Egg on their faces

When journalism rises to the occasion because government won’t

I’ve had a few requests for this undercover article I wrote 20 years ago about abuses at an Ohio factory farm.

It speaks for itself.





My Sweet Short Career as a Movie Extra

Canoe trip notes – Oct. 16 – 19, Mohawk Dam to Dresden


Leaves fall into the Walhonding River near Warsaw, upstream of White Woman’s Rock.

As I landed my canoe at White Woman’s Rock to stretch my legs, I heard a man screaming in agony. I grabbed my camera and cautiously approached the source.

Then I saw the movie lights.

In 36 years of canoeing, I’d never come upon a movie set. Until then.

The closest I’d come to it was when I paddled upon a photographer shooting high school senior photos on Clear Fork of the Mohican River.

Anyway, a young woman came out to greet me as I approached the movie set. I asked permission to take a few photos, but she denied my request.

I offered my services as an extra, but she told me I was far too handsome and would give their actors an inferiority complex. Maybe she was just letting me off easy.

She told me I could learn more about the movie project on their Facebook page “The Reliant.”

There the film is described as a Christian action drama.

Here’s a plot synopsis from the Facebook blurb:

When the dollar collapses, widespread rioting and looting ensues, and five children tragically lose their parents in the chaos. Armed with a couple of their father’s weapons, they are able to survive in a stretch of woods on the outskirts of their burning town. Facing starvation and threats from encroaching gangs, they begin to doubt God’s love. Will God answer their prayers, or must their faith remain blind to facts?

They could have seized on the opportunity of my impromptu visit and amended that to read “facing starvation, threats from encroaching gangs and a nosy canoe bum.”

The burning town is played by Coshocton, by the way.

Sorry to say I didn’t get any photos because of the prohibition against taking pictures of their set. Guess they didn’t want to reveal too much. However, there are plenty posted on the Facebook page.

Next: I paddle off into the sunset, humbled by rejection … yet buoyed by the promise of adventure.

Shooting the shit and other fun stuff

A day hike to Turret Rock — 2016 Algonquin Canoe Trip, Part 5

We hiked four miles, uphill both ways, through boulders and fallen pine trees — to see a fucking boulder. On the map, it was identified as Turret Rock. Probably a misprint; it’s more like Turd Rock.

But we had fun exploring and the scenery did not disappoint.

The route to the Turret from the Barron River Canyon takes you through a chute of what, in times of normal rainfall, would be a cascading stream. Still, it was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I’ve ever been.

On the other side of the chute is something identified on our map as The Wall. We were worn out from our 300-foot vertical climb to the Turret and in need of medical attention from tripping and falling on boulders and pointy pine tree carcasses, so we opted not to hike there.

To be continued …


Pitcher plant flowers growing in the chute.



Shooting the shit. Steve photographs what we suspected was wolf scat.


Ken and Steve check out glacial grooves along the chute.


Ken waves to his newfound friend.


Stuck! Ken is grabbed by his own reflection.


Interesting stuff we found in the water en route to our hike. It appears to be some sort of algae with tentacles.


This is IT? This is IT? You’ve got to be kidding. Turd — I mean Turret — Rock.



Night Cruising Barron Canyon – 2016 Algonquin Canoe Trip, Part 4


Heading into Barron Canyon at twilight.

There weren’t enough hours in the day to explore Barron River Canyon, so we explored it by night as well.

Night cruising is a regular part of our yearly Algonquin canoe trips. In previous years, we camped on lakes and paddled out at night — listening to the owls and loons, rousting beavers from their lodges and stargazing.

Barron River was not amenable to that. The wide open section downstream of our campsite was fraught with boulders and sunken logs, so night cruising there would have been treacherous. However, upstream, in the two-mile canyon, there were fewer semi-submerged obstacles and most of them were near the banks.


New moon rising.

So we’d paddle up the canyon as darkness settled in, watching the granite walls fade from orange to black. Even without the color, the canyon walls were incredibly beautiful with their stark jagged shapes.

It had been hot that week and, in the coolness of the evening, you could feel the heat from the sun coming off the rocks. Stars and planets became visible in the darkening sky and — from our perspective — shifted with the movement of the boat. I was mesmerized by the silhouettes of trees along the canyon rim, which also seemed to shift as we drifted along.

Most nights we had the canyon to ourselves. One night, four young men in two canoes came out, too.

After we returned to camp, we built a small stick fire and sat out for about a half-hour before dowsing it and turning in.


Steve, who was sitting behind me in the canoe, showed me how to manipulate the exposure setting on my cellphone camera. It was nearly dark when I took this shot.

As I settled into my sleeping bag, savoring another fulfilling day in Barron Canyon, I heard the four young men go by. They were boisterous, clearly enjoying themselves, but not being rude or rowdy. Their tone or what words I could make out conveyed no negativity. I thought how wonderful it must be to have this experience so early in life, with so many years ahead of you and the promise of endless adventures.


Fire on the Lake — 2016 Algonquin Canoe Trip, Part Three


Ken and Steve inspect the aftermath of a forest fire.

The acrid scent of charred wood welled in the back of my throat as we paddled across High Falls Lake. I could almost taste it. Stark contrast to the subtle pine fragrance so familiar on Algonquin lakes.

A swath of charred treetops and stumps spanned the peninsula between the lake’s incoming and outgoing waterfalls. The charred ruins were flanked by dead pines, draped in brown needles.

Oddly, the understory plants that dotted the boulders on the forest floor seemed unaffected. This led us to believe that the forest had burned some time ago. But had it? After our trip, I Googled “High Falls Lake, Algonquin and forest fire” and found news accounts indicating that a fire “in the vicinity of High Falls Lake” had been officially declared out on Sept. 1, the day we arrived there. It had started Aug. 9, caused by human activity at a time when campfires were banned due to dry conditions.

I’m still trying to find out whether this was the same fire.

Fires are common in Algonquin’s predominantly pine forests. I’d love to learn more about how they are detected and extinguished. And whether those responsible for starting them are held accountable.

To be continued (my research and this series of posts) …


Dead pines and charred stumps across the lake from our campsite.


Ominous? I took this sunset photo before we discovered the aftermath of a forest fire.


Breakfast time at our High Falls Lake campsite. We spent the second night of our trip here before pressing on to Barron River Canyon. Looking at a seven-portage day — worth every step considering the enchanting world that awaited us.





Grand Entrance at Grand Lake – 2016 Algonquin Canoe Trip, Part 2

Chipmunks and Red Squirrels and Bears, Oh My!

Two-foot waves and high winds greeted us on Grand Lake at the beginning of our eight-day canoe trip into Barron River Canyon. To avoid starting our trip with a capsize and a swim, we tacked into the wind and paddled out far into the lake.


By evening, the wind died down and we were comforted by the sound of waves gently lapping at the shore.

The wind relented long enough for us to turn our two canoes around and ride the waves back toward our intended campsite along the east shore.

After turning around, I quickly realized the waves would push my 11-foot solo canoe off-target — north of the campsites that dot the shore. So I took another tack, putting it in a better position. Steve and Ken fared better with Steve’s tandem canoe. After their initial turn, they were in line to ride the waves into the campsites.

We didn’t realize then that a capsize probably wouldn’t have involved a swim. On the last day of our trip, after we returned to Grand Lake, Steve swam out a quarter-mile from our campsite — and stood up in chest-deep water.

Like the West Basin of Lake Erie, Grand Lake is shallow and a stiff wind can quickly whip it into a foaming frenzy.


Steve washes supper dishes.

I mentioned in the previous post that we started our trip at Grand Lake and wended our way to Barron Canyon through 10 boulder-strewn portages over two days — only to find another parking lot a short paddle and easy portage away.

However, it could well be that canoe campers are required to take the hard way in. The Canadians are funny that way. They like to weed out the wimps. After all, these are the folks who send us gun-happy Americans unarmed into bear-infested forests. To their credit, the Canadians do provide instructions on what to do if confronted by a predatory bear. The best thing to do, they say, is to make yourself look big as big as possible and make a lot of noise.

Defecating in your trousers apparently doesn’t deter an attacking bear. Neither does playing dead, according to the provided instructions. Instead, your best chance of convincing the bear to back off is to “fight it with everything you have.” It’s hard to fathom that, at that point, a pissed-off bear is going to be intimidated by a Swiss army knife and toenail clippers.

Imagine the scene at your autopsy: “Look here, eh. Poor fellow died with a pocket knife and nail clippers shoved up his rectum.”

Anyway, none of that happened. In fact, even the chipmunks and red squirrels were relatively well-behaved.

To be continued.