April 18, 2014
Ashley took this shot in February in the Upper Peninsula, and by “February” I mean “this Monday”. It’s a beautiful scene for sure, but I think I speak for most of us when I say, “You’re drunk, Winter. Go home.”
April 3, 2014
As of yesterday, no ships had passed through the Soo Locks due to the overwhelming mass of ice on the world’s biggest lake. That doesn’t stop them from trying and (in this case) failing. The Cason J. Callaway ended up locked in ice and had to be rescued by the US Coast Guard’s flagship icebreaker Mackinaw.
Two freighters bound from Duluth, Minn. are battling their way through what a United States Coast Guard spokesperson called “brutal” and “extreme” ice conditions on Lake Superior to reach the Soo Locks.
The vessels, John P. Munson and Cason J. Callaway, are following the USCG Cutter Mackinaw but are making very slow progress.
Randy Elliott, vessel traffic manager with the USCG stationed in Soo Michigan, said Tuesday that the convoy left Duluth around the time the Soo locks opened for traffic on March 25. As of late yesterday, the southbound convoy was located about 40 kilometres south of Michipicoten Island, and were confronting ice three to three and a half feet thick with windrows six feet high in some places.
The three vessels opted not to use their normal route across the lake, and instead are following the north shore of Lake Superior, Elliott said.
No commercial ships, either north or southbound, have locked through since the official opening a week ago.
That also is not normal.
“Usually at this time of the year we would see 12 to 15 vessels north and southbound a day using the locks,” Elliott said.
Read on for more and definitely check out pasty.com’s photos by Callaway wheelsman, Keith Baker.
Thanks Shawn Malone of Lake Superior photo for the find and for the title! Get more on icebreaking on the the Great Lakes on Michigan in Pictures.
April 1, 2014
APRIL 1, 2014 - LANSING, MI Governor Rick Snyder traveled to Ishpeming in the Upper Peninsula to announce to a crowd of media, dignitaries and frozen-in-place Michiganders that effective immediately, the “Pure Michigan” tourism campaign will be re-branded as “Pure Snow”.
“Who are we kidding?” Gov. Snyder asked. “Winter 2014 was like something out of the latest Thor movie (which coincidentally cost less to make than this year’s snow plowing bill). Pure Michigan has served the state well for years, but even though it looks like we’re in the clear now - in another six months, it’s back to winter again!”
The state’s $8.4 million dollar re-branding effort will seek to market travel by snowmobilers, skiers and “people without a brain in their head.” The State rock will now be “ice”, the State capital will now be Pellston, the “Ice Box of the North”, the State motto will be “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, what the heck are you doing here?” and the State animal will now be “frozen in a snowdrift”.
March 29, 2014
March 19, 2014
March 15, 2014
Many have cursed the cold of this winter that is almost over now though spring seems a long way off. It has caused hardships and pain but has also given rare opportunities to many who have been willing to bundle up and seek the wonders the cold has brought about.
A few weeks ago a friend asked me on somewhat short notice if I’d join him for a walk along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I’d walked the cliffs above the Lake before but the extreme cold of this wonderful winter granted us the opportunity to walk on even the Greatest of Lakes. We had two nights out with no fire to warm us but it was well worth it and a most amazing hike.
March 14, 2014
Last night I learned from my iceboating friend Andy that the 2014 Central Regional DN Iceboating Championship will be held this Saturday & Sunday (March 15-16, 2014) on West Grand Traverse Bay. The primary launch site will be the DNR launch at Hilltop Rd. and M-22, approximately 9 miles north of Traverse City and 5 miles south of Suttons Bay on the Leelanau Peninsula. More details at DNA America.
Wikipedia explains that the International DN is a class of ice boat:
The name stands for Detroit News, where the first iceboat of this type was designed and built in the winter of 1936-1937. Archie Arrol was a master craftsman working in the Detroit News hobby shop, and together with iceboaters Joe Lodge and Norman Jarrait designed a racing boat they called the “Blue Streak 60″, later to become known as the “DN 60″. In 1937 a group of 50 laymen worked with Archie in the hobby shop to produce the first fleet of the new iceboats. These first boats broke during the initial season, and after Norm and Joe modified the design to increase the strength, the group got back together to build a second set of iceboats in 1938.
This design, featuring a narrow, single-person cockpit, three steel blades in tricycle style arrangement and a steeply raked mast, remains to this day the most popular ice boat design in use.
…The class has a devout following. The International DN Ice Yacht Racing Association (IDNIYRA) is the governing body for the class. It publishes standards for boat design and allows enthusiasts to assemble for races and to share good ice locations. The DN is raced extensively in the northern United States, Canada, and throughout Northern Europe, with World Championships alternating between North American and Europe each year.
One of the reasons that the DN Ice Boat Class has become so popular over the years has been largely in part to how transportable and fast they truly are. With a steady 10-12 mile per hour wind and good ice conditions, the DN, when piloted properly, can reach speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour. And with just a 12-15 mile per hour steady wind, the DN ice boat can reach a readily attainable 55–65 miles per hour, providing a thrilling rush of purely unadulterated bone chilling wind powered ice sailing.
Rick took this photo of a DN on Elk Lake almost exactly 5 years ago, and March is prime season for ice boating in Michigan due to typical snow melts that lay the thickest ice of the year bare. GT Bay is nearly in my front yard and I can assure you that the ice is thick and almost like glass this year! View his photo bigger and see lots more in his Iceboating slideshow.
More ice boating on Michigan in Pictures including one of my favorite videos, Ice Boat vs Chevy!
March 12, 2014
The Earth Science class for educators at Michigan Tech has an online textbook on Michigan Geography & Geology that’s pretty cool. The chapter on the Ledges at Grand Ledge includes At the Edge of an Ancient Ocean that talks about the rocks that make up The Ledges and begins:
The rocks at Grand Ledge are significant for several reasons. Grand Ledge is an “oasis” of bedrock in an “ocean” of glacial drift that blankets the Lower Peninsula, providing geologists a window into the distant past. The diverse set of sedimentary rocks contains a wealth of information on the plants and animals that dominated the Pennsylvanian Period, about 320 to 290 million years ago. The characteristics of the rocks allowed geologists to reconstruct the changing environment that marked the demise of a great inland ocean. The rocks have been quarried and hold economic value. Lastly, Grand Ledge is scenic and enjoyed by hikers, paddlers, and climbers.
Nearly all students of Michigan geology make a pilgrimage to Grand Ledge at some point in their careers. Good exposures of sedimentary rocks are rare in the Lower Peninsula. Not only are the rocks well exposed but they offer an opportunity to test your skills in identifying a variety of sandstones, some shale and limestone, and even 2 coal. The rocks are exposed in a few abandon quarries and in exposures along the Grand River. To get a good look at the rocks you will need drive between exposure north and south of the river. But don’t be discouraged; the distances are short.
As always in geology, the best place to start is at the base of the stratigraphic section, the oldest rocks. The lower part of the section contains shale, siltstone, and type of sandstone called greywacke. The shale is gray and so fine-grained that you cannot see the mud-sized particles that compose it. If you are brave, you might put a tiny piece in your mouth and push it around a bit. Shale feels smooth, almost creamy, a result of the mud. The shale is also soft and erodes to relatively gentle slopes. Shale is exposed at the base of the layers at the Face Brick Quarry. Think of the light-colored siltstone as a silty shale. You might rub the rock against your thumb and see if any small, visible grains come loose. Again, a taste test might be in order. Siltstone will leave a 3 gritty feel in your mouth. Siltstone is exposed at the base of the rock layers at the American Vitrified Quarry. The greywacke is a greenish-gray colored sandstone and the sand grains are visible to your unaided eye, no tasting required. With a hand lens you can see the rock is made of a mixture of sand sizes, what geologists call poor sorting, and a variety of sand compositions, including quartz, feldspar, mica, and fragments of pre-existing rocks. Greywacke is exposed just above the beach at the Face Brick Quarry.
More winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.
March 10, 2014
After a night of strong winds and with highs today predicted to be on the good side of 40 across much of the state today, spring is feeling almost possible.