Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#OnlyinMN: My shots used by Explore Minnesota In Denver, CO.

Denver Wallscapes 
So this past season I was approached by Colle McVoy a marketing firm working with Explore Minnesota to see if some of my images were available for use in their Only in Minnesota Campaign.  I was super excited to be involved and even more excited after seeing the results.  My shots are the two kayakers walking on 210 (Ryan Z and Joe D) and then the camp site shot on the corner with the trees and then of course the Casey K. MTB shot over the Lift Bridge!

Hilariously I also saw one of my shots on the Jumbotron over 1st Ave in Minneapolis last week, it was a shot of Elmo with his line unspooled on our BWCA trip last year.  It was tag lined "Last Call" which was fitting as I was leaving the MLT Gala event at about 10pm and heading for home!

The Miracle of the Lost Sunglasses: Keweenaw Trails Fest, Copper Harbor 2015

Dave C on Daisy D
I have to say, weather wise it was one of the most amazing Keweenaw Trails Fest's I can remember.  It was pushing 80 degrees and it was dry, dry, dry.  When you compare that to the fact that in years past we have been spinning by snow patches and through puddles, you realize that it was about perfect.

The warm weather brought out two things.  First it brought out the Black Flies and I was super stoked to have my head net, and at some points was actually riding with it on!  I must have looked like a cross between a bee keeper and a biking terrorist with that on!

The dry weather also brought out the riders!  Holy moly.  CH was beseeched by off road cyclists. I guess if success looks like bikes everywhere, three shuttle lift lines and full restaurants and hotels that Copper Harbor has hit that over Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekends that is for sure.  I have to say though that I am questioning now if that is what I personally want to deal with, now that my new job allows me to shuffle the weekends I spend up there.!
Fishing on the harbor
Found this guy walking home one night
Peace and chaos 

Smallie Fly Rod Fun 

The Wisco Crew 

Moonrise over the Manders estate 
Barry B showing how its done 
I was originally going to ride the Enduro. I am a huge fan of that race format.  However after riding, Friday eve and all day Saturday I quickly realized that my investment in that race would be squandered as my legs were NOT going to be racing anytime soon, let alone that Sunday.  I opted instead to roam with the camera.

Like most things I went a bit overboard.  I ended up hauling three lenses, two DSLR bodies and my tripod as well as my flash kit and triggers.  The whole pack had to weigh 40 plus pounds.  With that kit on my back I rode to each of the three Enduro legs, trying to hunt down Casey, Barry and Andy as they destroyed the field.

It was fun, I did not get many good shots but I had a blast trying.  However I was literally shelled by the end of the event.  It was hot, I was thirsty, hungry as I had skipped breakfast to fish in the early AM with Aaron Rogers on the Harbor. I was near hallucinating by the time I rolled down to Sam's.  I was hoping to catch a shuttle back up so I could descend down to the Manders compound halfway up Brockway and where I was living for the weekend.

When I got down though I found that there were almost 3 shuttles worth of people ahead of me.  Maybe an hour wait.  At that point I realized I would be riding home, no big deal, I can do it.  I shoulderd my pack and reached for my sunglasses.....oh dang!  Where are my sunglasses!  Turns out I had lost them on the trail.

Only one thing to do.  Go find them.  I dumped my pack and proceeded to ride everywhere I had been to find them, only to NOT find them.

Now I was truly defeated.  Hot hungry, bummed I once again ended up at the Shuttle line and sat there for nearly another 30 minutes talking to friends.  While I spoke I ate and drank some water and generally just gave up on the glasses.  Eventually I felt better and moved on, yet I was still waiting for a ride and again I just gave up and decided to go for a ride.

At first I was going to hit the new section of the Keweenaw Point Trail.  Aaron and the crew had just finished about 3 mile of that lovely idea and since it was so new, and not on a shuttle route, it was free of people.  I started trudging up the hill.  Somehow I ended up getting my second wind and when I hit the KPT I was like, well dang I am feeling good, I will just keep on climbing and catch a Red Trail Lap.  I kept on creeping up the climb, hordes of gravity riders came down on my in packs of five or more yet I kept on spinning up and up and up.

I was actually really enjoying this.  After a piece I realized that I was on the Ma Maki leg of the enduro and right at that moment I looked down in case I could see my glasses and BANG!  There they were, literally right in front of my wheel.  How crazy was that.  All those people had ridden past them and here they were!

A Copper Harbor miracle.

Every time I am in the harbor I have one of these moments where I just let out a huge sigh.  Its like I am finally just letting all of the stress, all of the worries and all of the hell I go through on a monthly basis and I just release.  When I picked up those glasses and I felt the sun on my face and the wind in the trees, I did just that ......sigh, release...ahhh
Dry as dust and dusty!

Night over Copper Harbor 
Party at the "Choose your own Adventure" Campground


Fire dancer, waiting for music 

An interesting proposal 

Casey K.  When I see these eyes, I know something crazy is coming 

Caleb blasting into the final bridge on Woopidy 

Monday, May 18, 2015

The memorial service for Bruce Harstad of Harmony, Minnesota

This weekend I had the privilege to attend a Memorial service for Bruce Harstad, or "Uncie" Bruce as Margaret has always called him.

Bruce was the second oldest brother of Blaine, Margaret's father.

I took a lot of amazing photographs of the event which was held in Harmony, Minnesota where the Harstad family hails from.

I fully intended to do a really in depth photo story on the event but while editing my shots I ran across this one and it really struck me.

Two kids, doing what nearly every farm kid or kid that has visited a farm will do, jump hay bales!

Then the thought struck me about the fact that Bruce was a kid here and that while they might not have been using round bales in his day, most likely as a kid, he and his brothers jumped from bale of hay to bale of hay at some point, just like my son Tae and his buddy Braydon.

It also struck me that after he left this place and went literally across the world whether it was in WWII to Japan or on a cruise with his wife Beverly, he ultimately came back to this beautiful place and was buried here.

He quite literally is always will be, of and part of Harmony.  That this cycle of being alive, of living life has a start point and an end point and that all us are from somewhere and we end somewhere.  The fact that Bruce came from and return to Harmony.

At that point I realized that I only needed one picture to remember Bruce Harstad that celebrated his life that had come full cycle and it was this one.

At the end of the service, after the crowd had moved on to the Branding Iron in Preston, to visit, I lingered with Bruce's immediate family at the burial site.  Bruce has spent most of his adult life in Maryland and because of that he had already had a service there.

However, ultimately his urn was to be buried in the family plot in Harmony.

As we prepared to follow the others,  an older gentleman, dressed in jeans and sweatshirt showed up with a shovel, with the intention of shoveling the dirt over the urn.

It was a pivotal moment and Beverly and her brother, sister and sister in law decided to lend a hand as did Margaret, Kass, Tae, Karyne and I.  As we did so the man doing the job, mentioned that he was buddies with Bruce and that indeed that very evening he had put Bruce's urn in his car and had driven to all the old spots in and around Harmony that Bruce used to hang out in and gave him a "tour" of the place one last time. Then he put him in front of the TV to watch the Twins game (they won).

Again, Bruce was and always will be, from Harmony, Minnesota

Monday, May 11, 2015

Image Dump: Homegrown 2015

Friday night Blasphemy 
My kid wondering where I have been all week

I tend to not push the photo taking too much over Homegrown.  We have a well versed, skilled and very passionate group of photographers in town that really shake the image tree when it comes to music in the city and especially at Homegrown itself.  So I instead haul the small point and shoot, pull it out when needed and tend to stay away from the scrum.

That said, I pull it out occasionally and these are some shots from the week, which was by far the best Homegrown I have experienced personally and I have been the nearly every one since it started.

The Rock Star shoes of Sarah Krueger 

Soup B4 Supe!

Al Sparhawk in character 

A quick way to get from venue to venue 

Actual Wolf every morning at 10am Duluth Coffee Company 

Morning hike after a late night 

The "Jefe" of Chaperone Records 


Pollard making it happen
The wife heading out with me on Friday night!

Scenery on the walk between venues 

The Mayor kicking it off 

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Throwing steel in Valley X: An early spring Brookie adventure

Fishing Machine

I was one of those folks who grew up in La La land.  Our town was a small SE Minnesota Village, lined up along the banks of a blue ribbon trout stream, a mill and mill pond... A simple easy place that I think now only truly exists in my mind than in reality.  Oh its still there but its changed, as all things have in this frenetic world we now exist in.  One of my favorite memories of that place was getting up early before my family, hopping on my mountain bike (a Schwinn High Sierra) and blasting down the bluff to the stream to toss a line in for a gorgeous brown trout or seven...

Before I came to fly fishing I was a die hard spin fisherman.  Something that I still contend takes every bit as much skill as fly fishing, only of a different ilk.  I would put thousands of hours into spin fishing in my childhood and many of my friends would too.  Even today, when I hear buddies who ONLY fly fish talk about "worm dunkers" I react much differently than they might expect.  I say that because there are worm fisherman, and there are WORM fisherman.  I had one buddy, Dan Draz who could drift a worm much more skillfully than any fly fisherman I have ever known.  The results of that skill were always miraculous.  Browns don't get huge in SE Minnesota and when you catch something over 18 inches that is something, Danny would routinely roll in 20 plus inch fish, and return every one to the stream.

I came to love spinners.  I liked the short cast, the placement the quick retrieve and of course the fish slamming into the bait after its feeding response was sent over the edge.  Don't get me wrong, I love tossing the fly these days much more, but there is no doubt that every once in a while I like to huck metal.

This weekend was no exception.  I generally like to get my spin day out in the spring.  Its a great way to plumb the depths and see what sort of population we have rolling in our streams which in a lot of cases can vary widely with the spring flood or lack there of.

Heavy Metal 
There are a bunch of trout streams near where I live and because of that I can generally ride to my fishing adventure, something that makes the time that much sweeter.  This season it was obvious that the lack of a ballistic spring run off and the warmer water temps were making for great fishing.  I pretty much caught a fish or had a strike in nearly every major hole.  A result I have not seen since the 2012 flood.

I was also seeing a ton of wolf sign.  Tracks, old kills, scat.... you name it.  What a day, I was truly enjoying it!

Big bad wolf.  Rear paw over front paw 

Old wolf kill.  Wolves eat pretty much everything as you can see
Little guy

Before release 
And gone
Big kitty 

At one point I was slinking under a fallen Cedar tree in the stream, trying not to snag my rod when I heard a distinct hiss and tussle in the grass up stream of me about 50 feet away.  I looked up quickly expecting to see a deer or a grouse or something.  What I saw was a brown blur and long tail instantly disappearing in the brush.  It took a second for my mind to wrap itself around what I saw but I was pretty sure I had just seen a really big cat.  I cautiously strolled up to the sand bank around the tall grass and saw several fresh tracks the size of my hand.  The sand was so wet and soft that I could not really get a true sense of the track.  However further up the bank I came upon some older tracks that I posted above.  These tracks were clearly NOT wolf tracks, they were much rounder and much wider. Who knows, but I am not afraid to say I think I saw my first Mountain Lion in Minnesota (not my first ever, but the first around here).

Life is crazy these days and while both my economic situation and my new job don't allow me to travel like I used to, it was amazing how just a good afternoon on my local river brought me back to my senses and gave me my smile back for another action packed week.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Happy Homegrown 2015

Pot Holes!  Pot Holes!!

Yes its here again folks!  If outdoor rec is one leg of Duluth's revitalization, the arts and culture are another giant one!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Duluth Traverse a hot topic at the Bicycle Leadership Conference!

17 Mile Road 

I have done hundreds if not thousands of presentations over the years.  Of all of those a few stick out in my memory.

The one that I tanked on in Lacrosse, WI.  The one that I survived at Trek World and now the one that I nailed at the Bicycle Leadership Conference.

The Trek World talk was merciful in the fact that it came unexpectedly.  I had an hour to stress about the fact that I was about to be on stage with John Burke in front of thousands to both speak to IMBA's success in 2013 and also accept a $700,000 check.

The BLC though was a good month of lead up and preparation.  It was not a big crowd, maybe 250 or so, but it was a very elite and prestigious crowd in the fact that pretty much every major bicycle and bicycle accessory brand was represented in the room.

On top of that I had 10 minutes to tell the Duluth story and how it has impacted getting more people on bikes, a very small amount of time to speak to over 6 years of blood sweat and tears poured out by hundreds of people.  In other words I had to really distill what was important, what moved the dial and why.

Monterey Aquarium 
I stumbled around for two weeks with several ideas and presentations.  Finally one day I ran into a friend of mine (Ian from Apex!) who asked if I wanted to give the presentation to him and practice.  I realized that indeed I needed to start making that happen so I accepted.

First round try.  20 minutes.  10 minutes over the limit and my message was all over the map.  Oh shit I thought, I have to give this many, many, many more times.

I made that a priority.  I made myself give the presentation 14 more times over four days, each time tweaking it every time.  By the time I hit California and the conference I was comfortably down to 9 minutes and was still seeing spots where I could trim it and tighten it up.

Of course practice and execution are two totally different deals.  For me, when I stand up in front of people I get scared as hell, I tend to rush to just get out of the way and get it done.

This time was different though.  I knew I was dialed.  I also felt that I was the right person to tell this story and to tell it passionately.  While the Duluth Traverse story is extremely powerful, its also very easy for people to just discount Duluth wholesale before they even hear the story.

I was so confident and so chill at the podium, it was an amazing feeling.  Especially when you realize that the person I followed up was Thomas Dimitroff, General Manager of the Atlanta Falcons who was speaking about cycling and what the NFL could do to promote it!

My take away from the presentation was about how powerful our story here in Duluth is and how much more we need to get out in the world and tell it.
Dinner Monterey Aquarium 
Desert Bar, Monterey Aquarium 
Jenn Dice Bicycle Advocate, People for Bikes.  Thanks to Jenn for inviting Duluth to come and present our story!
Early morning ride before the Conference 
Typical conference.  So close, yet so far away.........

The BLC is held in conjunction with the Sea Otter Classic.  On the last day of the BLC I was able to hit Sea Otter for both a nice long single track ride with my old co-worker Jeremy Fancher.  It was an awesome ride.  However much more than I bargained for!  I was still in spring conference mode, but I am grateful to Jeremy for getting me out for a "real" ride.

We rode across Fort Ord to the venue for Sea Otter and saw the general mayhem there.  Man what a massive event, you could just feel the power coming from the general area!  If any of our MTB ride centers here in the Midwest could harness even a 10th of that power we would be doing amazing things.

As usual I was extremely excited to return home to my city and my family, fully inspired, flush with new energy and ideas and I am super stoked to get back to action on all we have going here in D-town, which was confirmed by many people outside of our box as AWESOME.

Jeremy Fancher, killing it on his home trails at Fort Ord (he also almost killed me!) 

Sea Otter Bicycle Festival.  America's premier cycling event 
Coast of California 

Crazy looking dogs around Monterey....