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Winners are: 3rd place- e-book of your choice: Wendy Nystrom. 2nd place- book of your choice, paper or e-book: Sue Ann Crawford. Winner of the afghan: Elaine Hull.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Lincoln Lake from Above

 
I shared pictures of Lincoln Lake just last week. Here's a picture I took that day that I didn't show you. The pointy hill is within the private community of Epworth. Because of my job taking pictures for insurance companies I get to go in there a few times a year.

You can see a couple of large houses high on that hill. The one everybody notices is the big yellow one, because it's so prominent, right out on the edge.

Lincoln Lake

Guess what? Today, I had to go take pictures of that very house. Can't show you that, but what it means is that I was up on that hill, with an open view of Lincoln Lake. Quite a different perspective, eh?

Lincoln Lake

I even found one place to stand where there weren't so many trees obstructing the view. Pretty nice. This is an observation point that very few people ever get to use. I value being able to see the lake from this angle.

Lincoln Lake

And the lesson for the day is... what you see depends upon where you are standing. The lake is what it is. But it's your own perspective that determines how you will define and describe it.

See Lincoln Lake
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

International Hikers

 
Today I picked up (by arrangement) two North Country Trail hikers and took them to Ludington to ride the ferry back to Wisconsin.

backpackers

What's so unusual about that, you ask? Not much, except that the hikers are from Belgium. Their names are Neils and Anake, young people just starting out on their professional lives. She recently finished her first year teaching kindergarten, and he's got one more year of college and then will be teaching high school history.

Dutch is their native language, but Neils does very well in English. I wasn't sure if Anake wasn't as fluent, or if she was just shy.

They came to the U.S. for a visit because his sister lives in Wisconsin and just had a baby. Neils said he's trying to get used to being an uncle, and that it makes him feel old. For some reason they decided to try a backpacking trip while they were here. I say "for some reason" because they explained this was their first hike ever. They weren't previously hikers in Europe. But they said they liked it a lot and hope to begin to check out trails at home. They also thought they'd do more of the NCT when they come to visit family again.

They hiked about 80 miles of trail in the Manistee National Forest, and were pleased with the maintenance and marking. Whew! Glad to hear that.

Probably not the first internationals on the NCT, but definitely the first I've encountered. I'm really happy it was a positive experience for everyone.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hindsight

 

Queen Ann's Lace

Queen Ann's Lace


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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

 
I went to a delightful children's puppet show this afternoon, the story of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. I wanted to see it because there was supposed to be a variety of puppet types, and the technical aspects of puppets interest me.

Here's a long shot of the set, the puppet theater, so you can understand the staging.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

Here, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (the mongoose) makes friends with the boy, Teddy. Rikki-Tikki is a hand puppet, and the operator could change from the narrator to the boy simply by wearing the mask or not.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

Here is Darzee the Tailor Bird. The cobras eat one of the bird's babies. Darzee was a puppet on a stick whose mouth could open or close.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

The two cobras, Nag and Nagaina discuss what they will do since Rikki-Tikki has now destroyed their eggs. (The story was re-written to some extent, and the timeline changed, so that only one human character was needed, plus the narrator.) The snakes were stick manipulated with an articulated jaw and a hood that could spread. The bodies were probably rubber, as they could coil around easily and look quite realistic, although I thought their faces were too cartoon-ish and not evil enough.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and Nag face off for a fight to the death.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

I thought the puppeteer was quite skilled, and the play believable, even though you could often see his hands. The kids in attendance had no problem with this. I watched them a fair amount too, to see how they were following the story.

Here's my take on that. Although they paid attention well, and called for Nag in unison when Nagaina requested it, I don't think the 120-year old story (Rudyard Kipling, 1894) translated well to the world-view being taught today.

The kids often giggled when the snakes were talking to each other, and some seemed to be sorry for Nag when Rikki-Tikki killed him.

And here is the clincher. Afterwards, I overheard two college-age boys discussing the play. One asked, "Why was it OK for the mongoose to kill the cobra's eggs, but not OK for the snake to kill the bird eggs?"

In this day and age of having respect for life forms of all kinds (although I'm betting these kids will gladly kill a mosquito), the reality of cobras being an ever-present deadly threat to a family living in India has been lost. The reason the story was meaningful to children and adults in the past was because there were real dangers near at hand, and of course people were going to value animals who protected them above those who sought to harm.

I missed the very beginning (wrote the time down wrong), but I think, sadly, this story would probably need introduction to help today's children relate. Perhaps that was done. I just don't know.

Literature from other ages is always valuable, but sometimes we need to educate ourselves or an audience to understand it.


Read Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Trail Closed! = Good

 
Sorry about no post yesterday. I slept all morning after work Friday night. Then had to go out and do a couple of cases for the other job in the afternoon. Fell asleep at my computer after that and decided to go to bed at 8 pm. Slept right through till 6:30 this morning!

Today, I went searching for information and progress on the improvements that are being done this year to the Hart-Montague Rail Trail.

Hart Montague Rail Trail

The section between Montague and Rothbury is indeed re-paved, and that seems to be on schedule.

I rode about ten miles on a different piece, which was plenty, plenty in the heat wave we are suddenly having.

Had the privilege of helping someone who needed an assist. Quality day!

See Joan and Ellen Take an Excellent Bike Ride
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Friday, July 24, 2015

It's All I Got

 
All I have to offer today is a clear orange sunset. Enjoy.

sunset

I'm off to work in a few minutes.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lincoln Lake

 
Today I was very near Lincoln Lake, so I decided to just go take some pictures. The main road from Ludington to the state park crosses it, so it's really easy to forget about it, because it's just there all the time.

The first shot was taken into the sun, and so it isn't great. It must have also been a little hazy since these shots are muted. But I wanted to give you a general idea of the lake. It's long and narrow, just a wide place in the Lincoln River, really.

Lincoln Lake

I always tell people who don't know anything at all about plants that you can still learn some things on a nature outing. For example, you could count the shades of green and try to give them names. You can try to find different textures. The edges of Lincoln Lake would be a great place to do either of those exercises.

Lincoln Lake

Lincoln Lake

Reflections and ripples always make interesting shots.

Lincoln Lake

But this one is my favorite of the day. No question about it.

Lincoln Lake

See North Branch Lincoln River
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Favorite Vista

 
I can't believe I haven't shown you this before, but I'm not finding any post about it. This is one of the really good views you can get in my home county.

For anyone local, go to the corner of Brye and Blundell, then go just a bit farther north to the top of the hill and look south.

Mason County vista

Certainly you can see into Oceana County, although I'm not sure how far. I think it's possible the two lines of hills in the distance could be north and south of the Pentwater River. When you are a little farther south, near Hart, you can look north and see quite a few of the wind turbines, so the far ridge could be that one.

The odd thing is that when you look at topo maps, you don't really see those east-west ridges like that. They must be collections of small hills that blend in the distance to look like a ridge. More exploration needed.


See Wind Turbines I
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pushmi-Pullyu

 
What? Is this some new twist on Dr. Doolittle's menagerie?

baby raccoons

Nope, just one baby raccoon sitting on its sibling, and in a hurry to scurry back into the underbrush.

baby raccoons

A nice smile at the end of my evening walk.

See another baby raccoon
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Monday, July 20, 2015

Open Wide and Say "Ah"

 
I promised you a surprise. Well, at least something interesting. I certainly was surprised, and I have no answers about what I saw, only questions.

This occurred at the Ludington Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Project. I've talked about it before, but here's a brief review. This picture is looking down from the road to lake level. You can see a paved area down there with a large blue building and an overhead track crane near the middle.

Pumped Storage Project

Next is a shot from the same position but looking uphill across the road. At the top of the hill is the huge reservoir they built to hold water which is pumped up from Lake Michigan at night when electricity demand is low. Underground, angled just beneath the surface are six penstocks-- huge pipes-- where the water flows back downhill during the day, and then through turbines to create electricity.

Pumped Storage Project

The turbines and control room are all underground. I took a tour once and actually got to stand inside one of the huge turbines. (They shut one down at a time for regular service.) Then the water is discharged back to Lake Michigan.

Here's a picture from the opposite end in a different season, apparently before the blue building was put up. I am using it because it clearly shows six large disks in the paved area. There are six penstocks and six turbines, but I know the turbines are vertical. However, they must be aligned with those disks.

Pumped Storage Project

So, here's the shocking new fact. Those disks are removable covers! As I watched, the hoist on the crane began to lift one of them. It was like watching a sci-fi movie.

Pumped Storage Project

Pumped Storage Project

Then the crane moved south on its track and took the disk lid right off the hole. It deposited it on top of that round bunker-like structure with the door in it.

Pumped Storage Project

I stood there and waited quite a few minutes to see what would happen next, but nothing did that I could see. Two workmen came over and peered in like little boys watching frogs in a pond, but then they moved away. There is one man in this picture for scale.

Pumped Storage Project

I can see two yellow things that might be cranes inside the hole, but that's about all. Are they getting ready to clean and service this turbine/penstock? I had no idea the whole thing could be opened to the weather like that. In all the times I've driven by here, stopped to look at it, watched basically nothing happening, I've never seen this. Why isn't there a hole in the middle of the disk? It looks like the other disks all fit around one of those bunkers with the door. And in the picture from a different year, they all have that. Is the roof of the bunker just enough larger that it catches in the middle of the disk and lifts off with the rest of the disk? I can't tell because other stuff obstructs the view of the center of the open hole. Maybe the bunker lowers itself on some sort of elevator mechanism.

Too many questions!

When they were building it (1970 ish) we used to stop on the way home from church each week to see the progress. It was really interesting to see all the engineering that is now buried underground.


See Pumped Storage Project Walk
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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Remember the Net?

 
Remember that net on a truck I showed you in Catching the Net? In that post I explained the pumped storage project a bit, too.

I drove that road the other day and now I can show you more precisely what that net is all about.

First of all, please note that this is a panoramic shot, stitched together from five photos. That should say something to you about its size. There is a red truck parked by the blue building that will give you some additional perspective. You can enlarge the picture

Ludington Pumped Storage Project

The net encircles the entire area from shore to shore. In this shot, I've marked it with a yellow line because in a small composite picture, it's hard to see.

Ludington Pumped Storage Project

Apparently it reduces the number of fish that get sucked in sufficiently to keep everyone happy, because they continue to put it out every summer, and take it in every winter, which has to be a huge expense.

While I was taking these pictures and watching, something interesting happened. Stay tuned!

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