Carla Brennan's Blog

Reflections and Photos from The Big Trip and Beyond . .


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Carla’s Photograph of the Day – August 29, 2013

The Deliquescence of an Inky Cap Mushroom

Ouray, CO
Taken 1:00 PM, 8/29/13

Last night this inky cap (shaggy mane) mushroom in our campsite had a bell-like shape but by morning it had flattened and begun its strange process of self-digestion. Enzymes cause the meat of the mushroom to deliquesce (a new word for me: it means to liquify or, more poetically, to disappear as if by melting. I guess the wicked witch also deliquesced.) This gooey liquid can actually be used as a semi-permanent ink; Chris intends to try it out. By tomorrow only a black pool will be left. How quickly life comes and goes.

Last night this inky cap (shaggy mane) mushroom in our campsite had a bell-like shape but by morning it had flattened and begun its strange process of self-digestion. Enzymes cause the meat of the mushroom to deliquesce (a new word for me: it means to liquify or, more poetically, to disappear as if by melting. I guess the wicked witch also deliquesced.) This gooey liquid can actually be used as a semi-permanent ink; Chris intends to try it out. By tomorrow only a black pool will be left. How quickly life comes and goes.

Quotes of the Day:

“Everything flows and nothing abides,
 everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.”
~Heraclitus (c.540 – c.475 BC)

“Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment.”

– Pema Chodron

RUNNER-UP PHOTOGRAPH OF THE DAY
Morning Dewdrop

Ouray, CO

Taken 9 AM, 8/29/13

“Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water.”

“Your body is like a dewdrop on the morning grass, your life is as brief as a flash of lightning.”

– Dogen Zenji (1200 – 1253)


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Carla’s Photograph of the Day – August 28, 2013

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Colorado
Taken about 12:00 PM, 8/28/13

We camped for the night at the north rim just yards from the edge of this incredible gorge.

We camped for the night at the north rim, just yards from the edge of this incredible gorge.

Relevant Quote for the Day
“Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness.”

– Lao Tzu

DAYS 269-274 Jay Cooke State Park MN – PHOTO GALLERY

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June  25-30, 2013

Our last stop in Michigan was Porcupine Wilderness State Park not far from Wisconsin. We thought we might stay a few days. However, in the morning we found hordes of mosquitoes covering the outside of our windows, buzzing malevolently with blood lust. We could not enter or exit the door without a cloud of them charging in. Not being able to withstand another day at the mercy of small insects, we packed up and left, heading west, eventually toward more arid lands that hopefully had fewer bugs.

Driving across northernmost Wisconsin I said my good-byes to Lake Superior as we saw repeated glimpses of it from the road. I wasn’t finished yet, I wanted to experience more, but it was time to move on. To soften my sadness, I made plans for a return trip, this time traveling the upper coast of Minnesota (someone described this as the “Norwegian Riviera”) and heading into the boundary waters and maybe Canada. Maybe go on a long canoe camping trip. But this fantasied trip will be in September when the number of people and insects will have died down. I don’t know if I will actually return some year, but I hope so.

Midway to North Dakota we stopped at Jay Cooke State Park south of Duluth, MN. A pleasant park, we stayed several days. There were fewer bugs there, plus I was able to wander the trails in search of flowers and other surprises. Chris mountain biked and went on exploratory trips to Duluth. The air in the park was thick with the aroma of pine and fir. I felt I could not breathe enough of it, as though it were satisfying a thirst I hadn’t known I had.

The first night we went to a presentation about the tremendous flood of the previous year. In June 2012 heavy rains cause the St. Louis River, which bisects the park, to swell to five times its normal size. A side channel that fed a power plant also burst its walls. This caused extensive damage throughout the park including destroying the historic swinging footbridge first built in the 1920’s. It connected the trails in the southern part of the park with the campground and visitor’s center on the north. The park had only reopened recently. Even at normal fullness the St. Louis is an impressive river, with wild rapids and rocky cliffs. (You can hear its roar on a recording on my Sound Tracks page.)

In the Visitor’s Center were posters of yellow ladyslippers and I asked if they were currently blooming. Indeed they were and I nearly swooned with delight. I had never previously seen a yellow ladyslipper and I proceeded to a few hundred photos of them over the next several days. (I narrowed those down to about 12 for the photo gallery.)

(NOTE: The number of days left on The Big Trip are diminishing rapidly; we’ll be home around Oct. 1. I am still far behind on reporting our experiences. Getting fully caught up on the travelogue before I return to Santa Cruz seems unlikely. I have many hand-written notes but finding the time to transcribe and revise them continues to be elusive.

For now, I have decided to offer a few comments and a photo gallery from many of the different spots we have explored. Even this is a big chore but it seems possibly achievable. The hope that I will some day complete a written account is still alive within me, but the actualization of it may be delayed.)

This gallery contains 47 photos

DAYS 262-268 Copper Harbor, MI – PHOTO GALLERY

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June 18-24, 2013

“We’re tops in Michigan!”
– Copper Harbor’s tourism slogan

On the northern shore of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at the northernmost point of the northerly jutting Keweenaw Peninsula is the small town of Copper Harbor. We were drawn there by its promise of world class mountain biking and for more exposure to Lake Superior. It turned out to be an almost perfect place to settle in for awhile. Of course, there were imperfections such as rainy, foggy weather and numerous biting insects (mosquitoes, black flies, no-see-ums, and other larger flies). The North Woods are known for their plentiful blood-sucking beasts and they didn’t disappoint.

The wet weather supported – as it does everywhere – quiet, introspective time. The biting insects, on the other hand, had little redeeming value, except for whatever important role they play in the ecosystem and, I suppose, for developing patience, endurance, a calm response to adversity, and compassion toward all beings who suffer itchy bites and toward the small unpleasant creatures themselves. During the moments of being attacked repeatedly and scratching unsatisfactorily, their important ecological function was hard to appreciate and patience was hard to find.

We camped at Fort Wilkins State Park where I could walk to a lovely small lake, Lake Fanny Hooe, or to a magnificent huge lake, Lake Superior. It also included a reconstructed 19th century fort which had been originally built to maintain order in the wild frontier of Michigan. The fort had well thought out displays with furniture and objects from that era and a few people dressed in period costume acting in character for the time period. (A soldier despairingly told me about how hard the winters were at the fort.)

The small town center had all that was necessary: good coffee, excellent ice cream and a few groceries. The mountain biking trails turned out to actually be world class and Chris had a splendid time (I don’t bike). Wildflowers bloomed everywhere so I was in bliss wielding my camera. Only a couple miles away was an old growth forest with virgin white pine – Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary. I hiked through it and felt the power of being immersed in an ancient woodland.

By the way, if you see a plant, animal or bird without identification or misidentified and you know the correct name, please let me know!

(NOTE: The number of days left on The Big Trip are diminishing rapidly; the end is in sight. I am still far behind on reporting our experiences. Getting fully caught up on the travelogue before I return to Santa Cruz seems unlikely. I have many hand-written notes but finding the time to transcribe and revise them continues to be elusive.

For now, I have decided to offer a few comments and a photo gallery from many of the different spots we have explored. Even this is a big chore but it seems possibly achievable. The hope that I will complete a written account is still alive within me, but the actualization of it may be delayed.)

This gallery contains 51 photos


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Carla’s Photograph of the Day – August 21, 2013

Bighorn Sheep Herd
Taken about 8:30 AM, 8/21/13

We’re camping at the western mouth of Bighorn Sheep Canyon but I didn’t expect to actually see any here. Salida is only two miles away and there is a large commercial RV park next to our campground. But this morning a small herd walked along the Arkansas River and up the steep slope we face. They apparently have been making the rounds the last several mornings at the same time; several people said they’ve been coming to the campground for years and this is the first time they’ve seen sheep here.

We’re camping at the western mouth of Bighorn Sheep Canyon but I didn’t expect to actually see any here. Salida is only two miles away and there is a large commercial RV park next to our campground. But this morning a small herd walked along the Arkansas River and up the steep slope we face. They apparently have been making the rounds the last several mornings at the same time; several people said they’ve been coming to the campground for years and this is the first time they’ve seen sheep here.

DAYS 256-261 Pictured Rocks National Seashore, MI – PHOTO GALLERY

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June 12-17, 2013

“By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water . . . “

Gitche Gumee, Lac Supérieur, Lake Superior . . .
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is full of lore and history, of peculiarities and eccentrics. They have their local foods: pastys, whitefish, wild rice. Local animals: wolf, bear, moose, loon and blackfly. Local legends: shipwrecks, the Voyageurs, Scandinavian settlers, Longfellow’s Hiawatha, and the stories of the Chippewa. And also unbearable winters, terrific storms, waterfalls and beauty. The unexpected richness of this environment endeared the UP to us.

While traveling the Upper Peninsula, we were able to implement our plan for staying several days in one spot and dropping the camper. This allowed one of us to use the truck while the other stayed “home”. Or we could both drive somewhere for a day trip without having to pack everything. Our first long stay was on the north coast of the UP at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

(NOTE: The number of days left on The Big Trip are diminishing rapidly; the end is in sight. I am still far behind on reporting our experiences. Getting fully caught up on the travelogue before I return to Santa Cruz seems unlikely. I have many hand-written notes but finding the time to transcribe and revise them continues to be elusive.

For now, I have decided to offer a few comments and a photo gallery from many of the different spots we have explored. Even this is a big chore but it seems possibly achievable. The hope that I will complete a written account is still alive within me, but the actualization of it may be delayed.)

This gallery contains 38 photos