Thursday, November 27, 2008

Another Thanksgiving

Well it's about 8 PM EST and another Thanksgiving dinner is done and over with. Thanksgiving always ends up being a long day and that is if all goes smoothly, which most times it doesn't. Today was no exception. Today I had to take care of cooking the turkey and making the dressing. My parents did not take the turkey out soon enough from the freezer. They put it in the fridge to thaw out about 3 days ago. They keep the fridge at a lower temperature than most people, so when I pulled the turkey out this morning, it was still mostly frozen. I ended up having to try to thaw it out in cold water. I started this process about 10 AM. Around 1 PM, I decided that I needed to get the bird in the oven. It seemed to have thawed out some. I tried to get the giblets and neck out of the inside of the turkey but it was still frozen in there. I went ahead and put the bird in the oven. It stayed in there for a total of 5 1/2 hours at 375 degrees and this was only a 13.5 pound turkey. About an 1 1/2 hours before the turkey was done, I made the dressing and got that cooked up in the oven. Everyone was scrambling around, trying to get everything timed and cooked around the same time as the turkey. It was all guess work because of the originally frozen turkey. Everything was finally done around 6:30. We were done eating by 6:50. Then of course it takes at least an hour to put leftovers in containers, clean all pots, pans, dishes, utensils and just about every other known item that one would stock a kitchen up with and a few extra ones just for good measure. When I look back on the long day, with everything that went into it, it all seems so silly. All the time spent in preparation and cleanup and spending only 20 minutes to eat.....I sure hope that by the time Thanksgiving comes around again next year, that McDonalds has decided to offer some type of Turkey sandwich or maybe some turkey mcnuggets and a side of fries covered with turkey gravy. Take my word for it...I will be there.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fancy Rose

Another rose that I grew in Metamora, MI. One of my favorites.

Life In Michigan - My Days On Lake Metamora

Back in 1998, Veronica and I moved to Metamora, MI. It is a very small town that had several horse farms in the area. Metemora is about 35 miles from Auburn Hills, where the Detroit Pistons play basketball. We ended up living on a small lake called....what else...Lake Metamora. Our house was situated on a cove off of the main lake. The water was only about 60 feet from our back deck. The first year there, I would fish off of our neighbors boat dock. I would catch bass right and left from that dock. I also hooked into a huge Catfish and what I believe to be a Tiger Musky. The Tiger Musky was about 3 foot long, had silverish colorations and most importantly....a lot of really sharp looking teeth. The following year, Veronica bought me a Bass Buster style of "boat". I ended up wiring it for lights, bought a battery, a Minn Kota trolling motor and a Fish Finder to get me out and about on the lake, with fish on my mind. I definitely wasn't the fastest boat on the lake or the biggest but boy was I proud to be the captain of my vessel. This was an all sports lake which means that all kind of boats...ski boats, pontoon boats, even jet skis were allowed on the lake. There were a few boats with 175hp engines on them that were way to large for this lake. Here I was with people jet skiing, people skiing, pontoon boats puttering around, huge motored boats whizzing around, waves everywhere all around me and I was doing maybe 3-4 miles per hour at best trying to keep afloat. I was quite the sight out there. A little pup out there with the BIG DOGS. I would get up early and hit the water before anyone else was up.
The only waves on the lake were the ones that I was creating...I would not really call them waves...maybe ripples would be a more realistic term. Either way, I had a great time on the water. The biggest bass that I caught out there was about 5lbs. I heard that they had walleye out there but as much as I tried, I never caught one. This lake was full of some really big carp. In the Summer you could see and hear the carp coming up to eat the thick vegetation that grew in the lake. Some nights you could here them eating all night long. I decided to try to catch some of the carp. They were really rather easy to catch. The carp would come right up to the bank and you could watch them with their face in the dirt trying to dig up vegetation to eat. I would take some canned corn and placed the kernels on the hook, enough to actually cover the whole hook up. I then would toss the hook right in front of where the carp were feeding. I could actually watch the carp come up to the corn that was on my hook and suck it up. Set the hook and hang onto your rod tightly. Those carp would take off like a flash and you could hear the line screaming off the reel. Those carp sure were fighters and a lot of fun to catch. They were solid fish and felt like a rock when you would touch them...they felt like they were all muscle. I remember one Sunday morning...I was out on the water real early in the morning...sun had just come up. I was floating at the farthest point in the lake away from home. While minding my own business fishing, I heard a motorized buzzing coming from the sky. The next thing I know, there was one of those homemade, single seat mini float planes landing on the lake, maybe 200 yards away from me. The lake was like glass before this plane landed. It was quite the sight with the plane breaking up the smoothness of the water with its small pontoons. I just sat there watching the pilot fiddling around in his little bitty cockpit that had a big bubble enclosing him. It was really a neat little plane. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me. The plane stuck around for 5 minutes or so and then the pilot revved up the engine and slowly gained enough speed to lift off and fly away. It was one of those sights that remain in your memory for the rest of your life. We used to be able to see many balloonists in the air too. Sometimes you could see up to 6 of those really colorful balloons slowly lifting into the air and you could watch them drift with the wind. In the Winter time, the lake would freeze up and people would be out there snowmobiling on the lake. All in all, Metamora and especially the lake, was a nice place to live.
Here is a photo of our house.
From this photo, you can see how close the waters edge was from our back deck.
A photo of our back deck. As you can see in this photo and the ones below, I was into gardening back then too.
I had many different types of flowers growing near the back deck and along the rock wall. Gladiolas and especially Dahlias of all types grew really well there.




Some of the many styles of dahlias I grew. Some of them were dinner plate size...10-12" in diameter...really large flowers.
These are called Spider Dahlias.



I forget what these are called but they sure were nice looking.





Closeup of one of the many dahlias. This little guy decided that he wanted to live amongst the flowers in the rock wall garden.
This is the only place that I have ever seen one of these machines. It is a harvester. The weeds would grow so thick in this lake that every year the Housing Association would hire this guy and machine to clear and cut out the weeds. This harvester machine was on a barge like floating platform. In the front of the harvester were these very large cutting teeth...very similar to the teeth that are on a hand held edgers that you would use to trim bushes. The driver would lower the front section lower into the water and he would start cutting the vegetation down several feet below waters surface. A lot of times the vegetation was growing right up to the top of the water. This machine could cut it down to about 6-7 below the surface. He would go back and forth all over the lake and small coves...like ours. As the teeth were cutting the vegetation, the barge had another contraption on it that would pick up the cut vegetation, move it to the back of the barge and pile it up where you see the caged sides of the harvester. When the back of the harvester was filled with vegetation, the harvester would go to one of the coves, where the harvester would back up and unload the vegetation into an awaiting dump truck, which hauled it away. It would take this single harvester months to finish cleaning out the over growing vegetation.
Her I am coming home from another fishing adventure.
Look at that wake that my boat is leaving behind.
Here I am with one of my many bass that I caught.
The proud captain comes ashore.
Another fine looking bass that was caught.
One of the numerous carp that I caught from the banks of the lake.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch New Hampshire

While living in New Hampshire, we had several opportunities to head up North, to the Franconia Notch area. On one of these trips, we stopped of at the Flume Gorge. The Flume Gorge is located at the southern end of Franconia Notch in the Franconia Notch State Park on the flanks of Mount Flume where the water has carved a deep gorge. The trails take you up through this gorge "the flume" and then make their way around and under covered bridges and through the woods. This area is beautiful during the early Fall period, when the leaves are starting to change colors. If you are ever in the New England area, going up to the White Mountain area in New Hampshire is a trip worth making. For more information on Fanconia Notch and the White Mountains, please click on the links below:
http://www.visitnh.gov/flume/index.html

http://www.newhampshire.com/nh-attractions/flume-gorge.aspx

http://www.visitwhitemountains.com/things-to-do/attractions/default.aspx






Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Trip To Mackinac (Mackinaw) Island

Back in 1999, when we lived in Michigan, we had the opportunity to take a day trip to Mackinac Island. We took the Star Line Hydro-Jet Ferry from the city of Mackinaw to the Island. The Ferry trip to the island took less than 20 minutes.
Upon our arrival on Mackinac Island we noticed that there were absolutely no cars there. Everyone got around by rental bikes or you can bring your own for a small fee to the Ferry company, walking or by taking the numerous horse drawn carriages. There are approximately 500-600 permanent residents on the island.
It iws approximately 8.3 miles around the island via a perimeter road. The island is really interesting to walk around. You can take a walking tour or a carriage tour of the island. There is biking and hiking. They have a drive it yourself carriage tour, golf course, historical park, haunted theater, a Butterfly Conservatory and a Butterfly House. Veronica and I went to the Butterfly House. You have to be careful going in and out because they don't want any of the butterflies to get away. They actually physically check your clothes front and back to make sure there are no hitchikers trying to make the great escape. For more information about what Mackinac Island has to offer, please visit the link below:
http://www.mackinac.com/index.html

The Turbo-Jet Ferry to Mackinac Island


Part of Mackinac Island
Another view of the island
The Lilac Tree Hotel and Spa on Main Street in the heart of downtown historic area of Mackinac Island. This is one of serveral hotels/resorts.

Now let the butterfly tour begin: to get a closeup just double click on the picture that you want to enlarge.












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