Sunday, June 30, 2013

The State Park Project update

After a great start on my planned State Park Project, things ground to a halt.  There are a number of reasons why.  Bascially, life has happened.

My two remaining grandparents died within two months of each other this past winter and spring.  

I have used more vacation time than I planned and I am not sure if I am going to be able to reach some parks I had hoped to.  I have two weeks scheduled off at the beginning of September with the goal of hitting Fayette, Porcupine Mountain and Fort Wilkins, but in an unusual situation for me, I am not sure if I will have the vacation time to make this trip. 

Finally, finances have contributed to the slow pace.  Money has been very tight and will likely be for the foreseeable future.  Although taking the pictures is virtually free, getting to and from the parks costs money, and to do the project the way I envisioned it a couple of days requiring overnight stays.

This is not to say I am abandoning the project, but I am trying to work out how to do what I want to do given the limitations I currently have.  One thing is certain, although I'd hoped to have the list of parks I gave previously done by the end of the year, that will not happen.  Most likely this will go from being a one year project to an ongoing one.

Rifle River Recreation Area

The Rifle River Recreation Area is located near West Branch, Michigan. It encompasses 4,449 acres.  The land was originally private land.  It was purchased by the Department of Conservation in 1945 and was turned over to the Parks Department in 1963.

Grousehaven Lake is one of the three large lakes in the park. It appears pretty shallow and the shore appears to be sandy along the whole perimeter.

There are a number of different types of orchids in the area.  I think these are Lady Slippers.

Pintail Pond is a fen.   A fen is a type of wetland characterized by neutral to alkaline water.

There is a trail around the pond.  There were some Canada Geese there, but the highlight was the orchids and the pitcher plants.

The flower of the pitcher plant.  The plants get some of their nutrients from insects that get trapped.

A closeup of the flower.  Although not as colorful as other flowers, this is still a pretty plant.

This is part of the fen with a number of pitcher plants.  Unfortunately, the beauty of the area didn't translate well in my image.

A peaceful waterway running through the area.

Looking off the trail into the woods.

After hiking around Pintail Pond and taking a break for lunch, we took another hike.  This is part of the trail.  It was incredibly peaceful.

Grebe Lake from the observation tower.  There are no motors allowed and there is a cabin along the shore you can rent.

I thought this butterfly had been hit by a car and was dead.  I snapped a couple of pictures and a moment later it took to the air and flew off.

Loons!  I love loons.  I love the sound of the loon.  Here a pair of adults with their two young.  One is hitching a ride on it's parent.  I could have watched them for much longer than I did, but I did have a time deadline.

The Rifle River.

I'm not sure what kind of flower this is, but it was very pretty.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Grand Haven

A friend of mine is involved in French-Indian War reenacting. He told me of an event they were going to be attending in Grand Haven so I grabbed Ken and we headed out.

This was the twelfth Feast of the Strawberry Moon.  Eighteenth century reenactors gather and create a living experience.  This guy was a trader.  He worked for the historical society in Lansing, I think, and was very knowledgeable about the period and the trade.

One of the big events is a battle between French and American forces.  Here the French fire on American troops.

Another volley as the French advance across the field.

Taking aim.


Unfortunately, most of the pictures turned out poorly.  It was a valuable learning experience and next time I think I'll end up with better images.

This was a small Indian village.  Fish were being smoked over the fire.

A blacksmith plies his trade.

Afterwards, we headed out to the lighthouse.  On the way we passed this old Pere Marequette engine.  It looks like it is open at times, but wasn't at when we were there.

The Grand Haven lighthouse.

I wish I had shot this just a little lower so I wouldn't have cut off the woman's feet.

The reminds me of the bow of a great ship.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Swans of North Bay Park

North Bay Park is a frequent subject of my photos.  I like to walk through the park and it has a nice loop that makes for nice scenery despite the proximity of the I-94 and Ypsilanti.

For the past couple of years I've watched the swans.  A couple of years ago, they had one young.  Last year they had two.  This years, the next was right next to the trail and there were six eggs on the nest.  Five of them hatched.

The parent.

A couple of the chicks.

I shot a bunch of pictures and trying to narrow them down was tough.

Mom and the babies.

The adult.

The young.

These guys were falling asleep.  Watching them was fun and I spent quite a bit of time doing it.

Under the boardwalk are the nests of sparrows.  You can often see them sitting on the supports just resting.

Some turtles.  Last year, I didn't see a single turtle all year.  It is good to see them again.

Another sparrow.

A family of ducks.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Port Huron Boatnerd Gathering

June 1st saw a gathering of boatnerds in Port Huron.  Since this has been covered by those there and boats are not the focus of my blog I will only post a few pictures.

While we were there the brig Niagara headed down the river.  She will be moored at South Bass Island over the 4th of July to celebrate the anniversary of Admiral Perry's victory over the British in the War of 1812.

The CSL Tadoussac and the Frontenac were moored across the river.  They are in temporary layup.

You can see they're sitting pretty high in the water.  Here you can see the bow thruster which is is used to help the ship maneuver.

While taking the Huron Lady II on a brief cruise we encountered the Michipicoten downbound as she approached the Saint Clair River.

The Michipicoten as a squall passes behind her on Lake Huron.

The Michipicoten approaches.

Stormy Seas.

The Michipicoten enters the Saint Clair River.

Friday, June 7, 2013

River Raisin National Battlefield

One of our nation's newest National Parks is right in our back yard.  Monroe is home to River Raisin National Battlefield.  What's that you ask?  A battlefield in Monroe?  Yes.  Between January 18 and January 23rd in 1813 it was the site of fighting between American forces and a combination of British troops and Indian allies.

To be honest, while this park has historic significance, there isn't much to do or see there.  There is a short walkway with some signage and the visitor center has a very nice presentation on events leading up to the battle and how the fighting progressed. 

The short, self-guided walk encompasses this pavilion which was roughly the site the American troops were camped upon if I recall.

This type of sled was developed and used to carry artillery pieces.

After American forces drove the British troops back towards Detroit which they had captured earlier.  The British struck back and emerged from the treeline, approaching to an incredibly close range before being sighted.

The surprised American troops fought back, but were not prepared for the attack. 

Those forces that were able withdrew across the Raisin River and ultimately surrendered.

Although the British troops promised that the Americans would be allowed to remove their wounded, their Indian allies returned and killed them.  Of the roughly 1000 Americans involved in the fighting, only 33 escaped.  There were 397 killed and 547 prisoners.  This was the worst defeat the Americans suffered during the War of 1812.

The Park visitor center.  I expect that there is more planned for the park, but as with everything, funding is an issue and with the federal budget in shambles I would not expect any major development.