The end of September/beginning of November has been a bit busy.
Cyndie and I got engaged 9/28/13 and decided to get married right away with a no fuss no muss affair yet this year. We quickly planned a special getaway to Colorado for mid-November. Marry Me In Colorado was a perfect solution for our needs. We found a picturesque location at Sprague Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO.
With crossed “t’s” and dotted “i’s” we flew out of MSP and landed in DEN 11/16 and were married 11/18. We stayed at The Stanley Hotel while in Estes Park those few days; it was a fantastic hotel as was the restaurant on site – Cascades.
Here are a few shots from our time in Colorado.
After the ceremony at Sprague Lake, Cyn and I stayed in the RMNP and explored Moraine Park area a bit as we were all dressed up and there were things to shoot.
Here are a few shots of my lovely bride all dressed up shooting some beautiful scenery in RMNP. Looking forward to many happy years with this one…she is one lucky lady.
It was different being the subject of the photography for once. Our photographer, Mark, was a great guy. We are anxiously awaiting his photos of our special event to arrive.
Day 3 was the day – the morning actually – the sunrise shoot we had hoped for back in July when we planned this trip. I love it when a plan comes together! Hollow Rock was right outside our cabin; a mere 100 yards or so to the shooting location on the rocky beach. That morning was absolutely gorgeous. Everything came together nicely. The clouds, color and sun all working in perfect harmony.
After an epic sunrise experience we set out to explore forest roads between the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage. The color around Grand Portage [although past prime] was better than Grand Marais. I’ve never seen so many Ruffed Grouse in my life. I seen as many birds on this trip as I had all the years I used to upland hunt. We were also searching for the third waterfall, Partridge Falls, on the Pigeon River and eventually found it. We were unable to find a decent falls vantage point down river for a good photograph, but enjoyed the location just the same. It is quite peaceful out in the middle of nowhere. Natures beauty really consumes and carries you around from one location to the next. At one point our travels were impeded by the handiwork some busy beavers.
One bit of advice whilst out and about in strange lands and big wilderness – study a map or two before you set out. GPS, on more than one occasion, failed to provide adequate direction. A little bit of mystery is fine, but having a general idea of where you will be traveling – starting and ending up – is paramount to a good trip. “Ready to Navigate” displayed on the GPS, although humorous, is not helpful at all. As you can see from the Lightroom Map below from GPS data, we covered some ground over three days. It was a fabulous trip and experience with my betrothed.
Here are some photos from Day 3.
Any long-time follower of this blog knows that with Cyndie and I; although destinations are great, it is all about the journey in between those destination that really stand as lasting memories through the years for us. This trip was no exception. The in between was great!
Our first day we made it as far as Grand Marais. This is by far my favorite area on the MN North Shore to be. Its close proximity to The Gunflint Trail, Judge CR Magney State Park, Cascade River State Park, Temperance River State Park and all of the back roads, forest roads and loops you can travel are via car are phenomenal. It’s beautiful country.
Along the way to Grand Marais we stopped at Temperance River State Park. Later in the afternoon we made out way out to Honeymoon Bluff. There was no sunset to be had as it was cloudy and overcast, but we made the best of it. It was full day. Even Though the color was 100% or past peak (in most areas), there was still some great color and likely 80% less people than a week ago. Day 1 was pretty smooth sailing; Day 2 though, we were part of a 3 car traffic jam on a forest road. The congestion cleared soon enough though. Here are some shot from day 1.
Once upon a somewhat long time ago…I used to attend the Minnesota Renaissance Festival every year. Times change and other opportunities present themselves and you don’t always keep traditions alive. This year was mine and Cyn’s first time back in many years. It was also our first time back as non-smokers. Wow. I guess I always knew that second-hand smoke stinks, but I never imagined to what extent. There were cig and cigar puffers everywhere. It was especially bad when eating and when we sat down to watch Puke & Snot perform. Another misnomer is even in the outdoors, tobacco smoke doesn’t dissipate as quickly as one might think. My sincerest apologies to those I have smoked around and thought nothing of it. I hope to never again pick that nasty stinky habit up.
I would be very surprised if this last Saturday was not a record attendance for the festival. There were carload upon carload of people stacked up on HWY 169 for a few miles. I remember having to deal with some traffic, but not like this. We didn’t exactly show up at an optimal time either. I would highly recommend arriving 2 hours either side of noon; it may not have mattered this day though. We drove in with a wave of a few thousand I am sure. Both sides (King & Queen’s gates) parking areas where stacking up quickly. It took us an hour and fifteen minutes to get there and another hour and fifteen minutes to get in. Leaving was a similar experience.
There was one thing abundantly clear, this festival had grown considerably during our absence. It is somewhat tricky shooting at a festival like this. There is so much going on in the background of every frame. I shot the festivities with my nifty 50mm. Anything worth it would have to be pretty close. I usually shoot with a 70-300mm, so this was a completely different experience than the norm. Not only could I not zoom, but I was fixed; not wide or narrow. This is one place where everyone is pretty o.k. with getting their picture taken though. It certainly made for an enjoyable afternoon.
We meandered about watching people, shows and other performers. We had our share of food and drink as well. After about 5 hours we had our fill. Here are my shots from the afternoon.
It never ceases to amaze me how incredible the treasures are nearby where we live. They are quite numerous and wonderful. The Stone Barn just outside of Nelson, WI is one of those treasures and it is in a league all its own.
I am sure I am not alone when I say I enjoy a fine wood-fired pizza. There are several components of a great pizza; crust is one of them. Crust is a very important one to me. This crust is like a delightful cracker. It is very light and has wonderful flavor.
The process by which you will find yourself enjoying a fabulous wood-fired pizza is simple:
Follow these directions; then…
Watch for the sign
Enter through that door
Place your order
Keep track of your order # however you see fit
Have a seat, enjoy a cold beverage and wait for your pizza
We ordered the Bianca: A mix of four fresh herbs and four cheeses on a garlic olive oil base. Now that is a piece of heaven right there.
The place was packed on this hot & humid September evening. I was a bit worried about the crowd of vehicles when we pulled up, but that wasn’t a big deal at all. Cyndie and I ran into (almost literally – it was very crowded inside) my cousin Sharon & her husband celebrating a wedding anniversary; they were on their way out as we were on our way in.
We were order #45. As Cyndie can attest, sometimes I can get a bit hangry. It had already started to cool off some and we both had an ice cold beer. Life was good and the pizza was there in no time. We didn’t have to worry about carting any left-overs home; there wasn’t even a crumb left. That was the most delicious wood-fired pizza to date. I highly recommend this establishment. It would be a great time to go with a bunch of friends and order each kind they offer. All of their pizza sounded very tasty.
What a great idea for a barn left in ruins. All that remained was the stone foundation. It makes for a unique and interesting venue.
I chose black & white for this shoot because I was a big giant dough head. For some reason or another I did not look at the ISO setting on my camera; I am not sure why it was set to 1000 instead of 100. Before any shoot – you always always always check your camera’s setting – especially ISO and exposure compensation. I will chalk this one up to hungry as I have no other explanation.
The Great Minnesota Get Together, a.k.a, The Great Minnesota Sweat Together or The Great Minnesota Stand In Line Together.
Whatever you want to call it, there are crazy amounts of people who show up and become part of this annual spectacle. And show up they did. It wasn’t too bad earlier in the morning, but it exploded around midday. I expected as much being the first weekend of the fair. Neither Cyn or I could remember the last time we went or why it had been so long, but it became apparent as the day went on. It was interesting people watching, but there were just so many of them. The sheer volume of people was a bit overwhelming. There was an actual sea of people flowing down the streets. Trying to make your way through any building was an arduous task at best. Every direction you turned there was a stroller. I think the next time I go, I will be riding in one myself. It certainly looked like the best mode of travel around the fair.
The lines compounded by heat with a big fat dollop of humidity on top didn’t make for a pleasurable experience. We did enjoy nice cold beers, lemonade and an ice tea. The only thing deep fried we ate were the pickles – wow those were good. Mini doughnuts are always a must. We did manage to make it through most of the livestock barns and the Fine Art building before the number of fair-goers got out of hand.
The sun got high and temp, steamy and our bellies were full; it was time to go.
The Shovel Guy
So many people
I was digging through some client catalogs the other day and came across my private album from the Chicago trip. We were not there long – arrived 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening through 1:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Cyn & I managed a wonderful dinner at The Tavern at the Park just off the waterfront and a walk about in Millenium Park. There was a fantastic violinist giving a concert to a very packed venue. We stayed at the Congress Plaza Hotel right on Michigan Avenue. The room was a very nice king suite with a fantastic waterfront and lake view.
The next morning we were very anxious to get up and get back out there. We grabbed coffee and set a course for Gateway Park, but there was just so much to see and photograph. Before long, we turned around and headed back to the hotel to collect our things and make our way to Union Station. We did a quick family photo shoot in front of Union Station before boarding the train back to St. Paul. It was an incredible trip all around. I am certain we will return to Chicago for an extended photography outing at some point in the not-so-distant future.
The story and photos from the train excursion aboard the Cedar Rapids will soon be published via DanCyn Photography. Here are my photos from our somewhat brief 18 hour layover in Chicago.
Going the wrong way
This was finally the morning where there was no fog to speak of. Although waking up at 4:30 a.m. while on vacation seems a bit crazy, sometimes it pays off. The Grand Portage Trading Post (gas station) is not open at this hour. You are stuck with the coffee in your room. We made our way to Hollow Rock Resort for a sunrise shoot. It is a very short distance from the casino. It was a cool morning and the mosquitoes where a titch unruly, but manageable…at times. Our Hallow Rock Point sunrise shaped up nicely – no fog, clouds on the horizon and beautiful color.
Grand Portage National Monument was next on the list. There is some amazing history to learn about there.
The journey didn’t end here. We ventured into Canada. I have never been into Canada from this entry point and finally my curiosity was going to be over. Not far in we spied a cheese sign and had to check it out. Thunder Oak Cheese Farm was a nice little pit stop along our way and certainly filled the void during snack time, which happened to be at that very moment.
We made our way through the city of Thunder Bay on our way to find some Amethyst. There are a few veins of the purple rock North and East of the city. Amethyst Mine Panorama is where we ended up (B on the map above). The mine is about 80 miles from Grand Portage, MN and 63 km from Thunder Bay, CA off of the 11/17 Trans Canadian Hwy. How exciting this destination is – is directly related to how much you like Amethyst. The mine tour is pretty minimal. You exit the office and walk by some really big Amethyst rocks and then stand there overlooking a hole in the ground. The gist of it is that there are two miners picking out the premium Amethyst. What they don’t want (the not-so-premium stuff) they dump in an area where you can go and dig around yourself. That is precisely what we did. They have tools for digging and buckets to collect your treasure in. When you are done with all of that, there is a washing station to scrub your gems clean to get a closer look at them. Once you have decided what you cannot live without, it is a short trip to the office to pay $3.00/lb. Cyndie found some really interesting specimens; for $12 we got to bring them back home. *WARNING* — *BEWARE* — crazy Canadian blood-sucking vampire gnats abound in the treasure hunting area. We suffered a bit of a casualty that beautiful July afternoon. Cyndie was bit in the eyelid a few time – enough to make her one eye swell almost completely shut and there were also a couple of swollen welts on her neck. There were a few eye patch and pirate jokes. She was a trooper. The gnats didn’t bother me, but the crazy Canadian blood-sucking vampire mosquitoes were all over me tapping me for much O Negative nectar.
Here are some shots from our visit to Amethyst Mine Panorama
We had a pleasant excursion into Canada. We had planned to visit a couple of provincial parks, but didn’t make it there. We made our way back to border crossing and then back to Two Harbors. That was a long day (just shy of 3oo miles), but we saw a lot of beautiful country.
Here are my shots of the Minnesota North Shore – The in between, Day 4
Just North of Grand Portage
Just North of Grand Portage
Middle Falls – Canadian side
Middle Falls – Canadian side
Middle Falls – Canadian side
Middle Falls – Canadian side
Old barn – Canada
11/17 Trans Canadian Hwy
Waiting to get back into MN