Monday, June 27, 2011

Paddling Five Mile Point

Got out this weekend for a quick sea kayak paddle on Lake Superior and was reminded of what I love about living and working in this region: outdoor options.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Grand Island National Recreation Area are both world class kayaking destinations about 20 minutes from home, and that's where I'm usually lured. This time however, I was looking to fill in some blank spots on my mental map of Lake Superior and stayed a little closer to the farm.

Five Mile Point begins just east of AuTrain at a convenient little wayside with a historical marker and a sweet waterfall. I'm embarrassed to say I had never paddled the point before, but figured a sandstone  point in Lake Superior exposed to northern wind and waves was bound to have an interesting shoreline.

I was not disappointed. It reminded me a lot of the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin--arches, caves, cliffs and creamy swirls of tan and brown sandstone. Just an awesome day paddle, one of many along the Hiawatha Water Trail.

Here are a few quick and dirty snaps from the old iPhone.

For those curious about the boat, it's a Current Designs Isle, a Greenland style boat designed for large paddlers. It has lines like a throwing knife, is fast and straight tracking with tons of volume.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Work-Fantasy Islands

Just got my hands on the July/August issue of Midwest Living magazine. Last August I was asked to shoot the Republic Island Lodge, a small cabin retreat on an island in the Michigamme River near Republic here in the Central Upper Peninsula.

Working with the fine folks at Midwest Living is always a treat, but working with the great owner of the property, Cara Middleton and her family made it even better. In one short evening and an even shorter morning we were able to pull off the assignment under a tight deadline between paying guests.

It's funny, I consider myself a laid back guy, but wow, do I love stress and pressure. Makes you sharp and focused, eliminates distractions and forces you to use your gut. Give me a double scoop of pressure with stress frosting; I'll polish it off and pay the bill with crisp, fresh images.

Here are some shots from the island.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


It's the first day of summer, so time to say goodbye to the season of mud and bugs (in theory) and welcome in sunny beach bliss.

I recently experienced the worst mosquitoes I've ever encountered. No, not Canada. Not even the Everglades, but right here in the good old U.P. while working on a story at Craig Lake State Park. We got off the water at dusk and couldn't even draw a breath. Now, I grew up in a swamp and have a fairly high tolerance for skeeters, but this was unreal.

Here's a photo salute to some past encounters of the insect kind.

Craig Lake State Park

Fishing the Escanaba River

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Isle Royale National Park

Back on the Escanaba River

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sirens of the Stream

Oh man, I can't stay away from the streams this year. Here are some pix from a recent outing on the Paint, Fence and Ontonagon River systems of the Central Upper Peninsula. Gorgeous colors on the fish already this season. Seems early to see brook trout lit up like this. I usually don't see this kind of color until September leading into spawning season.

Tight lines!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lupines are Blooming!

Well, maple syrup season is long over but I still feel like a big dumb old tree with a sweet gooey center. Here’s to my wonderful wife on our 10th wedding anniversary.

Fifteen years ago a couple of kids hopped in a car and headed north in the rain for no reason other than to just be alone together for a day. They drove north as far as they could go in a day and ended up at Black River Harbor. Along the way they picked lupines growing wild in a ditch in front of an abandoned farmstead outside of Bessemer.

Ten years ago they joined each other for life in marriage and moved north to the Upper Peninsula to find themselves like they did those flowers a few years earlier.

Five years ago they found this old abandoned homestead near Chatham with lupines again growing wild in the old pastures. 

Lupines flower in their second season, and are all the more precious for it. Of all the stories I’ve been blessed to be a part of, this is still my favorite.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Early Father's Day Reflection...

Well, Father's Day is coming up and since I spend a lot of time at home with my son, fatherhood is a topic I think about a lot. But, since I spend a lot of time with a toddler, my own brain seems to be becoming more toddlerlike and I'll probably forget to post something when Father's Day actually does arrive. So here it goes!

I love my job. I get to do fun (sometimes crazy) things in a creative way and interact with other creative people. It's a hoot. But when the dust settles and the stories and photos are out the door, I look around and realize my greatest creative acts are those of fatherhood.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Of course these weren't solo acts, so hats off to my great wife too. And of course, I try to remember warm fuzzy thoughts like this when there is sidewalk chalk on window screens, crayon on the walls and marker just about everywhere (washable though!). I guess the creative gene lives on!

To the brave, creative act of parenthood!