Tags: ecotours

Dam It

05/26/15 08:45

I have loved flowing water ever since I can remember. Trickles, creeks, rivers, the smaller and windier the better. Sometimes I get to go out on recon trips exploring favorite, or sometimes new places. A highlight is just parking in the shade, watching and listening as the world comes alive around me. One of my favorite critters to watch are beaver.

I left the muddy water of the river and turned into a clear tributary no more than three feet deep. There was a slight current which was unusual. The further I paddled, the shallower and narrower it got. Soon I heard water spilling into the creek- Never in my life had I seen this here. The water was pristine and inviting as it cascaded through roots and foliage creating mini deltas of sand and soil.

As I paddled further up, my heart began to pound with excitement as I passed another small cascade spilling into the creek through what looked like a mini-mangrove. The air was calm and sweet, rich with blossoms and beauty. In the distance almost imperceptible at first, I saw the wall, a beaver dam extending across the creek. IT had caused the water to deviate through the woods, creating the mini-cascades.

I could spend a whole day in a place like this watching the world and water run by. Absorbed by nature, warmth, and the feeling of peace and comfort in a place I love so much. As the sun began to set I left too soon a place I don’t get to visit nearly enough. Days like these are invaluable, and I feel blessed to be able to share them with others when I can. Exploration and learning are what recon trips are all about, and this one was no exception. Now when my guests ask if there are any beaver dams in the Shiawassee Flats I can smile and confirm.

Trip Advisor

04/22/15 10:03

I may not ever be rich monetarily, but the memories I have shared are priceless. I just listed on Trip Advisor last year, having never gave it a thought until some of my guests mentioned it, and how often they use it. The following was written after a trip in April under heavy skies. We saw lots of stuff and finally got a sunset. I know not all of my guests love it out in the Shiawassee Flats as much as I do, but these two did! Every trip is different, offering up it's own lesson and beauty. For those that have shared it, I hope you feel that way too.

Beautiful nature getaway”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2015

For our anniversary, my husband and I wanted to see the best that nature has to offer in "Pure Michigan", and exploring wetlands and marshes by boat exceeded our expectations. This boat tour was unforgettable! Wil, the owner and operator, was friendly, knowledgeable, funny, and very accommodating. We had a 5 hour tour that actually felt shorter than it was because we were having such a good time. Wil talked about the local history of the wildlife refuge, told stories about his personal experiences there, and taught us a lot about the animals, plants, and ecology of the wetlands. We stopped at a few points and were able to get out and explore on foot. Love that feeling of adventure! We felt relaxed in the boat when moving slowly through the marshes, and felt the thrill of speed when passing through the wide open river. The views were breathtaking. We also saw muskrats, eagles, ducks, geese, frogs, fish, and many more animals, as well as a huge beaver lodge. A few highlights of the trip include seeing a pair of swans flying directly over us, and being on the river to watch the whole sunset. The scenery was beautiful! Wil was an excellent guide, full of information, could answer any question we asked, and taught us how to appreciate nature even more. We highly recommend this boat tour. We plan on doing it again when family visits :)

Two Years Ago

04/14/15 09:59

Two years ago today the water was rockin'! This has been one of the driest springs I can remember, but the frost in the ground sure did last a long time. The water was up a bit on my first two trips of the year, but I expect it is now working it's way back down. Here is a link to a video with some images from 4/14/13 and other good stuff from the spring of 2013.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eutbG9vIPk
It was one of the first I was able to edit in high definition, and with a new camera this year, I am hoping the quality gets better. After watching the video, it is amazing how close the animal habits mimic each other from one year to the next, a pattern if you will. We certainly have seen a lot of trumpeter swans this year. One of the pools has been reworked in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge making visibility a little easier during high water. The mild weather has me very excited to get back out and feel, smell, hear, and see all that is awesome about the Shiawassee Flats!

A Thank You Note

04/09/15 10:41

Occasionally my guests will send a letter or email about their adventure trip with me. I love to share my playground with others, and to get responses like this are priceless. 2015 marks the 21st year of Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips, and I feel grateful and blessed to still be doing it. Ecotours in Saginaw, Michigan haven't always been an easy sell, and my wife has been less than impressed many years as we drive home from the CPAs. Notes like the following are one of the reasons why I have persevered for so long.

Thank you so much for an unforgettable tour! It really exceeded our expectations. Being in nature and learning so much about it and about the history of the area was refreshing. Thank you also for the great pictures and the videos! I still have my pictures on my camera and will be uploading them soon.

The day after the tour, Marc and I went on a 4.5 hike/walk through the Ferguson Bayou Trail. The weather was perfect. We spotted many different kids of birds and other creatures, and we wouldn't have known how to look for them if we hadn't had the boat tour experience with you. We felt very educated!

Also, we gave your brochures to the front desk of our hotel and highly recommended you. We believe many more people should have the kind of experience that you offer.

Again, thank you so much. We're grateful to have had such a lovely anniversary trip in nature. Hope you had a great weekend as well!

Best regards,

Ivana & Marc

Newlyweds

04/06/15 10:54

I took a couple for a “mini-marathon” trip last week. The sky was overcast most of the day. We had a pair of trumpeter swans fly right over the top of us on the Bad River.

We saw many eagles and spied a couple of nests with parents standing guard. I mentioned that if we didn't see 6-10 eagles, it wasn't a good day. It was a great day! We made it as far as the flooded woods, and the sun was already setting. We made it back to the wide part to savor a brilliant sky.

Five hours out in the Shiawassee Flats didn't seem long enough. We soaked up all of the sunset, and I wrapped them in a weather proof cocoon as we hammered the wind and waves back to port. I could have staggered them and the ride would have been smoother, but they were enjoying the adventure as much as I was. Hopefully their first anniversary will be positive, memorable, and followed by many more. Being married is the hardest job you'll ever learn to love. I am blessed to be able to share one of my secrets for happiness!