134: Lake Erie in winter

(Ice dune.  Lake Erie.  Erie, Pennsylvania.)

One of the things we haven’t done while living relatively close to Lake Erie is go up and have a good look at the lake during the depths of winter.  Although it would have been closer for us to see the bits of Lake Erie in Ohio near Cleveland, we decided to see it while we were in Erie, Pennsylvania.  We were, after all, already there.  The hotel where we spent Sunday night wasn’t far from the lake at all.

(On the road.  Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania.)

We drove out to Presque Isle State Park the entrance to which was, I think, less than a mile from the hotel.  The parts of the world we could see that morning were icy, and the trees were covered with hoar frost.


Presque Isle is a 3200 acre sandy peninsula that juts out on Lake Erie.  The peninsula/park creates a bay (Presque Isle Bay) on the east side where, in the winter, you might find some folks ice fishing.  We did.

(Ice fishing shelter.)

There were several shelters out on the ice.  The one pictured above had someone huddled inside when we arrived.  Although I didn’t walk out to check, I am sure it was bitterly cold out there on the ice.

(Approaching the beach and Lake Erie on the west side of Presque Isle.)

We drove to a beach on the west side which was near the Presque Isle Lighthouse since I wanted to see the beach, the lake, and the lighthouse.

And now we get to one of my favorite photos from the trip.  M was, as usual, way ahead of me and already on the beach while I was taking photos of benches and the lighthouse.  As I walked up the hill and passed the bench you see in the photo above, I looked out to see M in the distance…

… standing out in the great expanse of white and blue, the whole scene looking amazingly stark and almost surreal.  It took my breath away.  I have never seen anything like it.  (Click on the photo to see the slightly larger version.  You’ll see a little more detail that way.  The same is true of all the pics.)

(Ice dunes.)

I walked up and joined him in looking out over the mostly frozen lake.  There was, I think, a channel out a ways that was not frozen (or not quite frozen) as it was dark blue in color and stood out from the rest of the whites and light blues.

(A jumble of ice.)

The line of dark blue in the photo above is the channel I mentioned.  It wasn’t until after we left our vantage point and the beach that we saw the signs warning us not to stand or walk on the ice dunes.  Ice dunes are formed in shallow water when the waves combine with the ice and snow.  They form in layers and are built up by wave spray while there are still waves to spray.  As you can see from the photo captioned Ice dunes, they look like waves formed in the opposite direction of the waves you would see on the lake when it isn’t frozen.  The ice dunes are important in that they help prevent beach erosion during the winter months.

They are also not meant to be walked upon.  They can be riddled with thin spots, caves, and air pockets, weaknesses in the ice where you could fall through the dune and into the freezing water below.  For the sake of the photos I took, it’s good I didn’t know that at the time.  For the sake of my life/health, I should not have been standing there.

I’ll bring you a few lighthouse photos tomorrow.  It’s time to move on to today’s outdoor fun.

The calm after the storm

It is clear and sunny in the Bogs today.  Don’t let that fool you.  It is also bitterly cold.  Make sure you bundle up when you go out there.

Here is 30 seconds of yesterday’s wind, sleet, and snow.  The video isn’t nearly as impressive as the real thing.  Notice the way the snow is blowing (sideways and sometimes even upwards).

But you get the idea (and if you experienced it, you don’t need the video).

Here is what it looked like this morning:

(Today’s view of the pond.)

The blue of the sky was incredible.


The trek was, well, a trek.  There are so many layers out there that walking, for some reason I can’t explain, feels labored and difficult.  Every now and then I would stay on top of the layers and it was easy.  But mostly I would sink in through the layers of snow, sleet, ice, sleet, ice, and snow, and each step out of it felt like it required more effort than usual.


I didn’t wander far from the house.  Just far enough to feed the birds and watch the icicles melting in the sunlight.  I tried to capture the glitter of the snow in the sunlight, but that kind of beauty is beyond my camera.  All of the colors of the rainbow were represented, shining brilliantly on the surface of the snow/ice mixture.  I wish I could show it to you.

Come when the rains
Have glazed the snow and clothed the trees with ice,
While the slant sun of February pours
Into the bowers a flood of light. Approach!
The encrusted surface shall upbear thy steps
And the broad arching portals of the grove
Welcome thy entering.

~ William Cullen Bryant, A Winter Piece


A Saturday

Last week I blogged about supporting the economy by buying local and supporting your local businesses.  My lovely daughter-in-law stopped by with a comment and a link about The 3/50 Project.  I had not heard of it.  Thank you, Merdi, for the info and the link.  If you have not heard of it, or you have but you’ve forgotten about it, please take a moment or two to check it out.  Even better, participate if you can.  It’s a wonderful idea.

As you know, my weekend was filled with beans and the processing of beans.  But it’s not all work and no play around here.  Sometimes it’s a combination of the two.

The car was due for its 30,000-mile check-up/tune-up.  M scheduled it for Saturday morning.  I decided to go along to keep him company and because he enticed me with a walk in Kent and breakfast at Wild Goats Café.  It beats sitting around in the waiting room at the car dealership (even if they do have coffee and donuts, a large screen television, and plenty of periodicals to read).

The walk from the dealership to Wild Goats Café is exactly one mile.  It was a nice little walk mostly on Main Street heading into Kent.  The morning was sunny, hazy, and very warm but there are plenty of trees to provide some shade and there are actual sidewalks to walk upon (something we don’t have out here in the country).  By noon it was feeling more hot than warm and we appreciated the shady spots even more than when we started out.

After a delicious breakfast (with plenty of iced tea) at Wild Goats, we walked over to the Franklin Mills Riveredge Park which is only about a block away from the café.  The park follows the course of the Cuyahoga River through Kent and is named after the original settlement along the river.  You may have heard of the Cuyahoga River.  It’s famous for having caught on fire in the late 1960’s.  It was at one time known as one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S.

It has always been my opinion that the shortest, easiest, and least expensive communication with the invaluable back country would be to let the courses and the distances be taken to the mouth of the Muskingum and up that river to the carrying place to the Cuyahoga, down the Cuyahoga to Lake Erie.

~ George Washington

Cuyahoga River on a sunny Saturday in July

The name Cuyahoga means “crooked river” in the language of the Iroquois.  It is indeed a crooked river, as you can see from this map.  The water quality has improved over the years thanks to a lot of hard work from a lot of hard-working people and, as far as I know, the river has not caught on fire since the 1960’s.  (For those interested in such things, Great Lakes Brewing Company has a beer which I think was named for the Cuyahoga River:  Burning River Pale Ale.  It’s an excellent and wonderfully hopped ale.)  Areas that were once devoid of fish now support 22 species.

(Kent Main Street bridge over the river.)

The park has seen a lot of improvements since we moved to this area ten years ago, including the bypassing of the Kent dam (something that was not without controversy).  One of the problems with the water quality in recent years has more to do with stagnation due to the dams along the river than it does with pollution (although I should point out that pollution continues with urban runoff and sewer overflows being two of the main sources).  If interested, you can read more about the Kent dam project here.

It’s a nice little park.  The dam, constructed in 1836 and having some historical significance (I read somewhere but can’t find it now that the dam is one of the oldest in Ohio), was left intact.  The waterfall was reestablished by pumping recirculating river water through a trough around the lip of the dam.

We enjoyed our walk.  There were other people out and about, enjoying the park.  Some were playing in the river, cooling off.

We saw several turtles sunning themselves near the dam area.  The water around the dam seems to suffer from some of the same problems we are having in our pond this year (pond weed and algae, oh my!).  In a way, that was reassuring.  It means our pond weed and algae problems are not unique to our pond and therefore not a result of something we did or did not do.

After exploring “Heritage Park” (the lower area that was “created” around the dam area when the dam was bypassed) and reading some of the interpretive signs highlighting some of the history of the dam and river, we climbed the stairs to the observation platforms and walkways.

I’m not sure how much more there was to explore as we didn’t stay too long or go too far.  One of the things missing in that area of the park is a public restroom.  I don’t know about you but if I drink lots of iced tea with my breakfast, I’m going to be in need of a loo at some point in time.  So we made our way back to the dealership (where they have restrooms for their waiting customers — a good thing to have if you’re serving unlimited free cups of coffee).

You can tell where the dealership is located by looking up for the giant flag.  I tried a search to find out why car dealerships fly giant flags but was unable to come up with a good answer other than what appear to be guesses such as to catch the eye of the customer in order to lure them in and to show their patriotism (which may be good guesses for all I know).  I wonder if they started flying those behemoths around the time “buy American” became a popular theme in car advertisements?

We picked up the car, went to Hartville Market to see what the farmers had for sale, and then it was back home and back to work.  M did some Project Patio work and I took on the rest of the beans.

(At the Hartville Market)

I think I would rather have been doing this:

(Summer scene:  Playing in the Cuyahoga.)

But then, the beans wouldn’t have gotten processed and we wouldn’t have had that gorgeous stir-fry for dinner.  It’s all connected in one way or another, isn’t it?

(Saturday’s sunset.)


(Prairie dogs.)

M and I arrived in Colorado bright and early this morning (around 7:15am).  It was a pretty quick flight (about 3 hours) and we landed earlier than expected.  We’re here to visit with M the Younger and his wife, and to spend some time hiking in the mountains.

(View of Boulder, Colorado)

It’s been a long and full day.  I was out of bed at 2:30am (eastern time).  Between the early rising and the altitude change, I’ve been feeling a little rough.  We did walk around Boulder for a little while, visiting the farmers market while we were out and about.

I’m going to try to post some photos every now and then.  They’ll be quick and dirty, as they say.  I can’t see them very well on this computer and I don’t have the program, the time, or the inclination to tweak them.  I hope you can see the prairie dogs in the first picture.  I’m told they’re like rats or mice around here.  They’re everywhere.  It’s the first time I’ve seen them in the wild.  The second picture is my first glimpse of Boulder.

(City Hall in the background.)

It should be noted that I’ll be surprised if this post is anywhere near being coherent when I read it again after a good night’s sleep.  It should also be noted that it’s wonderful seeing M the Younger and Mere again.  🙂

Jazz Fest — Day 2

M and I had a great time at Jazz Fest yesterday.  I have lists of all the good food and fantastic music we indulged in, but a thorough write-up will have to wait until we return home.

We’re heading out for day 2 of Jazz Fest in a little while.    We’re split between which closing acts to see:  Wilco or Erykah Badu.  The other two choices we considered, for those inquiring minds that want to know, are James Taylor or Johnny Winter.  I think we’re going to split up.  I’ll go listen to Erykah Badu and M will go for Wilco.

The weather has been sunny, hot and humid.  Fortunately, it’s also been windy.  The breeze helps.  A lot.  So do the misting tents.  As someone who wasn’t born for hot weather, I’m a big fan of the misting tents.  Whoever came up with that idea was one smart cookie.  Not only do they cool you off when you’re hot, apparently they do double duty in that they fan the flames of passion.  Saw more than one couple making out in the misting tent as if they were in the shower.

Good for them.

We’ll be heading home tomorrow.  I’m going to need a week’s vacation.  We’ve managed to pack a lot into each and every day we’ve been here and I’m on the verge of complete and utter exhaustion.  I’m pretty sure I’ve put back on some weight, too.  There’s a lot of delicious food here in New Orleans.  Oh well.  I’ll just have to rev up the exercise routine when we get home.

Weekend stuff

(Today’s view of the pond.)

The sun is shining today and M is outside playing with a big toy that he rented for the weekend.  It was raining when the toy arrived yesterday evening.

(Can’t wait to try it out!)

Cute, don’t you think?  I believe this might be one of the ways to stay young.  Rent a mini-backhoe.  Even I couldn’t help smiling and laughing when I gave it a try.

(Spring gardening, in a big way.)

I’d show you a photo of me giving it a try, but I was wearing my big, baggy work clothes and really, I’d rather not post that sort of thing on my blog.  It just isn’t very flattering, you know?

Much rejoicing

(Admiring the sky.  All photos © 2009 by Robin)

At long last, the month of February has come to an end.  March brings with it the hope of spring even though we know full well that winter isn’t finished with us.  There are buds on the lilac bushes.  The crocuses are pushing up through the dirt.  And never mind that these things began to happen at the end of February.  They belong to March and that hope of warmer and greener things to come.

I don’t know what it is that makes February such a long month.  It certainly isn’t the number of days.  Whatever the cause, and as much as I dislike rushing my life by wishing a month of it away, I’m glad it’s over for another year.

(On the Buckeye Trail.)

As an unplanned celebration of the turning of the calendar page, M and I went for a hike along a nearby lake (on part of the Buckeye Trail) this morning.  The sky was that brilliant, crisp, cold, shade of blue that I think of as March Blue.  It almost matches the color of the ice on the lakes.

(Blue above and below.)

As you might be able to guess from the photos, it is a cold 1st of March.  The winds today are whipping, 16mph sustained, gusts up to 25 mph.  The actual temperature was somewhere around 23°F.  The place we chose for hiking is fairly sheltered from the wind so it wasn’t too bad.  Thermal underwear helps, too.

We were able to hike a part of the Buckeye Trail that we generally avoid during the spring months because most of it is under water, part of the vernal pool system in this area.  (For more information on Ohio vernal pools, visit the Ohio Vernal Pool Partnership.)  In fact, that part of the trail is posted, no horse riding allowed during the spring months.  Horses really churn up the trail when it’s wet and muddy.

(Sun and shadow on the trail.)

The trail was frozen and crunchy.  It was a little like walking on a very shallow creek, occasionally breaking through the ice onto frozen mud.

(Lintel over the path.)

There were a lot of trees down.  The past year has blown a lot of strong winds through the Bogs, including the remnants of Hurricane Ike.  At one point on the trail we saw what looked like a domino effect, six trees in a row all toppled across the trail.  I suspect they’re going to have to reroute the trail.  It looks like too much for volunteers to come in and clear up.


It was a nice, invigorating hike.  I’m glad we decided to go.  There’s a lot to be said for spontaneity.

We drove over to the other side of the lake after our hike.  A few brave souls were out on the ice, fishing.

(Ice fishing.)

They had to be freezing out there where there was nothing to block the full force of the wind.  I hope they caught a few fish to make it worth their while.


That would be me.  Freezing cold.  I suspect that means I’m getting old.  There was a time when I was almost never, ever cold.  I’ve spent most of my life as the one who wants the heat turned down, thank you very much.

See what turning 50 does for a person?  Makes ’em cold.  Heh.

It’s possible, I suppose, that I’m turning into a normal person rather than just an old person.  After all, it IS freezing cold outside today and I do keep the heat turned way down during the day.

Here’s a glimpse at today’s weather:

The noise you hear is the wind.  And the lens cap rattling around.

In other news…

Bella caught her first mouse (that I know of) on Monday night.  M and I were in the living room when she came walking down the hallway, tossing something around.  I thought it was one of her toys.  It turned out to be a mouse, a very dead mouse that was once alive and wandering around in our home.

I’m not sure where she found the mouse.  I had last seen her heading into our bedroom, but it’s possible she was carrying the mouse with her when she went in.  I wasn’t paying close attention.

Another mouse got into the garage last night just as we came home from a shopping/dinner trip.  The headlights of the car caught it as it was running in.  Bella did her best to get it, but no luck.  I’m not sure if the mouse managed to get out while we weren’t looking.  I’m pretty sure it didn’t manage to get further into the house.  Bella would have had it by now.

(Bella, shortly after she killed her first mouse, looking all proud.)

Dress Update

Not much to say about that.  I haven’t found anything yet.  I’m currently shrinking so it might be a good thing that I haven’t found a dress yet.  All the exercise and healthy eating finally caught up with me and resulted in the loss of 9 lbs.  I also lost 4 inches from my waist and 4 inches from my hips.

I’d probably be looking as proud as Bella if I had a picture of me to post.  Without, you know, killing a mouse.