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A 15 Hour Vacation

Tettegouche © Andor (34)

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…

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‘Fiddy’

Fitty, a ClubFR Event © Andor (1)

Eleven years in the making. ClubFR has hosted their 50th Drift Day Midwest event.  It was a kind of odd event. The roster was long and there were a lot of new faces out this time around. Possibly due to the popularity of Final Bout last month, also hosted at this track, by ClubFR. Whatever the reason, the number of drivers made for a pretty constant flow of drifting through out the day. I however stayed up the night before and did some photo shooting on the track. I have some more time lapses to put together and these could benefit from some editing, but here is a hasty slap job of what I was capturing that night. Apologies for the low quality of Vimeo’s free accounts, it looks a little better if You watch it on their site instead of mine, but not much..

Fitty, a ClubFR Event © Andor (2)

Fitty, a ClubFR Event © Andor (3)

These guys even had the great idea of printing up shirts, with a list of all 50 events. Well, DD43 is not there and they kind of failed, by not putting check boxes for people to mark the events they attended. Even so, it’s a great t-shirt, that I will enjoy having for years to come. I think these two will enjoy theirs as well.

 

On sunday morning, there was a quick drivers meeting and things got rolling. It was sunny and bright and I had forgotten to pack a polarizer, or neutral density filter. I tried My best to shoot things dark and spent a fair amount of time working My way around the track, to be on the sunny side of the action. It worked out, sometimes..

 

The day went along pretty well. There were a few people that got beached off track and somebody did spill a fair amount of oil on the advanced coarse, but that didn’t hold things up very much. After a couple hours of running, there was a short break and the traditional skateboard race was held. The winners actually got prizes too!

To add to the charm of this event, there were two big give-aways and a raffle. All three awarded the same prize, a season pass for the ClubFR 2015 drift season. Award number one, was fittingly given to Ben, a true ‘OG’ in the midwest drift scene. Considering he was at the first one of their events, as well as the majority of all subsequent events, it’s only fitting that free driver’s admission for a season goes his way. The second season pass handed out was the raffle. Every driver at the event that day, had their names written on paper and thrown in a hat. The winner? Jake! Who’s car is pictured at the very top of this post, among other places here. The last season pass, was not given to Billy Lemke, but instead to his wife, for putting up with all of the drifting antics and also as a wedding gift…

After those short festivities, the track went hot again and stayed that way all afternoon. There were a lot of people that were clearly very new to drifting, but there were some good drivers too. It has been a while since a drift day has drawn out such variety of skill levels. Recent years have had a sharp contrast of good/decent drivers and ameteur/beginner drivers. There was a distinct middle group that was kind of fun to watch at DD50. The bright sun eventually gave way to some clouds, I was struggling a bit to keep up with the constantly changing light all day. I did wander around and snap bunches of pictures until it was time to head back to Minnesota though.


Wandering the North Shore

My friend Ryan and I headed up to lake Superior for the weekend, on yet another one night camping excursion. Before checking in to our camp site at Tettegouche State Park, we headed farther north to check out some water falls. First we stopped at Temperance State Park and hiked the rocky trails along the river. The park is laden with age worn steps, some carved into the rock, others stacked from loose stones. The abundance of trees shed plenty of shade over the various paths and trails. The shallow depth of the soil leaves the roots of many trees visible, snaking around the rocky surface, giving a majestic feel to the already sublime surroundings. With it’s long series of short falls, carving deeper into the bedrock, the Temperance river is a beautiful place to go and spend some time. Clear skies and the bright sun did not make for great photographic conditions though.

After a couple of hours wandering the river side, we departed and stopped at a place Ryan’s friend had told him to go. Driving by it on the main road, You would never guess what was lingering just inland from the shore. Nor would You think that You would find anything particularly special once You parked in the small ten car lot. It was another small river, trickling over the rocks in a nearly deserted valley. Such is the way of this part of Minnesota. Every couple of miles is yet another river, stream, or creek, feeding into the vast lake to the south. This particular one however, is a gem among the parks up here. Somehow, it was also the least travelled of the places we went. All of the other parks and falls had tons of people buzzing around the crowded parking lots and river sides. We saw eight people on our hike up this stream. One was panning for gold in the lower part of the river, He told us it was wise to keep going up the path nearby, “so long as we didn’t mind the 158 stairs.” Unsure about what was to come, we hiked up the trail. It went up above the river pretty quickly, after only ten minutes or so, we were at least 75 feet above the valley floor. Then, after a little more hiking, we rounded a bend. The sound was unmistakable. Waterfall. Shortly after hearing it in the distance, the path split, one way went up, the other down. We chose the downward option, discovering a long meandering set of stairs. “This must be what that guy told us about.” Was the thought that passed through My head. At the end of the steps, flowed a gorgeous falls. Pouring into a calm pool, surrounded by a rocky beach and towering cliffs. We stayed for quite a while. Ryan went for a swim while I soaked My feet in the cool water and snapped a ton of pictures. This was My favorite part of the trip… We couldn’t even see the whole falls, because it made a bend or two as it went down. Nor did we hike up to the top, because we lingered so long at it’s base, we had to rush farther south to check in to our camp for the night.

Our camp site was at Tettegouche State Park. Having not planned this trip, I simply booked the lone site available on the entire north shore. I could see right away why it was the only site available on the hundreds of miles of coast. This site was ten feet from the trail down to the shore and sadly, most of the people who came up from the shore, walked right through our site, instead of the trail. So it was a high traffic home! My goals for the weekend were to shoot the full moon rising over the lake, shoot some time lapse of the stars at night and some time lapse of something, anything during the day. After mostly clear skies all day, the moon managed to hide behind clouds when it came up. Once Luna was up in the sky, the clouds moved out, but the moon was so bright, it blotted out the stars. It was no darker than an ordinary overcast day, except it was night time. I did manage to shoot a time lapsable sequence during the day, but it was spoiled by people walking by, a lot. So I managed to succeed in none of My goals for the wekend. It was a great time though!! In the end, I just want to move farther north. I’ve been saying this for half of My life time, maybe I should just act on it soon? Clear water, endless forest, massive rock formations, cliffs and rolling hills, waterfalls and an abundance of wild life. The north shore is marvellous. I will be back there as soon as possible.


Another Cold, Windy and Wet Day at the Track

Drift Day 47 © Andor (0)

The first gathering in ClubFR’s 2014 season has come and gone. As expected, there were not a ton of entries. Even so, for the first time, I neglected to take pictures of every car on the track. Many of the guys were just starting to figure out how to keep their cars sliding. Another thing that I chose not to do so much was to point My camera at cars with missing body parts. After nearly a decade of shooting pictures at drift events, half dressed cars have gotten really boring. Making a day of one, 5 hour lap of the advanced course in the traditional UsaIR, dual track layout. Here is what some of what I got for You.

Please note, in the very last picture, the driver of the red BMW has his eyes closed!


Drift Day:Midwest, Season Finale

img_0730ca

USA International Raceway, a cart track just outside of Shawano, Wisconsin. No carts are buzzing around the track today though, Drift Day Fourty-Six has arrived. The squealing and smoking of tires, rapidly burning through layers of rubber has come again. Lots of familiar faces and the rolling hills that this particular track is draped over, always make for a good time. The day started at 30 degrees and a thick fog lingered all around.

After an hour or two, the fog had lifted, but there was still an overcasting of grey clouds keeping the sun at bay. Heading indoors to warm up a bit, I ran into more Minnesotans and We did that which We do..

In the early afternoon, the temps were into the 40’s and the sun popped out for fifteen minutes or so, allowing time for a race of those with skateboards. Around half the oval at the top of the hill and down past the pits, through a couple of turns, to the lowest point of the track. There are also a few shots of some of the guys playing about on pit lane.

There were a few hours of clear running. As anticipated however, the rain began again. Half of the drivers kept drifting for a little bit, before people packed up and headed towards their hometowns. I ate a lot of ribs this weekend, from two different places. Not to mention hash browns, fries, fried chicken, bratwurst and a bags worth of dried meats and candy. I also bowled one of My best games, took a personal low number of five hundred pictures, while standing in the clouds of many, now destroyed tires and got to see a bunch of My friends that live hundreds of miles away from Me. Thanks to the homies at ClubFR for bringing these events together, year after year…