Washington Island 2014

A couple of weeks ago, Sofie and I headed to Washington Island for our annual weekend getaway with Bella and Charm. To sum it up, it was amazing. We had 3 nights and the most of 4 days to relax and explore.
Here are some of the highlights…

• We hiked Rock Island the first day and walked/jogged the 5 mile trail, of course exploring the shore or whatever else caught our eyes along the way.

• What made this trip extra special was that some friends who frequent the island were there with their horses. Because of this, we were able to explore off the road and really see the land.

• We rode about 24 miles total on the road, in the water, through fields, meadows and along the shore. We also happened on trails through the woods with ferns and even hidden sand dunes in the middle of the island.

• We went to the annual Death’s Door BBQ Competition. We rode the horses there and tied them to trees while we sampled some delicious food. Then, we rode over to Main Street and got a couple of beers horseback.

• We picked about 6 pounds of wild blackberries. After eating our fill, I was able to bring home enough to make blackberry jam to enjoy in the months to come.

• When it comes to bugs, there are only butterflies and dragonflies on the Island, or so it seemed.

• The most frequently asked question of the weekend was, “Do year hear that?” To which the other would respond “I hear nothing.”

• We ate a lot of good food and drank some good drinks.

• We enjoyed our traditional Black Velvet at the Fiddler’s Green.

• The horses behaved like old pros. They were patient, went through anything and everything we asked them to and did not tire (except for some ouchy feet on the hard road). Charm in particular was totally in her element. She was happy and forward.

• I ended up selling my saddle on the Island. I’ve had it for sale since February and now it’s gone! Who could have guessed that would have happened?

• One night we laid out a blanket around midnight and looked at the stars all while enjoying some gourmet popcorn.

• The weather was perfect. Low 70s, mostly overcast but not dreary. Ideal when you’re riding all day!

• We had this ridiculous giant white truck for the weekend. The thing was so loud people would make comments about it to us … oops. We named it “Great White” for the weekend. Totally redneck.

• We had no schedule!

• And lastly, we became experts on Snoants and Cincolizards. I will tell you all about them sometime…

Till next year!

Here are some of the pictures that sum it all up…

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Cave Point • Before the Thaw

This past weekend I was able to spend a night away in Door County! It was a much-needed break from the daily grind. On Sunday, I was able to shoot Cave Point. I’ve been wanting to get up to the Apostle Islands to experience the amazing ice caves, but it just didn’t work out this year. So Cave Point was a good alternative. I was happy to be able to play around with my fairly new Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. I am still getting the hang of this lens and I feel like I got some good shots. Also, I used the 50mm for a few too.

This has been the coldest winter on record in North East Wisconsin. I’m not sure when we’ll see ice like this again.

Extreme Trail Riding

On our recent trip to Washington Island, Sofie and I were on a short trail ride before dinner and decided to investigate some gravel roads. I was looking at the GPS on my phone and I could see that the gravel road lead us to a shortcut and would cut our ride time in half instead of doing a big loop.

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The gravel was a little tough on the horse’s feet so we were hugging the sides of the road as much as we could. It was a gorgeous day. We were both in tank tops and sunglasses.

After walking and talking for a while, we both looked up to see that our gravel road had ended.

Confused, I referred to my phone and something wasn’t right.. it said there were roads, but apparently there weren’t any roads. Well, the woods was clear and inviting, so we decided to take a stroll to see what we could find.

We walked through the shaded woods and enjoyed the beauty that surrounded us. Nothing was around, just nature, us and our two horses.

Soon, we came upon another road that seemed abandoned and was overgrown. We followed it and it seemed to match up to a road on my phone that we were suppose to follow: the shortcut. We happily followed our new road and had to dodge some sticks and branches as they came flying past us.

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There was talking, silence, joking, you know.. just enjoying the moment.

Then, we looked up again to see giant trees that had fallen across the road. It almost seemed like someone was logging, but never picked up the fallen timber. These trees were huge and I wasn’t too sure that Charm and Bella would have been able to safely navigate them.

Referring to my phone again I saw the main road we needed to get to, wasn’t that far away, so we decided to dive into the woods again and attempt to bushwhack our way through it.

It started out okay, but soon the woods got thick with various heights of footing and fallen timber scattered randomly around us.

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You want me to walk through this??

Now what?

I felt we were too far in at this point to turn back. Plus when looking at the map, the road we needed to get to didn’t seem that far away, so we kept going.

We were jumping fallen tree trunks, stepping over fallen brush, climbing small rocky hills. I kept having visions that I was with Man Tracker and was looking for the prey! But no, we were just somewhat lost in the middle of the woods on Washington Island.

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Those are some tall trunks!

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Charm was content to take a break with her feet down in a little hole.

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Sofie was getting a little too adventurous!

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HUGE uprooted tree that had pulled up some stone with it. Kinda freaky.

After things got really thick, we both eventually jumped off and led the horses through. Since we were just going for a leisurely ride, we had both just had our lead ropes and halters on the horses, which was perfect since we were asking them to navigate such compromising terrain. Now we could easily lead them through without possibly getting a bridle stuck on a branch or something like that.

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Is this ridge possibly part of the Niagara Escarpment?

It seemed to go on and on forever. But I think since we had to find horse friendly spots to cross the fallen trees and massive piles of brush, it just took longer than it would have if we were just on foot.

I think the most frustrating thing was that we could hear cars going by on the road.. it wasn’t far away at all, but we just couldn’t seem to get there. Every time we had to go around a fallen tree, we would end up going south or west when we needed to keep heading east.

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Ugh, yes we made our way through this somehow.. We have the world’s best horses!

Finally, which seemed like an eternity, we saw a car through the trees.. the road! It wasn’t a straight shot out of the woods yet, but at least we could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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It cleared out just before we found the road. This was a little more swampy.

Finally we got to the road and breathed a sigh of relief. We both got dismounted our horses and looked them over for wounds and cuts. Charm had one one her hind end, but it was nothing serious, just a scrape.

We ate a snack that we had packed and followed the newly blacktopped road north on the shore and took another stop at a beach. Of course we had to run the horses on the sandy beach and take a few pictures.

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The east beach… finally! Only a little over a mile until home.

Then we headed back to camp, tired and sweaty. We earned our showers and also a delicious dinner of odds and ends plus a delightful and entertaining night out at the Fiddlers Green with some fellow camping horse friends.

I’ll never forget this day and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Kiteboarding Death’s Door

I was on the ferry traveling from Washington Island to the mainland and noticed two kiteboarders taking on the waves. It was really windy and the waves were a good size, so good that it was hard to take a decent picture with my telephoto without bouncing around. I got a few and then got back in the truck to avoid falling over on the ferry deck.

Notice the lighthouse in the background.. kinda cool how that turned out!

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My visit to Rock Island, Wisconsin

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Rock Island Shoreline

This past weekend I was able to escape for a couple nights for the annual Washington Island trip with the horses. This year, Sofie and I decided that we were really curious about Rock Island and wanted to spend a little time discovering it. We were able to catch the noon ferry ride over and hiked around for a couple hours trying to soak it all in.

Cars aren’t allowed on the island, or bikes. So we walked with the other tourists that were enjoying the beautiful day. There is a campground on the island, and I would actually like to camp there sometime. They are primitive sites, but it would be an awesome adventure.

Here are a few pictures that I took during my short visit. I’d like to go back, and am trying to convince Adam that a night in October would be perfect (fall colors? yes please).

I hope you enjoy these pictures. It wasn’t the best time to shoot since the sun was shining high, but I think you’ll get a flavor of what the island is like. Please click on the picture for a better view.

A hint of fall.

A hint of fall.

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The typical trail on the island. Only foot trails, no bikes allowed.

The typical trail on the island. Only foot trails, no bikes allowed.

Fliterary Butterfly

Fliterary Butterfly

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Loving all the different colors and textures.

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The gate at the top of the hill.

The Island Boathouse. The first thing you'll see upon arriving at the island.

The Island Boathouse. The first thing you’ll see upon arriving at the island.

Washington Island in the distance

Washington Island in the distance

Gorgeous ground cover, including thyme.

Gorgeous ground cover, including thyme.. it smelled amazing.

Rock Island Lighthouse (Pottawatomie Light). The oldest lighthouse in Wisconsin.

Rock Island Lighthouse (Pottawatomie Lighthouse). The oldest lighthouse in Wisconsin.

The steps leading to to shore below the lighthouse.

The steps leading to to shore below the lighthouse.

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The top of the Boathouse, Viking Hall.

The top of the Boathouse, Viking Hall.

These Saddled Prominent Caterpillars are an invasive species and are defoliating the island hardwood trees.

These Saddled Prominent Caterpillars are an invasive species and are defoliating the island hardwood trees.

Fiery Searcher Beetle. This guy is also called the Caterpillar Hunter and aids in the caterpillar control. The only thing is they probably need about 10,000 more on the Island.

Fiery Searcher Beetle. This guy is also called the Caterpillar Hunter and aids in the caterpillar control.

More pretty groundcover with a rock hedge.

More pretty ground cover with a rock hedge.

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We are hiking back down the hill. It was around 2pm and a gorgeous day. Washington Island is in the distance.

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Trying to notice the little things.

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There really wasn’t a bad view anywhere.

We Love Door County

The past few days we’ve vacationed in Door County.

Door County is a very special place. It’s Wisconsin’s thumb and surrounded by Green Bay on the west side and Lake Michigan on the east side.

Door County is full of beautiful sights. There are many small towns up and down the winding roads and each has its own Marina. There are countless shops, galleries and speciality boutiques. Also some awesome restaurants. There aren’t any chain restaurants allowed north of Sturgeon Bay, which keeps with the integrity of the area, supports the small business, and also lends itself to a quaint atmosphere.

We like to go there.

There are also several state parks and places to camp and hike. You really can’t go wrong!

My dad and I went out early the first morning to get some shots. The dock shot has to be my favorite. As soon as it was lined up in my viewfinder I knew it was going to be special. Then some of the others were taken in Sister Bay around sunset.

Thanks for looking!