Shadows on a Montana Wheat Field

Shade and shadows are so very commonplace that I spent the past week looking through files of photos looking for something that excited me. Today I spent some time enjoying my photos from our last trip through the Canadian Rockies and the U.S. Northwest. I remember taking this photo. I remember the beauty of the shadows cast by moving clouds across the ripening wheat, making a continually evolving scene. People who have lived or driven through the vast wheat fields of the Great Plains understands how surprising and unexpected a captivating evolving wheat field is.

Leya is hosting the Lens-Artists Challenge with the theme of Shade and Shadows.

The Large and the Small of Lake Superior

A cold, cloudy day on the shores of Lake Superior in August.

I am in awe of Lake Superior – with a great big dollop of respect thrown in. We have visited it many times over the last 50 plus years and driven around it two times – once in each direction. A few years ago we visited with friends, camping at Copper Harbor (were the X is on the map below), at the point of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The “large” of Lake Superior is really, really big. It covers 31,700 square miles making it the biggest fresh-water lake on the planet and at its deepest it is 1,333 feet deep. The water of Lake Superior is said to be chemically pure. It is also cold and can be deadly brutal – and it is breathtakingly beautiful. I think it would be helpful if I showed you a map that was painted as part of the informational signs on a look-out deck.

Lake Superior – depicted in white

Lake Superior is border by Canada to the north and east, extending from a little ways north of Duluth, Minnesota (on the left) all around to the Soo Locks at the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and Michigan (on the right). Minnesota and Wisconsin also have economically important stretches of shoreline along the western end of the lake.

How to go from large to small when something is so very large and is comprised of water? One way is to capture the small drops of water that sprayed when waves hit the rocky coast.

Maybe seeing smaller involves seeing what contains the water and defines the lake – the coast line.

We did a lot of exploring around this area – sometimes going down dirt roads that became a narrow, rutted, and very bumpy lane seeming to go to nowhere and didn’t allow space to turn around. An easier drive was to Eagle Harbor to see the light house and maybe see a big freighter go by.

A lighthouse tells of the personality of a body of water, a personality that is volatile and dangerous enough to need a warning sign and a signal to help boats navigate perilous places. This lighthouse is a smaller piece of the big picture and provides an even smaller perspective.

When I visit Lake Superior I am reminded of the stories I have read of ship wrecks and efforts to save the people working the freighters. When I look out over calmer waters I can imagine the fear that sailors experience when storms blow in and the water becomes really rough, waves strong enough to break a freighter in half.

No, the photo above isn’t of a freighter. Do you think it could have been used in times past to rescue people? I was looking for smaller, and this would seem very small on the huge storm waves of Lake Superior.

For me, understanding the beauty of Lake Superior comes from observing, up close and personal, how nature grows on all of its shores.

I wonder if the two evergreens on the bottom right could be a start of a bonsai tree. They were so tiny growing out of a tiny piece of earth, somewhat protected by a rock or two. How old do you think they are?

We didn’t see any freighters on this day as they travel between Duluth or Superior and the Soo Locks but this is an important part of understanding Lake Superior. Ships coming and going from Duluth and Superior carry about 35 million metric tons of iron ore, coal, gain and other cargo each season – about 80% is domestic trade and 20% in international. Freighters passing this point carry more tonnage each season than the combined tonnage of the Panama, Kiel, and Suez Canals. Each year 50-100 “salties” will travel through the Soo Locks, go down Lake Huron, across Lakes Erie and Ontario, into the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic. The largest freighters stay within the Great Lakes and are 1,000 feet long and 105 feet in beam – the largest size that will fit in the Soo Locks that lower ships from Lake Superior to Lake Huron, a 21 foot elevation change.

My bedtime has arrived and I’m tired of dealing with facts. I hope that your joys are large and your sorrows are small as you move through the coming days. Here is a Lake Superior sunset to quiet your busy mind.

This post was inspired by Patti’s Lens-Artist Challenge: From Large to Small. You can see other interpretations by following the link.

In Search of…

_DSC0017
N. Gould City Road

I smile when I remember our search for the quilt store on N. Gould City Road in the eastern half of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We decided to do one more camping trip before Jim got our away-from-home home ready for its long winter nap. Our destination was St. Ignace on the other side of the Big Mac bridge, where we could get Bessie’s Pasties (click on link to learn more about them) and explore back roads, small towns, and shorelines of that part of the Upper Peninsula.

Just before we left home I checked out the 10-day weather forecast for the second week of September (cloudy, really cold at night, and some rain) and if there are any quilting stores in the region (two). I made notes of important information on each store and collected squares of fabric I’m using for quilts I’m working on so I could get a new new fabrics. I put these very important items on the table with other items to pack in our electronic and reading bags. I felt so organized and so excited about spending some time in a different location – one with quilt stores I haven’t visited. I packed up my lap top and Jim’s tablet along with cords and chargers for my I-pod and Kindle. I packed assorted items for our reading enjoyment on cold, wet evenings as we have a cup of chamomile tea and molasses cookies. And I left my notes and swatches on the table; they didn’t seem to belong in either of those bags and I didn’t put them in my pocket or the truck.

No sweat – I knew what I needed to know to find the stores and get what I needed. Tuesday was suppose to be cloudy so I thought it a good day to look for the first quilting shop and because state highway 2 follows the northern edge of Lake Michigan, we could maybe stop for a stroll on the beach. I didn’t have the address but I remembered the road it was on, and remembered the map that was on their Facebook page. Jim was doubtful when we turned onto N. Gould City Road because it was a dirt road and looked very wilderness-like. But I knew it was right so he drove, and drove, we saw a couple of houses, and he drove, and drove, and drove some more. He suggested it couldn’t be on this road, and I said it was. He suggested we turn around, and I suggested we go a little further. And he drove some more.

We carry a very old book of Michigan county maps that has every road and fire lane ever created. Many years ago we used it to search for ghost towns in the Upper Peninsula and now we use it to track where we are when we are almost lost. We found the paved road that goes to the small town of Curtis and Jim wondered if the quilt store was there. I said it was on the dirt road and asked to go a little further. We eventually went back to Curtis.

It was very good decision because we found an ice cream store and we were the only customers. Wearing our masks, I ordered Mackinaw City Fudge that I ate while sitting on a bench watching the water gently moving around rushes on the shore of South Manistique Lake. The ice cream was the best I have had in a very long time and I had a loaf of cinnamon bread that the owner said made really good french toast.

I also popped in the Chamber of Commerce to ask about the quilt shop. There was a local man sitting in a chair across the desk from the woman who worked there. I could tell they were having a relaxed conversation and they invited me in. Keeping a good distance from them, I asked and they looked puzzled. I said it was on N. Gould City Rd. and that sparked a memory – must have been the Thompsons. He died a couple of years ago and she closed her business.

It’s strange how a dish of amazing ice cream and a loaf of cinnamon bread can ease the disappointment of not visiting a quilting store. We took some back roads to St. Ignace and enjoyed some delicious split pea soup for supper. What a good day!

B&W Photo Challenge: Avalanche Tunnel

_DSC0157

Cee, who loves hosting and participating in photo challenges, called for geometric shapes for her black & white challenge this week. I immediately thought of this “tunnel” built on the highway going west, beyond Kicking Horse Pass. This is a treacherous pass in the winter due to frequent avalanches, and thus they built these structures on the sides of the mountain to cover the highway. I assume that the snow continues to move down the roof and on down the mountain. I’m not sure I would want to be in this “tunnel” when thousands of pounds of snow was passing overhead. This is a major highway, so needless to say we didn’t stop in the tunnel so I could get a sharp photo – I had to settle for clicking on the go.

Which Way – to the Red Horse Diner

_DSC0010

A couple of posts ago featured a window with a view from inside the Red Horse Diner – where Jim & I indulged our hankering for a hamburger and fries. We always split meals so we also claim the right to split our guilt. Some may call it rationalization.

We like the atmosphere of diners, Jim has the Michigan guy thing of loving anything cars, and we both love the taste of a cholesterol filled burger and fries. We had a really good time and I might be pushing it a bit to think I can frame it to be included in San’s Which Way photography challenge. But here in the U.S. we unfortunately almost always have to rely on an automobile to travel any where. As soon as roads were built, signs popped up telling drivers where to get their cars filled with gasoline and serviced.

_DSC0004_DSC0012_DSC0035

And if you look closely you also see signs for finding comfort from sodas to ice cream and most importantly what people in the U.S. call “restrooms” although they areĀ  intended not for resting but relieving oneself.

And of course a map is always useful for helping people find which way they need to go.

_DSC0026

We stopped in Oregon once for gasoline and the attendant saw me sitting in the car with a map spread across my lap. He became excited and exclaimed, “How quaint, you are using a map.” Of course I use a map, it is the only way to find my way when I don’t know where I’m going.