It’s All About the Bicycles

Today is a day that Billy and I count down to in the summer – the start of the Tour de France. He is a huge bike guy; I just love the Tour. I am in awe of what these men do, how far they ride, for how long, through the Alps for goodness’ sake. Whole mountain ranges are devoured by their bike tires and sweat. It is an amazing feat, and I am blown away by their tenacity and athleticism. We hope to go and stand on the sidelines one day, cheering them on along the road of some small town in the mountains of France.

Our date night this week was bikecentric – I am not sure if the Detroit Zoo planned it for the week of the Tour on purpose, but if not, good timing on their part! The zoo hosted an evening event, a Bike Safari if you will, where participants could ride their bikes through the winding paths of the zoo, stopping to view the animals along the way. It was family friendly, although it was sponsored by New Belgium Brewery; you just got one of those neat wristbands to prove you were over 21.  Over 800 people attended, and it made for a very fun evening. Despite being so many people in attendance, it was not a difficult ride. I get really nervous if people ride too close to me, I am not a super confident bicyclist. However, there were three different start times, and it really divided everyone up very effectively. People riding were spaced very well, and it only became tricksy a few times, when riders would stop suddenly in front of you to see an animal, rather than biking to the side of the pathway and stopping.

There were three hydration stations set up, and two of them included a 3 – oz sample of New Belgium beer to those who wanted to imbibe. We of course drank our samples, along with the water that was also provided. I am not a super big beer drinker, but I enjoyed my choices! The options were Cirtadelic Tangerine, Fat Tire, Voodoo Ranger IPA, and Dayblazer. I chose Dayblazer and Fat Tire; Billy had Voodoo Ranger and Dayblazer. We also got a can each at the end of the ride as well, same choices. We stuck with two we had already had – me again with the Fat Tire, Billy with the Voodoo Ranger. They were icy cold and delicious after the long hot ride through the zoo. There was a live band at the finish, along with a few food options and the opportunity to purchase more drinks. Alternatively, people could choose to go listen to scientists speak at the reptile house about the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project. Nature nerds that we are, we opted for the wolf-moose project, although our beers did come with us.

The two scientists were full of interesting information and facts. We have always wanted to visit Isle Royale, so it was cool to talk to people who have not only been there, but really know the island intimately, and all of her inhabitants. It is a sad scenario though. Right now, there are some 1500 moose on the island. And just two wolves, who are so inbred that the pack is dead. They cannot reproduce. The pack in its heyday numbered 50, at least in as far as scientists have been tracking its numbers. Due to all the inbreeding though, numbers began to fall as they died off. Their health was compromised and a strain of parvo killed a bunch off. The moose are without predators, and while this seems like yay moose ~ it really isn’t, as they may run out of food sources themselves as the island may not be able to support that many moose, unchecked. This is the subject that the scientists we spoke with were studying, the effect of the moose upon the fir, and just how long these moose could be sustained by the fir trees on the island. They eat fir trees, and these fir trees barely have the opportunity to grow, as the moose just eat the heck out of them. An obvious solution would be to introduce a new pack. I would love to see this happen, and have the balance returned to the island.

That is only replica moose scat, btw. Lol. And a kick butt caiman looking at us in the reptile house.

This event was a great time, and well worth the money we paid to do it. It was a wonderful night and we will definitely go again. If you are interested in reading more about the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project, you can go here and here. If you are interested in participating (even cooler!) check this out.

 

Front Porch Sittin’

Lately, we have put done our cell phones, turned off the television, and headed outside to the front porch to sit a while, and enjoy the evening with a cold drink or two. Wyatt joins us with his sippy cup of milk, while I sip my own drink of chilled white wine, a summer thing of mine. Billy usually has a craft beer, and we just kick it on the porch for a spell.

These evenings are so peaceful. No phones ringing or dinging, just the three of us chatting away. Occasionally we give a wave to a neighbor, exchange a hello, a word or two, but mostly our little family catches up on the day, just as the day is putting itself to bed. Sometimes, we just enjoy the sounds of the world around us, the small, thriving community that is all around us but haven’t noticed in our daily hustle.

Up and down the block, birds are chirping, tweeting, heading home to their nests, beaks full of insects and other goodies for their growing families. In the big elm across the street, a family of starlings has made their home, deep inside a hollow. Down the street in the maple, you can find a nest full of robins, and across the street from the robins, a couple of nuthatches. Somewhere nearby live the neighborhood Downy woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, cardinals, who always pop by for a visit. I hear the raucous call of a blue jay usually once a day, not to mention all the little brown birds, the black capped chickadees, and finches that twitter and tussle and flit about.

We have our own little bird family, another little group of robins, five in total – momma, dad, and three young babies. Or, rather, they used to be babies. Mom and Dad Robin moved into our maple, building their nest right almost at eye level, in the crook of the tree. We watched the babies, while mom and dad watched us. The babies grew up so fast, and recently flew the nest. We saw the last of these fledglings, standing on the edge of the nest, preparing for first flight. A day or two later, we saw a fledgling hanging out in our apple tree, on the lowest possible branch.

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Used to the all the evening chatter as the birds gossip about their day, we were sitting on the porch when the conversation around us ceased, followed by the loud shriek of a hawk. This new youngling landed right in our neighbor’s tree, on the hunt for something or other. We hope the reason is not related to the sudden presence of this little guy who tried to visit.

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Don’t you just love that little face?? I hope this little guy was adventuring for fun and not because mom became dinner. Cute as he is, he wanted up on our porch and I didn’t want him to visit that close. So we gently shoo’d him a bit, and he took temporary refuge under our apple tree. Hopefully he wandered back home, because he was gone when I checked on him an hour or so later..

It is amazing what you can see right from your own front porch, if you just let yourself sit and just be, for a while. Take away the distractions, get back to a slower, simpler way of living – there is a whole other world living there in front of us. Everywhere you look, there is life. What have you seen lately? How do you unwind?