Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Trail Cam Early Spring 2015 in Michigan

Here are some trail cam photos from the last few months near Grand Haven.  First time photo of a hawk, maybe Red Tailed, and a nice size coyote. 

Opossum chatting with a raccoon.

 One afternoon after I checked the trail cam, I came upon two deer.  They kept coming closer to check me out.  I only had my old Canon, but snapped a few shots of them.
 That's about it for this time!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring Wildflowers in Southwest Michigan

April 17, 2015  We visited Cass and Berrien Counties in southwest Michigan where the spring wildflowers bloom about a week earlier than in Ottawa County.  It is about a 100 mile drive south to see these flowers so we want to make sure something is blooming.  I read photographer Mark Cassino's blog post ( that the spring ephemeral wildflowers were indeed blooming.
 It was a beautiful day, blue sky and lots of sunshine.  Marie and I walked slowly through the woods.  I enjoyed every step.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Michigan Wildflowers Springing Up - April 10, 2015

Allegan County, Michigan
 Marie and I stopped at the park in Hamilton first, it was only 37 degrees and windy.  The snow is mostly gone but we did see a bit here and there.  The Rabbit River was the color of coffee with cream.
 Next stop our Happy Boots place, nice wet woods and Sand Creek.  Sand Creek was high but not over the banks.  
We found lots of Skunk Cabbage, 
and a few Marsh Marigold blooming.  We saw Golden Saxifrage blooming, with its tiny red-orange flowers.
We wandered for almost two hours through the swampy woods. That was fun! 
 It was still cold and cloudy so we didn't have much hope of seeing many wildflowers blooming.  We didn't even hear any frogs yet.  So we decided to go to Hepatica Hill along the Kalamazoo River.  Even if we don't find wildflowers we can have a good walk.

We got to the hill to find hepatica was blooming, sort of but it needed a little sunshine.

We walked on with plans to stop here on our way back.  We stood for awhile looking down at the river.  
Still cloudy but then the sun started to peek out.  Little bits of blue sky.  When we got back to the hepatica they were wide open reaching for the sun.  Some were white, some a deep purple.  Their stems were very hairy and they seemed so delicate.  But there they were blooming, with the snow barely gone and a cold wind blowing.
Marie sat with her books doing some research and enjoying the day, while I looked around - being amazed at the change in the little flowers since the sun came out.  Nice!
It was time to head home and on the way we stopped along 133rd Avenue, still in Allegan County.  We were surprised to find Trout Lily blooming.
 And some Spring Beauty!
Then we heard frogs. What a great spring day.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fun and Fabulous February! Texas here we come!

Wildflowers in Big Bend National Park

February had record breaking cold temperatures here in Grand Haven, Michigan and gladly I missed some of that with an 11 day trip to Texas.   As you know our son Andrew and family live in Midland, Texas, and they have a new baby girl, Finley Rose.  I did get a trip to Texas in December but babies grow fast so we needed to visit again.

We had a trip to the Big Bend National Park planned for the first 4 days of the trip.  Big Bend is ~ a 4 hour drive from Midland, I thought we had left the snow in Michigan but what did we find in Alpine, Texas?  Snow!
 As we drove, we passed through the snow and came to Rancho Mula Oso, where we stayed for three nights..  I liked it there - clean, and full interesting things throughout the ranch.

Our first hike was the Upper Burro Mesa Pour-Off Trail.  This hike is ~3.6 mile round trip, starting from the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.

The photo above is looking down the pour-off, about a 100 foot drop.
The photo below is looking up one of the more challenging climbs to get to the pour-off.  I made it down and up with just a little help.

 That same day we walked the Grapevine Hills trail (~2.2 mile) to see the Balanced Rock.  Along the way we saw mountains!

 Almost there...
Here it is - the balanced rock.  We all had our turn pretending to hold it up. 

 Along Grapevine Hills Trail

All seven of us were up early the next morning, so we could get parking at the Lost Mine Trailhead.  This trail is located in the Chisos Mountains, it is about a 5 mile hike with an elevation gain of 1300 feet.  The views from this trail, of Pine Canyon and the Sierra del Carmen in Mexico, are great! 

 Photo above is looking toward the Chisos Basin, photo below is looking south toward Mexico (Mexico is about 17 to 20 miles south of here as the crow flies).  It was a bit hazy.

 After the Lost Mine Trail hike we stopped at the Chisos Basin store for ice cream.  The weather was perfect for hiking.  And for ice cream.  The same day some of us went on to hike the Window Trail and the Oak Spring Trail (another 5 miles).

 After peering out the window we went on to the Oak Springs trail. 

First heading uphill over some uneven footing, lots of rocks on the trail, then high above the Window Trail.  Next you head out along the side of a mountain, fun and just a little scary.  There are many switchbacks, this area is also very rocky, still fun. 

Wow! We just came down the side of that mountain!

So the next morning we stopped by Indian Head, just to play on the rocks. 

 Here we found more wildflowers blooming!

And a scorpion!

After Indian Head we drove out to Andy's property in Terlingua Ranch (An association that represents some 5,000 property owners who collectively own some 200,000 acres of private land in the Big Bend region).  We visited here last year but it was dark that time.  We had a picnic lunch and explored.  Here is a view from the high point of his property.  What beautiful views!

 He even has Texas Bluebonnet growing there!

 Now it was time for us to drive back to Midland.   We took the longer but more scenic drive back, Highway 170.  It follows along the Rio Grande River which separates Texas from Mexico. 

All the way to Presidio then north through Marfa and on home. 

Mike caught an early flight home the next morning, Betsy and I got to stay on for the week to watch Finley Rose while her mom went back to work.  I wish they didn't live so far from Michigan.
                                Finley Rose at 12 weeks old
We took Finley one afternoon to Big Spring where we visited Hangar 25 Air Museum.  Finley was very interested in the planes.

And Big Spring State Park.
Another good trip to Texas then home again to lots of snow and cold.