Saturday, November 8, 2008

Albino Whitetail Buck

Last Sunday November 2nd Some of the in-laws, wife and daughter saw this guy on our road. I went to look and did not see him on Sunday. I was off in the woods and saw my wife's car coming down the road and stop. They were looking at the deer and I was about 200 yards away and could not see him. I hiked for a while trying to catch a glimpse but was unsuccessful on Sunday.

On Monday I was home for lunch and was on my way back to the office when I saw him. The ol' boy was visiting with one of his girlfriends, who was one of our neighborhood Does... She was a regular brown deer. When she saw me stop, she took off and left Romeo standing there.
Fortunately I had my camera and long lens ready. I stopped, backed up until I saw him and then parked and shut the engine off. Romeo cooperated and stood still and struck multiple poses for about 5 minutes while I snapped as many images as I could. At the end of the session, he just walked away and did not seem to be in a hurry at all.

When I examined all of my images I believe the deer has at least 14 points. The rack is referred to as being "Palmated". Several people I have shown the images to thought this was a Moose initially.

Since Monday he has not been seen in the neighborhood that I am aware of. I have had my trail cam out there all week and the only luck with that was to have a small spike buck in the camera. This guy was in the Rut and his neck is very swollen. I presume he moved back towards his stomping grounds over along Company Lake Road where he was born on Shuman's farm. There is supposed to be another one that is a brother that has a normal rack that has been reported to be 12 points. A couple friends have seen this feller and one provided images from a trail cam of this deer with his rack in full white colored velvet.
This is the largest living whitetail deer that I have ever seen. I feel very lucky to have been able to have the opportunity to take these images. I have shared these images with many and offered them to a couple opf magazines. I spoke with Editor of Lake Superior Magazine today in Duluth and she is very interested. I'll send in the images and see what happens.

Photo Blooper

On the trip to Florida in September with Mom as we were descending into Chattanooga on I-75 we decided to take a break at a scenic overlook. Pulled in and I looked to the northeast and saw this double rainbow. Wow, two in a week for me which had never happened before. So I get Mom to come over and stand in front of it so I can get a special picture

Mom poses, I take the picture below, Looks pretty good and down the road we go, not until about a month and a half later when I'm thinking of doing something with the image did I see the ugly trash can right behind mom.... Arrrggghhh! Good lesson for Amateur photog, look at the whole scene before you think you have the pic....

Down in Southern Georgia gas prices were outrageous. this was right after Hurricane Ike passed through Kentucky a couple days before and gas stations grabbed the opportunity to rob the motoring public once again...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Boat Nerd and last of the fall colors

The fall colors in the northland are about done for another season, one of the last to show their burnt orange color are the Tamaracks. After a few days they will drop their needles and stand bare until spring. From here on out there's not anything left to look forward to expect the fresh green colors of spring which is almost a half of a year away. If you like snow then you would have been pleased to see the flakes floating around this morning. Fortunately (for me at least) we have a warm weather pattern moving in and we should be in the upper 50's in a couple days.


O.K. so I have a Large Boat fetish... At least I don't own a big one, I just like watching them whenever I get close to the big lake. We've been up to Duluth/Superior a couple times in October and caught some nice viewing. The blue one below is the J W Shelley and is an older boat with a new owner that just came back to the great lakes this past summer. This picture was taken in the Duluth inner harbor at a secret spot. The Shelley is loaded with some form of grain and damned if I know where it was going with this load... Probably down to Buffalo or someplace like that.

This image shows the Shelley under the lift bridge headed out of the Duluth harbor and onto Lake Superior. On this day we were actually finished with our shopping in Duluth and had already saw a few other boats and were headed south into Wisconsin on the Blatnik bridge when I noticed the Shelley backing out from a dock in Superior. So.. it was back across the bridge and a bunch of pictures in a couple of my favorite spots and we headed home.

When we were coming into Duluth we saw the Orsula headed for the Duluth ship canal. The Orsula is a "saltie" that is flagged out of Majuro. I have no clue where that is but you can Google it if you really need to know... :-)

Inbetween boat watching we caught this steam locomotive headed into the railroad museum at the Depot in Duluth. The Depot is very impressive if you like trains and local history. This was a cool photo opportunity and the engineer was blowing the whistle in this image which provided all the white steam. It's interesting to see one of these big beasts running and to think that this was the way of the world not too many years ago.

After seeing the Orsula come in, one of my favorites, The "Big Paul" a.k.a. Paul R. Tregurtha
came into the Duluth ship canal. This is the largest boat on the great lakes and measures 1013 feet long and is 105 feet wide. The second pic below gives you an idea of just how massive this boat is. There were a lot of people out on this date so I did not feel alone.


This past Sunday the newest vessel in the U.S. Navy's fleet the USS Freedom came to Duluth as part her sea trials. This was a great event and there was probably over a thousand patriots that greeted her. The crew was at attention and saluting the gallery and the gallery greeted the crew with lots of cheering and applause. I took my usual five thousand images with my digital camera and got a couple that I liked. I emailed some of my images to the web site and they were published today along with my comments. If you go to the site, click on the news channel and then scrool down to the new images for October 26th and you will see the images I submitted.

The USS Freedom is a very sophisticated boat and also very fast. Rumor has it that whe will cruise at well over 40 knots. The black spots on teh sides are exhaust ports for the diesel engines that move her. The Freedom carries her own small water craft and can house two helicopters on the rear deck garage area. The captain of the boat is from Hibbing, MN so it was a great home coming for him.
USS Freedom docked behind the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.

Security around the DECC was tight, concrete barriers were placed closing Harbor Drive. A chain link fence was erected to keep the public away. It was pretty impressive to see the security measures that were taken.

That's it for now, I'm waiting for the big "noreaster" to hit Duluth and plan to make tracks up there to catch some wild wave pics. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Grand Marais, Michigan

Monday morning in Munising our first stop was at Munising Falls.

After leaving the falls we drove to the Miners Castle viewing platform where we were rushed off by one of the squalls on the lake. From Miners Castle we headed through the woods on H-58 towards Grand Marais. As I was tooling along I noticed a warning sign reading something about the road ahead being closed. Well we stopped at the next little store and the shop keeper could have been cast on Grumpy old men... When I asked which way to take his one word response was "Detour". There were some detour signs that we started to follow. The roads in the area are packed sand and nothing more. We were following one of the NPS maps when we realized we were "off course"( not lost:-)) As we were pulling up to the end of a dead end road a local gentleman and his pooch were out for a stroll. I pulled up to him and asked him if we looked lost, he asked where we came from and we told him and his one word response was "Hell" and then he laughed with us... Fortunately he gave us some solid directions that got us right back on course through the road construction on H-58 and over towards our goal of Grand Marais.
If anybody is planning a trip up here in the next year be certain to check with the Ranger station to check on the road conditions. On the brights side, when the road is done, the area near Au Sable lighthouse and the Grand Sable Sand Dunes will be much easier to access from Munising.
After an excellent lunch at the Dunes Bar/Lake Superior Brewing company we headed down to the lake to watch Lake Superior in action. The Lake Superior brewing company is a great local bar with great food. The beer was awesome. I tried a couple flavors and bought a growler of their dark to take back to camp to drink during the Packer game. Being a combination Packer fan and amatuer low techie guy, I brought a portable direct TV dish on the trip and we were somehow able to catch the game on ESPN. Having direct TV in the camper on the road is a nice perk....
The wave action at the big lake was impressive and removed any desire to go out onto the water that day. There were numerous signs warning people not to go out on the breakwall when it was rough. Obviously the people in the picture could not read. The waves crashing in were running 6 to 8 feet tall.
The next image is of the Grand Sable Dunes from the beach at Grand Marais. This picture does not really do the dunes justice.
Back at the camp monday night we were treated to another beautiful Lake Superior sunset. After the sun went down we watched the rest of the Packer game and enjoyed what we saw. I think Aaron Rodgers played a very good game and showed good poise in handling the Vikings. A great ending to a fun day of sightseeing.

Home and back among the wired world.

Wow! What a great trip with so many super memories and sights that are difficult to say one is better that the other. We logged over 1700 miles and visited Sault Ste Marie, The Agawa Canyon, Mackinaw City and Island, Paradise, Whitefish Point, Point Iriquois, Munising, Grand Marais, and finished our excursion in Copper Harbor before coming home this morning. The past week has been without any significant internet access so things have piled up.

Among the many highlights was our Pictured Rocks cruise at Munising that was an adventure that started out nice, a couple of rain showers and three rainbows later we were back at the dock. The grand finale Rainbow was the largest that any of us had ever seen. In the picture below the bright part of the rainbow is at least three miles away. A bit later it looked even larger from the scenic overlook.

The East Channel Lighthouse in Munising Bay is one of the coolest lights anyplace in my opinion. It's interesting to see the sand filling in the front of the beach again. The last time I was at Munising on a dive trip around 1999, the steel shoreline was being installed in order to save the light from falling into the bay because of the eroding shoreline. You can see the sand that has filled in front of the steel below. When I was there last time the water right in front of the light was over 20 feet deep. The shifting sands is one of the awesome things about Lake Superior

Another of my favorite trip events was sitting at Mission Point near Sault Ste Marie watching the 1000 foot ore boat Edgar Speer coming upbound. When we pulled in at Mission Point there was an older pickup with grandpa and his two young grandchildren in the truck. The little girl in the truck was super excited because her "Nanny" was coming on the big boat. The little girl went on to say he Nanny lived on the big red boat. When the Speer passed, Nanny was out on the walkway waving like crazy at her grandchildren. The speer blew a short saute (one long-two short)and then a Master Salute consisting of three long and two short blasts for the grandkids.

I don't know how many Lakers (ore boats) we saw on the trip but there were a lot, including most of my favorites. One of my past times through the years has been monitoring great lakes shipping including modern shipping and shipwrecks on the big lake. My companions on the trip were impressed when we were crossing the international bridge back into the states when I saw the stack of the Roger Blough and named it for them. When time permits I'll post more pics up on my Picasa site. I have not counted how many images I took on the trip but most days I managed to fill my memory card. The least favorite place we visited was probably Mackinaw Island for multiple reasons. I've never seen that many fudge stores in such a small area in my life. They have to have the world record for the most fudge stores in the smallest piece of real estate anyplace. So many people in such a small area was hard to handle

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Agawa Canyon trip

On Wednesday the 4th we crossed over to Canada and took the Agawa Canyon train tour on the Algoma Central line. The trip is 114 miles from the Soo one way. We departed at 8:00 a.m. sharp and returned at 6:30 p.m. The trip up was great. We ate a good breakfast in the diner car which was a cool experience. I had heard previously that the food was expensive and not good quality but found that to be false information. We enjoyed lots of superb scenery along the ride with the highlight being the dam at the Montreal River at about mile #92. There was a huge reservoir with huge granite bluffs to the east and a view of the downriver side including a peek of Lake Suprior on the west side. The tour nprovides a good booklet that lists teh different sights and the mile markers along the way. We arrived in the canyon at about 12:20 and had a quick picnic before heading out on a hike to explore the trails and three water falls. The trails to the water falls are easy walking and the flora was very interesting to look at. The moss growing on the rocks in the area was so thick that some small ferns were able to grow and sustain themselves on top of the moss. The different mosses were beautiful(daughter Kate would love this). The birch trees in the canyon are the biggest I have ever seen anyplace in the northland, there were so big I could not reach around them.

There were two downfalls to this trip that we all agreed on, #1 was that the time in the canyon was too short. We were given an hour and half to explore which was cutting it close. The second downfall to is was that the ride back to the Soo was long. Suggestions to counter these are to eat before or after the canyon and be ready to hit the trails as soon as you get off the train. #2 Plan to catch a good long afternoon nap on the way back. The ride is very relaxing and the crew on the train is very accomodating and friendly. Bring your music or a good book and the ride back was not bad.

The Scenery on the way seemed better on the right (east) side of the train going up until about mile 95 after the Montreal reservoir. Once we were north of there, we started catching very nice scenic views of Lake Superior and the Agawa Canyon on the left side. I was told that photographers prefer shooting the west side going up and the east side coming back to avoid the glare of the sun. I was shooting out both sides and will post up my pics on my picasa pages once I get to a good to a good hookup back home.

Overall it was an awesome adventure and I would definately recomend it to anybody who loves seeing good scenery.

The Soo

Tuseday morning was spent bumming around Sault Ste Marie. There was lots of boat traffic later in the morning with the crowd favorite the Edward L. Ryseron locking through downbound (second image).
After seeing the Ryerson lock through we drove down to Mission Point and caught her coming around the bend on the St. Mary's River (top photo)headed for DeTour. Captain Eric provided a Master salute for the boatwatchers at the point which is really quite thrilling. Dinner Tuesday night was at the famous Clyde's drive in where you can still get car hop service if you like. Clydes has been in business since 1949.