Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sunday, June 18

The plan was to be out by 10 am, which didn't work out so well. We finally checked out at 10:30 and then had a quick breakfast in town before hitting our last tourist attractions in the area.

Destination #1 was the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. We'd never been there and I was excited about seeing some wildlife. Honestly, they should rename it the Seney National Swan Refuge, because HOLY COW, there were a lot of swans.

We stopped at the park office, where we were greeted by a cute bunch of critters like two chipmunks, a squirrel, some goldfinches and redwinged blackbirds.

Squirrel greeter at the park office of Seney

The route around the park is long and there are many places to pull off and enjoy the scenery or wildlife, but strangely, we seemed to be alone in the park. It was this way at most of the attractions we visited. Where was everyone? That's not a complaint. It's just a curiosity.

The sights were great.

Round, Pac-Man-like water lillies, like home

Painted turtles basking

A family of Canada geese

Great blue heron, maybe?

Young, shy whitetail deer

Two trumpeter swans

An abandoned eagle's nest

Swan and a cygnet!

Happy swan family

At the top of this tree was something the park worker had told us to look for, but we were still amazed when we saw it. B.E. found it at a swan lookout point using a telescope. In the photo below is a large nest with a mother osprey inside, feeding her young.

Osprey nest

We tried something weird, which we weren't sure would work. We took pictures through the telescope. Well, they aren't clear, but you can see the nest and the mother osprey a little better in this picture. What a really incredible sight!

View through the telescope at the osprey nest

Another view through the telescope
Photo taken by Boyfriend Extraordinaire

Monarch on milkweed
Photo taken by Boyfriend Extraordinaire

A swan coming in for a landing
Photo by Boyfriend Extraordinaire

Seney was spectacular and we spent 5 hours there, so we really had to hit the road.

From there we drove to The Big Spring, which was also a first for us.

B.E. said he saw something similar in Ohio when he was a kid, but I'd never seen anything like this in my life. The Big Spring is a large pool of water that is about 40 feet deep and crystal clear, fed from the bottom from many fissures that are constantly bubbling up fresh water, stirring up the white sand and giving a billowing, smoke-like image along the bottom. In the spring dwell some mighty big trout, and they seem perfectly happy to swim around in the cold water. Maybe it's because the park people feed them.

If I ever figure out how to get a video up on this blog, I'll post one, because I took movies with my camera of the weird happenings at the bottom of the spring.

As we rode the raft across the pool, I snapped an enormous amount of pictures. Again, we were alone in the park and had the fortune of going at our own pace. We probably spent an hour out on the water, and much to my glee, there were no bugs out there.

Crystal clear water at The Big Spring

Remnants of logging still present

Looks like a shipwreck

A look at the bottom of The Big Spring

Trout seem to love the springs

When we were on our way back across the pool by raft, another group showed up, so it sped up our return to allow them use of the raft. This is that group, who went out on the spring as soon as we got off the raft.

The raft out on The Big Spring

We got a little lost as we left the park and pulled over to consult the map momentarily. As we sat in the car debating the route to take, something happened across the road that startled us. It was a huge, wild turkey. We both cursed ourselves for not being quicker to grab a camera as it got away, but a few moments later, another one happened to cross the road at the same point. We were much quicker this time and here is our wild turkey encounter.

Wild turkey near The Big Spring

The sun was going to be setting soon, as it was after 7:00 and we weren't even to Escanaba yet, so I had to propose a solution to B.E. We could drive all night and be home sometime around 2 AM, or we could stay a night in the area and drive back home the next day without any pressure. Well, we were on vacation and we opted to stay another night in the area. It took about an hour to interview all the cheap-looking motels and hotels from Gladstone to Escanaba, but we finally found a really nice hotel in Escanaba for a great rate, and that's where we spent the night.

It was nice to leisurely stroll Ludington Park and see the lighthouse at dusk, without a reason to hurry.

Escanaba lighthouse after sunset

Most of the restaurants were closed and our options were few when it came to dinner, but we found a place that allowed us to eat at 10:00, and then they kicked us out the door at 11, when they were closing, rushing us through our meal. Things are so different in towns that shut down before midnight. I'm unaccustomed to that.

It was a good idea to stay the night in Escanaba because I was exhausted and don't know if I would've been able to stay awake to get us home that night.

And besides, it's always better to prolong your vacation when you can, right?

No comments: