Sunday, April 28, 2013

Quick Pic – Tugboat Edna G

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

Today’s blog post introduces the third of our new short blog series, which will be called Quick Pic. In most cases, Quick Pic posts will feature just one photo and the story behind it. We hope you enjoy these short posts, which allow us to stay in touch more often.

In the summer of 2010, around 7:00 a.m. one morning, Ruth and I visited Two Harbors, Minnesota, a small town located north of Duluth along the shore of Lake Superior. On our way to photograph Two Harbors Lighthouse, we passed a brightly colored tugboat near the ore docks with the name Edna G on the side of its cabin. I snapped just one photograph.

Later, we discovered that the Edna G was built in 1896 and served the iron ore industry of Two Harbors until 1981, with the exception of her service on the east coast during World War I (1917-1919) and being out of service during the depression (1931-1933). She was the last coal-fed, steam-powered tugboat which operated on the Great Lakes. In 1974, the Edna G was designated a National Historic Site and, in 1994, she was fully restored. Today, she is open to the public for tours.

Happy Shunpiking!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Mile Past Crooked Tree

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

On our first trip to Ohio in 2009, Joann and I crisscrossed the southern part of the state hunting up Mail Pouch Tobacco barns and detouring now and then for other interesting things, including old general stores, covered bridges, and abandoned houses and farms.

One of the other things on my list that I wanted to visit was the H. C. Ogle Planing Mill near the town of Crooked Tree. A planing mill is a mill that takes cut and seasoned boards from a sawmill and finishes them for construction.

My directions for the mill said that it was less than a mile southwest of the town of Crooked Tree. We turned onto Crooked Tree Road from a highway east of Crooked Tree and expected to drive through the town of Crooked Tree before finding the mill. However, we came across the mill before reaching Crooked Tree.

The mill was a series of weathered buildings stretched out along the road. Most of the buildings had no windows, but the main building had multiple windows on both floors. The trim was painted white, which stood out in contrast to the weathered wood.

The mill was owned and operated by Harley C. Ogle who was a native of Crooked Tree. He was born January 21, 1891 and died November 23, 1982. He constructed his mill in the early 1900’s. The mill was powered by steam. Above the entrance door of the main building are wooden letters spelling "H. C. Ogle.”

Recently, I read that the mill was completely gone. We hope to visit the location of the mill on our next visit to Ohio and see for ourselves if the mill is truly gone. If it is, we will be saddened by its passing, but will be thankful that we found it in time to photograph it on our first visit.

Sometimes, due to inaccurate location information, rural architecture is reported to be gone. In this case, we have our fingers crossed that, because the directions were wrong, the person reporting its demise looked for it in the wrong place.

We’ll keep our hopes up until we know for sure.

Happy Shunpiking!

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Brief Encounters - “You’re Out!”

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

Today, we are introducing the second of our three new short blog series. This one is called Brief Encounters and it will feature subjects for which our images are few or the information about them is limited.

In June of 2011, Ruth and I passed through the small town of Ryan, Iowa, which has a population of approximately 400. In spite of its small size, through the donations of money, labor, equipment, and materials, this town’s residents developed an impressive city park and ball diamond.

According to the second edition of the book, “Iowa Curiosities,” a local priest named Father Beelner wanted to find something to distinguish Ryan’s new City Park. When the owner of a Happy Chef restaurant in nearby Cedar Rapids decided to “retire” his Happy Chef statue, he offered him to Father Beelner. It took more than 20 men to lift the 20-foot tall fiberglass statue onto a flatbed truck to be transported to its new home in Ryan.

Through the creativity of a local auto-body worker, the statue’s chef hat was replaced with a baseball cap and wire face mask. And the spoon in his raised right hand was replaced with a raised thumb to signal, “You’re out!” Finally, he received a paint job that finished the transformation from chef to umpire.

Talk about an amazing career transition!

Happy Shunpiking!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Looking for Ed

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

In September of 2011, Joann and I were heading north at the start of our fall travels. We pulled off the highway at Plainfield for a couple of old signs, and then we headed into town. I had jokingly asked Joann if she wanted to hunt up the cemetery where Ed Gein was buried.

Ed Gein was an infamous Wisconsin murderer and grave robber who was arrested for his crimes in November 1957. Joann told me she had recently discussed Ed Gein with a person at work, and she thought it would be interesting to get a picture at the cemetery.

As she was photographing the Opera House in downtown Plainfield, a gentleman pulled up in his truck and she asked him if he knew the cemetery where Ed Gein was buried. He gave her directions, which didn’t match the directions I had found on the Internet, but we figured that a local would know, so we headed off following his directions.

We arrived at Spiritland Cemetery, and Joann gathered her equipment and headed towards the gravestones. I made a few notes about where we were, looked where we might head next, and then joined her to search for the gravestones of his family.

From pictures on the Internet, I knew what the grouping of the Gein gravestones should look like, and we walked around and around looking for them. We didn’t find them, although we did find some other interesting gravestones and footstones.

After we returned home, I looked up the information again, and found that my initial directions had been correct. We’re not sure why we were given wrong information by a local on our first try, but state newspaper articles reporting his death in 1984 also listed the wrong cemetery.

In September of 2012, we were heading north once again. As we neared Plainfield, I asked Joann if she wanted to try one more time to find the Gein gravestones. She’s always game for a little adventure, so we pulled off the highway. This time I directed us to the Plainfield Cemetery, which was just off the highway.

Following the directions I found online, we soon found the grouping for the Gein family. The headstones for both of his parents and his brother are there. Ed’s stone had been stolen years before. It was found, and is now in the possession of a museum. It is not currently on display and there are no plans for it to ever be displayed.

Ed Gein died July 26, 1984 at age 77 after spending his last 27 years in mental institutions. According to newspaper articles in 1984, he was buried at 3 a.m. in an unmarked grave between his mother and his brother. The only people in attendance were employees of the funeral home.

The Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho is said to be based on the life of Ed Gein. Ed was insane and the lovely little town of Plainfield had nothing to do with that. Who can blame them for not wanting to be remembered as being his hometown?

If you’re heading north on the interstate (I-39) and you pass the sign for Plainfield, pull off and enjoy this small, quiet Wisconsin town.

Happy Shunpiking!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rhyme Time – An Old Wooden Floor

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

Hello, faithful readers! Over the next month or two, in order to connect with you a bit more often, we will be introducing three new short blog series. Today we begin with “Rhyme Time,” which will feature a few photos set to rhyme. We hope you enjoy it.

An old-fashioned window,

A weather-worn door,

Time leaves its mark
On an old wooden floor.

Happy Shunpiking!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Great Gray Visitor from the North

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

On Saturday, March 23, as Ruth and I traveled past the Capital Brewery in Middleton on our way to color Easter eggs with our nephews, Ruth informed me that a Great Gray Owl had been seen hanging around by the brewery. The following day, I drove to the brewery to look for the owl first thing in the morning, but I couldn’t find it. There were two or three other birders there who were also looking for the owl. I returned in the afternoon and saw one other birder, but again, no owl.

I called Ruth and told her that I had struck out and she said that someone had reported on the Wisconsin Bird Network (a discussion group for birders) that the owl was seen around 9:30 a.m. near the drive-thru of a sandwich shop about a half-mile from the brewery. I said, “Do you think he had bad luck on his morning hunt, so he decided to go to the drive-up?” (I wonder if they have breakfast sandwiches for owls.)

Around 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, as I was about to jump into the shower, a friend of mine called and asked me if I had heard about the owl. I told her that I had looked in vain for it on Sunday. She said, “I know it’s almost dark, but he’s sitting on a sign near Capital Brewery.” So I grabbed my camera gear and headed to the brewery.

When I got there, I saw a small crowd of 10-15 people gathered near the entrance to the brewery and, sure enough, there sat the Great Gray Owl on top of the One Way sign. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I hurried over there with my camera and quickly took a few shots before it got too dark.

Great Gray Owls reside in the boreal forests of Canada, but have journeyed south this winter in search of food. Their typical diet consists of small rodents, such as voles, which are in short supply this year in the northern forests, according to Ryan Brady, a DNR research scientist.

On Friday, March 29, I had the day off, but had a morning appointment, so I returned to the brewery around 11:00 a.m. to see if I could find and photograph the owl in brighter light. I had hoped for an overcast day, which provides nice even lighting, but it was very sunny. What I really wanted, however, was to just find the owl, no matter what the lighting.

As I drove past the brewery, I could see cars and people coming and going further down the street from the brewery, so I parked my car and followed someone’s directions across the snowbanks and over the railroad tracks to a large tree at the edge of the post office parking lot. The owl was sitting on a branch and there were 30-40 people gathered to watch him.

There were people holding up cell phones, point and shoot cameras, and SLR cameras. There were people with tripods and large expensive lenses. There were people with binoculars and people without cameras OR binoculars. One such person was standing next to me and she meekly asked me if I would consider sending her a photo or two for her bird-loving sister. So I handed her my business card and told her to email me and I would send her a couple of photos.

Another person who was standing next to me said that she was sitting at the car dealership waiting for her car and she saw the article about the owl on the front page of our local paper. As soon as her car was ready, she rushed over to get a glimpse. At one point, the owl bent down to clean the feathers on his foot and got a bit tangled with a small branch when he lifted his head again. I took quite a few photos that morning, but it was difficult to capture the owl without branches in front of his face.

Around 6:00 pm that night, I returned to see if he was in a better spot for photographing, but he was still sitting on the same branch. But this time, there were at least 75 people gathered there. Word had certainly gotten around, especially due to the article in the paper. And people were traveling long distances to add this bird to their life lists.

The following day, which was Saturday, March 30, I tried to find this mysterious creature three different times, but he was nowhere to be seen. And each time I drove down Terrace Avenue past the brewery, I saw the disappointed looks on the faces of those whose hopes were dashed that day. One person from Milwaukee reported that he was there for seven hours that day and didn’t see it.

On Easter Sunday, I decided to sleep in, so I didn’t go looking for the owl in the morning. And, because no one had seen him on Saturday, I thought maybe he had finally left the area. However, around 1:30, I got the feeling that I should go one more time. So I headed down to the brewery and there was a small crowd gathered just down the street. The owl was sitting on the inner branches of a large pine tree.

I snapped a couple of pictures and then he swooped through the air and landed on top of a small pine tree on the other side of the street. A cold front was moving in and there were occasional gusts of wind that ruffled his feathers and seemed to almost topple him from his perch.

Sometimes the wind made him look like he was having a bad hair day.

In spite of the wind, he sometimes appeared to be sleeping.

Sometimes he watched birds fly across the sky above him.

And sometimes he turned his head 180 degrees, making it look like his head was on backwards.

This beautiful bird was certainly a gift from heaven. People of all ages were given a rare opportunity to see nature at its finest, from small children to a man three days from his 99th birthday. I wish this owl safe travels as he returns home to the northern forests.

Hoo-Hoo-Ho-o-o-o! And Happy Shunpiking!