Friday, December 31, 2010

South To Allegan County

2010 12 20 Silver Creek County Park,  located on 134th Ave. about three miles east of Hamilton Michigan.

The most beautiful and unique thing about Silver Creek is that the entire park is primarily wooded and has 450 feet of frontage on Silver Creek, which is a spring fed trout stream.  Silver Creek Park is primarily an equestrian park,  320 acres in size, it connects to over 25 miles of horseback riding trails.
My sister, Marie and I walked the North trail, Foot trail, and Creek View trail.  It  was 26 degrees, we were out exploring for about 2 1/2 hours, we found Trailing Arbutus with its green, rough, beaver ear shaped leaves sticking out from the snow.  It was overcast much of the day, so not much for photos.  Still Fun, Fun, Fun!

Along the road in Allegan County Michigan

Farmland still beautiful on a gray day.

Tunnel under the Tulip City Airport Holland Michigan

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nice Day at Connor Bayou and Little Robinson

2010 12 13 Connor Bayou County Park was our destination for this day (142 acre property including nearly a mile of Grand River frontage and a diversity of natural communities, the property is open for hiking; however, there are no designated trails).

When we started on our walk the temperature was 17 degrees Fahrenheit.  Brr!  We tried to get to Connor Bayou but it is marshland all around it, with cattails and tall grasses. 

We walked to the east, the park goes east here quite a ways but no trails and you are between houses  and the marsh.  So we turned back to the west and walked the 7/10's of a mile to the other end of the property.  We saw a Pileated Woodpecker along the way.

The thin white bit of snow is Connor Bayou.
Next we got in the van and drove west on North Cedar Drive  around the corner to 132nd Avenue  (about 1/2 mile) to property owned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.                                                                                                                   
Years ago you could drive back through this property to a boat launch on "Little Robinson". We parked at the road and walked through the woods to the old     boat launch, about a half mile.  The sky was a vivid blue with some puffy white clouds. We walked another quarter mile to the area of an old ditch.  

What a beautiful day.  We wandered back through the woods, sitting in the snow for a rest. 

Winterberry also known as Michigan Holly
All that walking worked up a little appetite so we drove into Grand Haven for French fries and a shake at Ray's Drive In.


Friday, December 10, 2010

A Stroll At Crockery Creek Natural Area

2010 12 08  The snow and cold weather came to Grand Haven on December 1st,  late for Michigan.  We had a long lasting autumn and that was good.  It always takes a little getting used to the snow and cold.  The snow brings quiet, a certain tranquillity, I think.

My sister Marie and I went on a good adventure to Crockery Creek Natural Area  (Ottawa County)  located on the north side of the Grand River at Wren Drive.  This visit we were able to walk in new (to us) areas accessible because the water level is low.

Even though we have been here before it is like a new place.  This comes from a combination of things like, visiting in different seasons, exploring the park boundaries to the limit, and our somewhat poor memories.  Exploring is always fun with Marie.  Since we see no blooming wildflowers now, she is teaching me about trees.

Crockery Creek Natural Area

Field At Crockery Creek Natural Area

Crockery Creek
There was ice on Crockery Creek.   Temperature  was 23 degrees Fahrenheit.
 We also stopped by the Grand Haven Pier.
The lighthouse is on the south pier, you can see just a bit of the north pier in this picture.  We did some research at my house and called it a day.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Lighthearted Day!

2010 11 29  Last week's adventure, dreary (except for the sister visit), this week's adventure, lighthearted.  I say lighthearted because I wanted the opposite of dreary.  Lighthearted =  free from care, anxiety, or seriousness.  Don't get me wrong, last week was still fun but we weren't outside as much. 
This week we played and explored in Little Black Creek (above), we found crayfish(below), some other unidentified squiggly creatures, a sort of quicksand, ice, and things to float down the creek.  All carefree FUN!

We went to P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (6585 Lake Harbor Road Muskegon, Michigan)Approximate size 1200 acres, three miles of pristine beaches on Lake Michigan,  more than 10 miles of trails,  sheltered valleys between the wooded dunes and dense stands of hemlocks, 293 campsites each equipped with electrical service, Gillette Visitor Center, and Little Black Creek.  

Foot bridge on trail at Hoffmaster State Park
Goldenrod still Blooming!
Along the trail at P.J. Hoffmaster
Little Black Creek where it comes out of the woods to meet Lake Michigan.
              Beautiful Lake Michigan
After having fun at the beach we wandered into the woods and hills. We were up high on the wooded dunes.

Cool ravine we walked through.
We also added to our park/places list with a quick stop to Water Tower/Tank Park in Spring Lake Township.

We went back to my house, had a cup of lemon tea then went on a walk through our woods.  We saw three Great Horned Owls!  And what different calls they made!  The usual hoot - hoo-hoo hoooooo hoo-hoo we didn't hear, more whistles and a whaaa whaaaaaa-a-a-aarrk sound, Wow.
 I think the weather is going to change this week. It has still been 50 degrees here, that's warm for the end of November in Michigan.  We did enjoy this day!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Dreary Day

2010 11 22 It was cloudy and raining, so my sister Marie and I visited our sweetest sister, Sugar.  It was nice to visit indoors on a day like this. 

We also hung out at the Spring Lake Library, we had stacks of books on the table.  Books about trees, wildflowers, Michigan history, insects, shrubs, pods, and more.  While we were here there was lightning flashing outside the windows, and thunder booming.  It was so dark it looked like night.

After a bit the sun came out so we found a park to explore.  We have been to Rycenga Park before, it is in Spring Lake Township, Michigan.  It has trails, a creek, ball fields, playground, and a  disc golf course.  We walked the trails, it was wet but not raining.  Then we dove down to the creek to have a closer look.

Here is what we saw.

We saw lots of dandelions on the ball field.  Not much for wildflowers but it felt good to be outside.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Still Lost or ... Found?

2010 11 15    Off we go in search of the missing scarf,  Grand River Park here we come! 

Still nice weather, 40's and sunshine.  We arrived at the park at 9am, geared up with boots and backpacks.  I took a quick scan for the purple scarf at picnic tables, playground equipment, map signs, nothing.  But we didn't expect it to be hanging out there, right.

We headed to the trail where we thought we had ducked into the underbrush near the stream that takes us to the Paw Paw patch.  Mostly browns, leaves and trees.  Remember we are looking for purple.  Marie and I had split up taking separate deer trails so we wouldn't miss THE SCARF.

It wasn't long before I heard her whoop then "I found it!  I found it!".  Of course the scarf was cold and damp from being alone on the riparian forest floor for four long days. 

We spent almost 4 hours in the woods!  How did that happen?  Marie found a Common Blue Violet still blooming! 
                                  Nice, a blooming violet so late in the season. 
Plants amaze me!              
We also saw Hoary Allysum, a dandelion, a speedwell, and some asters still blooming.  We found beautiful strawberry plant leaves. A pleasant day at the park.
After Grand River Park we drove to Grand Haven to celebrate at Ray's Drive-In with French fries and a rootbeer shake then back home to do research on things we had found at the park.  We identified a Slippery Elm, Nannyberry, looked into beechdrops, and Highbush Cranberry.  We are explorers.  FUN! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Day of The Lost Scarf

2010 11 11 Marie and I treated ourselves to an extra day out this week because the weather has been just so nice!  In Michigan it is archery deer hunting and even in many of our Ottawa County parks they allow hunting.  So look out for the hunters. 
 We visited Hudsonville Nature Center, in well yes, Hudsonville Michigan.  NO HUNTING!  Here there are planted prairies, a mixed hardwood forest,  moraines, wetlands, and a flowing creek.  I think the creek is part of Rush Creek by I'm not certain of that.

We were here late in June and we found many plants blooming.  Plants are amazing.
                                                  Herb Robert

                                         Orange Hawkweed

                                                           Red Clover

So these were some wildflowers we saw in June now things are shades of brown not much blooming and soon things will be white with snow.

Next stop on this day was Grand River Park.  This is a great place for a walk.  No hunting and we thought maybe we could find the fruit of the Paw Paw that we spotted on October 18.  We didn't find the Paw Paw fruit, it is probably gone, eaten or rotted or maybe we weren't in exactly the right place.

The day after this Marie called me with a bit of sad news that she had lost her scarf.  It wasn't an expensive scarf, but it was a scarf she thought was just right, soft and purple.

Will she find her scarf next time?   

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area and more

2010 11 08 Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, it was a wonderful day to explore these rolling dunes just north of Oval Beach in Saugatuck, Michigan. The tract of land stretches up to the mouth of the Kalamazoo River where it empties into Lake Michigan.

This is what you get at Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, 171 acres, 3,650 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, open dunes, interdunal wetlands, natural jack pine forest, hardwood-pine dune forest, Great Lakes marsh, 4,452 feet on an oxbow lake, the south pier of the Kalamazoo River mouth, and 1,650 feet of Kalamazoo River shoreline.

The temperature was in the 60's, warm for November in Michigan.  We didn't have a map of this place, so we wandered in the direction of our whims.  There are well marked trails through the dunes and they take you over to the lagoon.  We spent 3 hours wandering here.  There is much history with this piece of most places.
                            Remnants of the old Pier
    On the trail at SHNA

After this we tried to walk at Tallmadge Woods, which is property adjacent to SHNA, but we were met with a Private Property sign.  We stopped in a few more places, one being Schultz Park which you can see from the Gerald R. Ford Freeway (I-196)  as you travel over the Kalamazoo River.  And we even saw a few wildflowers blooming.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

South To Saugatuck

2010 11 01 There really are not many wildflowers still blooming here in Michigan, Witch Hazel, Chicory, Queen Anne's Lace, Common Mullein, Red Clover, Hoary Alyssum, Bouncing Bet, Asters, Common Dandelion are some you might find bravely holding on to their petals!

We even had a bit of snow this morning (November 5), first snow of the season!  So for this adventure we chose a nice walk in the woods, the South Trail at Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

Most of the parks and places we visit are FREE!  No fee to get in.  Of course we do pay for these places with our tax dollars. Michigan State Parks require a fee for a sticker. 

So if you don't have a Michigan State Park sticker and you want to visit Saugatuck Dunes State Park it is very near Shore Acres Park 6602 138th Avenue, Saugatuck  (remember Laketown Township Parks from 2010 08 23).  It is free to park here and access the state park trails.

If you park at Shore Acres you will be right in front of the state owned Felt Mansion , which was built by inventor of the comptometer, Dorr E. Felt.  Cool.

On to the trail!  Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a 1,120 acre (4.5 km²) Michigan state park. It is located on Lake Michigan between Saugatuck, Michigan and Holland, Michigan.

                      South Trail at Saugatuck State Park

                                                 What is over this dune?
Lake Michigan of course!

Lake Michigan 

 We had plenty of day left to drive to Lawrence and Mary Bell Wade Sanctuary owned by Michigan Nature Association.  This sanctuary has 72 acres located three miles east of Saugatuck in Allegan County Michigan on the eastern end of Silver Lake. The Wade Memorial contains a lovely beech-maple forest as well as numerous dogwood and hemlock trees on a high bluff overlooking the lake. 

This sanctuary was given to MNA by the Wades, who were prominent citizens of Holland, Michigan. It is a fine example of a beech-maple forest with hemlocks that have grown back after a wildfire that occurred in the early 1900’s. Silver Lake abuts the southwestern portion of the sanctuary.

The view of Silver Creek from Wade Sanctuary
So after all this wonderful time in the woods and dunes, we went north for home but along the way we saw a house torn down by a machine.

                                                          So long house!
We had another great day with gorgeous weather, especially for November 1st!