Opportunistic Animals’ Winter Eating

Enjoy the showcase of animals’ opportunistic winter eating! Do be sure to click on the video and hear all the noise from the woodpecker.

Squirrel on top of snow covered wood pile with peanut butter breadOpportunistic Animals’ Winter Eating


Everybody’s gotta eat right? Animals are no different and are often opportunistic eaters — especially in the winter.

Winter provides challenges to animals trying to stay warm and eat the calories needed to survive. Eating opportunities can present themselves via due diligence on the animal’s part and are sometimes provided by humans. Enjoy the showcase of animals’ opportunistic winter eating!

Red headed pileated woodpecker pecking at base of pine tree with wood chips littering snowFirst up is a red-headed Pileated Woodpecker. This bird has found a tree root above ground not covered in snow and is working very hard to find food. Shown is the tree next to a wattle fence we built, then closer up pictures of the many holes so diligently hammered out. Wattle fence by pine tree with woodpecker shavings on snowI’m not sure the tree will survive the winter feed. We’ll have to wait and see. Do be sure to click on the video and hear all the noise this woodpecker is making. We couldn’t get too close to video as we didn’t want to interrupt meal time.Woodpecker holes in pine tree root on top of ground.





Woodpecker holes in pine tree root on top of ground with glove for scale.Close up of woodpecker holes in pine tree root on top of ground with glove for scale.







Two eagles in bare tree branchesNext, eagles are feasting on some sort of kill beneath the trees. Not sure if it was roadkill or them finishing off what another creature started. It was interesting to spot this from the state highway in Minnesota.Snowy ground with red blood stain from animal kill with Lake Superior in background and trees sprinkled in.





Three eagles in high, bare tree branches with evergreens on each side



Trees and snowy ground with red blood stain from animal kill with Lake Superior in background.







Squirrel on top of snow covered wood pile with peanut butter bread



This little squirrel is taking time to enjoy a little peanutbutter bread to supplement his winter food stash.



Moving a ways south, the pictures you see here are from wild hog damage. Rooted up dirt and dead leaves from wild hog damageHard to capture by picture, but the disturbed earth is where hogs rooted around looking for food. The “churned up” look is from their foraging. This damage is minor compared to what they can do.

This empty turtle shell found by our pond is evidence that some faster moving creature caught this turtle unaware and took advantage to enjoy a tasty meal.Empty turtle shell






It is fascinating to watch birds feed and their antics with one another. Ahhhh, cardinals bring us hope Spring is on the way.

Three cardinals on free standing bird feeder with one in a nearby tree


Winter’s Ice and Sunshine Elegance

It feels warmer when the sun is shining and I love seeing the reflections of sunshine off the lake or through ice.

Sun shining through evergreen trees and naked trees in background with icicles hanging in foreground. Lake Superior is in distant lower back left and blue sky in upper right corner.Hanging out with winter and trying to make the most of it! How about you?

While winter offers challenges and sometimes bitter cold in the north country, there are opportunities to enjoy nature’s beauty and dazzling sunshine.Snow dusted tree trucks at angle in foreground with evergreens and sun shining on Lake Superior in background.



To me, it feels warmer when the sun is shining and I love seeing the reflections off the lake or through ice.Lake Superior in the midground with snow and ice covered tall grasses and a short crop of trees shrouded in ice. Distant mountain in background.

Lake Superior waves in the midground with a misty spray and snow and ice covered tall grasses and distant mountain in background.



Watching the waves and spray of Lake Superior work their artistry is amazing. Sometimes it takes awhile for the final product to be appreciated as with these spray covered iced grasses.Snow covered stark lilac bush with stone house behind it and sunshine peeking over rooftop along with other tree branches.

Springtime is when lilacs are at their best, but this 80 year old lilac offers winter charm with her snow covered adornment.





Stacked fire wood to left against Balsam Fir tree with a large burl. Wood and burl and snow dusted.

This Balsam Fir with burl also showcases a handsomeness complimented by the firewood and snow dusting.



Snow covered old truck with sign above it saying, "Village Ice Cream Hand Scooped." Street on right of picture.

While I enjoy the beauty and elegance Winter showcases, it is nice to have reminders of warmer weather like this vintage looking ice cream sign and truck. Do you enjoy any parts of Winter? Feel free to share in the comments section.

Stunning, Ever Changing, Superior Shoreline

Whatever the weather brings she turns to her advantage, like a true beauty! She always looks beautiful and never disappoints.

In our neck of the north woods in Cook CountyMinnesota, the Lake Superior shoreline is ever changing her look. We never know what fashion whims she will plan to sport. Lake Superior shoreline with snow covered beach with lake on left and evergreens back right.Sometimes it is the trendy Winter White look and other times she adorns herself with ice jewels. Icy pebbles on top of Lake Superior beach rocks

Large, lazy waves to barely there white caps coming ashore — she always looks beautiful and never disappoints.Long beach view of Icy pebbles on top of Lake Superior beach rocks with small white capped waves on right.


Icy pebbles on top of Lake Superior beach rocks and rocks on beach with lake slightly in background.


Long, wide stretch of Icy pebbles on top of Lake Superior beach rocks and rocks on beach with lake in left background.



Frozen sand formation with snow on top and iciciles underneath on top of cobblestone beach with white capped waves of Lake Superior in background.





Lake Superior beach with sand, rocks, ice pebbles and white capped waves on right. Tree line and sky in background.


Lake gently rolling to rocky beach shore with sand and ice formations on right. Long view of beach area.










Her natural elegance is strategically framed by the skyline and evergreens on the shore. Whatever the weather brings she turns to her advantage, like a true beauty!

Lake with splashing waves rolling to beach shore with sand and ice formations on right.

Lake with splashing, rolling waves rolling to beach shore with sand and ice formations on right.







Snow covered Lake Superior beach with lake on back right and evergreens in distant background.

What do you find charming about this glamorous Great Lakes gem?

Beautiful Winter U.P. Drive Discoveries and Tips

Be prepared to encounter picturesque snowy forest scenes. The aroma of wood burning stoves can be noticed as you drive along too.

Lake Michigan snow covered beach and brown grasses blowing in wind with cloudy skySixteen degrees, blowing snow, and evergreens flocked with snow make for a beautiful drive along US Highway 2 in the Upper Peninsula. Lots of beautiful scenery. Between the Mackinaw Straits and Epoufette you can enjoy Lake Michigan shoreline here and there. Frozen ice pushed up and piled high against the shore. Sand dunes covered in snow with the contrast of brown grass long dried.

Keep your eyes peeled as you head west on Highway 2. A ways before you hit Manistique, you’ll see this fuel tank cow and his farmer. Cow made from a fuel tank and "farmer" in a snowy fieldIt’s fun surprises like this that add to a road trip. Also, you may notice the aroma of wood burning stoves as you drive along that will bring back good memories of campfires in warmer temperatures.

Keep in mind it is very helpful to have de-icer windshield washer fluid for winter road trips. It makes easy to get rid of windshield ice quickly.You’ll find the highway road crews spreading sand instead of salt in low temperatures to promote some traction on the road.

As you drive through Manistique, keep your eyes open for the Moose statues. We saw a Moose in a tuxedo and another in a Big Boy uniform.

As we approached Gladstone, we saw the ice fishing houses out on the lake. Ice fishing houses on park lakeTaking a detour through Van Cleve Park we were able to capture a few pictures. We also saw this pirate ship."Pirate" ship in Van Cleve Park in Gladstone, MI





You know how towns decide on a “decorating” tourism theme? Some towns have painted corncob statues around town (Normal, IL) or theme painted pianos on the sidewalk around the square (Fairfield, TX). We saw two fish around Escanaba. Just wondering if fishes are their thing.Fish Figure on short pole in Escanaba, MI

Quinnesec is home to The Pasty Oven. Great food by the way. I’ll be sharing our lunch experience in a separate blog. They do have a website – Pastys.com. You can also check out Pasty.com to “Browse ‘n Shop the U.P.” and check out a variety of web cams. We discovered this last website by accident when looking up the first and leaving off the second “s.”The Pasty Oven business sign

You will drive out of Michigan into Wisconsin and back to Michigan in a matter of minutes in Mastodon Township on US Highway 2.

Be prepared to encounter picturesque snowy forest scenes as you drive along. Gently rolling terrain adds to the feel of this adventure too. You may also see deer on the side of the road in person or on the buffet for other critters in the circle of life. Either are a reminder to drive carefully in the north country. One rule is that if one deer runs across the road be sure to look for additional deer to follow.

This is a snippet of our UP journey to Ironwood, MI.  We have taken various routes in getting to Ironwood, and whatever the season beauty is abundant. We enjoy tripping across new sights, eateries, and just enjoy the drive. Think back over your road trips. What areas have you especially enjoyed discovering? Do you have other winter driving tips to share?Back and side view of logging truck piled high with logs on snowy highway from vehicle window


Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware

There is a much easier way to season cast iron that doesn’t go rancid or get a greasy build up on the iron.

When I was a kid we cooked a bunch with cast iron. I remember my folks saying never wash with soap. Top of Griswold Dutch oven lid No 8, Tite-Top BasterThey also would heat the oven up and rub olive oil or lard on the cast iron, then bake it in the oven to season the iron.

Well, there is a much easier way.

Secure a chunk of pure beeswax. Anything as long as it is pure and no paraffin. If you have a rusted up piece of cookware, take a wire brush to it and clean it off. You can also plop it is a campfire and burn the rust off. Just make sure you let it cool slowly so it does not crack.


Place your clean cast iron on a stove top burner. Turn the heat to low and start warming up the iron. As the iron heats up, the pores in the metal open up. Once it is warm enough to melt beeswax on contact, rub the iron inside and out with the beeswax.  You may wish to use a pair of leather gloves to minimize burning your self. You can also use a folded paper towel to rub the wax around. Let the cast iron cool.


You now have a super seasoned piece of cast iron. The seasoning will not go rancid as others do. It will not build up as is common. While I may wash it using soap, if I do, reseasoning is so easy.


Blacksmiths often use beeswax to finish iron. I can take a piece of iron finished in this way and leave it outside. It will often have no rust even after a year. Beeswax is a fat. There have been times when we are at reenactments and have needed fat to fry. We just cut off a piece of beeswax candle and have at it. You don’t have to worry about spilling oils.


When cleaning cast iron, I usually use hot to boiling water and no soap. Always dry off your cast iron. I do this by putting it on the heat for a bit, take it off the heat, and rub dry with a towel. Be careful not to burn yourself. It is good to use an old towel as some black may transfer from the iron to the towel. Once dry, I will heat it back up and rub the inside with beeswax. Remember, it does not build up. I keep a tightly folded paper towel that has had much use with beeswax to do this.


By Pete Avery

Up North Winter Celebrated in Pictures

Look for the beauty and grace of nature — even in Winter!

Snowy Gunflint Trail road with tall evergreens on each side dusted with snow.More beautiful pictures celebrating Winter up north.

Close up of small pine tree in snowy forest.






Featuring pictures from Cook County  Minnesota’s Gunflint Trail.

While the weather was quite brisk with a -13 inland, the beauty was worth bundling up to brave the cold.Car rearview mirror thermometer showing -13 degrees




Tracks across a lake up the Gunflint Trail. Ice fishing tent on the frozen lake.

Tracks across a snow covered lake with evergreens in distant background.

Orange tent on frozen snow covered lake for ice fishing. Tall evergreens in background.







The evergreens in the foreground are actually on an island.

Snow dusted evergreens with low mountain in background and ground covered in snow.


Very tall, old growth pine trees viewed from driving down road.

This old growth pine forest is a favorite spot of mine as you drive up the Gunflint. Majestic trees in any season!

A snow covered marshy spot.


A snow covered marshy area.



Snowy winter road scene with evergreens on each side of road.



Know matter what Winter delivers in your part of the world, look for the beauty and grace of nature.

What do you like about Winter?

Lake Superior Wears Winter Well

Celebrate winter by checking out Lake Superior’s beautiful waves and ice formations. You can choose to do it from a warm distance or up close and personal.

Lake Superior Beach with iced formations and good sized waves in background

Lake Superior ice formations on beach with dramatic white capped waves in background with far shoreline of evergreens






Here’s to celebrating Winter and all her beauty!

Lake Superior ice formation with white capped wave in background


Lake Superior ice formation with wave splashing in background






As Winter works, beautiful waves and ice formations adorn both the Lake and her beaches.

Lake Superior icy formation with rocky beach in foreground and evergreens in background View of Grand Marais, MN harbor and Lake Superior from a distance

View of the Grand Marais, MN harbor and Lake Superior from the Pincushion Mountain overlook. The sea fog makes it look even more cloudy.


Harbor pictures a bit closer.

Grand Marais, MN harbor picture with breakwater and lighthouse in distance

Grand Marais, MN Harbor with cracks on surface of iceWant more winter? Try checking out these webcams in Cook County Minnesota. How do you like to enjoy winter?

Grand Marais, MN Harbor with ice stones sitting on edge and waves splashing upMultiple rows of white capped waves on Lake Superior.

Winter Home Delivery In Northern Wisconsin

Not your usual form of home delivery. Winter driving can be stimulating.

Cruising along US Highway 2 through Iron River, Wisconsin — home of the Fig Leaf Thrift Shop — we observed a semi that had parked inside  the front of a house.

Back view of semi inside house Not your usual form of home delivery.

Front end of semi run into houseHope everyone is ok. Winter driving can be stimulating! Stay safe out there.

Police and Fire workers working scene of semi that ran into a house
Thank You to the Police and Fire working at -2.

Cool, Curious and/or Quirky Finds

Be sure to keep up with BackroadTracks.com to get ideas for your adventures be they near or far.

Wishing you a Happy New Year with another edition of Cool, Curious and/or Quirky Finds.  It is fun to keep an eye open for these items to share with you. Feel free to comment below if you have some Cool, Curious and/or Quirky Finds to share.

Our Septic Service moonlights on the weekends, if you can believe their bumper sticker.  "We haul milk on the weekends" sign on back of septic truck.D & M Septic has a sense of humor.

Picture of cab of D & M Septic truck





Kurt's Island Sportshop sign


You might find it interesting that Kurt’s Island Sportshop in Minocqua, WI offers “LIVE NUDE MINNOWS” and Other Sexy Bait.  Sign in window saying, "LIVE NUDE MINNOWS"


Might want to check that out when you’re in the area.

Sign in window saying "Sexy Bait"

Sign in window saying, "Other Sexy"





Buc-Cee's billboard saying "My Overbite is Sexy."




And .  .  .   last but not least .  .  .  a billboard I’ve wanted to capture and share with you advertising Buc-ee’s.  A travel stop on steroids, Buc-ee’s is a Texas favorite that has serving travelers down to both an art and a science. If you’re going through Texas, be sure to locate a Buc-ee’s. You’ll find fast food you can order electronically, gift shop areas for everyone in the family, jerky, sweets, drinks, souvenirs, and clean restrooms designed to serve crowds. And they are usually overly crowded. Not to mention their cute mascot with a sexy overbite!

May your New Year be the best yet for you and yours.  Be sure to keep up with BackroadTracks.com to get ideas for your adventures be they near or far.

Merry Christmas from BackroadTracks

What a gift of salvation God offers each of us!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and joyful New Year! It is both sobering and awesome to remember that Baby Jesus is the same Jesus whose resurrection we celebrate at Easter. What a gift of salvation God offers each of us! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Thought you might enjoy seeing these Christmas trees we found in our travels. Two of them are in road intersections. Have you seen Christmas trees like that? If so, please share the location.

Large Christmas Tree in middle of intersection

This Christmas trees graces an intersection in historic, downtown Corsicana, Texas.

Christmas tree at McDonald’s decorated with little french fry containers and other holiday ornaments.

Love the little french fry container ornaments on this tree at a Corsicana McDonald’s!

Charlie Brown Christmas tree in road intersection

This “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree was discovered in downtown Wortham, TX.

I was caught taking this picture ; )

Author taking picture of Charlie Brown Christmas tree in road intersection

Merry Christmas,

Cindy at BackroadTracks.com