Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sites Added to

Gales' Pond map
Gale's Pond

by jhy

Recently four additional locations for quiet outdoor recreation have been added to the main Get Off The Couch website.

Get Off The Couch was developed to give people detailed information on places to go for quiet sport and enjoyment in Mason, Manistee, Oceana and Lake Counties in Michigan. Since it generates very little income (many businesses which offer services for low-impact recreation have not yet appreciated the value of the internet), the site grows slowly.

Yet, it is still my dream to offer complete information, and to keep it updated.

In Oceana County, Gale's Pond is found just east of Hart. This is a little-known gem, with a lot of high-quality plant material around the small pond. A half-mile trail encircles the water. There is a small picnic area.

The hiking opportunity can be extended by walking around the corner on a dirt road and adding the 3/8 mile of trail in Doolittle Memorial Forest.

The two additional locations are in Manistee County.

For a great scenic view, one of the best in the Lower Peninsula, stop off at the Arcadia Bluffs overlook on the Manistee/Benzie County line off M-22. There is an observation platform to climb (plus a fully accessible level with good views too), and a telescopic viewer in the summer.

Magoon Creek map
Gale's Pond
Another wonderful area, with a number of ecosystems, hiking, swimming, and picnic opportunities is Magoon Creek. Located just south of Manistee, there are 1.5 miles of trail and over 40 interpreted locations.

All information is free of charge, and based on personal visits to the sites. The date of my last visit is always shown on the page, giving a user some idea of how accurate it may be.

If you have a product or service related to quiet recreation, and would like to advertise, there are many levels of commitment available. In addition, non-profit organizations with similar interests can advertise for a minimum of $10 per year.

Feel free to look the site over, and contact me at

These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

Monday, February 27, 2012

Quiet Water Symposium 2012

quiet waters symposium

from Quiet Water Symposium

Each year, on the first Saturday of March, the Quiet Waters Symposium is held in conjunction with the Michigan State University's Agriculture and Natural Resources Week. The location is the MSU Campus, in the Pavilion for Livestock and Agriculture Education, 4301 Farm Lane Rd, East Lansing, MI.

The Quiet Water Symposium celebrates non-motorized outdoor recreation and a shared concern for our Great Lakes Environment.

At the Symposium visitors will find presentations by world famous authors, photographers, and expedition travelers. Other presentations may cover skills, safety, local and distant destinations. There may be presentations on bicycling, sailing, diving, and history.

This year's main speakers are Cliff Jacobson- "Canoeing the Boundary Waters in Style," Kevin Callan- "How to be a Happy Camper," and "The Best Canoe Routes in Ontario," and Gary & Joanie McGuffin- "Journey into the Heart of the Boreal."

Many other workshops, seminars and demonstrations will also be running throughout. Topics include outfitting, taking a dog camping, boat building, and travel programs from other outdoor adventures.

wooden kayak
In 2011, over 1400 people enjoyed the day. It's a great deal for only $10, a little gas and lunch money.

Date: Saturday, March 3, 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Admission: Adults $10.00 Students (with ID) $5.00 - under 12 Free

See Quiet Water Symposium
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

Hammock Campers Rendevouz at Ludington State Park

alt text
camper Vince poses by his hammock (photo by jhy)

by JHY

Twenty hardy fellows converged on Ludington State Park this weekend for a weekend of camping, hiking, and fun. They are all members of, a meeting place for people who want to discuss all things related to sleeping in hammocks.

These are not your summer string hammocks, hung semi-permanently near a cabin. These hammocks are medium to high tech creations made for easy hanging, packing, and carrying. What's high-tech about a hammock you ask? The fabric (waterproof, breatheable, lightweight), the pattern (stability, comfort, ease of entrance and exit), the accessories (hanging straps, zippers, cords, quilts).

In fact, discussing and looking at the merits of each other's gear is one of the popular activities at such outings. And this activity is not limited to the hammocks. Two men wore traditional wool coat-shirts they had made, and another demonstrated a handmade laser-cut, collapsible wood-burning backpacker stove.

About twice a year there is a regional campout. These happen somewhat spontaneously as a result of conversations on the forum. There's no official restriction on who can attend. One camper this weekend was from Indiana, and another from Chicago.

campfire coffee
campfire breakfast (photo by jhy)
Eggs and sausages were hot and waiting for me when I arrived. Some guys were getting ready to explore the park trails. I sampled a dense and delicious pemmican bread baked and brought by one of the men.

Women are welcome to participate, and there are usually a few, but this particular weekend none were in attendance.

A couple of the participants even had tents, and were not being run out of the group on a rail. If you are looking for a group that likes to get out regularly, the folks at hammockforums are eager to welcome you.

(A longer article should appear in the Outdoor section of the Ludington Daily News on March 3.)

See Hammock Forum
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wireless Bicycle Brakes? Yup

wireless bicycle brake
Holger Hermanns, computer science professor at Saarland University, confirmed the reliability of his wireless bicycle brake through mathematical calculations. (photo by Angelika Klein)

from Saarland University

Seems a little silly right? To replace a simple cable with electronics which can fail just as easily?

Although the wireless braking system has been created for a bicycle, the idea is to apply the technology to much larger systems, such as trains and airplanes. Professor Holger Hermanns of Saarland University, Homberg, Germany, has developed the technology, and has chosen a safer transportation method, bicycles, to test his prototypes.

On a bicycle, to brake with the wireless brake, a cyclist needs only clench the rubber grip on the right handle. The more tightly the grip is clenched, the harder the disk brake on the front wheel works. It seems as if a ghost hand is in play, but a combination of several electronic components enables the braking. Integrated in the rubber grip is a pressure sensor, which activates a sender if a specified pressure threshold is crossed. The sender is integrated in a blue plastic box which is the size of a cigarette packet and is attached to the handlebar. Its radio signals are sent to a receiver attached at the end of the bicycle's fork. The receiver forwards the signal to an actuator, transforming the radio signal into the mechanical power by which the disk brake is activated. The electrical energy is supplied by a battery, which is also attached to the bicycle's fork. To enhance reliability, there are additional senders attached to the bicycle. These repeatedly send the same signal.

Its current configuration enables the cruiser bike to brake within 250 milliseconds. This means that at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour, the cyclist has to react two meters before reaching the dangerous situation. But the Saarland University computer scientists are not satisfied with just this functionality. "It is not difficult to integrate an anti-lock braking system and traction control. That takes only a few adjustments," Hermanns explains.

So, you probably shouldn't look for this at your local bike shop, but it's an interesting concept.

These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Missauke County Dogs Die of Blastomycosis

x-ray of dog lungs with blastomycosis
Chest X-ray from a dog with blastomycosis, (Photo from Univ. of Georgia Dept. of Anatomy and Radiology)

compiled from several sources

Two Missauke County dogs have died from the fungal infection Blastomycosis. The fungus is inhaled as dogs walk through forest litter. The organism responsible is a fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis.

Dogs and humans seem to be most susceptible, but cats and horses may also become infected. Since it depends upon exposure to the fungus, it is found only where the fungus grows. Cases are most often reported in the valleys of the major US rivers, the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio. It has also been documented in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.

The fungus requires wet, sandy, acidic soils rich in organic matter and in close proximity to water. Sadly, West Michigan sounds like a perfect location.

Large dog breeds, and most often males, are most likely to become infected. No reason for this disparity has been determined, although it may be simply due to the likelihood of those dogs roaming more.

Once a dog is infected, symptoms are diffuse, and only specific tests can determine if the problem is Blastomycosis. Watch for coughing, difficulty breathing, depression, skin lesions (like large pimples), and eye irritation. An exact diagnosis can only be made by a veterinarian who is looking for this specific problem. Since it is rare in Michigan, vets may not be looking for it.

The treatment is usually large doses of Amphotericin B, which almost always causes some degree of kidney failure. An alternative is Itraconazole, also effective and safer, but more expensive.

Blastomycosis is a serious disease, and its appearance in Michigan, near Lake City, is not good news.

See Veterinary Clinical Pathology
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Historic Pavilion at Onaway SP Burns

Onaway State Park Fire
pavilion after the fire(photo from 9&10 News)

from TV 9&10 and other sources

A fire yesterday at Onaway State Park, in Presque Isle County, burned so thoroughly that it may never be determined what caused the blaze. The 90-year-old structure was part of an historic district within the park.

The pavilion had been rented and used on Saturday, but connecting the fire definitively with that event is unlikely. The structure had burned to the ground before firefighters could reach the scene.

Onaway State Park pavilion
pavilion section (photo from the Presque Isle County Advance)
Onaway State Park was created when the land was donated to the State of Michigan in 1920. It had previously been a county park named Indian Orchard. Native Americans, travelers and settlers throughout history used the area heavily. The park sits on a huge limestone shelf and development of the park was an engineering feat.

It has not been determined what will be done about the loss, but the park manager states that the public will have input.

See Onaway State Park
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rockport Becomes Michigan's Newest State Park

alt text
The old deep water dock at Rockport State Park in Michigan (photo by quiet solo pursuits)

a news release of Michigan DNR

State recreation officials announced that the "Rockport Property," previously managed as part of the state forest system, was transferred to the Parks and Recreation Division to become the newest state park in Michigan.

Rockport State Park offers many unique and special features. With 4,237 acres of land located on the shores of Lake Huron, north of Alpena, the property includes a deep-water protected harbor, an old limestone quarry of approximately 300 acres, a unique series of sinkholes, a dedicated Natural Area (Besser Natural Area), and a broad range of land types, vegetative cover, cultural resources and recreation opportunities. At the harbor, the Department has a boat launch facility, and there is a small park developed by Alpena Township on land leased from the State.

Future actions regarding Rockport State Park will be guided by the management plans for the park and with ongoing input from the NRTH Advisory Committee, which is currently engaged in forming a "Friends Group" for this park. Administration of the park will be handled by Harrisville State Park, and questions regarding its management can be directed to 989-724-5126.

See Quiet Solo Pursuits for more pictures
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Manistee Boy Scout Troop 167 Camps Out (A Lot!)

boys walking in woods
scouts explore off trail (photo by jhy)

by jhy

"How many campouts have you been on?" I asked 12-year-old Tyler.

"Fifteen," he answered casually. Clearly a seasoned veteran of the outdoors. His buddy, Blake, has only been on three, but he only joined Manistee's Boy Scout Troop 167 this past year.

I was quickly informed that the troop camps out once a month. In an era when even Boy Scouts often spend a lot of time on skills that are suited for the digital age, I was heartened to find a group that embraces the outdoor pursuits which are at the root of the Scouting movement.

With special permission from the Manistee National Forest, the group is allowed to camp at the Big M Ski Area each winter. (Camping is not generally allowed on the property). Since this wasn't a "Polar Bear" campout, the boys and their leaders were using the warming shelter. The wood stove had heated the building nicely, and when I arrived some scouts were cooking or eating breakfast, and others were rolling up their sleeping bags.

Some of the scouts would be completing requirements for their Camping merit badge, and others would make progress on the Wilderness Survival badge. I wondered if the survival skills required were really basic ones, and was told that some of the requirements are: to demonstrate three ways to start fire without matches, to be able to build an emergency shelter with little or no environmental impact, and to understand things like weather, signalling, and making decisions based on life-preserving priorities. Sounds like good stuff to me!

I also spoke with the oldest boy in the troop, 17-year-old Brian. He's a Life Scout, working toward Eagle. His project included collecting over a ton of food for the Salvation Army, and the troop is sorting and boxing it.

Expecting to hear that he'd been a member since Cub Scouts, it was interesting to learn that he joined at the Webelos level- for 10-year-olds. He just thought it would be something fun to do. Brian said that Scouting introduced him to what the outdoors has to offer. He'll be attending Michigan Tech next year with studies in Environmental Science and Plant Biotechnology. He credits Scouting for developing his interest in the natural world. He's also a member of the Order of the Arrow.

boys playing bananagrams
playing Bananagrams (photo by jhy)
After breakfast, some boys headed outside, while others enjoyed the warm shelter and played games or visited. The troop has 24 members, of which eight boys came on this campout. Usually, the participation is 14-16 members.

I came away encouraged to see young people comfortable in the outdoors, even in winter.

Led by Scoutmaster Klaus Kutschke, this active troop is looking for area girls who are interested in Adventure Scouting. At this level both boys and girls can participate.

See Polar Bears in Manistee
See BSA Troop 167
Contact Klaus at 723-7766

These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Recycle Boat Shrink-Wrap

alt text
winter boat storage (photo from Sea Grant)

a news release of Michigan Sea Grant

This program provides boaters and marina operators with a cost-effective, environmentally friendly option for disposal of shrink-wrap.

Shrink-wrap (Low-Density Polyethylene or LDPE) is commonly used for protecting recreational boats from snow, ice, water and debris when stored outside during the winter. In the shrink-wrapping process, plastic is draped over the boat, secured by strapping and heated to provide a rigid plastic surface, thereby providing a protective covering strong enough to hold the weight of snow and ice and protecting the boat from the elements. In the spring, shrink-wrap is removed and often ends up in landfills.

Proper preparation and storage of shrink-wrap is key to preventing problems with recycling machinery that shreds the plastic.
  • Step one: Remove strapping, lumber, nails, zippers and vents before packaging shrink-wrap for recycling. The doors and vents may be reusable next year.
  • Step two: Keep the shrink-wrap as clean as possible, free from gravel and sand.
  • Step three: Roll or bag the shrink-wrap, depending on your local program’s requirements.

Bay Area Recycling for Charities and Dr. Shrink, Inc. have partnered to assist businesses in the Lower Peninsula in recycling shrink-wrap by creating an annual recycling run. Participants may enroll in the program by completing a Michigan Recycling Run 2011 form.

Many counties in Michigan provide shrink-wrap recycling services. Contact your county’s waste management program to see if a program is available. Emmet and Washtenau Counties are known to take this product.

See Shrink Wrap Recycling Video
See Enrollment Form
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid
Go To for all the news See Get Off The Couch

Friday, February 17, 2012

Izaak Walton League Works for Asian Carp Control

asian carp
Asian Carp

from the Izaak Walton League

Our fellow Ike’s, on the Great Lakes Committee, have a tremendous problem with Asian Carp working their way up the Mississippi River. Below is a message from Jill Crafton, chairperson of the Great Lakes Committee, bringing the other members of
the GLC up to date on some of their action. This is a preview of what we would have if the carp get established in the Great Lakes.

"Dave Zentner and I have been participating in a coalition to stop Asian Carp from moving further up the Mississippi River and into the Minnesota and St. Croix Rivers. We have been working since April via conference calls and various meetings with DNR, Governor, and/or Corps (John Goss showed for that one hosted at DNR) to push for action. There was representation from a Task Force of scientists, USFW, USGS, and MN DNR.

“The latter developed a comprehensive strategy that includes sampling and
monitoring for eDNA at various points in the river, discussing triggers for positive eDNA hits (lock and dam closure is the only sure solution) etc. The Governor has held a couple of Summits on Asian Carp and is demanding action. One Congressional leader is drafting legislation that would help resolve barriers to Corps ACTING to close a lock and dam.

"Our new Mississippi River staffer working under Brad Redlin is supporting us
and is amazing in the experience and gumption she brings to the table. The Non-profit contingent of our MN AIS Coalition has engaged the media on a couple occasions which culminated in a media press event to call for action. Since the locks are closing for the winter, the task was for a modified lock closure plan to be
ready before opening the locks in the spring.

"Zentner, and others from Friends of Mississippi, MN Responsible
Property Owners (fighting AIS in MN lakes), and MN Conservation Federation made statements and fielded questions on the need for action, the urgency for solutions, impact on navigation and effectiveness of barriers. Zentner was awesome in keeping the focus on the need for urgency and action."

Contact Jill Crafton

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Michigan Flora Author Ed Voss Dies

alt text
Ed Voss

by JHY with info from the Huron Valley Chapter of the Michigan Botanical Club and other sources

Ed Voss, the man who wrote the three-volume Michigan Flora, has died of a stroke. Nature lovers have lost one of the great minds of the era.

Voss spent his career at the University of Michigan. His undergraduate degree was earned in biology from Denison in 1950, and then proceeded to the University of Michigan where he obtained his masters one year later, and then his Ph.D in botany in 1954. In 1956 he joined the U of M staff and remained there. He formally retired in 1996, but continued with the University Herbarium, and had been focusing on the changing world of botanical nomenclature.

Ed was a stickler for accuracy, and one of the joys of my personal life as an amateur botanist was to show him some pictures of rare plants that he enjoyed seeing. Impressing Ed was not an easy task.

I've included links to two other tributes to Ed Voss

See Ohio Birds and Biodiversity
See Damn Arbor
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

Monday, February 13, 2012

36th Annual VASA Ski Races Successful

ski racers
photo from

compiled from several sources

Despite warm temperatures, and low snowfall the VASA Ski Races, held near Traverse City, were successfully held this past weekend. This was not accomplished without great effort. With snowfall this year at half the normal amount, snow was trucked in to create a base for grooming the double tracked trail.

The VASA event, held this past weekend, always includes races for serious competitors, those who just want a fun experience, and also family and kid-friendly events. Distances range from the 50k Freestyle National Masters, down to a half kilometer event for kids under 5 years of age.

Thousands of people from around the country, even the world, travel each year to this event, bringing an economic boost to the area.

See a list of the 2012 VASA race winners.

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

Related Posts with Thumbnails