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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Still Looking for My House

 
No, the piles aren't quite that deep yet, that I've completely lost the house.

I got "stood up" on a work assignment, so I had some extra time to wander home. Since it was a clear, crisp day I decided to go over the Mason County high point. We've been there before. Even tried to find my house before. But it was hazy when I took those previous pictures.

The road cut is probably 30 feet short of the height of land, but the view is more sweeping from the road. Not to mention how good it looks in autumn! This is a full long shot.

view from Mason County Michigan High Point

Then I went looking for my house. It's easy to find the water tower, which is a mile east of me.

photo label

I saw the sun glinting off something to the west of that. Aha! It's the space station (er... grain elevator)

view from Mason County Michigan High Point

Can you find them both in this shot?

view from Mason County Michigan High Point

Now I worked my way west from the space station. I also went closer to the top of the high point, trying to preserve a sight line to the correct spot, as more trees closed in around me. Something looked familiar. The yellow arrow in the middle of this picture is pointing to our copse of aspen trees that you can see in My Kingdom From On High. Interesting that the leaves were mostly down on Oct 19, of last year.

view from Mason County Michigan High Point

The arrow on the left is the clump of white pines on the hill just west of us, featured in this awesome sunset Timing is So Important. Those are about 10 miles away from where I took the picture.

From almost the very top (you can get 3-4 feet higher, but it's all filled in with sumac and grape vines, so no view), I pulled in a shot straight north. You are seeing more than 10 miles there, but nothing I can recognize.

view from Mason County Michigan High Point

That was a satisfactory stop!

See Mason County High Point for a previous attempt to do this
See The Highest Point for a view of that hill from our house
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hawkins Road

 
Today was chilly but sunny. I was out doing cases, and got to drive some roads I'd never seen before. You know that always makes me happy! Sometimes views have less to do with elevation than with openings between trees. That said, this is only a couple of miles from the Lake County high point. I'll have to try to get there one of these days! (I don't think there are roads- that will be an adventure, but it's in a state forest, so totally legal to go there.)

Anyway, There I was going north on Hawkins Road and at the top of a small hill I had a glimpse of a view to the NE. I backed up and stopped. Here's that vista.

Lake County view from Hawkins Road

I'm including two shots in each direction. That's a lot of pictures, but it's amazing what a difference there is in a slightly different angle, or by using the telephoto.

Lake County view from Hawkins Road

That was what grabbed my attention. Then I turned around and looked back south, the way I came.

Lake County view from Hawkins Road

That one showed a lot of orange, but when I shifted and pulled it in a little the picture is very blue!

Lake County view from Hawkins Road

Then I had to check out the view to the west. This was a more narrow opening to see the far hills.

Lake County view from Hawkins Road

This is more directly west, and less of a long view, but I like it better.

Lake County view from Hawkins Road

And north? No long view at all. But... it was great!


Lake County view from Hawkins Road

This is one of those rare instances when you can actually get a sense of elevation in a picture of a road or trail.


Lake County view from Hawkins Road

Found a couple other nice things, too. Stay tuned. But this was really super!


See Mason County High Point
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Autumn Olive Bonanza

 
I've been wanting to try the traditional method of making fruit juice on autumn olive berries for a couple of years, but picking the fruits is kind of a pain. Unless you stumble across a bush that is loaded like this one!

autumn olive

I cleared this one bush and in about a half hour had a gallon of berries to take home. I had stopped to take pictures of the sunset and discovered several bushes that were loaded. Since this is really a garbage shrub/tree, I'm sure no one cared that I was stealing the berries. Everyone thinks you are nuts when you explain that they make good food.

autumn olive

Yesterday afternoon I turned them into juice. I did pick through the tub to remove the woody sticks and leaves. I'm really glad I did this because I don't think the three Asian lady bugs, the cutworm and the stink bug would have improved the flavor of the final product.

After I boiled the berries, I strained and squeezed the fruit in a jelly bag.

autumn olive juice

I ended up with five quarts of juice. Here are four of them.

autumn olive juice

I still have to put this in canning jars and process them, but I can do that tomorrow or the next day. I'll be posting more about this on Grazing the Ditches, but overall, this still isn't my favorite juice. The berries have a nice tartness to them, but that is lost with both methods of juice making. You end up with something more like fruit punch. The milky texture is a little weird too, although that is only an issue of looks. It's not strange in your mouth.

At any rate, that's my big kitchen project for the week.


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lost in the Fungal Labyrinth

 
I found two interesting fungi on my hike yesterday. The first is an earthstar. Supposedly these are common, but I've only ever seen them three, maybe four times. This one is fairly large, about 3 inches across, and already kicked loose of it's unstalked moorings by some other walker.

earthstar

I think this is Astraeus hygrometricus, or the Barometer or Water-Measure Earthstar. But if so, then I think I mis-identified the ones I showed you in Barometer Earthstar. Or maybe that post has two different kinds. Sigh... this mushroom stuff is just hard, unless you only listen to the stories they tell. It looks more like it is getting ready to stand up and walk away than to tell me the moisture content of the air.

earthstar

But at least I can get that one in the right group.

I also found these beautiful little orange guys.

thin walled maze polypore

For once I remembered to look at more than the tops,

thin walled maze polypore

The undersides are stunning! I thought identifying them would be a snap with that unusual pattern.

thin walled maze polypore

Well, hmmm... it helped. It does narrow down the choices, but even so, if it's what I think it is, orange is a bit of an unusual color. Nevertheless, I think it's Daedaleopsis confragosa, the Thin-walled Maze Polypore. And, yes, that is named for the mythological guy, Daedalus, who created the maze on Crete that held the Minotaur.

There aren't very many fungi with that kind of gill pattern, so this is my best guess.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Wagon Road, AKA Bass Lake Blvd.

 
It was an awesome day. I thought about making this post "An Awesome Four Hours," but there would have been WAY too many pictures. Tomorrow may be more fungus fun. Today, I'll stick to the Wagon Road. This is the old Bass Lake Boulevard, but now it's only a seasonal route. It's the former road into Pentwater.

You've seen this route before, but you'd never know it if you followed the link at the bottom of the post. This time, I started from the south end, beyond where Ellen and I went before, and of course the season was different.

My day started at 2 pm. I managed to sleep really well after work, and that's always a huge plus, meaning that I didn't feel horrible for the rest of the day.

I wanted to be sure I knew how to find the south end of this trail (it's now used mostly by local hikers and walkers), and I did find it. There were some downed trees to get around at that end, but most of the trail was clear.

Pentwater Wagon Road

I discovered really soon that it was easy to be lulled into taking the wrong path and to end up in the cemetery. I'd never been back in this old section with lots of family plots. That would be a neat place to explore.

Pentwater cemetery

But this error was easily corrected. Basically, any time your aren't sure what to do, just stay at the base of the hill, between the hill and a wetland area that borders a small creek (unnamed, or I don't know its name) that flows into Bass Lake.

There were a few mud puddles after the week's rain, but I got around them with dry feet. They made nice mirrors for the trees.

reflections

This is by far the best picture of the day. It looks like I did some hi-def playing with it, but this is exactly how it came out of the camera. It was just that kind of afternoon.

Pentwater Wagon Road

For the most part the day was overcast, but just for a minute some blue sky opened up, allowing this picture with strong primary colors.

Pentwater Wagon Road

Even these drying leaves have enough natural oils left to make the remains of last night's rain bead up.

water drops

And as the sun got lower and lower, the views through to the creek became more dramatic. I love shots like this one.

Pentwater Wagon Road

More fooling around on the way home. But I think it's back to bed now for a while. Still, I've become very grateful for any Saturday that I don't feel like... well... you can guess.

See The Wagon Road
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