Sunday, October 9, 2011

The view from Sterling State Park: Lakeshore, Great Egrets and .. nuclear power?

The view of Fermi power plant from the shores of Lake Erie at Sterling State Park.
Not exactly the ... prettiest site in the world, but a nice reminder of the power
of man in a very natural setting.
I've lived in southern Michigan since January, and I've been waiting to hit up Lake Erie since then. I finally got my chance Saturday.

Living less than an hour away, I was able to travel to Sterling State Park, just east of Monroe, Saturday with my girlfriend, whom I had wanted to take there for sometime, seeing how I love going to any Great Lake.

With the amazing weekend weatherwise, the beach was the first stop. Most of the picnic tables are put away right now, but few remained for visitors, which there were a few dozen.

Fermi isn't the only factory in sight. This is the view from
the jetty out near Lake Erie, looking back toward the beach.
The first big way you know you're on Lake Erie near Monroe? The view of Fermi Nuclear Power Plant. The new towers from the nuclear reactors are one of the first sights you see, and coming from someone used to Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, it was slightly unsettling. It is a reminder of modern meets natural on this park, which is clearly designed to protect what lakeshore property there. The beach is a nice view of the lake, sans the two nuclear reactors right across the way.

The real beautiful gem we found was the trail system across the road. The looping trails, which had a connector to downtown Monroe, was a beautiful system through some lagoons. The trails, which were concrete and provided excellent access for bicycles and other wheeled vehicles. The Lotus Pavilion had several posters full of information, including some about the birds that were out in the lake.

From the Lotus Pavilion, looking out into the lagoon there were six or so Great Egrets, white birds that look like storks. The pavilion provides mounted long-range binoculars to view the birds. With a little help from my new device, the HTC Incredible 2, I was able to get a closer-up view of an Egret from the lakeshore:

See that white, upright thing on the lake? Great Egret. 

The trails looping around the lagoon provide great opportunities for those not completely comfortable with camping and hiking, with the wide, concrete trails that are used by runners and casual hikers. The lagoons are chock full of wildlife, including the Great Egret and swans, as well as other birds. It was a fantastic way to spend a warm, October afternoon. I just wished I would've worn shorts.
The view of the pedestrian bridge, which have visitors access to the trails
and Lotus Pavilion.

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