A 15 Hour Vacation
Twenty days ago, My brother, his wife and I, headed up to Lake Superior. Making a day of wandering along the northern coast. I had never been up there in the winter months and was quite curious about what much of it would look like. We started by chasing waterfalls. Figuring we would go to the most northerly destination first and make our way south from there. We arrived at stop number one and proceeded to be very underwhelmed, the falls were a mass of ice without any detail, or interesting ice formations at all. Ok, that’s fine, let’s hit My favorite waterfall next! A ten minute drive and a short hike later, we arrived! But, it was also a bit of a let down… The ice was not very photogenic. Realizing that the best Ice shots were probably to be had early in the winter, as opposed to our venture near winter’s end, we wandered back towards the car. Instead of taking the trail, we walked on the river. Which turned out to be very memorable! All was well for the first half of the stroll, but then we started encountering some pretty thin sounding ice. My sister in law being pregnant and carrying five thousand dollars in camera gear myself, we departed from the river walk and scrambled back up the hill to the trail. It was pretty rad walking on water though, even if it led to much anxiousness and a bit of fear..
After that, we made our way back towards the south. Pausing for a quick view of this rock beach that I had visited with a friend last year. It is actually private property, but I was a bit suprised to see that there was no sign of humans there. Clearly, this place was actually owned by deer. Who had left plenty of tracks in the snow… There were some pretty cool frozen rock walls, held together by ice. Some spots had a four or five foot overhang. It was pretty neat, especially because of the icey build up on the southern point in this miniature bay.
Then, we stopped at Tettegouche State Park. The crown jewel of the state parks system here in Minnesota. Opting not to bother with the hike inland to the falls, we stayed along the coast and were dazzled by the ice built up around the shore line. Many pictures were taken, much time passed by and just like My previous visits to this park, I did not want to leave…
We did leave this wintery wonderland though. The pregnant one among us was getting pretty tired. So we stopped at Palisade Head, where I took a lonely walk up to the the high ground. Pausing to take a shot of the communication tower piercing through the bold sun dog above, I made it to the overlook. What a view! You can see the southern quarter of the rolling hills to the north and the endless glitter of Lake Superior to the south. It was by far the easiest hike of the day and yielded one of the most spectacular perspectives on the north shore…
Continuing south towards Duluth, we made one more stop. So I could take some pictures of the light house at Split Rock. Unlike anywhere to the north, the bay was mostly iced over. Having walked down a river of ice a few hours earlier, I started My way out to the edge of the bay, walking on the lake… There is an island a couple hundred yards out. I noticed some people were on the island and also made note of the many lines of foot prints in the thin snow all around the bay. The ice was pretty thick, so I was quite confident as I wandered towards the spot where one can take a picture with the island and light house together. About a third of the way there however, there was a cracking sound and the ice shifted under My feet. Not by much, maybe an inch and a half, but I watched a crack form, a foot or so to the side of Me that stretched all the way out to open water. Heartbeat increasing to a rapid pace, I hopped over the crack. Which was inbetween Me and solid ground and hurried off the ice.. I then snapped a couple shots of the light house and neglected to make it out to the planned location of shooting. Adrenaline flowing, I walked the path back to where My brother and his wife were waiting and we departed.
We made a pit stop in Duluth to fill our bellies. Then decided there was still time for another stop. My brother and I were both curious to see Jay Cooke state park. We had camped there a few years ago, but wanted to see what it looked like now. The reason for this curiousity is that two years ago, a damm just up stream from the park broke. Sending a gnarly torrent of flooding southward in to the park. It washed away the bridge that is the only real access to the camp sites and many miles of hiking trails. The water was super low compared to our previous visit and there was a spiffy new bridge over the river. If there were any other real differences, they were hiding under ice and snow..
With the sun sinking in the sky and home being over two hundred miles away, we hopped back in the car and made our way south toward the Twin Cities. Quite the successful day trip! We even got to enjoy a pretty lovely sunset as we cruised down the interstate, on our way home…
Last week, My Brother married His girl-friend of 13 years. Contrary to what many thought would be a large wedding, it was a nice small gathering in Their living room. I guess it had to be, since they decided to make it happen less than a month before hand. It was a nice ceremony. Lots of smiling, laughing and general happiness was flowing through the place. Congratulations Brother and now, officially, Sister!
There was one kind of odd moment, just after the deed was done, the pastor gathered everyone, hand on hand, into a huddle. He spoke a few words and proceeded to start singing a verse. Just as He drew in His breath to start, the music My brother was playing popped up, right on cue: “Where’s Your head at, at, at.” Basement Jaxx played quietly in the backround through the whole wedding, it was pretty funny. Actually, there were two other awkward moments… I hadn’t realized that I was to give a speach and failed to come up with something worth hearing on the spot. Sorry, I feel bad about it! Then there was this pre-wedding photo We did while waiting for people to arrive. I think it’s the best of the day though.
It was a good Tuesday night party that ended up doubling as a photo shoot. There is something to be said for a simple wedding, with little or no money involved. I think this is the best kind of ceremony. It’s all about the people anyways, why bother making it about anything else?
Saint Paul Flavor
Here in the Twin Cities, there are many restaurants for foodies and hungry people to choose from. In My neighborhood, there are several notable establishments, along with tons of others, lining the milage of University Avenue. This five mile strip of ‘Uni’ has been home to two fine Saint Paul traditions.. Until a few years ago, University was THE cruising place for car enthusiasts of all denominations. A decades long hot spot, with crowds on any given friday or saturday numbering in the five figures. Naturally, those people needed to eat, so there has been no shortage of the other of University’s defining features… Family restaurants!
For many of My friends, Tay Ho is the place to go. Providing the right combination of tasty food, nicely sized portions and reasonable prices. They have risen to be one of the best places in Saint Paul for family dining and for those who simply wish to perform acts of sheer gluttony, without paying a ton. Sadly, all of the food establishments along University have been hurting. Starting around the turn of the century, the city started ‘aggressively discouraging’ the cruising crowd from using the traditional strip as their gathering point. Then, two years ago and ongoing today, from the U of M campus, to the State Capitol grounds, the city started to install a light rail line. The cruising scene has scattered and effectively died. Leaving restaurants hanging, struggling to get more people coming through their doors. Only to be discouraged by the fact that University is ripped up and under construction for a total of three or four years. It’s been rough for most of the small businesses along University. Both of My favorite food spots have closed down, for good.
So, when a friend asked Me to take some pictures of food for Her favorite restaurant, I was happy to jump on it. Clearly, I’ve taken pictures of food before, but not food cooked by someone else. So it was a rather fun experiment for Me. I’ve long been a fan of Vietnamese food. To have so many dishes placed on a table before Me, one after another, round after round, was a wonderful experience. The cooking at Tay Ho is handled by a father and son duo, with other family members filling in where they’re needed. There was no money involved on this endeavor, the food was the payment. I didn’t set up any lights, just placed things on a table about 5 feet from the solitary window in a back room of the restaurant and started taking pictures of everything that came before Me. It’s obvious why so many people in frogtown flock to this place. The people in the kitchen here, care about the food they prepare and it shows. Next time I want a large bowl of soup, I know where I’m going!