Eagle-Watching on Mentor Marsh

April 11, 2010

Mama's taking a rest before embarking on a hunt for food

An eagle’s nest is still a rare thing to see in this day and age, so when we heard that there was a mated pair of eagles nesting in the Mentor Marsh, Sally and I decided to see if we could get a few photos.  We found the location of the nest easily – it’s quite visible from Rt. 44 near Headlands Beach State Park.  The Mentor Marsh is home to numerous wildlife species, but this pair of eagles are recent residents.  They first nested here last year, according to a local photographer that I met today at the site.   Approaching an eagle’s nest is highly illegal, as they are still endangered, so I want to stress that these photos were taken from FAR away.  As a result, the digital shots are pretty low quality – I had to use a digital zoom factor of 48x to get them.

I also took a few film photos with my old Nikon and a 300mm zoom with a 2x telextender, providing an effective focal length of 600mm.  I haven’t got these photos scanned yet, but I’ll add them to this post when I get them.

It’s really quite moving to see our national symbol in the wild.  Let’s hope that bald eagles are around for a long time!

Out and about

Dad is doing much of the babysitting

Here's a closer shot of the female eagle

Preparing for takeoff!

The Leaf-Bagging Workout

November 16, 2009

I love my Billy Goat blower - it rocks!

When we returned from Myrtle Beach, we were greeted by the sight of a lawn completely covered in leaves.  Having already removed 14 bags of leaves from the lawn prior to our departure, I was not looking forward to tackling the newly fallen layer.   You see, I live in Mentor, Ohio, an otherwise fairly progressive municipality which nevertheless has an incredibly primitive and backward trait; namely, the total lack of any kind of curbside leaf pick-up.  Warning: ranting & raving begins here: Virtually every other city for miles around has trucks circulating throughout the neighborhood, sucking up vast piles of leaves from treelawns and carrying them off for disposal.  The denizens of these other cities have merely to blow or rake their leaves to the curb, and a day or two later – POOF – they disappear!  Not those of us in Mentor, Ohio (are you reading this, Councilman Micchia?).  We are required to place our leaves in 30 gallon paper bags of a type and size approved by the city, and to transport them to curbside on trash day.  We are limited to setting out no more than 25 bags per week.  HA!!!  I put out 56 bags last week, followed by 69 bags this week, and if the trash guys don’t pick this week’s bags up, they’ll be lookin’ at a stack of a hundred or so by next Thursday!  Fortunately, the guys who pick up the trash are smarter than the guys who wrote the city ordinance in the first place.  End of rant.

Anyway, in an effort to control my blood pressure, I decided to concentrate on the positive aspects of this leaf-removal experience.  I now think of this chore as a customized workout, designed to build up my abs and biceps, improve my stamina, and provide aerobic exercise that I’d otherwise have to pay for by joining a gym.  So here are the components of the Leaf-bagging Workout – give it a try, it’ll help you burn off a few calories!

Blower-pushing Boogie: this exercise is a real workout for the legs.  Build up those glutes and hamstrings as you push that blower around, and around, and around, and around………

Doin' the Boogie!

The Stoop & Scoop: Build up your lats, delts, biceps, and triceps while stretching your back and abs.  Scoop up those leaves!

Stre-e-e-etch those back muscles!

The Power Ram: A great ab and back exercise that also works your shoulders, forearms and wrists.  Packing those leaves down makes room for the next rep of the Stoop & Scoop!


The Funnel Jerk & Flip:  Another arm and shoulder workout – and you’re ready to repeat the whole set!

Oh yeah, I'm really getting too old for this s#%$ !

Ain’t it fun?

Baggin’ Update:   As of 11/16/2009, we have now filled 172 bags, and the leaves are still falling…….

Summer’s Over, Winter’s Rolling in, What Happened to Fall?

October 14, 2009
View to the East from Lakefront Lodge
View to the East from Lakefront Lodge

Sunday, Sally and I stopped at Lakefront Lodge and walked down to the lakeshore to get a look at Lake Erie.  The wind was high, and the air coming off the lake was really cold.  One distinctive thing about Lake Erie’s beaches is their wild look when summer is over and the weather starts to get cold.   The beauty of the scenery is probably an acquired taste, since the sky is sometimes leaden and so is the water.  Nevertheless, I like to get out and walk around at this time of year.  I will, however, be praying for warmer weather – today it never got above 46 degrees!

Looking West toward Willoughby

Looking West toward Willoughby

Yes, the water looks grayer than the sky!

Yes, the water looks grayer than the sky!

A little blue sky really helps, even when it's cold

A little blue sky really helps, even when it's cold

Cleveland is a More Beautiful City than You Remember

October 1, 2009

As I was reading Sally’s blog about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame candidates for induction, I got a twinge of regret.  Not for myself, but for the people out there who wonder why the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is located in a dirty, dingy, sooty, pollution-ridden, poverty-stricken town like Cleveland.  The answer is simple: it isn’t.  It’s located in a beautiful downtown venue on a truly gorgeous (and clean) lake, surrounded by historically significant, breathtaking architecture.

Not the Cleveland you remember?  OK, I’ll give you the fact that Cleveland had some truly bad years before the cleanup began.  When I was younger, the Cuyahoga River caught fire, the downtown buildings were stained with soot, and Lake Erie fish contained so much mercury that only the truly brave would dare eat them.

But that was then.  When I moved to the Cleveland area, the Rock Hall, Jacobs Field, Gund Arena, the Great Lakes Science Center, and the Flats renovation had just been completed.  Browns Stadium was under construction.  Now Jacobs Field is Progressive Field, the Gund Arena is the “Q” (for Quicken Loans), and the Flats area is undergoing its second resurrection, this time with upscale apartments to bring a sense of community to the area.  Those who bemoaned the failure of the downtown renaissance simply missed the point – it’s a work in progress that will take years to complete, but the city will be better for having made the effort.

The new construction in the downtown area should bring more attention to the beautiful and historic Burnham Mall, planned in 1903 to bring neoclassical (“Beaux-Arts”) architecture to Cleveland.  Its brainchild, Daniel Burnham, was the architect responsible for Chicago’s “White City”, the buildings constructed for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, otherwise known as the Columbian Exposition.  In any case, Cleveland’s Burnham Mall still stands as a landmark that you shouldn’t miss when you visit the city.

A sightseeing tour of downtown Cleveland can be done in two ways: by trolley or by boat.  The trolley tour cruises the downtown and provides close views of the Mall, numerous public buildings including Burnham’s Federal Reserve, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on Public Square, and the War Memorial Fountain (also called the Fountain of Eternal Life).   You can obtain information on trolley tours at http://www.lollytrolley.com/ .  I’ve taken the tour and I highly recommend it.

But the trolley can only show the view from the street, and much of Cleveland’s beauty is best seen from the water.  The Goodtime III, Cleveland’s largest excursion ship, operates from the North Coast Inner Harbor at the East 9th Street Pier.   A trip on the Goodtime III includes a winding trip up the Cuyahoga River through the Flats to the industrial area of the old city.  Practically every iron bridge design known to mankind is visible on the cruise: lift gates, knife gates, swing bridges, etc.  The Cuyahoga twists and turns through the old neighborhoods, providing a historic look not otherwise possible.

If you get the chance to spend a few days sightseeing in Cleveland, give it a try – you’ll be amazed at what the city has to offer.  Furthermore, if this has piqued your interest, check out Cleveland on Foot, an excerpt from the book by Patience Hoskins.  The book is an excellent guide to hiking in the Greater Cleveland area.  The excerpt describes the architectural marvels of the downtown area – check it out.

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