Thursday,Friday and Saturday:
The 12th, 13th and 14th of September

We arrived back at the van around 4:00 after our scenic and interesting hike to Maple Hill via the North Country Trail.The drive got confusing and longer due to a bridge detour. But we made it to Manistique and Star Motel by 5:00. I called and booked a room earlier that day and the room was unlocked and ready for us when we arrived.

By now the van needed a thorough reorganizing and we decided to unload everything for sorting, cleaning etc. By the time we got everything moved, our previously empty and tidy hotel room looked like a poorly organized garage sale had been set up in it.

Then Betsy was off to Jack's Market for some needed provisions. When she arrived back she had all the needed items: an 18 pack of bottled Miller High Life ($9.99!), skim milk, spaghetti sauce, whole grain cereal, cherry tomatoes, salad mix. And, even though she selected a six pack of Stevens Point 2012 Black Ale for herself, I think someone at the store must have recognized Betsy as the Skinny Dippin' Queen because the register tape read: "Stevens Point Nude Beach ". Imagine that!
While Betsy was gone I had set about organizing our room so it looked a little bit more organized and inviting than when she left. Fortunately the rooms at the Star are nicely sized and I was able to stow everything so it was out of the way, but still accessible.

After a dinner of brews, salad and home made chili we settled into the PBS News Hour. While I did my usual channel surfing, Betsy caught up on her journal. Then, it was lights out in room #9.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Now that it is getting late in the season the sun is rising late. Late for me that is. So I whiled away some time with my coffee by the back window which looks out at Lake Michigan and waited for the sun to show its face. It was not showy, but it was the prelude to a sunny and gorgeous day, even if it was a bit windy and cool.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

I spent part of the morning catching up on my web work and Betsy her journal and knitting. Then we drove the few miles into town, parked the car and went for a little walk.

We went by the beautiful old water tower for a couple of snaps. These were quite common at one time. I remember seeing one in Cincinnati's Eden Park years ago. And more recently one in Havana, Illinois.

Then we ended up at a thrift shop since I was looking for a spare cell phone charger. I found two of them for 69 cents each. And Betsy found a cozy, warm fleece vest for 2 bucks. I also found an old timey plastic plug in night light candle for just one dollar. It makes a great morning coffee light for me and doesn't wake Betsy while she is still snoozing.
Town Manistique was completely torn up for infrastructure work and it was interesting making our way around downtown (twice) in search of a certain post card I was looking for.

Then is was back to the room for napping and icing of the back. I took a short walk behind the hotel which has direct access to the beach.

dunes   Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is the view out our back window. That is the north shore of Lake Michigan just beyond the Red Spruce. The yellow flowers growing in the mowed area are European hawkweed (Hieracium sabaudum). The genus is considered a noxious weed, but they do have pretty flowers, especially Orange Hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca)

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

There was a narrow path which led from the hotel to the shoreline. I noticed lots of little white flowers as soon as I got on the trail.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The little white flowers turned out to be an orchid by the name of Nodding Ladies' Tresses (Spiranthes cernua).

Few people would guess that Spiranthes flowers are orchids, a fact that may help save them from collectors. The narrow, grass like leaves are 8–10 inches long, growing from the base of the plant. The flowers are white and grow along the upper part of the slender, erect stem, which is 1–2 feet tall. They grow in 2–4 spiraling rows, forming a dense spike 6 inches long. The individual flowers, about 1/2 inch long, curve downward slightly, nodding. The lip is about 1/2 inch long, with a flaring, crimped margin. This is one of the few orchids that have a fragrance.

A dozen or more species of Ladies-tresses are known in the eastern United States. Among those with pronounced spirals are Slender Ladies-tresses (S. lacera), with ovate leaves and a green spot on the lip; Short-lipped Ladies-tresses (S. brevilabris), with a downy floral spike; and Little Ladies-tresses (S. tuberosa), with tiny flowers. In southern marshes and swamps Fragrant Ladies-tresses (S. odorata), grows to 2-3 (60-90 cm) and has spirally arranged clusters of fragrant flowers.

Source: 2013 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center facebook icon

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

There were hundreds of plants and all were in the peak of bloom.
Click on this photo for a closer look.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This plant was growing near the Spiranthes. It looked familiar to me, but I could not put a name on it. Luckily "Randolph Rod" was able to. It is Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita). Although found in our home state of West Virginia, it is quite rare. I felt lucky to see it and I don't think I will forget it.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This closer look clearly shows the fringed petal edges. Pretty.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is a look at the shore line of Lake Michigan. The brownish color is not representative of what it really looks like. I had the white balance on my camera set for "cloudy" and this is the result.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is shot with the white balance set to "auto". This is how it actually looked. You can see there are a lot of broken rocks and flat sheets of rock. This is limestone pavement and is common along some of the shorelines up this way.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is another shot with the white balance on cloudy. Quite a difference.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is a plant we just recently saw - in Maine! It is Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis). In Michigan it is commonly found growing on the dunes.

After the little shoreline exploration we decided to go on a trip down memory lane. We drove the 25 miles up to East Lake where we had camped out in 2010 to have another look around.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This was our site in June of 2010. It was at the end of the road and had its own private beach. We could sit on the shoreline and watch Loons with their babies on their backs. The would call on and off through out the day and sometime at night. It was wonderful.

After our little sentimental journey we looked over the map and decided to take a slow and scenic route back to Manistique. On our way we stopped at Palms Book State Park. We had a fun visit there in 2010.

The last stop of the day was Marley's in Manistique for dinner. We both ordered beers and the lake perch sandwiches. Betsy had a pint of Pick Axe Blonde Ale from Keweenaw Brewing Company which she enjoyed. I had two light weights.
Then it was "back to our nest" as Betsy would say.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

On Saturday morning up got up early to enjoy the sunrise over Lake Michigan. The temps were in the low 30s but it was clear and calm and quite nice out. It was a pretty nice sunrise as the next few photos will show.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image   Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image   Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

When talking about where to go on today's hike I asked Betsy to pick one. We both wanted another gorgeous shoreline hike like the one we took in 2010. But the wind was picking up and it was supposed to be strong and gusty all day. Being beaten to death by the wind for most of the day on an exposed shoreline didn't sound good to either of us. So Betsy chose an inland hike at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.

Route for the day

A map for orientation of places we visited while in the Manistique area. It is about 45 miles from Manistique to our trailhead at Seney.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

We pulled off at a wayside rest opposite this sign so Betsy could grab this snap.

When I saw the sign I could not help but think of my dad's trip up this way in 1977. His journal makes interesting reading.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Lots of info at the trailhead kiosk!

The Seney National Wildlife Refuge is a managed wetland in Schoolcraft County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It has an area of 95,212 acres (385 km2). It is bordered by M-28 and M-77. The nearest town of any size is Seney, Michigan. The refuge contains the Seney Wilderness Area and the Strangmoor Bog
("A string (Strangmoor) bog is a common taiga landscape consisting of alternating low bog ridges and wet sedgy hollows. The ridges and hollows ore oriented across the major slope of the peatland at right angles to water movement. It is more properly termed a fen since it is usually fed by waters from outside the mire.
Definition is courtesy of ARCSS atlas glossary.")
National Natural Landmark within its boundaries.

The Seney National Wildlife Refuge is built upon the remains of the Great Manistique Swamp, a perched sand wetland located in the central Upper Peninsula. After its forests were heavily exploited in 1880-1910, promoters attempted to drain the swamp for farmland. The drainage was a failure and left the wetland criscrossed with canals, ditches, and drainage ponds. Much of the property was then abandoned for unpaid property taxes.

During the 1930s, work crews employed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) rebuilt, restored, and expanded the wetland drains, this time for active wetlands management purposes. These CCC ponds and drains are still used by the wetlands managers that staff the current National Wildlife Refuge. The Seney National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935.

Source: WikiPedia

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

To get to the place you see here, we hiked about 1.5 miles through a mature maple-beech forest.
Unfortunately all the beech were dead. There were some trees which were 2-3 feet in diameter still standing. A sad thing to see. The reason? Yet another introduced pest - the Beech Scale, (Cryptococcus fagisuga) causes what is called Beech Bark Disease.

OK!, back to more pleasant topics. In the photo above, Betsy is taking a gander at some Trumpeter Swans. They were distant, but we did see them. We also saw Loons and Canada Geese. But that was about it. And it was very quiet. I imagine on a spring morning this must be quite a busy place. But not this time of year.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

I have some more plants which need a name put to them. Who amongst you will step forth with the Latin binomial? This and the Ilex below were growing along the roadways which we had been walking for several hours. Not exactly my kind of hiking. But it sure was pretty day!

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This colorful shrub is one of the deciduous hollies. The combination of red and green make then nice for Christmas decorations.

We wrapped up our walk and then headed back to Manistique. Now for the important part of the day - Happy Hour! But what to do for snacks? We solved that problem by stopping at Jacks and getting some beer and smoked white fish. Yummy!

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

In spite of the wind, we decided it was just too nice out not have our Happy Hour on the beach. Look at them white caps!

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Doesn't Betsy look toasty!? We had a tough time keeping the windblown sand out of our fish and did not succeed entirely. But that was OK. We knew this would be our last visit to the Lake Michigan shore. Tomorrow we would heading north - to Lake Superior!


Stay tuned...


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