Thursday, October 29, 2015

Road Trip

Off I went. Morris scrambled and barked in his crate as I shut the door and got into the car.
The rain was spitting down and the temperatures had suddenly become very fall-like.

Here was my 'big' trip to go see Lily and the rest of the gang.  I promised myself that this time when I crossed the Wisconsin River on Highway 21, I would take the time to pull into the wayside and get a shot of the river and the bridge.
The leaves have gone but the pines still are brilliant green against the dull backdrop of dormant trees.  Most oaks still have their leaves and the wild clouds all made for a fairly good photograph.

Although as I knelt by the river a very cold wind blew into my face. And I decided not to spend too long of a time there.

My real intent had been to go back to the Subaru and get a ND filter so I could have a long exposure of the sky, bridge, and the water.  I decided to heck with it and packed up.

I went to use the restroom and decided against that also.  The smell of the toilets were ripe even with the winds.
Note to self, the place is worth stopping at, but get a whiff of the bathrooms!

I headed east towards Coloma and stopped at the Ship Rock Wayside.  There are a few tables there and the garbage cans have been removed for the season.
I got out and was surprised that I was not cold.  In this area I was somewhat protected from the winds by the surrounding forest.


I went around to the backside of the 'rock' and found some exotic looking fern growth on the side of mossy rocks.

Leaves had blown into a dip in the rocks and were the nearly the only fall colors left.

I stopped for coffee before getting on the interstate and headed to Wausau to meet with my son and see Elena and Sterling before he had to go to work.

After I checked in to my motel I got a text from Lily.  Her mom would drop her off with me after she finished her CCE classes!

When Lily showed up we headed to the motel pool.  I sat on the edge of the pool .... note to self... get a swim suit!
We talked and she swam and played.
By 9pm we thought we should retire.

We watched it snow outside for a bit and tried to thing of cool things to do while I was here.  Rib Mountain State Park or Dells of Eau Clair?  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hittin' The Road

I think the laundry is done, the bags are packed...Morris is pouting as I didn't pack any of his toys.

I am going on a road trip to Wausau tomorrow. The trip will be the first since hubby's illness was diagnosed and our lives were put on hold for months of treatment.

I think he needs a break from me too.  Although my home cooking may be missed.

Boldly and confidently I made reservations at a Motel not far from Rib Mountain State Park and ski area.
I will have all day Wednesday to be a...lone...
No calls from work, no emails, no chores, no housekeeping, no medical appointments...just me.
I hope the rain will ease up so I can scout out a trail at Rib Mountain when I get there.  

If not, I will simply luxuriate in being by myself.  
Thursday I was hoping for decent weather so that Lily, Jer, and I could explore some trails.

The weather Friday may be nice enough to take the kids on an easy trail, hopefully we can figure out which one is the paved trail and take a stroller.
If not, we'll wing it.

I think I am ready.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Things to do while creepy crud attacks...Graphic Art

Sort of feel like I have a head-full of cotton.  I don't like heads of cotton.

I caught a bug...maybe this is what it looks like:

Nasty slimy icky.

Creeping around in my head making me feel like cotton ball brain.

It makes me listless and think about spending the day in my pajama pants and a sweatshirt.
It makes me dream about going back to bed and pulling the covers over my head.

But I close my eyes and see little nasty 'bugs' that are the cold critters running around in my sleepy brain.
At least these were colorful.

Tea, then more tea.  And then some water, and ahhhh, more tea!

I had to take a break and go clean Siera's feet and check her thrush infection. I worked on her in a light rain and then decided.

Oh let's have some more 'Quiet Time' Tea and take a nap.

Okay so I had a pretty crummy day, but the artwork looks like it came along nicely.  I don't think I've done anything since March like this.

And so off to bed after a Throat Coat Tea and hopefully something less then a cotton head and running nose tomorrow.  My work schedule is unrelenting this weekend.

I think I'll just do some happy dreaming and send this head cold off to the moon.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Take it away

I haven't had a cold in ... well I don't recall how long.  It has been ages. However I felt one creeping up on me Tuesday and this morning it has blown in like a sweeping monstrous storm.

Normally my immune system is pretty darned tough and doesn't even acknowledge a cold.  But apparently not this time.
Of course I also have another part of me that has an infection going on so I imagine my system has had a 'failure'.  
I started drinking some tea to and taking vitamins two days ago to stave off this cold.

Alas.  I think I need a re-boot of my entire system.

The Tea.  It is called Throat Coat and is supposed to help with sore throats. I took a sip and decided if I could put up with the awful taste of licorice, I could survive the cold and sore throat.

Vitamin C.  I don't have problems with that at all.   Chewable and yummy.

However my hubby is getting it too.  I know he doesn't feel well when he announced this morning that he wasn't going to an auction that he was looking forward to. 
He is coughing and blowing his nose.

Yesterday, I cleaned the old wooden soda box I'd found in the garage.  I used Murphy's Oil soap first and scrubbed it, then used some Oxi-Clean to further remove dirt.
It went from this:

To this:

I love the color that came through!
I intend on making it into a spice rack for the new kitchen after the remodel.

This used to be a crate for Hill Billy Soda that was made in Richland Center.

I can't wait to see what my dynamite box will look like when it is cleaned up.

I know there is a big fun move to decorate your house with 'repurposed' items.  I don't find it that strange, as I've always loved using old crates for odd things.
After all, do you remember my Christmas Chair?

Well I'm drinking my Slippery Elm Tea and getting ready to go outside and do chores.
We had a frost this morning and some beautiful low fog.

However, I didn't feel well enough to go out and take photos.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Return to Hemlock Trail

Sometimes I find a particular trail that I enjoy and decide that I have to go back in as many different seasons as possible to hike it and see it.

Saturday I had a few hours to myself so I headed to Wildcat Mountain State Park with the intention of hiking the Hemlock Trail and then stopping at the Prairie Trail outlook.

I parked near the canoe launch site and hoisted my camera backpack onto my shoulders and started off.

We'd had a killing frost and the temperatures were in in the 40's.  

I'd worn my insulated camo pants and jacket with a nice warm vest.  

I encountered quite a few 'tourists' wearing some really nice name brand outdoor gear with cameras slung around their necks.
I'm sure I got the odd look, but my gear was just as comfortable as their high priced stuff and was a bit more practical in my opinion.  
When not used for cold weather hiking, my camo clothes were used for cold weather coyote hunting.  

I secretly wished it had been a tad bit colder and I could have worn my skunk hat.  

I ran into a family.  Mom had a baby in a front carrier, they had a four year old, Dad, and Grandma.  I caught up to them and asked how they were doing.
This was their first visit to the trail.  I cautioned them about the backside being pretty steep and having some tough trail sections.

They didn't seem concerned.  Meanwhile, Grandma was sitting on the side of the trail and needed help up.
I shrugged and passed them headed out to a rock out cropping that I wanted to visit.

This finger of rock juts out over ... nothing.  I had seen it in June but decided it was too narrow to take walk out on with another person. was.
I decided to sit down and just enjoy the view for a while. If a person had balance issues or vertigo, this would not be the place to come and enjoy the view.  

And the view was worth it.

Of course the sun was in the wrong spot for a really great shot, and the Autumn Haze was difficult to deal with, but I took several shots anyway.

Even the rocks I stood on were exceptionally beautiful. Golden lichen covered those below me.

I made my way back to the trail and spoke with a young couple who were sitting in the sun on a rock outcropping. I told them the view from the finger was exceptional if they were very careful.  
But I wouldn't recommend it to most casual hikers.

We talked a while about the area and I found myself telling them about some other neat places to visit.

I moved on and headed to the Scenic outlook that had a bench and wooden guard rails.

I had to wait my turn as the family with Grandma was there and they were trying to take family shots and 'selfies'.

The colors were washed out and many of the trees had lost their leaves due to the high winds we'd had all week, but I still felt the view was worth it.

I packed my gear up and headed towards the backside of Mt. Pisgah.  As I started the steep downward climb, I recalled reading in a review, that this trail was rated as Moderately Difficult to Difficult.

I wondered if the family was coming this way.  I got to another rock outcropping and carefully tried to find a good position to shoot it.  I realized that this too should have morning light on it and not afternoon light.

I wouldn't have a chance to 'shoot' it in the winter as this trail was closed.

The footing on this portion of the trail was very difficult. I walked down and around to where there is a rock ledge that looks like a bench and waited.  I could hear the Family and Grandma coming down the trail.

When they got to the steep log steps I could hear them wondering how safe it was.  In my opinion, if 'Grandma' had trouble on the other parts of the trail, this was going to be the worst for her.

I walked back and offered to help the family out. Grandma leaned on me and I helped her negotiate the sharp turn and steep section.  The footing was dry and powdery which made it as slippery as if it were mud.

The Family thanked me and then asked if I were a Forest Ranger or something.  I laughed and said "No, just someone who enjoys this trail quite a bit!"

I hiked down the rest of the trail and had to step aside for quite a few hikers now.  I decided that weekends were not the prime time to have this trail to myself.

I did't mind the people and had enjoyed meeting them.
But I felt self conscious setting up and taking photos of the trail and the surrounding area.

By the time I reached the parking area, the lot was nearly full.  
I decided that I'd make my return trip even if the fall colors were gone, during the week.

However I did enjoy my experience and need to put Old Settler's Trail back on my fall list.
The rock outcroppings on that trail are fantastic.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Winds, leaves, dust, and killing frost.

This morning we had the 'killing' frost that usually is here by the first weekend in October.

Over the past two weeks we've had windy dry weather.  Everywhere we have been dealing with dust.
Driving down the gravel road is an adventure in dust.  If you wash your vehicle, it is covered again just by driving the one mile required to get to the black top road.
 The mules are enjoying the cool mornings and the cool evenings.  They have been chasing each other and playing King of The Hill.

The trees that have been protected by the wind still have their leaves, but not for long.
These are hickory trees behind the large shed.

The last big blazes of color were at the beginning of the week before the big winds hit.
This was a view from Mundsack road on my way to work Monday morning.

Today I'm going to head up to Wildcat Mountain State Park and do some hiking.

I don't expect to find great colors but I hope to be able to see the beautiful rock formations that will now be more obvious because most of the leaves are down.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


As fall quickly tries to fade with the huge winds of yesterday and today, I start seeing bare trees.  The frost has turned the squash leaves in the garden to an ugly dead looking brown.

So I try to not think of what I call 'the boring brown month of November' and look for odd things to do on cold windy days.

If I have a few moments to myself early in the morning, I decide to delve into some editing to amuse myself before going out to do chores.

This creepy looking abstract was made first in JWildfire then run through Google's Dreamscope.  I layered the original over the Creepy Copy and brought back some of the fractal.

There is no practical reason for doing this other than to occupy my mind with some strange art in the morning.  And to get my creative juices going.

I then took a rather very bland photo that wasn't quite in focus from last week's trip out on PeeWee's land and decided to see how far I could 'mess' it up.

I first added a layer I'd made of streaks of color, then overlayed that.  Next I added the Weave Texture and was pretty surprised at how it came out.
Lastly I added a sandstone texture and figured that was enough.

I like it in a way and am tempted to try some other methods, but I see other folks that are so excellent at this that I think I should stay with Graphic Art and with straight photography.

This year my interest has been more in landscapes.  Previously I went through a period of anything small or macro.

The smaller, the better.

In the winter, I am obsessed by black and white photography.

Right now I am desperate to keep trying to catch beautiful shots of the quick fading Autumnal colors.

However there may be a point that I will feel comfortable in 'shooting' people.  I may have to force myself there.

Kids are always easy and fun.  Not so sure about adults and weddings or Senior Shoots in particular.

Who knows, that could become a new phase for me one day.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Morning at Sidie Hollow

Just leaving the driveway was beautiful itself!  The temperature was in the 30's and we had a light frost.
Everywhere there was a mist in low lying areas.

I was looking for some 'me' time without distractions and scheduling.  My next week looks to be very busy between work and appointments.

And I knew that the fall colors would not wait for my schedule as Mother Nature has her own plans.

When I got to Sidie Hollow it was cloaked in morning mist and I couldn't see the west side where the earthen dam was.  However after an hour of sun, I was able to just barely make it out.

I made it to the fishing/viewing area and set up with a tripod and my cameras. The light kept changing and the mist swirled.  Half of the valley was lit up with brilliant sunshine and the other have was shrouded in shadows and mist.

I used my ND filter so I could take a 5 second exposure of the moving mist.  
And then moved into the sunlight to see if I could get reflections and mists.

This was a 1 second exposure and shot at a higher ISO so I could capture some of what was hidden in the shadows.

I began to wrap up things when I turned around and looked east.  There in front of me was a beautiful shot that was begging to be taken.  I hadn't looked east because of the glare of the sunlight on the mist and the water.

However ...

There is was, my last shot of the morning and my favorite one of the day.
I got the eerie mist, sunshine, tree colors, and reflections in the water.

It was a win for me all around.

A family with young children stopped on the trail.  They wanted to come on to the floating observation area, I motioned them in.  I was done and I wanted them to be able to see up and down the valley.  
We talked for a few minutes and I learned that this was their very first visit to the 'Driftless Area'.  I told them that I'd been here for 19 years and had fallen in love with it.

I also said the locals would love to keep this area secret.  We had a great laugh over that.

The rest of the day was boring.  Grocery shopping, cooking, baking, freezing squash, and making a chocolate/squash cake.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Processing IR with Topaz Adjust 5

[f7.1, ISO 100, 10" exposure]
I went for a walk yesterday and the fall colors were beginning their blaze of glory.
I started up my driveway and looked at the trees and the sunlight.
I wondered exactly what would happen if I used the Hoya Infrared R72 filter I'd gotten.

I processed the shot in Corel AfterShotPro and it really didn't look very impressive, it looked flat.  I could have edited the Histogram and gotten a bit more depth, but I thought I'd try Topaz Adjust 5.

That ended up being a bit more like it.  White foliage [which was actually yellow] and nice contrasts to the tree trunks and shadows.

I used some of the presets in the Toned portion of the plugin and played around with the sliders.

I was using an old camera and actually not following all the 'rules' out there on the 'how to' sites for using an IR filter.

I had to deal with a longer exposure to bring out the light and dark in the heavy canopied forest so there was some movement in the ferns and leaves in this shot.

[f5.6, ISO 100, 13"]
I used the 'pink' toned filter for this one and had to adjust the details.  I just felt it looked prettier with the fallen leaves a bit soft.

[f7.1, ISO 100, 4"]
With this driveway shot I went for the sunlit highlights.  Where the sun shined and reflected, the color was nearly white.

[f7.1, ISO 100, 5"]
I wanted a 'cool' effect for this shot.  Finally, I had white leaves and the sunlight coming across the tops of the trees in the distance.  The sunflowers in the garden with their drooping heads were bright white.  
The blobs in the distance are mules feeding.  
I don't think this is a fantastically composed shot, but I do like how it came out.

And my favorite of today on my trip to a county park was the following.

[f10, ISO 100, 10"]
I don't even mind the sun flare on the lens in this shot.

However this was spectacular in color and deserved to be shown off as such.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Do you want to Hike Morris?

The colors have started to really come out here.  Fall is taking its time but I have been lucky enough to enjoy it.

I miss having Badger, yesterday would have been a wonderful day to have him as my 'pack' mule.  Instead I put my sling camera bag on and with Morris in tow we headed out for a very long hike.

It may have taken a shorter time, but since I was going through the now rough and wild woods and land of our neighor's, we had to do a lot of wading through tall grass and weeds even if we were on a deer trail.
Finally we got to the area that is mowed around the corn field and the walking was easier.

Someone actually mowed the ridge road above the 'back valley'.  That was where I was headed.

Earlier this year, it was nearly impassable.  But I guess that is what happens when the cattle no longer graze on the land.

We made it to the back valley and got down into the creek.  I had visions of walking along the creek as I used to ... but the underbrush was too thick and I decided to wait until winter when the foliage has died down.

Morris disappeared in the tall grasses and undergrowth, it was hard to keep an eye on him.  I considered putting a bell on him so I can hear where he is.

He is a great little dog.  Unless he is rolling in something terribly nasty, he will come immediately at a whistle.

Here he appears curious as to why on earth would I call him?  Couldn't I see he was busy?

I hadn't done this trail since early spring and was extremely happy that the owners had cleaned it up.  

I know it is in preparation for the gun deer season, but at least this late fall [after season] and perhaps before season, I'll be able to saddle up and ride through here.

I miss having the cattle keeping the woods clean and tidy.  They have been gone for 10 yrs now and much of this acreage is nearly impassable unless you are a deer or something smaller.

Anyway, I was over come by the beautiful colors I found on the trail.

The yellows are abundant in this portion of the woods.

We did find oranges on the ridge.

When we got back up on the cropland, the sky was crazy beautiful.  Couldn't help but think of what my grandmother used to say.  These clouds were a sign of rain.
Hopefully we get some, it surely is needed.

I was able to fit a lot into this day by getting up very early.

Before I left for our hike at 11, I'd processed and froze tomatoes, squash, and had done our laundry which was hanging on the line along with some blankets to air them out.

The disadvantage of that and hiking 3+ miles was that I was worn out early.  Bed was very welcome not soon after it got dark outside.

And yes, Morris was worn out also.  Last night though and this morning he is not acting as if he is sore at all.  
Neither am I!

Perhaps we are getting back into shape after a long hiatus from daily hiking.