Muskegon State Park

At the beginning of the month Cynthia and I drove to Muskegon State Park and spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon wandering the dunes, looking at the lake and chasing birds.

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The WWII submarine USS Silversides is moored to the south bank of the channel which connects Muskegon Lake to Lake Michigan.

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The right place at the right time: I just happened to snap a photo of some terrists infiltrating our defenses. Let this be a demonstration that a patriotic American Citizen, armed only with a semi-obsolete digital camera, can be a buffer between the Axles of Evil and the Free World!

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The clear sky and late fall sun made the dunes bright enough that they were hard to look at.

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The lee side of the dunes had a little more variety. In particular, lots of plants covered with tiny burrs.

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This is the Muskegon-to-Milwaukee ferry, sitting undefended at the edge of Muskegon Lake. If those terrists capture the Silversides, they could cause untold damage to our Freedom (© 2006 USA) — No! Our God Given Right (© 2006 USA) — to cross the Big Lake on a boat! I will immediately propose a bill to extend the Terrists Dressed Like Ducks season to the entire year!

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The knife-edge of a dune. This photo does a good job of demonstrating how bright and contrast-ey everything looked.

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A view from the big lake, looking back along the channel to the east.

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Cynthia and I decided that this is a snow bunting.

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Facing north from the breakwater. State park, as far as the eye can see.

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Cynthia walking along the dunes on our way back to the car.

A Walk by The Lake

A few Sundays ago Cynthia and I went for a long walk around Pickerel Lake, near Cannonsburg Ski Area in West Michigan.

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We picked a beautiful day — clear skies, light breeze, with an invigorating chill in the air. This shot is facing North from the walkway.

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I didn’t know there were beavers in this part of the state. This one appears to have been busy.

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The trees the beavers knock over are quickly turned into sustenance for all sorts of strange things.

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On the north side of the lake is a large pine grove, thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers circa the 1920s.

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Earlier this fall the grove was turned into a labyrinth. Cynthia and I wandered into it, and decided to obey the rules and find our way through to the other side. It took us about half an hour. Though we could see the whole maze from any point in it, the rope which defined the boundaries was difficult to see clearly. A path which appeared promising from one angle often tapered down to a point with no way through.

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At one point a single thin sunbeam made its way into the maze at the perfect angle to illuminate a single strip of bark on one of the trees. From a distance it looked like a flame.

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Another shot of the lake from the East end, facing into the breeze.

Mmmm…Little Tiny Birds

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Thanksgiving: Cornish game hen, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes, salad with home-made dressing, French bread, cranberries, and mincemeat and red raspberry pies.

And Sleep. Lots of sleep. And quiet. And skies so clear the Milky Way was bright enough to navigate by.

And family.

And more food.

And more sleep.

The Latest News in Books

Things have been pretty busy the past month or so, but I have managed to find time to crack open a couple of new books.

The first one was The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. This is not the first alternate history book I have read, so it felt just a little cliche. Then I remembered that this was one of the first of that sub-genre, and in that context is was BRILLIANT! Basically, America lost WWII and was divvied up between the Germans (east of the Mississippi) and the Japanese (west of the Rocky Mountains), with a no-man;s-land in between. The stories are told from the point of view of several characters, Japanese, German, and American.

Next — and one I am still working on — is the ecological thriller The Swarm by Frank Schatzing. The overall plot is nothing new — the abused Earth begins fighting back against her tormentors — but the specifics of the story are fresh and engaging, and the characters are sympathetic without being preachy.

Finally, the one I just finished, and one which caught me by surprise: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Normally I am aware of when interesting books are published, but I didn’t hear about this one until after the fact. McCarthy has (finally) published a post-apocalyptic novel. He has written several apocalyptic novels — Blood Meridian being the most obvious — and now he has written the book he was meant to write. The entire novel follows an un-named father and son as they travel west from the mountains to the coast of southern California in an America gone to nuclear winter where nothing is left alive but human beings. Gangs of cannibals roam the remains of the world and a can of peaches is the most magnificent meal to be hoped for.

There is nothing dignified or romantic about the end of the world here — everything is ash and rain and snow, and a simple thing like a shopping cart losing its wheel can be a life-or-death experience.

I read The Road too quickly the first time — punctuated by moments of having to put it down and let my emotions settle — and I will probably pick it up again around the holidays.

Thomas Harris has a new book coming out in three weeks: Hannibal Rising, the story of how Hannibal Lecter became one of the greatest literary monsters of the twentieth century. Saying I am looking forward to this one is an understatement.

That’s all for now. I want to get in a solid hour of reading before I go to bed. I suggest you do the same.