Friday, December 18, 2015

Ground Porn

One of the first things I got to do after my last post was get out to my rock.  And luckily, Aaron was still home, so just Duce and I went while B napped.

Without a squiggly little boy on my back, I can be more nimble.  I am also able to hold a camera steadily and not get kicked while I snap the photo.  This particular day, wet and warm, I was interested in ground cover.  Here are some of the shots I took on the way out.

A tiny ecosystem grows on an old stump

If I didn't have a one-year-old,
I might have this as my carpet at home

For some reason, I have always been intrigued by these tiny ground covers.  They turn something old into new life.  Their structure seems simple, yet effective.  Like how those light green stems in the top picture have a dent in the top, so water can pool there, and they can stay moist.  Genius.

Out at the rock, my soul was on fire.  I scampered all around like a child, exploring all areas of this magnificent geological beast.  One of my favorite parts was the lichen.  Guess I was still on that kick, hey?

Lichen on my rock

White, gray, green and orange all in the same spot.  Pretty spectacular.  And once my own heart settled a bit, and I could hear beyond myself, I heard this woh woh woh woh sound.  In not too long, I knew it was a freighter.  For some reason, I got really excited.  Probably because I couldn't see it, but I knew it was there.  I could almost feel it.  So I sat on that rock, and I waited.

Enjoying my view again

The woh woh woh woh kept getting louder, so I figured it would poke out from behind the lighthouse point at any moment.  I tried not to stare at that spot and just enjoy myself, but it seemed to be taking quite a while.  And my excitement just built.

Then there it was.  Haha.  It was pretty anticlimactic.  Yes, there it was: a freighter in the mist on the horizon.  Seen it a hundred times.  Got lots of pictures of it.  So I thought for a moment how the anticipation was more intense than the actual delivery.  Kind of like a kid opening a present on Christmas, you know?  Life is like that.

Now I will forget a lot of incidents in between, but here are a couple more of note.

Winter Wonderfest was a blowout despite the fact there was no snow.  The grass was lush and green.  People hung out by the fire because the air wasn't even too chilly until it started to drizzle.

Okay, but let me back up.  B and I worked a shift at the bake sale that day.  During that time, we saw lots of people come and go.  I always wonder where they come from.  Then around 3:30, before the ornament decorating was about to begin, the kids came in droves.  Holy crap I was almost claustrophobic!  Where did they all come from???  Were they here to make ornaments?  See Santa?  Well, I still don't know the answer to that, but they came.

And after the park lit up at 6pm, they all ran into it to play around the lights.  That part was pretty cool -- mostly because we weren't all in the same room.  Thank goodness for the great outdoors.

Well, HERE IS A VIDEO OF THAT GRAND LIGHTING.   Just click that underlined part.  Oh, you know what to do!

It was pretty sweet, I tell you.  Nice job to Donny and all the helpers.  Maybe you'll be there next year!

The other cool story happened yesterday.  I was out on a walk with my friend Annele (thank goodness I have another adventure buddy for the winter!!!), and while we stood on Jamsen's dock, this freighter scooted by.  It was so close, but we didn't hear it -- just barely saw it in the mist.  Now this photo is heavily edited, so you can actually see the freighter.  But it looks cool that way anyway.

Freighter in the mist through the gap

I mean, how perfect is that?  It's half the length of the gap!  If the wind was from the north, we probably could have smelled the fuel.

Oh, see? Now I'm remembering some other things.

One day I walked along Lake Fanny Hooe, and she was soooooo still.  I mean look how still she was!!!  A perfect reflection!

A perfect Fanny Hooe reflection

Can you tell where I was standing?  That's the resort on the right side.  Pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

And lastly, I recall a day when I wish I had my camera.  I had just gotten back from a hellacious drive from town.  It was a day that I wish someone had told me how horrible it was going to be, so I just wouldn't have gone!  But I did, and we didn't die.

So I got back, and often times, instead of turning right at the blinking light, I'll go straight  through and take Brockway Ave. along the lakeshore.  Man, we pulled up to the Jamsen's dock, and I couldn't believe the gap!  It was a constant whitecap!  The water level seemed to be higher than the rocks out there!

When I stepped out of my car -- getting pelted by freezing rain and sloshing through a huge puddle -- I noticed the waves in the harbor itself were breaking over people's docks!  I don't know if I've ever seen that before.  A lot of elements had to be aligned for that to happen.  And it did.  And I got to see it.  But I didn't have a camera.

Let me leave you with the fact that we are in the middle of a lake effect snow storm.  I'd say approximately 3 inches of fluff has built up on my porch so far.  It's beginning to look a lot like the Keweenaw!

Monday, November 30, 2015

On the Verge of Winter

Well, I was right about one thing: the bell buoy got stolen from right under my nose.  But today, as the sun shines brightly and the lake is calm, there is plenty of freighter action on the lake.  I saw three, and that's when I wasn't even trying!

That means winter is coming.  Sometimes, by now, we are already buried in snow.  Not this year!  Look what's on the ground in the woods on the last day of November!

Snow cover in the woods as of 11/30/2015

Not a whole lot.  But there are other signs of winter.  Just looky here at the frost I saw on my hike today.

Ground frosties!

And take a look over here at the potential first ice skating rink!

Clyde's pond icing over nicely

And wouldn't you know it, Donny K. Jr. is out in the park putting up Christmas lights so "we can have the best light display in the U.P."  Looks like he had some help from the big boys today.

Don sending lights to the top of that cedar

If you are up, feel free to help him out by decorating a tree.  He always needs volunteers.  We'll see how cheery things look this year.  Actually, you can see them too at Winter Wonderfest.  This year it's December 12th.  Crafts, gifts and goodies in the community building all day, then the park lights up at dark!  It's always a lovely time.

Know what else was a lovely time?  My parents came up two weekends ago.  One day my mom volunteered to watch Braeden (bless her heart), so my dad and I could get out for an adventure.  

On that blustery day,  we hiked the south shore of Hunter's Point.  Then we sat on the point for some time while we took it all in.  We hiked the north shore back, and each time we could jut out to the beach, we did.  We stood at each outlet and watched the waves crash.  It was neat because at each spot, the waves hit the shore differently.

Now I must say that my dad is really awesome because not everyone will stand there at each outlet on the beach and watch the waves crash on the shore and love every minute.  Thanks, Daddio.  We'll have to do it again sometime.

I also got to take my parents out to my new favorite rock.  That day was sunny and not as windy.  Though ice covered the stones up to the rock, and waves flooded the path between the icy stones, I timed it out, so I could sit up there and bask in the wonder of my spirit.  I just love that spot.  Here you can see my boots overlooking the eastern edge of Porter's Island in the distance.

The view from my rock

Now my goal is to get out there as much as possible this winter and take this photo. What will be different each time?  Lighting, ice, snow, my boots, my pants and whatever else will surprise us!  Now it may not be easy getting out there with little man and Duce through the blowing cold days, but I'll do my best.

So yeah.  I am pumped for winter.  Excited to see what it brings.  Hopefully I can show Brady Boy some ice skating moves before too much snow falls.  But I surely won't bet on that!

And want to know what's extra cool about this winter?  December 13th marks 10 years since Aaron and I moved up here.  Ten years!  I'm so excited, I just might have to celebrate!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Between a Rock and a Contest

Remember how I like to perch on intriguing boulders?  Well I found a new favorite one.  But I'm not going to tell you where it is; you have to guess.  I took a picture of it from an angle that you may only recognize if you've been there.

Where is this rock?

Do you know?  If so, leave a comment of where you think it is, and you could win a free signed copy of Touring the Tip!  The first person to enter the correct location of this rock wins.  Please bear in mind that you need to leave your name somewhere, and I must moderate all comments.  If you don't see your comment right away it's because I didn't get to publish it yet.  Okay, go!

Want to know something else really cool?  I got to go mountain biking -- true singletrack-ripping mountain biking for the first time in almost two years.  TWO YEARS!!!  That's a long time for a mountain biker.  But I am still learning how to give my son to someone else and say, "See you later.  I hope I come back in one piece!"

The weather has been lovely lately, though.  I think rain tomorrow, but we've had sunshine and sometimes no jacket weather!  We've had some clear night skies too.  I spent a couple evenings out watching shooting stars and constellations.  Man, it's great to be back.

Last I checked, the bell buoy was still out by the lighthouse.  But we know how quickly that gets swept out from under my nose.

Lucky for you (and me, of course), I am not moving away this winter.  You know, Arkansas just does not sound that appealing to me for four months.  Yeah I'll have to haul in wood and shovel and take care of a one year old and all that, but I can do it here!  I've had some unexpected adventures in the past, so I wonder what this winter will bring.  

I just love how outdoor activities depend on the weather.  Skating?  Parachuting?  Avalanche?  Okay, just kidding about the avalanche (I hope).  But life is full of surprises.

Otherwise, it's just nice and quiet here.  Oh, how I love it.  Well, I've seen some hunters up scouting lately, but other than that, just us.  What a gift.

Well, you're probably getting antsy to comment on where that rock it, so I'll let you get to it.  Good luck!  Maybe I'll see you out there sometime.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Back to Amanda!

Okay, maternity leave is over!  Braeden is one year old, in stable condition and all around amazing.  Time for me to be Amanda and do my writing stuff which I didn't even realize how much I missed until I got back into it.

When we were at Grammy and Grampy Rogers' house two weeks ago, I had a revelation about it.  I was walking down a dark, gravel road with only the twinkling stars as my light.  I thought, Hmm, when I walk down the road in da Harbor, the street lights are shining.  This is completely void of lights from civilization.  Awesome.

Then I noticed that I should be more grateful about where I am even though I can't be in my favorite place all the time.  I should appreciate where I am all the time.  Bam!  I got an idea for a book.  And when I thought of the memoir I am currently working on, I realized, Well, I better write that, so I can get this next one going!

All the sudden, ~zing~ across the sky.  A shooting star!  And at that moment I made a wish for myself for the first time since Braeden was born.  It's been a whole year since I wished something for myself!  So it's about darn time I get things rolling.

Here's a picture of the sunset from that night.  It's so lovely there.

A northwestern Wisconsin autumn sunset

Then our little family was reunited in Crosby, Minnesota.  Where the heck is that?  It's part of a little cluster of towns in north-central Minnesota in a rural, recreational setting.  Lots of lakes, trees and trails.  Plus history from iron ore mining.  Really cool, actually.  I've enjoyed my time here.

Just a few places to note.

The Spalding House is a historic bar/motel/apartment building recently renovated in the past year to cater to the trail enthusiasts and locals.  The bar has awesome drink specials that I think my own little town could add to its weekly routine.  $1.50 taps on Tuesday nights?  Try and keep me out of there!  Okay, so maybe my town shouldn't do that. Wink.

And here is a picture of their fabulous tapper selection!  Whatever makes the wheels go round!

20 draft beers at the Spalding House

Aaron, Braeden and I sleep above it in one of their cozy little rooms.  I thinks it's cool, and the owners are super sweet.  They recognize what's happening in their town, and they are progressive about what their visitors are looking for.

I also enjoyed my Americano and sandwich at Mixed Company.  Quaint, friendly atmosphere and cute crafty things on the walls.  The owner thought Braeden was adorable, but so far I haven't met anyone that doesn't.  KJ's Mini Mart was also perfect for me to set up an impromptu birthday party for my one year old!  Plus I even got him a nice second hand blazer for his Halloween costume.    It's an interesting combo of retail, but it worked for me!

Birthday bash with the Rock Solid crew!

Another place of note it the park at Serpent Lake.  The playground there is amazing!  It's decked out like a ship with things to crawl through and pretend drive and dig and swing and slide and hang.  Man, if Braeden was a little older, we would have been there all day.  Except poor Duce felt dejected tied up by the entrance.  Sorry buddy, no dogs allowed.

B under the Serpent at Serpent Lake

The lake there was lovely.  They had a skate park with actual people using it!  And camping and tennis courts and restrooms and all that.  It was really well kept up.  If I could have let my doggy run loose there, we would have gone back more often.

Then there's the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail.  It's a paved double-wide trail that snakes between the lakes and around the little towns.  It was perfect for me on my touring bike pulling B in the trailer.  Lots of great vistas heading west out of Crosby.  And it seemed like after every turn there was another lake!   And sometimes there were lakes on both sides!

A lake along Cuyuna Lakes State Trail

I liked the feel of this town.  Nothing classy, but functional.  I actually hope that Aaron has to come back and build more trails here.  I would hang out and adventure and cook and write.  I even got to take Braeden on his first singletrack ride in the trailer.  I think he liked it because he threw up on himself!

Aaron on the job in his mini-ex

Well, I've got a couple more stops in Wisconsin, then back to da Harbor for a month!  I hope... 

See you sooner rather then later!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Longing for Home

I snuck out on you again.  I was in Spokane, Washington for a week because my little brother got married.  So happy for him -- he found a keeper.  Wink.  And Braeden did great on his first plane rides.  Whew!

And now I am in Wisconsin en route to Cuyuna, Minnesota where Aaron is building trails for the month.  All I can give you is a guess at a color report.  I bet the leaves are lovely in da Harbor right now.  Good thing I have seen some glorious ones in past autumns, or I would be sad to miss this year.  The maples were electric on my way out of town.  Nice color in Northern Wisconsin right now, too.

My computer is mostly better.  Thanks for asking.

To be totally honest with you, I may only get to be in Copper Harbor for Halloween and November.  Then hopefully January and February, but even the winter is up in the air.  I think Aaron is booked pretty much all next year too.  Ah, the life of the wife of a traveling man.  Good thing I don't have a real job right now!  I told him, Well, at least we have a house to live in when we actually get to be there!  And he said, It will make it all that much better when we get to be there then.

Like I said in a previous post, I realized how much better my heart beats there after I've been away for so long.  But there are worse things in the world...

I really wish that I could provide you with substantial information and entertainment from da Harbor, but I guess that will be to come.  Heck, I wish I provide that for myself!  Don't have high expectations for me for the next few months.  Then hopefully I can surpass them!

Man, I don't even have a picture for you right now because they are on my camera at home.  Nice planning, Wais.  I can tell you that I got some cool pictures of the moon rise the night of the lunar eclipse.  That was the highlight of my fall.  That moon was sooooooo huge, and I caught it rising over East Bluff and Lake Superior.  Seriously made my day.

I would assume that things are starting to slow down in da Harbor during the week, but I bet leaves are pretty peak right now, so weekends are probably still a bit crazy.  Just a guess.  Correct me if I'm wrong.  I prefer to be corrected than to spew false information.  

If I keep typing to you, I would just be rambling and guessing at things, so I'll close.  Plus my little man is ready to get out in this nice fall air.  So am I.  Braeden is doing amazing, by the way.  He turns one year old on Thursday.  They say the first year is the hardest, and I hope they're right because we have been in lots of hospitals.  But his strength, joy, charm and love never ceases to amaze me.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Brief Report

Oh no.  My computer pooped out on me, so I am scrapping to find you.  I guess I just have to stick with with basics for now.

Color Report
The Covered Stretch is around 20% turned.  The colors are quite bright and florescent because they're mostly maples, of course.  I haven't seen a whole lot on M-26 or Brockway yet, but it could go fast.  Looks like people are ready to see some bright, shiny leaves because town is filling up this weekend!

Sorry to be so brief, but technology is against me momentarily.  I really do think about you much more than I am able to communicate.  Thanks for still reading, though!  Be well!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Down Under the Bridge.

 Though I have travelled over 700 miles since I left Copper Harbor, I am still in Michigan.  Man this is a big state.  I did go the Wisconsin route, however.  I have to get my fresh cheese curd fix. 

So, I don't mean to get all sentimental on you again, but it was really hard to leave this last time. Probably because I knew how great I felt while I was here.  Even though the town was overrun with visitors, my spirit was overcome with peace and inspiration.

Plus, the choke cherries were amazing.  For a wino, ahem, winemaker, choke cherries are a prime fruit.  Imagine bunches of cherry red grapes hanging from the trees -- almost ready to pick.  Sooooo close to being ready to shuck off those branches.  And I had to leave.  Choke is some of the best wine I have ever made.  Well, next year, I hope.  Just look at these babies.

Whopping bunches of chokes... for the birds

As odd as it may sound, this picture was in my mind as I turned up the hill on Highway 41.  Then I looked back at Lake Superior in my rearview mirror, and said See you later beautiful lake.  Sniff a tear.  Oh, she is such a beauty.  My heart longs to be there still.  Probably much like yours if you are not there right now.

Do you want to know where I am 700 miles away still in Michigan?  Sitting in a hotel in Ann Arbor.  It's not so bad.  I'd be a bit more adventurous if I wasn't so afraid to drive in cities with actual lines of traffic and stop lights.  We're here for Braeden anyway, my mother and I.  Don't worry.  He's doing fine.  Just needs some check-ups and testing, and Mott's is worth the drive.

I've been longing to tell you about something that I've seen lately.  Maybe others have seen them more too, but I haven't really heard anything.  


Okay, so two wolves on two separate occasions.  That's really more wolves than I've seen in my whole entire life.  And what they were doing is what gives me that goosebumpy feeling.  Both times were in the U.P.  Both were while I was driving with my little boy in the back seat.  And BOTH times the wolf came out of the woods and stayed there, staring.  

The first time I was driving south just south of South Range.  I thought it was a deer at first because, well, that's what usually jumps out of the woods.  Then I saw that it looked more like a dog.  A huge prancing dog with no collar.  Oh my gosh, that's a wolf, Braeden!  He was probably sleeping by that time.  But the wolf, in it's tall tan and gray glory frolicked across the road, made a U-turn back across the road, stopped on the yellow line and stared at me.  Not a glare or anything scary, but a gaze as if to say, "I am here for you."  Then it trapsed off back into the woods where it came out.  Has this ever happened to you?  I think it's pretty strange behavior for such a beast, and though I thought it a bit incredible, it instantly put my mind at ease, and I knew everything was going to be all right.  Kind of like a sign of good luck.

The second time was less than two months later.  I was cruising north just north of Mohawk.  I noticed brake lights on the car ahead of me.  Slightly annoyed because this is where we get to speed up, I saw why they slowed down.  A wolf stood on the driver's left side of the road just looking around calmly.  You know, it watched us as we went by.  That same calming feeling filled me as we passed, and I hoped the car behind me got to bask in its majesty as well.

Now, when I think of wolves in the wild, I would be a bit more scared.  Especially if I was walking on a trail somewhere and there it was -- looking at me.  Yeah, I know I was in a car, but this was really different.  I think Braeden's energy is behind it.  Call me a kook if you want, but I try to listen to my intuition, and that's what it said.  That sweet little boy has already led me on quite a journey.  We'll see where this one goes!

Happy September, by the way.  I know you're probably biting your fingernails because I'm way far away from the Keweenaw, and I can't give you a good color report.  Oh, I bet you have other resources, who am I kidding?  But, if you like my report, I should be back by September 13th or so.  I am excited to show Braeden the colors in the trees.  When he was born, they were already brown on the ground.

Well, I'll see you when I'm back up Nort, eh!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Back to Myself

Last week I drove back to Copper Harbor.  After 5 weeks of somewhere else, I was eager to return.  But I didn't realize how much I missed it until I got back.  I'm sure you can relate to this.  It may sound cliche, but it's true.  Here it goes.

Once I got just south of Houghton, and I crested that hill, I got goosebumps.  I felt like I was truly back in the Keweenaw.  Coming over the hill into Copper Harbor, though, wow.  I saw the sign and the lake, and I cried.  Real tears trickled down my face.  I didn't even care as long as I could still see the road.

When I pulled into my driveway, I opened my car door, hit the ground on my knees and kissed the rocks and sand.  If I would have kissed it the way I really felt, I would have had a mouth full of dirt, and that didn't seem like fun to wash out, so I just kissed it with my lips.  When I looked up, I saw my thimbleberry plants bursting with magenta orbs of tang.  I ate as many as I could one right after the other until I remembered I had a sleeping baby in the car.  He was still sleeping, so I looked out at my little town and took a deep breath.

That's when it hit me.

I felt two feelings at that moment.  One was like someone inserted my "missing piece" somewhere in my body and soul.  A piece I didn't even realize was gone until it got put back.  I felt whole again.  The other feeling was like someone plugged me back into life.  I didn't realize I was unplugged until the electricity of the air energized me and made me feel alive.  Hello, Amanda!!!  There you are!!!  I missed you!!!

I am not exaggerating this.  I bet you believe me.  

I know that most people come here and feel like a weight is lifted off their shoulders and peace fills their soul.  That is wonderful too.  I would feel that way if my life away from here was stressful, but it's not.  It's just, well, to be polite, not here.

So there I was.  Completely Amanda again.  I jumped and cheered and Braeden woke up.  I tried celebrating with him, but I don't know if he fully understood my elation.  I showed him around the house and checked his reaction.  He was more observant than reacting.  Pretty typical for him.  He takes it all in, that wise little man.

Like at Hunter's Point.  He loves to sit in the rocks and chew on them.  Here he is picking out a tasty one.

B finding his next chew toy

That boy is tough, I tell you.  And just darling.  

We've gone quite a few places since we've been home.  Great Sand Bay where he took his first dip in Lake Superior and ate his first fist-fulls of sand.  Up and down Paul's Plunge.  Along the first part of the Keweenaw Point Trail.  Lake Manganese and Fanny Hooe.  Through Fort Wilkins campground on a busy weekend in August.  Atop Brockway Mountain for his first time.  Clyde's field.  Docks along the harbor shore.  Brickside Brewery where the bartenders always give him free beer.  Kisses!  I mean they give him kisses and hugs.  

So here is a picture of the beginning of the Keweenaw Point Trail.  I have told you this before, but this trail is destined to loop around the tip of the Keweenaw (hence the name) and Phase I is now complete.  It starts on Manganese Road just above the falls and comes out just east of Lake Fanny Hooe by the Mandan Loop near the beginning of Highway 41.  Got that?

KPT Trailhead!

I was intrigued by the suspended rock at the beginning.  Cool, huh?

And here is a part of the seasons that you may not have fully compared in your head.  The difference between the bottom of Manganese Falls in the spring and late summer.  Can you guess which is which below?  Hint: it's the same order I just mentioned.

Can you believe it?  It hardly looks like the same spot!  But it is.  I am not a liar.

The berries are pretty amazing right now.  Yeah.  What a tease this year.  I mean, here I am, actually here with all day to pick, and someone won't sit still in the bushes for hours at a time.  I don't blame him, though.  When he's ready to pick with me, I'll have him make up for it.  Tee hee!

So here is a bit of blatant truth into my life.  Raw Amanda.  I can't get out to pick berries to make, um, wine, so I just bought rice to make sake!  Ha!  I will find a way to make wine!  I think it will be a nice experiment.  I'm all about  fermentation experimentation.   See also: I like to make and drink wine.  

Guess what.  It's Art in the Park this weekend in da Harbor!  If you're coming up and you don't have a place to sleep, you'll be sleeping in your car.  Or on some nice person's beach, I don't know.  Sleeping on a pebbly beach is quite wonderful, actually.  Even if you don't have a tent.  Unless the bugs are out...

So, if you come up this weekend, stop by the bake sale.  That's where Braeden and I will be!  I'm running it again this year.  Bring some baked goods or buy some!  If we get to talking and I like you, maybe you can try my wine sometime.  See you in September!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Adventure Redifined

You're probably wondering how things are going in Duluth.  Well, I don't even know!

I've been west of Duluth a couple times this summer to see my sweet man, but I haven't really been in Duluth - the city.  But the times I've been to that area have been interesting and adventurous.

"Why haven't you been living in Duluth, Amanda?"  That's a fair question.  See, when you bank on the life of a contractor, you bank on chance and waiting.  We waited (and are still waiting) for some of those chances, so I am staying nearby at Aaron's parents' house for the month of July.  Then Braeden and I can book it the 100 miles each week to be a family -- in a house with a bunch of trail working dudes.

Here are some of the interesting and adventurous parts of Duluth, or, west of Duluth.

The flowers are quite similar to those of the Keweenaw.  I suppose you would assume that, but there some differences that I have noticed because for some strange reason that is what the essence of my being gravitates toward.  
  • They have lots of dewberries (which are delicious).  I have only found a few of those in da Harbor.
  • Like this western part of Wisconsin, where I currently reside, they have lots of water hemlock.  Cicuta douglasii.  Do you know what that means???  It means that it's a good thing that I don't hate anyone.  I know where the hemlock is, and I know how to use it.  But don't worry.  I won't.  That would be wrong, and besides, I just said this in my blog, so that's evidence.
  • Their shinleaf is not as scarce.
  • They have thimbleberry plants, and they may not even know it.  I have not seen a single flower or berry, but the plants are rampant in thimble-loving areas.
  • I saw my first Michigan lilies bouncing in the breeze.
  • I saw my first bloodroot leaves, but the flowers already dropped.
  • Virginia creeper is common.
Wow, I am a nerd.  But most people fill their mind with useless information of some kind.  Some people have sports.  Some have Hollywood.  I have wildflowers.  Thank goodness for diversity on this planet.

Also, west of Duluth, I have hiked part if not all of the original Seven Bridges West trail.  I can recount most of those bridges though many of them have been crumbled by floods.

Then one day the president of Rock Solid Trail Contracting LLC. (aka my husband) asked if Braeden and I would like to go on an adventure ride in the side-by-side.  He was hauling lumber from the road to their new trail via an old ATV trail.  Well, what else did we have to do?  We went.

We buckled the little man in nice and tight.  I would have done this anyway, but the fact that Aaron did too should have set me off for what he meant by "adventure."  My definition of adventure is setting off into new or old places where one can always learn something new and expect the unexpected.  Aaron's definition includes something along the lines of hopefully not dying.

So we went on Aaron's "adventure."

Early in the trip, as we rounded a corner and I thought we might slide off and sink into the muddy clay, I said, "Whew.  That was an adventure right there."  Aaron laughed and said, "The adventure has just begun."  Still no red flags went off in my mind.  And I have been with this man for over 10 years.  Have I learned nothing???

A few branches whipped and ripped beside my head.  That didn't bug me, though.  I knew parameters were tight.  Some flesh-stinging wounds were just part of the ride.  But then he took us on some turns where I thought that maxly packed machine was going to tumble down the hill.  I tried not to envision us rolling down the hill, but I did.  And we didn't.  But the adventure wasn't over.

Have you ever been to Six Flags Great America?  They have this roller coaster ride called Raging Bull.  I've included a video that I found on youtube of some people riding this beast in the front seat to help illustrate how I felt.

Did you watch it?  Okay.  Now remember the first part as they chug-chug-chug up and up that first hill, but add the element of Oh-my-God-are-we-going-to-make-it-up-this-hill?  Even Aaron wasn't sure.  We were on one of his test runs.  After making it up one, I asked, "Was that the worst one?"  He shook his head.  I kept wondering why he would take his wife and  infant son (who was fast asleep) on such a ride.  That's Aaron for you.  Never a dull moment.

Then remember the part where they go straight down and you can hear the woman say, "I can't see anything!"  What she means is that you can't see what's in front of you because it is so straight down that it's out of sight.  I remember being on this roller coaster ride at Six Flags.  I thought that exact same thing.  Then I shrieked the whole way down.

And that is the experience that flashed through my mind when Aaron took us down the hill.  Again, I envisioned us tumbling down bumper over lumber.  But we didn't tumble.  And Aaron had to keep up his speed at the bottom in order to make it up the next hill... the worst one.

But I am here to write about it, so you know we didn't die.  We all stayed quite buckled in, actually, so I give that Kubuta 4x4 a lot of durability and safety credit.  Aaron ran that trip multiple times.  It was just a day in his work life, but a day that I thought might end mine.

Aaron's definition of adventure is forever ingrained in my brain.

You know what I miss?  I miss the cool Lake Superior breezes.  I forgot how hot Wisconsin summers can be, and my veins are no longer use to this.  I can't even lay out for a suntan because I feel like a slice of bacon ready to crisp up in a cast iron pan.  But a slice of bacon does sound good right about now.  Mmm, bacon.

The only picture I have that applies to this blog is the one I took of the Copper Harbor bell buoy just a few days before I left for Wisconsin.  Here it is as the sun set behind it.

Ye old buoy up close

Ding da ding ding!  Man, I miss that sound.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Picture Perfect

Every time I'm going to write, I think Okay, now Amanda, don't apologize for not writing in a while.  It makes you look bad.  Well, you deserve an apology because it's now been well over a month.  I'm sorry.  I hope to make it up to you.

So here's an inside scoop into my brain.  After so long, and so many adventures and so much to say, I feel overwhelmed.  What am I even going to say?  What order do I put it in?  How should I organize it?  And I just can't make a decision, so I just wait longer.

Luckily, I thought of a good way to do this.  Pictures!  I took lots of pictures, so I'll just show you them all and write a brief caption.  I hope that works for you!

Before I begin, here are a couple facts that aren't necessarily captured digitally.  The blackflies are almost gone already.  And the skeeters are coming out more.  The weather has been lovely -- a little cool, but we are not going to complain!  Weekends have been busy, and the weeks are still a bit slower until after July 4th.

Okay.  Moving on.  And yes, there are a lot of plants.

Early arbutus in May

Manganese Creek in May

Then I went to a Michigan Outdoor Writers Association conference in early June.  We stayed at Treetops in Gaylord, MI.  Really now, that part of the state isn't so scary.  It was a nice time.

It took us two hours to hike two miles here in Gaylord, MI
I was with true naturalists that day.

A Gaylord beech tree looking at us

My first partridge berry sighting ever!

Trilliums on their way out for the spring

A not-so-wild herd of elk in Aspen Park

"Tom" foolery in Aspen Park

Three awards won by yours truly at that conference

And back to da Harbor...

Starflowers on a mossy log

New growth on the balsam trees

Bunchberry flowers

Freshly sprouted cherries standing straight up!

Chokecherry flower clusters

I have two gallons of dandelion champagne brewing...

Freshly budded douglas honeysuckle


Flowerless hepatica leaves

Lilacs in peak season!

Cream pea vine

The first wild rose I spotted this year!

Lonesome thimbleberry flower

Serviceberry/Juneberry/Sugarplum flowers

Wild sarsasparilla -- still tiny and red

Not sure what this one was... anyone?

Little man and me enjoying our hike!

Ducks in Fanny Hooe Creek.  See them?

The Copper Harbor Volunteer Fire Department spaghetti dinner is tonight from 5-8pm.  Bake sale and silent auction.  I'm going!

The Isle Royale Queen IV sunset cruise fundraiser for the fireworks is Wednesday, June 24th.  Boat leaves at 7pm sharp.  I'll be there too!

Catch me if you can!