E.T. Phone Home

About 60 miles east of downtown St. Paul, MN lies a small rural town named Elmwood, WI.  Dan and I have traveled through this small town many times on our photography excursions. As with any small town, there is some story that surrounds the town history.  Elmwood, WI has its own special history and it has to deal with little green men and shiny round discs. The town is the home of several reported UFO sightings since the 1970s and embraces its otherworldly connection. In 1978, the town started celebrating UFO days; at that same time, the UFO sightings stopped.  The annual celebration includes food and beer tents, a UFO medallion hunt, and a parade.  For more information surrounding the UFO sightings in the 1970s, please visit UFO Evidence.  As always, in Elmwood, WI all are welcome (human and aliens alike).

Please enjoy the images from in and around this small rural community.

Grand Portage

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

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

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.

The Meeting Place: In and around Tettegouche State Park

According to the MN DNR website:

The Landscape

Established in 1979 to preserve an outstanding example of the North Shore Highlands Biocultural Region, the 9,346 acres of Tettegouche State Park contain a unique combination of natural features: rugged, semi-mountainous terrain, one mile of Lake Superior shoreline, six inland lakes, cascading rivers and waterfalls, and an undisturbed northern hardwood forest.

There are a number of hiking trails in the park and located at mile marker 57 off of Highway 61 is Palisade head. We have not spent much time in either area and I would love to be able to spend a few days photographing the surroundings.

dsc_4704On this particular day we were traveling north to our destination, Grand Portage. We stopped at Palisade head to see the views from the 350-foot cliffs that overlook Lake Superior. I was wearing my favorite “hiking shoes” as they are super comfortable and help to stabilize the ankle area. Okay, these hiking shoes are really riding shoes and since the traction on the bottom of the shoes have worn down; they can be somewhat slippery when the ground is wet. We arrived at Palisade head and started hiking around the area to take is some views. The morning was extremely foggy making all surfaces wet and slippery. As we moved closer to the edge of the cliffs, I slipped and fell. I was nowhere near the edge, but close enough to evidently scare the hell out of Dan. He turned to me and marched right back to the car, and I followed. He then handed me shoes with good traction and informed me that we were not leaving until I changed. 🙂 I changed, and we moved on into Tettegouche State Park.

After a while, the fog lifted to reveal the glorious sun and it turned out to be a beautiful day! We walked the park trails and crossed the metal suspension bridge. We were able to see the falls from the top, but unfortunately we did not make it around to the other side where the 60 foot falls can be seen in its entirety. This waterfall is deemed the tallest waterfall completely located in MN… We will be back one day.

Please enjoy some of the images I took from this day. Dan also captured some wonderful images from that day and I have also included them as well.

Images from my husband and partner in crime- Dan Traun.  For more, please visit his site at: Dan Traun Photography

Minnesota North Shore- The Catch of the Day

Typical July weather on the Northern Shores of Minnesota range between 70-85 degrees, but because of Lake Superior, the temperatures can easily drop to a cool 50-60’s. This July trip was well needed; the goal was to cover all 8 State Parks north of Two Harbors, MN.

Dan and I adore the North Shore and are blessed to live so close to this natural wonder. I have fond camping memories of the North Shore as my family went camping there often. We loaded the girls and headed on our way early, our first stop was “grandma’s house”. The girls always enjoy spending some cuddle time with her and even know when we are getting close to grandma’s home. Thanks mom for watching the furry grandkids on our trips!

Normally, you can see Lake Superior when you reach the top of the hill when coming into Duluth on MN Interstate 35. This scenery is absolutely beautiful as the view includes the enormous body of water we call Lake Superior and the grandeur of Duluth. This morning was a little different; as we reached the top of the hill, we could not see the lake or Duluth. A thick blanket of fog covered the city and the lake. We were not disappointed though as fog can add so much feeling to photography.

Our first stop was at Kendall’s Smokehouse where Dan purchased the fresh smoked fish that he was craving since we started out. After the fish was devoured,  we were off to meet up with friends in Two Harbors, MN but of course,  we had to stop and photograph along the way. We had a great time visiting and stayed at Cove Point Lodge.  I would highly recommend a stay in this lodge, the grounds are stunning and the cove offers spectacular views around every corner. We also noticed that the Spring flowers were still in bloom and stopped to smell them every chance we got- Wild Lupine, Daisy’s, Orange Hackweed, just to name a few. The fog this morning was inspiring, little did we know, this fog would stay with us for the majority of the trip adding to the beauty and enriching the colors of the North Shore in July.

What is the next stop you ask? Well, Dan and I will take you on a quick tour of Two Harbors, MN and an exploration of this area’s backroads.

 

When the School Bell Rang

The first time seeing this one room schoolhouse along side a country road near the small town of Elgin, in southern Minnesota, was exciting to say the least.  As we got out of the car and walked closer to the shell of this former schoolhouse, I could almost hear the chalk as it slid across the black board or the children that used to learn under her roof.  The images in this post are from the two times we have visited this little gem at two very different times of the year.

This old schoolhouse reminded me not only of the children that walked through the door, but also of the teachers that encouraged these students daily to learn and grow.

I would like to take the time to thank every teacher I have had the privilege of learning from.  My fourth grade math teacher that pushed me to apply myself to the schoolwork when I didn’t want to because he knew that I could… and I did.  To my Chemistry teacher in college that made learning the subject so fun that I completely understood, without even trying.  Math and Science is now one of my strong points, Thank you.

To all the teachers out there, I thank you for your time and dedication you put forth on a day-to-day basis…  Keep believing in all of your students and they will believe in themselves.

Weaver Bottoms

A group of photographers from the Red Wing Photography Club set out late last summer for a day of photography.  What better way to learn different techniques or aspects in photography, than to spend time with fellow photographers- How do they see the world through their view finders?

It was in the wee morning hours that Jeff Marcus, Dan, and I set out for our destination in Southeastern MN.  The morning arrived and the sky was changing to the color of lavender as the nighttime blue was mixing with the light of the sun; changing from dark blue, to light blue to lavender, and just as if that wasn’t enough- the sun peaked her head closer to the horizon and the pinks, oranges, and yellows came out to play.

LOCATION FOR THIS SUNRISE SHOOT: Weaver Bottoms off of Hwy 61 South of Wabasha, MN.
Located within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, the Weaver Bottoms area is located just South of Wabasha, MN.   The area is a 5,500 acre habitat complex dominated by open water, but also includes flowing channels, backwater lakes, isolated wetlands, and forested islands. 

Turning onto County Rd 74 off of Hwy 61, in Weaver, MN was a great choice and a very well executed plan, organized by Dan (Thanks Honey for planning that route).  As the sun rose, we were graced by fog in the area; the valleys, wetlands, and forest floors along this road was dotted with a wispy white haze.  I believe fog or a misty morning adds mood to your surroundings; to watch the mist move and wonder what lies beneath is intriguing to say the least.  Fog can form suddenly, and can dissipate just as rapidly, so we found our way through this area and spent some quality time shooting the effects that fog can add to a photograph.

We were very lucky to be there, at that time, on that day.   We all enjoyed the travels through this area and were awe-stuck by the shadows created by fog.  Off to meet the rest of the Red Wing Photography Club Members (Amy, Linnae, Ken, and Kendall) already playing in their own play ground – Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park.

A Little Reinforcement: Why we do what we do in photography.

We started our 4th of July 2012 with a photography trip through Porcupine – an unincorporated community in Pepin County, WI.  Air temperatures were expected to approach records, and the heat index was near 110 degrees in some areas, but the sweltering heat did not stop us as we ventured out that day.  Our plan was to photograph the beautiful rolling hills of this area and to visit an old, abandoned farmhouse that Dan had photographed in the winter of 2011.

Instantly, sweat started forming on our brows as we stepped out of the air-conditioned car.  The light caught my eye as it danced across the roof of the old farmhouse and I thought to myself “This place is worth the sweltering heat” and stepped inside.  With any abandoned building there comes a story – one you may know while others are fabricated in your mind as you view what was left behind.  As I walk the floors of these abandoned buildings sometimes my mind does wander and I become lost behind my camera’s viewfinder.  Dan is usually right there bringing me back into reality when the dangers of walking into these buildings become apparent.  However, on this particular day the roles were somewhat reversed only I didn’t see the threat coming… neither did Dan.  All I heard was a crack, bang, and a rustle, followed by air escaping from Dan’s mouth.  As I turned around, I saw Dan pulling his leg out of the old floorboards.  After making sure he was okay (seeing only a few scraps and a large bruise forming on his upper thigh), I turned to hide a smile that was forming on my lips.  Sometimes, I have this problem of seeing the humor in events at the wrong time (only after making sure no one is hurt of course).  A smile did form on Dan’s face as well after the realization that he too can become engrossed in what he is trying to photograph.  Among the rickety floorboards was the sight of bird nests constructed on the old walls and the intense sound of humming from within the walls and ceilings… Yes, the vibration caused by the movement of thousands of tiny little wings was heard and felt. We left with the appreciation of Mother Nature in how it can adapt by turning the ruins of man into a shelter or temporary home.

In the winter of 2013, we again took the trip out to Porcupine Valley to visit this old farmstead only to see the ruins of its’ foundation.

d200-sunday-drive-044

We had learned later that this home was burnt to the ground in December of 2012.  To make way for new, old structures are demolished and a little piece of history is gone forever.

This is why we do what we do.

To see Dan’s work from this site, please click on the following links:
Porcupine Valley Farmstead

Porcupine Valley Farmstead – Revisited

The grinding continues… Schech’s Mill 2012

grist•mill (ˈgrɪstˌmɪl)
a mill, esp one equipped with large grinding stones for grinding grain.

This is one of the most memorable trips to date; a day of fun and adventure for us all.  Both of these mills were absolutely gorgeous and to see them work like how they did over 100 years ago was mind-blowing.

As we pulled up onto the property of Schech’s Mill, we were struck by the beauty of the buildings and scenery surrounding it.  Edward came out to greet us with his welcoming demeanor and ushered us inside the old mill.   He gave us a tour of the facility, showed us how the equipment worked and shared its amazing history.  Power for the mill came from three Leffel turbines and one Sampson turbine. The equipment included four run of 22” Diamond buhrstones, a roller mill, crusher, sheller, bolters, and related elevators.  Again, the powerful force that sent the machinery into motion caused a rumbling of the building was felt deep in our bones. What an honor to be able to step inside and see exactly how the gristmill worked its magic.  Most of the original equipment is still in use including the original millstone imported from France.  A lot of history to grasp, certainly not enough for one trip; Dan and I will be planning to return in the near future.  I recently used all of the Corn Meal on delicous homemade Corn Bread but I still have the wheat flour made from this mill today.  Tasty, tasty, tasty!!  With appreciation, I thank you Edward, for sharing a little part of history with us on that day.

Schech’s Mill History:

In 1876, John Blinn built a mill in one of the beautiful valleys of southeastern Minnesota. An article in an 1887 mill paper brought the mill to the attention of Michael Schech, a master miller who had immigrated from Bavaria and was employed at one of the large mills in Minneapolis. Schech purchased the mill which was operated by Schech’s brother until 1890 when Michael Schech relocated their family to their Beaver Creek Valley home in Houston County. The mill became known as Schech’s Mill.

When Michael retired in 1913, Edward took over the operation. In 1922, a concrete dam replaced the old wooden one and two years later a concrete water wheel pit was constructed. After Edward’s death in 1941, his wife continued operating the mill for the next five years.

In 1946, Edward’s daughter, Eleanor, and her husband Ivan took over all mill operations. Eleanor and Ivan’s son Edward began helping with operations in 1960. “Every September their son Edward would come over and help clean the mud from the turbine pit”, said Ivan.

Since Eleanor and Ivan’s death Edward and his wife Joanie have run the mill. Schech’s Mill was nominated for the National Registry of Historic Places in 1977. At that time it was the only mill in the state to contain unchanged, operable milling equipment and to have its original stone. It is one of only three mills in the state to operate solely on water power

Proprietor:      Edward Krugmire Call to schedule tour: 507-896-3481or 651-245-5566

Calendar:
OPEN:  May 1st – October 31, 2012   (closed Sept 22  & 23)
Friday    1:00pm – 6:00pm
Saturday 8:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday   8:00am – 6:00pm

Cost:   
Ages 6 – 15 $1.00
Over 15- $5.00
Under 6 free

Samples:                Whole Wheat Flour & Corn Meal