Friday, August 29, 2014

Varigated Hydrangea

Oh my how I love Hydrangeas, but this one in particular was absolutely gorgeous. This particular Hydrangea bush was blooming next to a black wrought iron fence that surrounded the tiny Visitor Center at Saugatuck, Michigan's downtown harbor area.

And even more beautiful...

I don't even have to ask if you agree. Surely, you must. Have a lovely Labor Day weekend all. Stay safe and if you are having a heat wave such as we are in Kentucky, stay cool. ENJOY!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Nesting Trumpeter Swans

In the summer of 2006, conservationists from Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, located in southwest Michigan, in partnership with the staff and volunteers of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, released eight pairs of Trumpeter Swans at an undisclosed location. As I drove the route that traverses the Dunes on my trek north in July, I caught sight of several Swans out of the corner of my eye. Making a quick turnaround, I drove back to the marsh where I spotted the Swans.

Strangely, this marsh sits directly to the east of the Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes. The marsh was peppered with beautiful yellow lotus flowers. It was late in the day, but I still managed to capture a few images of the nesting pair, albeit not the best lighting.

I read online that in the thirties there were 33 Trumpeter Swans in the entire continental United States and none in existence in Michigan. Thanks to conservation and reintroduction efforts, the Swans are plentiful again, not only in Michigan, but also throughout the United States. And it appears the conservationists at Sleeping Bear Dunes were successful in their hope that the Trumpeter Swans would imprint on the Dunes marshland making it their nesting site each Summer before migrating south for Winter.

Being quite a distance from the Swans, these images were the best I could do. I stood and watched the nesting pair for quite some time hoping one might lift off and give me an image of their beautiful wing span, but no luck. The entire time I watched them the Swan on the left never once lifted its head. I'm thinking an afternoon nap.

I took various images of the marsh itself before I headed back to the car to continue on to Empire Bluffs that day. I love marshes. And why I love marshes is easy for me to explain. I love the sharp edged cattails sticking up out of the water and blowing in the breezes. I love the brightly color lotus flowers that bloom amongst the lily pads. I especially love all of the waterfowl you can find on any given visit.

Speaking of waterfowl, this female Wood Duck was plying the waters in the marsh just over from where the Swans' nest was situated. And while you can't see it in my photos, there was one Great Blue Heron fishing on the opposite end of the marsh not far from the Swans. When I planned my trek to Michigan, I had no idea I would encounter such a beautiful lakeshore with gorgeous blue water, gulls and wood ducks and swans, stunning red lighthouses, blueberry and cherry farms galore, tallships sailing in the bay, and dunes as tall and as far as one's eye could see. But I did and it all so refreshing. I have a few more photo ops to share coming up. I hope you have enjoyed the trip so far. I would love to hear your thoughts. ENJOY!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Roses in a Saugatuck Garden

While on my trek in Michigan back in July, I captured several images of the Roses blooming in an old fashioned flower garden sitting next to a bank on the corner of the main street that ran through the tiny town of Saugatuck. I have a fondness for Roses but especially love Cabbage Roses. It reminds me of the Rose bushes that bloomed along the fence line in my childhood home.

This courtyard filled with flowers is one you might encounter in England as opposed to a tiny tourist town like Saugatuck, but there it was with its black wrought iron fencing at least 10 feet tall and a beautiful oval topped gate.

I don't believe I have ever seen blush colored Roses actually blooming in a garden before. Although I have seen them in florists. I love there faint color of pink.

Just as I made my way to the end of the garden path, I found this muted pink rose shining in the sun. I tried to find out more about this courtyard flower garden online, but came up empty. All I can figure is it is owned and maintained by the Chemical Bank that is situated next to it. I am praying the oppressive heat wave we have been under since last week will die out this week as it was rather difficult to get anything accomplished when everything you try to do outdoors leaves you sweating profusely. I read on another blog that the snowline is creeping south up in Alaska and wonder just how much summer is left in the higher altitudes. I can feel Fall is not far away now. One of my favorite seasons. ENJOY!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ahh . . . Cherries!

As I traveled the rural road from Leland to Empire, Michigan, on my way to hike the bluff trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes back in July, I stopped to capture a few images of the ripe cherries hanging heavy on the trees at an orchard I passed.

There were blueberry farms and cherry orchards galore everywhere I drove along the route that traversed Lake Michigan, not to mention the many wineries and tree farms. I gotta tell ya, Michigan knows their fruit.

Truth be told, I had never seen a blueberry farm or a cherry orchard, so it was a treat to get to see both. In the Bluegrass State, we're accustomed to thoroughbreds, bluegrass farms, bourbon and tobacco. Yes, we do gave an occasional apple orchard here and there, but Michigan is much more heavily into their fruit.

I think half the fun of cruising around America is the local flavor you find as you travel the rural roads. It's where you find real America wrapped neatly in the farms, orchards, factories and small towns that dot the landscape. The cherries in a local farm market I stopped at outside of Holland had the usual bright red cherries, but they also carried a larger dark seedless cherry. After a quick taste test, I have to say I like both. When I returned home to Kentucky, I went grocery shopping since I had made sure not to leave anything much in the frig before I left. Lucky me, I found fresh cherries at the Fresh Market and bought a bag. I had never bought fresh cherries before. I think it's because I don't like cherries on top of my sundae or milkshakes. So I guess I thought I wouldn't like fresh ones. Turns out, I was wrong. Did I mention I ate my fair share of blueberries after visiting that farm market. Oh, you heard me right, no cherries on my ice cream. I cannot have anything interfering with my ice cream eating experience. Did I mention I am also a huge 'chocoholic'. Yep, and don't even think about getting between me and my chocolate. ENJOY!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Windmill Island Gardens

Windmill Island Gardens is nestled right at the edge of downtown Holland, Michigan. The windmill that is located in the middle of the tulip gardens is 250 years old and is still a working windmill called DeZaan, meaning graceful bird. There are 36 acres of manicured gardens. The windmill itself is 125 feet tall from the top of the blades to the ground. You can actually buy the stone ground flour that is made at the windmill in the Dutch Village Gift Shop that sits next to the windmill.

The evening I visited the Gardens had closed for the day, but visitors could walk or bike back to the Gardens and Dutch Village. So off I went, albeit a cold front had come through the previous evening, and boy was it a chilly walk, but I persevered.

It was about a one mile hike back to the Dutch Village which housed various shops, a carousel and a conservatory. I snapped images of the back of the windmill as I walked the main road. In Spring there are over 115,000 tulips blooming in the Gardens around the windmill. Seriously, can you imagine 115,000 tulips blooming in all colors in one garden?

The Dutch Village was so quaint and colorful. The main building called the post house is an exact replica of a 14th Century wayside inn. I loved the dots of color on the buildings.

This last image is a smaller replica windmill that sits at the opposite end of the Dutch Village. The Gardens were immaculate and so perfectly manicured. Sadly, I didn't get to see the front of the windmill. I was loosing light fast and had to walk back to my car at the entrance. I seriously underestimated the city of Holland and what it had to offer what with Big Ben Lighthouse, the Windmill Island Gardens and Holland State Park with its huge beach. And Saugatuck and Douglas, the two small beach towns I wanted to visit were only about ten minutes from Holland. It was a great location to set up shop for the week. ENJOY!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Macatawa Bay

Boating Michigan! That's what this post should be called. Of all of the bays, rivers and lakes that I encountered, Macatawa Bay in Holland was one of the most beautiful. The bay literally separates the town, with Downtown Holland situated on the south side, and residences and the Mall on the north side. There are numerous yacht clubs, marinas and parks along all the shores on both sides of the bay.

This is an image of the beautiful Macatawa Bay Yacht Club. There were boats in every size and shape in the marina. I captured this image as I walked back from my half mile hike to Big Ben Lighthouse. I just learned from Google that Macatawa Bay Boat Works is located in Holland which explains why I kept seeing wooden boats coming in and out of the inlet. What is not to love about wooden boats. They harken of bygone days to me.

One of the smaller sailboats I kept seeing in the bay was this orange and white striped sailboat. It was a perfect day for it to as a cold front had come through the day before and made for some great sailing weather.

All along Lake Michigan from South Haven to Leland, the towns I ventured in and out of were very small, so quaint and absolutely charming. The area is virtually unspoiled and free from commercialism like you typically find in other beach towns.

And if you aren't into the Dunes themselves, there's beautiful lighthouses to explore all along Lake Michigan. What I found that added a distinct flavor to the area were the blueberry and cherry farms. And, while I was there, the berries and cherries were ripe and ready for the picking. The tiny, tiny farm markets that sat along the side of the road were so adorable. I wished we had more of those here in Kentucky. If I had had more time, I would have loved to check out the Peninsula northeast of Traverse City where the vineyards and wineries are the big attraction. Stay tuned, as I have more posts from Michigan coming up.

-Ripe Cherries in the Orchard
-Holland Windmill and Dutch Village
-Saugatuck Chain Ferry
-Sauagatuck Courtyard Flowers

I won't be gone long, so check back in soon. ENJOY!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Hope your week is off to a great start. I captured this image at a marsh which sits just to the east of the Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I loved the reflection in the water. ENJOY!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Michigan, My Journey

My recent journey throughout Michigan's lower peninsula, along the western shore of Lake Michigan, has not been documented in its entirety, as I will write more posts over the coming weeks.

However, a quick peek back at where I've taken you was in order. Perhaps, you will find a new image or two to feast your eyes upon. I seldom call my outings a trip, but prefer to speak of them as a trek or even a journey, because after all it is a place and time not yet traveled nor spent, and if for no other reason than the newness of it, I consider it an adventure. ENJOY!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

National Lighthouse Day

In honor of such beautiful historical landmarks as our lighthouses that are found throughout the United States, this is Grand Haven Light in Grand Haven, Michigan.

Hope you are having a fabulous week. The weather here in the Bluegrass state is nothing short of 'can this really be August in Louisville'. ENJOY!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Beautiful Point Betsie Lighthouse

Lighthouses, in general, are very popular landmarks. On a beautiful sunny day a few weeks ago, with the most gorgeous blue sky, and just the slightest breeze in the air, I decided to drive down to Point Betsie Lighthouse in Frankfurt, Michigan.

I had just finished hiking Empire Bluffs Trail and wanted to see the lighthouse as I knew I would be heading home the next day. The lighthouse sits just south of Sleeping Bear Dunes, a mere twenty minute drive. Only a handful of people were at the lighthouse as I drove into the parking lot as it had already closed for the day.

I was actually glad it was closed. That meant I could have this place virtually to myself. A wide path led down to the beach and as I walked along the shore farther away from the lighthouse, I turned and looked back. I knew this would be the best perspective to capture a few images of this old lighthouse and I was right.

I also snapped a few images closer to the lighthouse as I walked up the hillside from the beach.

I read that Point Betsie is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States. The lighthouse dates back to 1858. You should know that if you take a hankering, you can rent the two bedroom keepers quarters for a weekly rental fee. Considering where the lighthouse is situated along the lakeshore with Sleeping Bear Dunes close by, not to mention the beautiful lakes and quaint artist's towns right down the road, and add to that Lake Michigan's beaches, it seems the perfect spot to spend a week. ENJOY!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Empire Bluff Trail, Sleeping Bear Dunes

A mere seven tenths of a mile hike on a relatively level terrain through mostly dense woods, with a sprig of wildflowers growing here and there, and you find yourself approaching a sign that warns to stay on the trail as "Steep Bluffs" are ahead. This is the trail at Empire Bluff just south of the tiny town of Empire, Mighigan. It is also the southern most point of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

As you peer out over the landscape looking north, you catch a portion of South Bar Lake which sits just inland from Lake Michigan. There are many inland lakes around this "thumb in the mitten" portion of the state of Michigan as locals call it.

Most of the images I captured from Empire Bluff looked north toward the massive dune. In the far left of this frame sits South Manitou Island. North of South Manitou is Manitou Island. I would have liked to have taken the ferry over to the island to walk around while I was in Leland earlier on this particular day, but I wanted to drive south and hike to Empire Bluff.

The actual bluff itself with the boardwalk didn't afford the prettiest views of the dunes so these images were taken about a tenth of a mile before you reach the boardwalk. This viewpoint is where the trail ends in winter due to the hazardous snow and ice conditions on the boardwalk and bluffs.

One has to wonder peering down from the boardwalk at this tree trunk just where it began its journey, having found its resting place here on the side of the bluff. I tried to imagine winter's wrath bearing down on this bluff and the sand dunes to the north. Imagine, if you can, five to six feet of lake effect snow covering this bluff and the dunes. It's hard to imagine, but is very real here in winter. ENJOY!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Buffalo, Oleson Farms

As I pulled into Traverse City a few weeks ago while in Michigan, I drove past my hotel before I realized I had missed it. Right as I went to turn around, I looked over to see a good sized herd of Buffalo grazing in a pasture next to the highway. Seriously, I did a double take thinking I was not seeing right. Turns out the Buffalo belong to Oleson Farms who sells their meat and hides and have since the early 1900's.

I was struck by how many calves were in the herd. There seemed to be quite a lot of them.
There are approximately 300 Buffalo at Oleson's Farms in Traverse City right now. It all began as an experiment in the early 1900's when the Oleson's grandfather bought three Buffalo. I guess the experiment worked. At one point, the Oleson's had 500 Buffalo which was the largest herd east of the Mississippi. I think any herd east of the Mississippi would be considered large. You never know what you're going to find when you travel, so keep your eyes open. ENJOY!