Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mergansers and sunsets

Extreme close up of red breasted merganser

Red breasted mergansers

We are back from our two day trip up north. We both took many photos, me on the iPhone of which some I posted on Facebook, and Steve with his 'good ' camera. We needed the 300 mm lens for the mergansers. On the iPhone, they would have been just blurry specks. They are extremely wary birds. As soon as you made any steps towards them, off they went even though we were at least fifty feet away. I had a hard time telling what they were even though there were about 50 of them until we blew up Steve's close-ups. I am not sure why they are afraid of humans as they are the fastest flying water bird (100 mph)Their usual range is in the arctic regions. This is the southernmost part that they possibly could be found though in the winter, they can be found a bit more south along the Atlantic coast. They were busy fishing in the channel that separates Round Lake from Lake Michigan, which was not frozen over unlike along the shore where huge sheets of ice were piled up. I will later post some of the beautiful turquoise colors of this ice.

Monday night, it was in the mid seventies while we dined al fresco for my birthday dinner. It was nearly 60 Tuesday morning when we left for up north but as we progressed, the temps kept dropping and soon big wet, flakes of snow appeared and the car thermometer read 28. Yuck! So much for long walks along the beach. Steve hates the cold even more than me. We went a round about way to get there. I wanted him to see the beauty of the many lakes of Antrim county that I have biked around without him. These lakes are best viewed in bright sunlight as they appear bright turquoise. The water is very clear unlike the murky lakes that are near us. When I swam in triathlons, visibility was only a few inches. I couldn't even see my hands but up north, sandy bottoms. The best lake is Torch Lake. Oh so pretty! We had stopped for lunch in Traverse City at the cute place I had met Josh last summer after my bike ride. But through the snow and overcast skies, nothing appeared special. A further disappointment, the tasty bakery my hairdresser's aunt used to own in Alden was closed so no dessert for me. We did go up and down the huge hills that I had biked over years ago and just last year.

Yep it has been spring for over a month but you wouldn't know it by looking around. Grand Traverse Bay was full of ice but not the huge chunks that were further north where we were staying in Charlevoix. Biggest let-down: I had planned to go to Sleeping Bear Dunes yesterday in Leelanau  County but Pierce Stocking Drive, the best road to the top of the dunes, was closed due to piles of snow. As of mid-March, Leelanau had 250 inches of snow and probably plenty of snow afterwards.

Charlevoix was still pretty. We found beauty in the thick snow piles just off shore. Lots of photos to follow. Our balcony faced Lake Michigan. The changing light as the sun went down was especially beautiful on the snow piles and ice and water. Although it was too cold to sit on the balcony, we would go out for short times for photos. Inside our room, we had the jacuzzi and fireplace and of course wine for me. It was very nice.

And the next day, not a cloud in the sky.

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