Bandemer Park -- More Than Just Trees

Bandemer ParkBandemer Park

Bandemer Park, on the north side of town, is a hidden gem of Ann Arbor. This forty acre park borders a beautiful turn of the Huron River and provides access to a paved bike path on the west side of the river, and a wooden bridge on the east side of the river. With ample parking and convenient access off Route 14 or Barton Road, getting there is easy. Once you've arrived, take advantage of the opportunities for adventure, including a dirt bike jump course, a nine hole disc golf course, the Ann Arbor Rowing Club, and canoeing and kayaking on the river. Canoe and kayak rentals are available at the Argo livery, just a mile away. For a relaxing afternoon, there are picnic benches, pavilions (must be reserved), fishing spots, scenic walking paths, and pleasant vistas for observing wildlife. For more activities on the river, check out the Huron River Report, and The Fly Fisher's Huron available at the AADL.

Terrible Beauty Underfoot

It's a great time of year for hiking at any of the delightful Ann Arbor city parks, as the leaves are changing color and the blood-thirsty insects finally die off. But don't forget about the terrible beauty underfoot: poison ivy, oak, and sumac. These silent pests are some of the first plants to change color, and they thrive where many a "step had trodden black." You can find poison ivy at the edge of footpaths, on the barks of trees, along fences, or at its most vicious, as autonomous shrubs that branch out laterally.

Although not everyone is allergic to the urushiol oil that causes the weepy, itchy blisters, it's important to be able to recognize the three leaf plants on sight, for the oil can seep into the skin within three minutes of contact. All parts of the plant -- including the roots and berries -- contain the poisonous oil, so be careful when digging in the garden as well. If you do make that unfortunate contact, it's best to wash the area immediately with plenty of soap and water. For more information on the poisonous trio, try the Health and Wellness Resource Center database available on aadl.org.

Rowing on the River

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What a great way to spend a fall day: paddling down the Huron at the River Ecology Paddle this Saturday, Sept. 27, 12:30 p.m. ~ 4 p.m. The tour starts at Dexter-Huron Metropark and includes a stop at the Dexter Cider Mill, home of the greatest donuts in the world and the oldest continuously operating Cider Mill in Michigan. To register for the paddle call 1-800-477-3191 or 734-426-8211.

Tractors! Pulling! Heavy! Loads!

Tractor pullTractor pull

Tractors: we see them hard at work in the fields; we try to pass them on country highways. But how fast can they really go and how much weight can they pull while burnin' rubber?

At the Michigan Tractor Pullers Association upcoming Tractor Pull you can find out! Three classes will definitely "pull their weight"--farm stock, classic, and antique. The sport of tractor pulling has something of a long history--the first tractor pulls date from the 1860s.

If you'd like to see for yourself what these motorized beasts of burden can do, then head to the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds on Sunday, September 28. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. According to the event listing on Arbor Web, admission is free.

Discourse on Disc Golf

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Want a say in the redesign of the Disc Golf Course? Then head over to Cobblestone Park, Wednesday, September 10, 6:30 p.m. City and County staff will discuss the improvements planned and the limitations involved in reconfiguring the park. If you can't attend or would like to submit additional comments, please email Jeff Dehring, City of Ann Arbor Parks Planner, jdehring@a2gov.org or call 734.994.1913.

All Doggies in the Pool!

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Time for the annual Buhr Park Dog Swim. Bring your doggies (swimsuits optional) on Tuesday, Sept. 2 and Wednesday, Sept. 3, 3-8 p.m., and they can splish and splash to their heart's content. Pre-registration is required so call 734.971.3228 right away. Dogma-Catmantoo, Arbor Dog Day Care, Pet Emporium and Ann Arbor Biscuit Co. have donated prizes so this will be the premiere canine event this year.

1,000 Ultimate Travel Experiences

Whether you are a well-seasoned traveller with a mangled passport, or someone who rarely leaves your spot on the couch, it's likely you will find inspiration in A Rough guide to the world : Make the most of your time on earth. This hefty book is crammed full of amazing travel experiences grouped according to global areas, starting with Britain & Ireland, and finishing with The Polar Regions (you didn't think they'd forget the North and South Pole, did you?). Seeking a natural miracle? Visit Iguazu Falls in Argentina - more than two hundred cascades thundering over an eighty meter cliff, all surrounded by lush tropical forest. Seeking an event to remember? Try April 30th/Queen's Day in Amsterdam (police are forbidden to interfere with any activity, no matter how outrageous). Seeking a wonder of the ancient world? Try the unparalleled Roman archaeological site of Baalbek in Lebanon. (In the words of Robert Byron, it "dwarfs New York into a home of ants".) Seeking a journey closer to home? Grab your bike and ride the Slickrock in Moab, Utah. Personally, I am inspired to plan a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lalibela in Ethiopia. I'll share my injera with you if you'll pay for my plane ticket!

Ypsilanti Heritage Festival

Summer is almost over. We're all out of money, unable to travel out of town, and classes will be starting again soon. But don't despair! There are plenty of cheap if not completely free options for fun coming up. For example, this weekend the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival is here and admission will cost you nothing. The festival features many fun events such as a soccer tournament, an ugliest car contest, a pie-eating contest, Native American artifact viewing, and a "vintage baseball" game. If you are interested in festivals, take a look at Arborweb.com's list of annual local events as well as the library's wide variety of resources on local attractions.

Recipes from America's Rich Immigrant Heritage

Preheat those ovens, dear readers, and grab a copy of Greg Patent's A Baker's odyssey : celebrating time-honored recipes from America's rich immigrant heritage. After visiting the kitchens of more than sixty bakers around the country, Patent (an immigrant himself) discovered the baking secrets, cultural significance and treasured recipes of immigrant families from a multitude of countries around the globe. His cookbook's authentic recipes are grouped by cooking style, rather than nationality, allowing readers to see the connections between regional specialties (like Chicken & Potato Sambouseks from Iraq vs. Samosas from India vs. Shrimp Rissois from Portugal).
If the idea of nibbling Australian Lamingtons (what chocolate cupcakes are to Americans), getting messy with Koeksisters (South African deep fried pastries) or baking up Szarlotka (Polish apple pie) sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend this book. The author includes a big list of mail order sources for baking gear and specialty ingredients that you may not be able to find in your local market. Also, for the baking challenged (like myself), a DVD is included with the book that demonstrates baking techniques for items like Cannoli, Schwabisch Pretzels and Thai Shrimp & Bean Sprout Fritters. One word of caution - if it isn't already obvious to you - these recipes are NOT for people on a diet! Mmm...bring on the butter.

Raspberry Picking

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On the lookout for something fun for the entire family, gets everyone to enjoy the great outdoors and is easy on the pocket book?

Then raspberry picking at Makielski’s Berry Farm should be your destination. Located on 90 acres of woods, ponds and berry patches just 8 miles from downtown Ann Arbor, this beautiful place is a wonderful gem you’ll want to return to year after year.

Pack a picnic, get the kids and the dog (yes, well mannered doggies are welcome) in the car and motor over to a wonderful day in the country and pay only $3 a quart for raspberries.

Then come home with your crimson treasure and start baking! Look at The Berry Bible, Luscious Berry Desserts, Good Housekeeping Best-Loved Desserts, Heirloom Baking With the Brass Sisters, Pure Dessert and Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts for inspiration.

Be sure to freeze some so this winter you can remember the gorgeous day you spent out there when you put raspberries in your oatmeal.

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