Monday, August 31, 2009

Dune Hikes

This past month was so busy, that I've only had a chance to hike once or twice a week -- until recently. While I was in the Whitefish Point area last weekend, I jump started getting back on my healthy lifestyle by joining a friend and completing a four-hour, mostly by head lamp hike. It was a different perspective hiking in the dark, but I enjoyed it. Since then, it has been back to the dunes in Grand Marais. Here are some shots taken this week, including a couple of photos of some awesome fungi.

This first photo is a picture I took of a huge bear paw print we saw the night before last. We thought we smelled the musky smell of a bear two or three times, too, but we just kept on hiking. Notice the nickle we used for reference.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shipwreck Museum

Last weekend I was fortunate to have been asked to teach the agate class at the Shipwreck Museum located on Whitefish Point. The weather was a bit windy, but the rain held off on Saturday. On Friday, they let me set up a small booth on the porch of their gift shop. The rain did not hold off that day. Thus, when the tourists took refuge on the covered porch, I was at the right place at the right time with my booth.

Although Grand Marais does quite well with tourism, we do not compare to Whitefish Point. I couldn't believe how busy it was, even with the bad weather. Of course, it was Blueberry Festival 11 miles down the road in Paradise. That may have contributed to the busy tourist traffic on Whitefish Point.

Below are some pictures taken at Whitefish Point, including one of my booth and a couple from the agate class.

A shot from the microscope part of the agate class.

Several ore freighters passed by during the day.

Some of the class participants looking for rock specimens in the field trip portion of the class.

Various shots of the buildings/displays at the shipwreck museum.

A makeshift memorial for victims from the Edmund Fitzgerald tragic sinking on November 10, 1975.

More shots of the museum grounds.

My booth on the gift shop porch.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Whitefish Point Cranberry Farm

Last week and weekend were busy as usual. I presented my power point presentation on Wednesday at the Whitefish Township library in Paradise, MI. I took Thursday off, which is the first day off I've had in quite some time. After checking in with the Shipwreck Museum (I had a booth there on Friday and taught agate classes on Saturday), I decided to check out the cranberry farm on Whitefish Point. It has been operated by the same family since 1876! I spoke with the current owner. He says they harvest 180,000 pounds of cranberries each fall!

Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the genus Vaccinium subgenus Oxycoccos, or in some treatments, in the distinct genus Oxycoccos. They are found in acidic bogs throughout the cooler parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines up to 6 feet long and 2 to 8 inches in height. They have slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with very distinct reflexed petals, leaving the style and stamens fully exposed and pointing forward. They are pollinated by domestic honey bees. The fruit is an epigynous berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant; it is initially white, but turns a deep red when fully ripe. It is edible, with an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness.

Cranberries are a major commercial crop in certain American states and Canadian provinces. Most cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries (e.g. Craisins), with the remainder sold fresh to consumers. Cranberry sauce is regarded an indispensable part of traditional American and Canadian Thanksgiving menus and European winter festivals.

Since the early 21st century within the global functional food industry, there has been a rapidly growing recognition of cranberries for their consumer product popularity, nutrient content and antioxidant qualities, giving them commercial status as a "superfruit".

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Garden Flowers to balance the work...

Since the music festival, it has been nothing but work. That is OK: I am actually enjoying worknig the museum and conducting the lectures and classes. August certainly is in full swing. I have had many private classes with more to come in the next week or so. Plus, I'm leaving tomorrow to spend the next few days in Paradise. I'll be speaking at the Paradise Library at 6:30 on Wednesday (8/19). On Friday, I'll have a booth set up at the Shipwreck Museum. On Saturay, I'll be teaching the agate class there. The morning class is just about full, but there is still room in the afternoon class, which will run from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. The class fee is $15 per person. Contact information is on the webpage Scroll down the homepage to the list of shows and other events until you find the Shipwreck Museum listing.

Since I've done nothing but work this past week, I have not even had time to hike or go on any adventures. I have been enjoying my garden. The pumpkin flowers are amazing. This is the first year I put up a deer fence, so it is nice to enjoy the pumpkin flowers that this year are not being eaten by the deer. I've also enjoyed all the vegtables. Although the growing season was delayed, everything is coming ripe now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grand Marais Music and Arts Festival

For the second weekend in a row, I have had to contend with the weather while exhibiting my art at an outdoor show. This time, though, I hauled my trailer since the festival was in Grand Marais. It was convenient to have the trailer right there so that I could store items in the trailer overnight, and not have to worry about the thunderstorms that rolled through the area.

My sales on festival grounds were down considerably, but the museum sales were up. In total I sold $10 more this year, so the numbers were about even. I'll take that. Many of the other vendors said that their numbers were down sigificantly, too.

It looks like summer has finally arrived. It is supposed to be sunny and in the 80s most of the week. Thus, if you were thinking about coming up to Grand Marais, this would be a terrific week.

Some of the festival photos are below.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ishpeming Gem and Mineral Show

Over the last several years I have exhibited my art at many dozens of shows. Although there have not been a whole lot of outside shows, this one last weekend was the most challenging in terms of the weather.

I arrived on Friday night and met my friends, Gerald and Jill. We decided to set my new art tent up on Firday, planning on filling it with product on Saturday morning before the show's 9:30 a.m. opening. They have an RV and I have a bed in the back of my Suberban (which is a challenge to have enough room when I still have product in the car). When i woke up, it was raining for the first of many times during the day, but at that point the wind wasn't too bad. Everything went great for the first hour or so, but then the wind started to get worse. For the next two or three hours, I split my time between helping customers and holding down the tent. We were in a parking lot, so you cannot stake the tent. Instead, I had made some 30" PVC tubes and filled them with sand. Each weighed around 30 or 40 pounds and were tied to the four tent poles. I also had 10 metal gridwalls and 5 tables -- all attached to the tent to weight it down. When the big 60 mph gust hit mid-way through the show, I realized that there was not enough weight. The wind picked up the entire tent, gridwalls, and tables around 2-3 feet in the air! Two tables fell over, so I had some loss of product. Other artists were also having problems, but show attendees pitched in to help. I decided that it was not worth it and with help we had my tent and most of the product (now wet) packed away in less than 20 minutes. Of course, right after that the sun came out, but I didn't re-set up the tent since the wind was still strong. For the rest of the afternoon, I just had a couple of tables with a few items. Here are a couple of shots I took of some of the product in other booths.

That night, we attended the club's crackerbarrel at the Cliff's Mine Shaft Museum. They allowed us to camp on the grounds. The next morning I walked around the grounds of the outdoor part of the museum and took the following shots. I couldn't beleive how sore my arms were from trying to fight the wind and be a human tent stake.

It certainly was an interesting place to "camp."

There was no memorial sign, but we assumed that the cross was to honor those who gave their lives in the mine.

The mine entrance.

The engine house.