Dive in, but look before you leap

High Dive

High Dive into Lake Superior, photo by Craig

I want to say some things about this photo.

First and foremost, how incredibly awesome is someone to leap into Lake Superior any time of the year? Pretty doggone awesome is the answer, and if you’re wanting to go into Michigan’s coldest lake, August (when this photo was taken) is a pretty good time!

On Michigan in Pictures I post a lot of photos of people doing amazing things in this four-season playground we are blessed with. While summertime is certainly the best season for flamboyant fun, in June especially, the waters of Michigan’s Great Lakes can get very cold. Cold enough to kill as this tragic story from Marquette earlier this month illustrates.

My safety tips would be to really check water you’re leaping into for depth, obstacles, temperature, and whenever possible ASK A LOCAL what they think about whatever ridiculousness you’re considering. Chances are they know a thing or two about currents, weather patterns, or at least a good place to grab a bite and a beverage after your epic stunt.

Remember – having fun is what it’s all about, so figure out how to do it right and then DO IT!

View Craig’s photo bigger, view & purchase work at Craig Sterken Photography, and be sure to follow him on Facebook.

More fun on Michigan in Pictures!

Flower Friday: Yellow Lady’s Slippers

Yellow Slippers

Yellow Lady’s Slippers, photo by Rick Lanting

While I was gathering info for today’s post I came across a really cool resource! MichiganWildflowers.com is an online photo database of Michigan’s wildflowers curated by Charles and Diane Peirce that lists 545 Michigan wildflowers and lets you (very quickly) click among them. With multiple photos for each wildflower, it’s pretty darn useful.

The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center says that the Yellow Lady’s-slipper Orchid (Cypripedium parviflorum):

…is easily distinguished from others by its large yellow lip, or slipper. It grows up to 2 feet tall and has large, strongly veined leaves 6–8 inches long and half as wide. It has a flower, sometimes 2, at the end of the stem, cream-colored to golden-yellow. Flowers have 3 sepals, greenish-yellow to brownish-purple, the upper sepal larger, usually erect, and hanging over the blossom.

Rick took this photo last weekend at Mill Creek State Park using the Hipstamatic app. View it bigger and see more in his Michigan wildflowers slideshow.

Know Your Michigan Fish: Northern Pike (Esox lucius)

Michigan Northern Pike Esox lucius

Northern Pike (Esox lucius), photo by Isle Royale National Park

The Michigan DNR’s Northern Pike page has this to say about this apex predator of the Great Lakes and Michigan’s inland lakes:

As predators, northern pike can have significant impact on their prey species. As with muskies, pike lurk in the cover of vegetation in the lake’s clear, shallow, warm waters near shore, although they retreat somewhat deeper in midsummer. Pike consume large numbers of smaller fish – about 90 percent of their diet – but seem willing to supplement their diet with any living creature their huge jaws can surround, including frogs, crayfish, waterfowl, rodents, and other small mammals. Their preferred food size is approximately one third to one half the size of the pike itself.

Great Lakes pike spawn in the shallows in April or May, right after the ice leaves, and before muskies reproduce. As a result of their eating habits, young pike grow rapidly in both length and weight. Females become sexually mature at age three or four years, and males at two to three years. Beyond sexual maturity, pike continue to gain weight, although more slowly. Great Lakes pike have an average life span of 10 to 12 years.

Pike eggs and new hatchlings (which stay inactive, attached to vegetation for their first few days of life) fall prey in large numbers to larger pike, perch, minnows, waterfowl, water mammals, and even some insects. Larger pike have two primary enemies – lampreys, and man. Spawning adult northern pike, exposing themselves recklessly in the shallows, are vulnerable to bears, dogs, and other large carnivores.

Northern pike flesh excels in flavor, thus making them a doubly rewarding game fish. Since their skin has heavy pigmentation and an unappetizing mucous coating, most people skin them or scale them carefully.

This photo was one of Isle Royale National Park’s “Wildlife Wonders of the Week.” They noted that a five pound female pike will lay about 60,000 eggs. Two weeks later fertilized eggs hatch, hungry for microscopic morsels. Once to the fingerling stage, food scarcity may force them to eat their own siblings for nourishment.

View it bigger on Facebook and definitely follow their page for the latest from one of Michigan’s coolest parks!

More Michigan fish on Michigan in Pictures.

Port Crescent in Michigan’s Thumb

The Port Crescent Smokestack

The Port Crescent Smokestack, photo by Joel Dinda

One of the blogs I enjoy reading is ThumbWind, a blog about (you guessed it) Michigan’s Thumb. In A Ghost Town in the Thumb they tell the story of the town of Port Crescent that was within what is now Port Crescent State Park:

Walter Hume established a trading post and hotel near the mouth of the Pinnebog River in 1844. From these humble beginnings the area took the name of Pinnebog, taking its name from the river of which it was located. However, a post office established some five miles upstream also took its name from the river. To avoid confusion the town changed its name to Port Crescent for the crescent-shaped harbor along which it was built.

Port Crescent had two steam-powered sawmills, two salt plants, a cooperage whichPort Cresent manufactured barrels for shipping fish and salt, a gristmill, a wagon factory, a boot and shoe factory, a pump factory, a brewery, several stores, two hotels, two blacksmith shops, a post office, a depot and telegraph office, and a roller rink. Pinnebog employed hundreds of area residents. Others worked at blockhouses where they extracted brine from evaporated water to produce salt. At one time a this 17 block village boasted of a population of more than 500.

Read on for more and click for more about Port Crescent State Park.

View Joel’s photo background big and see more in his Port Crescent Vacation slideshow.

Houghton’s Keweenaw Upper Entrance Lighthouse

Keweenaw Upper Entrance Lighthouse Houghton Michigan

Homeward Bound, photo by Bobby Palosaari

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light is my go-to for Michigan lighthouse lore. His entry for the Keweenaw Upper Entrance Lighthouse says in part:

With the meteoric growth of copper mining in the Keweenaw between 1843 and 1968, increased shipping access to the twin cities of Houghton and Hancock became increasingly important. To this end, the Portage River Canal was cut through a tamarack swamp at its western end in 1860, creating a channel 10 feet deep and 80 feet wide, opening full Portage River navigation for the largest vessels of the day from western Lake Superior.

In 1874, to assist in safely guiding ships into this cut, a large gabled two-story brick dwelling with attached square 33 foot high brick tower was constructed on the west bank at the entrance to the canal. With increasing use of the canal, silting became a major problem, and tolls were levied for its use in order to cover the continuing expenses for repairs and dredging.

For reasons as yet undetermined, the original lighthouse was replaced with the existing fifty foot square steel Art Deco style tower at the end of the breakwater in 1950.

View Bobby’s photo background bigtacular and view & purchase more of his photos including this one at palosaariphotography.com.

Summer Solstice and a Strawberry Moon

Summer Solstice 2013 by Ken Scott

Summer Solstice … 2013, photo by Ken Scott

Today at 6:34 PM EDT, the summer solstice officially ushers in summer. EarthSky shares that the full Strawberry moon tonight for the solstice is the first full moon to fall on the summer solstice since June of 1967 and the Summer of Love.

Back in 2001, NASA’s Earth Science Picture of the Day (<–my favorite photo blog – subscribe!) shared the tale of Eratosthenes, the Solstice and the Size of the Earth:

Calculating the SolsticeIt was near the summer solstice of 240 BC that Eratosthenes, curator of the famed Library of Alexandria and renowned mathematician and geographer, performed his famous experiment in Egypt to calculate the diameter of the Earth. The bottom of a deep well in the city of Syene, Egypt (near the present day Aswan Dam and very near the Tropic of Cancer) was known to be illuminated by the sun directly at mid-day on the longest day of the year (the solstice). But on the same day, a vertical pole in Alexandria, some 800 km to the north, cast a distinct shadow. By measuring the shadow and applying the geometry of a sphere, Eratosthenes calculated the Earth’s diameter with remarkable accuracy. Sadly, the concept of a spherical Earth was lost from common thought for over a thousand years until Christopher Columbus and others proved the fact by sailing west to go east. The background reference image of Egypt and the Nile River is provided by the NASA MODIS instrument.

Sep 5, 2006 – Donald Etz notes: “From reading Jeffrey Burton Russell’s book, Inventing the Flat Earth (1991), I was persuaded that most educated Europeans of Columbus’ time believed the earth is round. The main debate seems to have been over its dimensions. Columbus ventured on his voyage because he believed the earth was much smaller than it is.” -ed

View Ken’s photo of the sunrise on the 2013 summer solstice bigger, see more in his Boat(s) slideshow, and definitely check out kenscottphotography.com to view and purchase his work.

More science on Michigan in Pictures.

 

 

Michigan Summer Resolution #23: Watch More Sunsets

Sunset on Grand Traverse Bay

Untitled, photo by Thomas DB

I was thinking the other evening that I need to watch more sunsets this summer. What Michigan summer resolution would you make?

Thomas caught this great photo of a young couple watching the sunset on Grand Traverse Bay. View it bigger and see more in his 6/1/16-6/3/16: Grand Traverse & Leelanau slideshow.