Thursday, December 12, 2013

October Forgotten

October wasn't really forgotten, just busy.  There are no rules with a blog like mine.  I would like to do a post for every adventure, even a short post, but there are always other more fun things to do!  In an effort to "catch up" (I'm not really behind - remember no rules), I am going to put several outings together in this post, mostly pictures.

2013 10 14 Marie and I took a trip to Grand River Park, Ottawa County, Michigan.  Remember this is mid October, I thought this year the color of the leaves were a bit subdued, more yellows and tans than red.  Still the trees were beautiful.

Staghorn Sumac

 Grand River

There was some red, like this maple.

Grand River Park, Ottawa County, Michigan
Jeweled web

The next week October 21st, we went to Kent County, Michigan to Roselle Park.  We were here a few years ago but didn't explore, this time we walked the whole park.

We started with visiting the silos, one silo you can walk up inside to the top.  You have a nice view of the park and you can just barely see the Grand River.

Roselle Park
Roselle Park - Ada Township, Michigan

More of Roselle Park

After Roselle Park we went to Ada Township Park where there is an arboretum. 
Here is a glimpse of Ada Township Park.

 A neat little observation dock...

Ada Township Park really has so much to offer, the trees with identification signs, ponds, a water fountain, nature trails, ball fields, tennis courts, benches, picnic tables and more!  Since this was October 21st we didn't expect to see many wildflowers, but what a surprise we had! 
We were wandering the nature trails and came to a small weedy field, the soil was fairly damp, and I found a Fringed Gentian!  Then another, and another! 

We have found Fringed Gentian in about 4 locations around Michigan so this was exciting to have another place to find this beautiful wildflower growing, and still blooming late in October!

I have asked the question before, why don't I find Fringed Gentian and Bottle Gentian growing together?  They both like damp soil, I guess we do usually find the Fringed Gentian in wetter areas than the Bottle Gentian, but still why not in the same damp place?

Just about the time I asked myself that question and just after I had found several Fringed Gentian...I found a Bottle Gentian only 10 feet away! That was so exciting!
The plants were a bit rough but they were definitely blooming.  I will visit Ada Township Park again.

October 28th, Marie and I made a trip to Barry County to check out a few of our favorite places.  The end of October is quite late in the year for wildflowers in Michigan, but the weather had been mostly mild so we did find flowers still blooming.
 The morning sky, a very pretty start to the day and sunshine!
One of "our" very special places in Barry County...
 Land of the Larch, the beautiful golden-yellow needles of the Larch trees as they get ready to drop their needles.

We found Fringed Gentian here.  Being the very end of the blooming season, they were a bit sad looking.

Kalm's Lobelia was still blooming nicely!

Biennial Gaura (Gaura biennis) Evening Primrose family was still blooming, along with asters, Queen Anne's Lace, Bouncing Bet, golden rod, and a few more flowers.

Toward the end of the month, Mike and I visited the cabin up north in Manistee County, Michigan to celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary.  Of course we hiked the Manistee River Trail, one of the best hiking trails in Michigan. 
View of the Manistee River from the Manistee River Trail

 Slagle Creek bridge along the Manistee River Trail.

We stopped at the overlook at Hodenpyl Pond, unfortunately the whole weekend was cloudy with some rain.  The colors of the leaves were still fairly bright even without the sun. 
We also visited my sister and brother-in-law (Sugar and Rick) in nearby Copemish, Michigan where they happen to be camping.  Also in Copemish, we walked the First Creek Nature Trail.  Nice little trail.

 Boardwalk and leaves at First Creek Nature Trail.

Mike and I continue to visit Riverside Park in Ottawa County each week.  Before the snow fell we took a few bike rides, one was a twenty mile trip on the bike trail from Ravenna to Marne. 
AND we have added a 2 1/2 mile stroll around our neighborhood every evening!  Yes, even in the snow and when it is only 15 degrees outside.

 Riverside Park in Ottawa County Michigan
One week we saw a pair of eagles in a tree across the Grand River, look close - see the dark spot about in the middle of the picture?  I didn't get the best close-up shots since I only had Mike's shoulder for a tripod.  (I do own a tripod just didn't have it with).  I still think it is cool to see  Bald Eagles right here along the Grand River!
These were the best close-ups I got of the eagles.

So that was a bit of October, better late than never?  Maybe next time the whole month of November!  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mackinac Island - Michigan

Mackinac Island is located in Michigan, in Lake Huron, at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac, between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. 

Mackinac Island is about 8 miles in circumference.   An 8-mile road follows the island's perimeter, and numerous roads, trails and paths cover the interior.
More than 80 percent of the island is preserved as Mackinac Island State Park.
A unique local ordinance prohibits the use of any motor vehicles on the island. The most common means of travel are foot, bicycle, or horses. Certain exceptions include emergency vehicles, snowmobiles in winter, and golf carts for on-course use only.  Most tourists come to the island by ferryboat.

Mackinac Island is also famous for the many fudge shops on the island. The island has a very large industry making fudge in a traditional manner, creating them on cold marble slabs.
Mackinac Island is a fun place to visit every few years, especially in the off season.

Mike happened to see a special coupon for the Harbour View Inn back in July, so we picked out two nights in October to spend on the island. 
We started near Grand Haven, Michigan and spent a night at the cabin in Manistee County.  The clouds were great with lots of blue sky.  There was beautiful scenery along the 265 mile drive.
We ended up having four of the best days, weatherwise, that you can get in October in Michigan. 
Barn along the way...
We chose Star Line Ferry, with their Hydro-Jets that produce a distinctive 35' roostertail spray, to cross 8 miles from Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island. 
We did bring our bikes, it's $8 to bring them on the ferry and about $6 to$8 PER Hour to rent bikes.  If you are able to bring your own bikes, you can save a good bit of money and you have the convenience of transportation whenever you go somewhere.
 Round Island lighthouse

This is where we stayed, Harbour View Inn.  We had a nice room, very clean, and a yummy breakfast was included each morning. 
Harbour View Inn
We rode our bikes around the island twice, stopping at all the interesting places along the way.  We walked the British Landing Nature Trail, the Lakeshore Nature Trial, we pedaled to the interior of the island to find Eagle Point cave, we saw Arch Rock, Fort Holmes, and visited the U.S. Post Cemetery.
Looking up at Arch Rock

 Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island

Our nineteen year old bikes, refurbished by our son. 

 U.S. Post Cemetery.

The best part of our bike ride was cutting across the island on the British Landing road, it goes down hill, and it was late in the evening so no people were around.  We flew down the road topping off at 23.6 mph, that was fun.

Both nights, there were beautiful sunsets.
 Sunset from Mackinac Island looking towards the Mackinac Bridge.  The colors in the sky were so vivid and beautiful it was difficult to turn away and ride back to the inn.  So I have many pictures of sunsets.


One night the sky looked like it had been highlighted with a pink marker. 
We took a late afternoon ferry to Mackinaw City where our car was parked and drove all the way home.  This was a great trip.