Monday, August 29, 2022

Postcards From the Lake: Elking

Every summer when I was a kid, on a lovely evening, my mom and dad, her two sisters and their husbands, and my three cousins would pile into the old station wagon and go "elking" in Michigan's north. This activity found the six adults on the bench seats in the front and back and the four of us kids in the rear end of the car. It was close.

And of course, the environment wasn't made much better by the volume of second hand smoke coming from the front two seats! The car windows were open (which was a good thing). It's likely this was before or in the early days of car air conditioning and it probably was for the best! 

We would drive (it seemed for hours) on dirt roads, back roads, places, where cars probably shouldn't go, my uncle making odd sounds which he said were "elk calls." We were supposed to be quiet. I doubt we were. I don't recall ever seeing an elk during those rides. But if we were lucky, we might get to stop at A and W after for a root beer after!


Now, people visiting Gaylord don't need to go elking to see the elk. They are found at the Elk Park (conveniently located next to the Elks Lodge). 

 

Late in the day they tend to come up close to the fence to eat and generally stay within good viewing distance.


We took Rick's mom out to see the elk during her visit. They're fun to watch -- large and majestic.


Many of the males had impressive antlers. 


Although we missed the close-up dining view, it was good to see such a large number of them (and more, no doubt, down the hill and out of view).


I hope they stay there always!

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60 comments:

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Nice elking out and about. Your funny ride description makes me smile. I've seen well over a dozen moose in one day, but have not seen a wild elk.

gigi-hawaii said...

What a beautiful excursion! I would love to see elk myself, something which I have never done. Michigan has so many great places to visit.

Pam said...

Wow....that is a set of horns! haha...I would say that male is well endowed. haha....I could not resist that one.

Divers and Sundry said...

What fun! It sounds like a great way to spend a day.

Valerie-Jael said...

That sounds like fun. We don't have Elks here, but we do have a wildlife park in Düsseldorf.Sometimes I wonder how we survived childhood without seat belts, with smokers in the card, riding in the back etc. And we even enjoyed it! Have a great week, take care, hugs, Valerie

Steve Reed said...

I had no idea there was an elk park in Gaylord! The funny thing is, my father-in-law was obsessed with the possibility of seeing an elk at the deer-hunting cabin we visited in Onaway. We sat on that porch for hours waiting for one to wander by. We should have just gone to the elk park!

DUTA said...

I don't think I would enjoy such a visit. I find it hard to look at those heavy antlers on the elk's head.

anno said...

They are truly majestic creatures... I'm so glad to hear about this park, and the opportunity you had to see them.

Love that memory of going "elking." Myself, all I remember are weekends at Deer Acres in Pinconning (a park now totally in decay).

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

I don't know how anyone can shoot such beautiful animals but I do trust our DNR to keep the herds healthy through regulated hunting and managed herds.

Lowcarb team member said...

Wow!
Those antlers are certainly impressive.

All the best Jan

Red Rose Alley said...

Oh Jeanie, what a great place to visit. I would love to go here, as I am fascinated with the deer. You took some nice photos. Now, I'm noticing a couple WHITE Elk out there? When you mentioned A & W, I smiled, cause my best friend worked there, and we used to get something to eat after school some days. I'm glad you have good memories of going there after your drives on the back dirt roads and listening to your uncle make his "elk calls." I so enjoyed your ELK post, Jeanie, and I'm sure Rick's mom had a good time seeing the grand elk. that first photo looks like a painting.

~Sheri

Karen said...

There are elk around my sisters cottage just south of Algonquin Park. She has seen a couple of them as she comes and goes to her home and the cottage. They were big news when they first showed up in that area!
Did you get the severe thunderstorms this afternoon (Monday). Whew, it kind of skirted south of us but that yellow/green sky sure does look scary.

Mae Travels said...

Those are very impressive photos of the elk! We loved seeing the reindeer in Greenland this year and the reindeer in Svalbard a few years ago -- relatives of elk. But we see deer all the time: not that exciting.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

My name is Erika. said...

This sounds like a fun day out. I think it's great they have an elk farm. And there are some handsome animals there. And your story about everyone crowding in the car with the windows open and cigarette smoke brings back some memories for certain. And we survived it too which is amazing in itself. Hope your new week is starting off in a good way. hugs-Erika

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I grew up in east Tennessee and we did nothing like elking. I can't remember ever seeing an elk as a child. Plenty of bears in the Smokies. As an adult my sister's family and I would go driving to look at scenery. Pleasant memories.

Love your great photos. I'd love to visit the elk area and park. Thanks for sharing.

Marilyn Miller said...

I do remember car rides such as your elk searching rides. No seat belts too.
Those are indeed impression antlers on the male elk for sure!

Prims By The Water said...

Is that a white one or a camera glare? There use to bean elk farm along I69 near us where we would see them. I have never been up close and personal but know they are huge. On the other hand was up close and personal with a mama black bear. Janice

acorn hollow said...

That sounds a lot like our Sunday rides. All pile in the car my mother smoking cigarettes and my father a pipe not a seatbelt to be found lol
Cathy

DVArtist said...

Wonderful photos. We have a huge elk viewing area just up the road from us. I never get tired of seeing them. Have a nice evening.

eileeninmd said...

Hello,
I would love to visit this Elk viewing area. They are beautiful animals.
It is wonderful to see a herd of elk. I have seen them in my travels to Colorado and Washington State. Take care, enjoy your day!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

An enjoyable day, Jeanie. I am glad that the elks were cooperative.

Pam Richardson said...

Elk are majestic animals! I have been fortunate to see them on many occasions and their antlers are most impressive. Have a wonderful week, Jeanie!

Rustic Pumpkin said...

How wonderful to see so many elk in the wild. I'll never forget my one and only time I saw an elk in the wild. I was driving up north of Eureka in Northern California, and there was beautiful elk in the valley just below where I was driving, and I nearly drove off the road.

Penny Carlson said...

Ah, I remember station wagons and kids crammed in the back! I also remember the adults smoking! Those elk are majestic!

Nancy said...

They are such gorgeous and huge creatures! So glad that Rick’s mom got to see them too.
How funny that they are located by the Elk’s Lodge.
Fun day for all!
Enjoy your last few days of August!

This N That said...

Nice pictures. Nice that they are protected. Enjoy the rest of your week.

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

My goodness, Jeanie, I've not heard of elking. Your description of the ride in the car certainly reminds me of my upbringing! Thanks for that memory jog. They are such majestic animals. I would love to see one in person.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I loved hearing about your "elking" experience as a child. I wonder if the adults actually thought they'd see an elk or if they just wanted to get out for an adventure and made funny noises to make it more entertaining for all? Too funny.

What a cool area to visit! You did a good job of checking out some local attractions when Rick's mom was visiting!

Mereknits said...

We never saw them when we went camping at Pidgeon River State Forest, but my dad saw them when he went up there hunting in the fall, he never killed anything just sat up in trees and watched. He was a great fly fisherman and he had trout grilled over an open fire that he caught in the river.

Rita said...

Never went elking but sure did make special trips to the A&W on hot summer nights for root beer in the big frosty mugs. No air conditioning at home or in the car so we were thrilled to make the rare trip for a frosty!

Anvilcloud said...

It was cool seeing elk in thee wild in Jasper NP, and maybe Banff too. Can’t remember Banff for sure.

Jenn Jilks said...

They are magnificent beasts! Great photos.

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Hello, Jeanie. I hope they get to stay they always also. It is certainly good they are in a place where they are safe. In WV we used to go what my dad called - "Spotting Deer." Just to see how many we would see. Sometimes several and other times none.

Elk became extinct in WV many years ago. Some smart soul who is with the Dept. of Natural Resources, started to re-introduce them to the southern and mountainous part of our state. According to the last accounts, they are thriving. That makes me very happy. Have a lovely week!

William Kendall said...

I have seen them out west.

Joanne Huffman said...

Cool! I never heard of elking.

The French Hutch said...

What a fun outing for mom, love wildlife and even better that it's not a zoo. I loved your story from childhood. Aren't those memories just wonderful! I have similar, not elk but dogwood in the spring. Fun times........

R's Rue said...

Such a fun outing.

Stevenson Q said...

We do not have Elks here so this is such a delight to see, thank you Jeanie for sharing them with us! Super love to see them in a sanctuary like this rather than caged in the zoo.

Thank you so so much for yr kind compliment on my short film :) I tried and downloaded the Windows Program called VSDC which I used on that video and I agree it was quite a nice program for something that is free to download.

Betty said...

Elk look intimidating to me! how lovely to be able to encounter them though.

Pamela said...

What a great memory, right down to the A&W.

Priscilla King said...

Lesson learned: elks can be OK to have around if they are contained.

Where I live the "re-wilding" mania led somebody to dump a lot of elk into a town. I've not heard much about that lately; think the elk have all been shot or run over now. Deer are nuisance enough, and people have seen protected bears and coyotes walking down the streets in towns.

I'm ready to reverse "re-wilding."

But steep-walled parks for a few of these animals, like zoos only with more space per animal, would be nice.

crackercrumblife said...

Lol at the description of your car ride!! I remember car rides like that as well, in the 80s. We would go to family reunions in Pennsylvania and my cousin and I would sleep in the way back of the station wagon, where there wasn't seats - or seat belts.

I want to go to Elk Park! How cool is that!

shoreacres said...

A friend in Kansas vies for an elk tag every year.If she gets one, she takes one elk, takes it home, dresses it herself, and puts the meat in the freezer. Then, when her dog's birthday rolls around, she makes him an elk birthday cake, with mashed potato frosting!

Personally, I've never seen an elk, but I've spent many a Friday night at our town's Elks Lodge. My dad was a member, and they had family nights on Friday. There would be steaks (or burgers for the kids) and then dancing to a live band. That's where my dad taught me to dance, to live music like this!

Danielle L Zecher said...

Their antlers are huge!

There's apparently a section of I-40 here that has lane closures sometimes for elk viewing. Maybe so people don't go driving off weird places like your family used to? I'm impressed no one got car sick on those trips!

Regina said...

We have elk here in AZ too and there are beautiful to see.

R's Rue said...

Hope you’re doing well my friend.

Jenny Woolf said...

As part of a job, I once had to camp in a Canadian forest during the elk rutting season. We were in a group, with rangers, so I guess they knew what they were doing, but I admit I spent half the night hoping an elk wouldn't come along and take exception to my tent. I hadn't realised till I saw an elk head mounted in a hunting lodge just how huge they are!

thepaintedapron.com said...


such beautiful animals, but can you imagine walking around with those giant antlers on your head 😂 !
Jenna

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

"Elking." Now, that's a new-to-me term! It just illustrates how grand and diverse this country is - there are no elks here in NJ! How wonderful to be able to see them nearby! I have seen elks when we visited Alaska. It was one of many highlights of that trip.

Tammie Lee said...

Elk are always a joy to see. So happy you got to share them with Rick's mom.
I see them once in a while in the wild around here. Always I have to stop and watch. love their heart shaped bottoms. Lovely evening to you Jeanie.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Elk are magnificent creatures, kind of Super Deer. We saw them often the summer I worked in Yellowstone.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Jeanie,
Your Elk post is a great critter post. They are beautiful animals.
Your photos are awesome too. Hubby and I love to go on the car rides looking for critters. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

They are gorgeous animals and it's fun to have those memories. We piled into a station wagon when my 4 boys were little for adventures...seems like a long time ago!

Lea said...

Wonderful! Beautiful animals!
Have a great weekend!

Breathtaking said...

Hello Jeanie, :=) I'm glad you had this outing and it brought back lovely memories of your childhood. The Elks are truly impressive creatures with their huge antlers. Your photos are all lovely.
Enjoy your weekend.
All the best.

Shiju Sugunan said...

Those large antlers are a work of art. Lovely sightings and captures!

Victoria Zigler said...

That's wonderful you were able to see the elk. Shame you didn't tend to see them when you were younger, but at least you often got a rootbeer, and you get to see the elk now.

Carola Bartz said...

Your description of the "elking" and the involved car drive reminds me of my childhood as well. I remember that I really hated when my parents smoked in the car, it was disgusting. Thankfully they eventually stopped doing that. The elk are beautiful, majestic animals indeed. We have some locations with elk as well, and they do a good job in reproducing. You had a lovely outing.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Wonderful photos of the magnificent stags! We see an elk very rarely in our area. Instead, we have many mule deer, but every now and then elk heard will pass through. Up north in Estes Park there are many many elk and they often walk down the streets and hang out on the golf course...lol

Anonymous said...

What a great story! Elk are so majestic.

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