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.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ross Coastal Plain Marsh and Farview Park

Ross Coastal Plain Marsh in Van Buren County, Michigan is where Marie and I were able to go for a long walk, through the woods, on the first day of October 2013.  I had my eye out for Autumn Coralroot, which is an orchid and blooms into autumn, I have seen here before.

Parking on 44th avenue it is about one and a half miles  to  Mud Lake which is the largest lake at Ross Coastal Plain Marsh.  There are some house foundations here from the previous owners.

Remnants of a house at Mud Lake.

 At first I thought this vine was Poison Ivy but a closer look showed it was Virginia Creeper.

Then we saw an odd tan pile of something on the ground.  Directly above this pile we noticed hundreds of aphids on the branch of an American Beech tree.  Closer inspection told us it was a big pile of  aphid secretion.  We saw these piles a few times always under American Beech trees.  I guess these aphids are even called Beech Woolly Aphid or Beech Blight Aphid. I wonder why I never noticed this before? 
 We did find some nice looking Beechdrops.

We walked more than 3 miles, got back to the car and drove north.  In Allegan County, Laketown Township, we visited Farview Nature Park.  Another couple miles to walk, bringing our walk total to ~five miles for the day.
 Farview Nature Park
 That was it for this adventure, another fun time.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hidden natural springs in Michigan

Recently my brother Chuck showed us some hidden springs he found north of Ludington, Michigan.  It was a long day but fun, and beautiful weather. 

It was difficult to capture this wondrous discovery in a photo, it just looks like mud.  There was water "springing" out of the side of this ravine in several places!

Our group consisted of three sisters, one brother, and one brother-in-law, we drove north for about an hour, then west for 20 minutes, followed a two-track, then another two-track, then walked down from a field through a wooded hillside into a beautiful ravine.

Cool place, but since this is "Chuck's Place" I won't give away the exact location.  I'm not sure I could actually find it again on my own anyway.
We saw all sorts of interesting things, fungi, liverwort, Beechdrops, trees, water...




Beechdrops (Epifagus virginiana) Broomrape family, with a bumble bee.

This plant is parasitic on beech trees ("Epifagus" translates to "upon the beech").  Note the lack of leaves. The dried stems of beechdrops can often be found through the winter.

This was a fun place and I'd like to visit again someday, maybe in the spring.

Our group also visited Nordhouse Lake which is in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area, a 3,450 acre listed
wilderness area within the Manistee National Forest. It is located north of Ludington Michigan and is best known for its 4 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline.
 Nordhouse Lake


We walked all the way around Nordhouse Lake.  We also went out to lunch and visited some of Chuck's property near here.  A fun day.