Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Things We Do

I had gone out to shoot the moonrise a few weeks ago when it was a full moon.  I got there early in case the sunset was vivid too.  I stood there, shooting away, in the hot, humid weather wearing long pants and a hoodie, just sweating bullets.  Why was I so overdressed?  Anything to attempt to fend off the nasty biting flies that swarm the Lake Superior shoreline in such oppressive heat!  Bug spray doesn't seem to do the trick, so you just have to try to cover any exposed skin you can.  Ahhhh, the things we do to get the shots we want!  I think this one was well worth it...

Lake Superior Sunset over  the Porkies
Porcupine Mountains State Park at Union Bay

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our Backyard Camp-Out

In just a few short weeks, we are going for our first camping trip of the season.  Yay!  I am very excited but also a bit apprehensive, as our last camping trip with Savannah didn't go so hot.

It was last summer, and she was just under 2.  I thought she would just adore camping, since she loves being outside and often cries when it's time to come back inside.  She did love camping as much as I thought she would, but I had drastically underestimated how unrelaxing a camping trip with a toddler would be for Mommy & Daddy.  See, toddlers don't really get the concept of a campsite with invisible boundaries.  I mean, really.  Why would you stay on or even near your campsite when, instead, you could run wildly across other campsites and in the road?  I mean how else could you get back to the playground??  There is no need, in a toddlers mind, to worry about little things like large pick-up trucks pulling 30 ft. trailers that can't possibly stop on a dime.  The other campers and oncoming traffic never bothered Savannah, but they terrified me!

This memory is precisely the reason that I wanted to do a practice camping trip in our backyard.  You know, set up the tent in the back yard, maybe have a campfire, and just spend the night snuggled up in our sleeping bags right out our back door. That way we can easily bail if something something goes really awry.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we have recently moved, again, so finding our tent and all our camping gear was a bit of a challenge.  But, I managed to find it all, and I decided to try to put the tent up with Savannah's help.  Yes, I know, I am just asking for things to go wrong.  But, she is really into this whole tent thing, so I am sure that I can pull this off.

I don't let the gray skies outside scare me too much, but I double check the radar to see that the storm that is coming still looks a good distance away.  (Yes, another sign I should wait, but I like a challenge and I'm a bit of a determined girl.  Once I get a notion in my head to do something, it's hard to convince me otherwise.)  So we get all our our tent parts outside just in time to hear the roll of thunder in the distance.  That probably should have been my final hint to bag this backyard camp-out for now, but I marched on anyway.

I did manage to quickly get the tent up, with Savannah my stake helper.  I raised the tent just in time for the rain to fall.  I secured Savannah inside so she would stay mostly dry while I struggled to get the rain fly on. Now, it's a bit tricky for a 5'2" woman to fling a huge piece of fabric, bearing many clips to get caught on things, to the apex of a large dome tent that stands over 6 ft. tall at the center.

I got soaked in the process, but I did it!  Just in time to see Savannah coming out of the little Pet Den that juts off the back of the tent.

I coaxed her back into the tent and finally joined her to rest a bit.  Before I could relax, I needed to zip back up that silly Pet Den, which our dog hated by the way.  First to zip, then to rip.  I was backing my way out of the mini-tunnel into the main area when I apparently got too close to a stress point in the tent.  Rrrrriiippp!!!  Not a good sound.  Yes, a gaping rip in our tent in the middle of a thunderstorm!  Lightning fast (sorry, I couldn't resist this pun), I run through any quick fixes I can think of, and here was my solution:

It's not pretty, but hey, it worked!  It actually kept the inside mostly dry during the brief downpour.  (Notice all the rain droplets.)  Crisis averted!!  The really funny thing is that, despite all my challenges to get the blasted tent up and keep it dry, we  still haven't done our backyard camp-out.  Our poor binder clip clad tent still sits quietly in our backyard waiting to be camped in...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Brand New Prints in My Shop

Last night, I listed some prints for sale in my shop that are available to purchase for first time!  These are photos that were shot earlier this spring and summer, and here they are:




 These prints, and everything else in my shop, is on SALE!  Take 25% off everything in my shop during my Celebrate Summer Sale.  Just click on the mini version of My Shop to the right to browse my entire inventory and save!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sailed on a Mini-Cruise

Jimmy and I decided that we would try to make the trek back to see our families for the 4th of July Holiday.  That holiday has always been special for the Newkirk family, as they have typically spent the entire day together partaking in all the local festivities.  Everyone would gather up their lawn chairs, baby strollers, & blankets and sit along with the rest of the crowds congregated along Ludington Avenue in downtown Ludington, MI.  Following the parade, they would head back to Gramma & Grampa's for a potluck picnic lunch filled with delicious morsels.  The remainder of the afternoon would be spent watching the kids play and everyone else would chat, nap, eat more, and the like.  Once evening hit, it was time to make our way to the Lake Michigan shore to wait for dusk when we could all marvel at the fabulous fireworks display.

This was my first year attempting to shoot fireworks.  This was part of the fab firework display Ludington  put on.

For years, either Jimmy or I would have to miss some, if not all, of the festivities, due to our positions as Park Rangers.  For those of you who aren't into parks or camping, the 4th of July Holiday is generally one of the top 3 busiest times of the whole season at any given park.  So, we were not only guaranteed to work during that weekend, but we would probably also be putting in some overtime depending on the volume of traffic at the park or whichever incident was bound to happen.

Now, my schedule is wide open, Jimmy does still work for the park system, but we also live 500 miles away from Ludington.  Luckily, the 4th fell on Monday this year, which happens to be Jimmy's scheduled day off along with Tuesday.  We started to brainstorm any possible way that we could make it downstate to join our families for the Holiday.  We explored a few possibilities, but we finally decided that a Mini-Cruise on the Lake Michigan Carferry, the S.S. Badger, was the best way for us to travel. Any way you slice it, the trip was going to take a minimum of 9 hours to complete.  Driving  to Manitowoc, WI, to catch the Badger would mean only about 5 hours for Savannah to be strapped into her car seat.  (Those of you with antsy little ones know that these sorts of things really factor into your travel plans.)  From there, the remaining 4 hours of our journey could be spent at our leisure meandering about the ship, stargazing from the top deck, playing in the Kid's Port, or simply trying to catch a nap.

Given our time constraints and the boat's sailing schedule, we would have to leave Manitowoc at 1:55a.m. on Monday the 4th and return on the 8:30p.m. boat departing Ludington Tuesday the 5th.  Yes, that's there and back within 48 hours, hence the Mini-Cruise.  Yes, we are most certainly insane to even consider it, but it has some stellar perks.  First, you save huge by returning in such a short time-frame.  Second, Savannah would think it was super awesome to travel by ship, so she would be so good, right?  Third, and most important to me, I figured these crazy travel hours might just give me a chance at shooting the sunrise into Ludington and sunset departing.  Sign us up!!!

The Ludington coastline at sunrise.  Big Point Sable, Ludington State Park (a place near and dear to my heart), is that tiny light at the shore's edge.  

Left: Ship's wake and sunrise.  Right: Sailing between the pier heads, the North Pierhead Light.

Approaching the Dock to view sunrise over downtown Ludington. I love the clock tower (near center) in this light!

We had a great sail across Lake Michigan, and I thoroughly enjoyed arriving to the lovely light of a warm sunrise.  I do have to admit, though, that trying to shoot photos in the lower light conditions of a sunrise or a sunset can be a bit tricky at times.  But, shooting sunrise from a moving that's a challenge!

We truly enjoyed our time with family and friends.  Sure we were a bit bleary eyed and zombie-like at times, but it was worth the effort. Jimmy and I agreed, and I am positive Savannah would too, that we would try such a crazy trek again.  The fireworks were fabulous, as always, but poor little Savannah wouldn't know, since she slept through the whole thing!  While we were waiting for the fireworks to begin, I nabbed this striking shot of the Badger during its special sunset cruise along the lake shore, just for the Holiday.

S.S. Badger during its sunset cruise for the 4th of July
Just a few more photos from our return trip to Manitowoc to follow...

Savannah and I on the return trip (She's still learning how to smile on cue.)

Time to set sail again...My Mom bids us farewell.

The North Pierhead again with the sunset and a storm front as a backdrop. Below: a closer look at the storm.