Hello potential Minnesota tourists! Now that we've had our first significant snowfall of the season, it is safe to officially declare the beginning of winter. As such, there might be a traveler or two out there who has Minnesota on their upcoming agenda and might be thinking, "I wonder what the driving is going to be like there?"
Wonder no more. This blog will present you with the photos and a few well-chosen words to sum up driving during the four seasons.
First off, let's set the record straight. There are actually only two seasons in Minnesota: winter and summer. Fall only lasts for a few weeks and we like to call it Indian Summer around here, as it occurs sometime in September or early October, long before any leaves have dropped and the pools probably still have water in them. Yes, we really do have pools. Every Minnesotan either has a lake or a pool. It's one of our residential rights. Then we play hockey or skate on them in the winter.
The last few years, it's been snowing in April and May, therefore, so much for Spring. The mosquitos will be biting by the time the snow melts. That means it's officially summer. Now for those pictures I promised.
Here's what you can expect driving in Minnesota in the Summer:
As soon as the last barrel is picked up, the snow starts flying. Here's what you can expect in the Winter:
Since you might be coming in Winter, it's helpful to know about "White Knuckle" steering. To keep with the times and at least appear hip, let's hereinafter refer to it as WK. It's a simple procedure, you'll be able to learn it quickly and it will come in handy right out of the rental car parking lot.
First of all, put your hands in the proper 10 and 2:00 position. Never mind what your teen's driving instructor (the paid one) is telling them about 8 and 4:00. You won't be able to achieve a proper WK doing that. Get your hands at 10-and-2. Now grip the steering wheel as tight and hard as you can, until your knuckles start to turn white. It might take awhile for them to turn white, just keep hanging on.
There you go, now you've got it. The reality is, you won't have to practice WK much at all. Once the car starts sliding out of control (what we in Minnesota like to affectionately refer to as "fish-tailing" and it's not something that happens in a boat) WK is an auto-reflex and your hands will immediately know what to do. It doesn't really help steer the car any better, but you will feel more in control knowing that you are hanging on as tight as you can. If you see a patch of ice, do not, I repeat, do not hit the brakes. Engage the WK and start praying out loud as you "glide" across the ice. Taking several deep breaths or breathing rapidly, whatever works for you, might help too. When you come out the other side of it, a small celebration will be in order.
Well, there you go. That's about everything you'll need to know about driving here. If you come in the summer, the driving will go as slow as it does in the winter, oh I'd say around 10 mph, 20 if you're lucky on account of all the cones and barrels and lane closures. There's a lot of road repair to be done here after the snowplowing and pot-hole formations (to be explained in a future blog). The road crews do not waste a second getting right to work on fixing the winter damage and coming up with new projects. The roads need to be rebuilt regularly after what they go through every year. You'll have plenty of time to find your way around going at that speed. There might be some horns blaring and fingers flying. Don't be fooled by "Minnesota Nice" and misinterpret it for waving when you are driving. We are one of the top states for Road Rage incidents, particularly in the summer. You can probably see why just looking at the pictures. There is much less road rage in the winter, probably on account of the WK we're all doing. It's best to ignore it and fast forward to the end of the blog.
The moral of the story is: leave more time than you think to get there. Double or triple the time it would take you to drive that distance in most other places. If Mapquest tells you 20 minutes, make it 60. You will impress everyone by being on time to your destination. Don't tell 'em you heard it from the Queen of IML8.
And on a final note, after all that driving, you deserve to relax. You're likely to see one of these along your route or many other alternatives. We have A LOT of liquor stores here, not like some other states. Pull an immediate right or left and take care of business. You'll thank me later!
I don't know about you guys, but winter is going way too fast for me. I have a lot of projects that I was planning on getting done before Spring arrives (such as transfer all those home movies to DVD and get the kids' scrapbooks updated from when they were 5), they still aren't done and I have a busy couple of weeks coming up. Unless we have a really snowy April, by the time my upcoming plans have taken place, we will probably be wearing shorts and hanging out in the yard because it will be nice enough to do that. Then new projects will have a way of politely announcing priority, such as gardening and yard work, planting flowers and making rhubarb crisp. If they don't get the proper attention at the right time, we all know who moves in: the Weed family and it is extremely hard to evict them once they've established residency.
I realized after a closer look at the calendar that I will miss seeing Charlie Parr when I am in California. He's actually going to be there the night before I arrive and then the next gig he has is in Los Angeles. My workshop will have started by then and even if I was open, I am WAY too chicken to drive a car in Los Angeles. I've never been there but I have heard stories and I am pretty sure I should never operate a motor vehicle there unless something weird happens and I move there or something. I'm not even sure Minnesotans are allowed in L.A. Except if you're a celebrity like Charlie. So that is a bummer but maybe by some bizarre coincidence he will fill his open night with a show in the town I am staying in. That would be pretty awesome and amazing. I will be sure to tell you if it does happen.
I am back at the Minneapolis Photo Center these days scanning more film. I have to tell you, I am still a big believer in film. Even though I love the instant gratification of digital cameras, when I can force myself to use the film camera, I am always happy with the results.
Last Fall when I was up north, I set my alarm for way too early and hardly slept a wink because that's what happens when I know I have to shoot in the morning. I am so worried that I am going to sleep through my alarm or that the alarm won't go off that I toss and turn all night and am usually relieved when the clock finally says 4:30 or whatever time I need to get up. So anyway, here I am, my first morning and I get all my stuff and get to the parking lot and start walking out in the dark. I find a spot to plunk down the tripod and what do I see blasting right through the sunrise sky? A big, old uninvited contrail. This one was of the variety that sticks around forever and ever. So this guy announces that he's staying till at least lunch time and I'm wondering what to do now? So I decided to do a little experiment to blog about. I shot that big ole' contrail sunrise with all 3 cameras I was lugging with me. We'll talk about why the 3 cameras another time. So the question is...which is better: 35mm film camera, medium format film camera, or digital camera. Of course the scans don't look quite as good as the originals, they are a little darker so I'm not sure this is a fair comparison. Also, slightly different lenses on each camera. At any rate, leave your comments if you'd like and weigh in your opinion. I would love to know what you think.
Ok, here are the identities revealed:
#1 is medium format with Velvia film
#2 is digital
#3 is 35mm with Velvia film
I've been reading up on Charlie Parr's Facebook page because I just found it and I'm thinking a lot about Charlie this week cause I finally got to see him play and meet him in person. Reading all his Facebook posts made me wish I could write like him and I think one way to emulate his writing style is to simply write from the heart and talk about whatever is happening that day or the next day. It can be hard to do that sometimes cause it's tempting to use a lot of smoke and mirrors when you aren't sure who your audience is or if you even have an audience bigger than your Mom. So in a way I guess I could just say "Dear Mom, " but then you're not really sure if anyone besides your Mom might be reading it and then it shouldn't be too personal.
And I know this is supposed to be a blog about Photography or something like that but I'm not the kind of person to be teaching about photography. There is plenty of that on the internet and I am no expert. And I don't really see Charlie doing that either, he isn't talking about how he writes music or what chords to play he is talking a lot about his dog and his kid and his repair blues around the house and his wife and life in general. So I like that and it makes sense to me and it's easy reading and at the end I feel like I know him a little bit better. But of course a lot of people want to know Charlie Parr because he is one of the hottest guys on the music scene right now and I can't really say the same is true for myself.
So in Charlie Parr form I would like to talk about the snow slowly melting outside. It's Minnesota and we are obsessed with the weather here. Probably because it is such a big part of our lives and it affects everything we do on a daily basis.
There is no happier place on the planet than the first warm day in Minnesota at the end of winter. It's been a long winter and we had something like 50 days below zero. As the old people used to say when I was little "it puts hair on your chest." It's a rather quirky saying if you think about it.
The bird bath actually resembles a bird bath now and not a frozen pond.
The icicles that started hanging from the roof are gone and most of the snow has disappeared off the shingles and onto the ground but in the form of water running through the gutters. I managed to get a run outside and it sure felt good to breathe in all that fresh air (yeah, some car exhaust too) but a lot better than a cooped up old tiny running track that is so small I have to run 98 times around it to meet my goal. Talk about running in circles!
I'm getting prepared for my night photography course and working on how to light stuff up at night with flashlights and gels and I'll be flying to California for that class. I'm a little nervous cause I have to get on one of those little planes in Utah and I don't really like them so much when they are too small and so I asked the airline people what happens if I can't get on the plane? And she says well, you'll forfeit your ticket. I've never really visited Utah that's worth talking about but the pictures I've seen are real pretty and everything. I heard on the radio that they have the lowest per capital consumption of beer there (North Dakota is #1 by the way, and Minnesota comes in at a paltry 29) and I have a feeling I might not fit in very well. So she says well you can go to the doctor and get something for that but I'm not really the doctoring type so I'm thinking well if I start feeling anxious about it maybe I should just have a beer before I get on the plane. But now I'm not even sure they have beer in Utah so I'm thinking the odds just increased that my posts in April might be coming from my new home in Utah. Could you send some beer if that happens?Let's hope I can make it through and get to sunny Cali and back alright. It's kind of funny because when I'm going to be there, Charlie Parr will be playing just down the road from where I am staying. If I can figure out how to drive the rental car there I just might go see him play. It should be a decent temperature in California in April and since I won't know anybody and I'll be sitting in a hotel room by myself it might feel alright to go out and see Charlie Parr play. Won't he be surprised? Maybe I can have a beer while I'm there. It should be a lot easier than going out to see him play on a cold, dark wintery night in Minnesota.
It's hard to go out in the winter in Minnesota at night. It's dark and it's cold. Did I already say that? And I'm gettin' old. So I would prefer to stay inside and make my way back to bed somewhere around 9:00 and settle in with a book. It's warm and comfortable and if I get tired I can reach over, turn out the light and go to sleep. That is the opposite of going out somewhere for entertainment. It might be good when the entertainment is happening but when it's over you have to go out in the dark and the cold and get into a cold car and wait for it to warm up. Or just head out but then your eyes are on the engine temperature waiting for it to warm up cause if you turn on the "heat" when the engine is cold it will just blow cold air into the car and that doesn't feel very good when you are already freezing. So you wait for the car to warm up and then you start inching your way home. And then you might wake up the next morning and not feel so great because you stayed out WAY past an old person's bedtime and maybe you had a beer or two or three and now you slept too late but it was all worth it cause you have good memories and maybe had a few good laughs too. Maybe they were at someone else's expense like a guy with a red hat who kept smiling the whole night no matter what except when he came in later with a black hat on and then he wasn't smiling anymore. And you know the next night you'll be back to 9:00 in bed with a book. So once in awhile it is worth it to make an effort and go out and see some live music or whatever, and thanks Charlie cause it sure was a real good time.
And thanks to Mikkel Beckmen too, keeper of the beat.
This video was made by Lisa Bond Photography...you are more than welcome to link back to it!
Last January I was on a photography expedition and headed out one morning at about 5:30 a.m. to catch the sunrise. That's pretty early for winter, but there was a full moon and I knew I'd be able to catch it setting before the sun came up. I was fully outfitted with multiple layers, very little skin showing, and toe warmers to buy a little extra time before I had to come in and warm up. My biggest concern was being all alone on the lake and possibly getting sized up as a tasty bowl of Frosted Flakes breakfast cereal by a traveling wolf pack.
It was unbelievably still and peaceful out there. Not a sound was to be heard. I took my time getting across the lake, photographing the full moon when the composition looked good, and made it to the car about 45 minutes later. My next destination was 3/4 mile down the road with another hike from there. I could have walked the entire distance but since I was trying to beat the clock and reserve any warmth I had left in my body for the sunrise shoot, I wanted to get there without further delay.
Once the car was parked, I hiked up about 2 blocks of incline and maybe another block or so of flat terrain when I found a spot to work from. I was on the edge of a cliff and the temp was around 1 degree F. The wind would have felt nice on a hot day, but this morning it was gusting over 20 MPH and that made it feel like below zero temps.
I quickly learned the biggest obstacle I was facing was my own breath. I am no stranger to working in wintery conditions but this had never happened to me before. Despite having my face covered with a ski mask, my breath was freezing on the filter and all around the back of the camera. The real problem was the filter though. They are necessary to hold the sun back when it is that close to rising. Sunrise colors change by the second and even 5 minutes of waiting could be a deal breaker. I tried to wipe the filter off but to no avail. I had to take off my gloves and use the warmth of my fingers to melt the ice and that meant exposing my hands to the bitter cold.
It really wasn't working but there were some other filters I was able to try. That's about when I realized how much my toes were starting to hurt. The toe warmers seemed like they weren't doing anything. I knew I had to get back to the car and fast. When I got there, I took a self-portrait to show the frozen hair that had sneaked out of my cap and scarf. That's the same culprit that was creating havoc with my filters.
I sat in the running car hoping it would generate some heat so I could thaw out before had to face the hike back across the lake to camp. Even the car didn't want to warm up, so I finally headed back encouraged by the warmth the lodge would bring.
Now that I am about to embark on my next journey up there, I am a little wiser for the wear. My trusty old Sorel boots which I have worn since college won't be going with me on this trip. I have invested in a pair of Steger Mukluks. This pair. Some of the warmest ones they make.
I bought the extra wool and reflective foil liners for maximum heat retention. They were expensive but I don't ever want to end a photography gig again due to frozen toes. Word out there is that these are the best and I'm about to put them to the test.
In the meantime, here is a link to Steger Mukluks:
Until next time, I hope you all have a very Happy Valentine's Day and thank you for stopping by.
It's been a long and cold winter, to be brief about it.
One way to pass the time is to dig up some old videos on Youtube. I hope you can take a moment to enjoy my picks as we weather these Moody Blues through the month of March.
Camp Menogyn is a YMCA camp that is located half way up the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota.
It is where I stayed when I went up for the Plein Air Artists' Retreat organized by The Art Colony in Grand Marais. It was so special to me that I found a way to go back again, the last weekend they were open. I took my Mom and youngest daughter with me. Here are a few images from that trip.
I hope you are enjoying the last days of winter too.
Originally published Feb. 14, 2013
When I think of the color to represent Valentine’s Day, red is the first to come to mind. Big red, ooey gooey hearts and Cupid and Cupid’s arrows and all that good stuff.
Not the cherry red color of cop car lights!
I have to admit being in a state of shock since I couldn't really believe I was getting pulled over.
The facts stacked up like this though. We got a fresh blanket of snow last night and traffic was backed up a lot more than usual. Even our local paper, The Star Tribune, says:
"A heartbreaker of a commute on Valentine's Day"
yes, and then the article goes on to say:
Twin Cities motorists were feeling no love this Valentine's Day as even modest snowfall overnight bogged down the morning commute from one side of the metro to the other.
Tell me about it.
I was about a half a block away from needing to take a right turn, and since it was all backed up, I got in the turn lane a little before the turn lane actually started. I think. The problem was you couldn't see the turn lane because the entire road, turn lane included, was all covered in snow. So, I figured oh, what the heck. I'm just going to sneak along the side here and make my turn.
Now, if I had seen a cop car ahead of me sitting in the right lane of traffic at the stop light I might have waited a little longer. But I didn't see him and so I proceeded to crawl up the right side of the road, also known to cops and the rest of the driving public as "the shoulder" of the road. Then, out of nowhere, straight from the sheriff's department, there's a cop car. My thought process went something like this:
"Oh crap, there's a cop car. Should I drive past him? I have to drive past him, I can't just stop here. He won't pull me over. You can't even see the turn lane. Oh crap, he just turned on his lights (and siren!). He's pulling over behind me. Maybe he wants to get around me. Just keep driving. Turn your blinker on. QUICK. He's still behind me. Take a right turn. Don't stop here, it's the street. Pull into the library parking lot. For safety. Maybe he's going somewhere else. Oh crap, he's pulling into the library behind me. Did he stop? Maybe he has a book to return. Nope, he's right behind me."
Now I hope somebody out there is going to at least give me some credit for being optimistic right up to the last second.
I roll the window down and get out my wallet. My heart is racing so fast I don't even need a work out anymore. Here he comes.
The cop: "Do you know why I pulled you over?"
Me: "To Wish me a Happy Valentine's Day?"
Just kidding, I'm not that dumb. I used my intelligence and said "Cause I was taking a right turn?"
Cop: "Because you were driving on the shoulder of the road. Can I see your driver's license?" He looks at the license.
Cop: "C'mon Lisa, you're from around here, I know there's a lot of snow but you know the turn lane hadn't started."
Me, continuing to play dumb: "I know but I was going to take a right turn, really, I'm just going to the club."
Cop: "I know the traffic is backed up today but if you start driving on the shoulder of the road then a third lane of traffic will start because other people will see you doing it and they'll follow you. That creates a hazard for emergency vehicles that need to use the shoulder. Can I see your insurance card?"
Cop: "That's expired."
Unsure of whether or not to correct an Officer of the Law, I sheepishly point to the expiration date which says Sept. 24, 2013, hoping to save myself from another violation.
Cop: "Oh, ok. Just a minute."
He goes back to his car. I don't know if I should cry or laugh. I have tears about to well up in my eye, but I kind of feel like laughing too. I mean, who has this kind of luck on Valentine's Day? This is not exactly what I had in mind when I imagined what kind of great things might happen on February 14.
Cop: "Lisa, I'm going to let you off with a warning today, but I made a note in the computer."
Me, continuing to plead my innocence: "I really was just trying to go to the club." I start wondering if I should pull out my club card and show it to him for proof that I at least am a member there.
Cop: "I know but you need to stay off the shoulder of the road." He starts to walk away.
Since it's not really clear to me what's going to happen at this point, I have to open my mouth again.
Me: "Can I go then?"
Cop: "Yes, you can go."
Me: "Thank you."
I know, I know, I should have wished him a Happy Valentine's Day. He was too far back to his car though and I figured I could only make things worse the more I said.
I figure it's either good luck or bad luck, but I'm going to look at it as some kind of good fortune. I have to admit feeling kind of hesitant about driving anywhere else today though. No one can get pulled over twice in one day though. Right?
Well the day is only half over, so on that note I truly wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day and I hope your day has all the right colors of red in it.
I am a photographer who lives in Minnesota. I blog about Minnesota, photography, music, food and miscellaneous topics.