Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thule's Big Adventure

This summer I was determined to do more kayaking than the previous years. But there was a lingering problem, what to do with Thule while I'm out kayaking. A couple of weeks ago Travis and I were checking out our kayaks and I decided to sit in mine, we were on dry land. It had been a couple of years since I'd been in the kayak and I noticed how open the cockpit was. So I decided to get Thule and put him in the kayak with me. Well it seemed to work but how would he react to being on water.

A few years ago I had a ski boat. Thule would go out with us and he really liked it. But on one occasion I was fishing and surprise surprise I caught a fish. Well as soon as the fish came into the boat and started flapping on the floor of the boat Thule got spooked and jumped over the side of the boat and to the surprise of everyone ended up in the water. I keep a harness on him so it was easy to bring him back into the boat. Not knowing if he really learned his lesson I've been a little concerned when introducing him to new water adventures.

A few weeks ago we went out to the Susie islands and took Thule with us. True to my form I was a bit concerned as to how he would react. After all Lake Superior is alot colder than an inland lake. At first he wasn't exactly sure what was going on but it didn't take long for both of us to get comfortable with this latest adventure. Now he can't wait to get into the boat and go for a boat ride.

So last weekend I confidently approached taking him in the kayak with me. I had thought he would have to pretty much sit on my lap so I was wondering about the comfort factor but it was worth a try. I got into the kayak, almost tipping it over on the process which must have given Thule a lot of confidence, then pulled him into the kayak with me. I could hear him say 'what the hell's up with this' as he looked around for a quick exit. Once in I quickly realized there was plenty of room for both of us with him between my legs. We puttered around a bit by the dock working to ease his anxiety. Using his harness I strapped him into the kayak which made it impossible for him to get out even though he was obviously getting more comfortable with this new adventure. We paddled up the Pigeon River to the Grand Portage State Park area and once it got shallow I unhooked him.

Once unhooked he was able to stand up and turn around so he could see where he was going. By this time he is totally comfortable with the kayak. The next thing I wondered about was how he would react to seeing animals. He showed an uncharacteristic interest in the Canada Geese which I found rather interesting. As we kayaked toward Pigeon Bay we ran across a group of 3 otters. As soon as Thule saw those he perked right up and followed their every move but didn't try to move about or bark. A while later we saw a bear swimming across the river. Thule didn't see the bear when it was in the water but did once it got to shore and went bounding into the brush he perked right up. Of course he came was very interested but didn't get real excited. The next test will be when we see a moose. The moose will linger giving Thule more time for his excitement to grow. But I think he'll do just fine.

During the kayak trip he would want to lay down and relax. However the kayak is not like his bed at home and when lying he had to strain to get his head above the opening in the kayak so he can see what's going on. I couldn't believe how much he had to strain to keep his head outside the kayak and was thinking he was going to have a sore neck that night. A couple of times he just put his head in the cockpit and rested it on my leg. But most of the time he was sitting up having a ball.

We paddled a couple of hours that day. It was a really good first trip of what will be many more. So my problem of figuring out what to do with Thule while I'm paddling is solved. I'm looking forward to our next adventure together.


Thanks to Travis for these wonderful images.

Monday, June 21, 2010

It was a Bear of a Weekend

I have been to the North Shore of Minnesota dozens of times. In all of those trips I have seen 2 bears, and one of those bears was just a few months ago. Usually the best view of the bear is of it's rear end as it quickly dashes into the woods never to be seen again.

Travis noticed the bear as we drove south on Hwy 61 just a mile from Grand Portage State Park and the Canadian border. I quickly turned around thinking the bear would already be gone but no it was still there.

Having been caught without my camera in similar situations I keep it close now ready to pull out and start shooting. As we pulled off the road I started shooting and to my surprise the bear just continued his business of searching for food. It was totally unfazed as I crept the car a little closer every once in a while looking up from its digging efforts.

It moved to a couple of spots while slowly building an audience. Thule got quite excited and just had to let out a bark or two, actually more than one or two. Eventually the bear retreated into the woods after putting on a show for a few minutes.

It didn't stay in the woods to long before bounding across 61 stopping a few more cars in their tracks.

We saw this bear on Saturday. As we were kayaking the Pigeon River returning from Pigeon Bay we saw a another bear. This one was in the river swimming from the Canadian side to the US side. I first thought it was a moose but Travis quickly corrected me. WOW another bear. But for some reason the bear turned around and swam back to the shore where he came from. Once there was sufficient footing the bear disappeared into the brush.

So it was really a Bear of a weekend.


Monday, June 14, 2010

More from LeeAnn's Garden

Here's a few more from LeeAnn's garden.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Morning in LeeAnn's GardenSunday

Finally a terrific day to photograph LeeAnn's Garden again. The day was overcast with little, if any, wind, just perfect. Yesterday I started getting ready to head over there but then it started raining and rained the whole day. I had a wonderful time finding various compositions for a couple of hours.

It is still early in the summer, actually it isn't quite summer just yet, and there will be many more opportunities to shoot LeeAnn's Garden.


Monday, June 7, 2010

What a weekend for Lady Slippers

I've had the good fortune to find Lady Slippers twice in the wild. Once was last year and the other a few years ago. On both of those occasions the Lady Slippers were obviously past their prime. Last weekend I could not have timed it better. Both locations where I'd seen Lady Slippers before had fresh new blooms. In fact both locations had flowers that hadn't completed opening yet.

The yellow Lady Slippers were taken on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation. It was a chilly foggy damp day with an ever so slight breeze slowly moving the flowers. The late afternoon light made photographing these flowers an exercise in patience as we waited for the flowers to stop moving prior to making the image. With wide open apertures and shallow depth of field we were able to get a reasonable 1/125th of a second or so. Stopping down though quickly elongated the shutter speed to 1/20th.

Sunday, on my way home, I stopped at Cascade River State Park and checked out a place along the trail where I had seen Lady Slippers a few years ago. Sure enough there were a couple of clumps of these beautiful pinkish-red flowers. The morning was overcast but mostly dry with just a little dew on the vegetation. Again there was a slight breeze but the light was more intense than the evening before so achieving a moderate amount of depth of field was possible. In fact I was able to stop down to f/22 with my 100mm macro lens. I photographed these flower for about an hour before the sun came out.

No doubt when I return to the North Shore in 2 weeks these flowers will totally different. I feel quite fortunate to have witnessed these gems so close to their initial bloom.