Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bay City

This last weekend a colleague and I were sent northward to the annual MAEOE conference.  That's the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education.  This year the conference was held up in Bay City, which is about 2.5 hours north of Jackson (and a bit east), right on the shore of Lake Huron, hard by Saginaw.

I was up by 3 AM on Friday (I couldn't sleep), so I baked some muffins, cleaned the house, and all that before driving to meet her a bit before 6:00.  Then we had the drive north.  

I had signed up for a full-day course about a hands-on forestry program for high school students, but when we got there, we found out it was cancelled.  So, I signed up for two other classes, one of which was a sail on the river into the bay on a schooner called the Appledore.  They failed to tell me, however, that the boat was leaving a half hour sooner than it was scheduled in our programs, so, as you can guess, I missed the boat.  This was not an auspicious start to the conference for me.

So, I joined my coworker for a tour of the Saginaw Visitor Center instead.  Here we are:

Now, I will say this - they had some great animal mounts.

This wolverine was the the only one known to have been in Michigan, and it was there just a few years ago.  Now the stuffed animal is a bone of contention about who gets it for display.  Poor thing.

 I did like this one - a great horned owl carrying a fox squirrel.

Many of the poses were extremely realistic.  Good taxidermy.

I especially liked this fox - what a great pose!  So cat-like!

This center is the oldest nature center in the state.  One of the things they do is teach fishing, and this is their fishing dock.  

Since it was such a nice day and we had some time to use, we decided to walk out to the beach along Lake Huron proper.  Along the way we passed this, well, gate (?) - it regulates the water (in theory) so the wealthy residents don't get flooded. In truth, the thing really isn't needed.

And here we are:  Lake Huron.  It's a lot larger than this shot portrays.

Now, this might look like an ordinary pile of sand, but in fact is it a very large pile of stuff that is dredged from the lake - every year!  Lake Huron, you see, is very shallow.  You could probably walk out half a mile and not get wet above your knees (or so the educator told us).  It gets a lot of sediment washed into it, though, so they constantly have to dredge it.

We saw several turtles this afternoon - mostly painted, but this one was a nice spotted turtle.  I used to see these a lot when I worked in NJ - they are like old friends now when I see them.

There were LOTS of these brilliant red berries - highbush cranberries.  The birds love these.  

Anyone want to guess what this is?  It's a trap for wild boars.  Yes, wild boars are a BIG problem in Michigan.  Some idiot thought they were a great deal of fun to hunt and imported them for sportsmen.  Well, pigs are clever, and they escaped.  Now these animals are tearing up the woods and associated ecosystems, doing an tremendous amount of damage.  And, they are dangerous to boot.  Nice play, Shakespeare!

Meanwhile, back in the city, Carrie and I decided that the architecture really lent itself well to photography.  Sadly, the really good light was in the morning, when we didn't have our cameras out.  We had to make do in the late afternoon instead.  There were lots of old stores - dating to the mid- to late 1800s.

This giant orange thing, which looks like an upside-down bucket of movie theater popcorn, is part of the planetarium, which is where the conference was held.

Some of the stores were empty.

 While others sported some interesting decorations, like this in a cigar shop window:

From an interpreter's point of view, this sign was pretty cool.  It was transparent - glass or plexiglass.  It was historic images of the city, with the current buildings visible through the panel.  Pretty neat idea.

And here's the boat that I missed.  These shots were taken the next day.

That's a crow up near the crow's nest - couldn't resist.

The whole river front is very nicely developed with a brick walk way, nice railings and moorings for boats...very attractive.

We didn't quite get this tribute to the yolkless hard-boiled egg, though.

Loved this little tugboat!

One of the best parts of the conference was the Share-a-thon.  Lots of good ideas, and lots of freebies.

Here are my two favorite things.  One, the Wolpertinger:

And two, the creation of a solar system that each of us discovered.  What a GREAT activity!   First, you spray paint your white poster board with assorted colors.

Then you strategically place paper plates over the colored sections and paint the whole thing with black spray paint.

Finally, you remove the plates, sprinkle on some glitter for stars,  add a squirt for a comet, and voila! have some really neat outer space artwork.  I could've done this all day!  Creative folks had moons, gas are limited only by your imagination.

On our way back home Saturday, we stopped by a school that has put in two gorgeous rain gardens.

These projects were solely the idea of the fifth grade class about six years ago, before rain gardens were "in."  They looked outside one day and saw all the puddles and the vast amount of water that was pouring into the storm drain during a major rain storm and asked their teacher what could be done about it.  Right then and there they trooped on down to the principal's office and, well, here's the result.

The original drain is still there, but now it only drains water once or twice a year, instead of hundreds of gallons with every storm.  These kids did a wonderful thing for their local environment.

The insects and the birds agree.

So, it was a glorious weekend, and we got some good out of it.  I also came home with a doozie of a cold, which I think was already incubating before we went up.


  1. I love the Wolpertinger and wish I had been there to see it myself. I'm going to look in backwoods of WV for one. I wonder what kind of track it leaves. And yes, I'm going to try the space artwork. Way cool. Great post!

  2. Google "spray paint planet" for some great ideas for making your own outerspace painting.

  3. I enjoyed the tour1 Too bad you missed the boat. Looks like it would have been fun. Great rain garden.

  4. Just catching up on reading your posts. As usual I thoroughly enjoy your photos and words that go with them. I always learn something new from your posts and usually feel like I am walking along with you. When I spotted the planet artwork, I immediately thought about putting this idea to work on fabric as I am a quilter. It would make a wonderful space quilt.

  5. Karen - I'm a quilter, too! And yes, I think those planets would make for some really groovy quilts. If you give it a go, send a pic of the end result! I'd love to see how it comes out.