Entries to Win Afghan

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Monday, April 15, 2024

A Riot of Daffs

 One thing I seem to be able to grow in profusion is daffodils. Here is what's blooming today. First up is the dainty 'Jetfire.' These are in my rock garden. You've seen them all before, and so have I, but I still love having them bloom every year.
jetfire daffodil

Lots of ordinary yellow daffs. They are coming up in all kinds of places this year. Not sure how they got to some of those locations.
yellow daffodils

The Mt. Hood Daffodils come up with a pale yellow trumpet.
mt hood daffodils

But as they mature, they turn white. This one is on its way. I have a lot of these where they are not supposed to be! Soon, it will be time to get working outside.
mt hood daffodil

We'll end for today back in the rock garden. I think once before I blogged about these as 'Minnow,' but my records say they are Narcissus Canaliculatus, which are similar. I think I should stick with what the records say. These look pretty healthy. I bet I could split this clump.
narcissus canaliculatus

I worked really hard today editing, writing, and I did laundry.

See Daffodils on Parade

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Back to the Dragon

 There were so many things that were awesome about today, it's hard to decide which to start with. I choose to first show you who I was adventuring with. This is my long-time adventure buddy Ellen. That said, we haven't managed to do anything together since 2016, although she did make the effort to come to my final day of the big hike. For a lot of years, we did something together about once a month. We don't know if we can manage that schedule, but we hope to at least not wait eight more years before getting together again. We aren't getting any younger.

You may or may not remember that we've done things including hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing (she's the one who got me started on cross-country skis) and sometimes just back road exploring. She also dragged me to the Ludington Writer's Group when I first began writing mysteries.

Today we went to check out one of the new sections of the Dragon Trail at Hardy Dam Pond. The link below is when Monica, Keira and I hiked about 13 miles of that, which was nearly all that was built at the time. The trail will be over 40 miles long, completely circling Hardy Dam Pond. When I learned that some more sections have been completed since 2021, we chose to go see some of that today.
michigan dragon trail

We didn't have time to do all of one completed segment, and some of the partial segments weren't long enough. Doesn't matter. We chose to start at Newaygo State Park and hike north until we were tired and then turn around. The segments are distinguished by a color and number. We were on Segment 3- Tan.

The water could not have been more stunning. We sort of chose today for the sunshine, hoping for blue water. We got it! Where we hiked was largely along the edge of the pond.
Hardy Dam Pond

The water is still lowered for winter, but this makes a sandy edge, and we saw quite a few people taking advantage of that.

We hiked until the trail curved down around the inlet of Rosy Run.
Rosy Run bridge

We went until we had hiked three miles. There was a lovely bench with a view and a real breeze off the water. That was awesome too, because the temperature was about 70 degrees by then. We are sure not used to that yet. You can see how the wind is lifting my hair.
hiker at Hardy Pond

There we ate our lunches and then headed back. The views remained spectacular.
hardy dam pond

We were really hoping to find some wildflowers. They were not in profusion, but we at least got our wish. First hepatica of the year. Round-lobed. Hepatica americana. They can be blue, pink or white.
blue hepatica

This was the other great find of the day. I believe this is fire moss, or redshank moss, Ceratodon purpureus, pretty amazing in the sun.
fire moss

The other great find was a lovely skeletonized leaf, but my pictures are all useless. Anyway, we had a wonderful day. I talked way too much, telling Ellen funny stories, but I think she forgave me.

Oh, and talk about timing. There was a huge tree we had to climb over on the way out. By the time we returned it had been cut out!

Total miles hiked in 2024: 199.6 of which 69.6 is North Country Trail.

This trail is not the NCT. However, there is supposedly a trail called The Edge that connects Hardy Dam with Croton Dam where the NCT exits the Manistee National Forest. I think it's actually a road route, or a paved multi-use path. I might have to explore this. It would be fun to connect them even if it's paved. About 6 miles.

See Dragon Trail Beginnings

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Heritage Nature Trail - Cadillac

 After the vendor event today, I took a short hike on the Heritage Nature Trail at Mitchell State Park in Cadillac. I had been there once before in 2015 (link below).

This is a large man-made wetland area between Lakes Mitchell and Cadillac. Black Creek, seen here, used to be used to float logs between the two lakes, but it was too shallow, and a canal was eventually dug. This changed the hydrology of the area enough that this became about 70 acres of wetland.
black creek cadillac

Since it's now preserved as a nature study area, that is a good thing. Most of the trail is in the form of a raised berm that goes in a rectangle around the area. At least it's dirt. But despite being close to two busy highways, it's known for great wildlife viewing. There is a spur into the middle of the marsh with an observation platform. I went out there, but it's pretty early to see much. There were a couple of slow peepers.

I really liked this collection of hummocks along the diverted section of Black Creek that surrounds the wetland.

Saw my first turtles of the year! Just painted turtles, but that's OK. I like to play the game of "which will be first?" Some years it's been a Blandings.
painted turtles

I wanted to take the outer loop, and I did. But the cut-across loop was so attractive, I had to walk it too (both directions, eh?). It goes over what they call "hemlock island." Since nobody was keeping any kind of records when this land was all changed, they don't really know why it's higher, or why (uncharacteristically) hemlocks are growing that near a wetland. But it was a beautiful section of trail. Two humps with hemlocks, and one lower section with a boardwalk through the marsh.
trail in hemlocks

On the walk back, I cut over to Lake Cadillac.
lake cadillace

The willow trees are getting all sexy. This is goat willow, Salix caprea, alien. But the male catkins sure are fancy.
goat willow catkins

With the extra bits of trail I did and the out and back pieces, I managed to turn it into a four mile walk. There is lots of interpretation, and would be a nice walk with kids. Probably you'd see a lot of wildlife activity on a summer evening.

The vendor event went OK. They didn't manage to pull in a very good crowd. I sold a few books and talked with a lot of people. But a few of my friends came. Sorry, no picture of Miki, but I finally got a pretty good one of Eamon!

Total miles hiked in 2024: 193.6 of which 69.6 is North Country Trail.

Mitchell State Park, Cadillac, MI, Heritage Nature Study Trail. with spurs. 4.0 miles

See Sunday Hikes

Friday, April 12, 2024

The Mayflower II

 Let me be honest and tell you that I took these pictures off Facebook. They are credited to Greg Saschuk on the Cape Cod Photography Page. My cousin Jean alerted me to them.

The Mayflower II is passing the Sagamore Bridge on Cape Cod. You may remember that I can trace my lineage back to the Mayflower I.
Mayflower II

Of course, these are really beautiful in the fog, but I especially like this one because it shows how small the Mayflower is. Not much bigger than a tugboat. There were 102 passengers and a 30-man crew. Just think about that when you are feeling a little crowded.
Mayflower II

I'm keeping this short so I can go lie down. I'm pretty much well, but don't have full stamina back yet. Any strong smell is still making me feel ill. Tomorrow is going to be a long day with an event in Cadillac. I have to leave here at 7:30 in the morning.

I edited, I wrote, I dealt with a flat tire, I went to the store, I got ready for tomorrow. I think I'm pretty much done for today.

See Peregrine White

Thursday, April 11, 2024

The Bridges of Historic Bridge Park

 Today, I'm going to show you the part of my hike on Tuesday that I didn't want to miss. It's at least my third time there, but this time, I made a particular effort to get better pictures of the various bridges. This is a county park, and they have moved 5 obsolete bridges to the area which is adjacent to a railroad culvert/bridge which is also part of the display. This is a wonderful engineering "museum" you walk through on the North Country Trail. I wanted to take time to look up more information about the various bridges. Don't think I know all this stuff without looking it up. I am getting a little better at recognizing the bridge styles, but only really know a few of the oddball ones by heart.

First up is the Charlotte Highway Bridge, built in 1886 by the Buckeye Bridge Works of Cleveland, OH. It is a metal 11 Panel Pin-Connected Whipple (Double-Intersection Pratt) Through Truss Bridge. Basically, that means there are 11 quadrilateral panels of the deck, and that the metal superstructure with various designs of the uprights and diagonals completely surrounds the deck (through truss). Whipple is the name of the arrangement of the diagonal supports. In this case, you can see that they basically go from the outer top corners of each panel to the inner lower corners of the NEXT panel, not the same one. This was a common design for long bridges in the 19th century. Historic Bridges organization rates this bridge as 10 in local significance, and an 8 on the national level.
1886 Whipple Through truss bridge

Here is the underside of that bridge. This one has been reinstalled as a pedestrian bridge over the park road, so you can really see it. Each of the large squares is one panel.
1886 Whipple Through truss bridge

Next, we'll do the 133rd Avenue bridge from Allegan, built in 1897. This is a half-hip pony truss bridge with four panels. "Pony" because the trusses are above the decking, but not over the top of the decking. You can count for yourself that there are four panels in this one. It's a "half hip" because there is no vertical brace where the angle of the top rail meets the horizontal part of the top rail. This used to be a very common bridge type, but now there aren't many left. It got a local rating of 8 and national of 6.
half hip pony truss bridge

This is the bridge that spanned 20-Mile Rd in Calhoun County. It was built in 1906. It's a metal five-panel Rivet-Connected Pratt Full-Slope Pony Truss. I don't know what the full-slope part means, but you can see that it's different from the one above because there is a vertical support from that top angle. It's local and national significance are both 6. It's connected with rivets, not pins.
Metal 5 Panel Rivet-Connected Pratt Full-Slope Pony Truss

The Gale Road Bridge from Ingham county was built in 1897. It is a metal 7-Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss. This was a very common kind. "Pinned" means that the corner pieces all fit together and were held in place by a threaded pin that was slipped through when the holes were aligned, and then nuts were screwed on the ends. These were easy to assemble in the field. The diagonals go from the outer top corner of each panel to the inner lower corner of the same panel. It was built by the Lafayette Bridge Company of Lafayette, Indiana. It gets a local significance of 8 and national of 7.
Metal 7 Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss

This is the Bauer Road Bridge from Clinton County, built in 1886. It's a metal 6-Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss. So now you know that it has diagonals that go from one corner to the other of the same panel, that the structure makes a "covering" over the decking, and that the corners are held together with pins not rivets! This has a local significance of 8 and national of 7. It was built by the Penn Bridge Company of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.
6-Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss

I like that it has some decorative elements as well.
6-Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss

Finally, there is the railroad bridge. The train line is active, and carries a regular Amtrak run from Detroit to Chicago, and occasionally freight.

This is called Dixon's Bridge. Although it is very unusual, it only got a local rating of 6 and a national rating of 4. It was built in 1892. It's a semicircular stone arch bridge. The larger arch was for the road (which is now the bike path/trail), and the smaller arch carries Dickinson Creek.
Dixon's Bridge

One really odd feature is that half is stone, and then it was apparently expanded with the other half being concrete, possibly to carry a double-track railroad. An historic postcard from 1909 shows both parts.
Dixon's Bridge

I really should have taken a picture of the facing on the stone side. Next time!

You can find out about many old bridges at HistoricBridges.org

Don't know what that little bug was I had yesterday. I slept 14 hours, ate soup and juice all day. I'm fine now. Maybe not ready to take a hike, but all is well. I edited and wrote.

See Calhoun County Trailway