21ST ANNUAL APOSTLE ISLAND SLED DOG RACE – BAYFIELD, WI | #AISDR

According to the Smithsonian website, exactly how long canines have provided companionship just got a revision: Instead of pinning domestication at about 11,000 to 16,000 years ago, new genetic evidence shows that man’s best friend may have split from wolves 27,000 to 40,000 years ago. This new evidence proves dog power has been used for hunting and travel for quite sometime and the human-animal bond travels beyond anything we can measure.

Yearly, we make the trip to photograph the Annual Apostle Island Dog Sled Races in Bayfield WI. The excitement seen and heard during this event is exhilarating, specially at the start of the race. To watch the bond between the dog sled team and musher is beyond any words I can say.

Assembling a dog sled team involves picking leader dogs, point dogs, swing dogs, and wheel dogs. The lead dog is crucial, as this fearless leader will lead its team to the success of completing the task. Powerful wheel dogs are also just as important since they are needed to pull the sled out from the snow. Point dogs (optional) are located behind the leader dogs, swing dogs are located between the point and wheel dogs, and team dogs are all other dogs in between. The wheel and swing dogs are selected for their endurance, strength and speed as part of the team.

A team of sled dogs has as many different personalities as a team of co-workers in any business. The musher must know and respect each personality of its team; placing each one in a position where they will give 100% during a race or outing. There are many different factors that go into picking the right sled dog and for what position they will play as part of the team. Qualities include, but are not limited to the following:

Pulling ability
Speed: The right pace at the right time
Endurance
Attitude or determination: a desirable specimen displays a positive mental and emotional attitude towards his work. Attitude is contagious!
Intelligence and Trainability: Responding quickly and positively to a driver’s efforts to teach him commands or procedures and to be aware of encountered obstacles.
Co-operation
Docility: a desirable specimen is easy to handle, manageable and docile. He does not pick fights with other dogs and even turns aside from other dogs’ aggression.
Bonding: A bond to musher and team needs to be strong.
Movement: Both speed and endurance are negatively affected when a sled dog has an inefficient movement.
Courage: They will display awareness of danger on the trail without being fearful.
Temperament: Stability is important; they are neither nervous nor aggressive, but just right.
Climate Hardiness
Health, Viability and Longevity
Leader quality: Once you have a good lead, everyone wants to follow.

Before I go, I thought I would share the story of one musher and his team, “Racey’s Rescues”. This team is a favorite among the crowd, not because they are the best team and win every race, but because these “underdogs” were brought together because they were in need of rescue. All dogs on this team was rescued from poor situations and were trained to work together, maybe not to win, but to live a life filled with fun runs and excitement. I give credit to pack leaders, Sally Hedges and Jim Lynch, as it took patience and a lot of hard work so that these four-legged wonders could overcome whatever situation they came from – enough to enjoy life and come together as a team to push through obstacles that would have otherwise stopped them in their tracks.

I highly recommend this event no matter if you are a spectator, a volunteer, or a participant.  I know we will be there year after year, cheering each team along.

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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 🙂

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.

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 House on the Rock

Within The House on the Rock, you will find the largest carousel in history, among other wonders.  The carousel is 80 ft. in width, 35 ft. in height, and weighs over 36 tons.  The animals premiered on the carousel are some of the most unique collected from all over the world.  There is not one horse on this carousel…  Instead the horses watch from afar as the walls are lined with a hundred eyes.  They look on while the carousel rotates and plays its tune.

The experience gained was amusing, remarkable, and exhausting and a all at the same time.  I remember touring The House on the Rock as a child; it certainly was a different feel as an adult.  With every turn, there was more… Stuff.

house on the rock history

“The House on the Rock began in 1945 when a man named Alex Jordan had a towering goal: to build a retreat as awe-inspiring as the view from the rock upon which the House would eventually be built.

What took shape on and around Deer Shelter Rock is a truly remarkable achievement. The House was only the beginning. In the years that followed, Alex expanded his vision beyond the House and collected and built on a massive scale. In the end he had created the world-renowned attraction known as The House on the Rock.” – The house on the Rock.com

House on the Rock
Address: 5754 Hwy 23, Spring Green, WI

Hours: Call to verify- 608-935-3639
Late April – August
Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday-Wednesday –Closed

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.

Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race, 2015 #AISDR

The excitement of the dogs grew as each dog was hooked up to their sled and the vocalization was heard for some distance.  A chill rushed through my body as the sound of the dog’s cries hit us down the track.  I knew right then and there, they were close to starting the races.

Friends of ours, Dave Semerad and Julie Mooney, invited us to join them as they volunteered for the Apostle Island Sled Dog races in Bayfield, WI, and we joyfully accepted.  They were volunteering their time helping groom the trails and handling the dogs for the mushers and their teams; we were photographing the event.

I was even lucky enough to ride on the back of the sled as one team finished – I am sure I had and extremely LARGE smile on my face 🙂

Got the fever

Got the fever

The event: 

Date February 78, 2015
Race Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race
Location Bayfield, Wisconsin, USA
Purse $3,000
Organizers Bayfield Chamber & Visitor Bureau
Distance 60 mile & 80 mile; 40 mile Sportsman’s Race; and a 6-8 mile Family Rec Run

Dave and Julie both can recall how energetic, strong, and focused these dogs were; sometimes even pulling the handlers across the parking lot to the starting shoot 🙂  They told stories of each team and how they work together, each one as incredible as the last.  The mushers really need to understand and know each dogs personality for placement on the team for placement of the lead dogs, the point dogs, the swing dogs, and the power behind it all- the wheel dogs.

According to Wikipedia:

Dog sledding has been used for hunting and travel for over a thousand years, even as far back as the 10th century.

Assembling a dog sled team involves picking leader dogs, point dogs, swing dogs, and wheel dogs. The lead dog is crucial so mushers take particular care of these dogs. Important too is to have powerful wheel dogs to pull the sled out from the snow. Point dogs (optional) are located behind the leader dogs, swing dogs between the point and wheel dogs, and team dogs are all other dogs in between the wheel and swing dogs and are selected for their endurance, strength and speed as part of the team

Viewing the power of each team as they raced past us on the the trail was beyond words.  Looking back on the images, I relived the excitement of the team and noticed how proudly the mushers gaze was as they looked upon their dogs.  Sled dog racing shows great team work; I was completely impressed.

We will be making this a yearly visit and next year, I will be volunteering to help handle the dogs!