Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

International Wolf Center, Ely, MN

We didn't make it all the way to Hibbing, Minnesota from Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in one day.  We could have, but we didn't want to drive for two hours or so in a severe rain storm.  So we stopped at the Walmart in Superior, WI, just on the other side of the Duluth River from Duluth, MN on Tues, Sept 9.  These two pics were from the Walmart parking lot in Hibbing, Wednesday evening, Sept 10.  Oh, and we were welcomed to our first nights of the fall of 30 degree temps.  Nancy voted for turning left and heading SOUTH for warmer temps.  Sorry for the urbanization in the photos, but heh, ya gotta take what you can where ever you happen to be.
Thursday morning and we were off to Ely, MN to the International Wolf Center.  It was a bright, sunny and a little warmer day, so we opted to take the 70 mile jaunt up the four lane highway 169 and 53, through Virginia, MN and back on 169 and on into Ely, MN.
From Wiki:  Ely (elee) is a city in Saint Louis County, Minnesota. The population was 3,460 at the 2010 census.  It is located on the Vermilion Iron Range, and is historically home to several iron ore mines. Today the city of Ely is best known as a popular entry point for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (Boundary Waters National Park); the International Wolf Center, and the North American Bear Center. The main street of Ely is lined with outfitters, outdoor clothing stores, and restaurants. State Highway 1 (MN 1), State Highway 169 (MN 169) and County Road 21 (Central Avenue) are the main routes into Ely.
We obviously opted for the wolf center, but not the bear center.  And because we don't have kayaks or canoes, we never made it up to the national park, a few more miles up towards International Falls.
We listened to a couple of interesting ranger talks on the wolves at the center, and hung around for a few hours and took a lot of photos.  I have always been fascinated, as most folks are, with the wolves of North America, and their struggle to coexist with people through the last two hundred years.  Their plight has been well documented in the chronicles of our history.
From Wiki:  The International Wolf Center is one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to educating people about wolves. The organization is committed to advancing the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wild lands, and the human role in their future.  Founded in 1985 by a group of biologists led by world-renowned wolf biologist Dr. L. David Mech, the Center opened in June 1993. The Center’s 17,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility is located in Ely, Minnesota (USA) and features Gray wolves viewable through large windows that allow visitors to watch the ambassador wolves communicate, play, hunt and eat.
Unfortunately, they weren't being fed when we were there.  And there's a pretty good reason we missed that:  They are only fed once a week, and it is always venison.  We learned the names of all seven wolves currently in captivity there, with one, the old timer retired in a separate area.
Their eyes are almost entrancing to look into.  Sometimes they look so curiously devious, yet at other times they look so cautiously friendly.
Oops, I mean, poops!  Shame on me.
Mysterious eyes.  "Look deep into my eyes and I'll tell you an old backwoods tale".  Gotta stretch 'em out now & then...get them kinks out...
"I'm so bored".   "Me too".
Above is the current Alpha male.  The dark grey one is the alpha female, but she is always in submission to the Alpha male.  There is a distinctive pecking order among the pack, and they all know their place.
I never saw any of the other wolves get in the Alpha's face or even look at him for more than a second or two.  Interesting!  I guess he's a "lone wolf".  Sorry, couldn't resist.
It was a nice moment or two to watch them all have a little raucous fun, as only canines can have I guess.  Even the Alpha seemed to want to get a jab or two in as well.  Even in the wild they seem to enjoy this sort of playful-dominance, who's who in the pecking order.
Above, the Alpha glares at the gathering of the playful bunch as if to say, "I'm watching you all, so behave yourselves".
Well, that just about wraps up our visit to the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN.  We enjoyed the time there and would do it again if we ever make it back up this way.  On the way back, we stopped in Virginia for a Pizza at Pizza Hut, and stopped by an old iron ore pit mine.  But more on that in our next blog.  So, till then, RVing Beach Bums signing off.  This blog was written & published from our home on Nov 6.