Saturday, August 30, 2014

Eastern Michigan Football Vs. the Morgan State Bears

After months of waiting, football season was here again.  To say that I was excited for the start of this season was an understatement.  After the disappointment that was last football season, Eastern Michigan went out and hired a new head coach.  After hearing him speak in a number of situations, I was happy for his hire because he exuded an attitude that has been lacking at EMU for a long time.   While he's been a head coach at other levels in the NCAA, this is his first stint as a Division 1A head coach.  By all rights, it will be a tough road for him but he seems up to the challenge.   Once again,  I will be posting the game pictures that I really like here, if you want to see other game pictures go here.

While I don't expect Eastern to do well this season with a new coach and all, I think it will be an exciting ride.
 I was happy to find out that the new coach will be keeping this tradition, but it seems like they added a twist to it.  This year, the eagle flew out on the field and the crowd erupted.
 Lamont Brown III running the ball.  If I had one negative about the game today, it's that the defense did not seem up to the task of the game.  I am hoping that they improve with time.
 The true freshman quarterback Reggie Bell running with the ball.  In a huge departure from the past, Coach Creighton shows that he is going to go with his feelings rather than the player that has been around the longest.  For the most part, he looked pretty good but I think he is going to need to develop a little more patience in the pocket.
 Brown takes a handoff.
 Ryan Brumfield running with the ball.  It seemed like the Eastern running game picked up where it left off last year.  I think it will be even better as time goes on.
 Brown celebrating one of his touchdowns.  As I said, if there was a sour note to today, it was the defense.
 Bronson Hill running with the ball. 
 Celebrating a Brumfield touchdown.
 Morgan State Quarterback Council shaking off an Eastern defender.
 After getting pictures of him in other situations, this is one of the pictures that I couldn't wait to get.  He looks like a natural in this role.
 Eastern Michigan celebrating their 31-28 victory over Morgan State.  I'm not quite sure of the significance of the wrench though.
If these pictures seem out of order, it is because they are.  I didn't completely retire my old camera.  I will sill use it for some shots during the games.  Namely the shots where I need a shorter lens.  It's alot easier than trying to swap out lenses.  This is the band taking the grey field for the first time.
 The color guard.
 I just liked the way these flags looked against the sky.
 A closer shot of the eagle.
 And his profile.
Eastern celebrating their first touchdown of the game.

I think Eastern will have a better season that last year but I don't think it will be a winning season.  They play their next four games on the road.  Two of them are against opponents that they wont have a chance against (Florida and Michigan State).  I think they have a chance against the other teams though.  But at any rate, I wish the best of luck to Eastern's new coach.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Morning Wolverine Leaves Sturgeon Falls

It's been a while since I've done an update on my train set.  I haven't done any major changes to it but I have made a couple of changes.  If nothing else, it gives me the excuse to take pictures of my set up.
 As I've said before, Sturgeon Falls is supposed to be an average Michigan town and I decided that it would be along Amtrak's Wolverine Line.  I guess that gives me a better sense of where it would be.  Based on roughly where it is, the earliest it would see the Wolverine would be at 10 in the morning or so but again it's my world, so the trains can be on my schedule.

The Wolverine backs out of the station after picking up the group of passengers from the first stop of the day.  This is the first Eastbound train of the morning and because it's the Wolverine, it would be train number 350 something.
 The Wolverine heads out of town and goes past the yard.  The Union Pacific and CSX trains wait for their loads.
 The switches are set and the Wolverine makes its transition to the main line.  This would roughly represent the configuration of the Wolverine except for the fact that the cars on the real one are slightly different but sometimes you take what you can get.
 The train passes the Hot Box detector with no defects.  Again based on about where I am setting Sturgeon Falls, it's next stop would likely be Kalamazoo.
 The early morning Canadian National Train rumbles past the yard.  The sign on the back of the yard tower makes a statement about behaving safely around trains.
 The yard hasn't quite started to stir yet but it will be busy later.
 The CN train rumbles past downtown. 
 A shot of the back engine.  This particular engine is made by a company called Intermountain.  I like the detailing on these versus some of my other trains.
 Just a shot of my favorite engine.
 And my second favorite engine.
An overall shot of my set up.  One of the things that I changed was that I switching the "siding" from the side of the layout to the back of the layout.  This gives me more space to tuck away a train and enables me to move trains to the main line while keeping a train on the local line.  If I wanted to do that before, I had to swap out the trains because the siding wasn't long enough.

I know that I want to add a couple more buildings to the yard area.  I may add an office for the grain elevator.  I think I also want to add a maintenance office like I saw in Milan and Fostoria.  I'm thinking about adding a tool and die shop to the lower right hand corner.  I might even add a couple more buildings to the downtown area.  But I will have to say that it is coming along nicely.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dinner at Knight's Steakhouse

Kind off the beaten path in Ann Arbor is Knight's Steakhouse.  The main restaurant is on Dexter Road in the western part of Ann Arbor.  They just opened one in downtown Ann Arbor in former Jacobson's/Border's store but I haven't been in that one and judging by the crowd, it's not likely I'll be in that one for a while.  But I decided to have dinner at the one on Dexter Road.
Knight's has been around Ann Arbor for a while, I think.  Or at least it looks like one of those restaurants that has been around for a while.  I had the steak and it was really good and the prices weren't much higher than the chain steakhouses (Outback, Lone Star, etc).   The salad was really good and the tomato almost tasted like it was right off the vine.  If you are looking for a steak place, I would recommend it.

Apparently they have a market too but I've never been there.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

So I was out taking my pictures of the construction today.  As I looked in the back, I noticed that the flowers were starting to fade away for the coming cooler months.  I figured that I didn't have much more time to get pictures of them, so I grabbed a couple of shots.
 I really like the brown eyed susans.  They still look pretty nice.
 I think I liked this one a little bit better.
 A closeup of the birches we have out front.  I really like the textures on these.
And I tried another one.  I kind of liked how everything flowed in this picture.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Things I Carry

After being inspired by another blog (which I highly recommend btw), I decided to do a posting of the contents of my camera bag.  This is mostly what I travel with, since my camera bag pretty much goes everywhere I go.
It doesn't seem like that much when it's in the bag but when its laid out like this, it looks like a lot.  So I'll start in the upper left hand corner and work my way around.  Do try to keep up.

1.  The manuals for my camera.  I don't normally need to look them up but when there is something different that I want to try, they are always nice to have.  Given that I just got a new camera (I'll get to that in a bit), there are some new features that I need to learn about anyway.
2.  A dog-eared copy of the 2012 Know Your Ships.  This is a nice little reference when asked about ships and there are other people around.  I have newer copies at home but the dog eared copy looks more traveled.
3.  A bottle of pain killers.  A few years ago, I flew to California and I had a cold.  I couldn't get any aspirin on the plane, so I figured it would always be good to have a bottle with me.
4.  A pair of wild flower identification books.  They will occasionally come in handy when I feel like identifying the wild flowers I take pictures of.  The lower one breaks them down into the various shapes.
5.  Some cleaning materials for the camera.  There is micro fiber clothe for the lens.  There are also tissue papers.
6.  The maps are Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania.  I know that maps may seem outdated in the age of the GPS but I still like to have them with me.  It is sometimes easier to get the idea of a location when I see it on paper.  However, if you look in the lower left corner, you will see my trusty GPS (or as I call it, the Yuppie Plastic Jesus).  Besides, the official state maps have information that a GPS will not give you.
7.  My 175 to 500mm lens.  This is pretty useful for taking football pictures and pictures of distant ships.  However when taking pictures of ships, sometimes they are hazy.
8.  Just below that lens is my Bomba.  It is very useful for blowing dust off my camera.
9.  Speaking of which, here is my first picture of my new camera.  It is a Canon 70D.  It is close enough to my old 50D that I don't have much of a learning curve but there are a couple things it can do that my 50D can't.  One of the new features that I like is the fact that I can connect through WiFi with my camera so that I can post quick pictures to facebook.
10.  Above the camera is a shutter release.  If you are going to do night pictures, a shutter release and tripod are very important because typically these use long exposures and both will reduce the amount of motion from the camera.
11.  To the left of the camera is a radio scanner.  I've avoided buying one for years because it is fairly easy to get information on the travel of ships.  However, since I've started to follow trains, it is much easier to track trains.
12.  Next we have M-Hat VI.  It pretty much goes everwhere I go.
13.  Below the hat, we have my other two lenses...the 75 to 300mm and 55 to 250mm.  Of those two, I am starting to like the 55 to 250mm more.  I think it is a little more versatile.
14.  I don't carry the Amtrak blanket with me everywhere, but I do prefer Amtrak to other modes of travel.

So there you have it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Battle of Phillips Corners

The politics of the United States were not always the nice and amicable affairs that they are today.  Occasionally disputes would arise when it came to drawing up the borders of the different states.  Drawing up the Michigan-Ohio border was no exception.  The bone of contention was what was known as the Toldeo strip.
 The borders of the five states that would come out of the Northwest Territory was determined by the Northwest Ordinace of the Continental Congress.  It state that one of the borders would be an east-west line drawn out from the southern most point of Lake Michigan.  One of the maps placed it near the mouth of the Detroit River (which would mean that Monroe and a few other Michigan cities would become part of Ohio.  It also would mean that only 3 of the 5 Great Lakes would touch Michigan).
The different intrepretations of this border created what was known as the Toledo Strip.  This was a chunk of land contested by Michigan and Ohio.  Ohio started to settle more of it and this angered the Michgiganders.  In 1835, the Michigan governor made it illegal for Ohioans to settle in this strip of land.  Militias were formed by each state and they came to battle.
 The battle itself sounded more like a bar brawl than a battle.  One account I read stated that one of the militiamen received a stabbing wound.
Eventually, President Jackson offered a compromise.  The Toledo Strip would be ceded to Ohio in exchange for the Upper Peninsula going to Michigan (instead of Wisconsin).  At the time, this seemed like a raw deal but as iron and copper were discovered there, the deal got much better for the State of Michigan.  This border was never really settled until 1973.

The rivalry has migrated from open warfare (or bar brawls) to the Michigan-Ohio State game.

A Trip on a Canal Boat

As we were driving back from Fostoria on Saturday, my friend noticed that many of the rivers along the way looked like they may have been canals at one point.  I knew that there were a few canals that went through Ohio, so I decided to do a little bit of research on the internet to find out where they may have been.  There was the one I knew of that went from Cleveland to the Ohio River which was called the Erie and Ohio Canal.  I seem to remember there being a canal that went from Toledo down to the Ohio River, but I don't remember what it was called.
 After a little bit of digging, I found out that it was called the Miami and Erie Canal.  It actually started as the Wabash and Erie Canal in 1843.  It 1845, the Miami extension was completed and it was renamed the Miami and Erie Canal.  And it stretched all the way from Toledo down to Cincinnati.  After a little more digging, I discovered that there was a canal boat that I could ride on.  Thinking that was pretty cool, I decided to head down to the Providence Metropark to partake in this activity.
 The park is probably about 30 miles to the Southwest of Toledo on US-24.  So it wasn't too far of a drive from my apartment.  Part of the park is on the canal itself and it stretches over to the Maumee River.
 The tickets themselves were fairly reasonable.  It was six dollars for about an hour long ride.
 A shot of the Maumee River.
 Some of the flowers nearby but I'm not sure what kind they are.
 The boat itself is powered by a mule team that would walk alongside the canal on a tow path. 
Early boats were 61 feet by 7 feet wide and could carry about 30 tons of cargo.  As time went on, the boats would get larger and could carry more cargo.  I think this type of boat was known as a packet boat because it could carry either passengers or cargo.
 Typically the crew would not be women but ours was.   But I think you would typically have someone at the rudder and a couple of people manning poles to provide propulsion in some places.
 They were pulled by mules or horse typically.  The mule handler was known as a hoggee.  James Garfield worked as a hoggee but he became ill and went to school instead.   Eventually, he'd become President.
 The most famous of the canals was the Erie Canal.  It ran from Buffalo, New York to the Hudson River near Albany.  This gave a way to get goods from the Great Lakes to the Oceans.  It opened in 1825.
 Just a shot of the mule.
 And a shot of the boat itself.
 The ride itself gave a pretty good idea of what it would be like to ride on a canal back in the day.
 Because Ohio is not flat as it seems, there was a series of locks that lined the way from Toledo to Cincinnati.  They behave much like the Soo Locks do today but they were manually controlled.
 A shot of the gates.  I think this is a restored lock.
 The location of this particular lock.
 The Ludwig Mill was a part of Providence, Ohio.  Providence itself no longer exists because it fell prey to a cholera outbreak (they would drink from the canal). 
 I believe this is restored as well.
 The miller.
 This was our tour guide.  She gave a pretty good talk about life on the canal.
 The demise of the canal system would come in the late 1850's as the railroads started to line the United States.  The canal boats could not compete with the speed or efficiency of the trains.  This particular part of the canal was used for a power station until 1929.  Afterwards, it was turned over to the Metropark System.
 Another angle of the Ludwig Mill.
 The locks from the other side.
 As I said, it was a manual affair to work the locks.  The valves would have to be opened to either let water enter (if you were going up) or leave (if you were going down).  After the lock finished, the gates would be opened by hand.
 A shot of one of the crew working the gate.
 A shot of the front of the boat.
 The mule team pulling the boat along.
 The rudder person working the rudder.
 The mule team turning around to bring us into the dock.
 Apparently the mules have the right of way.
One more shot of the canal boat.