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.

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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.

The Architect of the Snow Flake

He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter…. In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.

~John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,” 1866

It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.

~John Burroughs, “Winter Sunshine”

Within the clouds

Fog:

A collection of liquid water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth’s surface. While fog is a type of stratus cloud, the term “fog” is typically distinguished from the more generic term “cloud” in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated locally.  Fog is distinguished from mist only by its density, as expressed in the resulting decrease in visibility.  Fog reduces visibility to below 1 km (5/8 statue mile), whereas mist reduces visibility to no less than 1 km.

Wikipedia

The sensation that fog or any condensation adds to photography is one of mystery, one of magic.  The eeriness that those little water droplets can add to a scene may bring forth visions of fantasy.  What lies within the clouds?  The way that light intertwines with moisture in the air adds to the atmosphere of the landscape. Not only are you mystified by what lies behind the curtain, the mist can add the feeling of surprise, fear and admiration.

We had a few days when the fog stayed with us until the late afternoon- a rarity in our parts. We were lucky to be out in countryside on these days traveling the back-roads of Southeastern Minnesota lucky that we could share this abnormality together.  Next time the fog rolls into your area, grab your camera, and capture the light that dances gracefully with the water droplets.  Be quick though, the fog can form and then dissipate just as fast.

A State of Existing, North Dakota

“Ghost towns stud North Dakota, and this empty house is just one bone in a giant skeleton of abandoned human desire.”

A quote from a perfectly written article for National Geographic about North Dakota titled,
The Emptied Prairie” By Charles Bowden

I remember, as a little child, walking hand in hand with my father across fields of long prairie grass.  I was amazed by the dance created by the wind as it touched each blade of grass.  To this day, I can close my eyes and visualize the sight seen as we walked closer to an abandoned farmstead and the excitement noticed in my father’s eyes and heard in his voice. I learned from him that these abandoned properties are not a place of destruction, but a story of endless outcomes.

The trip to North Dakota was an incredible journey, one that I am happy to say, was shared with an amazing man.  Dan and I enjoyed the migrating birds that this pothole region attracts and the vibrant colors a North Dakota landscape can provide.  Visit North Dakota as seen in some of my previous posts:

North Dakota Ghosts- The old school in Forbes, North Dakota
Abandoned Outside Forbes, ND
Following the rails of North Dakota
North Dakota Shines

This trip included some of my favorite abandoned properties to date. As I am writing this post, I can still see the texture of the peeling paint on the rickety walls or see the layers of personal material left behind on the floor.  Two different properties that told two different stories.  The old farmhouse with the herd of cattle watching us explore was full of color and texture – a feast for a photographers eyes.  I could only imagine the grandeur of this home when she was alive with activity.  The other property included in this post was just as incredible, but for a different reason. My grandfather was a talented violin maker and carpenter.  Watching him play the instrument as a child, taught me the wonders of music.  Violin, piano, and cello are three of my favorite instruments that can send a shiver right through me whenever heard.  Now imagine mixing the two…  an abandoned property with musical ties- WOWZA!  The music sheets were strewn throughout the home, and a shell of a guitar was left behind in an empty room.  I can almost hear the music that played within those walls.

This concludes the series on North Dakota.  Where will our next journey take us?  For now, take a walk with Dan and I as we tour some of the most intriguing abandoned farmstead that we have had the privilege to photograph.

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!!

North Dakota Shines

Even though North Dakota may not have purple mountain majesties, its waves of grain provide vivid greens, yellows, and oranges.  This state has it’s own beauty.

According to Wikipedia, “North Dakota has long been known as the most agricultural state in the Union.”

However, just like most farms in the United States, the farms have increased in acreage but have decreased in numbers.  When Dan and I travel the back roads of Minnesota and Wisconsin, we would consider ourselves lucky to happen upon two abandoned properties.  The abandoned properties that we stumbled upon in North Dakota were plentiful and we even joked at one time that we had hit our quota for the entire year just in this one trip.   Some of the most beautiful and interesting properties that I have ever had the privilege of visiting were on this trip. Keep your eyes peeled for my favorite properties coming soon!

Researching the population of North Dakota, I came across this wonderful article on the Bakken Shale Oil Fields at nationalgeographic.com titled:

The New Oil Landscape
The fracking frenzy in North Dakota has boosted the U.S. fuel supply—but at what cost?

In recent years, the state has had a strong economy.  Much of this growth is not due to what they are growing in the fields,  but has been due to what they are pulling from the earth in the Bakken Oil Fields of the Western portion of the state. In 2012, the United States Census Bureau estimated that North Dakota’s entire population for the state was 699,000. Whereas the 2012 population for Denver, Colorado alone was 634,000 and the cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul total population was an estimated 670,000.  From those facts,  take a look at the map below of the light that is seen in certain areas of the United States from space.

Bakken Oil Fields

In an article written on Oilprice.com titled, “Bakken Companies Sued for Wasting Gas Royalties”, The light that you see on the image of the United states is the result of the surge of natural gas flaring in the Bakken shale.  HOLY CRAP!

“The result is that North Dakota, over the Bakken shale oil fields, looks like a bonfire party, with at least 1500 bonfires at any given time, flaring excess natural gas that can’t make it to the market. It’s cheaper to burn than to build pipelines to transport it.”

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In this Oct. 8, 2013 photo provided by the North Dakota Health Department, a vacuum truck cleans up oil in near Tioga, N.D. The North Dakota Health Department says more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil have spewed out of a Tesoro Corp. oil pipeline in a wheat field in northwestern North Dakota. Officials say the 20,600-barrel spill is among the largest recorded in the state and was discovered on Sept. 29 by a farmer harvesting wheat about nine miles south of Tioga. (AP Photo/North Dakota Health Department)

Read more on oil spills in North Dakota here: newsbreak-100s-of-nd-oil-spills-not-publicized

I will be interested in how this all changes the face of North Dakota… Only Time will tell.  Take a trip down that dirt road with us as we travel the back roads of the eastern portion of North Dakota.  I also encourage you to read these articles on the Bakken Oil Fields of ND.  This industry is not only affecting the driftless areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin, It is affecting the Eastern and Western coasts of The United States as well.

So open up the car door and jump inside- Don’t forget your seatbelt!