My View Today

And it is stupid cold. If it weren’t windy, I could be out trying to photograph frozen bubbles. It is snowing heavy enough that it was a challenge to get a pic of my front Maple that wasn’t blurry. I didn’t quite manage it.

Snowy Fall Maple
Snowy Fall Maple

I’m hoping the snow stops soon and gives the streets a chance to melt off because MC drove to school today and he has never driven in snow. It wouldn’t bother me if he were a few short miles from home, but we live really close to the farthest edge of the district, which means a good 20 minute drive on 50+ MPH highways and a few side roads. We did tell him to take the bus home if it was still bad when school lets out. Now we get to see how well he listened.

Oh, and a bit of a brag moment… MC got accepted into his top 2 colleges. We are now in wait and see mode on any scholarships.

Patchy Clouds

These were from the other night. Some of my favorite types of sky photos are ones like this where there is this really deep contrast between the clouds and the sky. These took it one step further than just an amazing color of blue with the typical white clouds because this was late evening, probably about an hour or so before sunset. This added some dramatic shadows on the clouds making them look kind of angry, but they were still the small slightly fluffy types.

Patchy Clouds
Patchy Clouds

Eagle Trail Hike

Our first hike of the trip was the 2 mile Eagle Trail. I really wanted to do this one in particular because of some of the pictures I’d seen online. They had shown that it had a lot of different interesting features. What I didn’t pay any attention do was the difficulty. Difficulty isn’t something that I’d ever really paid a whole lot of attention to, mostly because there isn’t anything like that around here.

Tree Root Covered Trail Floor
Tree Root Covered Trail Floor

For this trail, the difficulty wasn’t in incline or altitude change so much as how uneven a surface you were walking on. If it wasn’t a woven crisscross of roots, it was haphazard rocks. There were a couple of points near the water’s edge where the trail got incredibly narrow, which was fun when you ran into people hiking in the other direction.

Mossy Rock Lined Trail
Mossy Rock Lined Trail

The first third or so of this trail was heavily wooded with a few smaller rock formations along the way. It was such a rich, dark vivid green, it was almost unreal. I hate that none of my photos even come close to doing it justice.

Wooded Pathway
Wooded Pathway

It sort of reminded me of the kind of scenery you’d see in some fantasy movie with an enchanted forest, but not the dark, creepy kind. It was so pretty there under the trees. I could have spent hours in there just taking pictures and would have if it had just been me and not the entire family.

Moss and Fern Covered Mall Cave
Moss and Fern Covered Mall Cave
Rock Step Pathway
Rock Step Pathway

Once you got closer to the water’s edge, there were a lot more rocks and the landscape and feel of the space really changed, becoming harsher. Even though we were really close to the water, sometimes within a few feet, there weren’t a lot of places to see out onto the water because it was still really heavily treed.

Small Rock Wall Topped In Misshapen Trees
Small Rock Wall Topped In Misshapen Trees

One of the things that was really fascinating along this hike were all of these little cave like areas. Some were way bigger than others, able to hold multiple people and others would have been barely large enough for a small animal den. None of them went very deep into the rock, but were enough to give a sense of space and wonder. These were some of the kids favorite places to explore along the way.

Rocky Caved Area With Lone Tree
Rocky Caved Area With Lone Tree

The middle third of the hike was this really rocky area along the base of the bluff and the water’s edge. This was one of the most difficult areas of the hike because of all the rocks and how many narrow paths you had to take. There were more points where you could see out across the water, but there were still a lot of trees along the shoreline, which is something that kind of surprised me in general about the peninsula.

Eagle Trail Rock Formation Cave
Eagle Trail Rock Formation Cave
Tall Rock Bluff
Tall Rock Bluff

By the time we got past the last of the bluff area, things got back to being similar to how the hike started before thinning out even more. Even though it was only about a 2 mile hike in all, it was still pretty intense. I didn’t get any pictures after the rocks. Mostly because I’d already taken way too many and what I was seeing wasn’t much different, but also because I was about out of gas and getting cranky. I discovered the backpack I was using had a rough spot that rubbed on the skin on my shoulder since I was wearing a tank top and had to have my hand around the strap to protect it. We were all pretty wiped out at that point and were more concerned about just getting done. As exhausting as it was, it was an amazing hike.

Just At The Edge

I’m sticking with words about pictures today because if I were to give you other words, they’d probably be ugly and frustrated as that is very much the mood I’m in today.

As for the words about pictures, I took a ridiculous number of photos of water while I was away. Moving, reflecting, tiny waves breaking, splashes and just whatever I could try to get while I had it in front of me. This is one of many favorites from the trip because of the point in time I managed to capture this one. It is the moment before the little wave falls completely over the edge of the rock. I have so many in this sequence, both before and after, I could probably turn it into a video, but this one stood out for me. I’m certain I’ll have more water pics in the days to come, but this one seemed really fitting for today, that feeling of hanging on the edge.

First Wisconsin Sunset

The very first night we got into Door County, we took enough time to get checked in to where we were staying and drop off our bags before we headed right back out even though we’d been in the car for well over 11 hours. We wanted to scout out a few areas before the next day and we needed to hunt down some place to eat.

The first place I wanted to check out was a place to get a good view of the sunset that I’d found on Google maps. It looked to be the ideal spot.

Late Afternoon Lake Michigan from Door County
Late Afternoon Lake Michigan from Door County

I especially loved the small pool of water with only a small strip of shore between it and the lake. When we checked the spot out, only 1 person was there with their dog. Little did we know that everyone else on the peninsula also thought it was the ideal sunset viewing spot. When we came back after doing a bit more scouting, it was packed with people. Since it wasn’t an official park, there wasn’t any parking and the road just dead ended at the shore, so everyone was parked along this narrow twisty piece with a really steep incline.

Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan
Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan

There were very few spots to stand to get pictures as the shore was lined with people in chairs and sitting on the rocks. I was really thankful that the area right in front of the little pool was open. I did have to avoid a couple of heads and dogs trying to photobomb me, but I managed to get several awesome shots.

Sunset Clouds Reflectio
Sunset Clouds Reflectio
Clouded Sunset Sky on Lake Michigan
Clouded Sunset Sky on Lake Michigan
Dead Tree In Water At Sunset Lake Michigan
Dead Tree In Water At Sunset Lake Michigan
Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan
Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan

We only stayed until the sun dropped below the cloud line before we left. We were exhausted from the drive and wanted a chance to just go chill out for a while without being surrounded by people and gnats. The clouds gave us a stunning sunset, but made it impossible for us to get a good night for star viewing so we didn’t even attempt it that first night.

Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan
Clouded Sunset on Lake Michigan

A Drunken Road

This road is along the very northern edge of the Door County peninsula of Wisconsin. I’m sure we would have run across it at some time as we tried to explore every inch of this area, but were told about it from the lady at a candy store (Uncle Tom’s if you are really interested in some AMAZING fudge). Hearing about it, we were like “It’s a road. How interesting can it really be?” How about FUN more than interesting?

I think we drove up and down this road half a dozen times before calling it quits because it was so much fun. This stretch isn’t really that long. Maybe half a mile or so, if even, but it was kind of like riding on a kiddie roller coaster. One that isn’t too crazy, but just wiggly enough to entertain really young kids. Apparently we are really young kids at heart because driving this was hilarious and fun. Who on earth decided designing a road like this was the way to go?! Whoever it was, I’m glad, because this was so silly it was awesome making it worthy of its own post. It was also such a notable feature of the area that it is on a lot of the souvenir merchandise as well.

Newport State Park, Wisconsin

Our last day in Wisconsin was crazy busy and really had three distinct pieces. Two different hikes and then the star viewing. The two separate hikes we went on ended up being over 7 miles in total, the second hike being the bulk of that mileage. Considering I’m not overly active, that was nearly miraculous.

The second hike was in the Newport State Park area when we went to to scout it out for the dark sky viewing. It was such a nice area, we decided to check out the trails while we were there. Trails that ended up being WAY longer than we intended to hike, but by the time we realized that, we had to hike pretty much the same distance to get back out as we had to get where we were, so turning around wouldn’t have made a difference in the distance.

Newport State Park, Wisconsin - Pathway
Newport State Park, Wisconsin – Pathway

I took way too many photos of pathways while hiking because I love the look and feel of pathway shots. Sadly, I don’t think I’m all that great at actually taking them in a way that truly captures the feel of the paths I was on at the time.

Newport State Park, Wisconsin - Pathway
Newport State Park, Wisconsin – Pathway

I also didn’t end up taking a whole lot of pictures on this hike because, while it really was beautiful, it was also kind of a horror show. We battled clouds of gnats and mosquitoes and I don’t know what else for nearly the entire 5 miles or so. I needed both my hands to wave around like a complete spaz in order to fend them off. It was incredibly annoying as we had bug repellent, but because this hike was kind of a last minute decision and hadn’t really run into issues with our other hikes we chose not to go back to the car to get it. Big, big, BIG mistake.

Sunlit Gnat Cloud
Sunlit Gnat Cloud

The above picture wasn’t taken there, but is a perfect example of what we hiked through. As annoying as the bugs were, we didn’t think all that much of it until about 12 hours later when MC’s hand looked like someone had inflated it full of air and turned it into a hand balloon. I still don’t know what bit or stung him, but the antihistamines seem to be helping, though slowly.

Mine took closer to 24 hours to show up. Looks like I brought my own version of the stars home with me in my own personal constellation. My other shoulder and lower legs look pretty much the same.

Constellation of Bug Bites
Constellation of Bug Bites

That particular park ended up being one of the best and worst parts of our trip. Once the bites quit itching so badly, I might be able to let go of that part of it and just remember the best parts.

Start At The End

If you’d noticed it’s been a little quiet around here, that’s because I’ve been on vacation. We just got in last night and all I had time to do was unpack, start laundry and crash. Today has been all about getting all the things done that I didn’t have the energy to do last night. I have a lot of catching up to do on everyone’s blogs that I’ve missed, but I’ll be around soon. I’ll also have some posts about an amazingly awesome trip to Door County, Wisconsin. And of course loads and loads of photos. Seriously. It was probably the best photo trip I’ve ever had. Granted, I think the new camera had something to do with it, but really the scenery did all the work. For now, I’ll leave you with one of my last shots of the trip. The stunning sunset out the car window on the way home.