Travel Theme: Brown

Oh, brown.  You are much maligned.  You are the color of chocolate, coffee and good earth and yet?  Brown = meh.  And I get it; you don’t have as much zazz as, say, fuchsia, or orange, and looking across a field of brown doesn’t tickle the imagination like looking out onto the sparkling blue vastness of the ocean.  But brown, take heart.  I don’t know how to quit you.  Neither, apparently, does Ailsa, as “Brown” is her travel theme this week over at Where’s My Backpack?

Getting started.

Occasionally I drive around where I live, because it’s pretty, and look for things to photograph.  There’s a row of wooden stalls in serious disrepair next to a now-defunct business; I think it was a garden supply store and the stalls held different flavors of mulch, but that’s not terribly relevant, except that decaying infrastructure has an inherent photogenic appeal.  Plus, the woods are creeping in on it and I love it when nature wins again.  Check it out.

I can't quite say it's urban decay because we're so not urban, but nevertheless...always interesting. Lewisburg PA, April 2013

I can’t quite say it’s urban decay because we’re so not urban, but nevertheless…always interesting. Lewisburg PA, April 2013

I took this during some sunrise photo fun in Myrtle Beach; I love the brown of the wooden boardwalk and the golden tan of the sand.  Plus, I always thought the boardwalk looked like some kind of massive sci-fi bug-creature lumbering (no pun intended, but I’ll take it) back to the waters from whence it came.  Because that’s how things work in my brain.

Under the boardwalk.  Surfside Pier, Myrtle Beach

RAWR I’m a scary monster.  Under the boardwalk. Surfside Pier, Myrtle Beach, June 2013

This is a photo of the aptly-named Cascade River, in Lutsen, MN.  Why is the water so brown, you ask?  Because it’s busily engaging in the process of erosion and is packing a TON of silt.  It’s all good.

There it is, cascading.

There it is, cascading.

Meet Guinness.  Guinness is an exceedingly beautiful guitar owned by folk singer Ellis Paul (who I’ve written about here, here, and…).  This past June, Ellis played a kid’s show at the James V. Brown Library in Williamsport, PA, and I was fortunate enough to be part of the setup team (thanks, Shawn and Robin!).  As I was hauling chairs and such I couldn’t help but notice the guitar (’cause it’s priddy) and HOLY POCKETS!  Look at the inlay on the neck.

That is one mighty fine lookin' guitar.

That is one mighty fine lookin’ guitar.

And finally.

Every summer here in the ‘burg we get to enjoy Rural Heritage Days (see: we are so not urban), a several-days-long event that celebrates all things rural and heritage-y.  I learned how to twist rope, how to make lead shot, and, in this photo, I got a demonstration on blacksmithing, from some kid who probably got his first hammer and anvil in the cradle.  I love the combo of old and new–the safety goggles, the old-school leather apron–and the proud father (or maybe grandfather, who knows?) watching on just behind the boy.

You go, kid! Make that nail.

You go, kid! Make that nail.

So there’s my “brown” theme for the week.  Have fun looking at the rest of the other participants!  (Or play along yourself. 🙂 )  I’ll leave you with a video of Ellis Paul playing the lovely Guinness.  Enjoy.


Travel Theme: Wild

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa asks us to meet the challenge “wild”.  Which is incredibly convenient because I just came back from a week on the road/on Minnesota’s north shore/in the woods/on a giant lake, with, roughly, an assload of pictures.  Chock full of wild-ish outdoorsiness.

And yes, I’m pretty sure…almost positive…that’s the technical term for the amount of pictures with which I returned.

We stayed in a lodge that overlooked Lake Superior.  Conveniently, there was a staircase right across the street from said lodge that took us down the (relatively small, but sheer) cliff face to the shoreline.  And once we got there and clambered down the granite the rest of the way, we encountered this.  I have no idea how long that branch and natural tidal pool have been there, I’m just glad they are.


It was 25-30 degrees colder here than the weather we left behind. It was fantastic.

We went for the wedding of two very dear friends (congratulations, John and Molly!) but, of course, had to spend a few days checking out the local scenery.  As our lodge was right next to the Cascade River–and indeed boasted a few hiking trails up into the hills and along the river–we had to check it out.

The Cascade River. Cascading.

The Cascade River. Cascading.

We went to Grand Marais one afternoon, which is a charming little immensely walkable town with all sorts of local-artisan-fueled gift shoppes (I could have spent, roughly, a bajillion dollars in a few of those stores) and at least one (there could be more, but I was only there for one meal) fantastic little cafe.  While I was there I came across this heron, going about some very important heron business in the marshes along the edge of Lake Superior.

The heron thought process: Mmmm...fishfishfish...what the hell, lady, do I bug you while you're eating? Do I look like some kind of goddamned seagull?  Mmmm...fishfishfish...

The heron thought process: Mmmm…fishfishfish…what the hell, lady, do I bug you while you’re eating? Do I look like some kind of goddamned seagull? Mmmm…fishfishfish…

At first I thought he was a grey heron, but now I think it might be a smallish great blue because of the rusty colorations on its thighs and underneath the feathers.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Anybody?

Grand Marais has a harbor wall and lighthouse that are irresistible draws if you have any inkling (like me) to stand of the very edge of things and recognize the profound boundary between One Thing and The Other.  The Coast Guard warns you to walk out on at your own risk, because it’s designed more for navigation than for public strolling, and they’re right to do so.  It’s not a simple mosey down a manicured path.  You have to do a bit of climbing over rocks in order to get there, so when you get there, wear sensible shoes.

Taken from underneath the lighthouse.  And yes, that kid?  Is skateboarding the harbor wall.

Taken from underneath the lighthouse. And yes, that kid? Is skateboarding the harbor wall.  A significant part of me hoped I would see some shit go down when the wind blew him off.

For the record, the wind?  Came at us like a freight train.  It picked up while we were out at the lighthouse.  If you ever want to know what it’s like to stand on one small patch of cement with nothing to hold on to, while the entirety of Lake Superior stretches in front of you and the wind groans and tugs at you like an impatient and slightly mean playmate, I’m here to tell you: it’s pretty intense, and it’s a great way to recognize your own insignificance in the grander workings of the world.  I was grateful to get back off the harbor wall, because at least the trees created a little bit of a wind break.

When we left for home we cut back across the top of Wisconsin and drove Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, feeling somewhat regretful that we didn’t pack our passports and take the long-long way back through Canada (next time…next time).  If you’ve never visited the UP, then change that.  It’s beautiful, full of trees and sky and trees and…trees.  🙂  In order to get home we eventually had to wend our way back to the mainland.  About halfway through the UP we cut down south and went to the Mackinac Bridge, which is the third longest suspension bridge in the world and spans Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

So yeah, I hit three great lakes in one week.  Which is pretty cool.

It was sunset as we crossed the bridge.

Check out that crazy sunset sky.

Dig that crazy sunset sky.

That’s a sample of some of the wild-ish things, on my recent trip to Minnesota.  Have fun checking out the rest of the “wild” contributors!

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