You Could See Forever from Up There

As you know, I’ve been off on a painting adventure into northern Minnesota and the North Shore of Lake Superior. Last week I reported from Cooperstown, ND where we narrowly escaped a shelf cloud storm. Our travels since then have taken us as planned. It is really flat across most of that country, at least from the Black Hills in South Dakota to eastern Minnesota and down through eastern North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and into Kansas, all the way to Limon, Colorado where I am tonight.I bet the elevation didn’t vary more than 100 feet along the way in a 1000 miles and when you topped out on one of those little bumps, you could see forever up there. When you got onto a bridge over a river, you could see all the way to next Tuesday. Seriously.

Another noticeable feature was that it was so green. Everything. All the croplands, yards around the houses, boulevards in the towns…everything. I never saw a sprinkler for irrigation  much less a garden hose. They just simply didn’t exist in that country. We were mostly in the countrysides avoiding the cities and Interstates. A common feature of the landscapes was that the right-of-ways along the country roads was all grass and became part of the lawns around the houses which were set a good ways back from the roadsides. Large lots if not acreages. The lawns all looked like they were manicured as on golf courses. No weeds either. 

I did manage to get a couple of watercolors done although not near as many as I had planned. The biggest reason was the humidity and the weather. It rained a lot and when it wasn’t raining, the humidity was so high you could see a blue mist in the air…like a fog almost. The scenery was great and I have a number of mental images that I converted to sketches when I could. Those will be used for paintings in the studio to recreate the experiences. That’s the way it goes when you can’t paint on location. The inspiration is still there and can be easily developed.

Northern Minnesota was the best. I have family memories from when I was a child on Lake of the Woods. My uncle owned an island on the lake and although I didn’t get out to it, the memories came flooding back as I stood on the shore. That was one place I did get a souvenir watercolor done.


The light on the lake was just beautiful that evening.


I sat the on a bench and watched the sun set for some time. It was a really peaceful, content evening on the shore at Lake of the woods. I really enjoyed that. Made the ride worthwhile. The next morning as we were leaving the lodge we stayed in I had to stop and take this picture of the ice fishing huts on the side of the road waiting to be launched this winter.


Fun stuff, there. Fishing is really big up there. I mean, really big. Everybody has a boat.

From there we rode over to the infamous Ely, Minnesota and the Boundary Waters. Ely is a neat little town but the Boundary Waters remain elusive. The lakes are in the heavy forest lands and not very visible from the highways. That was too bad.

We got over to the North Shore of Lake Superior and it was worth the ride in its-self. Spectacular. The mental sketches of the coast line will produce some dramatic paintings. Although the sun finally broke out it was a cool and blustery ride.

Lunch of a Lake Superior White fish sandwich on the docks caught fresh that morning was maybe the best meal of the trip, if you don’t count the fresh Walleye dinner a day earlier. Small benefits. Another painting to come of the harbor scene.


Just before we entered into Canada, we stopped at the Grande Portage National Monument. What an educational stop that was. A really cool reconstructed fort from the early 1700’s with character dressed docents who were very knowledgeable about the place, the history and their specific charge. Learned a bit of how birch bark canoes are made.

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Our return trip was detoured and cut short due to weather concerns. Severe storms were springing up all across the northern midwest where we were. Not good when touring on a motorcycle, so we decided to head south and home early.

Over all it was a good ride. Although I didn’t get as many watercolors done as I wanted, I got some good sketches both mentally and in the sketchbook. I’m excited to get started on the studio paintings. I’ll keep you posted as I get them done.

Thanks for following along. I appreciate it.