Time for Tulip Time

Yellow Tulips

Yellow Tulips, photo by E. Benson

Holland’s annual Tulip Time festival returns May 7-14, 2016. They have 4.5 MILLION tulips in Holland and are reporting about 30% of tulip bloom right now – just about perfect. Stay tuned through their Tulip Tracker.

Here’s a cool video showing how they plant Windmill Island with 55,000 tulips in a matter of hours.

E took this at Tulip Time in 2009. View her photo background bigilicious and see more in her Tulip Time Festival 5/2009 slideshow.

More tulips and more spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

#TBT: Detroit’s Masonic Temple

masonic temple auditorium detroit

masonic temple, photo by ryan southen

On April 27, 1764, a charter for the “Zion Lodge of Masons, No. 1” – the first Masonic Lodge west of the Alleghenies – was granted to Masons in Detroit. Since I’m going to see Portugal the Man/Cage the Elephant there next weekend, that’s close enough for me to learn a little bit more…

Detroit’s Masonic Temple (aka The Masonic) is the largest building of its kind in the world. Construction began in 1920 and was completed in 1926. They explain:

By 1908, interest and membership in Masonic fraternities had grown to such an extent that the Masonic Temple Association of Detroit began to consider either enlarging the existing Masonic Temple on Lafayette Boulevard or building a new, larger facility.

Land on Bagg Street (now Temple Avenue) was acquired and by 1920, the architectural firm George Mason and Company had completed an integrated design of a multi-function complex. Ground was broken on Thanksgiving Day, 1920. The cornerstone was laid on September 18, 1922, during a ceremony attended by thousands of Detroiters, using a trowel previously used by George Washington during the construction of the U.S. Capitol.

Significantly, the opening of the theater was celebrated during a concert by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ossip Gabrilowitsch, on February 22, 1926–George Washington’s birthday. The formal dedication of the building took place on Thanksgiving Day, 1926. Once again, thousands of Detroiters were present for the ceremony.

George Mason’s unique design included three theaters (one was never completed, but is sometimes used by movie-production crews), a Shrine building, the Chapel, eight lodge rooms, a 17,500 square foot drill hall, two ballrooms, office space, a cafeteria, dining rooms, a barber shop, 16 bowling lanes–1037 rooms in total–in addition to a powerhouse that generated all electricity for the complex.

Mason also incorporated the artistic conceptions of the sculptor, Corrado Parducci, in the building’s magnificent lobby, which was an adaptation of the interior of a castle he had visited in Palermo, Sicily. Parducci also designed light fixtures and chandeliers, decorative arches, medallions, plaster decorations, and a myriad of other artistic details that are unique to the many varied spaces in the building.

Head over to The Masonic for lots of panoramic tours and also a panoramic view of the Corner Stone Laying. Also, if the name George Mason rings a bell, click that link to learn about this prolific architect whose works include Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel!

View Ryan’s photo bigger, see more in his HDR slideshow, and follow him on Facebook at Ryan Southen Photography.

PS: Lots more Michigan architecture on Michigan in Pictures.

PPS: It’s also supposedly very haunted!

2016 Michigan Morel Season Underway!

Backyard Morels

backyard morels, photo by Jason Rydquist

I’ve been getting word from various parts of the state that morel mushrooms are being found! They’re one of my favorite Michigan foods, and over on Absolute Michigan today I’ve put together Five Things you need to know about Michigan Morels. It includes a new online tool that could be of use to morel hunters so check it out!

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

Lots more morels on Michigan in Pictures.

Skyline Trail at Ludington State Park

Ludington State Park Skyline Trail

Ludington St. PK, Skyline Trail 2, photo by Jerry Herrendeen

Visit Ludington’s page on Ludington State Park’s trails says:

The Skyline Trail runs along a tall sand dune ridge, on the south side of the river between the footbridge and Hamlin Dam. The trail begins at the west end of the parking lot and exits onto the Sable River Trail. This trail is completely elevated, made even higher by an extensive wooden boardwalk system. Several vistas let you look out over miles of sand dunes and Lake Michigan. On a clear day, you can see 20 miles to the Silver Lake State Park Sand Dunes. On the back side is an area where you can leave the boardwalk and run up and down the steep slope of this sand dune.

Read on for more about other trails at the park and click for the official Ludington State Park page.

View Jerry’s photo background big and see lots more in his Moods of Lake Michigan slideshow.

More Ludington and more spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Purple Rain: Colors of the Northern Lights

Purple Aurora

Isle Royale Aurora, photo by Ross Ellet

Music is music, ultimately. If it makes you feel good, cool.
~Prince

Prince was a musician who had a huge effect on my life. I went to school near Minneapolis when he was transforming music through his own work and what he did with a host of artists. I’m very sad at his passing. Down at the bottom I have one of my favorite clips of Prince.

I’ve been lucky enough to see the northern lights dozens of times but have probably only seen purple auroras three or four times. Causes of Color explains the colors of the northern lights:

The sun radiates all visible colors, which is why sunlight appears white. The spectrum of visible light associated with the aurora is much more restricted. The aurora is caused by charged particles in the solar wind colliding with atmospheric atoms and ions. The collisions cause the electrons of the atmospheric atoms to become excited. As the electrons return to their original energy levels, these atoms emit visible light of distinct wavelengths, to create the colors of the display we see.

The color of the aurora depends on the wavelength of the light emitted. This is determined by the specific atmospheric gas and its electrical state, and the energy of the particle that hits the atmospheric gas. The atmosphere consists mainly of nitrogen and oxygen, which emit the characteristic colors of their respective line spectra. Atomic oxygen is responsible for the two main colors of green (wavelength of 557.7 nm) and red (630.0 nm). Nitrogen causes blue and deep red hues.

Most of the auroral features are greenish-yellow, but sometimes the tall rays will turn red at their tops and along their lower edges. On rare occasions, sunlight will hit the top part of the auroral rays to create a faint blue color. On very rare occasions (once every 10 years or so) the aurora can be a deep blood red color from top to bottom. Pink hues may also be seen in the lower area of the aurora. In addition to producing light, the energetic auroral collisions transmit heat. The heat is dissipated by infrared radiation, or transported away by strong winds in the upper atmosphere.

Read on for more and also check out more about the Northern Lights on Michigan in Pictures.

Ross took this on August 10th last summer. He says “The Northern Lights over Moskey Basin in Isle Royale National Park. This is the first time in my life I have seen a bright purple aurora develop.

View his photo background bigilicious and see more in his Aurora slideshow.

Lapeer Courthouse, oldest in Michigan

Downtown Lapeer MI

Downtown Lapeer MI, photo by paula liimatta

Wikipedia says that the the Lapeer County Courthouse is the oldest original courthouse structure still in use in the state of Michigan, and one of the ten oldest in the nation.

The City of Lapeer’s history page adds:

Folklore claims Lapeer was derived from the naming of the south branch of the Flint River, which flows northwestward over quite a long distance of rocky bed in Lapeer County. French and Indian traders frequently passed over this section of the county and through the river, ultimately naming our city for the stone that lay at the river bottom. The translation of stone in French is “LePierre”; the English translation of Canadian French accent of this word is “Lapeer”. The river was named Flint, synonymous with stone.

Lapeer County was once part of the Northwest Territory. By an ordinance of the Congress of the United States passed July 13th, 1787, the whole of the territory of the United States lying northwest of the Ohio River, though still occupied by the British, was organized as the Northwest Territory. In January of 1820 the County of Oakland was formed. Governor Lewis Cass set Lapeer County’s boundaries on September 18th, 1822, although it remained part of Oakland County until it was organized. Lapeer County officially became a county on February 2nd, 1835.

Read on for more and click for information about renting the courthouse.

View Paula’s photo background big and see more in her 2016 slideshow.

Happy Birthday, Tiger Stadium

Michigan and Trumbull

Michigan and Trumbull, photo by Joel Dinda

Over on Absolute Michigan there’s a feature entitled 100 (plus) years at Tiger Stadium. It has a ton of photos and links including this excellent column written four years ago by Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports about the 100th anniversary of Tiger Stadium passing relatively unnoticed:

Tiger Stadium opened on the same day as Fenway Park – April 20, 1912. It was 100 years ago this weekend. Ty Cobb scored the first run by stealing home. From that day until 1999, this very spot rumbled with din and greatness.

…Lou Gehrig sat himself down for the first time in 2,130 games here, ending his incredible ironman streak. Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run here. Reggie Jackson hit one into the right field light tower here during the ’71 All-Star game. The Tigers won World Series titles here in 1968 and again in 1984, with Kirk Gibson launching a late-inning home run off Goose Gossage that no Tigers fan alive to see it will ever forget. Fair to say this was the most exciting place in the history of Michigan.

Read on for more.

View Joel’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his 7/11/1999 – Brewers vs Tigers slideshow.

Here’s a great video from PBS’s America’s Ballparks hosted by Jeff Daniels and featuring many Detroit Tigers greats.

More Detroit Tigers on Michigan in Pictures.