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Sunday, February 28, 2010

I saw this on another blog and joined.....should be fun!

Ask me anything

U.P. 200 Dog Sled Race 2010: Part THREE, plus this is the LAST day to submit your photos to my Photo Contest!!!

First of all, I want to remind everyone that TODAY is the LAST DAY to
enter my

You still have until midnight TONIGHT, Eastern Standard Time
to submit to me your

So, C'mon people...go into your archives
and send me your entry!

See yesterday's post for a link to the rules and to my email address!

Now, back to the Dogs!!!

If you haven't read Parts ONE or TWO yet of this series of
the U.P. 200 Dogsled RACE 2010, please go back down under this blogpost and get to it!

This is the final blogpost with race pictures for you to enjoy.

The local T.V. station was there to record the start of the race!:

Sorry for the yellow coloring in the photo below, it was dark with a lot of lights around, and I was in a hurry and didn't adjust the lighting!

Here are some dogs being hooked up to the sled right before starting up at the gate.
You can just see how excited they are!
They were yelping and jumping and soooo happy!:

Here is a sled ready with all the harnesses to hook up to the dogs. To the right of the sled you can see a line where handlers were getting ready to hook up another team of dogs:

At last!!!
This is the first team
getting to leave the starting gate. See all the flashes from other cameras taking their picture before they get to me?:

Here THEY COME!!!!:

I got a little excited and decided to do an action burst with my camera.
The crowd is a blur but the dogs are kind of in was hard for me to get them because I am short and was standing in front of a part of the fence that I couldn't reach over.
But the end effect was kind of neat:

Just look at this team running by with their pink booties!:

Another action shot!:

The blur of the Musher at the end of the line, on his sled.
He will be with his team from Friday night until sometime Sunday, when he reaches the FINISH LINE!:

I want to leave you with a strange shot I got by accident.
Again, I was playing with the burst mode of my camera, and the lighting was wrong....and the speed of the shutter was wrong...
But you know what?
It gave me a strange "ghost rider" effect of this Musher, which I ended up really liking!:

Don't be afraid to make mistakes with your camera!

I learned that sometimes, that is the most creative shot you might get!!

Hope you enjoyed this series about these brave Mushers and their beautiful dogsled teams.

I hope you get to see it in person sometime...

it really is an awesome experience!!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The U.P. Dog Sled Race 2010: Part TWO

For those of you that didn't see my last blogpost, please drop down to read Part ONE of this series before reading this one.

So, for the rest of us, let's continue with our dogsled race photos, shall we?

Today, I am still showing photos of before the race started.

The U.P. 200 Dog Sled Races has an organization behind it, of course.

And THIS is their President.

Don't you LOVE her hat???:

He just HAD to sneak a sniff at his companion dog before the race!

(Once a dog, always a dog!) ha:

There are judges to make sure all the rules of humane treatment to the dogs occur and that all the equipment is up to equal standards:


I fell in love with his SWEET FACE!!:

See the hay and the little bins for the dogs to travel and sleep in?:

The Musher is carefully strapping on booties to each dog's feet to protect them from the ice:

Two cuties awaiting the race:


I LOVED this Musher hat!:

The fashioneesta of dog bootie wear!:

This is blurry, because it was very dark and the dogs were WILD at this point, but I wanted to show you how they YELP and jump around in excitement right before they line the dogs to get ready at the starting line! It is WONDERFUL!!!:

Don't you love his flashlight too?

C'mon home with me, baby...I will give you big hugs every 2 minutes:

Right after




Stay tuned for PART THREE of this series, where I finally get to some shots of the teams taking off for the race!!

*Reminder!: Today is FEB. 27th...remember to enter a photo to the free Photography Contest. ONLY ONE DAY LEFT, PEOPLE!!! February's theme is "Critter Closeups". Please enter your photo by midnight on Feb. 28th to the address listed in these rules. Best of Luck to all the entries!I will be showing all the entries in an upcoming blogpost and announcing the winner of February's contest by Mar. 15th....stay tuned!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Gone to the Dogs!!: The U.P. 200 Sled Dog Race 2010: Part ONE

This will be Part One of a series I will be showing you
about the
U.P. 200 Sled Dog Race 2010

This is such a fun time for us in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and something I look forward to every year.

Mushers from around the U.S. and as far away as New Zealand participated in the race this year.
Thirty-three dog sled teams!!

This is the 20th year we have had the privilege of having dog sled races here.

Twelve-dog teams take off, two minutes apart right down the main street of Marquette, roaring and cheering crowds of fur-hatted, hardy fans.

The town closes off the main street the day before and hauls in snow and makes a snow path right down the middle of downtown.


As our Mining Journal newspaper put it:
"There is an infectious thing about this, its intangible. If you stand at that starting gate and see the packed street and feel the excitement of the dogs--for the average person, you just get involved. You just can't help it."

And that is exactly how you feel as a spectator.

Between 8,000 to 15,ooo people watch the dogs take off every year, and this year it had to be even more.

I was privileged to be one of them.

The race spans a total of 241 miles.

The mushers have a required 16 hours of layover time during the route, which they can use at any of the many checkpoints along the route.

As the newspaper stated: "It's a marathon of sleep deprivation, athletic endurance, extreme exertion and exposure to the elements."

For more information about the U.P. 2oo, you can go to: or read about it HERE and also HERE.

So, sit back, put your feet up and come with me on my photo tour of Part ONE of my series about this wonderful experience as a spectator to this event:

Loved this sign using the logs incorporated into it!:

Here is some of the dogs laying next to their sleep bin trucks, resting before the race.
I bet you thought they would all be Husky dogs, didn't you? In reality, there were very few of that breed of dog:

A shot of the early crowd lining up on the street, in front of the Post Office..waiting for the race to start. It got a LOT more crowded after that shot was taken:

This is another shot of the kinds of trucks that the dog sled teams are used to being transported in. See the little bins with hay that the dogs sleep in while traveling? They love the security of them. These dogs are resting before the race began:

One of the dog sleds that the musher rides on the back of:
Hmmmm....wonder what is inside that bright red thermos?

Another bare sled on top of one of the musher's trucks:

I fell in love with this sled dogs BLUE still my heart!:

The roof of our City Hall, one of the buildings the race runs right by:

Another shot of City Hall. I love its architecture:

Even though it was a marketing ploy by Liberty Tax Service to have these kids dressed up in their logo, I loved this shot of the three little kids eating pizza outside of City Hall, waiting for the race to begin:

One of the loaded sleds, waiting to be hooked up to the dogs:

Isn't he gorgeous?:

Stay tuned for Part TWO of the the shots I took of this event...
I took so many, they couldn't possibly fit into one blogpost!
*Reminder!: Today is FEB. 26th...remember to enter a photo to the free Photography Contest. ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT, PEOPLE!!! February's theme is "Critter Closeups". Please enter your photo by midnight on Feb. 28th to the address listed in these rules. Best of Luck to all the entries!I will be showing all the entries in an upcoming blogpost and announcing the winner of February's contest by Mar. 15th....stay tuned!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Just Can't Stop Taking Pictures of Ducks!...

Seeing many animals this time of year has slowed down for us
when we go exploring in the woods.

But whenever we see open water, I look longingly for life...especially ducks.

I found a family of them this week and they were more than happy to pose for me!

Here the family swimming in the icy water:

This could be a female younger one:

I just love the male's green head!:

She just happened to stretch and I just happened to click!:

I think this is the dad, their younger female offspring and the mom.
What a pretty family!:

But, oh...the DAD!! He is sooooo pretty!:

I don't know if this lighting made one duck look like different than a mallard or if there was a different kind of duck with them...I got too cold and ran back into the truck after snapping this one!:
But I love seeing ducks in open water in the winter.
Did you see that ice shelf in the above picture????
*Reminder!: Today is FEB. 24th...remember to enter a photo to the free Photography Contest. ONLY FOUR DAYS LEFT, PEOPLE!!! February's theme is "Critter Closeups". Please enter your photo by midnight on Feb. 28th to the address listed in these rules. Best of Luck to all the entries!I will be showing all the entries in an upcoming blogpost and announcing the winner of February's contest by Mar. 15th....stay tuned!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Just one of my normal adventures!...but folks, no eating, drinking or flash photography as we go on this adventure, okay?

Did I tell you that we recently had company?

My husband's cousin (Ron) and his friend (Paul), who are avid snowmobilers came up from downstate to do some of what they love best. Our house is "Station Central" between their trips out in the woods to different areas to snowmobile. We were glad to do this for them as they are fun people and we only get to see them every couple years and enjoy our time with them.

Unfortunately, this year, Ron's friend (Paul) had a snowmobile mechanical problem and it ended their adventure early. They came back to our house for a few days before heading home.

So one night, Ron asked me if I wanted to go on his (working) sled to ride our lake. I was excited because we ride our lake all spring, summer and fall (and LOVE IT) but I had never seen what our lake looks like in the winter. I have been thinking lately of getting a snowmobile to do this, so of course I said yes!

It went down like this:

Scene: about a half hour before sunset, on beautiful Lake Michigamme. Temperature about 18 degrees, slightly sunny out.

Ron: So, Joan, do you want to go out with me on the lake and take a ride around on the snowmobile now?

ME (trying not to hyperventilate from happiness): Heck, yes!

Ron: Dress warm, there is a breeze out there.

Joan: I just bought some snowpants to go snowshoeing in...I can break them in. Do you have a helmet for me?

Ron: (slightly rolling eyes, probably thinking I was dumber than he originally thought because every snowmobiler KNOWS you gotta wear a helmet): You can probably use Paul's (his friend).

Paul: Yes, you can probably use mine..your head isn't big is it?

Me (thinking immediately of the movie: So I Married an Ax Murderer, where he keeps telling the kid he has a big heed (head) in Irish accents): I think it will fit..let's try.

Paul: here, put on this knit hat....

Me (not out loud): (This looks exactly like what bank robbers wear!)

Paul: And here, let's push the helmet over that...we'll try to see if you can get it on and off.

Me (still thinking, not saying out loud): Cripes. We are gonna experiment to see if it comes off? What if I get it stuck on???? I am NOT going to my local E.R. where everyone KNOWS me if I can't get it off, because I don't want to be this week's humor on Facebook, thank you very much!

Me (but actually out loud this time, but weakly): Ummm...okay.....

Paul puts both on me and laughs.

Followed my Ron and my hubby laughing.

Followed me me, not so much.

Me: Okay, I'll go get dressed up in the rest of the gear.

I come out, complete in snowpants, snow jacket, robber's mask and helmet, along with my clunky but warm winter boots. (Picture the Michilein Tire Man, only bigger. Or perhaps the JetPuff Marshmallow Man monster from Ghostbusters (only puffier)).

All three of them continue to laugh.

Followed by me being afraid to laugh, because I am not wearing Depends and I've got a LOT of layers on people!

Paul: You look like an Eskimo. Can you even bend to get ON the snowmobile?

Me (almost sticking out tongue at Smarty Pants Paul, and sweating big time by now because I am wearing, oh..about 50 pounds of clothes, boots, hats, & man snowmobile helmet. Also, wishing they had windshield wipers on the inside of snowmobile helmets to remove said sweat): Yes! I think so....

So, out we go to get on his snowmobile.

As I head out the door, I wave at my hubby who is now doubled over laughing with Paul, the helmet torturer. They hear me ask Ron:

Me: Do you have enough gas in that thing? Our lake is really big you know, seven miles long with all kinds of "fingers" we can also ride to.

Ron (rolling eyes under his helmet, thinking I don't know he's rolling eyes, says politely and patiently): Yes. Besides I always carry extra in this here plastic thingy at the end of the seat.

Me: Okay, tell me when you want me to get on....

Ron: Let's go!

Ron climbs on confidently.

I try to swing my short, stubby right leg over the wide seat of his snowmobile behind him.

I try again.

I try a third time and am successful, but thinking to myself that maybe Depends might have been a good plan after all.

I hang on for dear life with my thick gloves around his chest, which I can't do too well because I have ten pounds of clothes between us.

He starts the machine, which responds immediately with a LOUD sound that rumbled in my ears, even through the space-Apollo-mission-like helmet and robber's mask.

This is accompanied by the putrid smell of oil mixed with gas and a blue-cloud-of-successfully-starting-up-your-hotrod-snowmobile.

He hits the gas.

It nearly jerks me off the snowmobile, at which point I pinch his chest nipples hard through his snowmobile suit for extra traction to stay on the vehicle.


Ron (smiling (I think) under his helmet. Although it could very well be wincing from the death grip I have on his chest nipples at this point from take off).

So, we ride at about 75 miles per hour to the right side of our lake, all the way down.

And then he does a sharp turn (at which point my ass is airborn and no longer ON the seat and I am just gripping on to his chest at this point like the reins on a horse).

We get straight again, and I (luckily) land back on the seat behind him after the 180 degree turn at 75 mph and we now go 80 miles an hour straight down the lake in the other direction.

At this point, I sorta wished I had not worn the jacket or gloves I had chosen for the adventure.

The ICE cold air was blowing directly up from my wrists to my elbows, causing it to look like billowing popeye arms from the windpocket it was forming. My hands were already numb from the cold air blowing on them in front.

We proceed speeding down the lake.

The sun is rapidly setting.

I motion to him to notice some gorgeous cabins on the lake and we circle some of the islands to look.

I motion that we may want to head back (because now it is starting to really get dusk and my fingers almost don't bend anymore). (But dang, that robber's mask and helmet are still toasty warm, I marvel!)

He nods in agreement.

Snowmobile: Sputter, sputter, cough, cough.......STOP DEAD.


Sun: Snickering and sinking fast.

Me (panic arising in my throat, frantically looking at how far we were from either shore of the lake): Um....what's wrong?

Ron (hopping off snowmobile): BOTH our snowmobiles couldn't have died in the same week, it's impossible! I am not really, let me take a look.

Me (swallowing a small amount of vomity-tasting saliva from the back of my throat): O.K.

Ron (lifting a million hidden hoods and compartments of the snowmobile): You know, I can't really tell for sure.

At this point, he goes to the back of the snowmobile and opens a plastic container behind my seat and says under his breath:

Ron: Are you KIDDING ME????

Me ( genuinely afraid now to ask): What?

Ron: I usually have this container FULL of gas, I cannot believe it is empty!!!

Me: Did your gas guage say it has gas in the tank?

Ron: This stupid gas guage hasn't worked on this thing since I got it. That is why I always carry some in this container!

Me: The one behind me? The one that is empty?

Ron: (nods yes).

Me: Ummmmm....see those houses closest to us? Do you see lights on? Because I don't think they are many year-round residents this time of year on this part of the lake that stay in them.

Ron: Shit.

Me (wondering now if I can physically even walk in my eskimo suit with the one and 1/2 feet of snow covering the ice on the lake, and frantically scanning the shoreline for any signs of life in the cabins and houses on the shore that we can barely see and scanning the sky for the setting sun to see how much time I have before I die): I don't see those other snowmobilers that we saw earlier on the lake out here anymore, do you?

Ron (deep in thought and I am sure humiliation for originally rolling his eyes when I asked if we HAD ENOUGH GAS before we started out on this frozen tundra!): Nope.

Ron whips out his cellphone to call his friend Paul and my hubby back at the house.

Ron (to Paul): Ummm. You aren't going to believe this, but we've run into some trouble out here...I think my snowmobile died....what are the chances of BOTH of our snowmobiles dying in the same week, huh? (he listens for a response and continues): Well, let me monkey with it some more and I'll get back to you...but we might need a little help.....

He hangs up.

Just then, I squint and SWEAR I see a little mini snowplow heading our direction from the north of the lake. I brush it off, thinking it is just the first sign of my impending hypothermia death setting in, and that I probably shouldn't fight it.

I start itemizing my worldly possessions, wondering if my husband will give all my jewelry to my kids (who won't know a real diamond from a cubic zirconia and will probably give Goodwill all my expensive stuff because they won't want to wear it anyway)....

But. Wait.

Apparently, Ron and I are dying at exactly the same rate, or he really sees it TOO!

As it gets closer, I recognize that some idiot had ridden his four wheeler with chains on the tires out in the middle of the lake. (God, I LOVE IDIOTS!!!!)

Even better.

It gets closer and it is my crazy neighbor!

He pulls up, grinning, holding a Budweiser beer.

Neighbor: Hey! Who is that under those helmets?

Me (identifying myself): Is that YOU? What are you doing out here with your FOUR WHEELER???

Neighbor: Oh, Joan, it's YOU!!! I was on my way out to check a buddy's house across the guys having trouble? You can hop on and I can ride you in...but this thing is giving me a little trouble too..been sputtering a bit...and I think maybe the snow is a little deep for it...but we can guarantees any of us will get in to shore..hahahahaaaaa...hey, you wanna beer?

Ron and I both look at each other and wonder if we should just go ahead and die here by our snowmobile where they can identify our bodies more easily or if we should go on the neighbor's ride and when they find all three bodies and all his beer, be labeled forever as "those drunk people who died on the lake" along with him.

As we ponder our death choices, I again hallucinate. I see two snowmobiles across the lake coming our direction.


Even my beer drinking four-wheelin' neighbor looks in the same direction as me.

Me: Oh, thank the comes some snowmobilers to SAVE us!!

We all start frantically waving our arms. Well, THEY DO. (When you look like an eskimo, there is only so much arm movement one can physically muster up. Like ten degrees, if you are lucky).

Neighbor: Yeah. Maybe they are gonna end up helping me too, if this thing gives me more trouble.

Two snowmobilers (part Angel, I am sure at this point!) pull up.

Snowmobiler #1: Having trouble? Need a tow?

Snowmobilier #2 was silent. As I recall, he never spoke the entire time we were with them.

So Ron goes on to explain our dilemma and says: I am not sure what is wrong with my sled, but just to be safe, do either of you have any extra gas with you?

Snowmobiler #1: Yes, I do.

Ron: Can we borrow some from you, we'd sure appreciate it.

Snowmobiler #1: Sure, I think I have a gallon or so.

Ron and him go to his sled and then to Ron's sled and put some in. In the meantime, my neighbor has siddled up next to me, rather close and puts his arm around me, as he chats with the snowmobiler, telling them the trouble his four wheeler is giving him and sipping beer.

Neighbor: I think I might've groped you a little bit there, Joan....right through your snowmobile gear. Hahahahaaaaa.....

Me: G-r-r-r-r. Yeah. Ha ha. Nothing like making a move on a lady full of snowmobile suit!

Ron starts up his sled. Vaaaa-rrrooooooom! It is perfect. No sputtering, no hiccuping. He whips out his wallet and pays Snowmobiler #1, and thanks him.

Ron: We better get in, its getting dark.

Me: Thanks Guys!!!!! Thanks so much...

Me (to my groping neighbor): Do you want us to see if you make it to the shore with your machine?

Neighbor: Nope, I think it is is still running....sure you don't want a beer?

Me: Let's go Ron!!! Thanks again, guys!!!!

I LEAP on the snow machine now (because obviously being scared shit of dying, frozen solid from the icy breeze blowing up my snowmobile suit and OVER being groped through my suit by my beer-drinking, crazy neighbor) suddenly made me flexible enough to get on the machine now without second thought or effort.

Snowmobile: VAAAAA-ROOOOM....

We arrive a few minutes later (by my pointing directions to go to Ron as we speed home on the snowmobile in the near-dark frozen tundra) to the front of our property on the lake.

I say some very sincere prayers to every Saint they made me memorize in church when I was little (and added a few more to The Force, and his Son for good measure), get off the snowmobile and RUN into the house as Ron drives his snowmobile into his snowmobile trailer in the driveway.

Inside Ron's friend Paul and my hubby seem surprised to see me.

Paul: Umm...we got a frantic call and then...nothing....we didn't know if we should call one ever called us to say you got it started or anything...we were starting to get worried!

Feeling sorry that no one thought of that in the middle of the lake whilst praying to the Gods, I apologized. But not before I noticed that they were having a mixed drink and had started dinner and having a high old time in that nice warm house, with the fireplace fact they even had Brownies baking in the oven. I began to wonder if they even REMEMBERED that we had placed a distress call to them just 15 minutes earlier??!!!

But NOT before I had to quickly add: NO, RON JUST RAN OUT OF GAS! You know, the gas I had ASKED HIM about BEFORE we headed out...remember THAT???

Paul and my hubby crack up laughing......

Ron came in with his tail between his legs...but smiling now too.


it was SO worth it!!!!

Because now?

I can tease Ron about this for the rest of his life.

Right after I ask him if he is SURE he has enough gas.....


and my neighbor?

Let's just say that if I have mechanical problems while mowing my lawn on the rider mower this summer....and if perchance he rides by on his four wheeler again (hopefully this time withOUT the chains on the tires) to stop and help?

I will have far less clothes on, so I will keep the vehicles between us the ENTIRE TIME.

But dadburnit, I am gonna TAKE that beer he offers.....

*and Ron and Paul? If you are reading this, there will be no retractions! Just be glad I didn't post that picture of you on this blogpost (especially, you Paul, with your new fur mushing hat!! )I was tempted, but I DID promise I wouldn't put your picture on my blog. But I never promised I wouldn't TELL them about this episode, did I??????
Hey, Ron....have you run out of gas lately???? Bwwaaahahaaaaaa..............................................

*Reminder!: Today is FEB. 22nd...remember to enter a photo to the free Photography Contest. February's theme is "Critter Closeups". Please enter your photo by midnight on Feb. 28th to the address listed in these rules. Best of Luck to all the entries!I will be showing all the entries in an upcoming blogpost and announcing the winner of February's contest by Mar. 15th....stay tuned!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Human Mind...

The Paomnnehal Pweor Of The Hmuan Mnid.
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch as Cmabrigde Uinervtisy,
it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are,
the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm.
Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Did you just read the above paragraph without any trouble?

Isn't it amazing?

*Reminder!: Today is FEB. 20th...remember to enter a photo to the free Photography Contest. February's theme is "Critter Closeups". Please enter your photo by midnight on Feb. 28th to the address listed in these rules. Best of Luck to all the entries!
I will be showing all the entries in an upcoming blogpost and announcing the winner of February's contest by Mar. 15th....stay tuned!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

More This and That from the Woods: Part TWO

This is the second in a two-part series of some photos we took

while we took another trip out into the snowy woods.

Although we didn't see any animals this trip out, we did see some neat icicles that formed as they dripped off some rocks on a snowy road and it was a gorgeous, sunny day to be out looking at the snowy scenes.

So, grab a cup of coffee or cocoa, put your feet up and enjoy this trip out in the woods with me, wouldn't you?

More icicles dripping over the mossy rocks:

We don't know why this dripped dogs in might have been yellow from some pine tree sap?:

I loved how the yellow Tamarack trees formed a lovely backdrop for the snowy pine trees:

A little hidden snowy bridge in the middle of the woods....probably made for a snowmobile trail:

Blue skies and a snowy pond:

Back to the ice on the rocks:

I was amazed how crystal clear the ice was hanging from the rocks:

A hint of the river:

One last shot of the yellow icicles through the trees:

It is surprising that the weight of the snow doesn't break the pine bough:

I love the snowy forest in black and white:

I hope you enjoyed the tour out in the woods with me today.

I know most of you are SICK of snow by now...but before we know it, all of this will melt away and be just a memory.

I hope to get out a few more times to capture some winter wonderland photos for you before spring arrives.

REMINDER: All photographs on this blog are COPYRIGHTED.

REMINDER: All photographs on this blog are COPYRIGHTED.
Please do not copy any of my photographs (or narratives) without my permission! All pictures will be tracked for copyright violations.

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I retired in June 2008 and started my blog in November 2008. I worked at several jobs as a Registered Nurse prior to retirement. I LOVE being retired! Blogging has offered me a whole new venue to start writing again and to share new hobbies such as gardening, birdwatching and sharing my nature photography. If you like my blog, PLEASE click on "follow this blog". Having a lot of followers reading my blog gives me incentive to continue to do photography and to continue to write. I also LOVE comments, so I encourage you to leave me a comment after you read my posts. Thanks everyone, for taking the time to read me!!

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