Henbit Dead-nettle (Lamium amplexicaule)
Blue Field Madder (Sherardia arvensis)
Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea)
Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia)
A major change took place there about 7,000 years ago when water volume was low. The connection between Lake Huron and Lake Erie was cut off and the Upper Great Lakes drained through the Ottawa River and St. Lawrence Valley. Only the flow from Lake Erie went over Niagara Falls, and a narrow gorge and shallow Riverbed were formed.
Today, the flow of water coming from the wider upper Great Gorge is channeled into the narrow section, thus creating the turbulent Whirlpool Rapids. The violent waters of the Whirlpool Rapids flow into the Eddy Basin before entering the Whirlpool.
September 9, 2022
Kevin, Sara, and I arrived in Niagara Falls in the late afternoon. We drove to our hotel, ate something, rested for a moment and went from there to the Whirlpool State Park. We didn’t want to deal with the big tourist crowds that evening. So, we were tourists away from the tourists. We saw the falls at night five years ago. I could wait until the following day. Kevin was in Wheatfield High School in the late 80s and early 90s. He knows this area like his back pocket.
At Whirlpool State Park Kevin, Sara, and I took a little hike on the Whirlpool Scenic Trail. It was very interesting to witness how the rushing waters of the rapids flow from the Eddy Basin into the Whirlpool, where the water is forced to circle around, hence the name “whirlpool”. Kevin also discovered a groundhog on the side of the river wall. That groundhog was so used to humans that it didn’t care, we were only a foot and a half away from its burrow. The chipmunks and squirrels came much closer. We think they are being fed by visitors.
The sun hadn’t set yet. So, we chose to go to a second destination, before we called it a day.
… to be continued …
September 9, 2022
On Friday, we began our journey to Niagara Falls. One of Kevin’s best friends from Highschool got married on Saturday. And we were all invited to the wedding and reception. Katelynn couldn’t make it. She’s stuck in Dallas. But Kevin, Sara, and I went for a weekend trip to Western New York, again. Along the way, we saw some cool historic and natural places. One of them is the Erie Canal, which runs from the Hudson River all the way to Lake Erie. A part of the canal was built along the Mohawk River. When we made a stop at the Mohawk Valley Welcome Center near Fultonville, we saw what looked like a bridge, but is actually a moveable dam to control the flooding of the Mohawk River Valley. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_Canal
The Erie Canal is a historic canal in upstate New York that runs east-west between the Hudson River and Lake Erie. Completed in 1825, the canal was the first navigable waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, vastly reducing the costs of transporting people and goods across the Appalachians. In effect, the canal accelerated the settlement of the Great Lakes region, the westward expansion of the United States, and the economic ascendancy of New York State. It has been called “The Nation’s First Superhighway.”
A canal from the Hudson to the Great Lakes was first proposed in the 1780s, but a formal survey was not conducted until 1808. The New York State Legislature authorized construction in 1817. Political opponents of the canal, and of its lead supporter New York Governor DeWitt Clinton, denigrated the project as “Clinton’s Folly” and “Clinton’s Big Ditch”. Nonetheless, the canal saw quick success upon opening on October 26, 1825, with toll revenue covering the state’s construction debt within the first year of operation. The westward connection gave New York City a strong advantage over all other U.S. ports and brought major growth to canal cities such as Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo.
The construction of the Erie Canal was a landmark civil engineering achievement in the early history of the United States. When built, the 363-mile (584 kilometer) canal was the second-longest in the world (after the Grand Canal in China). Initially 40 feet (12 meters) wide and 4 feet (1.2 meters) deep, the canal was expanded several times, most notably from 1905 to 1918 when the “Barge Canal” was built and over half the original route was abandoned. The modern Barge Canal measures 351 miles (565 kilometers) long, 120 feet (37 meters) wide, and 12 feet (3.7 meters) deep. It has 34 locks, including the Waterford Flight, the steepest locks in the United States. When leaving the canal, boats must also traverse the Black Rock Lock to reach Lake Erie or the Troy Federal Lock to reach the tidal Hudson. The overall elevation difference is about 565 feet (172 meters).
The Erie’s peak year was 1855, when 33,000 commercial shipments took place. It continued to be competitive with railroads until about 1902, when tolls were abolished. Commercial traffic declined heavily in the latter half of the 20th century due to competition from trucking and the 1959 opening of the larger St. Lawrence Seaway. The canal’s last regularly-scheduled hauler, the Day Peckinpaugh, ended service in 1994.
Today, the Erie Canal is mainly used by recreational watercraft. It connects the three other canals in the New York State Canal System: the Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga–Seneca. Some long-distance boaters take the Erie as part of the Great Loop. The canal has also become a tourist attraction in its own right—a number of parks and museums are dedicated to its history. The Erie Canalway Trail is a popular cycling path that follows the canal across the state. In 2000, Congress designated the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor to protect and promote the system.
… to be continued …
Nine years ago, Sara and I visited the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve for the first time. It is only seven miles away from our house. But I had no idea it existed until I looked at a park map on Google one morning. Katelynn was in school. And Sara was bored because she had no one to play with in the house. So, I decided I would take her for a hike in the park. The weather was nice and not too warm. It was perfect to see what the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve has to offer. On the way, I said to Sara: “Maybe we will see some wildlife in the park.” When we arrived at the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, we saw a lot of hikers, sprinters and runners. I told Sara to stay with me on the right side of the trail, for people who work out can pass us on the left. She did very well. We walked into the forested area. And Sara noticed a couple of squirrels chasing each other. One had a couple of pecans in its mouth. And the other squirrel wanted the first one to share at least one of the pecans. Sara and I made it all the way to the Observation Tower, where we had a nice view over a big portion of the park. After a little rest, we hiked back to the parking lot. Sara was counting the bridges, we crossed along the way. She said: “There were three bridges in total. And the squirrels were funny.” I’m glad she got entertained on this little trip to the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. 😉
Stemmy Four-nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa)
So many memories come back when I look at these photos. When Kevin, Katelynn, Sara, and I lived in Texas, we loved walking on the town’s local trails. One of them was by Lewisville Lake, hence the name “The Colony Shoreline Trail”. The beginning of August has usually the hottest days of Summer. So, it was not uncommon that we walked when it was still 100℉+ in the evenings. We were used to it. And we saw people joking and biking along the trail. Sunscreen, bug spray, and water are the secrets to keeping going outdoors.
In this drought weather, a lot of plants strive in Texas. Firewheel, Ground Cherries, Horsenettle, Love-in-a-puff, Partridge Peas, Ragweed, Snow-on-the-prairie, Sunflowers, and many other plants love this hot weather, while others survive better in May and June. They will be wilted by the time July and August come around. That’s why we could enjoy wildflowers in Texas about ten out of twelve months of the year.
1) St. John’s Wort; 2) McIntosh Apple; 3) Bull Thistle; 4 & 5) Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly; 6) Indian Tobacco; 7) American Robin;
8) Yellow Daylily; 9) Staghorn Sumac; 10) Oriental Bittersweet
1) Pokeweed; 2) Wild Blackberries; 3) Bittersweet Nightshade; 4) Hosta
Kevin, Sara, and I made use of this beautiful morning. It was only 59℉ (15℃) when we drove for a hike to the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield. At the center, we parked the car by the Sawmill Field and walked along the Bantam River. In the swamps, we’ve heard a lot of frogs croaking, but couldn’t find one. They were camouflaged in the water. Close to the Mattatuck Trail, Kevin pointed out a snake. I was lucky enough to photograph the Garter Snake from head to tail before it disappeared under a rock. There were also plenty of wildflowers like chicory, purple loosestrife, swamp weed, and water lilies. A lot of people were also hiking and biking on those trails or kayaking down the Bantam River towards Bantam Lake. When we walked back to our car, we noticed it wasn’t even 9 am, yet.
Midway Geyser Basin: Exelsior Geyser Crater – Grand Prismatic Spring
The next stop was Midway Geyser Basin at the Firehole River. The Midway Geyser Basin is very famous for being the home of the Grand Prismatic Spring. The Grand Prismatic Spring is famous for its size and colors. With being deeper than a 10-story building and larger than a football field, it is the thrid largest hot spring in the world. The Grand Prismatic Spring gets its rainbow colors from the bacteria that lives in progressively cooler water. And the water scatters the blue wavelenght of light, and therefore the center reflects blue back to our eyes.
The Excelsior Geyser Crater is a dormant geyser, but a steamy blue spring. It is so hot, that the runoff water is still boiling, when it hits the surface of the Firehole River. The last time the geyser erupted about 80 feet (25 meters) high for two days was in 1985. Back in the 1800s it could reach a height up to 300 feet (90 meters).
When we visited, we also could see wildlife and wildflowers across the river. We’ve seen a big male bison grassing in the meadow, a relaxing female elk, a couple of ravens, and a big Flame Skimmer dragonfly. There were also wild roses and beautiful pine trees in the area. After the Midway Geyser basin visit, Kevin and I called it a day. We all were hungry and tired for walking around. Sara needed a small nap, before we had dinner at the camp ground. That night, we went to bed early to have an early start the following morning.
… to be continued …
Common Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
Narrow-leaf Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
Clasping Venus’ Looking Glass (Triodanis perfoliata)
Pink Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)
1) Nessus Sphinx on Pink Rhododendron; 2) Dewberry Blossoms;
3) Dame’s Violet (purple); 4) Daisy Fleabane; 5) Carpenter Bee on
White Clover; 6) Dame’s Violet (white)
It began to rain in the early morning. And the rain lasted until the late morning hours. While I captured photos of droplets, a Northern Cardinal fledgling got confused and almost landed on me. Once it figured out, I wasn’t mommy or daddy it made a sharp turn and sat on the porch railing.
Today, it was a cool day. However, this weekend we are supposed to get temperatures in the mid-90s (35℃). It will feel just like Texas, before the weather cools down to the 70s on Monday.
1) Grass Lilies; 2) McIntosh Apple Blossoms; 3) Dandelion/”Pusteblume”; 4) Fern; 5) Canada Columbine
Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii)
1) Rose of Sharon; 2) McIntosh Apple; 3) Eastern Red Bud; 4) Dandelion;
5) American Robin; 6) Greater Celandine; 7 & 8) Wood Anemone;
9 & 10) Norway Maple Leaves & Blossoms; 11 & 12) Wild Strawberry;
13) Garlic Mustard; 14) Eastern Chipmunk; 15) Pink Hyacinth;
16) Carpet Bugleweed*; 17) Japanese Cherry*; 18) Japanese Quince*
* Neighbor’s yard
Narrowleaf Evening Primrose (Oenothera fruticosa)
Now, at the end of April our yard has changed quite a bit. More ground cover blossoms have emerged from the ground; the shrubs begin to bloom; and our maple trees start to turn green. Spring becomes more colorful. The last couple of days, I’ve seen an American Robin picking nesting material on our property. A Mourning Cloak butterfly flew across our yard as well.
While I captured photos of fresh Spring blooms I asked our neighbor, if it was okay to capture some photos of the Saucer Magnolia blossoms on his property. After I’ve got permission, I shot some images of these beautiful blooms. They always remind me of my childhood in Germany. We’ve got a lot of Saucer Magnolia trees in the Court Garden of the Residence and in the Royal Garden (Kaisergärtchen) close to the train station in Würzburg. As a little girl, my grandma dressed me up, when we took a walk through the Court Garden of the Residence. When grandma sat on a bench to take a break near the Saucer Magnolias, I was collecting the blossom leaves from the ground and counted them, how many I could hold in my hand. That kept me busy for quite some time.