Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Aman Park in Ottawa County Michigan

March 10, 2014  Marie and I took at ride to Aman Park, and found the trails easy to walk on even though they are still packed with snow.  We had a wonderful sunny day, in the 40's.  This was the first day like this, so far this year!
Here's a peek at Aman.
 Coming up to the northern bridge
 Sand Creek was froze here.
The sycamore trees really stood out.  After crossing the bridge we took the blue trail toward the north end of the park, no wildflowers.  We sat for a while and listen to all the birds singing.  The sun felt good. 
 Sand Creek.  We spent 2 1/2 hours at Aman and walked around 2 miles.  We didn't walk the trail that follows all along the creek, which is my favorite, because there was no trail in the snow.  There is still a couple of feet of snow on the ground.
 Southern bridge at Aman with a good 18 inches of snow pack on it.
 Well we didn't see any start of a wildflower at Aman. So for a sure sighting of the first spring wildflower, we made our way to Hemlock Crossing.  Here is a good place to find Skunk Cabbage.
 Pigeon River at Hemlock Crossing
 First wildflower for Marie and I in Michigan for 2014, Skunk Cabbage!
Pigeon River
I've been pretty comfortable at home, with a book in front of the fire this winter, but this was a perfect day to be outside.  Thanks, Marie.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Big Bend National Park, Texas Trip, February 2014, Part 2

This is Michigan March 6, 2014. 
At Riverside Park in Ottawa County, Michigan. Yes, there is a fence under that snow, probably about 3 feet high.
 We have had an exceptionally cold and snowy winter in Michigan.  Grand Haven is on the shores of Lake Michigan and since the lake is usually warmer than the air we get "lake effect snow", that gives us much more snow than just 20 miles inland. 
This winter the Great Lakes have been almost completely frozen over, so I guess all this snow is just "regular" snow.  It is white and cold, also beautiful, fun, and amazing.

Here is a photo taken from my front porch.  March 6th, so how long before we see spring wildflowers?  I wonder what those plants are doing under all that snow?
We heat our house with a rather small wood burning stove in our living room. We do have a furnace, but it burns propane.  The last time I got the propane tank filled it was $686.10, $3.29 per gallon!  So basically we have one warm room, and several cold rooms.  If I'm cold I just imagine a very hot, humid day in summer, and think, oh that air conditioning feels great. 

Last month we went to Texas to visit our son Andrew, he lives in Midland.  We took a trip to Big Bend while we were there and the temperature, at times, was in the 90's.

We stayed in Terlingua for three nights, using this as our home base.  One hike was Indian Head Trail.
 Again we all jump in the car and Andy drives down some unmarked two-track to a very cool place to hike.
The boulders were huge.  Unreal, really.  That is Andy next to the rock, he is a regular sized guy. 
The trail comes past a small spring, you can see the water in the center of the picture.  It was just a bit precarious along this trail, if you fell it wouldn't have been far, but it still would have hurt.

After this hike it was time for river rafting on the Rio Grande, the river is the border between Texas and Mexico.  I have never been river rafting, I wasn't sure I wanted to go river rafting.  We were signed up for an expedition that afternoon with a group called Far Flung Outdoor Center http://bigbendfarflung.com/

 The Rio Grande River from the Mexico side where we stopped for a snack.
 Six of us were in the larger raft, including our very knowledgeable guide Billy.  Billy really knows his stuff, from mountains, to turtles, to rafting, and he was just a fun kind of guy.  Two other people were with on the trip, in an inflatable canoe.
The trip wasn't scary at all, just a few small rapids.  It was fun.  Back in the loading lot, I found more beautiful flowers.

 The trip by bus from Far Flung headquarters to the launch spot was about 40 miles.  It was a beautiful drive along 170, and Billy was filling us in with all sorts of interesting bits of history.

That evening the weather was perfect for sitting outside watching the sun go down.

 The next day was our last in Big Bend and it was disappearing fast. Everyone had work or school the next morning, and we had a flight to catch first thing.
We packed up and stopped at Hot Springs, on the east side of the park.  We took a short walk to the hot springs.


This wildflower has been identified by my very wise, much older sister, Marie.  It has special significance since it is known to bloom along this trail to Hot Springs.

Yellow rocknettle, Yellow stingbush (Eucnide bartonioides)
Blazingstar Family
Yellow rocknettle can be found in the rock ledges all along the Rio Grande, including those on the trail to the historical Hot Springs (no longer operated) in Big Bend National Park. It is a striking flower, yellow, funnel-shaped, about 1 1/4 inches long and 2 inches across. One of its outstanding features is the many yellow stamens extending well beyond the rest of the flower, with a tip of yellow pollen on each stamen, giving it a delicate, graceful appearance. The bright, showy flowers open only in bright sunshine. Leaves are 2–2 1/2 inches long, lobed and toothed in varying patterns.

I didn't get many pictures of the hot spring, several people were there when we arrived.  There was a walled off section and in one spot the hot water just flowed up through the a hole made of bricks.  The water was very warm, and even though it was a hot day it felt good to soak my feet. 
People from Mexico walked across the river here to sell things that they had made. But you are warned not to buy these things. 
Then back to Midland, about a 4 hour drive.  We picked up the dogs from the kennel, and played with them a bit.
In the morning back on the plane first to Houston, then on to Grand Rapids.  Here are some pictures as we came up to Lake Michigan.

Frozen Lake Michigan from the air.

 It was a good trip.