Art Show on the Beach

The beach beckons from the edge of the road.

When we drove over the Mighty Mac bridge into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan we turned right onto highway U.S. 2 that goes along the southern part of the peninsula towards Wisconsin and beyond. The first 48 miles runs along the upper shore of Lake Michigan, with sandy beaches beaconing people to stop for some beach time. Looking south across Lake Michigan you can see Chicago – if you have really good vision (300 miles or so) or good imagination. Sorry but I didn’t have a long enough lens to see it in the photo above, but it would be to the right.

This is a two lane, heavily used stretch of road but there is enough of a shoulder on the south side of the road to pull over. In the summer months the cars are parked bumper to bumper and there are lots of people scattered along the beach. In September there were only a few vehicles and we pulled across both lanes to park the truck and camper.

The above photo looks west and the boulders were place there to protect against wave erosion that would quickly undercut the road. This is the Hiawatha National Lakeshore so it is protected but there is always a tension between protecting the environment and maintaining/building for infrastructure and commerce. In this case nature frequently wins as it blows sand and snow across the highway.

But I wasn’t thinking political on the beautiful day. I was seeing nature’s art everywhere I looked. Would you like a peek at the gallery? Click on a photo for a slide show with the title of each of Nature’s creations. I would also love to hear how you would title each one.

The gentle waves had built a little cliff face, and when I stepped down onto the wet sand and bent over I saw the delightful artistry of the water along that face.

I had so much fun just being alone with my camera on the beach. Looking and being in the moment and clicking my shutter when nature made itself known to me. As I left I turned and took another (several?) more photos of the beach before hopping into the truck and heading for Lake Superior.

Hearts of Gold

Jude’s “Life in Colour” for the month of September is “gold.” In another month we will be heading south for a few week and I am looking forward to taking my new camera to the botanical garden for a walk around. In the mean time I thought I would share some flowers from earlier this year with “hearts of gold.”

Are these little beauties wearing their hearts of gold on their sleeves?
Does a heart of gold spread its glow far beyond.
This treat from the cafe was golden but the heart was berry…

An Old Barn, An Old Alpha Romero, and Rhubarb

How beautiful this barn was when it was new.

These three things are connected because they are all in my photograph. My sweetheart, Jim, took me for a ride down country roads for my birthday so I could try out my new camera that we bought for me for my birthday. We have evolved into some pretty laxed holiday traditions since we have aged. We don’t worry about whether a celebration/gift is enough or appropriate by other’s standards – we do what works for us and it always turns out perfect! Anyway, as we were cruising down this back road I noticed this wonderfully beautiful barn, and of course Jim noticed the Alpha Romero. When I was editing the photo I noticed the rhubarb because I made a wonderful rhubarb jam the tastes great on crackers and humus. But, alas, these three things in the title are also connected with Cee’s “Pick a Topic From My Photo” challenge.

The barn is an easy connect to Cee’s photo – no problem there. I think the Alpha Romero is a connect because the vent coming out of the roof of Cee’s old building looks something like the exhaust pipe we can’t see on the car. Use your imagination – its a little bit of a stretch. The rhubarb – well it might not even be rhubarb because I didn’t go up to see, and the only connection is it is green like the leaves that should be on the tree in Cee’s photo – but aren’t. I think it will pass because Cee’s rules for this challenge seem to be as loose as my mind is right now.

Going Wide

This week’s Lens-Artist theme is wide-angle photography and I immediately thought of our trip to southern Alaska out of Juneau and cruising the inland waterway in a very small ship. Thirty-two passenger small (click here for my post describing this small ship.) It was wonderful because the captain was a photographer so he made sure we knew when we would be going by some area of importance that was camera worthy. However, I don’t think there was ever a moment of daylight that didn’t seem worthy of a click of my shutter.

Morning light on the Inland Waterway in southern Alaska.

Even a wide-angle lens and stepping way back doesn’t seem to capture the grandeur of a mountain landscape. On a small ship there isn’t much room to step back to widen the view through a lens but usually the captain kept us back from the coast. We were visiting Dawes Glacier the first day out but couldn’t dawdle because the captain wanted to anchor in a small fjord with a very narrow, shallow entrance. Because of the high tides in this area he had a 15 minute window of opportunity to go through at high slack tide. This fjord is called Ford’s Terror for a reason that I wrote about here.

Ford’s Terror, Alaska

The Costal Temperate Rainforest of North American starts in the thin strip along the Pacific Ocean of southern Alaska (that we were touring), then goes south along the coast of British Columbia, Canada, and into the U.S. – Washington State, Oregon State and northern California. It is the largest intact temperate rainforest remaining on earth and in Alaska the Tongess National Rain Forest encompasses 17 million acres. A rainforest implies there is lots of rain so I knew to expect clouds and rain and was always alert for spots of sun breaking through the clouds and landing somewhere on this beautiful 360 degrees of scenery.

Tongess National Rain Forest
No “going wide” here – just dig in.

My favorite land excursion was at the small town of Tenakee Springs (pop. 91). It was a Sunday morning so not much was happening. The town’s restaurant-bakery-gift shop-movie theater-dance hall-coffee house-meeting place opened especially for us and had hot cinnamon rolls ready. The captain had special permission to bring us on shore and the only other way to get there is by sea-plane, the mail ferry, or private boat. Being a ways off shore while still on the boat I could only get half of town. This is the portion along West Tenakee Avenue.

Tenakee Springs, Alaska

And this is along East Tenakee Avenue at low tide. This seems to be the newer, more prosperous end of town.

These wide angle images of this town make me smile big as I supplement them with my memories. The avenue runs behind the houses and buildings and there are also side streets (named from A to J) leading to the houses you see going up the mountain. Wide angle doesn’t work when walking down the avenues of town, but this “long” angle will give you a different “image.” It will add to the town’s story.

West Tenakee Avenue

Alaska gave me a wonderful opportunity to practice both wide angle and close up photography, especially as I was working at capturing the personality or essence of what I was being introduced to.

If you would like to explore information about this Costal Temperate Rainforest of North America, here is an excellent brochure.

Lynn, on her blog “Bluebrightly,” posts her beautiful nature photography and narrates her walks through the rainforests of northwest Washington (state).

If you are interested in conservancy of our rainforests here is a link to The Nature Conservancy that is working to conserve the Tongass National Forest. This site provides some interesting information about this huge area and some really nice photographs.

The Covid Cookie Crumbles

Have you noticed that, at any given time, you and two or three people you follow on WordPress are on the same wavelength – thinking about the same topic. Probably not that mysterious or strange because I follow a lot of like-minded people and the topic that I was thinking about this week was covid. Laura Bruno Lilly wrote a post titled “What in Your Life did Covid-19 Interrupt.” I started to comment but didn’t because I was thinking about writing a post. Then Jan Wilbur posted “The Difference Between Now and Then is This.” Her post is about the heartache in families created by unvaccinated members. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about unvaccinated people lately. My vaccinated friend had a breakthrough case after contact with an unvaccinated friend who is a member of a conservative Christian community near us where many members don’t believe in Covid-19 vaccinations for whatever reason. The person who infected my friend had gotten infected by an unvaccinated couple who developed symptoms (and tested positive) after attending a church event where several other people had been infected. My god, what would this community do if there was an outbreak of Gonorrhea among their members?

Yes, Laura, Covid-19 did interrupt my life, or more accurately, some unvaccinated people who became positive with Covid-19 interrupted my life. A little over a week ago I spent a delightful afternoon playing cards with two vaccinated friends. That evening the friend who hosted us called to say that the person she had been with the previous Wednesday just called to say she was covid positive and had symptoms. My friend had made an appointment to get tested the next day but wouldn’t get the results until Friday. Her granddaughter got her a rapid result test which was positive, and on Friday the other test result was positive. She has had flu-like symptoms for the past week. 

Back when I was in high school we would say, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles,” whenever something bad or inconvenient or annoying would happen. It was our way of coping, a way of living in a world that was generally annoying to a teenager. Well, I’m now 74, annoyed, and my Covid-19 cookie has crumbled.

During the past week I have been somewhat anxious because I have had symptoms. But to paraphrase what my other vaccinated friend who was exposed, “Jez, I have those symptoms every day.” Yes I have a sore throat and headache that comes and goes with allergens and atmospheric pressure, and I am perpetually fatigued or about to be fatigued or am just over being fatigued because I’m old and have fibromyalgia. I have pain in some part of my body all the time because I’m old, and active, and have fm. All week I have been fearful, wondering whether I was developing symptoms. Because I was constantly thinking about my body, I wasn’t distracting myself as I normally do. My pain levels are higher when I think about what is painful and where by body is hurting. I also have been isolating because I didn’t want to spread the virus (to unvaccinated people?) if I was indeed carrying a load of virus within in my nose.

My response to being exposed and potentially infected surprised me. I felt shame. From the very beginning I had tried to do everything right. Remember how we wiped down everything that came in the door. I panicked when I got confused about what counter was safe and which one wasn’t as we were wiping down groceries. I got vaccinated and have worn masks when in unsafe territory. And I might be infected anyway. We have talked with friends about how we could keep each other safe. And I might be infected anyway. We stopped eating out until we could do it safely. And I might be infected anyway. Now we had new calculations about safety to make because I was exposed to the virus.

We had planned to leave for a month’s camping trip to Maine the day after Labor Day, a week after I had been exposed. We knew we could do it safely and could isolate as easily on the road as we could at home. We’ve done it before. But I didn’t want to leave if I had symptoms so I didn’t start packing. As the week-end approached I started to fear having to pack in just one day for an extended vacation where I was trying to take all the food we would need. Reservations had been made at 4 private campground so we couldn’t delay our departure by one or two days. I spoke with my friend and she was still feeling pretty sick and I began thinking about what would happen if we left as I was developing symptoms and then Jim also got sick. Neither one of us would be able to do the work necessary to hook up and drive us back home. We decided to cancel the trip until next year.

Maybe I better not write my next paragraph. My mother taught me to not say anything about someone unless I could say something nice. I’m too tired to find nice words to use when describing people who don’t know how to use science, have distorted political views, are self-centered, and maybe are just plain stupid. Damn it, if you aren’t vaccinated and have no medical condition making the vaccines unsafe for you, then get vaccinated this week. Do it before you crumble someone else’s cookie.