Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Last chance to see Ice canoes

A field of bumpy ice canoes

Once in awhile we'll get a winter where there is lots of wave action and cold weather, which makes the waves along Lake Michigan freeze into what I've learned are called Ice canoes.  This year, I've been watching for ice canoes to appear, but they weren't there 2 weeks ago, and now they are, but they will quickly disappear with warmer temps and rain in the forecast for this weekend.  If you want to experience them this year, better hurry up!

They are visible from Bradford beach all the way to Ozaukee county.  I went exploring with my grandson today at Schlitz Audubon, which was the sure thing, since I had already seen some photos on their facebook page.  It's a common destination for some preschools in the area at this time of year because the younger kids are just the right size for sliding down the sides of these icy hills.  We just happened to arrive as several preschool classes from the center's own school were heading down.  My grandson thought it was great fun to be playing with kids near his own age.  Because they were somewhat fearless, he was willing to take some chances too.  It is a bit of a hike down to the lake, but I was surprised that most of the kids did it willingly.  The walk back up...not so easy.  Allow a little extra time if you're taking younger kids.  The trail to the bottom didn't have much snow on it so it was easy to walk.

Once you're at the lakefront, there are lots of slippery spots.  Try to stay on the land that is beach...because naturally Lake Michigan hasn't frozen all the way and you can see pieces of ice sloshing about just yards away from the frozen hills.  These are covered with snow, but they are basically large ice sculptures.

We also checked Doctor's Park, if you're looking for a free alternative.  If you go to Schlitz Audubon Center, they charge admission of $4-6 per person.  If you decide to walk there, I'd advise snow shoes.  It's a bit deep in places and the drive to the bottom hasn't been cleared, so you'll have to take a trail that is less traveled.  The snow is great at Doctor's  Park for making a snow man, if you need a side project.
Preschoolers sliding down the hills

A nice tunnel to crawl through

Near Bradford Beach, you get the addition of birds

There is also a very nice teepee made of driftwood logs- just big enough for kids to hide inside-
down at the beach by Schlitz Audubon Center

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