Friday, June 30, 2017

High Falls of the Pigeon River

Grand Portage State Park, MN

Compared to the Middle Falls Trail, the trail to High Falls is very easy.  It's a one mile round-trip hike along a paved, wheelchair accessible trail.  And, it's Minnesota's tallest waterfall!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Middle Falls of the Pigeon River

Grand Portage State Park, MN

Middle Falls of the Pigeon River, a beautiful little waterfall along the river that forms the boundary between the United States and Canada in northeast Minnesota.  It's a rugged 5 mile round-trip hike to get to this vantage point of the waterfall and this year it's a super muddy hike.  It's been a very wet year so far and the trail hasn't had a chance to dry out, so be prepared to get dirty if you make the hike to Middle Falls!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rad Rover and Sunset on Otter Lake

Sunset over Otter Lake last night on my ride with the Rad Rover.

Cook County, MN

Riding the Rad Rover

My dad bought an electric-assist fat bike recently and last night I borrowed it to put it through its paces.  I've gotta say, it's an awesome bike!  The bike is a Rad Rover by Rad Power Bikes, a direct-to-consumer bike company based in Seattle.  The company claims a battery range of about 20 miles, but last night I rode 35 miles of gravel roads with 2,300 feet of elevation gain and still had about 20% of battery life remaining at the end of the ride. 

There are 5 levels of pedal assist and if you only use levels 1 and 2 and turn the pedal assist off on the flats and downhills, you can really get a lot of range out of the battery.  If you turn it up to 4 or 5 and use it a lot, you won't get much range.  I found level 2 to be an ideal combo of range and assist. Using this level the bike assists your pedaling a little, but not much.  You can definitely feel it.  It sort of makes you feel like a super biker. The bike has 7 speeds and I was able to stand up and pedal up most hills with relative ease in level 2 and gears 3 through 6.  For steeper hills I stayed seated and shifted down to gear 1 or 2.  And this bike is super comfortable to pedal while standing up!  It's a very comfortable seated riding position too, although if I owned one I would definitely buy a more comfortable seat.  The one that comes on it is okay for short rides, but after 3 hours in the saddle I was wishing for a more comfortable throne. I would probably buy some locking grips as well.  The grips that come on the bike are pretty nice, but they slip and rotate too easily on the handlebar.  

Contrary to popular belief, electric-assist bikes do not take all the work out of riding a bike.  You still have to pedal, after all.  Sure, there is a throttle and you can use just that if you wish and not pedal, but I found that to be very boring (not to mention you won't be able to ride very far if you only use the throttle and don't pedal).  And, the bike is heavy... about 60 pounds.  Which is awesome for going downhill, but uphill... not so much.  Enter pedal assist, which is awesome!  You turn the crank about 1/4 rotation and then you feel the assist kick in, giving you a little boost. 

Would I like to own one of these someday?  Absolutely. Would it replace my other bikes?  No way.  I could see this being a great tool for me to get out with my camera and look for photos (not to mention it's just plain FUN to ride!), but for pure riding and exercise I still prefer my other "normal" bikes.  On the e-bike the riding position is much more upright and I found myself able to observe my surroundings much more easily as I rode.  My other bikes have a more aggressive riding position which makes it harder to look around and notice things as you're riding. Not that I don't do that, but typically I just focus on the road ahead as I'm riding those bikes.  Anyway, I had a blast on the Rad Rover and maybe someday one will be added to our bike garage :-)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Painted Lady on Lilac

We haven't had much sun lately but when it has been out the butterflies have been all over our lilac bushes!  This painted lady was posing nicely for a photograph.  

It must be summer!

It must be summer... road construction is in full swing :-)

Duluth, MN

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Painted Turtle enjoying the sunshine!

It's a beautiful sunny day and the turtles are enjoying it as much as we are!  I caught this cute little painted turtle sunning itself on a log on a small pond yesterday.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Superior Refraction

There have been a lot of cool clouds floating over the Arrowhead region of Minnesota the past two days.  Lots of rain off and on as well.  I love days when the weather is changing as much as it has been recently.  Every time you look at the sky there is a new and interesting view to see.  This was my favorite moment from yesterday, when a rainbow formed in a storm that was dissipating over Lake Superior.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mississippi Sunset, Crow Wing State Park

During my week in the Brainerd/Little Falls area, one day we had some pretty cool thunderheads passing over all afternoon.  While it never rained where we were, in the evening I drove up to Crow Wing State Park and it had rained there.  The park road had puddles on it and everything smelled really fresh.  The mosquitoes were also horrible.  I stood on the end of the boat access ramp to make this photograph of the clouds as they were breaking up just as the sun was going down.  I was swatting at mosquitoes the entire time, but I couldn't bring myself to leave until all the color had faded from the clouds.  It was just too beautiful to walk away from, even though I was getting eaten alive!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summer Storm over Palisade Head

Yesterday while driving home from Duluth the sky was incredible as a storm approached from the west.  At first, as we were driving between Duluth and Two Harbors, all we could see behind us was a big black wall of clouds approaching.  As we got a little further up the shore the clouds starting taking on all these incredible shapes and textures.  

We stopped at the Palisade Head overlook in Tettegouche State Park to take some pictures of the sky.  During that time there was a rain squall occurring over the lake, with a brighter patch of light emanating from the center of the squall.  We only had a few minutes to enjoy the view before the heavy rain hit.  We were driving the rest of the way home in some pretty heavy downpours.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sunset from Hopper Hill

A beautiful sunset from the Hopper Hill Trail in Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area!

Mushroom Cloud over Pete's Island

One of the coolest clouds I've ever seen over Lake Superior showed itself behind Pete's Island at sunset on Grand Portage Bay the other day.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

Early morning on the Superior Hiking Trail

About two weeks ago I spent most of the night photographing the stars of the Milky Way over Lake Superior.  It was such a good night for photography that I stayed out until the horizon started to glow with the light of the approaching sun.  I love that time as you can still see quite a few stars in the sky as dawn approaches. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hollow Rock and the Milky Way

Two of my favorite photo subjects together in the same shot: Hollow Rock and the Milky Way.  Taken during the new moon phase in May 2017. 

Shot with a Nikon D750 camera and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.  Exposure time 30 seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 6400.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Secrets in the Stars

The Universe holds many secrets and I find it difficult not to ponder those secrets while basking under the glow of the Milky Way.

Photographed along the lakewalk section of the Superior Hiking Trail just north of Grand Marais, MN. 

Interested in ordering a print of this or any of my other night sky images?  Visit the Prints page of my website for all the pertinent ordering information!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Early Summer on Mud Creek

One of my favorite roadside views in Cook County.  From the Pine Mountain Road between the Gunflint Trail and County Road 8.