Fife Lake Area Solo Hike

Solo hiked a new 7-mile section of the North Country Trail yesterday, thankfully, Robert agreed to be my spotter so I didn’t have to do an ‘out-and-back’ trip.   Decided on the Fife Lake Area which is about 15 miles south of Kalkaska.  I noticed on my map that it went through a couple of campgrounds and alongside a couple of lakes, so I figured my photo opportunities would be good.

The weather was forecast to be in the high 80’s with windy conditions, so I thought that if I got an early start, I’d be done before the hottest part of the day arrived.  Hit the trailhead at 9:30 am and unfortunately, I had left my bug head net at home.  I use it so frequently while working in my yard/gardens, that I surprised myself that I had neglected to put it in my pack.  Needless to say, the biting little gnats were pretty intense, but thankfully, the mosquitoes heeded my bug spray!


The trail crossed and merged with numerous ATV trails, and also the Shore-to-Shore horseback trail, so thankfully, the North Country Trail is marked very well.


View of Spring Lake from the boat launch at the campground.  Very nice and quiet lake.


Looking west at Headquarters Lake.  The wind had started to pick up, which felt great as the temperature was steadily rising.


Something about a trail through the woods just makes me say “Aaaaaahhhh”.


Came around a bend and here was this wonderful bench.  Thank you to whomever put it there.  It was nice to sit and take a break, and enjoy the views.


I couldn’t believe how tall these ferns were, over three-feet tall!


We’ve had some intense wind storms this spring and I have a feeling that one of them toppled this huge pine.


These ‘stump-chairs’ were provided by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club.  Thank-you! They sit quite comfortably!

Met back up with Robert at 1:15 pm then drove a few miles south on US-131 to a road-side park and had a nice picnic lunch.  I was also able to clean-up a bit thanks to an old hand pump well, before the 1 and 1/2 hour trip home.

It was a great hike and I look forward to my next one.



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Jordan River Valley Hike

For those of us who live or have lived in Michigan know, if you wait on good weather to do anything outside, you’d never get anything done!  So on Thursday, May 31st, we set out to do another section of the North Country Trail.  We were forecast to have a chance of rain, but when we arrived at the trailhead, it was raining very hard.  Since we do a lot of outdoor activities, we were prepared with rain gear and ponchos.  This was our first time hiking in the Jordan River Valley so we weren’t sure what to expect.


View of the Jordan River Valley from the North Country Trail.


Had to don both my rain gear and poncho.  I know I look like a yellow peep, but I am dry!


Very hilly terrain, but thankfully the Trail Chapters take good care of the trail.


This is the very first time I’ve seen Pink Lady Slippers!  They are absolutely gorgeous.  We found them in a very small area.


Shortly after seeing the Pink Lady Slippers, I came across this one bunch of Yellow Lady Slippers!  What a treat, and again, they were only in a very small area.


I must have been quite a wind storm to bring this big guy down!

Did not realize we were going to cross the 45th Parallel.  We are half-way to the North Pole!!


When you think of ‘fungus’, you may not think of something this beautiful!


These unknown ferns were also very cool, it’s amazing what you can find in nature!


It was beginning to clear up as we made our way back to the car, it was a great hike, and as I’m not made of sugar, I didn’t melt!



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Memorial Weekend Ride

After almost a week of cool and rainy weather, we couldn’t wait to get on our bicycles and get outside and do another section of the North Eastern State Trail.  Robert dropped me off at the trailhead in Tower, MI and and he drove to my end point, Millersburg, left the car, and started from there.  Since we have only one vehicle, this seems to work well for us.  We don’t get to ride together, but we usually meet somewhere along the trail.  We can tell each other about obstacles, hazards, and the like.



I was a little unnerved when I read this note, only because I had a dream about a bear just the night before!  I was prepared to say a lot of “Yo Bear”s along the way, but when I heard how loud my water bottle and stuff in my bag were rattling, I knew I was making enough noise.


An old weathered bridge over Tower Pond, which is part of the Black River.  Very scenic.  The trail conditions were ok, I could tell we’d had a lot of rain by how loose the limestone pebbles were, so I was very glad to have borrowed Robert’s old bike, which has wider tires than mine.


These beautiful little blue and white wildflowers were everywhere!


Loved the tunnel effect of the trees, and also thankful for the shade, it was quite sunny and warm.


At our meeting point, this Black-billed Cuckoo sat in the brush just off the trail while Robert and I ate a snack and chatted with another cyclist.  It’s nest must have been very near.


? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?  Enough said.


Robert caught this Ruffed Grouse strutting his stuff.  I also observed one sitting in the divot of a horse hoof mark.


Seen and heard quite a few deer along the trail, this one decided to check Robert out!


New bridge over the Ocqueoc River just outside of Millersburg.  A lot of work went into it and the surrounding landscape.

It was a good 13 mile ride, although I have to say, the last five miles for me were tough.  I seemed to have run out of energy and my legs were feeling like lead!  And why is it that no matter what direction you ride, the wind is ALWAYS in your face!!




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Starvation Lake Road to Twin Lake Road and Return










Completed another seven miles of the North Country Trail on Friday, 5/19 (just 86 more miles to complete my Hike 100 Challenge!) It started out very chilly, but as the day went on, it warmed up nicely. Parked at the Starvation Lake Road ATV parking area and had a short walk to the trail, which immediately led us into a small, well carpeted pine forest. For once we were actually pretty quiet while hiking – while this is nice, it does have its disadvantages: animals may not hear you before they see you, and most wild animals don’t care to be surprised. Thankfully, we did not have any close encounters, but we also seen very little wildlife. This kind of perplexed me, no chipmunks, squirrels, or any other little ground animals. Was it the type of area? Was it the ATV trail riders that had driven the wildlife away? We crossed an ATV trail approximately four times in the 3.5 miles down to Twin Lakes Road. There were even very few songbirds around, you know the kind: robins, blue jays, chickadees, sparrows, and the like. The only wildlife we did observe was a pair of Canada geese with four goslings, a garter snake sunning itself in a small patch of sun, and three Broad Winged Hawks soaring overhead.

While the scenery was beautiful, as you can see in the included pictures, the lack of wildlife put a small damper on this hike.   We did discover two wildflowers that we had never seen before, not sure if they grow over here on the east side of the state, but if I ever see them again, I’ll know what they are. The first was a beautiful purple “Fringed Polygala” and the second was a cute little white “Star Flower” (appropriately named!). Overall, it was a good hike, I was able to experience another area I had never been to before, and we both arrived back at the car safe and sound, although tired.




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For The Love Of Spring

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

I absolutely LOVE spring.  The days are longer, the sun is warmer, the trees are beginning to bud, and the birds are singing!!   The above pictured bird is a Brown Thrasher, and if you’ve ever been lucky enough to hear them sing, you may think you’re listening to ten different birds!  Their song seems random, chaotic, and without any structure, almost a cacophony of many different sounds.  And what I also love about them is that they sit at the very top of a tree and they are by far, the loudest bird around.  Talk about wanting to be noticed.  There is nothing demure about these birds and their song! We’ve had Brown Thrashers here every spring and they sing from sun up to sun down, and this year I was fortunate enough to capture a good picture of one in mid-song.

While listening to them, and all of our other resident birds, I remembered a book I had to read while working on my minor, Environmental Science, at Western Michigan University, called Silent Spring (1962), by Rachel Carson.  I though of Chapter 8, entitled “And No Birds Sing”, I cannot imagine not hearing a single bird sing, a silent spring, and am so grateful to Ms. Carson for writing this book.  It helped lead to the banning of DDT following the death of massive amounts of birds and other animals around the country. Lets hope this never happens again.



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Hike, Bike/Walk

April 14, 2017.  After two weeks of house/kitty sitting, I needed my ‘nature fix’ so we immediately headed out to Reid Lake, one of my favorite places, for a day hike. The weather was chilly, but since I still have all of my winter clothes out, donning many layers was easy. After all, it’s April in Michigan and we never know what kind of weather Mother Nature is going to throw at us!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

On previous spring hikes, I remembered seeing some daffodils just before getting to the lake, and I was earnestly searching for them when we spotted some clumps of lavender and dark purple crocus. It’s the first I’ve seen them out here, and I was very glad to spot them. Upon seeing the crocus, I knew the daffodils wouldn’t be blooming yet, but after some searching, we spotted their leaves poking up through the leaf litter. Maybe I’ll make it back out here to see them this year.

Further down the trail, we spotted some Round lobed Hepatica just off the trail and these little beauties also brought a smile to my face. They are like little jewels amongst a drab, brown/grey environment.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

We brought two seed bells with us to hang for the spring birds who are returning and might need some quick energy. We found nice secluded areas to hang them and will return later to remove the netting.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

While eating lunch on a downed tree, we kept getting circled by a pair of Red Shouldered Hawks and we thought they wanted our jerky or nuts. But then we spotted the hawk’s nest not far from us.   I assured the hawks that we will not invade their home, but I think they were not having any of it.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

While rounding Big Marsh, I noticed some turtles sunning themselves on a log, I could only imagine how cold that water was, I think I’d want to get out of it also!

It was great to get my ‘nature fix’ on such a beautiful day!

April 18, 2017.  A few days after the hike, we decided to do a portion of the North Eastern State Trail, Posen to Hawks.  We thought for sure the path wouldn’t be muddy, after all, it’s pretty dry here.  Right???  It was another sunny day, chilly, and unfortunately a little windier than we like, but we set out anyway.

I’ve never biked with three layers of clothes on, heavy winter mittens, and a knit hat over my visor, but I’m always up for an adventure.  Not far down the trail we encountered two red fox, separately, but not far apart.  Being the sly fox they are, they did not stop and pose for a photo op, but they were beautiful nonetheless.  We were surprised to see them since we have so few due to the high coyote population.  Again, I spotted some painted turtles sunning themselves.  I felt bad when we rode by and they slipped into the freezing water, they probably had some choice words for us!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

While the trail was in good shape, we did encounter some areas that were very mushy, and it felt like riding a bike on beach sand, peddling like crazy, but not getting anywhere!  We ended up walking them through the worst of it, thankfully it wasn’t too long of a stretch.

A short ways up the trail, we spotted a couple of eagles being harassed by some crows, and then we spotted their nest.  It is huge!  I was surprised the smallish tree could support it and that it was as close to the farm as it was.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

We had planned on going to Hawks and then returning to Posen, but when we encountered the mud/soft trail and the wind ‘freshening’ up, we decided to stop in Metz, eat our lunch, and then return to Posen.  We had never been to Metz, so we didn’t know what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised at the brand new (2016) trailside park that was there.  It is considered a historic park commemorating the great fire of 1908. Very interesting place.  KODAK Digital Still Camera

After a nice break, we peddled the 5 miles back to Posen against a very ‘fresh’ headwind, which slowed us a bit and ensured I received a good workout.  Again, another wonderful day to be outside!



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Spring ‘Retreat’

I have two more days left of my Spring ‘Retreat’ here in Harrisville.  When I arrived, Lake Huron was very angry and noisy, almost to the point of deafening.  But thankfully the weather improved and the lake calmed down.

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera

I call this a ‘retreat’ but I am actually house/kitty sitting for a friend while she is in Colorado.  I’ve been doing this for almost five years and I really enjoy coming over here and since losing BooBoo, I have a chance to spend time with some wonderful kitties.  Lucy is the grey one and Lacey is the multi-colored one.

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera

I have done a lot of beach walking and glass hunting when the weather and lake conditions permit.  I have found a lot of ‘treasures’ and even some ‘cute junk’.  It’s been quite cool here, but today is very warm, almost 70 deg.  With the warm spring air comes the spring thunderstoms, and one has already gone through, and there are more on the way for this afternoon and evening.

The spring crocus have started blooming and I absolutely love them.  They are one of the first spring flowers to brighten the otherwise drab brown ground.

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera

I will be heading home on Wednesday and then starts the spring clean-up and prepping of the garden and flower beds.  I think winter may be finally over (I say that very softly so that Mother Nature won’t hear, and decide to drop another snowstorm on us!)



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Aurora, The Roman Goddess of the Dawn

KODAK Digital Still CameraI left off with Aurora’s progress and I wanted to show how she turned out.  Pretty good I think.

This was taken last summer, as you can see by the garden in full swing!

I did have to make an adjustment to her this spring.  We had some very high winds and her skirt didn’t fare too well.  So I had to remove it and reconfigure it to a tighter fit so the wind is unable to damage it.  I don’t yet have a picture, but will soon.






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Introducing Aurora

With some relatively mild weather over us, I heated up my workshop and Robert and I have begun to create my “junk person”.  Here are some pictures of her progress.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

End of day one.  We’ve gotten the major components together and I only broke 1 hack saw blade, and one drill bit.  Pretty good day!

Day Two.  I worked alone putting her face on, and accessorizing other parts.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

End of day two.  Pretty happy with the way it’s going so far.

Day Three.  The skirt and ears are going on today.

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End of day three.  Wow, that skirt was a pain in the ***!  But I like the way it looks and it swings a little, which is a nice touch.  I have to do some more “junking” to find her arms.  Not sure what I will come up with, but I’ll know it when I see it.

Since getting her face and other accessories on, I did some research and decided to call her “Aurora”.  She is the Roman Goddess of the Dawn.  Each morning she opens the gates for her brother, Sol (the Sun), the ride in his chariot across the sky.  Her sister is Luna (the Moon), and her children are the Four Winds (North, East, South, West).  I will keep this in mind in further accessorizing.

Will post further progress when I have it.








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What I’ve Been Doing

Welcome to 2016!  Wow, last year seemed to fly by.  Here are some pictures of some of the things that kept me so busy during 2015.

I have also finally gotten my own studio/workshop.  We finished the inside and I absolutely love it!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

I’ve also been trying to improve my photography skills.  Since I live in the middle of the Huron National Forest, my favorite subjects are anything outside!

Since we have finally gotten quite a bit of snow now, we will be heading out and doing some snowshoeing tomorrow. . .



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