A bit of color doing its best to stand out against the green background.


On The Waterfront


Canon PowerShot ELPH 340 HS, ISO 100, 15.24mm, f/5.0, 1/250 sec.

Wrestling Theater

Over the past year, in my work for Varsity Views, I have covered many high school sports; baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, football, volleyball, basketball, hockey and track.  Last night was my first opportunity to cover a wrestling match.  For the most part, it’s a fairly easy sport to cover.  Everything happens in a very confined space instead of lots of running around.  The junior varsity match was held under normal lighting conditions for the gym, which is fluorescent lights.  Not my favorite lighting, but it can be compensated for.  However, the varsity match was very different.  All the gym lights were turned off and the wrestling mat was lit with spotlights focused on the center of the mat.  It gave the match a feeling that I would describe as part sport, part dance and part theater.


Black Friday Road Trip

Of course getting to four state parks in one day required a bit of driving.  I did my best to pick a route that would keep me off the freeways as much as possible so as to enjoy the beauty of the freshly fallen snow clinging to the trees along the road.  Sadly, by the end of the day, the sun had melted most of it off the branches and even some of the snow on the ground.  All in all, it was a wonderful day filled with new places to explore, many photos captured, a fair amount of hiking and a lot of fresh air.  I drove through several small river towns, all in need of return visits with my camera.  And with the sun setting in the west, I called it a day and headed back to have dinner, upload the day’s work and sleep knowing I had a grand adventure in the outdoors rather than a dismal day in a shopping center.

Interstate Park, The Dalles

The Dalles area of Interstate Park is incredibly fascinating and it is easy to lose track of time as you explore the amazing rock formations.  By visiting the website for the park, you can learn about the geologic history that goes back over a billion years and involves earthquakes, volcanoes and glaciers.  Add to that, roaring water that grinds rocks against rocks and you have the Dalles, known for its potholes.  It’s kind of like a giant rock playground.  The part of the park hosts some excellent rock climbing, canoe rentals and is walking distance to the small downtown of Taylors Falls, where you will find shops, food and beverages of all kinds.  If you are not a camper, there are other accommodations available in town and nearby.


Interstate Park, River Access

The fourth and final park of the day, Interstate State Park has two unique areas.  There is the main part of the park where you access the river, camp and rent canoes.  The other is the Dalles or Pothole area and will be covered in the next post.

My daylight hours were drawing to a close and so I quickly shot a few photos of the this part of the park.  The river was quite serene and the reflections outstanding.  A family of geese was enjoying the free access to the park and a quiet backwater off the main channel.  The bits of ice in the fourth images indicate that the water level had been a few inches higher at some point.  When the level dropped, it left behind little reminders of its high mark.  This spot on the river would seem to be popular with anglers, but a few casts went astray.


Afton State Park

My next stop as I worked my way north was Afton State Park, which is one of several state parks on the St. Croix River and along with Frontenac, one of the parks I had never been to.  Afton takes the prize for number of visitors on “Black Friday”.  The visitor center lot was mostly full and the lower lot was also busy.  By now the sun had come out and many people were enjoying the trails in the park, many even many the excursion to the river, which is a long hike.  One group was huddled around a fire having a picnic.  Afton State Park is located next to Afton Alps ski area.  Not only was snowmaking in progress, there was enough snow for the area to be open and skiers were on the slopes.  I did not spend much time at this park, partly because of the crowds and partly because I still planned to visit two more parks.  The park is a bit too urban for my taste and I can’t imagine camping there.  The high tension power line was not an attractive feature either.