London, Milan?? No… Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Minneapolis Warehouse District received its name from the city’s shipping hub years.  The streets are oriented to be parallel to the river, which means they run at a 45-degree angle.  For most of its history, this was an industrial area containing numerous warehouses and factories.

Minneapolis Warehouse District Map

The warehouses that characterize the district are mostly six to eight stories high, and about 62 structures on seven square blocks contribute to the district. These warehouses were used for wholesale and storage of goods related to milling and manufacturing.

 In the 1980s, the Warehouse District was the epicenter of the Minneapolis art scene until the area’s buildings became more commercially desirable in the 1990s. At its peak, the Wyman Building, 400 First Avenue North, was home to more than twenty contemporary art galleries. For more information on the businesses in this area, please visit this site mplswarehouse.com.

Dan and I only walked a few blocks in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis and were quite intrigued by all the colors, textures, and the history in these few blocks.  There is a plethora of images to capture from architecture to street life… If ever in the area, I would highly recommend grabbing your camera and feel the attraction and the beauty that lies in this area.  I hope to be visiting this area again this year.

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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.

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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

A weekend made for memories

Memorial Day of 2012- A day to remember and give thanks to the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

It was a beautiful sun-shiny day with a slight breeze. Certainly, a day photographing the countryside was called for.  We packed the car with the necessary items needed for a full day of photography fun.  Photography gear, Check. Cooler full of food and drink, check. The four legged wonders (Tindra and Audrey), check.  The “girls” are 13 and 14 years of age, and weigh around 11 Lbs but they are still full of spit and vinegar (Dan says just like their human mamma) 🙂   Now, if you have ever had the privilege to know a Dachshund or have been owned by a Dachshund, you know their little noses can get them into trouble.  Especially when they can figure out how to get on top of tables, counters, basins, into garbage and food containers, etc, etc.   Tindra can sniff out any morsel of food… anywhere.  The girls motto- Where there is a will, there is a way  🙂

The girls had a spring in their step and were excited that they were able to grace us with their presence.  Fresh country air, and all that comes along with it… So exciting!  Off we go.

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On our outings, we find at least one abandoned house, building, or farmstead and that day was no different. As we pulled onto this particular property, the excitement of photographing the establishment kept rising.  With a huge smile on my face, I jumped out of the car and headed for the house…  Off I go without looking back.  Realizing later, of course, that I had just left the girls unattended with a package of beef jerky and a bag of animal crackers in the car.  Needless to say that when we returned (and we never leave for too long), the girls had polished off both bags of food.  Mostly Tindra and boy, she was thirsty!!  We had to wait and see what happened… A little while later a sound was heard from the back- the sound that gets you moving and fast.  Saving the car upholstery, my hands were the only thing close enough to catch what was spewing from Tindra’s mouth.  A mixture of beef jerky and animal crackers… YUCK!  After pulling over and cleaning up, we headed on our way.  Tindra slept for the rest of the trip but was fine by the time we had returned home- Bad Mamma, poor little furry wonder 🙂

The day spent traveling around the Red Wing, MN and surrounding area was a day I’ll never forget- one full of laughter, amusement, excitement, and for Tindra- pleasure followed by anguish.  Although Tindra will never learn a lesson, we did and have since purchased a Dachshund proof food container that we travel with.

Back home again- Birthday weekend comes to an end

A genial greeting as we make our way back home; I cannot say enough of the friendliness of this Amish community.

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On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again- that song might have entered my mind (yes, I am a geek at times).  There is endless amusement around every corner of a paved, dirt, gravel, or brick road.  I have been, at times, accused of “rubbernecking” sometimes even not saying a word until we are well past what I have seen.  “Turn around”, I say.   The sight of an old building as we are traveling past a town is always worth a closer look and it paid off…  An old Feed Store and a tobacco plant? Very cool, very cool indeed!  My love for old buildings and the stories that they hold will never cease to exist.  Ahhh, the beauty that decay and abandonment can hold.

Through hills and valleys, forests and farmlands we traveled, making our way back to our little furry ones.

This particular trip was overall one of my favorites to date… although, there are many more to come.  Dan’s birthday has past and mine is around the corner.  What will this year of birthday excursions bring?

I thank you for eye-opening trip we had last year honey and look forward to many more.

Earth Day 2012 – Birthday Weekend, The start of day #2

Earth Day is observed on April 22 and was started in the United States in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson to create awareness for the Earth’s environment and to encourage conservation efforts. In 1990, Earth Day was taken international, and today, more than 500 million people in 175 countries observe Earth Day. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.  I guess we all have an interest in mother nature.

Earth Day had a different meaning for Dan and I last year; a day when we were stuck in her grasp, so to speak.

We awoke to the sound of the alarm notifying us that we need to get up and get rolling before the sun peaked its head above the horizon.  The night spent at Justin Trails Resort was very relaxing; time spent with my honey is always special to me.  The previous night, we were amazed to hear the call of numerous Sandhill Cranes located in a farmer’s pond/field across the way.   Permission was granted from the landowner the night before allowing us to venture on their property.  Donna (owner of the resort) mentioned,  “Due to the recent heavy rains in the area, make sure to stay on the higher field road.”  Okay, we thought- no problem.

We traveled closer and closer to the sounds of the Sandhill Cranes in hopes of catching a breathtaking sunrise with these beautiful birds in the foreground.  The road became more and more impassable as we ventured closer to our targets but it was too late- no place to turn around and the only motion we had to travel was forward.  Yep… We got stuck in the muck.  The Equinox is AWD not 4WD, I think came out of my mouth 🙂 All I could do was laugh at the situation as we tried to pull the long grass, sticks, and Cattails from the side of the road and place them in the “water” so that the tires would have something to grab onto. I say “water” because there really was not a road to be seen.  With a serious look on Dan’s face, he tells me to go to the other side of the car to see if the tires are grabbing onto any of the debris we placed under them- so I did.  The next thing I know, I was covered in the black, muddy, swampy, field water -muck, YUCK!!   Dan still was not finding the humor in it all, but I had to giggle- and I proceeded to do so as we walked back to the resort which was a good 2-3 miles.  It was a beautiful sunrise, gorgeous really, but did I get photos? NOPE!  Did I think about pulling the camera out of the car to take pictures of the car being stuck?  NOPE!

We walked back to the resort so that I could get cleaned up while Dan walked back to the farmers house to see if he could pull us out of the field road with a tractor.  As our luck would have it, this farmer was very helpful and didn’t bat an eye when asked- he wouldn’t even take any compensation for his troubles.  On his travels back, Dan did get photos of the car stuck in the muck- to see and hear his take on the day visit that blog post at When life gives you mud – make a mud pie.

After we both were clean and free of mother natures gift that she gave us that morning, we were treated to a tour of the old barn on the property which they were currently renovating.  Beautiful property, wonderful owners, a great breakfast and conversation- I would highly recommend a stay at Justin Trails Resort in Sparta, WI.

Lines, lines, and more lines… Birthday Weekend Day #1

Early Monday April 16th 2012, I received an email from Dan with an cryptic image attached stating “It will take us a little over three hours to get to our destination.  We can drive straight there and check in or shoot along the way and check in when we get there – whatever we want to do.  I’ve attached a detailed map of to our destination.  That’s all the information I can share.”
Lines, lines, more lines and a river?  Hmmmmm.

Weekend Birthday Map

My email reply to Dan… “Trying to figure out the trace of a map you sent!  Internet and the Minnesota and Wisconsin maps are in my sight; would this trip have anything to do with round barns and Monroe County?”  It turns out that the “lines” was a travel route leading us to the beautiful Vernon and Monroe Counties in an area of Wisconsin known as the driftless area.  See the detailed maps of Vernon and Monroe Counties for the location of the round barns and covered bridges.  The maps are another story for another day as the “X” didn’t always mark the spot 🙂

Off to a friends house for great conversation and a breakfast of champions (Thanks Linnae).  Hugs as we walked out the door and a wave as we headed on our way. Little did we know- we had a small stowaway named Hans.  Hans caused quite the stir back home when he was found to be missing but he was a good travel companion and enjoyed his time away from home.  Keep a watchful eye out for Hans in the images as he LOVED his picture taken.

Located in southwestern Wisconsin, Vernon and Monroe County is a land of scenic beauty and is in the Driftless Area of the upper midwest.  Glaciers surrounded but did not pass over this land.  From craggy buttes and mesas that once were islands rising from the wooded bed of a great glacial lake and grand marshes where bright red cranberries and mosses grow, Monroe County features a plethora of breathtaking views.  This serene countryside is truly an astounding sight and it’s roller coaster like roads were fun to travel.  Up, down, up, down, up, down… you never knew what your eyes would lay upon at the top of the hill or the bottom for that matter.  Our destination?  Justin Trails Resort in Sparta, WI for a long photography weekend retreat.  Check out Dan’s images from the day at his blog titled Driftless Area Weekend – Monroe County, Wisconsin – Day 1