August 20, 2011
The sun, with all those plants revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.
The sun is working away on the 2011 vintage in Michigan’s vineyards, and today I’m working away on the lawn of the Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City on the 3rd annual Traverse City Wine & Art Festival. It’s a celebration of the culture & cuisine of northwest Michigan that brings together 24 wineries from Leelanau, Old Mission, Traverse City & Benzie with over 100 wines from 2010 and other years along with a slew of artists with work for show and sale, great food & music and some incredible performance art!
If you’re in the neighborhood, please come by as I think it’s going to be amazing! If not, definitely pick up a bottle of Michigan wine – you will be happy to learn what the sun has been up to! If you’re looking for some suggestions, check out the medal winners from the 2011 Michigan Wine Competition!
June 6, 2011
Wikipedia relates that the Elk River Chain of Lakes is a seventy-five mile-long series of fourteen lakes and interconnecting rivers in Antrim, Charlevoix, Grand Traverse and Kalkaska Counties forming a single waterway.
The chain of lakes system begins with the upper stage of the Intermediate River, which rises in hill country at 45°00′20″N 85°04′45″W in the northwest corner of Chestonia Township in central Antrim County. From here, the waterway traverses a number of small lakes flowing north, then making a sharp turn near the village of Ellsworth, flows south through a narrow valley, paralleling the tracks of the Pere Marquette Railroad, until emptying into Intermediate Lake. The outlet of Intermediate Lake converges with the Cedar River in the village of Bellaire, gaining considerable volume. Now a river of substantial flow, it continues south into 1,700-acre (6.9 km2) Lake Bellaire. Leaving the lake, the stream becomes the Grass River, winding for some two miles (3 km) through the scenic Grass River Natural Area before emptying into Clam Lake. Clam Lake in turn empties directly into Torch Lake. At over 18,000 acres (73 km2) in size, Torch Lake is the largest body of water in the system.
The waterway, now clarified after traversing the immense depths of the lake, continues south through the Torch River, joins with the Rapid River, a major tributary, and empties into Lake Skegemog, a 2,500-acre (10 km2) lake that is studded with large stump fields, the result of the flooding of timberlands when the lake level was raised several feet by the construction of the dam at the terminus of the system. Lake Skegemog, which is the meeting point of Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Antrim counties, is conjoined at its western end to 7,700-acre (31 km2) Elk Lake, the second-largest and final lake in the system. The outflow of Elk Lake, the Elk River, flows a short distance to a power dam in the town of Elk Rapids, then out into the east arm of the Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan at 44°54′06″N 85°24′49″WCoordinates: 44°54′06″N 85°24′49″W. For most of its length, “The Chain” is navigable by small boat, broken up only by a dam in Bellaire. Larger boats are able to navigate between Elk Rapids and Torch Lake.
Click here to follow the Chain of Lakes on Google Earth. I was only able to get from Grand Traverse Bay up to Intermediate Lake – if anyone knows of a better map, let me know. Here is (roughly) where Ron took the photo above Torch Lake looking up the Torch River to Lake Bellaire and here is where Google Maps says the Chain starts. Don from Up North Memories has an old postcard with some of the lakes labeled.
Ron took these in late April of 2010 – it’s a must see slideshow with some great early moring views of mist on the lakes and even some cherry blossoms.
May 10, 2011
Almost a century after the founding of Petoskey, on June 28, 1965, Governor George Romney signed a bill that made the Petoskey Stone Michigan’s official State Stone. It was fitting that Miss Ella Jane Petoskey, the only living grand-child of Chief Petosegay, was present at the formal signing. The legislation is very general. The bill simply states that the Petoskey Stone is the State Stone. The designation of Hexagonariapercarinata was made by Dr. Edwin C. Stumm in 1969. Dr. Stumm made this distinction based on his extensive knowledge of fossils.
This specific fossil coral is found only in the rock strata known as the Alpena Limestone. The Alpena Limestone is part of the Traverse Group of Devonian age. The Alpena Limestone is a mixture of limestones and shales. The outcrops of these rocks are restricted to the Little Traverse Bay area near Petoskey.
You can read the story behind the Petoskey name on Michigan in Pictures (and learn about the little known holiday “Throw in a Petoskey Stone Day”).
April 6, 2011
Although the vineyards don’t look like this right now, April is Michigan Wine Month, a time to celebrate the vines & wines of Michigan. You can chekc out all kinds of Michigan wine information and events including the SUPER HUGE Michigan Wine Month Giveaway from Michigan By the Bottle!
March 15, 2011
One of the signs of spring in Michigan is when you see buckets on the maple trees. Jim writes that the first step to a delicious breakfast is real michigan maple syrup! Check it out bigger than a bucket and see more shots in his Syrup Slideshow!
As always, Absolute Michigan has more Michigan maple syrup features & links.
March 7, 2011
The 2011 Benzie County Water Festival takes place next weekend (March 19-21, 2011) in Frankfort. The Water Festival moves around Michigan, bringing the message of the vitality of Michigan’s water all around the state in different seasons.
We have an in-depth feature on Absolute Michigan about the festival that includes a number of videos featuring Water Festival presenters including Tom Kelly of the Inland Seas Educations Association; Derek Bailey Tribal Chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians; Hans VanSumeren, Director of Northwestern Michigan College’s Water Studies Institute and musicians Seth Bernard & May Erlewine.
This will be a unique event designed to engage folks in the stewardship of the Great Lakes, the global freshwater crisis and the cultivation of a vibrant and sustainable local culture. A family-oriented, community-centered program will feature Michigan musicians, speeches from water luminaries, interactive multimedia projects and presentations, artisan foods and beverages, workshops, visual art, theater and dance, children’s activities, an ice fishing contest, as well as connections to campaigns and projects protecting our water locally and/or addressing global water challenges.
The Benzie County Water Festival is co-sponsored by the Benzie Conservation District and Absolute Michigan. For more information, check out the Benzie Water Festival Facebook
Get much more information about performers, presenters and special events at water-festival.org!
Jim took this shot at the Green Point Dunes Nature Preserve, a gorgeous nature area that is part of a huge swath of Lake Michigan shore that has been protected. If you check it out bigger, you can see the Frankfort Lighthouse in the distance (and yes – Jim has one or two shots of that!).
January 20, 2011
January 12, 2011
The Point Betsie Light Station entry at Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light says that although the lighthouse on the southern tip of South Manitou Island was in 1840, it wasn’t until 1853 that the decision was made to construct a lighthouse to mark the passage’s eastern side and to let ships know when to turn south.
The plan for the Point Betsey Light called for a cylindrical single-walled tower constructed of Cream City brick, standing 37 feet in height from the foundation to the top of the ventilator ball. Five concentric brick rings encircling the tower beneath the lantern, each successively larger in diameter than the lower ring, formed a support for the gallery on which an decagonal cast iron lantern was installed. The lantern was outfitted with a white Fourth Order Fresnel lens equipped with bulls eyes, which was rotated around the lamp by a clockwork drive at a precisely monitored speed to impart the station’s characteristic fixed white light with a flash every 90 seconds. By virtue of the tower’s location on the dune, the lens was located at a focal plane of 52 feet above lake level with a range of visibility of ten miles. The small two story dwelling, also of Cream City brick was located on an excavated cellar immediately inshore of the tower, to which it was connected by a short covered passageway. This passageway was outfitted with a cast iron door at the tower end in order to stop the spread of any possible fire between the two structures.
The exact date on which the Point Betsey Light was exhibited has been lost to history. While Lighthouse Board annual reports and Light Lists report the station as being completed in 1858, it was not until February 1, 1859 that David Flury, the first keeper to be assigned to the station, appears in District payroll. Thus, it may well be that while construction was completed in 1858, the Light was not activated until the opening of the 1859 navigation season.
Read on to learn much more about this gorgeous lighthouse including the steps they had to take to unsure that the pounding surf you see here didn’t destroy the light.
December 15, 2010
November 30, 2010
As a payback for yesterday’s icy cruelty, here’s a warm remembrance of summer in the 1970s.
Frankfort & Elberta on Lake Michigan was a hang gliding and soaring hotspot in the 1970s and earlier. Here’s a shot of sailplanes in the 1930s, a little Frankfort-Elberta Area Hang Gliding information and a video of present-day hang-gliding at Green Point Dunes. About this photo Jim writes:
Not a lot of beach that year (and the water was high), so there was not a lot of room to land! Then you had to hope folks would Get Out Of The Way! (And usually they did, as they were mostly hang gliding families or followers.)
Taken at the Elberta beach on Lake Michigan in the late 1970s