Sunday, June 9, 2019

A Visit to the Upper Peninsula - Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

I hope you enjoy this audio journal. You can find a video that provides a slightly different glimpse of the trip here.

Photo taken May 23 2019 at 15:25

Lower Tahquamenon Falls. Even though it is cloudy you will always be impressed when you come here.

--May 23 2019 at 15:25. Paradise, MI, United States

Photo taken May 23 2019 at 17:11

Tahquamenon Falls. The Upper Falls are shown pouring themselves over the drop. While bugs can sometimes drive you nuts at this state park (not today) it is definitely a place worth visiting.

--May 23 2019 at 17:11. Newberry, MI, United States

Photo taken May 24 2019 at 14:09

This is Clark’s first backpacking trip. We are a couple hours in to our first day having our first lunch on the trail at a spot we like.

--May 24 2019 at 14:09. Munising, MI, United States

Photo taken May 24 2019 at 15:27

Our first day on the Lakeshore Trail. Joni looks happy and ready to tackle the world.

--May 24 2019 at 15:27. Munising, MI, United States

Photo taken May 25 2019 at 18:00

I wish I could recall what this car looked like when I first saw it some 20 years ago. It’s been sitting here far longer than that. The place is an odd spot for an abandoned car as it isn’t really by any roads but maybe that is why it’s here.

Photo by Andy

--May 25 2019 at 18:00. Munising, MI, United States

Photo taken May 25 2019 at 21:37

Pine Bluffs is about a half mile from Trappers Lake. We had to hustle to get here for the sunset but it was worth it. The photo doesn’t really capture the quality of the sunset colors though it does a better job with Lake Suerior which has grown rougher since the afternoon.

--May 25 2019 at 21:37. Munising, MI, United States

Photo taken May 26 2019 at 11:50

Lake Superior waves lap at the shore of this cove which is one of several. Andy is shown here and you can tell it must be a lovely day - he is down to his base layer.

--May 26 2019 at 11:50. Munising, MI, United States

Photo taken May 26 2019 at 11:56

It takes a bit of work to gett down (more to climb back up) to this cove but it sure is a pretty spot I am standing in.

Phto by Clark

--May 26 2019 at 11:56. Munising, MI, United States

Photo taken May 26 2019 at 17:07

Grand Portal Arch. This year we walked through frequent mud spots that threatened to soak your feet. A prelude to what we would find the next day.

--May 26 2019 at 17:07. Munising, MI, United States

Photo taken May 27 2019 at 13:07

Not much of a castle anymore but still worth looking at even, or perhaps especially, on an overcast day such as this day.

--May 27 2019 at 13:07. Munising, MI, United States

Check out this episode

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Video: Tahquamenon falls and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - May 2019

Video: Tahquamenon falls and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - May 2019

Photo  taken May 24 2019 at 11:42

At the Au Sable Visitor Center: Joni, Andy, Clark, and Ken.

--May 24 2019 at 11:42. Munising, MI, United States

Join me, Andy, Clark, and Joni as we hike from Au Sable Falls to Sand Point along the lakeshore Trail in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. While you aren’t going to see us setting up camp or cooking our meals (though had I been filming when Andy tried to toss me a stick of birch and had it plop neatly into my just built trail pizza you would likely laugh as much as we did - after all what else could we do). You will, I hope, get a fine sense of what can make places in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula special.

Later this week (ending June 9( an audio podcast will be released that includes additional content. I will also post several more phtos and perhaps some additional thoughts.

Friday, May 10, 2019

2019 North Country Trail Celebration

Photo  taken May 03 2019 at 11:04

--May 03 2019 at 11:04. Mancelona, MI, United States

On May 1, 2019 Andy and Elwira Mytys with their new puppy Micky pulled up to my house. We packed my stuff into the car and sruck out for Bellaire, Michigan and the North Country Trail Celebration. This is an event that moves from state to state annually along the NCT. Next year it will be in Pennsylvania. It is designed to celebrate the trail and the volunteers who take care of it. There are day hikes and workshops along with award presentations for people of particular merit. The event draws people from near and far. I know their were people from North Dakotaand New York present.
I am not going to fucus on the specific hikes I did or workshops I dropped in on. Instead I want to remind you that getting out on the NCT, or any trail, is well worth it. Even if the weather is not quite perfect, it was certainly nippy the first two days, you should try and get out and enjoy yourself. For those that think they will not find things to appreciate think again. If you look you will find wildflowers, fungi, moss, and of course trees. Listen and you will hear all sort of birds even if you do not know what types they are. Perhaps you will even catch an intriguing smell or two. Now and then something special might appear like a pond or lake situated in a kettle bowl created thousands of years ago as the glaciers retreated. You will find something.
The video below hopefully will encourage you to go out and enjoy yourself in any season. It is something I wish I did far more often than I do too.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Shark Valley, Everglades National Park

Photo  taken February 12 2019 at 13:24

Several cyclists just passed by our tram on the edge of the road and within just a handful of feet from this American Alligator. Animals like this only eat once a week or so and even then , despite the jokes of our tram-tour guide, people really are not on the menu.

--February 12 2019 at 13:24. Homestead, FL, United States

Our plans to take a 90-minute airboat tour fell apart. We do not know why. We found another way to explore a tiny part of the Everglades National Park - I suspect we actually saw more. We drove to the Shark Valley Visitor Center which is the northern most visitor center in the 1.5 million acre National Park and about 90 minutes from Bal Harbor. While there may be other walks people can do we only explored the boardwalk and road near the visitor center before boarding a tram for a two-hour tour.

The Everglades used to be far larger than they are now. They have had a somewhat sad history dating back to the late 19th century. People tried to drain the swamp and Florida also saw rampant land speculation sometimes done by very shady people. Worse all of the development was done with little real understanding of what makes the Everglades work. Today the park still faces many serious problems most having to do with water management. However, what little we did see shows that the Everglades are certainly more than just a swamp and it is clear why Marjorie Stoneman Douglas called the Everglades , “a river of grass.”

Photo  taken February 12 2019 at 10:45

We saw several anhinga nesting along the dark waters here in Shark Valey in the Everglades. I suspect the dark waters are created both because the mud the water flows over is very dark and tannic acid from plants is in the water.

--February 12 2019 at 10:45. Homestead, FL, United States

Photo  taken February 12 2019 at 11:06

This Snowy Egret is rather close to an American Alligator. We watched the bird for a couple minutes and it clearly saw the alligator. It took off, rose maybe 10 feet into the air, and with a few great flaps of its wings flew over the basking alligator to land about as far from it on the other side as it had just been.

--February 12 2019 at 11:06. Homestead, FL, United States

Photo  taken February 12 2019 at 12:11

This Roseate Spoonbill is actually pretty far away so the photo is not the best. The bird gains its pink feathers from iodine it absorbs from the shrimp it eats.

--February 12 2019 at 12:11. Homestead, FL, United States

Photo  taken February 12 2019 at 12:41

This Wood Stork seems to be searching for food. I believe it prefers small fish.

--February 12 2019 at 12:41. Homestead, FL, United States

Between our walk and the tram tour I do not think I have ever seen so much wildlife. We saw a wide variety of birds including: anhinga, snowy egret, great blue heron, wood stork, and roseate spoonbill. Of course, we saw alligators. Lots and lots of alligators. The park has a population of, I think, 200,000 American Alligators (Florida has about 1.2 million). We saw a couple dozen alligators during our visit. While mammals from rats and bat to river otters and black bear exist we did not see them. You would be very lucky to ever see the mammals even the larger ones. The Everglades support a variety of plants from the ever-present sawgrass to willows and various hardwood trees. All this occurs on land that is pretty shallow. The water table is just a couple feet down and limestone is often encountered within a foot or two of the surface. It affects how things grow and that can be seen when you pass a hillock - a hardwood hammock (some can be over a mile long; I wish we had been able to walk through one). Alligators excavate around willows making deeper pools where all manner of life can safely congregate as alligators do not eat all that often. It is a remarkable place but like so many the nuance and beauty only become apparent if you take some extra time to look beyond the surface.

Photo  taken February 12 2019 at 13:48

I am sure other Great Blue Heron were seen but this one was just posing on the grassy verge between the road and water.

--February 12 2019 at 13:48. Homestead, FL, United States

Photo  taken February 12 2019 at 12:09

An alligator sunning part of itself while staying largely hidden in the water. They need to warm up during the day so they will be able to move about at night when hunting, I assume, is even better.

--February 12 2019 at 12:09. Homestead, FL, United States

Monday, February 11, 2019

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden and the Porsches of Sunset Place

Photo  taken February 10 2019 at 10:33

I picked up a hitchiker: a common morpho butterfly. As we were leaving the butterfly house , you pass through two airlocks, the door warden spotted a second hitchiker on my rear.

--February 10 2019 at 10:33. Coral Gables, FL, United States

We decide to visit Fairchild Tropical BotanicalGarden. Named in honor of David Fairchild who was a noted plant explorer who worked for the US Agriculture Department. The garden has numerous tropical plants including many types of palms, cycads, and orchids. It has a somewhat pricy admission of $25 but since we have an American Horticultural Society membership we got in for free. You do not visit this garden to achieve a sense of contemplativeness as you might manage in Morikami. Perhaps there are places where you can manage that feat but the paved walking paths do not really lend themselves to that. But you can enjoy strolling the paths and see and learn quite a bit. We found ourselves wondering how the palms manage to survive hurricanes. Palms have very shallow and small root systems but that seemingly tennuous hold in the ground is often adequate to keep them upright.

Photo  taken February 10 2019 at 11:16

The garden is home to much more than native and exotic butterflies. We saw many iguana but this was probably the largest one.

--February 10 2019 at 11:16. Coral Gables, FL, United States

I do not think we have been to any place where we saw so many iguanas often just basking in the sun with little care about the people moving about nearby. Birds, ubiquitous and ruckus gulls , soaring hawk and no doubt much more were seen and heard. But the pinnacle of the flora have to be the exotic butterflies that have their own dedicated butterfly house. This house is entered via two airlock-like chambers. They don’t actually prevent butterflies from entering; I wonder if an air curtain would do the trick.
But door minders are on guard to capture intruders and put them back in the house. I am sure we saw a variety of species of butterflies but the common morpho was certainly easy to spot especially when one would open its wings and display its vibrant blue patterns.

Photo  taken February 10 2019 at 10:31

Fairchild Gardens spreads across over 80 acres of land including 14 lakes and a butterfly house that is home to exotic butterflies. The common morpho is shown here and they seemed quite numerous in this house.

--February 10 2019 at 10:31. Coral Gables, FL, United States

Photo  taken February 10 2019 at 10:33

When the common morpho opens its wings you are treated to apattern of vivid blue that is just glimpsed here.

--February 10 2019 at 10:33. Coral Gables, FL, United States

  • You certainly can spend a couple hours wandering the paths and the garden has signs and literature that can help you learn. I suspect they have classes and programs if you want to learn more. They certainly have volunteer programs: we spoke with 4 highschool students who had information to share about palm trees and more.

  • We learned that the Shops at Sunset Place might be a good place for lunch so went there. We passed through a nice nieghborhood of homes and schools before reaching the “downtown” where the shops are at. Besides finding lunch at a small falafel place we found easily a hundred porsche cars. Apparently this weekend someone put on an exposition dedicated to Porsche. I think other weekends other car brands have been featured. These cars sure are pretty to look at from the wheel hubs to the shiny paint job and sleek lines of the car itself. I can understand why people love their cars.

Photo  taken February 10, 2019 at 13:10

The Shops at Sunset Place are hosting this exposition of Porsche cars. I am pretty sure there are over a hundred cars here, and other kinds of vehicles are featured on other weekends.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Facade of Garage in Miami’s Design District

The parking garage facade you see in the following photos has to be the most unusual I have ever seen. The garage is located across the street from Institute of Contemporary Art in what is known as the Design District of Miami Beach. Some of the artwork on display in the ICA is impressive, but overall I found myself less enthralled with what I saw compared to what we experienced at the Bass Museum and Morikami Museum.

We also learned, by pure luck, of a private museum just down the street (to the right as you leave the ICA) from the ICA. Built and owned by the de la Cruz couple it houses a fraction of their collection of art. They made their fortune (and I suppose still are) as distributors and bottlers of Coke products throughout the Caribbean. It did not do much for me but the building and collection are a remarkable testament to what a couple can do..

Photo  taken February 09 2019 at 10:54a

Photo  taken February 09 2019 at 10:54

Photo  taken February 09 2019 at 10:56

Photo  taken February 09 2019 at 10:57

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Wynnwood Walls

Photo  taken February 08 2019 at 10:42

This mural seems almost etched isntead of painted. Perhaps it is.

--February 08 2019 at 10:42. Miami, FL, United States

(Opps. It is Wynnwood Walls. )

A neighborhood of apparently small industry and modest means that had been in decline for quite some time. In 2009 Mr. Goldman created an arts space to , I believe, help re-vitalize the neighborhood. The art space is Windwood Walls. Wall art sems pretty common in portions of Miami but Windwood Walls raises the standard of these murals several notches.