Midnight Voyageur Journal-The Marina at Cornucopia

We keep San Francisco, our Island Packet sailboat in the marina at Cornucopia Wisconsin. Cornucopia lies on the South Shore of Lake Superior and is the northern-most town in Wisconsin. About a 100 people live there, I think. I first traveled through Corny when I was a child vacationing with my family. Returning there now takes me back to a simpler place and time where I spend my days doing fun stuff like swimming in Siskiwit Bay and making endless trip to Ehlers General Store for sandwiches and cookies and sodas. We love the village and the marina, and especially enjoy hanging out with our friends Dave and Mary Beth, the owners of the marina.

This year, we left our boat and Corny more than a month earlier than usual for Howard to head to Texas for treatment. Staying on our boat that last week was bittersweet for as much as we enjoyed being on the water, we knew that our stay was short and we would not be returning for another year.

Cornucopia Wis

Cornucopia Wis


Cornucopia Wis

Cornucopia Wis


Midnight Voyageur Journal-Lost Creek Falls, South Shore Lake Superior

Lost Creek Falls, Cornucopia Wisconsin

Lost Creek Falls, Cornucopia Wisconsin

The first time I visited Lost Creek Falls, I went alone.  The trail took me on a hike through forest so dense that little sunshine came through the tree canopies. I felt like I was walking in the twilight of evening, not early morning. No one else was parked at the trail head, or hiking on the trail, and I was little nervous, not knowing what to expect and wondering if I might meet a bear.  After about 30 minutes of walking, I descended into a gorge. And there, running through the gorge was Lost Creek and its falls, cool, secluded and lush with flora that felt primeval.

Fireworks and Smoke Over Chicago: The Tall Ships at the Navy Pier

The Festival of the Tall Ships came to Chicago this last weekend. Touring the Great Lakes this summer, the Tall Ships are large, traditionally rigged sailing vessels, some of which are replicas of historical ships. Despite the heat and forecast of rain, we headed to Chicago to see the ships for ourselves and compare their sailing adventures to ours on Lake Superior.

We booked a nighttime sail on the Appledore IV, a “gaff schooner” (whatever that means) to watch the Festival fireworks. Although the evening threatened rain, the night came in with a cool breeze and calm seas. On the Navy Pier, we boarded the Appledore with about 25 other people. Once we were in the open waters of Lake Michigan, the Captain and crew raised the sails. I brought my camera but not a tripod, as that was not permitted.

Photographing fireworks from a sailboat cutting across the water in darkness was a challenge. Not having a tripod made it even harder. And because the ship was turning and coming about frequently, I had to change sides of the boats so that I was facing the city. Several times I tripped and stepped or fell on other passengers. Fortunately they were good humored about it.

The photos I feature here are my favorites. The featured photograph shows the scene after the fireworks ended, when smoke from the explosions blew over the south lake shore, illuminating the city. The photograph below shows the fireworks. I’m not sure why, but the photo appears darker here than it does in Lightroom.

Smoke and Fireworks

Fireworks for the Tall Ships



Midnight Voyageur Journal: 4th of July Parade


July 4, 2016

In the early morning of the 4th of July, I hauled my camera and running shoes to a rural community named Mineral Point, about an hour’s drive west of where I live.  Mineral Point offered a day of festivities for the celebration of Independence Day. Events started with a “fun run” up and down the hills of the city, followed by a parade through the historic downtown, and then afternoon soft-ball games. Finally, to conclude the day,  a “steak feed” was held to make sure no one went home hungry. While I took no selfies during the fun run, I photographed the parade and the community to capture the feel of the day.

Mineral Point is one of the oldest cities in Wisconsin, settled in 1827 by Cornish immigrants who mined the  lead and zinc in the hills along Brewery Creek. The historic cream-colored sand stone buildings in the town center attest to the city’s prosperous past.  Today, however, this city is not much more than a village, with about 2500 residents. For the 4th of July, many more people from surrounding communities joined these residents, filling the city streets and parks.

Mineral Point’s main street is only a few blocks long so space on the curb for parade watching came at a premium. By mid-morning, people had started to stake out their space by parking camp chairs (often occupied by the grandparents,) together with coolers.  By late morning, when the parade started, thousands of people lined the street, all in a festive mood. Rain threaten to spoil the day but fortunately, it just remained overcast.

When I think of parades, fancy floats and extravagent costumed revelers come to mind. But Mineral Point’s parade had no floats and presented nothing fanciful or pretty. But it offered marching bands, patriotic displays of the flag, clowns and many Knights of Columbus and Legionnaires marching with guns. And fire trucks and ambulances from all the surrounding towns. The crowd watching loved it all and had great fun.

In my photography, I noticed and tried to capture the seriousness and intensity of the participants as they march along, contrasted with the jubilance of the observers.


Midnight Voyageur Journal: Abandoned Schoolhouse on South Shore of Lake Superior

Yesterday, we drove along the South Shore of Lake Superior, heading home after a short week on our sailboat in Cornucopia, Wisconsin. In the midst of vast fields of silky grasses and on the edge of the forest bordering the Lake stood an abandoned schoolhouse.  I persuaded my husband to stop and explore it. The King School, per the sign, dates back to 1916 and was last used in 1948. The Cloverland Community Club operated in the building for some time after that but also was eventually left behind.

Walking up to the building, I was surprised to find its doors open.  The three room interior appeared rotting and unstable. Some of the furnishings remain from its days as a schoolhouse.  The glass windows are broken and milky white in places but flooded the rooms with light. The wooden floors were both soft and tilted in different directions. I felt like they would give out at any time.  The Hammond piano sat silent, casting a shadow on the chalkboard. I loved the handwriting on the wall and chalkboard for its reflection of families who visited the school over the years. But even on a bright and sunny afternoon, the schoolhouse felt eerie and forgotten

In the photo taken outside of the school house,  you can see a woman in the window on the right, with a flash of sunlight on her face. I did not know she was there or even in the building at the time I took this photo. It was only today when I uploaded and reviewed the photo that I saw her. I do not know who she was or what she was doing there. There was another family at the schoolhouse just checking out the premises when we arrived, but they left soon after and I never saw this woman. While I doubt that I captured a ghost, the woman in the window looking out at me is a mystery.

Abandoned School and Community Center,  South Shore Lake Superior

Abandoned School and Community Center, South Shore Lake Superior

Summer Fireworks

Last night, we joined thousands of people  to watch fireworks shot from boats on Lake Monona before downtown Madison. The scene of fifty thousand plus people carrying kids and camping chairs, coolers of beer and sometimes riding bikes at the same time to find the best places to see the fireworks created chaos in my efforts to set up a tripod. My husband finally elbowed us a spot. Then I went crazy shooting the spectacular displays. Here are a few of my favorites.  I particularly like the last photo in the gallery, where you can see the smoke coming off the explosions! (Make sure you click on the photos below to open the gallery and see the entire photo.)


Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves-The Woodlands Tunnels at Night

A couple weeks ago we visited The Woodlands, a city in Texas. One night I hauled out my tripod and camera to capture the tunnels in the city center. Through the curves of these tunnels, a river runs and people walk. And through these curves we see  beyond to a different world.

#Weekly Photo Challenge