First Rites of Spring...2014
Winter has wielded an iron hammer this year. Seems like any attempt at grabbing my scoot and leaning into some new scenery was rewarded with a new storm that magically appeared and transformed dreams into thick layers of ice. I should have been content to stay inside, and enjoy the warmth of the house, but soft echos of conversations in the halls of work produced rumors of icebergs on the lakes. 83% of ice coat this year- compared to 3% last year. This had a chilling effect on the thought of outdoor activities on a bike. But they had the effect of forcing me to venture out of  my cave to see what the diehards were whispering about.
The state is an interesting place. Surrounded by water on three sides, if the unthinkable happens - and all of them freeze, it is like living in an ice-box.

Think temperatures and windchills hitting -10F to -30F.

A video (posted elsewhere in this blog) shows what it was like when it warmed up to -6F (no windchill included), and I could drive the car with one hand while holding a video camera in the other. Not something I would want to do all the time, but it somehow makes you feel like you survived something. That which doesn't kill you, ...etc.

But it is not always like that. Now, spring is making signs of a comeback. Birds, long hidden (except at our feeding stations which were full all winter), have reappeared, and are filling the air with songs.

Damn!...time for some trips!

1. In Search of Icebergs Our first trip was taken in some cold weather (in a cage), and documented by the route above- shown in yellow. It started at the small red square in the lower middle where I normally huddle in the dark and plan escapes. A quick dart through the traffic of the city of Grand Rapids, and we are out on our own, signalling the beginning of a good time.  

At point (1) at the lake, ice is slowly melting, and the run-off is carving deep into the small streams that feed The Lake. The one thing that surprised me is that there are so many new "sand-dunes" between the beach and the water. Turns out, they are not dunes, but more later.

Cold wind and Virga dogged us throughout the drive at the shore. The dry air cut quickly through shirts and jackets, and the heated truck cab was a welcome retreat from the few minutes we spent gawking the spectacle that spread out in front of us. Chunks of ice coated the beach as far as the eye could see.

I got my username 'MichRocks' because I am a member of a gem-and-mineral (rockhounding) club here in Michigan. The lakes up here are home to some beautiful minerals, and the A.E. Seaman mineral museum has a world-class collection of exquisite specimens.

Many minerals can only be found by wading
into (or diving) the waters of the lakes to find them. My wife actually brought shoes specially designed for wading on this trip...but something tells me that they are not going to get any use here!!!

Lots of ingredients for Margaritas, but no icebergs.

2. Frankfort Scenes
The drive further north was frequented by glimpses of lakes on both sides. Ice still covered many, and geese were seen wading in the shallow open water around the periphery. Soon, these will be ice-free and will be swimming with waterfowl, but for now, the 'wading game' continues.