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...