Monday, August 28, 2006

Signs you work overnight:

- You walk into your bedroom at 10 at night in the middle of the summer, and can't get over how dark it is in there.

- Your favorite pasttime in April is "Starting at the Sun at 6pm"

- You get up early in the Winter to see the sunset

- You know full well that the middle of August, at 3am, is the best time ever to go out for a walk. Add a light breeze and they should open parks at this hour.

- The funniest television is not on during prime-time, nor is it on Comedy Central. Is it found at 3am and involves infomericals for questionable health products.

- You know where every 24 hour store is within a reasonable driving distance, and even a few that are not reasonable but could still prove useful if you decide to shampoo carpets at 2am.

- You realize that Cub Foods really is open all night. However, there is always a long line at 1am, because there is only one checker and about 10 people lined up. Around 3am, clerks stop looking at you like you are a customer, and start looking at you like you have issues.

- You wonder why all of the stores close so early on weekdays, and you live in a large city.

- You've contemplated taking a nap at 11pm.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

This morning at 6:45am I saw my breath for the first time this summer.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Awhile back, I posted a short comment that said I was going to Ecuador at the end of September. Here are a few more details:

I've known about this trip for a few months, but details have always been sketchy. Now, my tickets are purchased and time is officially requested at work. However, I've been asked to call in on the air while I'm down there, so I wonder if I can count that on my time card...

I'll be in and near Quito for most of the week I'll be there, working with Hope Haven - a ministry to the disabled, it's also where my father works. We'll be distributing donated and fixed wheelchairs (more info on the link) in some of the villages around the area. In addition, we'll be distributing wheelchairs before a Franklin Graham festival in Quito...something that wasn't in the works until after I said I'd go, so that's a neat opportunity as well.

Since I learned about this trip about 2 months before I'm set to go, I had to get my passort renewed, which was issued when I went to England over 10 years ago. There's a way to get it expidited, so I shelled out the money to get that done. The claim is that it will take only 2-3 weeks. Everyone one I've talked to says that is the case, so I'll take their word for it. I need it in about 5 weeks now.

This should be a great trip (anyone been to Ecuador?), and I'm certainly looking forward to it. I know I'm biased because I have family involved, but I love this ministry and the attitude it has. I'm sure I'll also be posting pictures and writing out info again here, so if I don't see you between now and late September, check back!
Vacation log: Special Edition.

A request of sorts was made for me to jump ahead to when I was by the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin, which was Wednesday early evening June 21st. I've also got a few pictures to add.

In context: I was on my way home, and this was my second drive by the islands. I didn't get as long as I wished in the area (I was on the road for about 13 hours that day, stopping quite often), but I still got to stop and take a few pictures.

Anyway, I decided to stop in Bayfield to take a few pictures of the boats in the lake, as well as the Islands in the background. I took these pictures in a no-parking zone, something I realized after I got out of my car. So, take a look while you can at the contraband.

After this, the next time I really saw the Islands was when I stopped at the visitor's center about 15 miles down the road. A storm had recently passed, and I had pulled off the road about 2 hours previous (more later). Still, it was incredibly windy when I arrived, to the point where they had the Coast Guard out looking for a few people on kayaks. The people at the visitor's center were apologetic (!) and said that they had a terrible storm pass through earlier and expected another one later on. The water was incredibly choppy, and I couldn't imagine anyone trying to go out in a little kayak in this weather. For the next hour or so, I managed to walk on the piers, talk with people who were working there that summer (who informed me that some people were holed up on a inland because they were too afraid to boat back), and tour a little fish hatchery that was no longer in operation. After awhile, the wind managed to calm down, and it started to look much better out on the lake. As I was leaving, some people decided to try out their luck.

So anyway, that's my short stop by the Apostle Islands. I certainly recommend spending much longer there. Just remember, there's not a whole lot else in the area. If you get bored, you can see the area's claims to fame. You can also stop on the Red Cliff Indian Reservation, which you technically pass through on the way to the islands. In the village of Red Cliff, there's a nice little gift shop where I picked up some great tea made from Spearmint, Eucalyptus, and Ginseg.

With that done, I'm back to the real order of events later on. However, I've got a few housekeeping things I want to post first.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Monday, June 20th -- 2am (it's 1am somewhere)

It's been a long day. I slept horribly last night in Ashland. It's certainly not the fault of the motel, I just never go to bed before 5am, so my body couldn't convince itself to crash anytime sooner. I had to be up by 10am for the check-out, and was tempted to sleep out in my car in protest.

Your mind does funny things when you can't sleep. Around 5am, when I was still wide awake, I seriously thought about getting in the car and driving until I got to my next motel. Or, possibly, getting out on the lake and walking until I couldn't keep my eyes open. I knew both were quite awful ideas, but it beat laying in bed waiting to be too exhausted to turn over again. Still, I looked out the window and saw the first signs of light on Superior and decided against it.

Anyway, I left Ashland around 11 and decided to get on the road right away. I stopped in Odanah, a village on the Bad River Reservation outside of Ashland, to fill up on gas and get an easy lunch for the day (pizza slice, soda, chips --- hey, I was on vacation). After this, I was on my way to Ironwood, Michigan. It still seems strange that Michigan is only about a 3 hour drive from Duluth, and from what I can tell the people in this part of Michigan would be happier to be identified with Duluth than Detroit.

Gas was even worse after crossing the boarder, about 10 cents more than Wisconsin. After, again, going through town at about 30 miles an hour and noticing the lines of small, cheap motels, I decided to make a quick stop at the local K-Mart for a few last minute items. There was also a dollar store next door, which had an extra pair of socks and cheap soda for $2, and I was off again only to stop about 5 minutes later.

This part of the state is largely covered by the Ottawa National Forest, so when I came across a visitor's center I stopped in to find a few maps and get some advice on where to go. After looking around and getting suggestions, I decided to take a small road that followed the Black River up to lake -- stopping every few miles to view the numerous waterfalls along the river. I lost count as to how many there were, but it was possible to hike out to all of them. If I were ambitious enough, I could have started out near Ironwood and hiked all of the way to the shore. I decided against this, but it's nice to know the option was there.

The first stop on this road was Conglomerate Falls, which was two falls in one. After about a two mile hike down to the river, it was worth the wait. After a few more stops along the way at Gorge Falls and a short hike between other falls, I ended up at the harbor at the end of the road. While it was somewhat warm out, it was a perfect day to be out by the water.

On the harbor there was a small park and gift shop where I got a few post cards. After this, I went out for a walk on the bridge over the river to the other side. This is where I met a little bird that verbally harassed me for much of my time there. I didn't get too close, but it was clear that she was not happy with me and my presence. Protective little things.

Anyway, after a nice long walk I went back into the car and went back down the road and jumped ahead an hour. I'm not sure why, but this part of the state is in Eastern Time, even though it's a few hundred miles west of Chicago still, which is also Central. Either way, it was suddenly 6pm. I was getting sleepy, which is a terrible thing to have happen to you on the road. So, I turned up the AC, turned on a song that always keeps me awake (Spock's Beard's "The Great Nothing" - nearly a half-hour in length). Fortunately, I made it to Silver City before it got much later.

Silver City is barely a town, more like a settlement of tourist shops and motels on the bay of Lake Superior. My motel was another 3 miles down the road, which quickly turned to a rough gravel road. Still, down this path was the Entrance into the Porcupine Mountains State Park - and The Silver Sands Motor Lodge right on the edge of the park. I highly recommend this motel if you ever decide to stay in the area, for reasons that I'll get into later on. It's a great place with ambitious hosts who also run a gas station/continence store on the grounds. It's all located across the street from the lake, which is perfect for sunsets.

After checking out the room (nicely sized and once the air was on, quite comfortable), I went into "town" to find something for supper. I found the "At The End of the Rainbow Cafe" down the road, which is something like a drive-in that you can find in many small towns in the mid-west. However, these people had their cafe at the edge of the forest, and therefore had a bear or two roaming around the back. They were fenced off, so I took a seat outside to see if they'd show up a little closer. While one of them did, it quickly was scared off by a group of other people who loudly informed people nearby to grab their cameras. Oh well, I have plenty of bear pictures from Alaska.

When supper was done, I went into Ontonagon, the closest "real" town. It was a bit farther than I anticipated, but this made for a nice drive along the shoreline. Ontonagon (as I'd learn in a few days) was a logging town as well as one of the main ports on the Superior. These days, it's clear they are working on becoming more accommodating to tourists. I took a long drive around town, and realized it was a big larger than I expected for only about 2,000 people. I decided to turn back to the motel, and check out the town again over the next few days.

Back at the motel, it was about 9pm, and the sun was starting to go down. I stopped at the little gas station right before it closed to pick up some breakfast for the next day and some bug spray for the next few hours. Then I went across the street with my lawn chair and set it in the sand and watched the sunset on the lake. I even had a loon bobbing around in the lake, which would have made a perfect picture if I could have gotten him into frame. This is a perfect way to end the day. By about 9:50, the sun was all but set, and I decided to head in. After watching the sun for an hour, I turned around and saw that it was considerably darker to the west, and it really was night finally -- two days before the longest day of the year.

I took off to my room to shower, write post cards, and watch Star Wars III that was on HBO. After that, all I really wanted to do was sleep longer than 4 1/2 hours.

The next day's plans were to hike around Porcupine Mountains, drive into Ontonagon and make things up after that. I came close.