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! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cabin Visit

2010 10 28 Our 33rd wedding anniversary, we will celebrate with a visit to the cabin. (Thanks AGAIN Bryan) To me this is a perfect place to be, it's quiet, secluded, relaxing.

We started with a short hike on the North Country National Scenic Trail, from Highbanks Lake (Lilley Twp Michigan) we went south, unfortunately Tilly (our 13 year old puppy) developed some foot problem and we had to turn around after walking a mile.

                            Highbanks Lake
We don't often hike the NCT because it is not a loop trail, at some point you have to decide to turn around and head back where you came from. Or you could spot a car if you are with more people. But the North Country Trail is huge, here are a few facts about this trail.

The North Country Trail — 4600 miles stretched Across seven states, a footpath linking communities from New York to North Dakota. 
Here is their website link,

                            Manistee River
We spent a couple of days at the cabin, and had the chance to walk our favorite trail, The Manistee River Trail.
We started on the trail near mile marker 3 and walked south 2 1/2 miles to one
of the big bends in the river. This is the point we had walked to from the south last month.

We crossed nine footbridges on this section of trail.
Sometimes the trail brings you high above the river, 
then you are down at the river bank.
We headed back to the real world Saturday night.