Categories
Landscape Michigan Nature

Upper Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains – The Porkies

Lake of the Clouds AutumnLake of the Clouds

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in western Upper Michigan is one of my favorite play spots! I used to live in Houghton about 2 hours north, so it was “almost” in my backyard at one time. I can still get there in 5-6 hours from the Twin Cities. At 60,000 acres, it’s the largest state park in Michigan and you can spend a lifetime exploring and still not see everything.

I highly recommend stopping in the Visitor Center on the east side of the park. Check out their bookstore – they have lots of titles covering the history of the area as well as guides about your favorite activities. One of my faves is The Last Porcupine Mountains Companion by Michael Rafferty & Robert Sprague (fifth edition).

So, here are a few highlights:

Hiking the Porkies

If you want to see the best of the Porkies, you’ll want to get out on the trails. You have options ranging from short and easy jaunts to multi-day backpacking adventures on fairly rugged trails that can test your endurance.

Big Carp River Valley - Porkies
Big Carp River Valley and Lake of the Clouds from the Escarpment Trail

The Escarpment Trail is truly awe-inspiring, providing beautiful vistas of the Big Carp River Valley and Lake of the Clouds. The easiest way to enjoy it is to start from the Lake of the Clouds overlook (which is typically very crowded). You can simply turn around and go back the way you came at any point, or have a choice of 2, 4 or 8 mile round trip loop options.

The Union Spring Trail can provide good options for birding in the summer. It is one of the less-traveled hikes and is typically quiet for those seeking more solitude.

Lake Superior Trail is an out and back 4.4 miler if you go all the way to the shoreline. The first half is relatively easy, but you’ll have a long climb back if you go all the way down to the water’s edge.

Waterfalls

The Porkies is loaded with waterfalls! Another nice hike is to Greenstone and Overlooked Falls from the Little Carp River Road. It’s a short easy jaunt to Overlooked Falls, which is probably my favorite spot in the park.

Overlooked Falls Porkies
Overlooked Falls

There are several smaller falls all along the trail if you choose to continue to Greenstone Falls.

The Presque Isle River on the western side of the park has several beautiful waterfalls as well, but the Potholes section just before it empties into Lake Superior is my favorite.

Presque Isle River
The Presque Isle River shortly before it enters Lake Superior. One of my favorite spots in the Porkies!

Fall Colors

Fall colors in the Porkies
Early October in Upper Michigan overlooking Lake Superior.

Just two things you need to know:

  1. First week of October
  2. Fall colors in the UP are like nowhere else on Earth. They glow in the day. Literally. A nice lady visiting from the south asked me at one of the overlooks, “Who turned the lights on?” referring to how brightly colored the leaves were. Word.

I hope you get a chance to see for yourself some of what the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness has to offer. Lots of mining history as well as beautiful scenery. Put it on your bucket list!

In the meantime, head over to the gallery and dress up your walls by bringing some of the North Woods wild inside 🙂

Categories
Landscape Macro Michigan Minnesota Nature Special Event Wildlife Wisconsin

Nature Photography Day 2017

Nature Photography Day is June 15, 2017! So, what the heck is Nature Photography Day?

Painted Turtle Portrait

Nature Photography Day

“In 2006, NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) celebrated the first Nature Photography Day and placed it in McGraw-Hill’s reference work, Chases’s Calendar of Events. Many media and websites took notice. Since then, people throughout the North American continent as well as overseas have discovered numerous ways to observe and enjoy the day.” – NANPA

Thursday, June 15 2017 marks 12 years of Nature Photography Day! Not only is this a day for photographers to capture the beauty of our natural world, it’s a day to promote the enjoyment of nature photography and celebrate how images have helped advance conservation efforts to preserve landscapes, plants and animal species around the world.

“Consider that the pursuit of nature photography has helped to save species of animals and plants, plus their habitat. Preservation is a legacy. In fact, the world’s first-ever national park—Yellowstone, in 1872—came about thanks to the images of William Henry Jackson.” – NANPA

Echinacea

The North American Nature Photography Association encourages people everywhere to enjoy the day by using a camera to explore the natural world. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – your smartphone camera will be just fine. A backyard, park, or local lake close by can work. Walking, hiking, or riding a bike to take photos are activities that don’t lead to a carbon footprint and it’s appropriate for all ages and abilities. There are LOTS of parks and trails right in the Twin Cities where you can unplug, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. And just being out in nature can ease stress and improve mood!

How and where will you celebrate Nature Photography Day?

Categories
Landscape Michigan Minnesota Nature Special Event Special Offer Wildlife Wisconsin

North Woods Photos at St. Paul Art Crawl 2017

North Woods Photos will be participating in the St. Paul Art Crawl 2017 at Dow Art Gallery and Picture Framing again this year!

Minnesota Moose
Minnesota Moose double exposure

St. Paul Art Crawl 2017

When: April 28 – 30, 2017. Friday 6-10 pm, Saturday noon – 8 pm, Sunday noon – 5 pm.

Where: Dow Art Gallery, 2242 University Avenue West, St. Paul, MN 55114

What: There are 30+ artists currently showing in Dow Art Gallery alone, including myself. Painters, sculptures, fiber arts, 3D, and photography. I will have many matted and mounted prints available for purchase that aren’t typically available at the gallery. Special sales too! A perfect opportunity to pick up gifts for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays or holidays for friends and family while supporting a local artist!

Who: You! It’s a family friendly event, so bring the kids too! There will be snacks and entertainment as well as amazing art 🙂

Blue Mounds Bison Double Exposure
Blue Mounds Bison Double Exposure

Metro Transit will also be offering FREE rides to St. Paul Art Crawl 2017 on Saturday & Sunday. Click on the link to download your free pass!

Hope to see you at “the Dow” for St. Paul Art Crawl 2017!

Categories
Landscape Michigan Minnesota Nature Wildlife

Favorite Photos of 2016

Just a few of my favorite photos of 2016:

Favorite Photos of 2016

It’s always hard to decide on which images I like best because so much of it depends on the mood I’m in at the time. Same thing goes when someone asks who my favorite musical artists are.

This past year took me to some old and new places;

  • visiting two different wild bison herds in Minnesota (watch for a separate post coming soon!).

Bison Moody Sky

  • seeing petroglyphs that are older than the Egyptian pyramids just a couple hours from home (probably a separate post coming on that one, too).
  • visiting several Minnesota and Michigan state parks that I’d never been to before.
  • the very familiar North Shore of Lake Superior as well as old haunts on the South Shore of Lake Superior.
Miner's Castle
Miner’s Castle
  • crossing the Mackinac Bridge for the first time in decades (I’ve done more crossings than I can count over my lifetime – being both a former Yooper and Troll from Michigan).
Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac Bridge
  • FINALLY getting my carcass over to Isle Royale National Park for the first time (I even lived in Houghton, MI where park headquarters are located back in the early ’80’s)
Rock of Ages Lighthouse
Rock of Ages Lighthouse
  • seeing the finish of several old and new friends at the tail end of their run across Wisconsin to raise awareness about suicide prevention and mental health (they did it in 8 days. Word).
Defeat the Stigma Run Across Wisconsin Finish
Run Across Wisconsin Finish

There were also some lifers for birding, shooting a few more trail races, and learning new digital photo processing techniques like double exposures (some of which are featured in the video).

Which are your favorite photos of 2016?

Categories
Landscape Michigan

Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge

I got to spend a week in my home state of Michigan recently (both peninsulas). Though I’ve been living in Minneapolis for the last thirty plus years, I’ve been a Yooper and I’ve been a Troll. For those who don’t speak Michiganian, that means I’ve lived in the Upper Peninsula (Yooper) as well as the Lower (Troll, who lives below “the bridge”). “The Bridge” is the one and only Mackinac Bridge, and it’s a beauty!

Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac Bridge as seen from St. Ignace

Mackinac Bridge Trivia

The “Mighty Mac” was built more than 50 years ago and was considered an engineering marvel for it’s time. Many thought it couldn’t be done. The bridge connects the Upper and Lower Peninsula’s of Michigan over the Straits of Mackinac where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet. It is the largest suspension bridge in the Western hemisphere and fifth largest in the world to this day!

The photo simply doesn’t do it justice. Just a few facts and figures from the Mackinac Bridge Authority:

The height of the road deck at the center span is 200 feet above the surface of the water. The deepest part of the channel that runs under the bridge is almost 300 feet. That’s deep water! No wonder many folks thought that building a five mile long bridge couldn’t be done in this particular spot back in the 1950’s!

As amazing a feat as it was, building this bridge was not without consequence. Five men died during construction and a few others have lost their lives working on the bridge since it opened.

Mackinac Bridge Experiences

Being a Michigan native who’s lived in both peninsulas, I’ve made more Mackinac Bridge crossings than I can count. It’s never boring 😉 Two in particular stick in my mind:

There are two things that will shut the bridge down: high wind and poor visibility. Sometimes you get both, especially in winter when a snow squall blows through. After sitting for an hour in a parked traffic jam during one such squall more than 30 years ago, they finally opened the bridge to passenger cars with a bridge escort. High profile vehicles (trucks, campers) and cars pulling trailers still had to wait for better conditions. Those of us in cars would be allowed to cross only with the Mackinac Bridge Authority “pace car” leading the way. We were instructed by the woman at the toll booth to turn our headlights on, don’t lose sight of the car in front of us, don’t try to pass, don’t change lanes, and don’t stop. We were the last car in line and followed the single file caravan behind the pace car doing a blistering 20 mph. It. Took. Forever. When we finally reached the other side, the Mackinac Bridge Authority car did a U turn to lead the next group going the opposite direction and another woman at that end radioed that we had all made it across. They were literally doing a head count. Wowza!

The second white knuckle ride I had was getting behind someone pulling a trailer who apparently was afraid of heights. As I mentioned before, the road on this bridge rises 200 feet above the water and it’s five miles long. All you can see going up is sky and water. Lots and lots of sky and water. Technically, the roadway is part of I-75 with two lanes running each direction. The inside lanes are on metal grates and the outside lanes are asphalt with no shoulder. There is just a 3 foot wide catwalk for workers to walk on, so you are very close to the edge of the bridge on the outer lanes. The metal grates kind of grab your tires a bit and make a humming noise vs being next to the edge on the asphalt. Some people freak. The guy pulling the trailer in front of us did – he had that thing fish-tailing all over the road. Classic “Big Mac Panic Attack”. It happens often enough that the bridge authority has a Timid Driver Program where they will drive your vehicle across for you (for free).  And in case you’re wondering, yes… some people have plunged off the bridge.

Want to see what’s happening on the bridge right now? Check out the bridge cameras to catch a glimpse of the local weather and road conditions. Better yet, hop in your car and see it for yourself. It’s truly a sight to behold! Nothing says “Pure Michigan” like the Mackinac Bridge 🙂

 

Categories
Landscape Michigan Nature Trails

Warren Dunes Michigan

One of the cool things about the Great Lakes is that each one has it’s own personality. I was born and raised in Michigan and my Grandfather was a freighter captain on the Great Lakes, so I’ve had a chance to get to know them a bit. While Lake Superior with her rugged shoreline is the big lake that I visit the most these days, I just had an opportunity to stroll on one of the many long sandy beaches of Lake Michigan that line the western coast of the lower peninsula. These dunes reach more than 250 feet high – and the locals use snow plows to get the sand off the roads after a windy day. Here are a few snaps from a brief visit to Warren Dunes State Park last week near peak fall color season!

Warren Dunes State Park

Peak color season in the third week of October and I almost had the park to myself. During the summer this beach would be packed with swimmers and the hang gliders would be taking off from the 260 foot high dunes.

Lake Michigan Driftwood

A nice stroll on a Lake Michigan beach in southwestern Lower Michigan.

Maple Leaf, Lake Michigan Beach

Maple Leaf on the beach.

Footprints in the Sand

There were more sea gulls than people here today.

Sea Gull, Lake Michigan

I love the color of the water!

Warren Woods

While the beach is relaxing with the rhythmic sound of the waves coming ashore, nearby Warren Woods has short picturesque trails through the woods.

Warren Woods Autumn Forest

Warren Woods at peak fall color.

151109Light Leak1

The Galien River flows right through Warren Woods.

Another fun thing about living near one of the Great Lakes is that the weather can be completely different – and change very rapidly – compared to what it’s doing just a few miles away! By the end of this week, these trees will all be bare and will soon be covered by snow. Much more snow than they’ll get just a few miles inland. Good ‘ole lake effect.

What’s your favorite Great Lake?

What’s your favorite trail to hike in the North Woods in autumn?

What’s your favorite play spot in Michigan? If you haven’t been yet, get on it! 😉

Categories
Michigan Minnesota Nature Special Event Special Offer Wildlife Wisconsin

St. Paul Art Crawl This Weekend

Fall is in the air up here in the North Woods and I’ll be participating in the St. Paul Art Crawl this weekend, October 9 – 11 at Dow Art Gallery and Picture Framing!The art crawl will feature hundreds of artists in several different locations throughout St. Paul.

North Woods Photos Wall at Dow Art Gallery
North Woods Photos Wall at Dow Art Gallery

To see or purchase my work in person, stop by the Dow building and enter through the main entrance on the front of the building, located at 2242 University Ave W in St. Paul. Very close to I-94 and Hwy 280, with free street parking. You can also get free transportation on the green line (get a free ticket at our gallery) or metro transit right to the front door!

I’ll have LOTS of matted and mounted prints with all conservation grade archival papers, inks, and materials on hand – 5×7 prints that fit in an 8×10 frame and 8×10 prints that fit in an 11×14 frame. Many are not available for purchase online and I’ve only printed one copy of most of the photos, so stop by early for the best selection! If you buy 4 prints, you get another print of equal or lesser value FREE! I also have some gallery wrapped canvases and a wood print available for purchase so you can get your holiday shopping done early this year 🙂

Just at Dow Art Gallery and Picture Framing alone, you’ll get to see art by more than 40 artists (photography, paintings, fiber art, sculptures, pottery, and more). There will also be:

  • Make and Take Away Art for Children of all ages,
  • MN Urban Art Contest – vote for your favorite art piece and have a chance to win a $100 Framing Gift Certificate,
  • Featuring Live Music by “The Wall Street Orchestra” performing 7pm to 10pm Friday, 5pm to 8pm Saturday, and 12pm to 3pm Sunday
  • Beer Tasting by Tin Whiskers on Saturday 3pm to 8pm

Hours I plan to be there:

  • Friday Oct 9 from 6-9 pm
  • Saturday Oct 10 from noon – 8 pm
  • Sunday Oct 11 from noon – 5 pm

Hope to see you there!

 

Categories
Landscape Michigan Minnesota Nature Special Offer Wildlife Wisconsin

North Woods Photos Labor Day Sale!

North Woods Photos is having a Labor Day Sale now through Monday, September 7!

Buy Now and get 20% off your entire order with coupon code LABORDAY15 when you order through the online gallery.

Your choice of photographic prints on a variety of paper finishes including the standard luster as well as matte, metallic and pearl, gallery wrapped canvases, metal prints and more!

Wildlife photos including Bald Eagles, Great Horned Owls, a variety of waterfowl, black bears, and more North Woods locals.

Grizzly Toes

Nature photos including butterflies and flowers.

Monarch Butterfly

Beautiful North Woods landscapes from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan that make you wish you were there right now!

Artist Point Sunrise

Abstract nature photos for something a little different.

 

Shrub Rose Lena

As always, all products are produced in professional labs with conservation quality archival inks, papers, and materials. With proper care, they will last longer than you!

Buy Now and bring some North Woods wild to the walls of your home or office at a great price! Makes a great gift, too!

Labor Day Sale offer ends at 11:59 pm Monday, September 7, 2015.

Categories
Landscape Michigan Minnesota Nature Special Offer Uncategorized Wildlife Wisconsin

New In the Photo Gallery for June

I’ve added a few more images to the photo gallery just in time for Father’s Day gift shopping!

New images of Bald Eagles, Moose, Walleye (yes, underwater), Mallard Ducklings (also under water), Monarch Butterflies, Flowers, Waterfalls, and more! Something NEW in each photo gallery to choose from 🙂

Save 20% on metals or canvas ’til June 21, 2015 – but don’t wait! Get it NOW so that your gift gets there in time for Father’s Day 🙂

Coupon DAD2015

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Abstract Black & White Landscape Macro Michigan Minnesota Nature Special Event Wildlife Wisconsin

Take Dad to the North Woods for Father’s Day

I added a few new goodies to the gallery just in time for Father’s Day!

Walleye

Walleye – before you catch ’em!

Ideally, you’ll be able to take your Dad to the North Woods and experience it first hand for yourselves: tromping through hard woods or tall pine forests, fishing or boating one (or more) of the thousands of pristine lakes, relaxing next to a spectacular waterfall, camping under the Northern Lights…. you get the idea.

Willow River Falls

Willow River

But if you can’t, the next best thing would be to give a gift that makes him feel like he went! Choose between photo prints that you can frame yourself, or canvas or metal prints that come ready to hang. Your order can be drop shipped anywhere in the US, so all you have to do is select the image you’d like to send to Dad and we’ll take care of the rest!

Yearling Moose Pair

Yearling Moose Twins

Go to the gallery and ORDER NOW to be sure it gets there before Father’s Day. Use coupon code DAD2015 to get 20% off any size canvas or metal. Offer expires June 21, 2015.