Everywhere a Moo MooOOOoooo

After spending a day exploring and photographing The House on the Rock, our time off was coming to an end.  We packed up the car and headed on our way back home but of course, we took notice of the surrounding views.  Not only is the landscape beautiful in this area, the counties of Vernon and Monroe Wisconsin, also have some interesting barns, including many round barns. I encourage you to get lost in the countryside no matter where you reside; each state has its own unique features and architecture!

Old MacDonald had a farm, E, I, E, I, Ooooooo

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The Horse Knows the Way

The beautiful rolling hills and bluffs that overlook the Wisconsin River Valley are breath-taking.  Dan and I started and ended a weekend photographing Southeastern MN and Southwestern WI and experiencing the artist community in and around Spring Green, WI. This land is part of the Driftless area, which was left untouched by the glaciers of the Ice Age millions of years ago.

Driftless area

Driving the backroads and taking in the country air will forever be a favorite of mine.  With every turn of the road, you may find an old barn, an abandoned farmstead, the Amish towns, interesting livestock, wildlife galore, or River valleys with breath-taking views…  Wonders for a photographer’s eye.

Some of the main attractions of this area today include Taliesin, which after 1937, was the estate of architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and House on the Rock.  We did not make it to Taliesin but we did visit House of the Rock.  As a child, I remember walking these halls and seeing the many collections that reside here.  As an adult, I was astonished and amazed that one man had this eccentric vision to create what we see today… The world’s most bizarre and immense collection of stuff.

The Ugly Duckling

Watching an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, “The Ugly Duckling” as a child, I would scold the animated animals for making fun of how different this little one looked. In today’s words, the duckling was a victim of bullying. This little one suffered verbal abuse from all the other animals because it appeared differently.

The story takes a turn when the “ugly duckling” matures into a beautiful swan. A story of personal transformation some say. Even as a child, I noticed that treating anyone differently just because they may not resemble others, was wrong. I am glad that the story told gave way to a happy ending, showing an example that with perseverance, anyone can evolve into a creature of beauty.

If ever in Minnesota in February or March:

There is a public area to observe the swans  – Monticello Swan Park.  Please consider making a donation to carry on what Sheila Lawrence stared.

Enjoy

Winter Bliss

With our chilly winters and unreliable weather here in Southeastern MN and Southwestern WI, I still am proud to call this place my home.  I have been known to call my mother as the burning, frigid air passes through my nostrils while I am cleaning off my car after a fresh snow and ask, “Why would you raise a family in this state with this kind of weather?”   Truth be told, I love the four seasons.  I love the angle of the light in Winter, the green tip of the Tulip as at it pushes through the winter residue in Spring, the green, green, greenness of this land in Summer, and the beautiful array of color that Autumn can bring.  All seasons inspire me and continue to keep me here.

Sometimes the cold can force the body indoors and push you towards hibernation, just ask any Grizzly bear in the Northern Hemisphere.  However, Dan and I will still venture out and capture what we see in this amazing state.  Winter can add a spotlight to an item that is otherwise obscured in the thickness of the forest.  Please enjoy the images from this unseasonably warm Winter day as we traveled through rolling hills and farmland into the area of Augusta, WI.

Mighty Mississippi and Red Wing, MN

The surrounding area of beautiful Red Wing, MN entices you with its rolling hills, river valleys, quaint trout streams, green pastures, bountiful farmland, and plenty of wildlife.  Enough so, Dan and I could set out daily to photograph its wonder.

A plethora of activities await you year round in the Minnesota bluff country.  Skiing or snowshoeing in the Winter, and hiking, biking , or water sports that fill the rest of the year.  The trails are plentiful and will guarantee a peaceful outdoor experience.   One of my favorite hiking areas is Barns Bluff.  When the top is reached, you have a breathtaking view of Red Wing and the surrounding area.

It is always a site to see the riverboats come to town.  The particular images found in this post are images of the majestic American Queen.  Built in 1995, The American Queen is said to be the largest river steamboat ever built.  To watch her move upon the mighty Mississippi is awe-inspiring.

If ever in the area, take time to stroll through these small river towns that reside along the Mississippi banks of Southeastern Minnesota/Southwestern Wisconsin; you will be pleasantly surprised and quite taken aback by their beauty.

When you wish upon a star

You never know what you may find while wishing on a shooting star.

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My dearest love,

The choices we make in life are made with reason and one should never regret; I truly believe that.  Those choices mold you into who you are today.  Keep your eyes and heart open- Be not afraid to realize when something good walks into your life and take that chance.

As you inched your way into my heart, I knew… I knew that there was something special happening.  The way you supported me, the way you made me smile, and best yet… the way that I could be myself with you, my true self.

The full moon with that shooting star, the cold night walk was scary and excitable all at the same time.  I knew I had to let you know how I felt.  As I took one small step, then another, then another, closer to you and you didn’t pull away- well that was amazing.  Our first kiss was like fireworks and the way you turned me around and held me so tight was something I will never forget.

I found what I have been looking for, I found my other half, I found the person I was meant to be with.  Fate is a funny thing; I never really believed in it before. If you think about it, of all of the circumstances that brought us together- now that is fate.  You continue to open my eyes to the wonders and beauty of the world, the wonders of true and complete love.

Our story is just beginning my love; this is our fairytale, our dream come true. I will be with you through it all and ride the ocean waves with you. I promise to stand by you, to support you, to laugh with you, and to make you smile.  I promise, I promise I will give all that I am, all that I have.  This feeling I have for us, for you, is like nothing else.

I Love you with all my heart and soul and look so forward to our future together.

Dan and I were married November 18, 2013 on Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.  A delightful sunny day surrounded by beauty and love (I’m glad my Mother, Sister, and Aunt could share this day with us).  We said “I Do”.  Two people who found each other that share a passion…  The passion of photography.  That is our thing- we travel, we capture, we laugh, we explore, we keep our eyes open and see the beauty in areas that we may otherwise overlook.

*Thank you to “Marry Me in Colorado” an elopement service Dan found that fit us perfectly.  Visit their website if you would like to have a stress free wedding!  Thanks Linda and Kevin!  We would also like to thank the photographer-Mark.  His work can be seen at –www.MarryMeInColorado.SmugMug.com this is where all of the photo galleries – including ours will be found!!

Following the Rails of North Dakota

The Dakota Territory was settled sparsely until the late 19th century, when the railroads entered the region and vigorously marketed the land. 

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According to Wikipedia:

“The success of the Northern Pacific Railroad and the Great Northern Railroad was based on the abundant crops and rapidly increasing settlement in the Red River Valley along the Minnesota border between 1871 and 1890.”

“The railroad was the engine of settlement for the state. The Northern Pacific Railroad was given land grants by the federal government so that it could borrow money to build its system.  The federal government kept every other section of land and gave it away to homesteaders. Meanwhile, the Great Northern Railroad energetically promoted settlement along its lines in the northern portion of the state.  The Great Northern Railroad bought its lands from the federal government, as it received no land grants, and resold the land to farmers one by one. It operated agencies in Germany and Scandinavia that promoted its lands and brought families over at low cost.”

“The battle between The Great northern Railway and Soo line Railroad to control access across northern North Dakota resulted in 500 miles of new track and more than 50 new town sites just in one year.  Many of the towns sites were never settled and were abandoned”

Towns began to dot the countryside as growth followed the rails.  As the population of North Dakota declined, the buildings were left under the care of Mother Nature.  Follow the old railway lines and you may just find yourself in the presence of a ghost town yourself.  Many of these abandoned towns and the land that these debilitated buildings reside on, are now privately owned.  Stories of the old inhabitants that once lived in these homes or worked in the buildings flowed though my mind as we drove through the empty streets.

The back roads of North Dakota were unlike any other that we have encountered.  Some roads would end in a marshland full of migrating birds others would just end…  Road Closed.