Tag Archive | wild turkey

Thanksgiving Turkeys

Tomorrow is that day of days, where we Americans stuff ourselves silly with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, wine and the aptly named stuffing.  If you are truly serious about this free for all of gluttony, you wear your fat pants…

I snapped this pic of some wild turkeys at the campground where I stayed in Cape Ann, Massachusetts.  I liked the framing of the dirty, cobwebbed bathroom window…  Art is everywhere.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Now make sure you are ready – go find your fat pants!

Turkey Window

 

MI Road Trip: Lighthouses and Lakes

What kind of houses does Michigan have more of than any other state?  Lighthouses!  Michigan has more than 150 past and present lighthouses, and we were on our way to see one!

After leaving Muskegon, we headed to Ludington, because there was a lighthouse I wanted to see there. We drove through a cute, touristy town – the lighthouse is dead ahead on the main road. The Ludington North Breakwater Light is not technically a lighthouse, because there was never a house attached to it, but I am going to call it one anyway.

The Ludington North Breakwater Light is maintained by the Sable Point Lighthouse Keeper’s Association (I’m not sure if they require you to be a lighthouse keeper to join, but I hope not, because that might be a pretty small group…). It is open for tours between late May and Labor Day, but once again, we were shut down by the fact that it was the off season.

The Ludington North Breakwater Light

The Ludington North Breakwater Light

The first light was constructed in 1871 with federal funds, but getting the funding for a light keeper’s house proved more difficult. Granted, one can just walk out the pier from the town of Ludington to the light, so that probably had something to do with it, but in bad weather the walk along the pier was very precarious.

Even on a sunny day in October, the winds were high enough that we didn’t want to brave the walk along the pier, because waves were crashing over the concrete pier. Imagine trying to make the walk in the dead of winter, during a storm, with a wooden pier! It wasn’t until 1900 that a light keeper’s house was built.

Eventually the wooden pier and the breakwater began to break down and a decision was made to construct the current concrete pier and a new light. The current pyramidal shaped light was constructed in 1924; the unique shape is to deflect the high winds and waves from the lake. It is made with steel plates, and is 57 feet tall.

It was originally lit with a Fourth Order Fresnel lens (for more info on Fresnel lenses see this post), constructed in the United States rather than France, but the lens was removed several years after the light was automated in 1972.  It is currently on display at the Historic White Pine Village, a tourist village that sounded interesting, but with the timing of our trip and other things we wanted to do, it just wasn’t in the cards for us.

And just so you know, that tilt on the lighthouse isn’t my terrible camera angle.  The lighthouse actually is tilted!  In 1994, the crib that the light sits on settled and it tilted 4 degrees to the northeast.  Repairs were considered, but abandoned due to the cost after it was determined that the lighthouse was still safe (don’t worry, I know you are going to scroll back up and look at the photo again – that’s perfectly fine).

Next we drove down the road that runs near the water towards Silver Lake State Park. Before going into the park, we parked and were able to check out the lake and the sand dunes; Jon got his first look at Michigan sand dunes and loved them! But the weather that day was too cold and windy to enjoy the beach for long.  Silver Lake State Park actually has a lighthouse too, but vacations are all about choices, and we decided not to visit this one – but I do wish we had the time for everything.

An interestingly positioned chunk of driftwood on Lake Michigan

An interestingly positioned chunk of driftwood on Lake Michigan

The sun sinks lower over Lake Michigan

The sun sinks lower over Lake Michigan

We made our way to our last stop in Ludington; dinner at the Jamesport Brewing Co. I ordered the beer sampler, with the following beers:

  • Blueberry Wheat – YUM! I loved this. A nice light wheat beer with just a hint of blueberry, and I loved that they served it with some fresh blueberries floating in it.
  • Apricot Wheat – Very light; I didn’t like it when tried it alone, but liked it with food.
  • Hefeweizen – This was a German style Hefeweizen (well yes, they are all German style, but you know what I mean right? Some brewers stick more to the traditional style). It wasn’t my favorite; despite usually being really fond of Hefeweizens.
  • Nitro Stout – Creamy and smooth, with caramel and coffee. Yum!
  • Smoky Porter – Lot of caramel and very smoky. I liked it, but probably wouldn’t want a whole pint.
Jamesport Brewing Co. Beer Sampler

Jamesport Brewing Co. Beer Sampler

I ordered the Lake Perch, a specialty for this restaurant, and I don’t think I have ever had perch, so I wanted to try something new! It was lightly breaded and fried with homemade seasoned French fries. The side salad was delicious too.  Jon had the IPA (he’s getting very predictable) with the Citrus Salmon; it was served on a bed of rice. He had a side salad too. We were both very happy with our choices.

The downtown area of Ludington was quite cute, with several neat shops that I would have loved to poke around in. But they were closed when we finished with dinner (most were closed before we even started dinner). As it were, we continued on to our home for the night in Manistee.

On a country road as the light was fading, we saw a flock of turkeys crossing the road. Turkeys! I had never seen wild turkeys before, so that was pretty neat, but the fading light (and the fact that Jon wouldn’t stop the car) meant that my pictures of them were blurry. As we were getting into Manistee, we were just seeing the last light of the day and enjoyed a lovely view of the lake.

Blurry Turkeys…

Blurry Turkeys…

 

SW National Parks Trip: More of Zion

In my last post, we left off having lunch on the patio of the Zion Lodge…

After we ate, we took some photos of the Zion Lodge.  The original lodge was built in 1924 with milled lumber and stonework.  It was intended to provide a rustic lodge look without being over the top in grandeur and overpowering the landscape.  At the time, there were still several settlers with homes on the canyon floor.  Several cabins were added in 1927, and 1929, and employee dormitories were built in the complex between 1929 and 1937.  Unfortunately the original lodge burned in 1966 – a replacement was built immediately, but wasn’t remodeled to look like the original building until 1990.  The cabins and dormitories are the originals.

Zion Lodge – A Very Happenin’ Place

Zion Lodge – A Very Happenin’ Place

We still wanted to do a little more hiking so we checked out the Emerald Pools Trail next. There are 3 Emerald Pools – the first one is 0.6 miles out for a round trip of 1.2 miles.  There is a footbridge that crosses over the Virgin River at the trail head, and a paved trail.  There are some hills on this trail, but nothing too strenuous. We got to the pool and I promptly renamed it the Emerald Mud Puddle.  I was not impressed – it was not the right time of the year to see this beauty in its full glory.  But that’s ok, because coming from Washington, we have lots of spectacular waterfalls and pools at home.

On our way out to the Emerald Pools

On our way out to the Emerald Pools

One of the sandstone peaks on the way out to the Emerald Pools

One of the sandstone peaks on the way out to the Emerald Pools

Looking down at the first Emerald Pool. Impressive? Eh…

Looking down at the first Emerald Pool. Impressive? Eh…

We didn’t go up to the second or third pool because we had already hiked about 6 miles at that point, but I was surprised to learn that more people have actually died falling from the Emerald Pools Trail than at Angels Landing.  I guess you can’t let your guard down anywhere at Zion – who would have thought?

Once we got back from the mud puddle – er… pool – we got on the shuttle back to the Visitor’s Center, got our car, and headed over to the Kolob Canyons section of the park. This section is more wooded and not as visually dramatic as the main tourist section. As a result it was much quieter and less traveled. It does have the tallest mountain in the park though – Horse Ranch Mountain at an elevation of 8,726 feet. One of the guidebooks I read before the trip suggested a hike called the Taylor Creek Trail that leads you past two settler’s cabins from the 1930s. If we were doing another day in the park, we certainly would have checked out that trail. It is about 4 miles, and looked like a nice, moderately difficult hike.

Kolob Canyon as the Sun gets Lower

Kolob Canyon as the Sun gets Lower

On our drive through Kolob Canyons, we even saw a wild turkey!  She was just off the side of the road, but she was a little shy when I rolled down the window to get some photos, so the photo below was the best we could do.  Kolob Canyons has a Visitor’s Center, but we got over there after it had closed for the day, so I don’t know if it has its own National Parks Passport stamp.  I bet it does; they usually do.  That just means I’ll have to come back!  All in all, it was a fantastic day at Zion.  We had perfect weather – the high was in the mid-60s, so it wasn’t too hot when we were hiking in the sun.  I hated to leave.

Turkey! Sorry it’s a little blurry…

Turkey! Sorry it’s a little blurry…

Our last bit of the day was spent traveling up to Cedar City (we stayed there instead of Springdale to get a jump on the next day’s driving) and we made our way to the next Super 8 of the trip. When we checked in, we discovered that there was a smoke detector in the room next door chirping – what is it with Super 8’s and smoke detectors? I probably don’t want to know. We had a few errands to run, so the clerk at the front desk told us that he would either fix it before we got back, or move us to another room.

Then off we went to the only electronics store in town, Walmart, to see if we could get a new cord for our GPS, since ours was no longer charging the device. Kenny didn’t have a Garmin cord, but he was able to find us a universal adapter that fit into the Garmin’s mini USB port. It worked! And we were back in navigational business.

Jon didn’t feel like eating dinner out, so we got deli sandwiches, snacks and fruit, and went looking for some beer and wine.  This is when we discovered a quirk that we didn’t know about Utah and alcohol. Apparently, Utah does not permit sales of alcohol with higher than a 3.2% alcohol by weight in grocery stores or on taps in bars.  Apparently you also have to order food at the same time as you order alcohol in a bar or restaurant.

For those of us that live in states where alcohol is primarily measured as alcohol by volume, 3.2% alcohol by weight is equivalent to 4.0% alcohol by volume. Jon was craving a stout beer that night, but instead left empty handed because he was disappointed by the less than robust selection. There wasn’t a bottle of wine to be seen in the grocery store – you have to purchase wine at the liquor store, which of course was already closed.  So we struck out…

When we got back, our hotel clerk had successfully fixed the chirping smoke detector, so we were able to eat our dinner in peace and watch a bit of TV.  Then it was off to bed for a good night’s sleep and another early morning wake up.

We were headed to Canyonlands the next day!