Entries to Win Afghan

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Friday, March 31, 2023

Fun with Doug and Pam - Day 392

Icky rainy slush happened outside, but inside Pam wanted to do a food experiment. We made crepes.
crepe in a pan

Yup, you probably already figured out that if I was in Petoskey, I was with Doug and Pam. These weren't to be dessert crepes, but savory ones. Half were stuffed with chicken and half with veggies. We had them for dinner. The chicken ones were great. The veggie ones were good, but we think they need more cheese and some onion, and maybe some mushroom sauce drizzled on the top. The two little ones alone are the leftover batter that Pam and I spread with jam for a snack.
crepes rolled up

After dinner, we had to do music. Pam played harp, and Bill tried out the pentatonic harp.
playing harps

Pam and Doug did an Elvis song. We all sang together a lot and fooled around on a lot of instruments. It's the usual evening entertainment when I visit here, and I love it!
guitar and harmonica

Tomorrow's weather isn't going to be wonderful, but we are going to see if we can get in a few miles. It's acting more like February than April.

See Over 4400

Thursday, March 30, 2023

The Bear Went Over 4400 - Day 391

The natural feature that most defined today's hike is the Bear River. A lot of this is new trail since I hiked here last. We'll start where the river empties into the Little Traverse Bay. I wish the colors in the water were as stunning today as they were yesterday, but I can't complain about bright blue.
Petoskey Marina

Just before the river reaches the bay, it's channelized. The waters are rushed and interesting.
Bear River Petoskey

Before heading up the valley, the trail passes under the historic Mitchell St. Bridge. The historic briges web site describes it as a "large, high-level concrete t-beam bridge with extensive decorative detailing." It was built in 1930.
Mitchell St Bridge Petoskey

The trail continues along the Bear River, which is still quite active as the most significant elevation drops are as it approaches the lake.
Bear River Petoskey

Here is the structure that made this whole re-route possible. Formerly, the trail followed city streets. This trail bridge crosses the Bear River upstream where it is more calm, but it is also wider. The Jordon Valley 45 Chapter did the bulk of the work to make this possible. They found funding for the $200K bridge. They built the approaches, and that cost is not included in the bridge. They had to clear a lot of garbage vegetation to create a path for the trail and access for the crane to bring in the bridge stringers. Bob, who is a member of that Chapter, poses on the bridge.
Bear River trail bridge

Yup, Bob hiked with us again today. This picture is out of chronological order, but it's not part of the river sequence. This is on the North Central Michigan College campus where the trail has had some off-road trail for about 20 years, but now there is a nice long natural-tread stretch. This bench was placed here in 2005 to commemorate Arden Johnson, who was an early volunteer with the NCT. He was still alive when I got involved, so I did know him. He was on the board, made Michigan maps before the NCTA had a mapper, scouted and built a lot of miles of trail.
Arden Johnson bench

There was a lot of uneven, crusty snow today. I called it quits after 6.4 miles. Tomorrow is supposed to be serious nasty rain and wind. We are not hiking in that. This all results in much slower progress than I want, but it's what I get, so I need to stop complaining.

Miles today: 6.4. Total miles so far: 4405.7.

See Double the Fun

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Double the Fun - Day 390

Bill and I started with a trip across the Mackinac Bridge. It was beginning to get windy, and they lined up a convoy of "high-profile" vehicles, and then escorted us across. Being escorted across the Bridge was a first for both Bill and me. I guess the point was to make us move slowly. We stayed at about 20 mph all the way across.
Mackinac Bridge escort

We reached our new location near Petoskey and got the trailers set up. Then... guess who showed up?! Bob is feeling well enough after his rugged health issue of the fall and winter (he was going to do the Border Route with us all last year, but couldn't) to come today. Bob and Bill and me! Check out the colors of Little Traverse Bay behind us.

On the rail trail, we passed a little free library with a roof made of old skis. Adorable! And of course I had to find a book to take.
litte free library

I managed to leave my camera in my car when we decided to take the guys' two cars, so I missed some really nice pictures today. O well.

The walking was mostly bare surfaces with some snow-covered rail trail. My sorest leg is glad we stopped when we did, but it's OK. The wind made things feel super-cold, but we were fine. Bob may join us again tomorrow too.

Miles today: 8.1 Total miles so far: 4399.3.

See Thanks

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Thanks! - Day 389

Our first host of this leg of the hike has been Dennis. Many thanks to him, and all the others who have been so generous with me/us! Ellie the pup also welcomed us (along with a handsome tuxedo cat and some chickens!)

I rested and read, and my legs feel much better now. Bill took a 9-mile hike. This area is maintained by his Chapter, and he decided to get the exercise and check the conditions. He confirmed that it's way more rugged yet than I want to take on. He did a lot of post-holing, and was pretty tired when he ended. I took a couple of neat pictures of him coming out of the woods, but, sigh... the SD card was not in the camera, so no sharing possible.

I fixed more creamed potatoes and peas with the rest of the potatoes left from when I made this at home. We ate in Sunny. It was all very domestic and calm.

Tomorrow, we are moving the expedition to Petoskey and hope to both do some hiking.

See Pure Michigan

Monday, March 27, 2023

Pure Michigan - Day 388

It was a short hiking day, but it was at least successful.
hiker at North Country Trail sign

We spent 2.5 hours at the DMV getting my trailer plate replaced. They were super busy, but I did get a new plate. Then we got sandwiches and headed out to walk the 4 miles through town.

At the north end is a museum of Ojibway culture. I've been in it several times. It's closed at this time of year. But there is an example of a Huron bark structure on the property.
Huron bark house
If you are a not a Michigander, "Pure Michigan is the state tourism motto. It gets lampooned a fair amount with pictures of potholes, road construction, etc. But a sunny day in St. Ignace is just about as Michigan as you can get. Mackinac Island offshore is a huge tourist attraction. Just in case you don't know, no motor vehicles are allowed, and all travel there is by bicycle or horse-drawn carriages. There is a huge hotel, The Grand Hotel, that has been featured in quite a few movies, etc. At the far left is one of the docks with a fleet of ships that run to the island in summer.
Mackinac Island

Today's new fact for me is to learn what these four "things" out in the water are for. They are called mooring dolphins- defined as mooring structures higher than the waterline that are not connected to shore. These dolphins were built in 1957 to offload jet fuel from tankers. An underwater pipeline carried the fuel to storage tanks on shore. From there it traveled through another pipeling to Kinross Air Force Base, 37 miles away. The base is now closed, but just in case you ever wondered how they got enough fuel into the wilds of the UP for all those airplanes, now you know!
mooring dolphins

It doesn't get more Michigan than this! The Mighty Mac, Big Mac, the Mackinac Bridge. About the same size as the Golden Gate- 5 miles long. I never get tired of it. It's on my list of my 10 favorite man-made objects (which actually only has about 5 things on it). This view is from Straits State Park, and is a different angle from most of the pictures you see.
Mackinac Bridge

And how did today go? About 2.5 miles were paved, and the rest was in moderate snow. I have a serious cramp in one calf, and the legs are sore, but everything was manageable today. When I went to bed last night, I really thought I'd be going home.

But now, we are on Plan Whatever. I have no idea how many times things have changed. I REALLY wanted to do the trail sections in order, but it seems impossible unless I wait longer than I want to. We scouted out the other trail sections on this side of the bridge, but they are still a horrible uneven untrodden mess of now-soft snow. I'm taking tomorrow off, and then we are going to Petoskey where there are a number of urban miles and/or roadwalk nearby. That way, I can keep doing SOMETHING that counts.

When I left the trail in December I was horribly frustrated at doing only six miles a day. Today I was happy to do four. Go figure.

Miles today: 4.0. Total miles so far: 4391.2

See Maybe Too Soon

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Maybe Too Soon - Day 387

It was a beautiful winter day. That certainly can't be denied. The temperature rose to almost 40 and the skies were blue.

A lady named Sue hiked with us today.
winter hiker

The natural feature of interest was the Carp River.
Carp river winter

However, the big news is that I hate to say it, but I may have come back to the trail too soon. I was impossibly slow and my legs are weak and so painful that even ibuprofen isn't helping much. I am beyond disappointed, but I don't want to do some kind of long-term damage, either. I barely managed the short miles today.

Tomorrow we are going to walk the few miles in town in St. Ignace. I also have to go the the Secretary of State office and get a replacement trailer plate. Mine apparently fell off on the drive up here. I haven't had any luck dealing with this on line, so we will try to get in the door without an appointment.

I'll decide tomorrow if I need to go home and take more time to rest. In addition to my physical conditions, we again have the problem that plagued things in December- the access roads are not driveable.

Miles today 5.6. Total miles so far 4387.2.

See A Cascade of Errors

Saturday, March 25, 2023

A Cascade of Errors - Day 386

I'll just tell you right up front that a) we are all fine, but b) I did not come back here to continue to hike in winter conditions.

Bill (my buddy Bill is here!) and I started off at 8 am on trail with well-crusted snow maximum depth about 8 inches with multiple bare spots. Yes, there was a winter storm headed our way, but we were going to be done before that even hit. It was moving up from the south, and we were only going to go 10 miles.
hiker in winter woods

Error #1- we did not take the snowshoes. Error #2- There was a place to park so we could have chosen to do only 7.5 miles today. We chose 10.

How those errors played out.

#1- The snow was humpy and uneven. The light was flat and it was hard to see the humps, but we found them with our feet. I was stumbling all over the place. There were some stretches where the snow was over a foot deep and not packed hard enough. Bill did some postholing, but I kept breaking through a lot. We can't quite figure that one out since I am lighter. My feet are smaller, with less surface area on the soles, but you'd think proportionally we'd be about the same. Not. I fell down a LOT. Not exactly falling, but getting one leg stuck in deep and then having to crawl out. Needless to say, we were not making good time.

#2- As a result of #1, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to do the full 10 miles. Bill walked ahead to get to the car, so that he would drive back around and pick me up at the 7.5 mile place. Hopefully, I wouldn't have to wait in the cold very long.

There is puncheon under this hump. A lot of these humps weren't nearly so wide. You'd think it would be obvious how to stay on it, but it was more difficult than you would think. I slipped off the edge many times, and Bill did once- always resulting in falls- Not serious ones, but you land in awkward positions and still have to get up.

Speaking of cascades, I stepped on one uneven spot and was thrown backwards. Bill tried to hold me up, but I couldn't get my leg underneath me, and we both went down like dominoes.
snowy trail

There were some beautiful parts of the trail, despite the difficulties. This is the North Branch of the Carp River. We were really glad there was a good bridge. I'm standing on it looking back at Bill
Carp River near Brevort MI

And at Taylor Creek we saw a mink! It swam around and then sat and looked at us a bit. Bill took this picture because by then it was snowing enough that I had put my camera in the pack. I have better zoom capability, but I knew I'd scare it if I took off the pack and moved around that much. All this does is prove we saw it, but that's better than nothing. I have seen them in the wild before, but this was a really nice sighting. It sat and looked at us for several seconds.
mink by creek

Error #3- When Bill got to my car it was stuck. Our best guess is that the heat from the car when I parked melted the snow and the car sank just enough that he had to spend time digging it out, and in the end had to call for help from the person we are staying with.

Error #4- Because the trail was so difficult, Bill went on alone, so he had to shovel and work on the car by himself. I was waiting at the previous road crossing, but by now, we'd spent so long walking that the storm had begun. The snow was heavy and wet. Some of you may remember that my phone is about as useful as a brick in the cold. That has only gotten worse. I waited for 30 min, and then decided I needed to plug the phone into the power pack and see where Bill was. Eventually, that's how I found out he was stuck. But the phone was a pill to use. My hands were wet and wouldn't work on the touch screen. I was getting quite wet. So I put on the poncho and walked back and forth at the trailhead to keep warm.

I was there for 90 minutes before the guys were able to pick me up.

And then, we had to go back to get Bill's car where we had left it in the morning. The roads had been perfectly clear, or at least hard-packed snow, in the morning. By now it was 3 pm, and there was about 8 inches of heavy, wet snow.
snowy road

Welcome back to the trail, eh? This isn't supposed to last long. It's supposed to be 40 degrees and sunny tomorrow. We will wear snowshoes, and plan on under 10 miles.

You know I don't like to be negative, but I can't do 300 miles like today. That's why I went home in December. My hips and knees were most unhappy. But we are heading into spring. It has to get better, right?

Miles today: 7.4. Total miles so far: 4381.6.

See Two Towers, Two Trailers

Friday, March 24, 2023

Two Towers, Two Trailers

Three months and three days later, I'm back on the north side of the two towers. When you are in Michigan instead of Middle Earth, this means you have crossed The Bridge. If you have to ask, you aren't from Michigan. Haha. (The Mackinac Bridge).
Mackinac Bridge

So I'm back in the U.P.

Does this look familiar? Two little trailers side by side. They are good friends, Sunny and the Lyme Lounge.
two camper trailers

The weather today was gorgeous. The drive was uneventful- the best kind of drive. Tomorrow, however, it seems that we're going to be back in the grip of winter. But I'm ready to face it. We are going to do a relatively easy day and see how that goes.

I'm snug in the trailer, my lunch is packed, my water bottles are filled. I don't feel epic at all. I'm tired, but at least I don't ache everywhere now. I'm hopeful I can finish, or almost finish (if I can't do the western U.P. yet) on this outing. And, I'll probably save the miles near home until I have completed everything else. I can't bear to hike home and be celebrated if I haven't really hiked it all.

You know who is here with me, right? If you haven't figured it out, stay tuned.

See Goodbye Snowy Trail

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Philadelphia Flower Show - Another Euphorbia

For sheer bizarre-ness and variation in the species of one genus, Euphorbia is hard to beat. That makes it one of my favorite genera. The general common name is "Spurge." This is the 17th different Euphorbia I've shared on the blog. There are about 2000 species, so I'm sure not anywhere near seeing even a tiny collection. I know you know one of them. Poinsettia is a Euphorbia.

There were probably more of them at the Philadelphia Flower Show, but I did not spend as much time viewing the displays of individual plants as I usually do. We go for one day, 7 hours, and it's just not possible to see it all in detail.

However, here is one of the species, Euphorbia tirucalli. I think I have seen this before, but didn't have a picture of it. It is native to Africa and is sometimes called sticks-on-fire (it has a latex sap that can cause temporary blindness), pencil tree (it grows into a tree with a thin trunk and clusters of these green "pencils" at the ends), naked lady, Indian tree spurge, and milk bush (probably because of the latex sap).

This one was about four feet tall, not yet like a tree. It was part of a display from Longwood Gardens of rare or unusual plants.
Euphorbia tirucalli

Today, I shopped and then made peanut butter muffins. They have bran and raisins and cranberries in them. They are not very sweet, and I think they make an excellent breakfast. I ate a couple and the rest are going in the trailer with me.

I'm pretty well ready. Just a few things to load in the morning, one errand, and hitch up. I hope to leave at noon.

See other Euphorbias

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Philadelphia Flower Show - Immersed

I'm going to spend the time tonight to show you my other favorite display from the Philadelphia Flower Show. The name of the exhibit was "Immersed," and it was created by the American Institute of Floral Designers. The amount of plant material involved and the design components were astonishing. Each color display was created by a different member florist of the institute, so it's like ten exhibitors in one. The results were... you will see.

The introduction says things like, "lose yourself in color," "feel, think, and react," "immerse yourself in the color, the flow, and the design."

The exhibit was a walk-through color wheel. Each color had its own interpretive panel as well. I'll include a little bit of what was on those signs.

Around the top border of the entire traffic loop was a fringe of black and white. "Black: the color of power and sophistication. Black is strong and intimidating. White: the color of purity and innocence. White is a true balance of all colors."
Philadelphia Flower Show- Immersed

Brown- I wasn't sure how much I was going to like this one from the other side, but it was intricate and interesting. I think this overview picture doesn't show the details very well. "Brown: the color of stability and reliability. Brown is dependable and comforting." The strings of "lobster-claw" seed pods are as interesting as the flowers themselves, and if you study this display there's a lot of design in it- it's not just a bunch of dead stuff stuck into a base.
Philadelphia Flower Show- Immersed

Red- Red is one of my least favorite colors, but I have to say that I took more pictures of the red display than any other color. I will probably eventually share another part of it on the blog, but I'll stick with one photo for now. There was a lot of textural interest, and they must have hunted to find the various red plants that matched each other in tone so well (unless they dyed some of it). Of course there are roses, and those long strings are an Amaranth, Amaranthus caudatus, usually called "love lies bleeding."

"Red: the color of passion and energy. Red draws attention like no other color."
Philadelphia Flower Show- Immersed

Pink. Probably my least favorite color in the whole world, but the display was gorgeous. "Pink: the color of love and compassion. Pink is kind and comforting." Well, I know that's how it makes a lot of people feel. Pink just makes me nervous.
Philadelphia Flower Show- Immersed

Orange is a somewhat unusual color in flowers. I thought it was interesting that they went with a sort of safety industrial theme with it. Also, there are a number of orange flowers that are deeper toned than the ones they used. "Orange: the color of enthusiasm and emotion. Orange exudes warmth and joy."
Philadelphia Flower Show- Immersed

Yellow is up near the top of my favorite colors. I liked how different this display was- atomic and jumping with energy. "Yellow: the color of happiness and optimism. Yellow is cheerful and energetic." The primary plant featured is Craspedia, an Australian plant commonly called "billy-buttons." Just think about the amount of intercontinental and transcontinental commerce that goes into collecting all the plant material for this show. I had to make a composite picture to get this entire display in one frame, so that's why the side images aren't registered quite right.
Philadelphia Flower Show- Immersed

"Green: the color of harmony and health. Green is a generous, relaxing color." This display relies a lot on variations in shades of green and a great range of textures. It almost looks like a single plant until you start looking more closely.
Philadelphia Flower Show- Immersed

Although blue is my favorite color, this display was my least favorite in the exhibit. That's mostly because of the difficulty with blue flowers that I blogged about on a different day. Most of the blue color in this comes from blue lighting. Nevertheless, "Blue: the color of trust and loyalty. Blue has a calming and relaxing effect on our psyche." The primary plant is baby's breath.
Philadelphia Flower Show- Immersed

I'm not sure why they stuck turquoise in there, but it was a nice display, primarily of Protea. However, I'm pretty sure all the plant material is dyed. "Turquoise: the color of calmness and clarity. Turquoise stabilizes emotions and increases empathy." I'm also not sure about that description, but... somebody probably said those things, sometime. They also referred to the waters of the Caribbean, although Proteus comes from Hawaii and I doubt anything else there is Caribbean. Now I'm just being nit-picky.
Philadelphia Flower Show- Immersed

And finally, purple, although not a deep purple. Marie liked this one a lot. "Purple: the color of spirituality and imagination. Purple inspires us to divulge our innermost thoughts." (really?) Anyway, the contrast of the constructed towers with the languid drapes of orchids was interesting.
Philadelphia Flower Show- Immersed

And one more picture, this one from today. I got in the mood to have pancakes. Let me say that I never order pancakes in a restaurant. Apparently my definition is different from most of the rest of the food world. I like mine thin, not all fluffy and bready. This is my mom's recipe, from an old cookbook. She and our family have been cooking and eating these for probably 90 years. I believe the cookbook was one of her texts at Temple where she studied Home Economics. They were served with maple syrup, a gift from Julie Dahlberg while on my hike.

Speaking of the hike, tomorrow night is the last one I'll be home for a while again. I have really mixed feelings. 450 miles feels like nothing at all to face. On the other hand, a big piece of me wants to stay home and continue on the many projects I'm in the middle of. I'm still uncertain about the 105 miles in the western UP. It's under 30+ inches of snow right now. I may have to wait till June to hike that. I DON'T want to still be working on this hike that late, but I may have no choice. Lots of my body parts still hurt. I don't think I can immediately jump to 15 miles a day.

I kept my promise to myself to read all I want. I've read 70 books since January 1 (a lot of them fiction and fast, but still...). But I'm not tired of non-stop reading. I will be able to read some in the evenings, but not up to that level!

There are still lots of neat things from the Flower Show. You may see one more post tomorrow, but then I'll again focus on where I'm hiking. Maybe I'll share a few things in the future, maybe not. That's why I wanted to be sure to do this major post tonight.

See PFS- Sweatpants Not Included