2016-12-01

Heading to the Standing Rock Ceremonies

Angie and I have decided to go try and help out (if we can) with the water protector's ceremony. We've both promised our families we'll be home for Christmas (a bit ironic, I know... but it's when my family gets together every year), so we'll be there for only a short time... whether we go back afterward is open and probably dependent on how helpful it looks like we can be.

Our plan is to show up, stay on the outskirts away from the center and away from conflict, and watch for things we can respectfully attempt to help with. We tried a few contacts to see if we could rustle up an internal contact but failed... so we're just going to go. Angie is a Nurse, I have a variety of practical skills, and (hopefully) we're decently kitted out to deal with ourselves and avoid becoming a burden on the camp. There's always a chance we'll just turn around and leave, depending.

This blog doesn't usually get political. I try to keep it to just facts and information about being outdoors... but sometimes politics sneak in around the edges because it's what I'm doing, or because it's directly related to outdoors pursuits, like with the Buffalo Field Campaign post I wrote some time back.

There are a lot of articles out there about NoDAPL, and surprisingly little information. I've been sifting through what I can, trying to get the real information. What I think I know is that this is about two related issues:
  1. American Indians (I'm using the term I have most often heard is preferred... sorry if it's not in this case) taking yet another stand for something after hundreds of years of being trampled on.
  2. It's about the environmental cause of keeping water clean... heightened by the special religious place that water holds in the various Sioux traditions.
I've read repeatedly that #1 is very important. The show is being run by the Standing Rock Sioux who's sacred land is at risk, and has been repeatedly violated and shrunk in the past... and folks of other backgrounds tromping on toes to try and "help" are not appreciated.

Anyway... here's some sources that are a bit more fact based

The first article is fairly comprehensive as to the legal situation and a general rundown of events... It also seems fairly unvarnished:
http://heavy.com/news/2016/09/dakota-access-pipeline-protests-video-photos-dogs-map-dapl-routes-north-oil-mace-standing-rock-sioux-native-american-indian-energy-transfer-kelcy-warren-bakken-lawsuit/

One thing they miss is the actual safety of pipelines. For environmental impact, or oil spilled, they are worse than trains (which is what is in use now). Why push for a pipeline then? Because it's cheaper:

It also misses the more mundane day-to-day story and what most of the people at Standing Rock are doing... Media only reports when things get violent, and mostly things haven't been violent: It's important to realize that this is thousands of people when considering that allegedly someone fired 3 shots. This article is less "just facts" but I think is still helpful background reading for what is really going on:
http://earthjustice.org/blog/2016-november/we-re-missing-90-percent-of-the-dakota-access-pipeline-story#

Pipeline leak detection techniques are not very good.
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/massive-oil-pipeline-break-under-nd-farmers-wheat-field/

Here's something I read early on that I think is really helpful for non-American-Indians understanding what's going on, and how to actually be helpful.
https://medium.com/@liampurvis/12-loose-rules-to-follow-as-an-effective-ally-at-standing-rock-a-blueprint-for-white-solidarity-66cb4010a35f#.iolws510a

And, to lighten the mood a little:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZJXvoxmR2I

2016-11-20

Nordhouse Dunes ecology

Here's a panoramic photo of some of the dunes (click through to really see it)
PANO_20161108_112623

We spent a week near Nordhouse Dunes in northern Michigan, on the edge of lack Michigan. We went on a number of dayhikes, just enjoying the interesting ecology. It was actually highly varied. A lot of it was wooded, some was hardwood forest like below

IMG_20161107_123939

But there was also white pine forests and red pine forests. In the more open areas ferns grew everywhere and probably the most wintergreen I've ever seen. 

The bare dunes are out by the water where supposedly there are plovers that run up and down the beach... though they are very hard to spot (we never saw any).

IMG_20161108_105354

We saw several plants we only recognized due to picking seeds on Adam's farm. It's amazing how once you've worked with a plant a little you start seeing it everywhere

I *think* this is a liatris, I'm more sure about the one next to it. I suspect they are the same, but I'm not certain.
IMG_20161112_111615

And this looks like an interesting goldenrod
  IMG_20161112_111523

Both plants we helped gather at Adam's

We also saw aster, and either dolls-eye or a close relative, out on the open dunes. Sadly I didn't get pictures of those.

We ended up bushwhacking out to a dry lake bed IMG_20161107_111407

The mud was just covered in tracks. below are a bunch of what I think are coon prints. We stared at some other prints for a long time and I kept thinking they must be mustilid of some kind (I believe it had 5 toes on both sets of feet, and the hind foot seemed to be in the rear), but I'm still not sure. Sadly I didn't get a photo of those.

IMG_4343

The bare dunes were good for prints too. I think are just a squirrel that didn't put down it's heal on it's hind feet.
IMG_4379

I guess I didn't mention the beech trees, which were just amazing colors.

IMG_20161105_140535

We camped in the site above for the whole week, a nice hiking distance from the water before moving to another part of michigan for the next week. The nordhouse dunes were pretty gorgeous at this time of year and we were lucky to get there just before the leaves finished the show.

Dutch Oven Baking tricks

Angie has been doing some AWESOME baking with the dutch oven lately. She made a couple of batches of cookies, as well as bread pudding, and I made a finish pancake. A friend asked us to share whatever tricks she used to get that all to come out so well.

Here's some cookies. These are supposed to be backed at ~350F. We don't have an *actual* dutch oven, just a nice cast-iron cookpot with a lid, so she turned the lid upside down and dumped coals in it using a small shovel.

IMG_20161113_120102

To keep it going for things that take a little while she throws small sticks on the coals that burn as well, keeping the coals a little more alive so they don't slowly die off. Having the pot hanging from a tripod rather than directly in the fire lets her control the heat of the bottom of the pot without having to super carefully manage the fire and coals. This makes it much easier to avoid burning the bottom of the cookies

Here's the rather delicious results.

IMG_20161113_120053

Here's my finish pancake cooking. Notice that we dumped a lot more coals on top of the pot, and the fire is a little hotter and/or the pot is closer to the fire. Finnish pancake is supposed to bake at ~450F. We probably got it a little over that because it cooked in the "expected" time... but it was much thicker than the recipe recommends

IMG_20161116_102532

This was my second time making finish pancake over a fire... The first time we did it at my friend's place using a grating. The bottom of the finish pancake burned slightly because the fire under it was too hot. It still came out good, but not nearly as perfect as this one did.

IMG_20161116_103227

Notice how it didn't stick to the bottom at all (it's brown on top because I used whole-wheat flour).

Delicious!