Tag: white squirrels
Revised, reconfigured and ready to get you all the way through 2013, the “Travels with Ace” calendar is back on sale for a limited time.
A heavy-duty, 18-month wall calendar, it’s illustrated with photos from our year-long, 27,000-mile trip across America — from the coast of Maine, where Ace was the first dog in America to see the sunrise one day in October, to the shores of Monterey, where Ace hopped up for a closer look at a bust of John Steinbeck — the author who inspired our journey.
You can buy it and get more information here, or by clicking on that ad to the left.
Fifty percent of profits from the sale of the calendar go to Rolling Dog Farm, a sanctuary for deaf, blind and disabled animals in New Hampshire (and also one of the stops on our trip).
We’ve added photos of one stop that we didn’t include the first time around — the Coon Dog Cemetery in Tuscumbia, Alabama.
The rest of the calendar is packed with images from some of our other stops:
@Salvation Mountain in California, where Leonard Knight has fashioned and painted a mountain in honor of God.
@Niagara Falls, where Ace — ohmigod! — almost disappeared.
@The Lodge, a gentleman’s club in Dallas, where we met one of Michael Vick’s former dogs, and where Ace briefly took the stage.
@Various points south, like Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, where we kept running into kudzu dogs.
@The mountains of North Carolina, where we went in search of the elusive — and sometimes not so elusive — white squirrel.
@Rolling Dog Farm, where we reconnected with some old friends.
@John Steinbeck’s former home in Sag Harbor, N.Y., where we began retracing the route the author took in “Travels with Charley.”
@A marina in Baltimore, where we lived on a sailboat for a week, which Ace mostly liked.
Initial sales of the calendar raised $400 for Rolling Dog Farm.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, alabama, america, animals, arizona, baltimore, bandera, calendar, calendars, california, coast, coon dog cemetery, dallas texas, dog, dogs, fathers day, following, gentleman's club, gift, gifts, john steinbeck, john woestendiek, lancaster, maine, monterey, new hamsphire, niagara falls, north carolina, ohmidog!, oregon, path, pets, photography, photos, road trip, rolling dog farm, route, salinas, strip clubs, the lodge, trail, travel, travels with ace, travels with charley, trip, tucson, wall calendar, white squirrels, winslow
As safaris go, ours in the mountains of North Carolina was a pretty laid back one — but then we were a pretty low-key foursome: my current roommate, Ace, and two former ones from my college days, Dr. George Fish and Dr. John Stringfield.
To understand how we came to be in the wilds of the Brevard College campus, searching out our rare and elusive prey, you have to go back to the day before, when we arrived at our campground in Pisgah National Forest.
I’d never heard of white squirrels — or that Brevard, N.C. was renowned for being home to them — and, to make matters more confusing, for a fleeting moment I thought the woman at the campground gate had said “white girls.”
She went on to explain that the peculiar species could be found in town, mostly in residential areas, and that it was just a matter of driving around until you saw one.
“The White Girls of Brevard” became our running joke — and every good outing with friends, like every good sitcom, needs a recurring joke. So as we sat around the campfire drinking beer — debating what we might do the next day, other than sit around the campfire and drink beer — the phrase would inevitably come up.
Rock-climbing? A five mile hike? Whitewater rafting? Or go in search of the White Girls of Brevard?
There was a day, and it was back in the 1970s, when the possibility of encountering a female, of any color, would probably have been our top priority. And there were probably many nights that we set off, safari-like, with that goal, if not stated, at least in the back of our heads. But, for us, in college, it was more a dream than a mission. At that time, all three of us put together probably had the self-confidence, when it came to females, of one normal man.
John and George are married now – both for 29 years, though not to each other — so, even if they captured, humanely of course, one of the White Girls of Brevard, they couldn’t bring her home.
For me, though – with no wife to say, “You’re not bringing that thing into the house” — it’s a different story. Perhaps, I thought — whimsically of course – I should scope out the White Girls of Brevard, select one and bring her home. She’d have freckles and look a lot like Sissy Spacek. She’d be small, yet of hearty mountain stock — a ”tiny little” thing. People would say of her, “She’s a tiny little thing, but she can lift a bale of hay twice her size.” She’d call her mother “momma,” and her father “papa” and have quaint names for all six of her dogs. She’d know how to work a plow, and cook real macaroni and cheese, and those green beans that are boiled for three months, and she’d hang on every word I say — no matter how few and far between they were. She’d be more than happy to care for me well into my golden years and dodderage, both of which she would find sexy.
A sharp crackle from our fire pit snapped me back to reality. The three of us weren’t here to hunt anything, or even fish, just to meet up again after a few decades, build a fire, drink some beer, reminisce and perhaps take a short hike or two.
The next day, after one of those short hikes, we deemed the white squirrels worth checking out and drove the few miles into town. Upon seeing a college campus, I turned in, figuring if I were a squirrel, that’s where I’d hang out.
My hunch paid off. We rounded a corner and saw one who was already being viewed by a couple with a camera. The squirrel was flattened out and clinging to the side of a tree — that being a defensive mechanism squirrels use. It works when they are grey, but, for some reason, the white ones do it, too, thinking no one can see them. Apparently, they don’t know they are white.
Ace stayed in the car looking out the open back window with interest as George and I took photos of that squirrel and several other white ones we came across on campus.
Back in the car, we spotted several more, and we pondered opening up a business in town, offering white squirrel safaris to tourists — perhaps a big open-air bus that would shuttle them to where the white squirrels hang out. There they could snap photos — the squirrels are far too cute to otherwise shoot — to their heart’s content. We would charge exorbitant fees for that, as well as all the white squirrel merchandise we would make available. Perhaps, upon conclusion of the tour, they could enjoy a home-cooked meal, prepared by my mountain wife Sissy — if she’s not too busy plowing – eaten at picnic tables with red checkered tableclothes.
On the tour, we would explain how the white squirrels came to be there. We’d opt for the the most oft-repeated and fanciful version — that being that they are descendants of some traveling circus squirrels who escaped when their circus truck overturned.
That supposedly happened in Florida.
In that account — and it’s the one that both whitesquirrels.com and the local tourism website go with, supported by local newspaper reports in the Transylvania Times (Brevard is in Transylvania County) — the squirrels escaped when the truck they were in overturned. Two of them set up camp in the yard of a man in Madison, Florida.
She kept them inside and hoped they would breed, but they didn’t — probably because everybody was watching.
In 1951, Barbara Mull got married, leaving the squirrels with her father. One of them escaped, and not long after that, Barbara’s father let the other one, who apparently was deemed heartsick, loose in the wild.
By 1986, the White Squirrels of Brevard had become so famous that, in addition to capitalizing their name, the Brevard City Council saw fit to unanimously pass an ordinance declaring the town a sanctuary for the white squirrels and — apparently not wanting to be seen as racist — the grey ones, too.
“The entire area embraced within the corporate limits of the city is hereby designated as a sanctuary for all species of squirrel (family Sciuriadae), and in particular the Brevard White Squirrel,” the ordinance reads. “It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt, kill, trap, or otherwise take any protected squirrels within the city by this section.”
As it turns out, other towns with white squirrel populations have adopted it as a mascot as well, including Olney, Illinois; Marionville, Missouri; Kenton, Tennessee; and Exeter, Canada.
Unlike some of those squirrels, Brevard’s are not albinos, but a variant of the Eastern Grey Squirrel. More than a fourth of the squirrels in Brevard are white — and the town knows because a squirrel census is regularly conducted.
Brevard is home to an annual White Squirrel Festival (it’s this coming weekend), and The Squirrel Box Derby downhill race, and it considers itself the “White Squirrel Capital of the World.”
In Marionville, which is where some believe that Olney’s squirrels originated from — victims of squirrelnappings — other theories on their origin range from the squirrels once belonging to a traveling circus to being the result of a mad scientist’s experiments.
As for the White Squirrels of Brevard, an article in NC Farm Bureau Magazine says they are not true white squirrels, but a color variation of the Eastern Gray Squirrel. Most have white bodies but pigmented patches, spots and stripes.
That doesn’t make them any less beloved. To make sure the population stays viable, the White Squirrel Research Institute, based there, conducts a white squirrel count every year.
On our short safari, we spotted at least five. And, in reality (a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there), they weren’t that elusive at all.
After John left, returning to his home and practice in Waynesville, N.C., George and I lingered another night and discussed the possibility of making the camping trip a tradition — either in Brevard or going each year to a different location, where we could seek out, if not white girls, other elusive species.
I’m thinking unicorns.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aging, albinos, animals, barbara mull, brevard, brevard college, camping, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, exeter, friends, george fish, john stringfield, john woestendiek, kenton, legend, marionville, mountains, north carolina, olney, pets, photography, pisgah national forest, prey, reunion, safari, sanctuary, species, squirrels, travels, travels with ace, trip, unicorns, white girls, white girls of brevard, white squirrels, white squirrels of brevard, wildlife