Monday, August 24, 2015

Trip Up into the Upper Peninsula

Alarm went off early on this day! 6:30 a.m. and we were up, showered dressed and packing lunches. 

I did take a few minutes to walk down to the lake from our campsite and take pictures of the Mackinaw Bridge and the view over to Mackinac Island. 

Seagull enjoying the morning breezes on the banks of the lake. 

My view of the Mackinaw Bridge from the end of our campsite lane. 

This shot was taken with an in camera filter to look more scary, but there wasn't a chance of rain this day! I just LOVED how all the clouds have turned out in the photography! 

Now, on the road with a quick stop for gas and some MC D's iced coffee! 
Today we are headed north into the U.P. to a place off the beaten track where we will take a ride on the Toonerville Trolley. This is a VERY neat place because of the history. Owned by a great grand daughter, now, was once 15,000 acres bought in the turn of the century to log. This trolley train, was used to haul the logs from the deep wilderness. 

 Wee railroad tracks... 

Sitting in front of the train looking to where we are going!

 Sitting in the back of the train, looking back at where we have been... The clouds continued to be GORGEOUS, this day!

JC on the trolley engine that pulled small train cars. 

 And we saw wild life. My pics came out not so great because of the rickety movement of the trolley cars... No amount of in camera stabilization was going to help me! 

But here you see, 2 bald eagles, ravens and 2 black blobs that are black bears! 

Here is another image, and you will notice the bald eagle flying AT US! 
It was so incredible and how I wished we had stopped the train so we could get some CLEAR shots! 

 On our way back, one of the bald eagles had landed in a tree, so I tried to capture some more images of him. This is the best I got, do to the shaky train! 

After the train ride we enjoyed a tailgate lunch before getting back on the road to go farther north, 
to WhiteFish Point. Here we visited the great Shipwreck Museum and WhiteFish Point Lighthouse and beach. You cannot believe the number of shipwrecks 
that lay beneath the waters of the Great Lakes! 
Here is the light house! 

The point, on the beach of WhiteFish Point, MI. 

 A freighter going by as we walked the beach. I had to do an in camera sepia shot, because of feeling nostalgic at the Shipwreck Museum. 

 Steve, JC's dad, on the pier, peering out into the flock of seagulls! 

 Thalia and I walked the rocky beach looking for beautiful colored rocks! 
The water was so clear and COLD! 

Before heading back, I looked over to Canada and noticed the windmill farm. 

It was a good ride back to camp. We stopped at a hole n the wall bar on the way back and got a delicious white cod sandwich! YUM!!! 

Back at camp we all crashed early! The next day was the day we head to the island!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Across the Bridge To Wander - St. Ignace and Castle Rock

Tuesday, August 4 - 2015

A light breakfast before heading out to wander around and see what we might find. 
Stopped first at the Camp Store and bought my first patch of the trip. (Yes, I collect patches of places I go and sew them on Army Surplus bags, now being turned into camera bags!) 

As we leave the campground we all notice signs of an Antique Sale at the local HS put on by the local Women's Club. So off we go to see if there are any treasures to be had. 
I found a small Mackinaw City Pennant from the 1950's. That will be sewn on like a patch!

Now onto the adventure for the day, but first to cross the Mackinac Bridge for the first time this trip! 
What a bridge! They say the biggest in North America. Finished in 1957. 
We went to the Bridge Museum above Mama Mia's Pizza the night before! 

 Crossing the bridge for the first time this trip! It's more than 4 miles long!

On to the little town of St. Ignace. Such a cute little sailboat town. We stopped to eat a Whitefish sandwich at this adorable, home turned to restaurant, The House Restaurant, on top of a hill in town. GORGEOUS views while we sat and ate lunch. 
There is a cute little lighthouse in town there, in the marina of sailboats.

 The eagle totem welcoming us to climb, Castle Rock!

Awesome tourist stop sign!
$1.00 to gain admission to CLIMB over 200 VERY steep, OLD stairs to get to the top 
of Castle Rock. Bonus was, after the climb down, they had an AWESOME gift shop. 
More patches!!!! 

 Midway up the climb, and peering through the trees to look out at Lake Huron! 
Oh the water was the most gorgeous blues and so crystal clear! 
It truly made me miss being near water! If it weren't for the COLD, snowy winters,
 I would live up there!

 Reached the top, and I am still in LOVE with the views of the water. 
Here you see Mackinac Island in the distance. 
JC was shooting the drop down off the rock, I was shooting out, but caught him in action. 
(I like shooting pics of him taking pictures...) :)

 Had to get a shot of him looking to the west into the beginning of the UP. 
The greens meeting the blues, just had me in love! 

I did shoot a picture of the tip of Castle Rock, looking down into the abyss! 
Just like fountains, people toss coins on the point, 
for good luck or to symbolize someone had been there.  

 The clouds were tremendous during our entire trip. We had the BEST weather!
I just love seeing the sailboats on the water and the clouds in this picture!

And here, after the climb back down, you have Castle Rock. 
There are tons of interesting rock formations through the UP.  
Just popping out of all the green forestry. 

We drove on down to a little town of Hessel. We would be back later in the week to spend time at a neat event here. Today we just wanted to drive and take in the scenic atmosphere. 
Back to camp for some dinner and a fire with some of JC's WI family who stopped to stay a few nights...

Great first day!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Vacation 2015 - Photography and Journal Review - Messer Reunion Weekend in Michigan

I have decided to share some of my written and photographic journal from 
vacation 2015, Messer Reunion and trip to northern Michigan.

It was another epic adventure and this post is only the beginning, 
as I will post quite a few entries over the next few weeks... 

 July 30 - August 3 - 2015

Camper loaded, dogs at grandma's house living the cush life, 
and we are on the road by 7:05 a.m.
Heading north to meet up with JC's parents at 
a Mc D's for coffee before starting the journey north... 

This first part of the journey is spending a long weekend in Gladwin, MI 
celebrating this year's Messer Family Reunion. Family members from Michigan, 
Wisconsin and Indiana are headed there to have some fun and celebrate family! 
We entered MI at around 10:15 a.m.

We had a few stops to make before getting to reunion grounds, Jay's Sporting Goods 
and General Jim's Surplus Store. Found some neat items to take home! 

We pulled into reunion around 4:30 p.m. and got a camper site under the tall trees! 
Wonderful breezes and family welcomed us as we set up camp.

Steve and Thalia's Camp sign

JC and I braved the mosquitoes to try and "shoot the moon."
This was my best shot of the evening before running for the safety of citronella candles!

I love to shoot wild flowers, I believe this is a purple thistle?!

We had 3 bikes packed. I LOVE my bike!

Ron and Oscar! Who doesn't love those ears! 

Grandma Candy and (the cutest baby in the world) Lirael

Cousin's Race down the sandy lane.

At the end of a fun day playing in the sand, a juice box is key. 

It was a great weekend, (approximately 100 family members present) 
with good food, music, campfires, crafts and visiting 
with family from WI and MI. We are truly blessed to be able to spend time with everyone each year as summer comes to a close. Always a time to look forward too! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Happy Halloween, everyone!!!

I have been feverishly locked in my tiny studio working on new art 
for the next series of Learnalot Books!

I thought I would share with you an appropriate piece 
just in time to celebrate All Hallow's Eve!

Please enjoy this printable coloring page of 
Piper holding a Pumpkin and ready for you 
to decorate with a unique face!

Please post colored pages to my timeline on Facebook at

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I'm in a storytelling mood this morning.... So why not make it a bit personal...

I had just finished college, life was sort of chaotic... But I was looking forward to my birthday and a two week camping excursion with my dad.... My birthdaywas a Friday that year and I was set to leave for a small farm in Indiana and was so excited to take part in a BIG rendezvous, pre-1840s style...

After a 2 hour drive, I pulled up to the gate and dad was waiting there for me, anxiously. He and a few others along with a young man who caught my attention... All smiles. Apparently, as I am told today, dad was as giddy as a school girl about my arrival and had been talking about me for months during preparations...

I got settled in and shown the tour and here comes the "boy" again.
Introductions were made and we became fast friends. As the first few days went on, we found ourselves inseparable. There was so much to see and do and he was thoroughly enjoying proving himself and his knowledge. Me, being 5 years older, thought it was "cute." He was cute, and there was something about him and all the memories we made in that two weeks that have never left me.

First photo - JC and my father, in a picture I took that summer of 2001. JC was wearing a kilt.

Fast forward, 12 years...

We both had lives that we went on to live. And in 2012 my dad suddenly passed away...

Last year around this time, dad starting visiting my dreams. It was like giving me a tour through memories I had kept. Leading me to flash backs of my time camping with him at the Messer farm... Startled, one particular night, I got out of bed and went to my box that was filled with some small momentos, including this photo of dad and JC. JC's mom stayed in contact with me after dad's funeral. So I decided to write her a quick FB note (here is where FB can be therapeutic).

We wrote back and forth for about a week. I spilled my heart to her about things that were happening in my dreams and she helped me heal a bit from grief I was feeling for my dad.

She had been like a second mother the first moment I met her and being a redhead, like me, she has a very intuitive nature. And she knew her son, better than he likes to admit.

One day a phone number was sent to me with a note, like Alice and Wonderland, "Call This #."

I knew who it belonged to and after mustering up a bit of courage, I decided to send a text... (I didn't say I mustered up ENOUGH courage!)

There has not been a day that has gone by since that we haven't talked for hours...

Today, my life is VERY different than it was a year ago...

There was a divine plan for me, and there still is more to come.
My dad knew all those years ago, and he helped to guide me back to where I always was meant to be.

I celebrated a birthday last week. The best gift I have ever received has been this past year. The adventures in just this short time have been the best of my life, so far.

And I get to have the peace of mind that my dad played a hand in fate.

Second photo is of JC and I as we are today... He's a bit more hairy, on the chin, maybe even a bit more like my dad...

I have never felt so much love before... It stems from him, his incredible family and dearest friends... Life is as it should be, perfect...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NEW Learnalot Activity Books!!!

I am just so pleased to announce that The Learnalot's NEW Activity Books 
are not available at a Costco and Sam's Club stores nationwide (and Canada)!

The BrightStart Learning team and I worked on these books all of 2013
and had a LOT of fun illustrating all the fabulous content that was written specifically for 
the Learnalot brand!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cheers to a New Year!

I know, I know… Last date of entry on the ole blog is like 6 months ago…
Well, it's with good reason of course!

A lot has happened and changed since June…

June was highly stressful with work and deadlines. And then July brought a string of nights with dreams of my past. I totally blame it on my dad. Looking down on me, realizing I needed balance, he directed me to a family and a person whom I had fond memories of… 

Okay, yes, long - lost - love… 

I'm just glad I was brave enough to start talking to his mom and she intuitive enough to say, here CALL HIM!

So, add the beau to my life and then the wild ride to find life balance…

I am now living in a different state and learning what it means to be family again. 
I have GRAND schemes for 2014! 

Spending a lot more time outdoors and still accomplishing my work goals… 

And on this cold, wintry morning I decided to update the good ole blog and make it into a simple website for my illustrations… It's still a work in progress… But I have added pages and lots of things to look at. Get to know the characters I have developed and been working with for the past 3 years, the Learnalot's and take a peek at some pet portraits and car portraits I have done for commissions… 

I am hoping to journal more in 2014, here on the blog! 

I wish all of you a happy new year!