leave the group once again. There are times when I paddle when the paddling is the thing, mostly on faster rivers, but not always. But there are other times when I want to slow down, relax, and enjoy the scenery and wildlife as I float along only paddling enough to steer. I am not going to try to keep up with a bunch of exercise freaks who use kayaking as a workout.

Now that I have all of this off my chest, I’ll get back to the photo and kayaking series I am working on.


One response

  1. Ugh. I remember driving an old beater years ago that had no AC, and in the summer I’d need to take a shirt to change into at work once I got there (I’d sweat through the t-shirt I wore driving). You have my sympathy.

    Great caterpillar shot!

    July 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm