Hike & Go Seek – Indiana Dunes in January

Man Looking at Snow Covered Trees

Love sand and hiking on snow packed sandy paths. Indiana Dunes National Park, designated as the nation’s 61st national park is located in Northwestern Indiana along the southern shores of Lake Michigan.  Hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular in the wintertime. You might want to consider snowshoes.

Photo of a Person Pouring Coffee in the Mug

In spring and summer, the park runs for nearly 25 miles alongside of Lake Michigan containing approximately 15,000 acres where you will find sand dunes, wetland, river, prairie and forest ecosystems.  The Park is host to a wide variety of wildlife including white-tailed deer, red fox, raccoons, opossums, cottontail rabbits, various rodents, Canada geese, gulls, squirrels, hawks, turkey vultures , mallards, great blue herons, songbirds and garter snakes.   There are nine different diverse trails to explore!       *  Paul H. Douglas Trail     *  Tolleston Dune Trail     *  Succession Trail.     *  Bailly-Chellberg Trail.     *  Little Calumet River Trail.     *  Cowles Bog Trail.     *  Calumet Dune Trail     *  Glenwood Dune Horse and Hiking Trail   The Indiana Dunes has over 369 species of flowering plants of which thirteen are considered threatened or in danger of extinction.  In addition, there are four invasive flowering plants on the list.  Some of the more common spring flowers you will find include the May apple, 6 varieties of buttercups, and violets.

During the Summer months orchids and lots of goldenrods can be found.   For your first visit to the park, it is highly recommended that you visit the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center located at U.S. Route 20 and Indiana Route 49 near Porter, Indiana.  The center offers standard visitor-center amenities including a video, brochures, hands-on exhibits and a gift shop.  It is free to the general public.   If you like to camp…..check out the Dunewood Campground located on U.S. Route 12 which includes two loops of trailer accessible sites and a RV dump station.  All sites have grills, a picnic table and access to restrooms with running water and showers.  There are also a limited number of camp sites at the neighboring Douglas Loop. The park provides for 45 miles of hiking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.  Cycling is available on the Calumet Trail which is a crushed limestone multi-use trail that runs through the eastern section of the park.  With all the things to see and do here……………….the park will draw over 2 million visitors each year.   (wiki)

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Frozen Waterfalls, Icefalls & Canyons of the Midwest USA

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Who says you cannot enjoy the Midwest in the Winter. Plan to be surprised and awed at the spectacular natural features found here at Starved Rock in Illinois.

Surrounded by the flat, seemingly endless fields of Illinois farm country, a totally different topography is found within the park. Starved Rock was formed thousands of years ago by the melting of glaciers releasing torrents of water. As the water rushed downstream it eroded and stripped away everything in its path except the resistant St. Peter sandstone. It is that sandstone that formed the steep rock walls and the cool dark valleys of the eighteen canyons. When conditions are right cascades of falling water spill down into these gorges, creating the waterfalls so many come here to enjoy.

WATERFALLS
Although you can technically see waterfalls in 14 of the 18 canyons, some of the most scenic waterfalls are found in St. Louis, French, Wildcat, Tonty, Ottawa and Kaskaskia canyons. The best times to see waterfalls are in the spring when the snow and ice melt or after a heavy rainfall.

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ICEFALLS
Winter brings a whole new life to the canyons. The freezing and melting that happens during this time of year creates amazing ice sculptures in the canyons. Make sure you come back in the winter to see an icefall – they are spectacular!

600 million years ago Northern Illinois was part of a broad upland that was undergoing extensive erosion. The erosion wore
the land down to near sea level. Erosion that forms a near sea
level surface is called a peneplain. This peneplain was submerged several times by sea water and several layers of sediment were laid on the surface.
Starved Rock State Park was once covered with 3000-5000
feet of glacial ice on and off over a course of 700,000 years.
Glacial ice can move forwards never backwards. When a glacier is said to be retreating, it is actually melting faster than it is
moving forward. As glacial ice can only move forward, it picks
up rocks and carries them in the ice. When the ice melts, these
rock particles are dropped at the point of melting. All dropped
rock material is called drift. Drift found at the point of melting is
called till. Till is unsorted glacial drift. When the glacier is stagnant, the drift accumulates into a pile called an end moraine.
After the glacier has retreated, it leaves a range of irregular hills
which are the end moraine. The melt waters of the glacier were
so great that they would accumulate behind the moraines and
form vast lakes. The streams that drain these lakes were gigantic compared to today’s streams. The Illinois Valley was
formed by one of these streams.
15,000 years ago during the Wisconsinan Glacial Age, the glacial meltwater of a large lake overtopped the Marseilles Moraine and formed Lake Ottawa behind the Farm Ridge Moraine
that ran north to south along what we call Starved Rock State
Park today. This lake drained when it overtopped the Farm
Ridge Moraine cutting a channel that became the Illinois River.
Repeated meltwater floods of the Kankakee Torrent poured
through the channels cut through the Marseilles and Farm
Ridge Moraines establishing the drainage for the Illinois, Fox,
and Vermillion Rivers. This repeated drainage also cut the outcrops , overlooks, and 18 canyons that you see today.

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Whispers in the Wilderness

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Wild: From Lost to Found

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Nature’s Silent Message 

Nature’s Silent Message

Natures Silent Secret

“The Earth is trying to teach us to live better. To lead richer, happier lives.” Nature’s Silent Message.    Released last year by Scott Stillman.

Nature’s Silent Message

Will we continue down the limited path of the mechanical mind?

Or will we tune into ultimate intelligence? The same intelligence that allows blood to flow through our veins, bees to pollinate flowers, birds to fly south, salmon to spawn, whales to migrate, caterpillars to become butterflies, the Earth to rotate, the moon to orbit, and the rest of nature to function perfectly of its own accord?

We have access to nature’s silent message—if we take the time to listen.

In this spellbinding collection, Stillman guides us from the lush forests of the North Cascades, through the sandstone slot canyons of Utah, and into the border country of extreme southern Arizona. In this classroom, we learn not from books, nor words, nor lectures. Wilderness is the school of life, where we learn not from that which thinks—but that which knows.

Nature’s Silent Message suggests the existence of something far greater than what we see on the surface. It’s about breaking through old patterns so that new ones may emerge.

The message is simple and pure, but when you try to define it, it vanishes into thin air. And in that vanishing, you find it again. Like a beautiful butterfly that can never be caught. Try and catch her and she’ll drive you mad, eluding you forever. But learn to fly with her, and all the wonders of the world will be shown, and all the answers to your questions be known.

Read it now.    Nature’s Silent Message

Common Wildlife of the Midwest, USA

The American White Pelican – An American white pelican is able to hold in its bill 3 gallons of water. The pelican’s beak is the most spacious out of all the birds in the world, being able to hold 3 buckets of fish. Pelicans do not have nostrils. They have to breathe through their beaks.

They nest in colonies of several hundred pairs on islands in remote brackish and freshwater lakes of inland North America. 

Unlike the brown pelican, the American white pelican does not dive for its food. Instead it catches its prey while swimming. Each bird eats more than 4 pounds of food a day.

The American Bison – Bison are the largest mammal in North America. Male bison, also called bulls weigh up to 2,000 pounds and stand 6 feet tall, while females, also called cows weigh up to 1,000 pounds and reach a height of 4-5 feet.

Eagles – Not only are they majestic creatures but they’re also expert hunters, have excellent vision and their wingspan is seriously impressive. Did you know…Eagles, because of their ability to find thermals (warm columns of air), are able to stay aloft indefinitely, often without moving their massive wings.

Beavers – Beavers slap their tails on the water to indicate danger.. Beavers slap their tails on the water to indicate danger. Beavers communicate using scents, vocalizations and posturing, but one of their most important signals is the tail slap. Typically performed by an adult, this loud alarm signal alerts others to seek refuge in deep water and may even frighten a potential predator away.

The Cottontail Rabbit – Did you know they have almost 360-degree vision?
Eastern cottontails have eyes that protrude a bit from their heads, giving them almost 360-degree vision. This really helps them detect predators in the barren landscape of the Midwest winter. However, they have a blind spot directly in front of them that is about 10 degrees wide.

KEEP WARM THIS WINTER – ALL HATS AND SCARVES – 27% OFF

KEEP WARM THIS WINTER – ALL HATS AND SCARVES – 27% OFF

Winter Hiking – The Blue Water River Walk – Michigan, USA

As snow and ice cover hiking trails in wintertime, sometimes a hike along a river walk so long as it’s not too winter, is an ideal option.

The Blue Water River Walk is a one mile stretch of land that runs along the St. Clair River in Port Huron, Michigan.  It has it’s own unique naturalized shoreline that is made up from natural rocks, pebbles and boulders while also consisting of many native plants, flowers, trees and shrubs that grow in their own natural landscape and habitat onshore.  The River Walk provides for a place where the natural habitat can thrive and visitors can take a walk along the shoreline and enjoy looking for turtles, watch the freighters or enjoy a nice outdoor picnic.

The River Walk provides for a place where the natural habitat can thrive and visitors can take a walk along the shoreline and enjoy looking for turtles, watch the freighters or enjoy a nice outdoor picnic.

Pedestrian Trial


A very unique and noticeably different feature of the new St. Clair river shoreline along the Blue Water River Walk is the huge boulder and stone structures sticking up from the water just offshore.  These are huge offshore reefs that extend downwards almost 15 feet into the river bottom.  These large boulders weigh as much as 4,000 pounds and are resting on two other layers…recycled slabs of cement on the very bottom and a middle layer of smaller boulders.  All together over 8,000 tons of rock, stone, cement and boulders were used to build these reefs.


Perhaps the most striking different aspect of the new St. Clair River shoreline along the Blue Water River Walk is the huge stone and boulder structures sticking up from the water just offshore. These huge offshore reefs extend down almost 15 feet into the river bottom. The large boulders seen on the surface weigh as much as 4,000 pounds. They are resting on two other layers; recycled slabs of cement on the very bottom and a middle layer of smaller boulders. All together, over 8,000 tons of rock, stone, cement and boulders were used to build these reefs.

These offshore reefs are a critical element to the overall naturalization of the St. Clair River shoreline.  The reefs are there to serve two purposes:  first, they help to knock down the incredibly strong wave energy caused by passing boats and if left unchecked those waves can create serious damage and erosion to the new shoreline.  Secondly, they create new shallow water habitats between the reefs and the shoreline which is critical to the growth and development of small fish, reptiles and amphibians.  

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Hike & Go Seek – The Ice Age Trail of the Midwest

Looking for premier hiking in the Midwest.  Look no furture….The Ice Age Trail is a National Scenic Trail located in Wisconsin. The trail is also one of 42 designated Wisconsin state trails and the only one specifically designated as a “State Scenic Trail.” From Interstate State Park on the Minnesota border to Potawatomi State Park on Lake Michigan, the Ice Age Trail winds for more than 1,000 miles, following the edge of the last continental glacier in Wisconsin.

One of only 11 National Scenic Trails, the Ice Age Trail is intended to be a premier hiking trail and conservation resource for silent sport and outdoor enthusiasts. The trail traverses some of Wisconsin’s most scenic landscapes and helps tell the story of the last Ice Age by highlighting Wisconsin’s unique glacial features.

Primary attractions include topography left by glaciation in the Last Ice Age. Glacial features along the trail include kettles, potholes, eskers, and glacial erratics. Many of the best examples of glacial features in Wisconsin are exhibited in units of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, most of which lie along the trail.

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The Ice Age Trail is primarily an off-road hiking and backpacking trail that provides excellent opportunities for sightseeing, wildlife viewing and bird watching. In winter, some sections of the trail are open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

The Ice Age Trail includes parts of other Wisconsin state trails.

  • Gandy Dancer, St. Croix Falls to Frederic
  • Tuscobia, Rice Lake to Birchwood
  • Mountain-Bay, near Hatley
  • Military Ridge, near Verona
  • Badger, near Fitchburg
  • Sugar River, Monticello to Albany
  • Glacial Drumlin, near Wales
  • Eisenbahn, near Kewaskum
  • Ahnapee, Casco Junction to Sturgeon Bay

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Nature’s Silent Message 



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Wilderness Wednesday – Birding in the Midwest

White and Black Birds Piercing on Tree Branch

“IN ORDER TO SEE BIRDS, IT IS NECESSARY TO BECOME PARK OF THE SILENCE” – ROBERT LUND

A rewilding, brought about first through neglect and now through intentional human effort, is occurring on all over the world and certainly here in the Midwest. Over the years, I have discovered unique beauties on ambling adventures along the Wisconsin and Michigan Shoreline, and even in the heart the city…downtown Chicago. A rewilding, brought about first through neglect and now through intentional human effort, is occurring on all over the world and certainly here in the Midwest. Over the years, I have discovered unique beauties on ambling adventures along the Wisconsin and Michigan Shoreline, and even in the heart the city…downtown Chicago.

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12X50 High Power Magnification



Shallow Focus Photography of Gray and Orange Bird

The early interest in observing birds for their aesthetic rather than utilitarian (mainly food) value is traced to the late 18th century in the works of Gilbert White, Thomas Bewick, George Montagu and John Clare   The study of birds and natural history in general became increasingly prevalent in Britain during the Victorian Era, often associated with collection, eggs and later skins being the artifacts of interest. Wealthy collectors made use of their contacts in the colonies to obtain specimens from around the world. It was only in the late 19th century that the call for bird protection began leading to the rising popularity of observations on living birds. The Audubon Society was started to protect birds from the growing trade in feathers in the United States while the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds began in Britain.



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1000 Piece Wooden Puzzle



BENEFITS OF BIRDING

  • Bird watching develops patience. …
  • Bird watching will get your children to go outside. …
  • Bird watching allows for introspection and contemplation. …
  • Bird watching can improve cardiovascular health. …
  • Bird watching gives you an excuse to travel. …
  • Bird watching builds a sense of community. …
  • Bird watching quickens reflexes.
Bird Quotes - Quotations about Birds - Famous Quotes - Funny Cartoons

“I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes” – Charles Lindbergh

Birding in North America was focused in the early and mid-20th century in the eastern seaboard region, and was influenced by the works of Ludlow Griscom and later Roger Tory Peterson. Bird Neighbors (1897) by Neltje Blanchan was an early birding book which sold over 250,000 copies. It was illustrated with color photographs of stuffed birds.

Here are some great resources if you like birding:  

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What it’s Like to be a Bird



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National Geographic Birds