Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Mesmerizing water and clouds

What is it about bodies of water and cloudy skies that makes me grab my camera? I don’t know, maybe you’re the same way. I don’t necessarily have to have both of them in the same shot to get excited…

Taken from a rest stop on our first day heading north.

…but when I do I just about swoon.

Along Lake Superior’s coast, day 2 of our trip.

And when the water is moving, well, that’s hard to resist too.

Wagner Falls near Munising, where I first figured out how to get that smooth water look.

Waterfalls are some of our favorite things, and there are several in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Some take a little walking to find…

The trail to Chapel Falls.

…but sometimes that’s a good thing.

About the best I could do was this obscured view.

Because sometimes the walk turns out to be more photogenic than the actual falls themselves.

Couldn’t walk past these ferns without grabbing a shot.

Some waterfalls are easy to find, and very full of tourists on a holiday weekend.

This is the image everyone gets from the boardwalk.

But if you wander a bit upstream you can find more interesting angles.

My favorite image of those I captured at Bond Falls on Sunday.

So many beautiful spots up here and I’m very behind sharing with you. There’s the Quincy Mine tour we did, and the sunset on the beach, and the one over Munising Bay, and the night we attempted to capture northern lights, and the town of Ashland in Wisconsin with amazing art, and now, tonight we’re in Duluth.

Utterly amazing.

I don’t know how I’m going to get caught up. Guess you’ll have to wait and see.

Oh, and there’s Santa selling out to the casinos too.


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Nancy’s photo challenge: Texture

My right hand is still in a splint making it difficult to type. So, even though I have lots of pretty water and sky photos to show you, I’ll wait until I can tell you more about where we are.

Queen Anne’s lace almost ready to bloom.

Meanwhile, on today’s adventures we ran across these examples of texture.

Tansy were blooming everywhere.

Hopefully I’ll have those clouds and sky shots ready for you soon. Or later. Depends on our travels and my hand. Today is 1 week since I fell, one more week to go until I see the doctor.

It could have been worse; I keep reminding myself of that.

More texture from today’s walk, the underside of a metal dam built in 1901.


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Junk can make you smile.

If you ever need a smile this is the place to go.

Called Lakenenland , we ran across it today while traveling on M28 from Munising to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

It’s an artist’s personal sculpture garden, and reminds me a lot of the art compound we explored down in Georgia in the spring of 2018.

Here’s a slide show of a lot of the art you’ll see here. Some of it has his political opinions, some is whimsical, and some is just pretty.

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It’s about a half mile loop, you can walk or drive (or snowmobile in the winter!). We drove it and then parked and walked to take pictures.

There’s also a picnic area and a small stage where they have live music some evenings.

It’s all free, though you can leave donations.

The artist has definitely had some issues with the local zoning commission as evidenced by some signs.

But if you can deal with a couple of political points of view that might be different from your own you’ll probably enjoy this sculpture park as much as we did.

If you’re ever up this way, be sure to stop and check it out!


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Some of my favorites

I’ve been camping, two different camp sites, six nights total. My goal was to figure out more about night sky photography…

This is at the top of a very long, very steep sand dune. There are signs at the top warning people not to run down because it’s so difficult to get back up. There’s a $3,000 fee to get rescued. Still, a whole cross country running team was climbing back up when I was there.

…but of course I didn’t sit around all day just waiting for it to get dark.

I saw lots of pretty stuff way up in northern Michigan. I took fewer photos than I would normally because I was looking for things I hadn’t shot before.

On a quick hike in the tip of Michigan’s little finger the sun hit these maple leaves and mesmerized me.

Sill….sometimes I couldn’t help myself, even if I’d seen it, shot it, and filed it before.

But today I think I’ll just share with you my four favorite images from this trip.

The tart cherry trees are still heavy with ripe fruit. I caught these red coated trees, standing with military precision, and had to go back for this shot. I walked down a long farmer’s lane, hoping not to get kicked off his land, and as I got halfway to my target I found a field filed with wildflowers. So I pushed my way into the middle of that field and shot the flowers in front of the trees. This image made me smile really wide, even before I saw it on a larger screen.

None of them were the image I was hoping to get, but that’s still out there and I’ll try again.

One evening I went up to the Mackinaw Bridge. I hadn’t been successful getting the stars, so I figured I’d concentrate on the bridge lit up. It was a wonderful evening. This was 15 seconds, F22, ISO 100.

That’s one of the fun things about photography, there’s always something more to accomplish.

My campsite at the Pigeon River Forest. I was too scared to wander away from my tent at night. But it was pretty there too.


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Still smiling

Trent coordinates a smile a week blog post, asking people to share something that’s made them smile each week.

Well, currently I’m in one of my happy places.

Pt. Betsie on a windy wet afternoon.

And it sure makes me smile.

The Coast Guard on patrol.

What made you smile this week? Post about it and link up to Trent’s blog, he’ll recap on Monday.

Lots to smile about this week!


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Meanwhile, back in Norway…

I promised a few photos of the churches we visited so let me do that before I get even further behind! The first church we visited was in Vance, a town not too far from where we were staying. It’s beautiful and sits in the center of town.

A family member is the caretaker for this church and he gave us a personal tour of the building…

…including taking us up into the bell tower.

This is the church where my husband’s grandfather is buried so it holds a lot of family history.

It’s history also includes a tiny little door over on the side which is where the women, back in the day, were required to enter.

I’m glad those days are gone!

And then we were able to attend an outdoor Sunday service at the church where my husband’s grandmother was baptized when she was a baby.

It happened that there was a baby being christened that morning, and I couldn’t help but think the ceremony might have been similar all those years ago.

In fact, the baptismal used in the ceremony we witnessed was the same one used back then.

We were given a tour of this church too, by a town historian who said his English wasn’t very good, but we found it to be perfect.

It’s a smaller church than the one back in Vance, but just as beautiful.

Our Norwegian family went out of their way to help us understand family history. We met with several people over the two weeks that knew something of the history of the area or of the family.

It really made our time there special; everyone was so friendly and helpful. We know we only saw a tiny bit of what was there, but hopefully we’ll be back some day to explore even more!


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Truck safety earworms

The term earworm generally refers to a bit of music that’s trapped in your head, playing over and over inside your brain long after you heard the actual song. And that’s just what happened inside my brain today as I worked to weed my impossibly overgrown gardens.

With Congresswoman Norton

I keep hearing a mother’s voice as she described her young daughter’s journal, filled with life lessons, found two days after her twelve year old was killed in a school bus that was struck by a semi driven by a distracted driver. I hear another mother’s anguish as she described the crash that killed her seven year old sitting in the back seat of her stopped car when a semi slammed into the back of them. And the voices of the young adult children whose parents were killed when the semi hit them head on, going the wrong way down a mountain road. I hear the tremor in a survivor’s voice as she describes being pushed off a bridge by a semi. I hear the anguish in a husband’s voice as he talks about his wife and stepchildren gone in an instant.

Day 1 on the Hill, visiting my Representative.

I spent five days in Washington D.C. with these and many other families at the Truck Safety Coalition’s biannual conference we call Sorrow to Strength. It’s something of an emergence into grief, but it’s also a place to witness the rebuilding strength that comes from being together with others who have had similar experiences.

Before the press conference.

We spent Saturday getting to know each other, to offer comfort and hugs and empathetic tears. We laughed together too, over the silly things we miss about our loved ones lost to truck crashes, about the things we used to do but can’t any longer if we are injured survivors.

Representative Garcia, from Illinois, introduced the new bill to increase minimum insurance.

Sunday we buckled down and learned about the issues, many of which were contributing factors in our own crashes. This year we have four bills in Congress that we support, all focused on making the roads safer for everyone, truck drivers included.

Then, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we went to work, walking Capitol Hill and visiting offices of Senators and Representatives to educate, as well as transportation agencies to discuss the lack of rule making progress.

Things in Washington move with great deliberation.

It was hot, with temperatures in the 90s and a heat index well above that.

It was especially hot during a press conference we held on the Capitol grounds at noon on Tuesday. We were lucky to have three Congressmen introducing two new truck safety bills, and we were glad to support them by standing behind the podium holding pictures of our lost loved ones.

Kate talks about the multiple surgeries, costing millions, that her son needed after his crash.

But man, it was hot.

Regardless, our families were troopers and made it to all their assigned meetings, sometimes wringing wet, sometimes red faced, but there. People who never spoke in public before spoke to strangers in Congressional offices and spoke up at DOT meetings even while facing a row of men in suits.

And they did it all because of love.

Day 2, with one of my Senators who has cosponsored one of our bills.

Their love for those lost is bigger than any fear of the unknown. Bigger then the fear of being uncomfortable or sweaty or lost in the long marble halls of a Senate office building. Their love carried them through the telling of their stories over and over, reliving it each time, each time adding one more scar on top of the thousands of scars already lacerating their hearts.

A crash survivor being interviewed after the press conference.

And at the end of our time together there were more tears and hugs as we said goodbye to our Truck Safety Family, knowing that we’re never truly alone, even on our worst days, because these people have our hearts and our backs. Most of us will stay in touch through email and social media. And though we wish we didn’t have to, we’re ready to do it all again when D.C. calls.

Some of my Truck Safety family, ready to generate some change.

Love conquers all and our loved ones deserve to be remembered, not just for the way they died, or were injured, but for the way they lived. And that’s why I don’t mind the earworms dancing in my brain today.

We made time for ice cream.

It’s just another way of remembering them all.

Change is hard.


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Never stop

Day one of our Sorrow to Strength conference was a success, but oh so emotional as the 30+ families each shared the reasons they were attending. Survivors relived their crashes, tears often streaking down their faces. Families of those lost did the same. No one was judgemental. No one was impatient as we let those emotions flow.

And at the end, when our large, sad and somewhat soggy family was all talked out, one of the volunteers passed out bracelets she had made. One for each person, placed into hands still holding damp tissue.

She chose the hummingbird, she said, because they never stop.

Just like us.


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In the heat of the moment – Washington DC

A press conference a couple years ago.

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We’re headed to Washington DC today, to attend over the weekend and into next week, the 8th Sorrow to Strength conference. Many of you know that I’m a volunteer for the Truck Safety Coalition, that I’ve been working with them on truck safety issues ever since my dad was killed by a tired trucker in December of 2004.

Every other year a lot of families, all whose lives have been forever changed by truck crashes, meet in DC to provide support to each other and to lobby for safer truck regulation.

Tami, a good friend now, lost multiple members of her family in a truck crash and resulting fire.

It’s hard.

But it’s good too, to reconnect with people we’ve come to know and to meet the new families, fresh in their grief.

At another press conference, fighting double 33 foot trailers.

I’ll let you know more about it next week, if I have time to post, or after we get home if I don’t.

Safety is no accident.