Michigan’s Tallest: Sand Dunes Edition

Empire Bluff, photo by Pantheos

The author of my favorite Michigan blogs writes that Michigan is blessed with some of the most beautiful and tallest coastal sand dunes on the planet. He decided to climb some and put together a big old list of 87 Michigan’s ‘skyscraper’ Coastal Dunes that he could verify at 100′ or more in height.

This photo is from the tallest one, the 526-foot Empire Bluff Dune in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (which includes many of the tallest). To put this in perspective, it’s almost exactly 200′ shorter that our tallest building, the Renaissance Center in Detroit as well as One Detroit Center and the Penobscot, but it’s taller than the 4th highest – the Guardian Building.

More photos and a list of all the dunes on the post, including the option to follow!

More dunes on Michigan in Pictures.

Sunset & cloud shadows over West Bay

26 April 2017 West Bay Leelanau County, photo by John Robert Williams Photography

Here’s a ridiculous sunset that my friend John captured on Wednesday night over West Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City. The Rays & Shadows page from our friends at Atmospheric Optics identifies these as “cloud shadows” and says that they are basically the reverse of crepuscular rays, the beams of light that stream through gaps in clouds.

View it bigger and see more on John’s Facebook.

Superior Shoreline Snapshot

Lake Superior Shoreline, photo by Kirt E. Carter Photography

View the photo bigger, see more in Kirt’s slideshow, and view work & check out his blog on his website.

The USS Michigan

USS Michigan, photo by US Navy/Steven F LeBlanc

We move from a Coast Guard photo yesterday to a Navy photo today. While this photo showing a starboard bow view of the nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine USS Michigan (SSBN-727) was taken sometime before June of 1982 in the north Pacific, I’m going to allow it. mLive reports that the USS Michigan nuclear submarine is now operating in Korean waters:

The USS Michigan is more than 560 feet long and weighs more than 18,000 tons when submerged and is regularly deployed throughout the Western Pacific from its home port of Bremerton, Wash.

It was first launched in 1980 and commissioned two years later. It was built to carry the Navy’s third generation submarine-launched ballistic missile, the Trident C-4. The Michigan carried out its primary mission of deterrence for nearly two decades in over 60 missions.

At the end of the Cold War, it was spared from decommission and converted with two other ships to the Ohio-class sea frame. In 2007, it followed the USS Ohio, Florida and Georgia as a guided missile submarine.

The vessel is capable of hitting speeds of over 20 knots while submerged and can drop over 800 feet below sea level. It also contains 22 tubes that carry seven Tomahawks each.

…The Michigan is the third ship to bear the name in the U.S. Navy’s history. The original Michigan was the first iron warship in the U.S. Navy and likely the first iron or steel warship of its size in the world, according to a biography on the Navy’s website.

Read on more more at mLive and also see the Navy’s page on the USS Michigan.

View the photo bigger and see more pictures at the USS Michigan photo archive from the Navy.

Possum Power!

Caught In The Headlights, photo by James Marvin Phelps

Tick season is upon us, and with the added threat of Lyme disease, it’s serious business here in Michigan. My friend Tara with the Leelanau Conservation District shared some information about opossums from Opossum Awareness & Advocacy (opossum facts image below that you can share):

Did you know that opossums eat up to 5000 ticks per season thereby reducing our risk of contracting Lyme Disease and other tick-born diseases? They kill vermin, including mice, and garden pests. They are not dirty; they are very clean animals and groom and clean as much as cats. Better still, most opossums cannot contract or spread rabies. Opossums are the United States and Canada’s only marsupials.

They may look a little scary to the uninitiated, but they are actually timid and do so much good for humans compared to most other creatures. If you see an opossum consider yourself lucky, leave it alone and please do not harm it. They have a hard time surviving in cold climates because they don’t have very thick coats. Sometimes opossums play dead because they are afraid. Please don’t hit them with your car. Spread the word and please help protect opossums!

View the photo background big and see more in James’ massive Michigan slideshow, and follow James Marvin Phelps Photography on Facebook.

Six Degrees from the White Shoal Lighthouse

White Shoal Lighthouse Aerial, photo by US Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City

A reader shared a link to this photo with me, and this weekend I met a woman whose husband is a mechanic for the helicopter that took this photo. I thought that was pretty cool, but I also was putting groceries in my car at the local Meijer and a van pulled in a couple of slots down with a “White Shoal Light Historical Preservation Society” logo on it! I talked for a bit with Brent who’s heading up the group, and I expect to have updates and photos as they get going with their renovation!

I also noticed that the photo from back in 2009 I had of this light has been removed by the photographer, so here’s the skinny on one of Michigan’s most recognizablelight houses.  White Shoals are located 20 miles east of Mackinac Point and just northwest of Waugoshance Island. So shallow that they break the surface in places, they long presented a hazard to navigation for ships entering the Straits of Mackinac. On his White Shoal Lighthouse page, Terry Pepper relates that beginning in October of 1891, the Lightship LV56 anchored at White Shoal during the shipping season for 19 years. Finally in 1907 funds were appropriated for a permanent lighthouse:

Spring of 1908 saw work begin on the White Shoal light on two separate fronts. While a crew at the site leveled a one hundred and two-foot square area on the shoal through the addition and careful placement of loads of stone, a second crew worked on building a timber crib on shore at St. Ignace. Seventy-two feet square and eighteen and a half feet high, the huge crib contained 400,000 square feet of lumber, and on completion was slowly towed out to the shoal and centered over the leveled lake bottom. Once in location, the crib was filled with 4,000 tons of stone until it sank to a point at which its uppermost surface was level and two feet below the water’s surface.

On top of this crib, a seventy-foot square stone block base was constructed to a total height of four feet, with the remainder of the pier being of poured concrete atop the block base. With the base complete, an acetylene-powered lens lantern was installed atop a temporary steel skeletal tower on December 5th, and with the onset of winter storms, work at the shoal ended for the season.

Seeing the Light has much more about the construction and history of White Shoal Light including shots of the tower and crib under construction and information about lighthouse tours offered by Shepler’s Ferry, on which you can see White Shoal, Waugoshance and Gray’s Reef Lights.

Wikipedia’s entry for the White Shoal Light notes that White Shoal is the only aluminum-topped lighthouse on the Great Lakes, the only ‘barber pole’ lighthouse in the United States and is the lighthouse featured on Michigan’s Save Our Lights license plate. There’s also a link to really cool Google Map of lighthouses in northern Lake Michigan. There’s a few more pics of White Shoal at boatnerd.

View the photo bigger and follow the US Coast Guard Traverse City on Facebook for lots more cool photos from their missions!

More aerial photos & more lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.

Blue Monday

blue, photo by Curt Saunier

View Curt’s photo bigger and see more in his Flowers slideshow.