Beware of Raccoons Riding Possums

All I can say is thankfully you do not need to hear to write a post – although it may play a part in continuity! My ears (and Linda’s) are completely fried thanks to our weekend trip back home to attend the Illinois State Fair. Having grown up in Springfield, it is basically weaved into our DNA as small children that we must make the annual pilgrimage to see The Butter Cow. I actually have fond memories of the fair – corn dogs, ribeye sandwiches, losing my shoe somewhere in the muddy track during a Beach Boys concert, trying to pick up the carney girls (trust me, they live on the wild side and you know they will be gone in under two weeks – no brainer ha), mopping up at the ridiculously shady games (just need to know the tricks.. say it with me… carney girls), local bands in the beer tents and racing pigs. Note, the smart people NEVER ride the rides – don’t believe me, go look at the 2x4s stacked up under the coaster supports …or ask a carney girl when the last accident was when her boss isn’t around. This weekend Linda and I got to relive a lot of those memories (NOT THE CARNEY GIRL PART – those days are long gone..moved up to the beer tent women – kidding of course! Ended up camping there so we could catch all the traditional sights and then attend the Sammy Hagar and the Circle/Ann Wilson of Heart concert – thus the deaf part.

Had a great time and even got into the Disturbed concert the night before thanks to some very nice people checking tickets at the gate. A massive storm came through that delayed the concert. Opening act was dropped and Disturbed started late. We walked by one of the gates and stood there and listened to one of their songs – the ticket takers called to us and just told us to go on in with one condition – “Don’t get into trouble”. We agreed to their terms, thanked them for their generosity and grabbed a seat in the grandstand – which had PLENTY of seats left. Guessing the rain scared their fans away. The next night we attended the concert we paid for. Some quick takeaways from the gig:

  • Ann Wilson was better than expected, but I had very low expectations there – not a huge fan of her. Played an hour, hit the Heart classics, threw in some crappy solo work and then nailed the Zeppelin cover. Suggestion, going back and sitting on the stage while the band does their solo parts is pretty rude – act like you want to be there.
  • Sammy was incredibly good and they covered many of the greats from each of the member’s bands – Sammy from Montrose, solo, Van Halen and his post Van Halen groups, Michael Anthony brought the early Van Halen era and Jason Bonham added his band and, of course, Zeppelin in honor of his dad. Apparently Vic Johnson doesn’t have the legacy of the other members, but he smoothly transitioned through all the other band material.
  • Damn that was loud – after Sammy’s first song my ears were toast, but that made the rest of the night sound incredible or they finally fixed the treble – days later and still ringing although I already have Tinnitus (hey kiddies, your parents are right, turn those speakers down)
  • If you are going to “get in trouble” do not sit at the very top of the grandstand where nobody is – you stick out like a sore thumb and have to give up your expensive bottle of whiskey when the State Police swarm on you rookies.
  • You don’t need to clap after each song in the house music – lady in row ahead of me would enthusiastically cheer after every piped in song. She didn’t look “baked” to me, just living in her own little world I guess – still made me chuckle.
  • How great is it to see an older band – the audience is very appreciative, yet most of their knees are shot so they remain seated so everyone can enjoy the show.
  • Sammy knows how to entertain and you get the feeling he genuinely wants to be there for the crowd, no stage sitting for him – interacting constantly with bandmates, talking to the crowd between songs, signing every damn thing that was tossed on stage and handing it back (mid-song) and of course belting out songs as good now at 74 as when the songs first came out.
  • I forgot how good Sammy can play – having been sidelined by Eddie, he didn’t really get to show his skills with Van Hagar.
  • Lastly, I am not a big fan of the Van Hagar albums. I am on team Dave there, but then I heard them last night with harder drums, unsmoothed vocals and stronger baselines – muuuuuuchhhhh better.
  • Oh, and I guess my only complaint of the night was piping in the keyboards for the one Van Halen song that needed it (Right Now). Just grab Ann’s keyboardist from the bus for that one song and make it as authentic as the rest of the show – small complaint, but it was a surprise

Yikes, maybe that wasn’t so quick after all – what can I say, probably the first real concert we have seen since before 2019. I know, you are really here to see the wildlife, not some old guy’s fair experience. The good news is I do have some wildlife shots to show you!

Raccoon found at LaBagh Woods, Chicago IL in May 2022

Hit the jump to find out more about our featured bandit.

In honor of having my ears brutalized, thought I’d change it up a bit and go with a series that I didn’t “hear” either. Ron and I would have probably missed this Raccoon if we were not alerted to it by a young carney lady….sorry, not sure why that is still on my mind, I mean a young lady walking the trail ahead of us.

Raccoon found at LaBagh Woods, Chicago IL in May 2022

Backing up a bit, these shots are coming to you from Labagh Woods Forest Preserve. If you recall, that is where the Canada Warbler was found in the last post. We had finished tinning that bird and after a quick run through some of their bluff woods, we were making our way back to the marsh/pond at the entrance. We met up with the young lady about halfway to the water. She was very nice and asked us what we were taking pictures of. She knew more about birds than what my first impression suggested. She mentioned some of the birds that she had seen on her walk and even alerted us to a rookery that was a few miles past this preserve on Cicero Avenue.

Raccoon found at LaBagh Woods, Chicago IL in May 2022

We thanked her for the tip and then she continued on ahead of us for probably a quarter mile when we caught up to her looking at a large tree on the side of the trail. We brought our cameras on target while she scurried ahead to grab her camera out of the car. This Raccoon was perfectly nestled in the elbow of the tree.

Raccoon found at LaBagh Woods, Chicago IL in May 2022

It never, made a peep – just sat there, tail between its legs giving us cute pose after cute pose. The bandit didn’t even attempt to leave, clearly having no fear of Ron’s presence (if it was a bird it would have been attacking for sure) or the fact the barrel of The Beast was pointed directly at it probably 15 feet away. I swear it was waiting patiently for the attractive lady to come back with her camera.

Raccoon found at LaBagh Woods, Chicago IL in May 2022

I have plenty of Raccoons that stalk my woods. I’ve had countless battles with them over my feeders and one of those resulted in the need for Feeder 2.0 (link here). One managed to figure out a way to thwart my defenses and launch onto one of my feeders causing the non-galvanized wire to buckle under the additional weight. We definitely had words that night, but I knew she was a mother of 4 from previous encounters that week, so she was safe under my Wildlife Tenets.

Raccoon found at LaBagh Woods, Chicago IL in May 2022

One of those is I refuse to harm a baby critter or their parent(s) regardless of the situation – the one exception is Moles which are pretty much hellspawn purveyors of evil and are dealt a heavy hand if I spot them in my yard – woods – fine, even trails – fine, neighbors – fine…cross the tree line and watch Bri go medieval on their asses with an arsenal of scissor traps.

Raccoon found at LaBagh Woods, Chicago IL in May 2022

Our local Raccoons know this protection rule and purposely bring their babies around as soon as they can leave the den. If I surprise them, they raise up on their hind legs, give me an evil grin and point to their babies who are trained days after birth to open their eyes as wide as possible and tuck their paws under their chins on command – if you can still harm them or make them Coyote snacks by taking out their mother after that, you may have lost the “shiny fiddle made of gold”.

Raccoon found at LaBagh Woods, Chicago IL in May 2022

Independent Raccoons or mature males are a different story – they have opposable thumbs and they know how to use them. I half expect them to evolve to a point where they can throw apples and rocks through our windows. From there it is pretty much a progression through the wood tool age to the iron age in which case we’ll look out our windows and see an army of armor clad Raccoons with spears riding Possums. Leader slides off rodent, grabs a bit of dirt, works it into his hands “On my signal, unleash hell”. Honey, I think it is time to move.

Pretty much all over the board on this post – will get focused again once my hearing comes back. Let me know what pose you liked the best in the comments below. Always interesting to see everyone’s preferences.

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