Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bright red berries

Bright red berries covered with snow.
Bright red berries near Cliff Drive.

Cliff Drive is really one of my favorite places to hang around in the winter: so beautiful, so remote, so quiet... until those blasted snowmobiles come by dang noisy smelly... ok, I'm done now. I'll be back soon!

Edit: For those wondering -- nope, I didn't Photoshop the berries at all. Other than the border and text, the only editing I did was to slightly desaturate the background -- because that's closer to how it appeared to me.

These are Mountain (or Northern) ash berries, which -- believe it or not -- are edible, although very bitter. I'm planning to make some jelly next weekend!

Second edit: The jelly turned out great, although it definitely has a unique flavor. I think it would work well on meat, but it's definitely not a "bread and butter" type jelly! I used this recipe which worked pretty well, but did require extra pectin.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Four graves in one

A headstone at the Cliff Catholic cemetery

The Cliff cemeteries are beautiful any time of year -- they've been overgrown with beautiful trees which keep them shady and cool. But they're even more beautiful in the winter, when everything is covered with a layer of snow. Here is one of the headstones, under a spreading pine tree. It's actually four headstones all at once: three young children and a wife. As much as I would have loved to have seen the Keweenaw back when the mines were still going strong, I'm also very glad not to live in times when life was this hard.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Into the boiler

An orange brick wall, with a window looking into a deep blue interior.
Orange bricks, blue boiler.

The wall of the old Quincy #5 boiler caught my eye the other day -- bright orange bricks, with the deep blue of shady snow and metal showing through the window. Aren't we lucky to live in a place where you can't throw a brick without hitting something picturesque?

Edit: Updated the photo with a slightly edited version.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Leaves

Orange leaves hanging from a tree with a blue snowy background.
Orange leaves at the Cliffs.

It's -11 this morning before the wind chill. Just thought you should know.

I found these on my first snowshoe outing of the year -- up the North American gap at the Cliffs. The colors are almost exactly as they were in the original -- bright orange leaves, wonderfully blue snow behind them.

I love getting out and snowshoeing through the midst of the woods -- absolutely silent and isolated, with a little breeze and some snow falling from the high branches of the trees. I can't wait to get out again...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

4.5 Mile Point

The sloping shore near 5 mile point.

This photo is from a very rugged rest stop near 5 mile point, at the request of one of my Superior-loving friends. This was a few weeks ago; now the shore would be completely snowed under, and the rocks would be capped with ice.

Also -- a slightly new layout so that I can post larger photos. Comments?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Corn Flag

A de-kerneled corn cob and husk caught on brush at the edge of a field.
A flag of corn in the brush

I grabbed this photo downstate while visiting my parents over Thanksgiving. Farmers downstate have been leaving corn up in the fields very late this year, hoping that it will dry out on the stalk (due to the price of gas, apparently). When I was downstate, this corn had just been harvested -- and this cob had gotten caught on some brush on the edge of the field. It looks like a flag to me -- anyone else?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


A water drop just as it falls off an icicle.
Drip, drip, drip...

Here it is: proof that spring is upon us! Get ready for the spring melt, overflowing waterfalls, and look out for summer. It's just around the corner!!

... right?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tech Overlook

Michigan Tech viewed from a high vantage point, with the Portage canal around it, and the Huron mountains on the horizon
Tech, Portage, Huron Mountains

Not much more to say about this one: yesterday, I got to pull out my snowshoes for the first time this year! After a quick romp around the cliffs, I headed back and saw this shot along the way. It was a particularly clear day, so you can really see the Huron mountains in the background -- they're all the way across Keweenaw Bay, in the Baraga Bump area.

Bonus points for anyone who knows where I was standing when I took this shot.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Adit Falls

A mini waterfall of mine water
I'm back from downstate -- so here's a waterfall! (Makes sense in my head.) This is (in my mind) the real Copper Falls (not this silliness). And it's a good name too -- this stream appears magically out of the hillside, where the old Copper Falls adit drains the mine. This waterfall is just a little way downstream, before the stream winds its way through a giant field of stamp sand left from the old mill.

That's all for now -- snowshoes tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Trespassers Beware!

A sign on an abandoned building: No Loitering, No Scavenging, Unlawful to remove any items from these premises.
... and don't even think about looking at this sign!

I'm downstate, visiting my parents and enjoying the utter flatness of the Saginaw Valley. I dragged a bit of snow down with me, but otherwise it's pretty different from the UP.

Until my return, here's a photo from a previous adventure: the old Centennial #2, mine of mysteries. This photo is from the old collar house. Nearby is the old rock house foundation, which is currently used to store road salt. That foundation is made half of cement and half of poor rock. Beyond it is... an old township dump! And beyond that is the old hoist. The hoist building is mostly destroyed, except for a single wall, and a small cinderblock addition. There is junk strewn about everywhere, and this sign, which apparently was posted back when there was still something left to steal.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


A bit of yellow grass clinging to a dark rock outcrop.
Grass on the rocks

I took this a few weekends ago at Esrey Park, whiling away a few minutes while my friends Kyle and Amy were busy getting engaged (my job was to keep Amy from expecting it, conveniently disappear, and then reappear to take some engagement photos). I happened to see this little shock of grass on a ledge in the cliff face there. I love the lakeshore around the east edge of the Keweenaw county -- rocky, rough, and picturesque.

We're getting lots of snow here -- so expect some good ol' snowshoe pictures soon!

Edit: Does anyone else think this look like a muppet hiding in the rocks?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nerd Sniping

Me, hiding behind a tree, sniping Kyle with my camera.
Ahhh! He got me!

You might know that I'm a bit silly. I also have a few friends who are rather silly. Sometimes, when we hang out, silliness happens.

That's the story with my frequent partner in crime hiking companion Kyle. Back in September, wandering among the trees up at Quincy, we got into a regular war -- and he shot me, the bugger! He totally sniped me -- snoped me? Caused snippage? Snaped? At any rate, here's the result -- as you can tell, I had him clearly in my sights as well.

For those wondering about the title, you should read xkcd. Photo credit goes to Kyle!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

First Snow

A brown oak leaf hanging from a bare branch, with snow collecting on the leaf.
Hang on!
If you like my photos, you might like a print on your wall!

Winter finally started this weekend. Down here in the valley, the snow started on Friday night and didn't stop until late on Sunday. We got about 2-3 inches in the end, and it's actually stuck around for a few days.

To enjoy the snow, I made a trip up to the cliffs on Saturday. There's nothing quite like standing in a quiet forest with snow coming down all around you. While I was there, I found this leaf just barely hanging on to an otherwise bare tree.

It looks like the snow will melt this week -- it never really sticks until Thanksgiving. But until then I'll enjoy the remains of the first snow.

And now some silliness:

I'm singin' in the snow
Just singin' in the snow!
What a glorious feeling,
it's 20 below...
-- Garrison Keillor

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Hills and trees fading into the distance.
Looking towards the South Range.

I took this photo on a hazy day, looking south from the Quincy & Torch Lake rail trail. The bump on the horizon is Whealkate bluff.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted!

[Edit 11 pm Tuesday: yay! A much better election than 2004. This time I didn't have to cough up a boatload of cash to send my absentee ballot overnight and international.]

... at 7:10 am, 10 minutes after the polls opened. There was a line out the door at the Houghton Fire Hall, and I was voter #46. Apparently 46 is their normal turnout for an entire day during a regular election.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Late Fall

A brown leaf among bare fall trees.
Leaf of mooditude, dude
If you like my photos, you can order a print!

This leaf is just barely clinging on up near Copper Falls... pretending it's still Late Fall and not Almost Winter. The nice warm 60 degrees we're having this week are probably encouraging it, too!

I say: bring on the snow -- I'm ready to get out the snowshoes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Prayer Tree

A view out from the top of the Cliffs, with a tree in the foreground with many post cards, letters, and prayer flags attached to it.
A mystery tree at the cliffs.

If you've ever looked around the cliffs near the old Cliff mine, you've certainly noticed the big rock pile coming right down the cliff face from the top of the cliffs. That old rock pile comes from the Cliff #3 shaft, which is right on top of the cliffs. It's also a fun place to hike and get a good view. (Mike's got a good article about this part of the mine -- the first photo has the rock pile on the far left side.)

I'd never actually climbed up to that part of the cliffs before, so a couple weekends ago I thought I'd go straight up the rock pile and see what I could see. The pile is very steep, but not impossible to climb. Making it harder, however, were the apple cores raining down upon me from above! A boy scout troop happened to be having a picnic up at the top, and they were throwing their cores to see how far they would go -- apparently my bright purple jacket and blaze orange hat weren't visible among the trees at the bottom. I kindly informed them of my presence.

Up at the top, I rested and enjoyed a lovely view (possibly surpassing the cliff lookout). The rock pile is pretty wide at the top, and very overgrown with trees and weeds. Wandering along the cliff face for a while, I found this tree right on the edge of the cliffs. The photo shows the basic idea: it was covered in post cards, scraps of paper with poems, random messages, and prayer flags. I have no idea what it was or who put it there, except that it was absolutely amazing to find it hidden up there, hidden in an overgrown wilderness.

Also at the top, I found the ruins of an old hoist house, a boiler stack, and sure enough -- the old Cliff #3 shaft (filled but slowly coming open again as wind, rain, and snow take their toll).

I feel sort of compelled to go back and add something of my own to the tree... maybe a photo of this tree?

Monday, October 27, 2008

After the rain

Looking down Cliff Drive towards Centennial, after a late fall rain.
If you like this photo, you can order a print of it!

Saturdays are my one day off, so I try to make them count. I spent last Saturday enjoying some beautiful new sights up in the Keweenaw. One thing I noticed was this view heading south along Cliff drive -- with the old Centennial #6 headframe in the distance. We had had on-and-off rain all day, and the road was shimmering.

I also wandered around the old Phoenix mine rock pile for a while. There is a lot to see up there, including an nice view from the top of the pile -- and an amazing view from the top of the cliffs! Unfortunately, I tossed most of those photos into the big digital trash can. Perhaps I'll return on snowshoes this winter and try again.

I also visited a remote and (to me at least) unknown rocky bluff -- which I have claimed for my own. More photos from there soon!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Old Boiler

An old ruin made of poor rock, with wispy clouds and a grassy field.
The old Quincy #2/#4 boiler ruins
Like my photos? You can order a print!

Time to get back to the "ruins" part of my blog! This is one of my favorite recent photos -- an old boiler house at Quincy, which once held two boilers for two different hoists. I'm always amazed at how much of the building was destroyed by scrappers -- you wouldn't recognize it in original photos.

I'm also experimenting with frames and text again. Check it out at a larger size to see what I've done -- I think this one turned out pretty well.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stupid Internet Tricks

I don't normally post things like this on here, but... here's some website's idea of which "celebrities" I look most like. Who is that on the right, hiding behind Richard Gere? Could it be... David Hilbert, famous mathematician best known for his immensely important list of 23 problems fundamental to mathematics?! Check out his photo in that first link -- very stylish.

I also appreciate that a computer somewhere thinks I look like Janeane Garofalo. Very interesting.

Back to real photos soon! Until then, enjoy this ultra-rare Dave-all-dressed-up photo.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall Falls

A small waterfall with brown pine needles covering the rocks around it.
Ten-Foot Falls in the Fall
If you're a fan of this photo, you can order a print!

Just a view of a mini-waterfall, in the fall, when the leaves are falling. This one is part of Ten-Foot Falls on the Eagle River, surrounded by pine trees which are oddly shedding their needles right now. (Be sure to click the photo: it improves with larger sizes.)

The leaves are coming down quickly here, and we're moving from "fall" into "not quite winter". I've been collecting rose hips for tea (and possibly jelly or stew), and my housemates have taken to calling me a Ranger (named Strider). Bonus points for the geeks who caught that...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Centennial by Moonlight

A rusted rockhouse with stars in the background.
The Centennial #6 rockhouse in the moonlight.

The night after my moonlight outing to Quincy, I thought I'd keep up the spooky full-moon fun. My stop that night was the old Centennial #6, north of Calumet. The Centennial once had the honor of being the last operating mine in the Keweenaw, but it's long since closed.

In the moonlight, Centennial was just as spooky as Quincy. There are fewer ruins there (almost everything is modern-ish frame buildings), but the area felt very isolated. There was also a screech owl hunting for prey whose call kept echoing across the site.

This photo is one of the few I managed to capture before the moon was totally hidden behind a heavy cloud bank (some clouds are great for dramatic photos, too many just block all the light). I think that the muted colors make it look like an old postcard. If you look close, you can see the stars moving across the sky.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quincy in the Moonlight

The Quincy #2 shaft-rockhouse and its cable stands under a cloudy moonlight sky.
The Quincy #2 shaft-rockhouse under the full moon

This past weekend was the (almost) full moon. So naturally -- I went out taking photos at night! I've done this before, in the winter, and it's amazing. The moon was pretty, but the fast-moving clouds were awesomely dramatic.

Also: Quincy at night is extremely spooky. The ruins lit by the full moon are ghostly enough, not to mention the sound of dripping water in the shafts covered by bat cages. Oh, and the bats. But above all else, the old #5 boiler house has a piece of loose metal which scrapes against other metal beams in the wind. It's about as creepy as you can get when you're out, alone, without any other lights, on a very windy night. I loved it!

Next stop: Centennial!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Brilliant Oak

Brilliant red oak leaves against a blue sky.
Oak Leaves on the Q&TL Railroad
Would you like a print of this photo? You can order one!

Not much to say: the colors here are amazing!

In other news, I'm trying to crop my photos to 8x10 size so that I can print them more easily. I recently ordered some 8x10 prints from Adorama which turned out most excellent (especially when they have a sale). The only problem is that photos from my Nikon are not in the right aspect ratio (it's closer to 4x6), so the prints have white strips along two sides. In the future, I'll hopefully be able to avoid that problem.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Glowing grove

Dark trees with long shadows, and bright fall colors in the background.
Fall trees and a pine grove

Here it is again, that old pine grove along the Q&TL railroad. This time of year, the trees are absolutely glowing up there! I just got back from another hike along the old railroad, and I have even more photos of brilliant leaves, lovely trees, and blue skies.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


A yellow ring and supports on top of a chair lift.
In the fall, everything turns colors...

... even the ski lifts! I grabbed this photo at the top of Mont Ripley this past weekend. My parents visited, and I took them along the old Quincy & Torch Lake railroad to the top of the ski hill -- all of it is beautiful in the fall.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wyandotte Pool

Trees reflect in a still pool, with rocks at its border.
A still pool at Wyandotte falls.

I first visited Wyandotte falls back in 2006 during my summer o' waterfalls. The falls are on the Misery river, down near Twin Lakes. At that time, even though it was a warm summer, the river was flowing and the falls were roaring. Unlike some Keweenaw falls I could mention, Wyandotte falls really are falls and not rapids. But, I just revisited the falls a few days ago, and this time -- almost nothing! The falls were a trickle, and the river barely moved. But still water is pretty too, especially with fall reflections in the water!

The woods around Wyandotte falls are some of most alive woods I've ever been in. Even within the Keweenaw, every woods has its own personality. Some (like the pine groves on Quincy hill) feel quiet and calm, with the wind high above. Some (like parts of the Cliffs) seem mixed up and busy -- usually because of recent logging. In the woods at Wyandotte, I had a constant feeling that something was happening. Leaves falling, bushes rustling, water babbling, small animals moving -- it was really a bit unnerving. I've had the same feeling both times I've been there. The forest around there is also fairly old and hasn't been logged any time recently. The old, fallen, mossy trees really add to the atmosphere.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Day at the Beach

A graffiti beach scene on an old cement support.
A day at the beach

I found this neat little bit of graffiti while wandering around the old Quincy Mill site near Mason. This was in a hidden building which used to be the power plant for the mill. The inside was covered with graffiti, but most of it was the usual: random names, numbers, "Hoton" (you know, because being from Hoton makes you so much more ghetto), etc. This one caught my eye because it was much more artistic. A lovely beach scene -- on the massive cement support for an old steam turbine.

At the same time, Kyle and I had to watch our backs carefully, as a paintball war was going on in the old mill buildings and the forests around it. Some people don't care about the history of the Keweenaw, I guess.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Watery Leaf

Bright red leaf laying in water and rocks.
It's fall!
... and you can order a print of this photo!

... so it's time for photos of leaves! The colors are coming along pretty well here. This leaf was in Quincy Creek, which is a well-hidden creek out near Mason. The creek also has some lovely small waterfalls -- photos of those are coming soon. My next goal is to get up to the Cliff lookout when the colors are at their peak!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sunset Silhouette

Abstract silhouette of doors and beams against the sunset sky.
The Quincy roundhouse at sunset
Like this? You can order a print!

Old ruins + sunset = abstract. Also, Quincy is within a stone's throw of my house (ok, I'd need to spend some time at the gym). So I tend to spend a lot of time there when I want to get out of my house.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Door Out of Summer

A door with brightly lit foliage, set in a dim stone wall.
Looking back to summer

It's past Labor Day, so that means school has started again: I'm teaching Calc 2, taking Statistics, preparing for Comprehensive exams in January, and recovering from a bike-induced shoulder injury which is keeping me from doing almost any of my favorite activities. Dangit, where did summer go?!

Bonus points for anyone who catches the reference in the title of the post.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Bent nails in a board on a door at the Quincy Roundhouse.
An old Quincy roundhouse door

I grabbed this shot randomly while at the Q&TL Railroad presentation early in August. I think it's a nice example of depth of field, and how that can be used for interesting effects.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dancing Tree

A curvy tree reaching up to the sky.
Dance, tree, dance!

Yet another photo of trees in the pine groves along the old Q&TL railroad. One of these trees is not like the other ones, one of those trees just isn't the same...

Another interesting fact which we noticed: the various pine groves are all standing on very steep hillsides, but the tops of the trees are all at almost the same level. I don't have a good photo of it, but the trees at the top of the hill are noticeably shorter than the trees farther down the hill. The trees all appear to be about the same age. Any ideas?

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Great Nerf War of '08

Adam with soldier's helmet and a huge automatic nerf rifle.
Sergeant Sommerfield prepares to face the enemy

I love my housemates...

... but we're still finding broken nerf dart heads under the furniture.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rocket Range Camping: Get me outta here!

Kyle's car going up a rough patch of road.
Vroom, vroom!

The road to and from the Keweenaw Rocket Range is... a bit rough. Luckily Kyle owns an All-Wheel Drive Car of Awesomeness which took us over the nasty patches, through the mud, and around the washed-out bits. Overall, I definitely wouldn't recommend trying it with any normal vehicle! This photo is one of the nastiest bits -- the one place where we actually had to back up and try a second time.

For anyone who is interested, here are directions to the rocket range. Travel at your own risk!
  1. From Copper Harbor, follow US-41 east towards Fort Wilkins (yes, it actually continues). You will eventually come to the end (or beginning, depending on your point of view) of US-41 -- there's even a sign there commemorating it. Follow the dirt road which continues in the same direction.
  2. Follow this for about 4-4.5 miles, until you find a road which splits off to the left. There are several previous turnoffs, but this is the only one within the correct distance which actually has markings as an ATV trail (the rest are extremely rough, and it should be fairly obvious that they're not the right place). Turn left here.
  3. Follow this new road for about 3 more miles. Along the way, you will pass (in order) a swamp (be careful of possible washouts) and Schlatter Lake (with several turnoffs) on your right.
  4. Shortly thereafter, there will be a fork in the road -- take the left branch. Very shortly down this road is the rocket range site, and a beautiful view of the lake. There used to be a tree at the branch with a large, rusty "DANGER" sign -- but that tree was broken and quickly disappearing when we were last there. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rocket Range Camping: Firelight

Faces in the firelight... and an infinity sign made with a flashlight
Faces in the firelight

The beaches out on Keweenaw Point are an awesome spot to camp. We (and by "we" I mean "Rachel") built a roaring fire from the driftwood we found lying around. That lead to such delicious foods as pizza pies (bread, pepperoni, sauce, and cheese in a circular clamp, over the fire), smores, and hobo meals.

Then, Kyle and I started playing around with long exposures. I also have a somewhat more blurry photo in which he wrote "e^{i \pi}+1 = 0" with a flashlight -- I'm sad that didn't turn out as well!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rocket Range Camping: Sunrise!

Sunrise at the Keweenaw Rocket Range
Sunrise on the east coast of the Keweenaw
Wish you could see this sunrise all of the time? You can order a print!

This past weekend, I went camping along with some friends at the old Keweenaw Rocket Range on the far east tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The old rocket range was the site of some rocket experiments in the 1960's, but nowadays there is almost nothing there... except for beautiful beaches, dense forests, and absolutely spectacular sunrises.

Last weekend also happened to be the full moon, with beautiful weather, so we slept right out on the beach, under the moon and stars. As a direct result, I woke up with the sunrise after a somewhat restless night (full moon + bad vision + no glasses = thinking it's 10 am and cloudy when it's actually midnight and clear). However, this is what I woke up to -- absolutely beautiful. I love backwoods camping!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How I ate free for a week

People are constantly asking me: "Dave, how is it that you managed to eat free for the entire week of August 3rd - 9th?" Friends, relatives, random strangers on the street have all heard about this amazing feat and clamor to know how I pulled it off. Grad students everywhere are in awe of my powers. Well, I guess it's time to let out one of my most sought-after secrets and appease the hordes of hungry readers. Here's how it happened.

First, I should qualify: I ate free dinners for a week. Lunches were still mostly on my own. How did I do it? Here were a handful of contributing factors. First, several weeks earlier I had convinced a bunch of my housemates and other troupers to chip in on a wedding gift for one of our troupers. I bought the item (a dough kneading board, which is bizarrely expensive), so everyone ended up owing me about $30. Almost everyone had $20 bills on them, so many troupers still owed me $10 going into the Week of the Free Food. Second, my birthday was August 9th. For various reasons, different groups of people wanted to take me out on different days. Finally, some other troupers were getting married (on my birthday...), so a lot of old friends were in town and wanted to hang out.

That said, here's the schedule:
Sunday 8/3: Dinner with troupers new and old at the Pilgrim River Steakhouse, including a fresh dose of bizarre math puzzles from my old friend Dave. Cal covered dinner to pay off the gift debt.
Monday 8/4: My old mathie friend Amy and I went through the Arby's drive-through. I ordered chicken (yeah, at Arby's... I'm like that) which apparently wasn't ready, so they asked us to pull ahead and wait for a minute. 15 minutes later... no chicken. I went inside: "I'm wondering if my order is ready." "Do you have your receipt?" "Yeah, I'm order 74." "Hey Bill, where's order 74?" "Order 74? We don't have any order 74!" "Sir, I'm terribly sorry..." They not only made my order (fast!) but also repaid the cost of the meal. So yes, that too was free.
Tuesday 8/5: Pizza at the Chyre. Matt covered my part to pay off the gift debt, while daforsto earned us free crazy bread on the cute little memory machine at Little Caesar's.
Wednesday 8/6: Dinner with Troupers at Hunan. Brandon covered dinner to pay off the gift debt.
Thursday 8/7: My old friends, classmates, and coworkers Christi and Ryan (in town for the wedding) took me out to the Library for my birthday, reminiscences, and yummy root beer.
Friday 8/8: My long-time not-girlfriend Rachel took me out to the Ambassador for my birthday, along with Amy and a few of the younger troupers.
Saturday 8/9: Brandon and a few other troupers took me and Steve (also his birthday!) on a mini pub-crawl for my birthday: the DT for dinner and beer, the Ambassador for a fishbowl, the Dog for a shot, and the Library for dessert and fancier drinks.

Sunday, I took Amy out for her birthday... yes, it was quite a weekend for birthdays!

So there's the story. For an entire week, my dinners were covered by other people. It was pretty amazing. The next week wasn't quite as amazing, free-food-wise, but it was quite fun for other reasons, including an awesome camping trip. More about that later!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Stairway on a large fuel-oil tank.
Stairway to fuel-oil
Like this? You can order a print!

There's a feeling I get when I head to campus
And the temperature outside is freezing
In my thoughts I have seen radiators full of steam
And I've heard all their clanging and pinging.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Good Ol' Jacob's Falls

Jacob's Falls in the evening.

Ah, Jacob's Falls. There is hardly a more popular waterfall in the Keweenaw. Last Saturday I was out and about all across the Keweenaw, and happened to find myself here near sunset. While I was hopping around the pool at the bottom of the falls, trying to get a good composition, at least half a dozen cars stopped. A dozen or so kids scrambled up into the cut, and a half dozen worried mothers yelled up at them. Everyone stops here. But it sure is pretty!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Old Steam

The Quincy & Torch Lake #1 steam engine
The Quincy & Torch Lake Railroad #1: The Thomas F. Mason
Fan of steam engines? You can order a print of this photo!

It turns out that this year holds many anniversaries for the Quincy Mining Company: the company was founded 160 years ago, the #2 shaft-rockhouse which sits up on the Hancock hillside like the tower of Saruman was built 100 years ago, and it's also the 50th anniversary of the Quincy Mine Hoist Association.

Saturday, I attended one of a series of presentations about the history of Quincy -- about Quincy's private railroad, the Quincy & Torch Lake. A rather large horde of history buffs met up at the mine and took a guided tour around the mine site, along the old railroad, and back to see some of the old engines.

This engine is the Q&TL's first engine, named after Quincy's manager. It sits on display on a little bit of track behind the giant #2 hoist house. The Mine Hoist Association is slowly preserving it (not exactly restoring it). Can you imagine what it must have been like to see this beast of a steam engine chugging along the top of Mont Ripley, hauling loads of mine rock down to the mill at Mason? I'm starting to understand how people can get so obsessed with old railroads!

And yes, the lens flare is intentional. I could have just walked around to the other side for the photo...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Fall Leaf

Red leaf on a poor rock trail.
It's autumn! Wait, you say it's midsummer?

I found this leaf on the old Q&TL railroad trail up at Quincy while hiking around with an old friend. You can probably tell that I've photoshopped it a bit (I'm still learning the art of subtle image manipulation). But, the color of the leaf hasn't been touched -- it really was just like that!

This weekend, with any luck, I'll be able to take out my nifty new filters and try some fun water photography. More to follow!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Gears on the Bike go Round and Round...

Bike gears in the evening sun.
round and round, round and round...

That's about all there is to say about that! I love my roadbike; I take it all around town and through the Keweenaw. Now if only cars on the road would be a little nicer...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manganese Falls

Manganese falls in the middle of summer.

There's not much to Manganese falls, which is just south of Copper Harbor. It does drop through a relatively deep cut -- perhaps it's better in the spring, when there's more runoff.

For the moment, I'm posting this from the dorms at the University of Wisconsin, where I'm attending the MAA Mathfest. Yes, math camp, again!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Uff da!

Uff da! You betcha, eh?

A blaze on the red ski trail at Lake Manganese. Later along the trail, we came to a branch with signs: Keweenaw Mountain Lodge one way, and "Berries!" the other. Down that path were a whole bunch of thimbleberry plants -- no ripe berries just yet, sadly. But we sure are in da Keweenaw, eh?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rant: Missing out on a Keweenaw summer

Alright folks, it's time for me to enlighten my lovely horde of readers with a minor rant.

As some of you know, I make my living teaching math at Michigan Tech. Due to insufficient reluctance, I tend to be assigned to teach 8 am classes. That's the case this summer, when I've been getting up nice and unreasonably early to teach Differential Equations four days a week. I'm actually getting pretty good at getting up at those evil hours, and the advantage is that I have afternoons mostly free.

On another, seemingly unrelated topic: the golden hours. This is the name photographers use for the hour or so right around sunrise and sunset. The sun is low in the sky, the light is golden and soft, clouds are hilighted in brilliant colors, and basically everything takes on a beautiful glow. I've played around in the golden hours myself a bit, such as these up from Quincy. Which one was taken at sunset?

Mmmm, golden glowy goodness!

And finally: lenses. I just bought a new lens (the awesomely awesome Nikon 18-200mm VR general-purpose zoom of the gods). I really, really, REALLY want to get out to try it. But my only option is to go out in the harsh light of day, instead of the beautiful golden glow of evening of early morning, or even the weirdly colored night.

So the upshot of all this is: I feel like I'm really missing out on my favorite times and awesome opportunities for photos. That will get fixed eventually, of course. Perhaps things will improve once the semester is over in mid August! Until then, I'm hiking on the weekends in the bright, harsh sunlight.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mossy Tree

A mossy tree on Silver Creek during the spring runoff.

Silver creek runs along the back of the cliffs, then turns and makes a lovely little unnamed waterfall just before it crosses Five Mile Point road. Back in early spring during the runoff, Kyle, Squiggly and I headed out on a lovely day to follow the creek. It eventually started snowing -- it was amazingly beautiful to be in the middle of the woods when it started snowing.

I had fun playing around with a long exposure on this tree, to get the smooth water effect. The moss was so green on the tree -- I'd like to go back to clean things up a bit (move that annoying brush in the bottom left...) and take another photo.

I haven't been out taking many photos lately, but I should be this weekend. Until then, I'm digging into the archives!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Quincy Overlook

Houghton at night from the Quincy #7 rockpile.

The Quincy #7 rockpile is one of my favorite hidden spots in the Keweenaw -- and it's almost in the middle of Hancock! The rockpile is at [location redacted because I want to keep it to myself, suckers!] -- ok, ok, it's located just at the top of Quincy Hill, just where US-41 meets Kowsit Lats road. The rockpile is hidden by Quincy Hill itself, and has an amazing view of the Portage and Houghton.

Someone has built a makeshift seat out of big, flat chunks of poor rock at the top of the rockpile. It's a perfect place to go to after a stressful day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cliff Cemetery

Joshua Schick, 1884, at the Cliff Catholic Cemetery
Joseph Schick, 1884, at the Cliff Catholic Cemetery

Turns out there are two Cliff cemeteries -- a Catholic one and a Protestant one. I've been to the Protestant one many times, which is just off Cliff Drive, in the shadow of the cliffs, near the rest of the mine ruins.

However, on US-41 about a mile from the north intersection with Cliff Drive, there is a small sign on the side of the road which say "Cliff Cemetery". For years, I'd drive past it and think, "Boy, that sign sure is a long way away from the cemetery, it's not even on this road!" Then one day I actually stopped to look, and sure enough, just down from the sign there is a tiny little path going into the woods. It passes a tiny stream, past some huge old trees, and through a patch of thimbleberries. All of a sudden, the ground becomes covered entirely by some very low-growing dark green leafy shrub, through which very old headstones poke up. There's also a very old poor rock foundation, maybe from a small chapel, and a small stand of pines.

Edit (2/18/2009): Recently I had an email conversation with Mary Drew over at pasty.com. She had looked through my blog, found this post, and passed along this story about the grave in my photo:
I have an Adult Foster Care Home where I care for 6 residents, some elderly, others not so elderly, but just needing assistance to get through each day. One of our elderly residents up until she passed away at 96, was a sweet little lady named Irene. [The grave in this photo] is her Grandfather's grave and her Father and she, planted the flowering ground cover you see in the photo there around his grave, then it spread and started covering everywhere. I think it's called phlox. Up until the last couple years Irene lived with us, her nephew (who is 78) would take her up there to the Cliff Cemetery each summer and they would take the short hike in to visit her Grandfather's grave. My husband and I have been there several times since she passed away, just to pay our respects to Joseph and the others buried there.

What a wonderful story! (And now we know where that nifty ground cover came from.) I wish that I'd had a chance to talk to Irene about her memories. Mary also mentioned that, a few years back, some group of people was doing interviews with people who remembered the Italian hall disaster, for the purpose of making a documentary. Neither of us knows anything about that documentary though -- anyone out there have an idea?

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Looking through a series of identical doors at the old Ahmeek Stamp Mill in Tamarack City
Like it? Prints of this photo are available!

The Ahmeek Mill was a copper processing mill. Copper-bearing rock from the Ahmeek mine would be sent down to the mill (on the shores of Torch Lake) in trains. At the mill, the rock was pounded into tiny particles by giant steam-driven hammers. One of those hammers is actually still standing today -- I may show it in a later post.

However, this part of the mill isn't the part with the hammers. This is a long line of identical poured-cement rooms, all with these doors leading through them. The rooms are empty nowadays, and a handful have heavy metal doors attached to them. I have no clue what part of the milling process went on in them. At least they gave a cool photo!