Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Natural Stone Bridge and Caves- June 30

The weather forecast sounded just awful for today,filled with dire warnings of thunderstorms with hail. We headed out anyway. At the Natural Stone Bridge we first stopped at their rock shop. The shop has a rather extensive collection of geodes,crystals and gems. The caves we were about to enter have many minerals- that of marble,quartzite,garnet,and tourmaline,to name only a few of them. The path through this area is quite rocky and we needed a guide to move the boulders(see picture). Just kidding. In reality,it was a fun hike up and down stony steps,around boulders,and into narrow cave entrances. The natural stone bridge is not the bridge I was expecting. It was a large rock around and under which the Trout Brook stream ran(see second picture). That bridge is in front of the largest cave entrance in the East. The second cave we entered is called "Noisy Cave" because of the rushing water that runs through it- certainly not the little quiet streams which I usually find in caves. Also on the paths alongside this stream we noticed lush vegetation from all the little waterfalls that are present on the walls of the gorge- one wall has been dubbed the "wailing wall". On these moist rocks one scientist counted 36 species of Bryophyta(moss)and 14 species of liverworts. I also noted a few small white delicate flowers with purple striped petals seemingly coming out of the rock among the moss and liverworts. I know moss does not bloom- maybe a species of the liverwort does. After touring that area we drove due west to Barton Garnet Mines.The mines are located in the Gore Mountain of the Adirondacks. There we took a tour of their quarry mine and dug around for garnet(I found a few small garnet rocks,not gem quality). The mine was in operation from 1878-1982, and was the world's largest supplier of garnet sandpaper. There is now a synthetic type of sandpaper being made,and also a poorer quality of sandpaper that come from China- but the best kind of sandpaper has garnet in it and is reddish in color. This information we received from the great granddaughter of the founder of Barton Mines. John had many questions for her about mining garnet and she was very kind in taking time to answer his questions. It started thundering while we were in the quarry,but we had had sufficient time down there and got out in time before the rain came.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Olympic Jumping Complex- June 29

We returned to the Lake Placid area today,stopping first at the Olympic Jumping Complex. There are two towers there for the jumpers; one is 90 meters,the other is 120 meters. The shorter jump is being used during the summer for the skiers to practice on. To make that available for them the hillside is covered with a special plastic mat which has water flowing over it. We took a chairlift and an elevator to the observation deck of the tallest tower. What an awesome view, but the height of that jump would make me turn tail and run! There was also a free-style jumping area. There the jumpers were using a pool to jump into after they did their jumps and flips in the air(with their skis on of course). The pool had 750,00 gallons of water in it. From that complex we drove to the bobsledding area. I have a picture here of some tourists in a bobsled,which has wheels on it,taking the run with a guide. For that run they use the older track constructed in 1932. It cost about $60.00 for 45 seconds of that terrifying joy ride. No,John and I did make that run. The newer bobsled run was constructed in 1980 and only cost 10 million dollars. A refrigerator unit was built under it to keep the run iced down in case mother nature did not cooperate. The money it cost to build all these structures and complexes,and keep them in running order in the off chance the olympics will be held here again is mind blowing for me. And yes,I know that in the meantime they are used for practices and smaller competitions. And there are tourists like us who pay to tour the areas. On our way back home we stopped at the Wilmington Flume,which I have pictured here. It is a fork of the AuSable river just before it runs into the lake which is in our campground.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ausable Chasm

Last evening we went to Whiteface Community United Methodist Church for their Strawberry Festival. Yes,we are still eating field fresh strawberries. It does pay to follow one season from the southern to northern states! We found a cournerstone on the Methodist church giving the year it was built as being 1834. They will be celebrating their 175th birthday in two weeks. The church has a thrift store and food pantry behind the church.It is easy to see that they have been a blessing to the community over the years. We enjoyed worshiping with them today; just sitting in the pew and looking out at the mountains was inspirational in itself. A former member did the wood carvings behind the altar- I have a picture of that here. After church we drove to Ausable Chasm, the oldest natural attraction in the United States. It is a 2 mile long, 200 feet deep gorge formed by the Ausable River. Like the High Falls Gorge, which we visited two days ago, it has rapids and waterfalls. Unlike the High Falls,however, its walls are made of sandstone which ranges in texture from a soft friable sandstone to a hard dense quartzite. Over many years the walls of the gorge have been carved out by the rushing river leaving many unique stone formations which you may notice in the picture I have posted here. We walked on narrow ledges along the gorge and it seemed that at every turn in our path we came upon another awesome towering formation of of a different shape and size than the one which we viewed before.One formation had the shape of an elephant head, another looked like a pulpit,another of cathedral spires and one had the shape of a carved out punch bowl. And again, as at the High Fall Gorge, we were able to walk through a primeval forest of tall(150-200 feet)red and white pine trees. Also on the paths along the gorge we saw many variety of fern and wildflowers as the wild rose,buttercups,asters,and yarrow. I never imagined that there was so much beauty here in the Adirondacks!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Olympic Center- June 27

We had not published on this blog site because our Sprint connection is not in this area, so we rented a modem from the campground office. We are now back in business! After accomplishing that this morning,we headed to Lake Placid and the Olympic Center. We spent some time in the museum- not as much time as perhaps we could have spent,as there was so much to read and memorabilia to look at in regard to the winter olympics of 1932 and 1980 in Lake Placid. We paid for a tour guide,Jim Rogers. The tour just amounted to viewing three skating rinks-the majority of time spent on this tour was listening to Jim's stories of how he worked with a Bidding Committee to get the olympics to Lake Placid in 1980; how he served on another committee to work on the opening ceremonies and then his work on the Protocol Committee. I asked him if he would serve on the Bidding committee for 2020 and he answered that New York is giving the committee 5 million for the bidding process and the committee members are expected to come up with 50 thousand each- he does not have that kind of money! Back to the subject of the different rinks...in the older part of the building was the rink constructed in 1932- it cannot be used for crowds of more than 1700 people- the newer rink built in 1980 can hold 8,500. Today in the larger rink we could observe figure skaters warming up for competitions that afternoon, and also while we were there Jim played a video of the last two minutes of the hockey game played in the 1980 olympics between US and Russia. He felt strongly that the game was an important one between the two countries because of the Cold War,and Russia also been undefeated prior to this in games with other countries. United States won by one point- and consequently the US had to play Sweden the next morning. As a member of the Protocol Committee Jim then got a call from the White House requesting that he provide seats for the vice-president George H.W.Bush for that game. He also had to convince another member of the committee that he had to sit with the vice-president, which was difficult to do as that man was a Democrat and hated hockey! Fortunately the US won that game also, which made everyone happy. The pictures I have here are of the older part of the Olympic Center, and the other is looking from the front of that building at the local high school. For the two weeks of the olympics in 1980 the high school had to close- rooms had to be converted for two restaurants and a bar for the press. The sports track had to be iced down for speed skating. The next time I watch the olympics on television I will certainly appreciate what all has to go on behind the scenes to produce such a spectacular event!

High Falls Gorge- June 26

After being at the summit of Mt.Whiteface in the morning, we took a gondola ride over its grassy ski slopes in the afternoon. Following that we drove over to High Falls Gorge. This was the most awesome 30 minute hike I have taken in a long time. Here the AuSable River rushes 300 feet down granite cliffs to create a spectacular series of waterfalls. The path to the falls was equally enjoyable for here we saw an example of the pristine Adirondacks just as the original settlers did. Signs along the path pointed out trees and bushes as the Eastern Hemlock, Spruce, Northern White Cedar and Canadian Yew, to name a few. There was also very lush green vegetation; I was especially fascinated by the polypody fern and the liverwort plants (its leaves are shaped like small livers) which grew on the rocks. Speaking of rocks; I have a picture here of an anorthosite boulder, a type of granite rock formed 1.5 billion years ago, with old tree trunks lying on it. We ended up planning our day quite well, for just after seeing this area a thunderstorm blew in.

Whiteface Mountain- June 26

We drove from the eastern side of New York to the Adirondack area. After driving through the town of Lake Placid we arrived at our campground in Wilmington New York. Our campsite is not far from the AuSable River- note the picture of the small lake with mountains in the background. Needless to say, the scenery all around here is beautiful. The highest mountain, MT. Whiteface, height to the summit is 4,867- John figured that to be as far up from sea level as Denver. Hey don’t laugh- I loved the Ozarks back home, and they are not as high. Mountains do not have to be all that tall to make me happy! Today we drove to a castle near the top from which we took an elevator to the summit. We could have hiked up; and I am glad we didn’t, as it was rough enough going down. The picture here is of John taking the stairs down. The view at the top was breath-taking, and it was possible to have a 360-degree panoramic view. In the picture of John and I at the summit, Lake Placid is in the background. There were signs at the top about some of the birds at the summit- one of which was the Bicknell Thrush. The sign explained that the park service was holding off work on some of the ski trails because they were afraid of disturbing the nesting habits of that particular thrush. I thought I saw that bird at the summit but can’t be sure as it moved away the minute I spotted it. It is noted for its flute-like song. There were also signs warning against disturbing the vegetation (I have posted that here). There were few flowering plants at the top, but in the lower elevations the bunchberry, lupine and orange hawkweed were in bloom. This area is a lot more popular during the winter for the ski trails; my hope is that however the area is used that we are always mindful of the fragile ecosystem living on the mountain. Plants and animals already have enough to deal with during wind, rain and snow storms!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fort Niagara June 24

I made the best rhubarb jam today! It was true what I was told at Murphy's Orchard; their rhubarb is great for making jam. It thickened up nicely after boiling it with a little sugar and orange juice- and the final product is so pretty,a nice rosy red. I guess I should also mention it tastes delicious. So if you are looking to plant rhubarb, purchase the variety called "strawberry rhubarb". I was also told it will produce rhubarb all summer. Today we did some touring of churches and cemeteries in Wolcottsville and Lockport New York, researching my family tree. So I will write further on where we spent the day yesterday after we left Niagara University. We visited Fort Niagara. There was a lot to see at this fort as its history spans 300 years. In the colonial years this fort was vitally important to any country as it controlled access to the Great Lakes and the westward route to the rest of the continent. The French first established a post here in the 16OOs. In 1726 they erected a permanent fortress with the construction of a "French Castle". They initially called it a place of peace for the sake of the Iroquois Indians who traded there with them. In reality it was a strong citadel with garrets built on the top floor through which they could fire guns. During the War of 1812 earthen ramparts were constructed atop the building with cannons pointed at Fort George in Canada. To summarize its history: after the French held the fort, Britain gained it in the French and Indian War of 1759, they were forced to give it up to the United States by treaty in 1796, then Britain won it back in 1813. It was ceded to the US a second time in 1815 at the end of the War of 1812. That was the fort's last armed conflict,and it served thereafter as a peaceful army post. It has served as a barracks and training station for army units throughout both World Wars. Quite a lot of history there. I will post a picture of the French Castle, the basic structure still stands,but it has undergone restoration. Also,while we were there, reenactments of historic battles were done for the benefit of us tourists.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Underground Railroad- June 23

Today we completed visiting the places we wanted to see which are connected with the Underground Railroad. Our visit was to the regional interpretive center located on the campus of Niagara University. Historic photographs,artifacts,stories and audio stations and art tell the story of "Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara". Our first stop happened on Sunday afternoon, at the Michigan Street Baptist Church(its picture is posted here). It is the oldest property continuously owned, operated and occupied by African Americans in western New York. Not only was this church part of the Underground Railroad, but it played a role in sparking debates/discussions on the evils of slavery and how to overthrow it. Men who spoke here were such men as Frederick Douglass,W.Dubois,and Martin Delaney. They,and many others, inaugurated the Niagara Movement, a forerunner of the NAACP. Wow,my history classes over this time period covered slavery,the Underground Railroad and the Civil War. I also don't remember certain facts; that a state law in 1827 by New York banned slavery. The US government in 1850 overthrew that law,and that allowed bounty hunters to come into New York and retrieve runaway slaves. The Underground Railroad in New York then became very important to the slaves because of its proximity to Canada where slavery was banned. Freed slaves,as Harriet Tubman even had the courage to return to the South. She alone helped 300 to escape. She made the comment: "There is two things I get a right to and they are death and liberty. One or the other I mean to have". I feel that I have learned so much these past few days on this sad piece of our American history.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wine Country of New York- June 22

Today was one of those days when events just did not turn out as expected. When I first stepped outside I expected to grab a jacket. But it was not needed- first time that has happened since we left Florida! Our first stop was 30 Mile Lighthouse, turned out we could not tour inside as it is closed Mondays. Our next stop was the Winery of Marjim Manor. This winery is in a home built in 1834. At that time it was called Appleton Hall. Before we even started our wine tasting, the hostess announced that the home was haunted. She explained further that through the years seven people have died in the house- all of the deaths happened at 3PM on a Thursday afternoon. Well, one happened on a Wednesday, his body was found on Thursday. Their spirits are now roaming the house. Ghost hunters have visited the house once and saw some apparitions passing through the rooms. In 1933 the Sisters 0f St.Joseph bought the house and no further human deaths have occurred. I must say we were so enthralled with her story telling that we did not pay much attention to the wine we were sampling! We did buy a couple of bottles- one of which was called "Thursday Afternoon at 3:00". After a picnic lunch at Olcott Beach Carousel Park (the old carousel is now no longer there), we drove to Murphy Orchards. What we immediately saw once we drove into this farm was cherry trees full of ripening cherries. Also we noticed a large patch of rhubarb. We were informed by the owner that that was strawberry rhubarb, the best of all rhubarbs. Mrs.Murphy,the owner, was very gracious to us and took the time to explain the history of her barn; which is one of 25 charter facilities throughout the US to comprise the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. One point which she stressed was that the Underground Railroad was not a series of tunnels, but just safe places for the slaves to stay before they went on to Canada. It was interesting touring this barn, seeing the very cobblestones the slaves walked on and the secret room below the barn where they hid. And I liked what Mrs.Murphy said: "we are extremely proud of this heritage and hope that given the same circumstances and the same choices,we would have acted the same way". I have posted here a picture of the winery and the barn. Now I have some rhubarb to cut up.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Buffalo New York, June 21

Once again we felt we were Spirit-led in our selection of a church to attend today. The church is St.John Lutheran of Amherst New York. We had planned to tour Buffalo today so we chose this church because it was located conveniently on our route into the city. During the service a couple renewed their wedding vows(they had been married 25 years on June 2nd). I was struck by what Pastor James said to the couple:" our grace to each other makes life bearable". How true that statement is; not only in our marital relations, but in every relationship we encounter in our lifetime. Such a loving,forgiving connection with others mirrors our union with Christ. A duet sang the "Wedding Song"(a song John and I also had sung at our wedding). Also,at the end of the service, the choir sang "Benediction"(a choral number which my Dad had his church choirs sing many time over the years). I had not heard that sung in a long time. After the service many of the church members greeted us, and a lady commented:(after we told her where we were from)"St.Louis Mo.,why that is the best kept secret in all the world- I visit there once a year". John and I could not agree with her more. After church we toured Buffalo Marine Gardens. I have posted here some of the pictures of that harbor area. Two are of the Carvings for a Cause. These are life-size carvings of symbols of Buffalo and notable Buffalonians. In the row of carvings John is looking at is the buffalo(the sign explains its presence in the row),and a statue of Tin Russert(moderator of Meet the Press who died last year and attended college in Buffalo). The other picture is of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military park which we also toured in the Buffalo harbor.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lockport New York- June 20

There is a downside in experiencing spring for about four months; all the way from Texas,Florida,Virginia, over to Missouri and then in the northern states of Michigan and New York. The downside has been the rain. And we had another heavy day of rain today. This campground now has more lakes than I can count(they seemed to have increased since yesterday). And as if we have not seen enough water, we took a took a boat ride on the Erie Canal today. John especially wanted to have the experience of going through the Lockport Locks on the canal. The first picture here is of John watching our boat rise in the first lock. You may notice the dark water line on the wall of the canal- that is how far up the boat has to rise before it is moved out of the first lock. In the next lock it is raised another 25 feet(total of 50 feet). Coming back through the locks the opposite happens. The rain was down to a drizzle while we took the boat tour. But we got dripped on quite heavily when we took a cave tour after the boat ride. The cave actually was made by man in the 1800s, and is located alongside the Erie canal. It was blasted out with the gun powder left over from the war of 1812. The idea was to divert the water from the canal to provide water power to three industries. One of the industries made fire hydrants, another made bran dusters, and the third produced wooden bowls and buckets. Eventually these industries closed and the Hydraulic Tunnel was turned into a cave for tourists. The picture I have posted here is of the entrance to the large pipe of the tunnel (called a penstock). And that is our tour guide in the picture. It was necessary to take a boat through part of the tunnel. What was especially fascinating on this tour was to see the cave formations which are at their early stages of development.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Niagara Falls- June 19

Considering how much John and I ended up walking today, we were a bit foolish with the first hike we took in Whirlpool State Park. We were just going to do the scenic overlook, but then the hike down into the river gorge looked very inviting. Fortunately we did not go all the way down. Note the picture which I took looking up at the stairs from near the bottom. I would say that that path of stones was close to one hundred years old- they were cracked and some had pulled away from the wall of the gorge. Good example what weathering does over the years! By the way, the whirlpool that results in the river here is a result of the Niagara's 90-degree turn and is swirling counter-clockwise. A phenomena that happens in no other river in the world. The rest of the day we did a walking tour of the American Falls of Niagara, including Luna Island and the Bridal Veil Falls. We then walked over to the Canadian side of the Niagara, viewing Horseshoe Falls. We had both been here before and had already taken the Maid of the Mist boat ride(which gets you close to the falls,also quite wet). There were quite a few overlooks that got us very close to the falls so we were very satisfied with our walking tour. One picture I have posted here is of the American and Canadian Falls- the other is showing a rainbow with the falls. The boat Maid of the Mist is in both of the pictures.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hartland New York- June 18

We stayed over in Frankenmuth because of a deluge that hit the day we wanted to leave. It turned out to be a pleasant day,however,once the rain stopped. Our nephew Andrew and his sons came down and we went to the movies. More rains were coming in this week-end so we felt the urgency to get out of that area today before we would need a ferry to transport us. Probably because I do not know my geography all that well, it seemed amazing to me today that we could in about six hours travel from Michigan to New York. We drove from Port Huron into Ontario Canada, after first crossing the Detroit River.Then we continued through Canada taking a bridge over a corner of Lake Ontario. From there we crossed the Welland River into the Niagara Falls area. The countryside of Canada was lush and green with hills and forests. Quite a pleasant change from America and its billboards and signs for gas,fast food and tourist attractions. There were some road signs directing travelers to berry farms and apple orchards. And I must not forget the signs pointing to numerous g0lf courses and,in the St.Catherine Ontario area, many wineries. Also, around Niagara Falls and no surprise here, power plants were present. We got pulled over for inspection at customs when we reentered the United States. The inspectors were concerned about our food, so they inspected our refrigerator. They also wanted to make sure we were not carrying firewood in because of the Emerald Ash Bore, which apparently is destroying trees in Michigan. As a rule of thumb, firewood should not be transported more than fifty miles. So we may have been inconvenienced a bit but we learned something in the process. We are now sitting in a campground that has about as many puddles as the campground we just left. And the frogs are very noisy with their courting activities! A great blue heron greeted us as we drove in here, and several killdeer fussed at us for entering their territory. It is more of a wooded and secluded campground than we have been in for quite awhile.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Frankenmuth- June 15

Yesterday's blog,for some reason did not get posted,so there will be two for today. I still have some pictures from the Bavarian Festival Parade to share with you all,so will finish that up in this blog. Frankenmuth is largely a farming community,and sugar beets is one crop grown around here. Pioneer Sugar Company,located in this area, had at least a couple floats in the parade. This community also has many hog and cattle farms. There are several good meat markets in town and bratwurst is one of the more popular sausages made. A bratwurst sandwich is best accompanied with a cold glass of beer. This town has one brewery that is making a come-back, but Michigan also imports a lot of beer. A favorite beer for the Bavarian Festival was from the Hofbrau Haus of Germany. Hopefully the aforementioned will explain the pictures I have posted today. John and I will be leaving here in a couple of days, so we wanted to do one more tour of Frankenmuth today. Our bikes worked well for that purpose and we covered the tourist shops on Main St. as well as many of the beautiful residential streets. We took some time to also explore the church grove of St.Lorentz church. It has a campground as well as picnic areas there. During the summer months church services are held in this park on Monday evenings. There is also a prayer path through a wooded area. Along that trail are places to meditate and pray. I found it a very peaceful and tranquil walk. We finished our tour of Frankenmuth by crossing the wooden covered bridge that spans the Cass River.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bavarian Festival Parade- June 14

John and I enjoyed viewing the parade today with a few of our Hensler cousins and their families. The parade's floats pretty much represented everything that is synonymous with Frankenmuth and Michigan itself. This area is proud of its' heritage(note the picture of the float with the large cow). Fifteen Franconians from Bavaria arrived in the Saginaw Valley in 1845. They named their small settlement Frankenmuth, meaning"courage of the Franconians". Those who came were German Lutheran immigrants and their faith was important to them. That faith is still reflected in Frankenmuth today. This area is replete with Lutheran churches and schools. Five of them had floats in the parade today, and there was also the Frankenmuth Bible Church, proudly announcing the message of the Gospel. I thought of our own Praise Band back home when I saw St.Martin's band. I have that picture posted here. Another picture which I have posted is that of the float advertising Bronner's Christmas store; that place usually pops into my head immediately when I hear the word Frankenmuth. I have more pictures to share with you and will post them tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bavarian Festival- June 12

There was not the huge crowd that we were expecting tonight at the festival. This was the second day of the activities and my guess is that many people chose to stay home tonight to watch the Detroit Redwings win the Stanley Cup. After a chicken dinner was served at Heritage Park in Frankenmuth there was a spring celebration with the raising of the Maypole. You can see here what the Maypole looked like and how the ribbons were wrapped around the pole by the German folk dancers. It was quite fascinating and,with the German music, very enjoyable. In the picture, where the women are holding up wreaths of flowers, the dance was to the tune of the "Happy Wanderer" After that entertainment; a glass or two of beer, and further listening to the German band, I must say we had a pleasant summer evening. Wait, there is one more item that made the evening. The other picture is that of my husband John dancing a polka with one of the ladies of the royal court( each year a woman is crowned as the Bavarian Princess). John can still dance a polka with style!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge- June 11

I promised more pictures from the Dow Gardens, so here is a Kousa Dogwood- quite different from any dogwood I have seen before. Also I have posted a close-up of a rhododendron flower a la bumble bee. Today we hiked about five miles in the Shiawassee Wildlife Refuge. Water water everywhere....the refuge does have several rivers floating through it; the Cass,the Tittabawassee, the Flint and the Shiawassee rivers. And the park ranger commented that they have had 5 floods there since December. We saw lots of shore birds in the rivers and streams. And we were having a fairly peaceful walk until suddenly a deer came bounding out of the forest near us and at the same time a blue heron decided to take flight! That is the most excitement I have ever experienced in a wild life refuge. I must also say that,judging from the many different bird songs/chatterings, the woods had many different species of birds. We got scolded quite a few times for getting too close to their nests(I can only assume that was what their issue was however). And now we have the rest of the story.. a couple of days ago I mentioned that we saw a painted turtle sitting on what we thought was her nest. Today we saw a vacant turtle hole/nest with broken eggs around it,outside of the hole. Some critter had a tasty snack. It was fascinating for me to see what such a turtle nest and the eggs looked like. The nest was a fairly large and deep hole, I can imagine that digging that hole and laying about eight eggs was no small task for mama turtle. Hope she did not see the rest of that story!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Freeland and Midland Michigan- June 10

The environs of Midland and Freeland were where my parents grew up. Interestingly, I only thought of these two areas in terms of rural roads. Consequently it was very enlightening for me to see the towns associated with the names I had heard all of my life. Freeland, where my mother attended high school, is a fairly small town. I liked Midland, which is bigger than Freeland. It is very tourist friendly. That is, parking was easy and free.It was easy to find our way around the center of the city. It was also not difficult to find a place to eat for lunch; "Sams"which had delicious subs and pizza. Midland is an area where the Chippewa and Tittabawasee rivers converge. I have here a picture of the Tridge, a three-legged pedestrian bridge which was built at this confluence. Every day,since we have been in Michigan,we have seen some body of water. According to Mary Jo,Michigan does have the longest length of coastline in comparison to the other fifty states(this does include its upper peninsula).While in Midland we also visited the Dow Gardens. Large brine deposits precipitated the establishment of the Dow Company in Midland. It was Herbert H.Dow who started the gardens, and his estate is still on the grounds. His son Alden Dow was an architect and apprenticed with Frank L.Wright to also build a home and studio in the gardens. He also designed the Tridge. Besides the Tridge I have posted a picture of the Oriental Poppy and the Fringe Tree,both found in the Dow Gardens. I found the Dow Gardens to be quite different than any other botanical garden I have seen. A lot of the plants were exotic and the garden was grown slowly through the years with the philosophy that the entire beauty of the Garden should never be revealed in a single glance. I have many pictures of the Garden to show,but will add them to future blog sites.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tobico Marsh - June 9

This marsh is located in the Bay City Recreation Area. In the Chippewa language Todico means "a little lake by a big lake". To explain this further, sand deposits in the Saginaw Bay built up over time and formed a body of water which was eventually cut off from the bay. This became Todico Marsh,a 1,700 acre refuge for more than 100 species of birds and migratory fowl. The tall grasses of the marsh hid a lot of the waterfowl from us, but we did see two Mute Swans with their babies in the water. We heard the songs of many birds, but could only see/identify a few. At the Visitors Center I learned the sounds of different frogs, consequently I could hear the green and the bull frog in the marsh. There were also several different species of turtle in the marsh, but the only kind we saw was the painted turtle. We espied one such turtle by the path, and as she seems to be in a hole which apparently she dug, John thought that maybe she was laying eggs. She was willing to pose for a picture so I have posted it here. It was a peaceful walk in the marsh,and I constantly am amazed by the wonders of nature. Every species has its own identifying colors and markings,and some can be identified by particular behavior. I thought there was one kind of gull, but here in Michigan I have identified the ring billed gull. It actually has a black ring around its bill! I can not help but think that God had fun when he created the world. Before I close,I want to explain another name- the origin of the word Saginaw. The Sauk(first Indians here before the Chippewa chased them out)called the area, that later became Saginaw, "O-Sag-E-Non"- or land of the Sauk. I have been to Saginaw many time over the years,but never knew the origin of its name.