Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Wellesley Island State Park, New York

While we were in Canada  we maxed out our 12 gig cell phone plan. I added another 4 gigs and burned through that in two days. We went without for a day and started another 16 gig cycle. The first day we used another 4 gigs. At that rate, we would use 80 gigs a month.

I'm thinking maybe this has something to do with Canada roaming, but research later shows both Apple and Microsoft have slammed us with big background updates.

I tell the laptop that the tethered cell phones are metered devices and set the cell phones and Ipad to stop automatically doing updates and set a lot of unessential apps to not use cell phone data, stop making push notifications, stop updating in the background, close open apps, etc...the torrent of data use is now down to an affordable amount.

We drive though the upstate New York area. The leaves are ready to change colour in another week or two.

The bearded Amish farmer who owns the barn above came out to talk to us. The barn is 80 years old. I ask if he used a paintbrush and roller to paint the red part. He tells me he used an airless and that the airless was expensive. I think he'll paint the rest after the growing season is over.

Wellesley State Park is near Clayton. In the afternoon we stop at a restaurant operated by the Coyote Moon Winery. We order wine, a chicken wrap and a turkey sandwich.

Mrs. Phred shops for shoes but they don't have any left small enough for her feet.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Six Days in Ontario

We cross the border at Sault St. Marie in Michigan and cross back six days later in New York on Interstate 81.

We camped two nights near Thessallon on Lake Ontario, two nights on a lake in Espanola and the last two in John and Tracey's driveway on big lake Simcoe in Beaverton.

John and Tracey are next door neighbours at Sun & Fun in Sarasota in the Winter.

The lake is really huge. They have to pull in their dock in the winter because of lake ice.

Sunday we drive about 30 minutes to have lunch with Gail, who is Tracy's mother...also a winter neighbour.

Ontario has beautiful lakes and rivers and everywhere we travel we see people enjoying water recreation...boating, camping and building...

The view from Gail's back yard...this river flows into Lake Simcoe.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Brass Monkey Balls

Sault Saint Marie, Michigan

The museum ship Valley Camp was once used by Republic Steel to carry taconite and iron ore on the Great Lakes. Taconite  is a low grade of iron ore (less than 15%) interspersed with chert, quartz or carbonate.

This piece of misinformation is hanging in the crew quarters. It sounds implausible.


Wikipedia and the Brass Monkey Story:
It is often stated that the phrase originated from the use of a brass tray, called a "monkey", to hold cannonballs on warships in the 16th to 18th centuries. Supposedly, in very cold temperatures the "monkey" would contract, causing the balls to fall off However, nearly all historians and etymologists consider this story to be a myth. This story has been discredited by the U.S. Department of the Navy,[ etymologist Michael Quinion, and the Oxford English Dictionary They give five main reasons:
  1. The record does not record the term "monkey" or "brass monkey" being used in this way.
  1. The purported method of storage of cannonballs ("round shot") is simply false. Shot was not stored on deck continuously on the off-chance that the ship might go into battle. Indeed, decks were kept as clear as possible.
  1. Furthermore, such a method of storage would result in shot rolling around on deck and causing a hazard in high seas. Shot was stored on the gun or spar decks, in shot racks—longitudinal wooden planks with holes bored into them, known as shot garlands in the Royal Navy, into which round shot were inserted for ready use by the gun crew.
  1. Shot was not left exposed to the elements where it could rust. Such rust could lead to the ball not flying true or jamming in the barrel and exploding the gun. Indeed, gunners would attempt to remove as many imperfections as possible from the surfaces of balls.
  1. The physics does not stand up to scrutiny. The contraction of both balls and plate over the range of temperatures involved would not be particularly large. The effect claimed possibly could be reproduced under laboratory conditions with objects engineered to a high precision for this purpose, but it is unlikely it would ever have occurred in real life aboard a warship.

It's Sunday in Sault St. Marie so we hit a bookstore, buy some box wine and find a Walmart to buy some Glucosamine in the hope of alleviating the slight pain in my right knee.

A happy find later that day is Pickles Bar and Grill which has excellent Whitefish Tacos.

Pickles has a great view of Lake Michigan. It is about 6 miles west of Brimley State Park.

In Michigan we spend two days each in:
  • Sterling State Park
  • Bay City State Park
  • Tawas Point State Park
  • Wilderness State Park
  • Brimley State Park

Friday, 16 September 2016

Horseshit and Fudge

Mackinac Island. Michigan

Mackinac is pronounced's that pesky French influence you find up Sault St. Marie is pronounced Sue St. Marie...I remember a snotty french waiter pretending not to understand me when I ordered Savignon Blanc and failed to properly negotiate the silent C on the end of Blanc...

So we took a ferry over to Mackinac Island. There is a main street that has many fudge stores and bicycle rental places. We walked and I'm glad because at one point we had to go up 300 steps to see the Skull Cave and the Arch Rock....We would have had to come back down the steps if we had bikes instead of walking the high ground.

We are told by natives we meet up in the State Park that 98% of the visitors never get beyond the commercial area and come away with the impression that all there is there is horseshit and fudge.

The old Victorian homes (hotels and inns) are quite impressive and there appears to be a lively competition for best flower bed at this time of year,

This is an interesting horse drawn contraption. A diesel engine powers a shit scooper that cleans op the equine crap left all over the island.

Some of these old hotels are very lovely.

Even UPS and Fedex have to use horses on the island.

The Mackinac Bridge is where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are technically delineated. It connects the upper Michigan Peninsula with Lower Michigan.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Invasive Species

Tawas Point State Park, Michigan

Michigan is surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, all about the same surface elevation. These are Lake Erie, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Lake Ontario is about 300 feet lower in elevation due to the Niagara escarpment.

We take a drive and find the Au Sable River in the middle of a large National Forest. An old fisherman talks to us for nearly an hour. He is extremely knowledgeable about invasive species like the Zebra Mussel, Asia Carp, Sea Lamprey and Alewife, a small fish that once made up an estimated 90% of the biomass of Lake Michigan. He tells us of picking up buckets of these rotting fish from his shoreline every morning.

We ask him about perflourinated chemicals and he tells us that there is a bloom in the local aquifer caused by a Strategic Air Command base a few miles from the river. He also has stories about the pollution caused by industry and untreated sewage.

It's a pretty river despite all the concerns of the old fisherman. The Great Lakes contain 84% of the fresh water in North America. The surface area of the lakes is equivalent to the area of the United Kingdom.

We run into a farmer's market on Wednesday and buy corn, broccoli and blueberry jam.

The park has an interesting two mile trail out to a point of land. We walk it and flush a white tail deer. I go to the dumpster in the morning and find a fat raccoon staring up at me to see what I have to offer.

Sunrise on Lake Huron.