…I guess it really isn’t a question. I’ve been doing so for 8+ years now. Approximately 50 miles each way; 100 miles a day.
Monday – Friday, Red Wing to St. Paul, more specially, Energy Park Drive. It’s just a hop, skip and maybe a jump or three from the State Fair grounds on Snelling Avenue. This season [State Fair time] is particularly unpleasant. The fair traffic coupled with another Minnesota season, road construction, conjures up some ugly traffic. I won’t even begin to mention the light rail project running down University Avenue that is right in my path. I am somewhat fortunate though; I need only negotiate the barricades and cones as the workers haven’t even begun at the time I roll through that construction zone.
I do not have any desire to live anywhere close to or in any concrete jungle. The only mild appeal would be my interest in street photography. This has been on my list of things to do for some time now, but I rarely have an opportunity to do much…or I should say make the time. Living in Red Wing, MN doesn’t afford the same opportunities that say, downtown St. Paul or Minneapolis would.
I do very much enjoy living in Red Wing, MN. Situated along the northern edge of the Driftless Area, this section of Minnesota has several river and stream valleys between towering bluffs and rolling hills flanked by endless acres of fertile farmland. It’s close proximity to Wisconsin is another plus. For those of you that visit my blog regularly, you know I spend plenty of time there. It is hard to image living in any city of substantial size when this is all I have ever experienced and enjoyed. The two hours out of my day I spend commuting (fair weather time anyhow; winter can be a very different story) is worthy trade. I use this time to reflect on what has been as well as what is to come.
If I lived in St. Paul where I work, I would miss out on the many splendors of nature that are so vividly stretched out before me along my route. I have come to really enjoy a particular segment of my commute – Hwy 50. I travel the section just West of Meisville through New Trier to Hampton where I get on Hwy 52 for the last leg of my daily course . The rolling hills, valleys and farmland along this stretch are very picturesque. The sunrises and sunsets are often colorful; every once in a while I am treated to a pretty spectacular one. I had strayed away from bringing my camera with me everyday. I’ve missed capturing some pretty spectacular scenes as they unfolded in the wee-early morning light. As of a month ago I changed that. I rarely leave home without a camera now. I pack my older and lighter D60 with me most everywhere I go now.
This morning I was met with a detour in my path along Hwy 50 – nothing unexpected; the sign along side the road has told me so for a week now. I’ve explored many of these country roads on my way home from work looking for old barns, distressed building and anything else interesting. This morning’s detour was a good one. I rolled on by a farm next to a pond and caught a glimpse in my rear view mirror; it was pretty spectacular.
Most of these images where capture right along Hwy 50, with the exception of this morning (1-6 & two pans P-18othStE & P-Co Rd 62).
I’ve been meaning to introduce my partner in life & photography for some time now, but have neglected to do so until now. Without further ado I would like to acquaint you all with Cyndie’s photo blog – Find the Beauty. I am looking forward to her upcoming posts from our travels over the last several months.
She see’s things (most of them shiny) that others, including myself, pass by without much notice. Her keen eye for light and details amazes me. She is, in a sense, super photographer woman; although shorter in stature, she has the amazing ability to leap through the first story window of an abandon home in a single bound (and before you have closed your car door )
She is the single-best thing to come into my life. To say she is a ray of sunshine would be an understatement; there is always laughter, smiles or both. I am grateful for all of the inspiration and encouragement she has given me. It is absolutely wonderful being with someone who shares your passions in life and I am ever-thankful for her.
If you enjoy my blog you are sure to enjoy hers as well. Check her out @ Find the Beauty.
After the back to back spectacular sunrise and fog shoots we headed for Forestville. A course loosely plotted in my head and certainly subject to change.
We drove through a tiny little town called Saratoga - population: very few. There we were greeted with a “Save Your Seed” sign on the side of house badly in need of some paint. Just across the way Cyndie spotted an old run down building – the Old Saratoga Creamery. We didn’t get much time to shoot as we were quickly shooed away by a neighbor of the property.
There is nothing like a road closure to mix up your plan a bit. We managed and found a different route to Forestville. Along the way we found a couple neat barns and some wildlife. Two of my favorites subjects. Forestville itself was just o.k. The one gentleman playing the part of the town folk was a titch crabby for my taste; I suspect it stems from his day-long conversations with chickens. I think one of the best shots of the day was here, but had nothing to do with the historic little town. A young lass in hip boots and floppy hat came wadding by under the old iron bridge fly fishing for trout. I am pretty happy with the black & white photo of her.
It got to be mid day, the sun was high and the temperature was rising – as was the hunger of the group. We headed into near-by Preston for a bit to eat and exchange accounts of our very different morning shoots.
With full belly’s we headed off to Lanesboro to walk around a bit. The hustle and bustle of this popular town was in full swing. Hikers, bikers, and tubers oh my. They were everywhere. With the Root River running through the area, it draws tons of tourist. It’s really a beautiful area and one of my favorites in SE Minnesota. Cyndie and I were here last in March when we backroadin’ through the area for two days (day 1 & day 2).
Time sure flies when you are having fun. It was almost late afternoon and time to head for home. I am not one for direct routes, especially when there is time. Cyndie and I looked over the Minnesota Gazetteer and plotted a course for home on roads we haven’t been on. This is becoming more of a challenge each time. As luck would have it – as it consistently happens, we ran across a two abandoned farmsteads. The first was disappointing and the outbuildings were still in pretty good shape. The second appeared more promising, but I stayed roadside on a chance that the deer that just crossed the road behind us would head my way; they never showed up. The very last encounter was with a very old school house or church – perhaps both. I can’t wait to get back to it once the corn is picked.
Another great road trip!
The sunrise looking out over the Weaver bottoms was absolutely beautiful. This wasn’t my first choice of locations for the shoot, but rather an afterthought – a quickly formulated audible to the morning playbook after looking out over the original destination 3 miles up the road on Cty Rd 26.
We started our day extra-double-super-duper early (that’s a titch before 4 a.m.). We readied ourselves and packed our gear whilst guzzling our barely morning brew. After meeting up with a fellow RWPC photography, Jeff Marcus, at 4:45 a.m. our course was set for Weaver, MN. We arrived at the overlook on Cty Rd 26 – just a bit East of the river and Hwy 61 – plenty early. The first morning’s light was arriving and the view of the fog in the valley was epic. The angle just wasn’t optimal for sunrise and the fog would likely be more of a hindrance as this level. We all agreed that this would be the place for some hopefully fantastic post-sunrise shots. We were correct. It was PSB, a.k.a Post Sunrise Bliss!
This is the same location of a pano I did back in March.
This area is one of my favorites in Southeast Minnesota. The Whitewater river valley is very picturesque. Hwy 74 from Weaver to Elba parallels the Whitewater River the whole distance. The scenery is fantastic and the opportunities to see wildlife are almost guaranteed. How much wildlife you see depends greatly on the amount of vehicle traffic. This morning was busy for some reason or other, but we saw a good bit. The Sandhill’s are in the area now and the waterfowl will be moving into this sanctuary very soon.
A great sunrise and epic fog; the day was just beginning! After making our way to Elba and a quick pit stop at the local convenience store, we were on our way to Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park. A few other RWPC photographers were taking part in the photography cave tour this same morning.
Another gorgeous morning for a sunrise on the Mississippi River. This Saturday’s location was the Weaver Bottoms where the Whitewater River flows into the Mississippi River. There were just enough clouds to add some substance to the sky and the fog was an extra bonus…as was the train streaking through the scene .
Another 2x kayaking weekend – woohoo! Cyndie and decided to check out the Chippewa River. Our in/out point was off of Hwy 35 just East of Pepin, WI. There is a nice landing just East of the bridge. The right side of the first island up from the bridge is hardly navigable (most of the way); we quickly turned around an opted to go around the other side. The water was very shallow which made paddling in this swift current rather difficult, hence the very short up-river paddle. There are plenty of sandbars on this river to stop and rest at and take in the beautiful scenery. The eagles really like these shallow tributaries to the Mississippi; at the furthest point North that we went, there were no less than a dozen eagles flying about and hanging out on the shoreline. There were another dozen of so down by the railroad trestle. As you can see by the map, we didn’t make if very far. It was a lovely day with great weather and big white poofy clouds filled the sky.
I think our next trip to the Chippewa will be coordinated with Will ‘n’ Jill’s Great Adventures. They offer a shuttle to two points up river: Ella, WI (8 mile run) and Durand, WI (15 mile run). They also rent tubes, kayaks and canoes. They also offer outings on Lake Pepin. Reservations are highly appreciated.
Will ‘n’ Jill’s Great Adventures
210 Lake Street, Suite #3
Pepin, WI 54759
In a perfect organized and non-forgetting world – yes. Yippee, Friday is here. I called my friend Doug to see if he was up for a paddle; he was game. Neither of us have paddled the Zumbro River before and decided to give it a go.
I knew of a parking lot near Kellogg, MN in the Krueger Recreation Area from back-roadin’ around the area. This was our exit point [our original one anyway (B)] and where we would leave Doug’s truck. We pulled in, parked and started to transfer his gear from his truck to my car; then it happened. An “oh snap” moment heard around…well our immediate area anyway. I didn’t see Doug pull out his life jacket and paddle from behind his truck seat; so I asked. ”Aren’t you going to grab your jacket and paddle?” To which he pulled the seat back and the look on his face was priceless – as was the string of expletives that followed. No paddle; no jacket. These things happen.
After a brief discussion on how improvisation of the missing integral components of kayaking would not be possible, we began to brain-storm on how to avoid the trip all the way back home to retrieve the forgotten items. Our first mission was to acquire a signal – no service in this valley. Back out to Hwy 61. After much calling around we now knew that there wasn’t a paddle to be bought any closer than our drive home. There was hope though. In researching the area of our current adventure (<– always a smart plan as you never know what your day will bring) I ran across an outfitter in the area that has rentals and does shuttles on the Zumbro. Zumbro River Ratz was located in the vicinity of acceptable paddle-plan deviation. A rental paddle was secured in short order and our plans adjusted accordingly. We relocated Doug’s truck to Theilman [A] and drove to Millville [C] to retrieve the paddle. If you are in the area and ever find yourself…well up a river in this case, without a paddle, Zumbro River Ratz has you covered. Thanks Lisa!
We launched out of Reads Park in Millville. The Zumbro is a very clear river. There were numerous times I saw small mouth bass swimming along side my kayak. I was pleased to also see that there wasn’t as much trash as the Cannon. Although the Zumbro was a lot shallower than the Cannon, the current was nice and it was a great paddle. We didn’t encounter even one spot where we had to drag the boats. There were lots of eagles on this stretch, both immature and matures. I missed a great photo op as the immature was so well camo’d when I passed directly underneath – a mere ten feet away. Needless to say I was a bit startled when it decided to fly. We encountered a noisy lot of geese in a few different areas. They didn’t pay us much attention because they were two busy monitoring the eagles swooping from overhead. There was plenty of young tender geese with the bunch. There was no shortage of wildlife. Songbirds galore, king fishers, and even a young whitetail deer on the edge of the river munching away.
After a few miles of wonderful relaxing paddling, Doug decided to bring some excitement to the drift. You’ll notice in one of the photo’s Doug appears to be wrestling with some downed trees in the river. Well…the current does funny things at times and if you get too close to an obstruction it will pull you in and pin you down. That was precisely what occurred; I narrowly missed the same fate. I heard from behind me, “oh OH,” and I had a pretty good idea what was going on. With camera in-hand I turned around to see Doug wrestling with the downed trees and his boat taking on water, not to mention the paddle slipping off the bow. About face – paddle paddle paddle – retrieve paddle – giggle – paddle paddle. The boat finally released from his grasp and I managed to push the half-sunk craft to the sandbar to which Doug had a refreshing swim to.
A wonderful afternoon filled with adventure on the Zumbro!
We could not have asked for a better morning to take in a sunrise. Lots of clouds and wonderful color; the mist burning off was a lovely bonus. Maple Springs, at the foot of Lake Pepin, is an excellent place for a sunrise. The wide expanse of water, bluffs, rocky shoreline and even the railroad tracks provide a great setting.
After our sunrise shoot we went to the public access in Old Frontenac to look for beach treasure. Nothing much to speak of really, but Cyndie found a big ‘ol shiny rock to tote home (last photo ). We drag all kinds of artifacts home from out travels; mostly interesting rocks to work into the landscaping.
Double-good weekend; x2 for kayaking. Cyndie and I took the wieners for a paddle on Saturday. Strong swimmers they are not, but they ride mostly fine once they get that jumping out idea out of their heads. Tindra and Audrey were all eyes on the shorelines of the WI Mississippi back channel, all ears for every bird tweet and call and nostrils flaring at all those interesting river smells. It was a great couple-hours paddle and the girls certainly enjoyed their time on and off the water. We had a short 10 minutes ride home afterward; I don’t think their eyes were open after the first five. Lots of excitement makes the wieners tired.
Here is another series of photo’s from the backyard oasis. It is a great time of year with many plants in bloom, bugs galore and even a wily wiener milling about in the blooms.