Days Gone By

There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot
be realized until personal experience has brought it home.
– John Stuart Mill

In an attempt to organize photo albums in Lightroom, I ran across a few that I have not reviewed.  The images published today are from back-roading in the charming area surrounding our home, Southeast MN and Southwest WI.  Working on these images brought back wonderful memories and will display buildings that are not standing any longer.

For instance, the images of the one room school house in Elgin, MN seen below, is no longer standing.  Visit an earlier post from 2014: When the School Bell Rang

The next couple of images are views seen around our area due to Frac Sand Mining.  I still remember passing by the beautiful trees, hills, and marshes, when all of a sudden we ran into a large mound of golden sand.  Thankfully, the Frac Sand Mining industry here in our area is dying down.

While we are blessed to share our lives now with “the new kids” on the block, Clover and Lucy, we will forever miss the two inseparable, mischievous, opportunists we called Tindra and Audrey.

Enjoy the sights from this day as we traveled the small towns and dirt roads.

The Long Lost Album

Found… The long lost album.  Over a year old, I still remember this album well; coming across this one was a fun find which brought back wonderful memories.  We ran across a few faces, and a couple of properties left behind on this day.  Both of the furry girls pictured are not with us today, but are still missed, and what we think is a 2-story schoolhouse was a chance find. Driving down the country roads in Wisconsin, I happened to spot the bell tower of this magnificent building; we stopped and captured what we could.  Unfortuately, both Dan and I could not find much information on this building, but I know there is history here. Someday, it would be interesting to find out more about this property, but then again, we would have to find it again 🙂

What is Good for the Goose

On this day, Dan and I decided to take a short trip and venture down to Reads Landing in Southeast MN.  We followed the mighty Mississippi as it twists southbound from Red Wing; our first stop was a small beach in Old Frontenac.

This small town was originally established in 1857 with the name Westervelt, the name changed in 1860 to Frontenac by brothers who owned large tracts of land in the area.  At that time, Frontenac soon began to attract wealthy residents and became a community of summer homes with Lakeside views of Lake Pepin.  Frontenac is indeed a beautiful little town, we visit Frontenac State Park often and will stop by the little beach on occasion.  On this day, the girls had fun in the sun and sand.

Frontenac Map

Heading south on Hwy 61, our next stop was Lake City.  We did not stay long but had enough time to walk the marina to see the sails that are waiting for warmer weather.

Lake City Map

Our final destination was Reads Landing, MN and Reads Landing Brewing Company.  Originally founded in the mid 1800’s, Reads Landing soon grew to a major river town located at the mouth of Lake Pepin.  In the late 1880’s the town began decline and most businesses relocated to Wabasha.  Interesting fact:  According to Wikipedia, “At one time Reads Landing was considered a possible site for the Minnesota State Capital.”  Although there is not much left in Reads Landing, it is home to Reads Landing Brewing Company.  I would recommend a stop in to try some of their hometown craft brew and a snack.

Reads Landing Map

The birds were out, the sun was shining, and we all had such a wonderful time making memories that will last a lifetime.

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

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.

A Family Affair

This particular day, we were itching to get out of the house and so were the girls. We forget sometimes that the furry little ones go stir crazy in the winter as well when they can’t go outside to chase “Chippy” or “Bun-Bun”. They will often sit on the bed and look out the window searching the woods for four-legged vermin.   As we were packing the car with the camera gear, the girls were bouncing off the walls. Take me, Take me, TAKE ME!

With their cute little faces, they win every time. We decided to travel around close to home and drove into the Hay Creek area; a small town just south of Red Wing on Hwy 58.   A campground, an old western saloon, the Goodhue Pioneer State Trail, Hay Creek Stables, 15 miles of equestrian trails, and a blue ribbon trout stream. The beautiful valley’s that make up the Hay Creek day-use area is beautiful in every season.

After photographing some enthralling horses in the Hay Creek area, we then moved on to Bay City Wisconsin; a small town east of Red Wing on the shores of Lake Pepin. If ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping in for a bite to eat at “The Chef Shack” a delightful restaurant with the best service ever and mouth-watering food! We decided to drive out onto Lake Pepin (that felt weird) to gain a different perspective of the landscape. Maneuvering around the ice heaves and listening to the ice crack was unnerving and we didn’t travel too far onto the frozen lake… Call me chicken 🙂

All in all, the Traun Family enjoyed our time together.  Please enjoy the images from this little, close-to-home adventure.

 

A Sticky Situation, but no Earth Day Reoccurrence.

This trip brought us through the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest which is located in Southeastern Minnesota.  The Zumbro River twists and turns as it flows through the lower Zumbro River Valley and right through this beautiful state forest..

When it comes to backroading, we have come across some “sticky” situations- The first that comes to mind is a trip we took that celebrated Earth Day literally, or take a peak at Dan’s post on our “Sticky” situation that one Earth Day as we made a Mud Pie. That, truly was a “sticky” situation that really got us stuck!

This day we were not stuck per say, it was the hope that the car keeps moving in the direction we wanted it to.  Driving through the beautiful area of Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest  and the Zumbro River bottoms after a winter ice storm may not have been the best idea ever, but we were enjoying the day.  We stopped at the information area to view a map so that we may actually travel on a paved road.  The shortest route was the path we chose, the road was flat and our Chevy Equinox was plowing through the fresh ice and snow perfectly.  Well, the road (or one lane path) started heading up the side of a bluff.  With no way to turn around, we had to move forward and finish our trek.  One quick look out my passenger window and I noticed the step drop off, which caused a slight whimper noise to escape out of my mouth.  We both knew that if we stopped, we were in some deep doo-doo.  We look at each other and saw the worry in each other’s eyes.  “I think we might be using up a ninth life right now”, said Dan.  We held our breath and eventually made it to the top… WE MADE IT!   With steamy windows we moved on down a safer path, giving thanks to both of our guardian angels.

Please enjoy the images from this particular trip in and around the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest in Winter.

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.

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.

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.