Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race, 2015 #AISDR

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The excitement of the dogs grew as each dog was hooked up to their sled and the vocalization was heard for some distance.  A chill rushed through my body as the sound of the dog’s cries hit us down the track.  I knew right then and there, they were close to starting the races.

Friends of ours, Dave Semerad and Julie Mooney, invited us to join them as they volunteered for the Apostle Island Sled Dog races in Bayfield, WI, and we joyfully accepted.  They were volunteering their time helping groom the trails and handling the dogs for the mushers and their teams; we were photographing the event.

I was even lucky enough to ride on the back of the sled as one team finished – I am sure I had and extremely LARGE smile on my face :-)

Got the fever

Got the fever

The event: 

Date February 7-8, 2015
Race Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race
Location Bayfield, Wisconsin, USA
Purse $3,000
Organizers Bayfield Chamber & Visitor Bureau
Distance 60 mile & 80 mile; 40 mile Sportsman’s Race; and a 6-8 mile Family Rec Run

Dave and Julie both can recall how energetic, strong, and focused these dogs were; sometimes even pulling the handlers across the parking lot to the starting shoot :-)  They told stories of each team and how they work together, each one as incredible as the last.  The mushers really need to understand and know each dogs personality for placement on the team for placement of the lead dogs, the point dogs, the swing dogs, and the power behind it all- the wheel dogs.

According to Wikipedia:

Dog sledding has been used for hunting and travel for over a thousand years, even as far back as the 10th century.

Assembling a dog sled team involves picking leader dogs, point dogs, swing dogs, and wheel dogs. The lead dog is crucial so mushers take particular care of these dogs. Important too is to have powerful wheel dogs to pull the sled out from the snow. Point dogs (optional) are located behind the leader dogs, swing dogs between the point and wheel dogs, and team dogs are all other dogs in between the wheel and swing dogs and are selected for their endurance, strength and speed as part of the team

Viewing the power of each team as they raced past us on the the trail was beyond words.  Looking back on the images, I relived the excitement of the team and noticed how proudly the mushers gaze was as they looked upon their dogs.  Sled dog racing shows great team work; I was completely impressed.

We will be making this a yearly visit and next year, I will be volunteering to help handle the dogs!

Ohhhhh Wilbur

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Last week, we said goodbye to one amazing little buddy. Wilbur was rescued from a neglect situation after he was brought into the veterinary clinic I used to work for. Dr. Darlene Cook, from The Bluffs Pet Clinic, re-attached the poor little guys ear flap that was lacerated after a tight bracelet was left on his head for far too long. The bracelet had grown into the back of his head and had cut into his ear which left only 1/4 of his ear flap attached to the body.  Dr. Cook did one incredible job as the ear, and the back of his neck, healed completely! Throughout his treatment he remained in good spirits, not a mean bone in his body.

I knew that Wilbur would be a great addition to our family and brought him home shortly after his ear reconstruction surgery. His personality shined throughout his life. He spent a good 12 years in our family and brought a smile to our face every single day. He was a clown as most Dachshunds are.  Not so much of a trouble maker as girls (Audrey and Tindra) were, but he was right there in the action when the time was right. He had such a peppy gait and a silly demeanor that when he would walk into a room, you just had to think… here comes Goofy or Mr. Wilbur. ;-)

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He was also the worlds best photo bomber:

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Wilbur was the best little mole hunter ever and would be so proud when he caught one. With his head held high, he always had to bringing us his prize. Wilbur was the last of the three musketeers- Tindra, Audrey, and Wilbur. Losing the three within 6 months has been hard, but I know we will all see them someday.

Farewell little buddy, you are greatly missed.

Farewell, Spoonful of Stars (Tindra)

Farewell, My Fair Lady (Audrey)

 

Chicagoland and the Hiawatha Cedar Rapids

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According to Wikipedia –

On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was organized with a population of around 200.  Within seven years it would grow to a population of over 4,000. The City of Chicago was incorporated on Saturday, March 4, 1837 and went on to become the fastest growing city in the world for several decades.  Today, Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the US and is home to 9.5 million people.

We were fotunate to be included on a once in a life time trip while we photographed the Kremer family as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  The Kremer family had rented a restored 1940’s train car, the Hiawatha Cedar Rapids, and traveled the railways from Minnesota to Illinois.  The “Cedar Rapids” features a unique Skytop end, providing passengers a unique view of the country as they head down the railroad. We were honored to be included on this special occasion, what an experience (thanks again for the opportunity)!  Included in this post are a few images from the train itself and images from in and around Chicagoland.

Chicago is rich in the arts and architecture; we did not spend much time in the city during this trip, but we plan on returning someday!

Farewell Spoonful of Stars

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Last week, Dan and I had to say goodbye to one amazing little girl that gave us so much unconditional love throughout her time here on earth.  Spoonful of Stars, “Tindra”, was part of our family for close to 16 years- Yes, we were lucky.

I had a special bond with her since I had bottle fed her from day one. You see, Tindra came into this world via C-Section; her mother, Kayla, stopped producing milk shortly after giving birth.  The munchkin was bottle fed every 2 hours in the first couple weeks of her life.  I would like to thank “Auntie Krissy” who helped bottle feed her when I was unable to be with her for a couple days.  Kris was actually with her when she first opened her eyes!  Auntie Kris was always available to watch this little one when we needed a puppy sitter.  Thank you so much Kris for your help during her life- you were always there when we needed you.

IMG_0056The strong bond shared between Tindra and I grew over the years; she carried me through some sad times and walked beside me in the good. She knew when I was sad and would lick my face until I started laughing, then would cuddle right up to me to make sure I was ok.  Even on her last day, she mustered up the strength to lift her head to softly lick my face when I was crying.

Throughout her life, she went everywhere with our family and was socialized well by meeting numerous people and other animals.  She had a very kind soul that loved everyone.  Being a Dachshund, the trait of courageousness and loyalty was at the forefront of her personality.  This little one has never shown one bit of aggressiveness towards any human, however, rabbits or rodents were not included on her be nice list.  Tindra’s mother, Kayla, was a field champion and was an extremely good scent tracker.  She inherited that trait from her mother and was always on the scent trail of some varmint, although sometimes that got her in trouble when her nose would take her places she was not supposed to go.

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Her name meant “To Twinkle”, and that she did.  She was my shining light at the end of a hard day; always happy to see a member of our family with her bucking bronco dance.  I can never repay what she gave to me and the decision to help her along to the other side was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make.  As a previous Veterinary Technician, I have helped many families through this type of loss, and the family’s pain touched me every time.   When the decision is yours to make, boy, it can be an emotional nightmare.  I truly believe that this is the ultimate loving gift that we can give our pets in times of suffering or severe illness.  For more information on pet loss, please visit the following site: The Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement.

Thank you, Tindra, for the compassion, the laughter, the unconditional love, and even for the times you were an opportunist and got into some kind of trouble (which normally involved food or Kleenex). From the early morning stretches that accompanied a wonderful array of vocals, the crazy Happy Dachshund Dance, the excitement of seeing a bunny, the way you loved your family; these memories will never drift too far from our mind.  You have taught me patience and watching you explore the world reminded me that there is always something new to experience in daily life.  No words will never be able to express the deepness my gratitude but I know; my little co-pilot in life will forever be by my side.

Our new one, Clover, has been with us now for 2 months today.  Clover is a 6 year old Dachshund that was rescued, along with 40 other Dachshunds, from a hoarding situation in the New England area by Furever Dachshund Rescue.  Clover relied upon Tindra to show her the ropes, and to teach her the courage needed to be curious and how to enjoy her surroundings.  They became cuddle buddies within a day of meeting each other.  Clover is heaven sent and has stepped up to fill a hole produced by losing both Tindra and Audrey.

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I believe we meet up with our lost loved ones someday, in the meantime, we will miss her greatly.

 

Grand Portage

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Our plans for the day started with photographing the sunrise at Hollow Rock on the property of Hollow Rock Resort owned by Grand Portage Casino. After asking permission to photograph this rock formation, we were on our way. We arrived in the dark hoping to capture the beautiful of this magical place during the Golden Hour. The “Golden Hour” in photography refers to the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset or the first and last hour of sunlight in a day. The morning was absolutely stunning; we listened as the water crashed against the shore singing a tranquil song and enjoyed the peaceful moment as the first rays of sunlight hit the horizon painting bright colors in the sky.

We enjoyed this area immensely and returned later in the year to stay in one of the 8 cabins on the property at Hollow Rock Resort- keep a watch out for that post.

The next stop: Grand Portage. We spent the day discovering the history of the aboriginal culture while visiting the fur trade at Grand Portage National Monument, and the Grand Portage National Monument’s Heritage Center. Volunteers and park staff at the monument dress in period attire. They staff the Kitchen, Canoe Warehouse and Great Hall in and around the Stockade, and explain and interpret what life was like at the trading fort at the turn of the 18th century.

The day ended with a trip into Canada as we wanted to hike the trails in Pigeon River Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. With passports in hand, we crossed the border and hiked the trails to the Middle Falls of the Pigeon River. Beautiful country and a place I would like to visit again to hike the longer trail to the High Falls of the Pigeon River.

Enjoy the views seen as we explore the northerly tip of Minnesota at Grand Portage.

Continuous Creation on the High Falls of Pigeon River

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This particular morning Dan and I headed on our way to the very top of Minnesota with plans to stay in Grand Portage for a few days.  We were to hit the last state park on our northerly trip, Grand Portage State Park.  I was certainly excited to see the park as it holds the tallest waterfall in Minnesota (120 foot drop).  One side of the waterfall is located in Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota, the other side is located in Pigeon River Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.  This morning’s mist was heavy which made every color of the landscape pop; a photographers dream.  We arrived at the park mid-morning and made our way down the very easy hiking trail that lead to the High Falls on the Pigeon River.  As we started on our hike, we could hear the low rumble of the water as it passed over the crest of the waterfall and we felt the vibration of the water as it hit the base.  What an incredible feeling!

We took our time this morning stopping to take in every scent, every scene.  Adding to the ambience of this outing, were the lichens that were covering the trees, the animals scurrying around gathering their morning meal, and the mist as it danced through the trees.  As we got closer to the high falls, the sound and vibration increase its’ intensity, which only increased our excitement.   I walked up the few stairs to the first observation deck and my eyes laid upon an amazing sight… It literally took my breath away.  Low and behold, the High Falls of the Pigeon River in all its glory.

To read more about the history and geology of this area, please visit the DNR website for Grand Portage State Park. This is a highly recommended stop if ever along the North Shore of Minnesota!

 

Judge C.R. Magney State Park

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In 1963, the park was renamed Judge C. R. Magney State Park in honor of this late advocate who helped establish 11 state parks and wayside rests along the North Shore. Over the years, many parcels of land have been added to the state park, which now totals over 4600 acres.

Dan and I were excited to see what this park had in store for our viewing pleasure. We were not disappointed, however, I would have to say this 2 mile round trip trail, which includes over 200 ascending and descending stairs, is for advanced hikers but will lead you to the most famous formation on the Brule River… The Devil’s Kettle.

Half of the Brule River plunges 50 feet into a pool as it continues on its way to Lake Superior; the other 50 percent disappears into what we call the Devil’s Kettle. The famous cauldron is rumored not to have a bottom. Researchers have dropped brightly colored dyes and other objects into the Devil’s Kettle without result of finding the water’s outlet. This formation is another example of the amazing wonders Mother Nature can create.

Information taken from the MN DNR website about the geology of this area may explain a wee bit, but the mystery of Devil’s Kettle will remain hidden for the time being.

The bedrock exposed along Lake Superior’s North Shore has a geologic history that goes back some 1.1 billion years. During the dramatic volcanic activity of that time, molten lava poured through great fissures that developed in the Earth’s crust. One particular flow complex, the Devil’s Kettle rhyolite flow, visible along the Brule River, is thought to be as much as 770 feet thick. As these flows accumulated, the land along the rift zone sank to form a great basin, into which huge volumes of sediment were deposited after volcanic activity ended. A long period of erosion followed. The local Sawtooth Mountains of the Grand Marais area are the remnants of these great, tilted lava flows. Much more recently, glaciers took their toll on the area as massive ice sheets gouged out the Lake Superior basin, mainly from the post-volcanic sediments, and scoured the bedrock surface. In Cook County, where the park is located, the glacial action eroded more earth and bedrock than it deposited.

We enjoyed this day immensely and may have even shed a few pounds that day. Please enjoy the views from in and around Judge C.R. Magney State Park.