Sunday, July 31, 2011

Grand Marais Sun Rise -- Post 2

This second posting in my sun rise walk features the walk out the pier, or breakwall as some refer to it. I edited information from the website

Located near the beautiful Pictured Rocks National Park, Grand Marais' West Bay is the only deep water place of refuge from White Fish Point to Munising. This made Grand Marais' harbor strategically important for shipping on Lake Superior during the 1800's, especially for vessels needing a harbor of refuge during the sometimes violent storms on Lake Superior. Some early French maps have this harbor of refuge shown as "le Grand Mare" meaning a safe harbor. In 1872, a breakwater was constructed in the harbor to further it's protection from Lake Superior. Here is an aerial shot taken a few years ago of the bay with the channel piers.

There are two lighthouses that are located at the north and south ends of the west pier. The inner harbor light (Front Range light) was constructed on the long stone breakwater in 1895 with it's skeletal steel tower standing 34 feet tall on a pier foundation. It's beacon, with a lens focal plane of 40 feet above lake level, produces a flashing white display every 2.5 seconds with a visibility range of 15 miles. The harbor entrance light (Rear Range light) was constructed in 1898 with it's skeletal steel tower standing 47 feet tall on a pier foundation at a distance of 2,610 feet from the Front Range light. It's beacon, with a lens focal plane of 54 feet above lake level, produces a flashing white display every 4 seconds with a visibility range of 15 miles.

In 1899, the U.S. Coast Guard established a very important Life-Saving Station here. The current Grand Marais facility was constructed in 1938 and deactivated in 1981. A notable rescue was carried out from this station on November 14, 1919. The Lifesaving, crew along with 4 civilians (Joseph Graham, Ambrose Graham, Ora Endress, and James MacDonald), set out to rescue the crew of the stranded steamer H.E. RUNNELS. Heavy snow, monstrous waves and ice covering the decks on the steamer made this a very hazardous rescue. The high seas had washed some of the rescuers out of the lifesaving boat in the process but no lives were lost. All 17 crew members from the steamer were rescued. On June 3, 1920, John O. Anderson, Alfred E. Kristofferson, Leon E. Alford, George Olsen, Glen Wells, Edward J. Spencer, Russell Martin, William Campbell and Joseph G. McShea were all awarded a Gold Lifesaving Medal for their bravery.

Here is a front view of the current building, which now houses offices for the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The second photo below was taken of the building from the west pier.

At the end of Coast Guard Point, to the north of the life-saving station, is the Grand Marais Historical Society's Light House Keepers House Museum. There are parking lots on both sides of the building to allow easy access to the light houses and west pier. Here is a few of that building taken from the west pier.  Notice the woman sitting on the pier enjoying the view.

I parked to the north of the light house keeper's house, and walked out onto the pier. It was a beautiful morning with fairly calm winds. There was just enough breeze to put a ripple on the lake's surface. There are times, though, when you should not venture even close to the pier. Pictures tell the story.

Now, here is the first batch of pictures I took while walking out onto the west pier.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sunrise in Grand Marais

When you have a demanding schedule, such as I do this summer, you have to create moments of relaxation and joy. This morning I woke up a little after six. When I looked outside, it appeared to be a perfect summer morning. It has been a very long time since I went down by the Big Lake for sunrise. When I checked the computer for sunrise time, it told me that it was at 6:21 a.m. -- in just seven minutes! I grabbed my camera and dashed out to my car. I am SOOOO glad that I took the time. That was one of the most relaxing and beautiful sunrises I have had the privilege to enjoy in several years.

As I drove by the bay, I captured this shot of a couple of the sailboats anchored off shore. I'll have to count how many total sailboats there are. I would guess there are around a dozen or so.

I missed the beginning of sunrise, but I arrived at the parking lot of the Lighthouse Keeper's Museum just as the sun rose above the horizon.  Notice part of the breakwater in the foreground of the picture.

I then drove around the museum and parked in the lot next to the breakwater.  Everyone always talks about sunsets.  However, the sunrises are just as beautiful.

It was such a glorious morning that I decided to walk out onto the breakwater.  I have not done so yet this year.  I took a lot of photos and will share them in upcoming blog updates.  This morning I'll stay with the sunrise theme.  In the shot below, you can see the beginning of the break wall cribbing in the bottom left of the photo.  In the upper right you can see the end of what is left of Lonesome Point, located on the northeast corner of the bay.

Here is another shot from 20 or 30 feet north of the beginning of the cribbing.

As I walked out along the breakwater, I captured the sun with the beacon that marks the location of the east pier.

As the sun climbed higher, the red hues turned golden.

I was not the only person out enjoying the sunrise.  As I turned the camera west toward the sand dunes, I captured this morning beach walker and a few seagulls.  You can also see the piping plover signs marking the area of a nest.  I have not heard whether the chicks in this nest made it.

Another treat as I walked out the breakwater, was this boat driving out of the channel.  She is called Idyll Time and is from Chattanooga, Tennessee.  She exited the channel and headed east.  Notice the coffee drinker standing on the bow of the boat.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Luna Moth, agates, and Sunset

This posting features the luna moth. I took this shot of one of these large moths on my out building. Actias luna, commonly known as the Luna Moth, is a lime-green moth in the family Saturniidae, subfamily Saturniina. It has a wingspan of up to 4.5 inches, making it one of the largest moths in North America.

This moth is found in North America from northern Mexico to most areas east of the Great Plains. Based on the climate in which they live, the Luna Moths produce differing numbers of generations. In Canada and northern regions, they can live up to 7 days and will produce only one generation per year. These reach adulthood from early June to early July. In the north central and north eastern United States the moths produce two generations each year. The first of these appear in April and May, and the second group can be seen approximately nine to eleven weeks later. In the southern United States, there can be as many as three generations. These are spaced every eight to ten weeks beginning in March.

Female Luna Moths lay 100–300 eggs, 4–7 eggs at a time, on the underside of leaves, and they incubate for eight to thirteen days. The moths will lay more eggs in a favorable climate.

Each caterpillar stage takes about five days to a week to complete. After hatching, the caterpillars wander around before finally settling on eating the particular plant they are on. The caterpillars go through five stages before cocooning. Each time the caterpillar molts and leaves the old exoskeleton behind. Sometimes the shed exoskeleton is eaten. The dots that run along the dorsal side of the caterpillars vary from a light yellow to a dark magenta. The final caterpillar grows to approximately three to four inches (9 cm) in length.

Shortly before pupating, the final, fifth caterpillar stage will engage in a "gut dump" where any excess water, food, feces, and fluids are expelled. The caterpillar will also have an underlying golden reddish‐brown color and become less active. The Luna Moth pupates after spinning a cocoon. The cocoon is thin and single layered. As a pupa, this species is particularly active. When disturbed, the moth will wiggle within its pupal case, producing a noise.

Adults emerge from their cocoons in the morning. Their wings are very small when they first emerge and they must enlarge them by pumping bodily fluids through them. During this time, their wings will be soft and they must climb somewhere safe to wait for their wings to harden before they can fly away. This process takes about 2 hours to complete. The Luna Moth has a wingspan of 3-4.5 inches (8–11.5 cm) with long, tapering hindwings, which have eyespots on them in order to confuse potential predators. Although rarely seen due to their very brief (1 week) adult Luna Moths are considered common. As with all Saturniidae, the adults do not eat or have mouths. They emerge as adults solely to mate, and as such, only live approximately one week. They are more commonly seen at night.

Here are some pictures taken from the Internet.  First--the egg stage.

The caterpillar hatches from the egg.

The fourth caterpillar stage.

The fifth caterpillar stage.

The pupa stage.

A recently emerged adult male enlarging and drying his wings.

A customer came into the museum this week and showed me this Lake Superior agate with a large copper inclusion.

This is a cool Lake Superior agate with crystal impression cavities.  The crystals that were resident in these cavities dissolved away.

A sunset shot taken through the trees.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dune Hike -- Post 2

Sorry I did not get time to post photos yesterday. I decided to design a deck of playing cards using Lake Superior agate photos. I developed them with the four suits featuring pictures in four categories: specimen, agate structure, agate hunting tips, and agate detail. It will take a few weeks before I receive them back.

Continuing with the pictures from my dune hike on Sunday. As you walk in the dunes, it is easy to get caught in the beauty of the wider landscape views.

However, the detail of the dunes and its vegetation should not be missed. Throughout the dunes, there are also ghost forest remnants of what used to be.

Although you may not expect it, but all summer long there are flowers in the dunes.

And shrubs....

Nothing in the dunes is wasted.  Nature is the best recycler.

Another 100+ year old telegraph pole.

This telegraph pole was rolled by the wind more than 50 paces from its original anchoring wires.

This pole is still upright.

Another nice Lake Superior sunset.