Saturday, December 31, 2011

North Country Trail Hike and Ski

During the past two days I have exercised in the Burt Township School Forest. Two days ago I hiked -- with no snowshoes or skies -- from the bridge in the school to the Lake Superior shoreline.  I noticed that although there is not much snow, there is enough to cross country ski (barely). So yesterday I skied from the bridge in the school forest west down the road to the end of what is left of  Lonesome Point. Thousands of feet, probably more, have eroded from this point over the last couple of decades.

There are many ecosystems in the school forest, but I especially like these red pine stands.

Since we have received very little snow, the icebergs are no longer forming.  Friction from the waves has melted what ice tried to form.  In fact, you can still hunt for agates because of the lack of ice.  That could change this weekend.  There is a winter storm watch here in Alger County.  Other counties to the west have a blizzard warning.

This photo documents the first time I have had skies on my feet this year.  It felt good to be out skiing again, even though the conditions were barely tolerable.

Ice is trying to form on the Sucker River.

There sure is not very much snow for this time of year.  I hear that we are down a couple of feet of snow compared to what is expected for this time of year.

At this bend in the Sucker River my kids caught their first brook trout back in the 1980s.

I took this shot from the northeast corner of Grand Marais Bay at what is left of Lonesome Point.  I just love it when ice forms on driftwood.

I took this shot looking east down the beach.

This shot was taken looking west down the beach back towards town.

Here is another shot looking across the bay.

One more picture of Sucker River as I skied back to my car.

Friday, December 30, 2011

UofM Natural History Museum -- Post 3

Today I will post the remaining pictures from the Natural History Museum in Ann Arbor. There will be more photos than usual to complete these pictures so I can get back to sharing the evolving winter scenes in Grand Marais.

Some of my favorite birds include owls.  The museum has an extensive display of birds, as well as mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and others.  Here are two of the many owls that are featured.

One of the new displays features the state symbols for the state of Michigan.  Many of these have been declared since I was in school, so they were new to me.

The first state symbol was declared in 1897 -- Apple Blossom.  I have lots of apple trees on my property, so I am happy with this state symbol.

The state bird was declared in 1931 -- American Robin.

In 1990 Kalkaska Sand was declared to be the state soil.

In 1955 the White Pine was declared to be the state tree.  Before the logging era, the forests around Grand Marais were dominated by white pine.

In 1997 the White-tailed Deer was declared to be the state mammal.

The painted turtle is the state's reptile (as of 1995).

In 1998 the state declared the now threatened dwarf lake iris as the state wildflower.

In 1988 the brook trout was declared to be the state fish.

In 1965 the Petoskey Stone was declared to be the state stone.

The Isle Royal Greenstone was declared to be the state gem in 1973.

In 2002 the American mastodon was declared to be the state fossil.

On the fourth floor near the planetarium there are numerous mineral displays.

There is a display explaining selenite, which is the type of mineral that the giant crystals in Mexico are made of.

Here is a picture of the Mexican selenite crystals.  Notice the man on the left side of the pictures.  These are the largest crystals ever found on earth. 

The Naica Mine of Chihuahua, Mexico, is a working mine that is known for its extraordinary crystals. Naica is a lead, zinc and silver mine in which large voids have been found, containing crystals of selenite (gypsum) as large as 4 feet in diameter and 50 feet long. The chamber holding these crystals is known as the Crystal Cave of Giants, and is approximately 1000 feet down in the limestone host rock of the mine.

The crystals were formed by hydrothermal fluids emanating from the magma chambers below. The cavern was discovered while the miners were drilling through the Naica fault, which they were worried would flood the mine. The Cave of Swords is another chamber in the Naica Mine, containing similar large crystals.

The Naica mine, which includes several caves, was first discovered by early prospectors in 1794 south of Chihuahua City. They struck a vein of silver at the base of a range of hills called Naica by the Tarahumara Indians. From that discovery, until around 1900, the primary interest was silver and gold. Around 1900 large-scale mining began as zinc and lead became more valuable.

In April 2000, brothers Juan and Pedro Sanchez were drilling a new tunnel when they made a truly spectacular discovery. While Naica miners are accustomed to finding crystals, Juan and Pedro were absolutely amazed by the cavern that they found. The brothers immediately informed the engineer in charge, Roberto Gonzalez. Ing. Gonzalez realized that they had discovered a natural treasure and quickly rerouted the tunnel.

At the museum, there was this cool picture of another cave.  The picture is promoting a future program that will be featured at the museum about the planet earth.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

UofM Natural History Museum -- Post 2

I arrived back home yesterday from my last trip of the year. Other than going to the Tucson Show, I'll be home for the winter. This is a good thing since I have a lot of work to get done this winter!

Today I will post the second set of photos taken at the Natural History Museum in Ann Arbor.

The pictures below were taken on the second floor.

Here is a shot of Jonathan and Jessica standing next to a Tyrannosaurus Rex leg bone.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

University of Michigan Natural History Museum -- Post 1

Yesterday I went to the UofM Natural History Museum with my son and daughter-in-law. As many of you know, I went to college at UofM and also worked in Ann Arbor for 20 years. When my kids were little, we used to go to the museum a lot. Jonathan had not been there since he was small and Jessica had never been there. My main purpose for going was to see a show at the revamped planetarium, which now has digital equipment.

Today's pictures will include images from the displays that depict what life on earth looked like through the ages.  First a few shots I took as we walked into the museum.

Jonathan and Jessica standing out front....

We have always called the facility "the museum with the lions out front."

Here is a shot of the dome inside the front lobby.

There were two Permian displays:  one marine and one terrestrial.

The tall marine organisms almost look like saguaro cactus.