Friday, August 29, 2014

Survival of the Fittest

I have been pondering the whole concept of survival lately. I was fishing the other day and I hooked a big perch. It was the biggest perch I have ever caught. I had it out of the water and, as I grabbed the line to pull it close and unhook it, the fish wiggled itself free and fell back into the water. A woman, who had been standing on the beach behind me, said, in a Russian accent, "That is why he is big fish. He good at surviving."

My family and I went on a guided hike and learned about wolves. This past year there was a big controversy in Michigan because the DNR allowed wolf hunting for the first time. They set a limit of 40(ish) wolves and the hunters were to call in their kills immediately so they could keep a real time kill count. As I learned about this wolf hunt and this amazing animal I couldn't help but think of how presumptuous humans really are. We think that because we have guns and camouflage, we need to set a limit on the number of wolves we intend to kill. They are among the BEST hunters on earth. Their weakest hunter is still 1000x better than our strongest hunter. In the end, we barely put a dent in that quota. 

I think this has been on my mind so much because it's starting to become real to me. We have never been on the road this long before and we no longer own a home. We are officially nomadic. Just us and the world. While I am extremely excited about the possibilities in front of us, I am well aware of the fact that I am responsible for the survival of this pack. 
The view from the top of Brockway Mountain in Copper Harbor. 

We have spent the last two weeks in Copper Harbor, MI. I spent 5 minutes trying to think of a word that describes how awesome this place is and I gave up. Just know that it is special and if you are a mountain biker, and you haven't been here, you need to get on that right away. 

We arrived here last Monday and Jessica's aunt and uncle were already set-up on the campsite next to us. We knew they were going to be here already but it was originally a coincidence that we booked at the same park at the same time. They changed their site to be near us and so began a great week. 

The first three days here were foggy and wet. The way you would expect a skinny peninsula in the middle of Lake Superior to be but I assure you, that is not normally the case. We did some hiking, bike riding, berry picking and beer drinking. The fog was so dense that when you were walking right along the lake shore you couldn't even see the water. I would stare into it and try to pretend it was the edge of the earth. A few times I really started to freak myself out. Even though the weather was weird, we made the best of it and enjoyed ourselves. 
Sammy didn't catch any fish but he stayed busy with that fishing pole for an hour. The fog was the most eerie at dusk. 

Things started to get warm and sunny by midweek and we did some fishing. I mean LOTS of fishing. Jessica's Uncle Dennis brought a canoe with him and he is quite the experienced angler. His father in-law lives in the Upper Peninsula and taught him a great deal about fishing. I was honored to have some of that knowledge passed on to me. What's that saying about teaching a man to fish vs giving a man a fish? 
Uncle Dennis and his bass. He likes catching sport fish. I like catching food. 

I bought me a new Swedish fillet knife and learned how to properly clean fish. We had a fish fry that featured walleye and perch and I felt awesome knowing that I possess the knowledge to be able to recreate such an event on my own. 

I went back to the lake alone the other day and caught a cooler full of perch that I promptly cleaned and put in the freezer. It's going to feel awesome to eat a great lakes perch dinner while sitting around a fire somewhere out west or down south. 

In addition to catching some of our meals from the lake, we have been gathering wild berries. The Keweenaw Peninsula is loaded with a variety of juicy morsels. Jessica is an experienced berry hunter and she obsesses about it the way I obsess about going fishing. We hike past a blueberry bush and she has to stop and pick it clean before moving on. I have to admit, I like doing it too. Who doesn't want to eat a bush full of surprise berries while hiking in the woods? 
Noah going in after a blueberry bush. 

The western U.P. also features a unique berry called the thimbleberry. I don't know the specifics but I do know that there aren't many other places where this berry grows (so uncommon that the Google spell check has a red line under the word). It's like a raspberry but it is bigger and it looks like a little thimble when it is pulled from the plant. The boys LOVE thimbleberries and they are proficient in identifying them. We used to tell them to check with a grown-up before eating berries but we are comfortable in their identification skills and let them grab them whenever they want. Just today, Sammy was standing a few campsites over having a thimbleberry feast all by himself. He came back with red juice all over his lips and told us all about his find.

Noah must be able to sense that it is getting close to September because he has been asking us when he is going to start doing school work. In response to this, Jessica has been teaching the boys how to do tasks around the campsite. She has also been very responsive to their curiosity when we are out hiking and exploring. She researches things that they express an interest in and creates small lessons to help them understand better. Kids have a certain glow in their eyes when they are locked in and learning something. It's an amazing sight and I have seen both of my boys with that glow on many occasions over the last month. 
Sammy doing 'dish washing' as presented to him by his mother, the Montessori teacher. 

Noah and I making thimbleberry jam. It tastes amazing. 

In 5 days, we are leaving Copper Harbor which is sort of bittersweet. On one hand, we are starting the journey west to see parts of the country that we have never seen before. On the other hand, this is a piece of paradise that we hate to leave behind. If they didn't get 300 inches of snow every year, we would probably never leave. 

After 30 days of living in the RV we are all still in good spirits. Learning, loving, and surviving.  

- We love blogging about our adventure and we will update our blog as often as possible. For an up-to-the-minute view of our trip, follow us on Instagram @yumfam. 


  1. I can't help but admire your adventure buddy. .. be safe and have fun

    1. Thanks buddy. You know we have known each other for almost 30 years?

  2. Thanks for sharing this blog with us. Its awesome like I'm reading a book except I actually know the characters. Can't wait to see what's next. Happy trails:)

    1. Oh, these boys are 'characters' alright

  3. it's funny seeing your fresh fish laying on top of all those glossy neon grocery advertisements. Real food versus stuff from the factory system. Real experiences versus just watching adventures on a screen. Keep living! -DAVE

    1. I can't wait to see you man. Let's drink beer and get cynical!

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