I had asked my co-leader for the bird ecology tour Sue Plankis to write a guest blog for me extolling the virtues and excitement of this experience. But she did not get around to it. I do not fault her for this. Quite the contrary her priorities are welded to the woods, meadows and marsh and not by writing about them, but by being there. In fact, as I enter this blog Sue is doing just that, observing Mountain Plovers in Colorado. I admire that zest and that is one reason that traveling with her in the Boundary Waters is so inspirational and such a great learning experience. You must trust my word on that.
It is a catch-22 for me too. I expend my energy outside. Marketing is a hobby and, as a result, our two bird ecology trips are not filling up. Marketing also is an exercise in frustration. Last month I spoke at Canoecopia in Madison afterwards Dan Cooke gave me some space at his display to talk about my guided expeditions. One passerby inquired about the birding trips, but felt that nearly $500 was way too high a price. Four days in the wilderness all-inclusive, meals, canoes, camp gear and with two guides, one of whom is so gifted with birds that she astonishes college ornithological professors. But I get it, $500 is not chump change and I might feel the same if our positions were reversed. But what struck me as peculiar was poking out from his shopping bag was a $1200 drysuit. Now, I would be the last to criticize this purchase. I would love to own a drysuit. But I had a sinking suspicion that the gaskets on his dry suit will not wear out from use but from languishing in his closet unused year after year. So my gripe is not with someone that cannot afford my trips. My only answers to that are, do-it-yourself on a shoestring, or give me a sob story. But if you have money to burn on gear that you likely will seldom use, the truth is money spent GOING on a trip is a much better investment. You can learn a lot about birds, nature, paddling, camping, geology by traveling with us and doing it in ease and comfort.
A word about ease and comfort because I have had several inquiries. Yes, we will be sleeping in tents. Yes, there are bears in the BWCAW. Yes, it can be buggy in May and early June (although this spring ice, not bugs might be an issue). Yes, you will have to crap in USFS pit toilets in the woods; Yes, we will drink filtered lake water; Yes we will rise before the sun (that’s when some birds are most active); Yes, you will help with camp chores; Yes, we can make some changes in the menu to meet your health needs; Yes, you will come home tired and in need of a hot shower. But it will be worth it and it will create a long-lasting and positive memory. I will be 62 by the time these birding trips happen. I have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, but I would not trade four days in the Boundary Waters Wilderness for a lifetime of YouTube wilderness videos and the comfort of my living room sofa.
Jonny Herchert, lead singer for Dark Pony and international traveler, gourmet cook, father of two cute little kids called last year’s Bird Ecology Trip the best vacation he and his beautiful wife Theresa have ever taken.
I know the lawn needs to be raked, the outside windows need to be washed and you need to work a lot of overtime to pay for all that gear you bought at Canoecopia. But let’s travel together, see some amazing sights and learn some new skills. I only make one guarantee: adventure
I am speaking this weekend (April 26-27) at Midwest Mountaineering’s Outdoor Adventure Expo. Three shows: Portage Packs, The Rio Grande and Canoe Camping Tips these are all scheduled Saturday Afternoon. My daughter, Zoe, is presenting Sunday afternoon: ”Canoeing with Girls.” If you cannot get outside this weekend c’mon inside with me and make sure to stop down and say hello. I will also be at Dan Cooke’s CCS booth for part of both days and happy to help you in any way I can.