Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thoughts From the Road - Trekking Poles and Ticks

Today all three of my perfect hiking conditions (see previous post) were blown to smithereens.

We hiked down into the canyon from the Painted Canyon visitor's center at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

First of all even though we started at 9:30 a.m. it was hot. Like upper 70's hot, which only got hotter once we were down in the canyon.

Since the trail was narrow I gave Glen one of my trekking poles to use. It was easier navigating with only one. Trekking poles are a Godsend when climbing or going down hill. That extra stability is a true confidence builder for me. 

On to number two of my perfect hiking bugs. Let me just say the ticks were plentiful. 
I had been warned out this by my dear friend Roxi, so we were prepared. Long pants, pants tucked into our socks, and hiking boots. Still they found a way to hitch a ride and follow us back to the hotel. 

Number three - No Snakes. Again shot to crap. Yes, we saw a rattlesnake. Glen was thrilled, and I was high tailing it out of there. Sorry no picture for this one, you will just have to trust me.

All that said and done, it was still a great hike. This is what I did personal training and High Intensity Interval training for, to have the strength and stamina to do these hikes. 

One of my friends commented on my last post that the land looks so barren, and it is, but it also makes me really appreciate where I live. Where I have trees and woods, and shade, and Great Lakes. 

As long as I have the choice, I would much rather be out in the canyon exploring than viewing this landscape from the window of a coach tour bus or a car. You miss so much when you take the easy way. You definitely won't see a rattler from your window, or the herd of bison we saw last night. I will post those pictures when we get home, they are on my dSLR. Pretty amazing to watch a herd of 50-75 buffalo cross the road in front of you. To listen to the noises they make is truly awe inspiring. 

We are trying to take a selfie from each of our hikes, so here is today's:

I told you it was hot!

Thoughts From the Road - I Hate Snakes

I am one of those hikers who really likes the perfect conditions for hiking. Those conditions would be:
1. Not too hot or humid, I prefer temperatures in the 60's or 70's. 
2. No bugs. 
3. And definitely NO SNAKES!!

Well unfortunately or fortunately, depending if you are me or you are Glen, those conditions are rarely met and I still go anyway. 

Today was one of those days. We drove down a rutted, red dirt, two track to get to the Petrified Forest trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  We are staying in a nearby town for the next couple of days. 

Now I hate snakes with a passion, and there are rattle snakes here in Theodore Roosevelt. So as soon as we got out of the car I could hear things rattling. 

Granted they were one grasshoppers, but hey I have a good imagination. 

So we set off, loaded down with four water bottles, gluten free granola bars, and my iPhone for the camera. It was 11:30 in the morning so I knew the chances of getting any really good photos was not very good so why bother carrying my dSLR. 

Mallory and I have been to the Petrified Forest in Arizona, but Glen has never seen petrified wood so he was anxious to see some. 

We walked slowly and carefully, always on the lookout for rattlers. I, of course made Glen go first. This slowly and carefully gave me time to take some photos along the way. 

And a little processing fun as well.

I was surprised for as rocky as some areas were, there also was a lot of grassland. We also commented, for a National Park, there was not another soul in sight. We made bets on the way back whether we would see another human being. Glen won, we came across a family of six, three small boys, a baby, and mom and dad, about a quarter of the way into the trail. 

Our selfie at our turn around point, which was about 1-1/2 hours into the hike in 80 degree temperatures. Again, HOT not being on my criteria list. 

After a 2-1/2 hour hike in the hot, fly and tick infested, snake potential grasslands and petrified rocks we made it back to the car. I never saw a snake, but I still swear I heard rattling. 

Just so you know we are not the only crazy Michiganders to do this hike. On the registration log, the two families ahead of us were both from Michigan. 

What a small world it is. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Thoughts From The Road - Tenting

I want to start by saying I am not opposed to camping or tenting. We spent many of our early married  years tenting and then switched to a pop-up shortly before we had Mallory. So I am no stranger to the outdoor lifestyle.

Friday was the start of our two week road trip out to Montana and back. Friday night we spent in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Indian Lake State Park.

Indian Lake State Park is one of my favorite places to camp. We have lots of wonderful memories of camping there with our little family of three.  Our pop-up is long gone but we have a very nice 5 person tent now.

Friday night was my first night in a tent in a very long time. We made sure we bought really good air mattresses before this trip, so I wasn't too worried about the sleeping part. Although I did not sleep worth a toot that first night. Thanks to the fact that it was windy so every zipper on the tent rattled and it seemed I had to go to the bathroom every two hours. It is a lot of work to get out of the tent in the middle of the night, find your sandals to wear, not trip over any of the guylines in the dark, and wander up to the bathroom in your pajamas. I would never wander down my street at home in my pajamas so I am not sure what makes it acceptable in a campground. Except the fact that I will never see these people again, unlike my neighbors who I will see many times. 

Needless to say I was a little bit sleepy on Saturday. 

Saturday and Sunday we spent in Bayfield, WI near Apostle Island National Lakeshore. We stayed at a private campground there.  I slept much better both those nights, but I would like to know why private campgrounds always put tenters in the most wooded area of the park, the people who are the least able  to defend themselves against mosquitoes. 

Tonight we are in a very nice mosquitoe free hotel, where I only have to walk 15 feet to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night and nobody will see me in my pajamas. 

The hotel was planned. I am no dummy, three nights of tenting, three nights of hotel, then two nights of tenting and two nights at a historic lodge at Glacier National Park and then two nights tenting again. This way Glen and I are both happy, which is exactly what marriage is about - compromise. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Favorite Frosted Bottles - Friday Finds

It will be short and sweet this week, since we are starting our vacation today. It has been a busy week getting everything ready, but I still found some time to work on class lessons and play with my camera.

I love collecting old frosted bottles.

I have found some beautiful ones this spring. Some I found at my favorite Antique Mall and the others I found at the monthly outdoor Antique Show.

I think these frosted bottles showcase a simple flower perfectly.

See you all in a couple of weeks. Hopefully I will have some fabulous new finds from vacation to share.

Joining Kim Klassen for Friday Finds.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Texture Tuesday

This is my very first time participating in Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.

Textures used: kk_carmel and kk_gracie
I am enjoying her new class Start to Finish so much. I learn best when a process is presented from the very beginning, i.e. scene set up, all the way through to the finished product.

I really hesitated on taking this class because it is right in the middle of summer, we are leaving soon for a two week vacation with limited internet access along the way, and life is just busy. I will get a little behind, but what I am learning will serve me well for a very long time.

It is also a great time because flowers are bountiful.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Never Enough Time

My husband was gone from Monday morning until Thursday night this week. So I had four days ahead of me to get lots of projects done. I made To-Do Lists every morning and worked on crossing things off my list and adding new things as I thought of them.

I found that even with four days to myself there was still never enough time to get everything done on the list.  The things that kept getting moved from list to list each day but never crossed off, were the creative things that I wanted to do. For example work on my "about me" page on my blog. This is something that I have wanted to work on since taking Susannah Conway's Blogging from the Heart class. I even have notes for it on Ever Note on my phone, but yet it remains undone.

Finally yesterday, my busiest day of the week, I made the time to get something I really wanted to do done. 

Kim Klassen's new class Start to Finish started on Wednesday. I was very good and watched all the videos on Wednesday night, so I knew what I needed to do for the first assignment. 

Yesterday morning I set up my still life on the front porch.

I shot to my heart's content, even though I had to be at the Furniture Store I work at on Thursday mornings by 10 a.m.

Yesterday afternoon after a haircut and color, I had time to load my images onto my laptop and begin the culling process. Which by the way, I always do cull right away. I learned the hard way on that subject with thousands too many photos in iPhoto and my computer froze up, now I delete the bad ones right away. Once in a while I regret deleting a photo, but not very often.

I watched Kim's lesson and worked on my photos at the same time. It felt so good to be savoring this creative process and transforming my photo before my very eyes.

I have only gone through all the steps with one photo so far...

Finished Image
I hope to work on the rest of the ones that were keepers this weekend and post the finished images on my blog that is strictly photography related Field Notes & Photos.

What I found this week is that I need to balance household chores with creative pleasures and I will be a much happier girl.

Joining Kim's Friday Finds today.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

On Assignment

I really don't mind going places by myself. It's just that for the last two months when I turned the car in this direction my daughter has been in the passenger seat. She selects the tunes on the iPod, usually Michelle Chamuel from this season's The Voice, favorite song Somewhere Only We Know. So to ease the sadness I felt, I charged up the iPod and put on some Michelle Chamuel.

My reason for going this direction in the first place is because I was on an assignment from my personal trainer, Maribeth. She wanted to go out hiking somewhere that would include stairs and a variety of terrain to simulate what it will be like hiking in Glacier National Park.

I was to hike and climb for as long as I could to test my endurance, which is what we have been focusing on for the last month, as we prepare me for the trip. While I was doing this I was to stop and take pictures just like I will be doing in a couple of weeks. All the while paying attention to how my body felt and what, if anything was achy.

I had another motivation as well. I have missed going on my weekly photo walks, missed going out and exploring new places. So this week is the restarting of those photo walks, which I am going to call Weekly Wanderings.

This lady intrigued me. She was wearing a coat, and it was quite warm out, as well as the fact, that she kept looking out into the water, not just leisurely strolling along. I wondered what her story was...

I was allowed to stop and rest since I am sure hoping that we will do that when we are hiking. This spot was perfect, looking out over the water with a cool breeze washing over me.

As I climbed back up the stairs from the beach, I put my camera away thinking that I was done taking pictures for the day and to make the load a little more comfortable.

I should learn never to put my camera away. As I traveled back along the path I saw a couple up ahead of me taking pictures of something brown with white spots. A fawn. They were so close they could have touched it. The lady showed me the pictures she had taken, a couple were real keepers. Fortunately the fawn did not take off, but wandered under the stairs we were on and down into a ravine, then it climbed up the hill under the stairs and laid down. 

Of course I had to go off the path (slightly) and look for him/her and this is what I found...

It was really dark under there, but thankfully shooting in RAW, I was able to lighten the shadows quite a bit to get this precious image. I would have stayed longer but the mosquitoes were horrible.

I am so glad that I went out exploring. So glad that Maribeth made me do this assignment.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Going Back

One of the girls in the FaceBook creative group that I am a part of recently posed the question "Has anyone gone back and re-edited some of their older photos with your increased knowledge and skill base?" I didn't respond to the question and it is probably good that I didn't since I would have been the only "no".

Denise's question got me think though. It made me think about PLACES that I would like to go back to and photograph again. Bringing with me so much more knowledge and more skills than I had the first time, so that I can achieve a much better SOOC (straight out of camera) shot. Also now having the advantages of shooting in RAW and editing in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Our Montana trip from 11 years ago immediately came to mind, since I will have the opportunity shortly to go back and reshoot at some of those same places. I was looking through the album from that trip and I just had to laugh grimace at some of those pictures. That was back in the days of film, so no post processing possible. I couldn't believe how many of the pictures were not clearly focused, occasionally I got lucky, and how I gave no regard to light at all. Many photos of Glen and/or Mallory had sun/shadow dappling across their faces.

I still used the photos to tell a great story of our trip, which has never been a problem for me, but YIKES on the skill level.

Mallory having her foot taped after a 3 mile hike in Glacier National Park
By contrast:

 Mallory at age 18 after climbing a mountain in Glacier National Park - July 2012
What a difference 10 years makes :)

One of the four pictures of me in the album
One of the saddest things though was that there were only 4 pictures of me through out the 66 page 12 X 12 album. It is almost like I wasn't even on the trip. I have already informed Glen that that will need to change on this trip. Thankfully I am much more comfortable having my picture taken these days than I was back then, but how sad to always be behind the camera and never being a part of the trip by being in front of the camera.

So the answer is "yes" I do want to go back and try again, bringing with me better skills, better equipment and so much more knowledge.

Is there someplace that you would love to go back to and photograph with your increased skills and knowledge? I would love to hear.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rediscovering Love for My Garden

A few years ago, well 8 years to be exact (because I am a detail person), I use to work for a friend of mine who has a landscaping business. One of her "jobs" was to maintain the display gardens of a local wholesale nursery. That was where I came in, I helped her two days a week April through October to maintain this garden. The size of the "garden" was probably 2-3 acres, so not small. The job paid good, it was only two days a week, and I learned so much about flowers and plants from her. So I am no stranger to a flower garden. That being said, mine have suffered greatly in the past 8 years.

You see, near the end of my last season with my friend, and it became my last season for this reason, I started experiencing back pain. Now I am no stranger to back pain, I have had that most of my adult life. This was, down the left side of my leg pain, I can hardly stand on this leg pain, I  have no feeling in my big toe pain (which makes wearing flip-flops a bit difficult). I went to see the doctor, and an MRI later I found out I had a couple of herniated disks in my low back, causing the numbness and pain in my leg. Well off to physical therapy I went, and it did get better...slowly. 

Five years ago I had another flare up. Granted not as bad as the first time, but still bothersome and annoying. Physical Therapy again, and again it got better. The problem was that the seed had been planted with that first experience Gardening=Pain. So my gardens suffered.

This year thanks to my love of photography and personal training, I am rediscovering my gardens. I am starting with this small area to give my full attention to, the other areas have more bark than plants, but it is a start. This is a little side garden that I have fallen in love with. I don't have a before picture of this area but I wish I did, it was sad. What I love about this area is that it is small, and easy to manage. There are three tiers, the middle one has a wheelbarrow base in the middle of it, it adds a fun element and visual interest.

One of my favorites is these poppies, they are called field poppies. The wooden thing that is being used as a fence/support is the wooden handles from the wheelbarrow.

I took a lot of the Iris' out of the top bed to make room for my repurposed and repainted with Annie Sloan chalk paint bench.

This is such a fun area to work and photograph in. These photos are where I like to play with Kim Klassen textures and Lightroom presets.

 I need one more stepping stone for this little path, and I am having a hard time finding something to match/work, but that is part of the thrill of the hunt.

I love to come out here at different times of day and in different lights to photograph.

Oh...and my answer to weeding this wonderful area is to just add another plant, less room for the weeds to grow :)

Joining Kim Klassen today for Friday Finds, as I have "refound" my love for my garden.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Felt Mansion - The Inside Tour

Two weeks ago, Mallory and I visited the Felt Mansion, a historically restored mansion. I had been there this Spring for a Walk and Click Photo Walk exploring the outside of the mansion. I have never been inside, so I was delighted when Mal surprised me with a trip to the Felt Estate and an opportunity to take a tour of the inside.

The tours are self-guided which was fine with me because then we could go at our own pace, and I could take as many photos as I wanted to. Mallory was the Tour Brochure reader, a role that she has played ever since she has been able to read. Many hikes of numbered interest points have been in her past and hopefully many more in her future.

Architecture: The Felt Mansion is an example of Georgian Revival architecture. Be definition a "revival" is always eclectic because it is a current interpretation of a previous era. In this case, a 1920s house built in a 1700-1800s motif. When facing the front of the mansion, you will notice the symmetry typical of Georgian design. The center Palladian window (above the pillars), and the window placement (fenestration) of all the other windows provides the balance prevalent in this style. Dorr Felt loved order - so it was a natural fit for his philosophy.

Speaking Tubes: The speaking tubes were created so that the maids could speak with one another when on separate floors.

Butler's Pantry: At one time the butler's pantry had a first model of a dishwasher. Unfortunately, it broke as many as it cleaned, and the family referred to it as the "dishmasher".

Bathrooms: The bathrooms in the house are very colorful. The tile shows the influence of the art deco style popular in the 1920s.

The shower stall in the pink bathroom has its original temperature regulator and multiple shower jets.

Ballroom: The ballroom is located on the third floor and is only accessible from the "maid's end" of the second floor. This is because the ballroom itself was an afterthought. Initially slated as storage space, the entire third floor ballroom plan was an amendment to the original blueprints.

The Sunroom: Mr. Felt built the sunroom, complete with quartz glass that would intensify the sun's rays, in the hopes that it would improve Mrs. Felt's health. Unfortunately, it didn't and Mrs. Felt died in her bedroom in August 1928 - six weeks after the home was completed.

Agnes Felt's Ballgown

Library: Every Georgian home had a paneled room, usually the library. Many of the books in the library are original to the mansion. The set of dictionaries, for example, were purchased by someone at the family auction in 1949. She recently donated the set back to the mansion.

The Comptometer: Dorr Felt invented the Comptometer and it made him a millionaire. It was the first adding machine that could do all four math functions. The Comptometer became an indispensable tool in offices everywhere for over 50 years. In fact, most large cities had Comptometer schools where people (primarily women) could learn the use them quickly and accurately. Soon, women and Comptometers were replacing male accountants in the office because the women could keep the books faster using a Comptometer than the men could with pencil and paper.

The Water Garden: In 2006, the 75-foot diameter round water garden was renovated. Originally it was part of Dorr Felt's vast irrigation system. Many brides and grooms now get married in the center or the water garden.

This photo of the water garden is from this Spring when it was still empty and the fountain was not out yet. I was so pleased to see the fountain and it filled with water on this trip.

Taking these photos and putting this post together has made me realize how much I miss doing a weekly photo walk like I use to do with Lissa's Walk and Click Wednesdays. It made me go out and explore new places and go some places that I always wanted to go but just didn't. I think might have to add a weekly wandering back into my life and this blog. Hmmm...Weekly Wanderings...that has a nice ring to it.