Take a hike


I’m not really an “Outdoors Person.” I have always appreciated and stood in awe of nature.  Look, I even have a Pinterest board about it. But the simple fact is, I’m just more comfortable indoors. I’ve mentioned before, that in the summer, I really hate being outside unless it’s by a lake. I just prefer the cold. I’ve been lucky in my life to venture to a few stunning natural destinations though… Flathead National Forest in Montana (I went there with my church in the summer before my Junior year in High School. It’s a gorgeous place I hope to get back to someday) and the Lake Taupo region of New Zealand, where there is the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre, and I spent 3 weeks the summer before my Senior year in High School. Both of these times in my life made a significant impact on me, and shaped me in my youth, and yet I’ve always claimed to hate hiking. I guess, more specifically, I hate group hiking, where I am being led, and sometimes it’s hot. Ugh.
CRW_5810 CRW_5811 CRW_5823 CRW_5825 CRW_5826
CRW_5833 CRW_5837

Anyway, back in the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s, I had a long vacation from work. I had a new camera, and nothing to do, so I thought I might venture north to Jay Cooke State Park, which is only about 2 hours away from the city. It was a good, noble though, something to for sure get me out of my comfort zone, because I don’t travel alone hardly ever, and I don’t spend a lot of times in the outdoors. Well, that didn’t happen. Something about taking that leap just spooked me. Addtionally, I design the Outdoors Weekend section for the Star Tribune so I was feeling like a bit of a charlatan. The last several months have seen a shift in my interests though. I started following closely the work of Owen Perry who has a great, stylistic eye for outdoors photography. Then I went on my honeymoon  and felt a surge of confidence in my photo-taking abilities. I became fully consumed by the idea of nature photography. And last weekend’s journey to the Upper Peninsula just about sealed it. I knew I had to get outside more, and I wanted to go places, and see mountains and forests and rivers. All the time. And I wanted to be there with my camera.
CRW_5853 CRW_5899 CRW_5881 CRW_5866 CRW_5909 CRW_5904 CRW_5903

I got a chance this weekend because my section needed some photos, and I volunteered to take some of fall colors. It’s still early yet for color in the cities though, so I went North on Saturday, to Jay Cooke State Park, because I felt like I still owed the park a visit. It’s completely different than it would’ve been if I had gone during the Polar Vortex. Maybe I will go back this winter, too. Especially a place that’s so easy to get to.
Not only do I feel like I have a better eye for Photography than before, but I think my processing techniques get better and better with each session. I’d even compare these photos to the ones in this post.  It feels like I’m throwing those photos under the bus! I just had less of an idea of how I wanted those to look.CRW_5918 CRW_6007 CRW_6006 CRW_6005 CRW_6004 CRW_6003 CRW_6001 CRW_6000 CRW_5999 CRW_5994 CRW_5985 CRW_5984 CRW_5981 CRW_5978 CRW_5975 CRW_5973 CRW_5954 CRW_5951 CRW_5949 CRW_5946 CRW_5940 CRW_5939 CRW_5934 CRW_5933 CRW_5930

It actually turns out I’m a pretty adept hiker. I did take my sweet time on this particular walk, since I was taking so many photos. What should’ve been a 20 minute hike took the better part of 90 minutes, and even though I was sweaty, and wearing jeans, I still tramped off the path and got in the mud and laid on my back in the dirt. I really want to go back, when I’m not on an assignment, and I can camp. I’d like to spend all day with this place, instead of a quick 2 hours.
CRW_6011 CRW_6092 CRW_6088 CRW_6081 CRW_6080 CRW_6079  CRW_6074 CRW_6073 CRW_6072
This kind of feels like a coming of age blog post. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
CRW_6060 CRW_6057 CRW_6056 CRW_6043 CRW_6041 CRW_6037 CRW_6036 CRW_6034

I was famished afterwords because I hadn’t eaten in about 5 hours and I spent 2 hours hiking in sweltering heat in jeans. Sooooo… The first Chipotle in like, the top half of Minnesota opened in Duluth recently, and I had to go there. Truthfully, it was annoying, BUT Duluth is on a great big hill, and SHIT the views from up there are incredible. So, bonus photos.

CRW_6093 CRW_6100

Crusin’ (in the U.P.) part II: Ancient Stones

Part I is here

Ok so I’ve mentioned a few times that this trip — FOR SOME REASON — reminded me of, and subsequently made me really want to play Skyrim. I only play a couple video games to be honest, but Skyrim is one of them, and I LOVE IT. Gorgeous landscapes, mythical storyline, DRAGONS…? You get to be an ancient Nordic hero and I looove that. I gone and purchased the soundtrack while up there in the UP. Go and listen to this song from the soundtrack, called “Ancient Stones,” which is fitting, because our Lake Superior cruise on Monday was ALL ABOUT ROCKS. YES.  See? I brought it back around. I know how to structure a blog post.

CRW_5513 CRW_5514 CRW_5541 CRW_5532 CRW_5530 CRW_5524
To be fair, this really reminds me of Fable III.CRW_5517 CRW_5549 CRW_5555 CRW_5558

I wasn’t super paying attention, but let’s see if I got this right: The Upper Peninsula was, at one point, just a huge rock. And this was like, MILLIONS of years ago. Mainly, when most of the world was just a big rock. Then like, glaciers and stuff, BOOM, melted, creating a ton of lakes in the midwest region. Minnesota has such a low elevation we got the brunt of the water flow. Hence the state of ~10,000 lakes. Lake Superior carved out all these nice rocks, which are Limestone I believe, and then thousands of years of erosion and rust have givin them a very painterly look, so,  they call them The Pictured Rocks. My sister-in-law mentioned this was kind of a touristy thing, but I believe that sometimes a tourist trap is a tourist trap for good reason (just never go to Madam Tussauds ANYWHERE). Hilariously, we saw a lot of signs for the Pictured Rocks on our way up there, which advertised that they were featured in the Kid Rock video “Born Free.”  I was REALLY sold then.

CRW_5564 CRW_5565 CRW_5592 CRW_5560
Our nephew, Petoskey, who is actually named after the state rock of Michigan, really liked hanging out with us during this trip, and especially during the cruise.CRW_5621
CRW_5624 CRW_5634 CRW_5635 CRW_5648 CRW_5660 CRW_5662 CRW_5663 CRW_5666
Eventually I lost my window seat facing the rocks so I took a lot of pictures out in the back. Which was more fun anyway, so who cares.
*~The Newlyweds~*
CRW_5689 CRW_5692 CRW_5691 CRW_5698
Alan took a picture of me, after I set up the camera for him. I seriously need to teach him how to just use it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
CRW_5702 CRW_5704 CRW_5712
Too many pictures of waves? Make one of them black & white. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
CRW_5742 CRW_5741 CRW_5738 CRW_5715 CRW_5751 CRW_5749 CRW_5748 CRW_5745 CRW_5744
Why take pictures of a  FEW THINGS when different things are happening ALL THE TIME? This is why I always have the camera.
Afterwards, little niece Athena came running to me (she and Gramma), because she found a big bear, and she wanted a picture of it.  Oh my god, even the 3 year old is ultra-aware that I am a camera fiend. Gahd.
Isn’t this the CUTEST?

This was such a fantastic trip. If we could make it a yearly thing, I would be 100% down for it. Though it could never be exactly be the same. Remember what I was saying about nostalgia? I can never be satisfied. I’m too full of longing. Cue melancholy piano music from Skyrim.

Crusin’ (in the U.P.) part I

CRW_5285 CRW_5296 CRW_5295
Monday was a big day. There was the wedding, and then a near 3 hour cruise the whole family took in the evening. As a result, I took almost 1000 photos that day. Over 5 GB. More than I took on my entire Honeymoon. By the end of the trip, I had become known to Alan’s family as the one with the camera. The nut who just can’t put it down. I’m mostly ok with it though. Who is going to take pictures of family vacations if NOBODY takes pictures? They’re worth something to me. I have tons of photos of me when I was a kid, and to me that says “My parents made a conscious effort to get out a camera and document this.” These days it’s smart phones, which, sure, they take fine pictures, but it doesn’t feel the same as taking a *real* photo. In my time developing a photography habit, I feel that the growth has been noticeable. I’ve learned about light, exposure, lenses, and it fills me with confidence that if I could learn these things on my own, then I can keep learning, and keep fostering those skills. So now all my family knows about this obsessive hobby and pokes fun at it, but I also like to hope they’re secretly grateful that someone is around, getting all this… Even if I do take it to the extreme.
CRW_5300 CRW_5311 CRW_5343
Did you know Lake Superior is the best lake? Now you know.
CRW_5344 CRW_5350 CRW_5361 CRW_5373 CRW_5380 CRW_5391  CRW_5396 CRW_5410 CRW_5492 CRW_5489 CRW_5486 CRW_5483
I can’t  really emphasize the pleasure I got, running around on this boat, with a crisp, cool air wooshing past me, and the late summer sun on my face, while in a mostly pretty sparsely populated boat, just having free reign to take photos of everything.
CRW_5473 CRW_5467 CRW_5463 CRW_5455 CRW_5452 CRW_5437 CRW_5425 CRW_5424  CRW_5417 CRW_5494 CRW_5500 CRW_5506 CRW_5503 CRW_5509
It’s hard to know where to stop on this one. I choose to stop here. Because I just really like those photo. I don’t know what is in my brain that makes me look at a landscape and think “This reminds me of that video game I like to play.” Alan said it was a tribute to the game developers and their skill in making a realistic universe. I worry that I am become less and less attached to reality, since I’m just thinking about displacing myself from the real world and wanting to insert myself into a digital one. Maybe it’s an innocent sense of escapism. Maybe it’s that I have a huge, constantly running imagination and I always want to picture myself adventuring in a pure, natural landscape, largely untouched by people.  Huh.

Being able to retreat to the woods, on the cusp of fall, staying in a surprisingly cushy, yet still modest hotel — with wifi, and TV, was exactly what I needed, and now know it’s exactly what I really want. Being able to wake up to a view of a quiet lake, surrounded by trees, with french press coffee in the morning, and then go on hikes in the afternoon with my husband, then do work on a little table at night while drinking beers, and starting over the next day. It’s the ideal. Minneapolis, you are great, but to have the immediacy of nature, and a few creature comforts, and not to be burdened by anything else in life, is not something you can totally offer.

I’ll post the second half of the cruise photos later on!

Wedding in the woods

CRW_4854“Wedding in the woods” was included on Alan’s and my wedding invitations, but for his sister Jessy, and her now husband Eli, it was actually true.
CRW_4837 CRW_4839
Jessy and Eli have already been together for a long time, and have three children to prove it. Their wedding ceremony was very small, extremely intimate, and also superbly located at the bottom of a waterfall — at the end of a narrow dirt path up hills and under boulders.
CRW_5005 CRW_5002 CRW_5022
To be clear: I was not the official photographer. I was given the OK to take pictures but I also felt sort of awkward doing so, like I was trying to show up the photographer! But an intimate wedding at a waterfall at 10 AM in the UP? I didn’t have a choice, guys.
CRW_4890_1 CRW_4913 CRW_4912 CRW_4910 CRW_5044 CRW_5053CRW_4908 CRW_4903 CRW_4896 CRW_4915 CRW_5043 CRW_4978CRW_4916 CRW_4918 CRW_4919
The ceremony was over in about 5 minutes.
CRW_4920 CRW_4922 CRW_4925
Alan was asked to be witness, too.
They’re pretty cute.
CRW_4929 CRW_4966 CRW_4954 CRW_4946 CRW_4944 CRW_4937
Afterwards a few of us walked to a neighboring waterfall for more photos. Alan and I went because the bride and groom were our ride.
CRW_5113 CRW_5114 CRW_5119 CRW_5123 CRW_5125
It’s like a little fairy forest!
CRW_5138 CRW_5146 CRW_5151
And then, the “reception”….
CRW_5177 CRW_5204 CRW_5203 CRW_5189
Pasties. The local cuisine of the Upper Peninsula. Alan and I got to know these guys pretty well in London. I would’ve eaten 5 of those things but that wouldn’t have been sensible. We got some frozen ones and are going to eat them in about, oh, half an hour.
CRW_5216 CRW_5234 CRW_5228 CRW_5226
Before heading back to the hotel we stopped briefly at the Superior shore to buy boat tickets (which is coming up shortly.)

Congrats, Jessy & Eli! Much love <33

Gloomy the U.P.

CRW_4580Attention, younger Caroline from two days ago. PACK LAYERS. For the love of god, pack layers and a rain jacket.
It rained so much the first part of the summer, I thought it would be worth it to buy an actual rain jacket for myself, and I always seem to leave it at home and then it just POURS.
We met up with Alan’s family in their cabin, cooked up some delicious breakfast, played with Star Wars toys (courtesy us) and went  out to look at Waterfalls, which sounded like an unpleasant prospect, given that I only had a zip up hoodie for warmth. I’m still also getting over this cold AND I wasn’t showered at the time and felt gross. BUT. It ended up being alright anyway.
CRW_4610CRW_4622 CRW_4624CRW_4623
This one was pretty easy to get to.CRW_4681 CRW_4687 CRW_4689CRW_4695
And then there was quite a bit of forest to walk through for the next one. Absolutely beautiful path though — it reminded me of some fantasy forest. Then again, almost every landscape makes me think I’m in some fantastical place. This trip has made me think a lot about Skyrim. DON’T ASK WHY….. I ended up buying the soundtrack while on this trip and have been listening to it while editing photos. Woo escapism.
CRW_4703CRW_4706 CRW_4723CRW_4724
It was blustery as hell out there. My mother-in-law lent me a windbreaker at least. Ugh, I was really missing my jacket though. It was brand new. It was a Columbia, and I got it on super sale. :(
CRW_4727 CRW_4736CRW_4737 CRW_4738
This was probably the first time I’ve actually switched between my two lenses.
CRW_4744 CRW_4749 CRW_4753 CRW_4754CRW_4758CRW_4765CRW_4759CRW_4776
LOOK AT THIS RAVEN. After we got back up to the cars, I used the bathroom and came out and this enormous raven was sitting on a post and people were standing around taking pictures.  My god. He was huge.
CRW_4779 CRW_4782
So metal.

Tomorrow is my sister-in-law’s wedding. It’ll be in the morning at another waterfall, and it promises to be much warmer and much sunnier. Can’t wait to show photos from THAT.


%d bloggers like this: