CARETAKER'S LOG


Sunday -- April 22, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 50


The ferry is OPEN! Happy Earth Day!!

Friday -- April 20, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.1     Water Temperature: 50


The ferry is closed today and tomorrow and maybe Sunday as well. It's too bad that the ferry is closed again but we really haven't had a lot of canoeing weather yet this year.

The river crested on April 18 at 8.42 feet, which is about 84,000 cubic feet of water rolling by here every SECOND. One cubic foot of water weighs about 62 pounds, which means that there was over 5 million pounds of river going by here every second! No wonder we had to close the ferry.

It has been a rough year for our nesting geese. The biggest problem was having a fox on the Island during the early part of the nesting process and I think that the fox discouraged two goose couples from building their nests. Then, the unthinkable happened. It looks as if the fox actually killed one of the male geese that was protecting a nesting female. We never found the goose remains so it's possible that the goose got away, but there was enough evidence to assume that even if the goose was not consumed, it probably didn't survive the attack.

The widowed female is still on the nest under the deck. The only other active nest on the Island was the one down near where the old treehouse was. Sadly that nest was inundated by the flood waters and had to be abandoned. I thought that we were down to only one nest when I realized that a new nest had been recently built right under my living room window behind the ladders. I was a little surprised by the late start of this nest but maybe it means that the fox is now gone. We only have two nests now, but the other nestless couples are still hanging around and their behavior is so mysterious. Yesterday I witnessed what I thought was going to be some kind of goose-acide. The poor widowed mommy goose was sitting on her eggs not bothering anyone, when another goose came and stood over her and started to violently dig it's beak into the base of her neck . It looked to me as if the attacking goose was going for the jugular vein with the way it was digging into the other's feathers. The weird thing was that the sitting goose did not try to resist and quietly sat there as it was being pushed off of it's nest. I went to get the camera and when I came back, the abuse had stopped and there hasn't been any harassment since.

The variety of birds that I'm seeing is astounding. Crows, blackbirds, grackles, cedar wax-wings, ruby-crowned kinglet, bluejays, cardinals, Carolina wrens, vultures, cormorants, robins, coot, mergansers, wood ducks, hawks, mallards, geese, herons, kingfisher, eagle, osprey, several warblers, four types of woodpeckers, chicadees, titmice, house finches and goldfinches.

Tuesday -- April 17, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.4     Water Temperature: 50


The ferry is closed because of high water. They are predicting that the river will continue to rise until tomorrow night, with a crest of about eight feet. Let's hope we can open again by the weekend.

It's funny, it was only gently raining when I went to bed last night and I slept so hard that I didn't realize that it had stormed overnight. I didn't realize, that is, until I looked out and saw the river. The rain had transformed the river and in the early morning sunlight, it looked like a giant, muddy-orange brick, slowly drifting by with all of the driftwood and litter that the rain has collected from the countryside.

Below is a link to a story on WTOP about our trail that is now closed

https://wtop.com/montgomery-county/2018/04/montgomery-co-trail-under-compromised-former-trolley-trestle-closed/

Friday -- April 13, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 56


Alert! The Workfest that was scheduled for this Sunday, April 15, has been postponed because of possible rain. The new date for the 2018 Spring Workfest is Sunday April 29.

If any of you can't make it on the 29th and you want to volunteer this Sunday I WILL be here. I don't think it's going to rain until later.

Also, The Park Service just closed the trail from the upper parking lot. The old trolley trestle was recently inspected by engineers and has been condemned by Metro. There is a soft barrier there now but soon Metro will be erecting an 8-foot, chain-link fence. Then, to add insult to injury, they plan to close the spiral bridge over the parkway as well?!

Monday -- April 9, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 48


It was a cold day for the flower walk on Saturday but hopefully some members showed up and saw some Spring wildflowers. The bluebells on the Island are just about at their peak. Apparently there some other ways to refer to these special blooms. The botanical name is Mertensia-virginica. Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, named the genus, Mertensia to honor the 18th century German botanist Franz Martens, and the species name refers to the colony of Virginia. Some of the other common names include Virginia Cowslip, Roanoke bells, Lungwort and oysterleaf. Thomas Jefferson grew blubells at Monticello, so sometime they were referred to as Jefferson's blue funnel flowers.

We also have other flowers blooming right now like white trout lilies and hundreds of Spring beauties. Mary learned that the bulbs of the Spring beauties are edible and are called fairy spuds. I guess we'll have to give them a taste.

It's been an incredible week of birding. I'm sure that all of these birds pass through here every year but it's not every year that I'm lucky enough to see them. I've seen waterfowl in the channel, like the Blue-winged teal and Green-winged teal. On the towpath I saw a wood thrush, some white-throated sparrows and an indigo bunting. Right here on the Island I saw a pine warbler, palm warbler, yellow-throated warbler, and a blue-gray gnat catcher! Spectacular!

Not to mention the birds that come here to nest like the pheobes, gold finches and house finches.

Club meeting this week on Wednesday night. there should be a good turnout since we will be pulling the names out of the hat for the new waitlisters.

Sunday -- April 8, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 48


The ferry is open!

It looks like the forecast was a little off and the ferry is happily open again. Not that it's really an Island sort of day, kind of cold and windy. But a good day to see the bluebells all the same.

Friday -- April 6, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.7     Water Temperature: 48


I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it looks like the ferry will have to be closed all weekend. Not that anyone really wants to be on the river anyway with this soggy and cold weather.

I was hoping that the flower walk people would be able to come over on Saturday to see our bluebells, they are almost peaking right now. I'm hopeful that the river will go down soon so that everyone has a chance to see this bluebell spectacle. Maybe next weekend at the workfest.

These nesting Canada geese are so mysterious. We have two active nests on the Island and I thought for sure that we would have a third but it looks like that third couple might have given up. First I noticed that they had dug a little goose-sized depression in the sand at the top of the Island. This in itself was weird since I've never seen a nest dug into the ground. Usually it is just lots of leaves and feathers piled up. The hole sat empty for a while until one day there was a goose sitting there. The next time I went by there, the goose had gone but there was a single egg in the nest. Then, the next day the egg was gone and there was no sign of it. Now, it is just an empty, abandoned nest. Strange.

I had the pleasure of seeing a horned grebe yesterday. It was fishing in the channel and it was hard to get a good look at it since it would stay under water for several minutes. How do they do it? This particular bird was not in it's full breeding plumage of red and yellow but I could see how the feathers were already staring to change.

Wednesday -- April 4, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 51


The ferry is now closed.

I can't believe it but the river is rising again and we had to shut down the ferry. Sadly, it looks like the ferry will be closed all day tomorrow too.

Tuesday -- April 3, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.6     Water Temperature: 51


I took advantage of the recent high water and shoved the swim float back out into the river. Heavy things are easier to move through water, that's the whole reason that they dug a canal here right? Now it's ready to be hooked up to the anchor out in the middle of the river.

Monday -- April 2, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 46


Ferry is open!

I was a little surprised that we had to close the ferry over the weekend but I guess that the rain, mixed with the melting snow up in the mountains, was enough to push the river over the edge. There is more rain in the forecast this week, so we may be forced to close the ferry again on Thursday.

Big news, I finally rebuilt the ferry landing on the Island! The old one was rotting out and becoming hazardous to walk on. I shored it up last fall but I had been waiting for the weather to warm up before I took on the job of installing new one. The new dock is so nice and sturdy, and it actually looks more like a pier now, rather than a dock.

It was not an easy job, especially the part when I was pile-driving the ten-foot 4X4's into the muddy river bottom with a 16-pound sledge hammer. It wasn't easy, but "something worth doing is worth doing right", and I'm very please with my end result and I think that we now have a dock that will serve us for many years.

I remember, back in 2003 when long-time Club captain, John Matthews, and I did the original extension of the dock. Back then we extended it three feet out from where former caretaker, Ken Fassler's walkway ended. We had to extend it because the river was silting up on that side of the Island and the ferry could not reach the landing in low water.
The accumulation of silt is still an ongoing problem today, and with the Island growing on that side, I was forced to extend the dock a full eight feet from the end of Ken's walkway. This will make it a lot easier to reach the Island when the river is low.

To my dismay,(and delight) the pier somehow ended up being perfectly level!?

Saturday -- March 31, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 46


The ferry is closed today because of high water.

Tuesday -- March 27, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 46


I just learned that the Potomac river has been given a B in it's latest report card from the Potomac Conservancy. Check out their awesome website at http://potomacreportcard.org/

It's cool to think that the river is the cleanest and safest that it's ever been since this Club started.

I had to climb the ladder and change out the pulley that holds the ferry chains to the cable, always a dicey job. The other chore that has kept me busy is picking up all of the sticks and branches that fell during that horrific wind storm earlier this month. Actually, this entire month has been exceptionally windy. It will be nice when we finally get some Spring weather.

Thankfully, I got the chain saw to work. Gerry brought me a new spark plug and that seemed to do the trick, so we'll be able to start chopping up the mulberry that fell. Maybe at the workfest, which is in three weeks.

The other big job I want to complete, probably before the workfest, is rebuilding the ferry landing on the Island side. It's going to be tricky, rebuilding the dock without disrupting ferry service but we'll just have to hope for the best.

Sunday -- March 25, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 44


It's been almost three weeks since my last post so I have a lot to catch you up on. Back on March tenth we had our second open house for possible new waitlisters. It was pretty well attended and it also was very helpful for one family that was on the waitlist but needed another sponsor to become a full-fledged member.

We had the monthly meeting here on March 14th but sadly, there was not a quorum so the families that showed up hoping to get voted in were forced to go home without a membership in hand. They were given hope that they would be voted in at the April meeting since attendance at that meeting is expected to be high. That's the night when we draw the lottery winners.

Big news! The Sycamore Island CANOE Club now has a club-owned stand-up paddle board! I was able to sell some of the unwanted canoes that we had here and I purchased a SUP board and a SUP paddle. We have broken from our canoe tradition and I hope that our die-hard canoe enthusiasts don't roll over in their graves, but the times they are a-changing and the new members were calling for a paddle board.

The new range for the Club kitchen is here! You may recall that the old range had to be discarded after it was discovered that mice had infested it. I'd like to send a great big THANK-YOU to Stan our Club captain and to Davey and Jennifer Hearn, who helped with the big job of getting the stove down the hill, onto the ferry and up into the clubhouse. I was a little concerned about delivering the stove since we had so few volunteers, but with the help of Stan's professional-grade hand truck, not to mention his experience in moving very heavy things, we were able to move the bulky thing without much trouble. I then drove to Rockville to take the old stove, along with some old grills and other scrap metal to the scrap yard.

Well, even though it was snowing on our first full day of Spring, there is no denying that Spring is coming to the Island. The first indication that winter was loosening it's grip was the call of the male red-winged blackbird. Then I saw my first wood ducks, looking for nesting sites around the Island. Then, right on the first day of Spring, I saw my first cormorant of the year. Now our resident Canada geese have built their nests and are sitting on eggs. The kingfisher's are back and yesterday I saw a yellow-rumped warbler!

The trees are beginning to bud too and it won't be long before the Island is completely green again. The bluebells, of course are getting taller everyday and soon they will be in full bloom. I predict that the peak blue bell viewing will be April 1 through April 15.

On a sad note, the eagle's nest across the river that has consistently produced offspring for the last 15 years seems to be quiet this year and there doesn't seem to be any activity over there at all. I witnessed some eagle courtship behavior last month so I was hopeful, but eagle sightings around the Island are now rare and I'm not holding out much hope of a breeding pair this year. Maybe next year.

We did see the fox again. Running across the top of the Island one early morning. I guess that it is somehow making a living out here by itself.

I turned the water back on so there is running water in the clubhouse and in the ladies room.

Happy Spring!

Monday -- March 5, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.7     Water Temperature: 48


The river has finally gone down and the wind has quieted a bit so the ferry will be running today. There area couple of locust trees that have fallen over the trail. I'll be up there later to cut them up but thankfully they are small enough to step over.

Friday -- March 2, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 48


Shuuuwee that is some serious wind out there today. Not a good day to be doing a lot of ferry crossings, especially since the river is high as well. The gauge read five feet but it's hard to get an accurate reading with this tremendous wind. The wind is so strong the the bell rope is bowed like a sail across the channel and every once and a while a gust will come along that is fierce enough to actually ring the bell.

I was prepared for the wind so we haven't lost anything. Some of the canoes and kayaks in the higher racks were blown down inside the canoe shed. We lost one tree so far, but of little consequence. It was an old knarly mulberry that was half dead already anyway. Plus, it fell safely away from any buildings or other healthy trees and only skimmed one nearby box elder. It looks like it will be a good source of fire wood once we get it all cut up.

The ferry will be closed tomorrow, March 3, but we'll have to wait and see about Sunday. Between the wind and the high water, I'm not too hopeful that the ferry will be running.

Wednesday -- February 28, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.8     Water Temperature: 48


The ferry is closed. The river crested at 6.2 feet and is slowly on it's way down. The gauge in Paw Paw WV. crested on Monday at 14.7 so it's going to be a while before the river is below five feet again.

Our own Gerry Barton was featured in Kent magazine last month. Kent is the neighborhood within Palisades where Gerry has been living since he built his house there back in the sixties. Congratulations Gerry, we miss you down here. I hope you can get us a copy of the article.

With all of these donated boats laying around here, I found that I needed some more rack space to accommodate them all. I decided to add on to the kayak rack that I built a few years ago. I didn't need to buy a bunch of lumber to do it either, I just used the lumber that was laying around here from the old canoe dock. The hardest part was dismantling the old dock but I'm happy with what I built and it's nice to get those kayaks and canoes off of the ground and out of the mud.

Monday -- February 26, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.4     Water Temperature: 48


The ferry is closed again.

Not that many people would show up on a day like today but it looks like we'll be closed most of the week.

I haven't heard yet how the annual winter bird walk went. Hopefully they were able to see some interesting waterfowl. I'm curios if they saw any eagles since I haven't seen them near the nest yet.

Thursday -- February 22, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 44


The ferry is open and running again.

I saw a red fox run across the Island yesterday evening. I had a feeling that there was a fox here and two weeks ago someone else spotted it, but I'm still surprised that this fox has remained on the Island for so long. Maybe it came over when the river was frozen and is now reluctant to swim away. I guess she's finding enough voles and mice to keep herself fed. I hope she didn't catch any of my squirrels.

Wednesday -- February 21, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.1     Water Temperature: 44


The river is still a little bit high but we should be able to open the ferry tomorrow.

Had a great time yesterday canoeing on the Monocacy river in Frederick. I highly recommend this trip. We had never paddled upstream of town before and it was surprisingly picturesque and wild, despite being close to such a large urban area.

Saturday -- February 17, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.1     Water Temperature: 40


I had to tell the relief caretaker to stay home today, the river is on it's way up again and is expected to get over 6 feet later this week.

Luckily we did not have this problem last week when there was an open house for future members. I never heard how it went or how many showed up for the event but there were several chairs gathered around the banquet/ping pong table. Hopefully it was a success. I know it overlapped with the Canoe Cruisers event and hopefully that went well. Thanks for cleaning up so nicely.

Monday -- February 12, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 40


It looks like they have changed the predictions for the river and the water will crest at 5.7 on tomorrow. I'm glad that we won't have any flooding but sadly, the ferry will be closed on Valentines Day, so no Cupid on the Island this year.

Mary and I went to explore High Island just below the dam last week. On the way there we stopped at the other island down there which doesn't seem to have a name. It's the island on the other side of the feeder canal where the kayak gates are. Since it doesn't have a name, I wonder if it used to be part of High Island. Anyway, the cool thing was that as soon as we started walking across the island we startled up a flock of turkeys! They went hustling off when they saw us but we counted twelve big birds as they crossed over the river channel toward High Island. We followed them over there but by then we could see them gathering on the Virginia Shore, just below all of those big mansions. It was cool exploring High Island, it used to be a canoe club, and the view from up there rivals the views from the cliffs near Harpers Ferry.

We also spotted an eagle perched near the nest but so far it does not seem like a lot of activity is going on around the nest. I'm a little concerned since last year they had already laid their eggs by now. Other fine bird sightings, besides the common and hooded mergansers that we see everyday now, are the ring-necked ducks and duffle heads. Hopefully we will be able to spot the turkeys and eagles during the Winter Bird Walk on the 25th.

Sunday -- February 11, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 39


The ferry is closed. The river is rising and they say it will cerst at about 6.5 feet. It might be all week before we're back in business again.

Monday -- February 5, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 34


Like I mentioned before, we have been sorting out all of the canoes on the canoe rack. One of the canoes that was abandoned is an old wood and canvas canoe built by Old Town Canoe Co. I am interested in refurbishing this old boat so I did some research. I contacted the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association and they were extremely helpful in finding out the origin of this canoe. They actually have a data base that includes most of the build records from the Old Town Canoe Company's original records! Because I was able to provide the serial number, WCHA was able to give me the original build record.

It is a 16 foot long, CS (Common Sense or middle) grade, guide model with a keel. It was built between January and March, 1956. The original exterior paint color was turquoise blue. It was shipped on May 24th, 1956 to Falls Church, Virginia.

It was shipped to Wesley D. Gray of 7719 Dockser Terrace, Lake Barcroft Estates, Falls Church Va.

Then, at some point, the canoe was then brought to the Island by former members Richard and Virginia Dianich. I wonder if they bought the canoe from the original owner. Maybe they met on Sycamore Island?

Sunday -- January 28, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 40


The river is ice-free and back to normal now but we have a thick fog above the water today. I guess the air is pretty warm.

A big "thank you" to Joe Cecil, our canoe supervisor, who has been working hard trying to organizing and reassigning the canoe racks. It's such a relief to finally get some of these boats sorted out. The good news is that we now have a few racks that are open and available for Club members to rent and store their boats. The bad news is that many of our long-time active members are no longer using the club and have given up on using their canoes and kayaks.

Many of these former members have offered to donate their boats to the Club so if you are looking to get a canoe or kayak, talk to me first. We have so many Club canoes and other canoes that were donated that I'm thinking of trying to sell them so that maybe we can purchase a paddle board.

Friday -- January 19, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.6     Water Temperature: 32


The ferry is closed. For the second day in a row I woke up to find the ferry trapped in the ice. The weather forecast looks pretty good so I think the ferry may be running tomorrow but no promises. There is still a lot of ice in the channel between the Island and the mainland.

Thursday -- January 18, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.89     Water Temperature: 32


The ferry is closed again today because of ice.

Wednesday -- January 18, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.07     Water Temperature: 32


The ferry is open. The ice in the channel is slowly melting and it looks like I'll be able to run the ferry today, unless a big slab of ice happens to break free and block the way again.

The cool thing is that as soon as the channel cleared up, two male hooded merganzers arrived and I watched as one of them ate a small fish that it had just caught in the cold murky waters. The way that they survive out there in the winter is just incredible.

Monday MLK Day -- January 15, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.74     Water Temperature: 32


Whites Ferry is closed again today because of ice, and our ferry is also closed today because of ice. All is as it should be.

The initial clearing of the ice took place on Saturday, and on Sunday the river was high and muddy but not Icy. Today is a totally different matter. Today the channel between the mainland and the Island is chuck full of giant pieces of ice that have congealed into one huge ice dam. While the rest of the river seems to be flowing fine, the channel has an inch of solid ice from beyond the top of the Island, all the way down past where the Island ends.

I really wasn't expecting the river to refreeze so quickly. I thought that the rising waters from the rain would keep the ice from reforming so I wasn't worried when I left for the night last evening. But, once again, the river has shown me that I need to learn to expect the unexpected. I arrived at the ferry landing this morning and my plans for an easy ferry ride were dashed. When I jumped onto the ferry it didn't budge and I realized that I might not be going home today.

I was about to climb back up the hill when I remembered an old trick that I used before. One time I used a bunch of members to stand on one end of the ferry so that I would be able to pop a wheelie, so to speak, and that way get on top of the ice where we could break it with the weight of the ferry. Well, today there were no members around and dancing with the ferry over dangerous ice was not something that I would ask a stranger to do. Again I was about to give up but instead I moved all of the roofing shingles and cinder blocks that I use to balance the ferry and put them at the back of the ferry. This counterweight got the front of the ferry above the ice and with the addition of my 135 pounds I was able to get the bow high enough, and up onto the ice. I was a little nervous leaving the safety of the mainland behind but I slowly and methodically heaved the ferry forward toward the Island, making ice-breaking noises the whole way. It took me almost an hour to push through the one hundred and fifty feet of ice, but I made it home safely. Thankfully there was little wind and no frostbite temperatures.

Sunday -- January 14, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.05     Water Temperature: 34


It may seem a little crazy but I let myself get stranded on the Island on Thursday night and I haven't been to the mainland for over two days. Coming and going on the Island can be a potentially dangerous issue when the river begins to freeze, and also when the river begins to thaw out again. We were able to walk to the Island last Sunday but with the forecast of warm weather and rain, walking on the ice would not be an option, and it was going to be a while before the ice was clear enough to run the ferry again. I had to make a choice, get stranded on the Island while I could still make the crossing, or get stranded off the Island and wait until I could canoe over. I have seen first-hand just how damaging and destructive ice flows can be, so, since I am such a dedicated caretaker, I sat on the Island, ready to jump in case of an ice-related emergency, like the ferry being crushed by ice. Also, since I would be worrying about what might happen while I was gone, getting trapped on the Island seemed better than being trapped off of the Island.

Thankfully, I did not run out of provisions and thankfully, the ice did a gradual melt and there were no major ice flows to worry about, whew! It was also a treat to be here for the awesome fog event. The air was so warm that it made the icy river look like a giant smoldering fire.

So here we are, one week after being able to walk across the river to Virginia, and the river is the highest it has been in months, muddy brown, and completely thawed out!

Watching the river has been a preoccupation of mine this week, not unlike most weeks, and when I heard that White's Ferry was running while our ferry was trapped in six inches of ice, I had to drive up there and take a look. I was expecting to see a narrow path through the frozen river for the ferry to pass through, but when I arrived there on last Thursday I saw a river that was completely ice-free! Seeing all of that open water in the bright sunshine made me a little concerned about our little ferry downstream. I didn't get it, how did the river ice disappear? Maybe the power plant upstream was warming up the river. Even stranger, I thought, was to hear that today, White's Ferry is closed because of ice and our ferry will be open.

Wednesday -- January 10, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: ICE     Water Temperature: 32


I must say that it has been an interesting week down here on the Island, A.K.A.,frozen tundra. It is so rare that we have this much ice on the river that it is hard to get used to. There is no river barrier around the Island now, and since people can just walk over here, it's like we're an extension of the Park. We haven't heard the sound of the ferry bell for ages, which is strange, and now I have to actually lock my front door.

This past Sunday was crazy. It was like the entire river was one big ice-skating rink with people coming and going in all directions. There were people on the ferry-landing stairs putting on their skates. There was a family camped out on the side of the ferry where they piled their coolers and packs. There was even a hockey game going on out in the middle of the river just down from Rupperts Island! Some brave souls courageously skated over to Virginia and others ventured down close to the dam.

That's when the police helicopter showed up, flying extremely low and barking out warnings to everyone. Party poopers. The police couldn't stop the fun and on Monday there was a person mountain biking across the river and yesterday there was an adrenaline junkie attempting to kite-skate. Sadly the incredibly perfect conditions that we had on Sunday couldn't last (the ice was so clear that schools of fish could be seen swimming below the surface.) and the smooth, black ice has turned to slush.

It was a little weird though, having all of these non-members strolling around on the Island, but what are you gonna do? Most people were very respectful and chill, and you can't blame them for being curious. Some people wanted to bring their dog into the clubhouse so Mary made a very polite, "Members Only" sign.

This deep freeze hasn't been all fun and games and I've had to stay on my toes to keep the pipes from freezing and to be ready for the possibility of crushing ice flows and flooding ice dams. When blocks of ice that are eight inches thick come rolling down the river at five miles an hour, it's no joke.

I moved all of the boats and life rings away from the shore in case of flooding. The two mini docks that are stuck in the ice will be at the mercy of the ice since I can't move them now.

My main concern is the ferry, and not only the ferry but the ropes and cables that support the ferry. Before the river froze I made sure to have the safety chains out of the water. That way I can detach them from the ferry and secure them safely on shore. I was afraid that if the chains were locked in an ice flow it could potentially bring down the overhead cable and even the support poles on the shore. I added another tether to the ferry and tied it tight to a tree, never under estimate the power of the river and it's ice flows. My motto this week is prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

The worst part about the river freezing is that we can no longer enjoy observing the abundance of winter water fowl that we had here last month. We still have our little buddies at the feeders, but gone are the small flocks of scaups, buffle heads and hooded merganzers. Even our resident geese have been forced to find open water somewhere else.