Archive for the ‘On the Road’ Category

I’m carving birds again! Stop by and visit with me and see my new work on Small Business Saturday from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm at Homespun’s new location at 869 Mass Ave. I will be carving — a new style murder of crows and larger owls. In addition to birds I’ll have boats, whales, a polar bear, ukuleles and leatherwork. Stop by and see the new shop space and visit. (Homespun will be open as a preview shop — moving here after the holidays.) Congratulations to Amanda and Neal on this move to cool larger digs!

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Photographer and friend Ernie Mills accompanied me on my annual West Union (Park County), Indiana bald eagle trip.

For particulars about where and when and what to expect visit my earlier post here.

We left home at 5:30 and arrived at the West Union Covered Bridge at 7:30 as planned.  Several other folks had gathered to witness the eagles as they moved from their roosts to the Wabash River.

We saw about a dozen eagles rise above the ridge to the north and drop back behind the trees — loads of eagles, but none came too close.  At one point we were able to see eight in flight at one time.

The sun broke over the horizon.  The other birders had their eagle and got in their cars and left.  Ernie and I remained to shoot the bridge and the landscape in the marvelous mid-winter light. We were joined by a pair of nearly identical kittens from a nearby farm.  These little guys followed us the entire time (in fact one got in the car) and became the focus of many of our shots.

We left West Union following the Wabash to Montezuma.  We parked near the river and walked across the old iron bridge.  Mid-river I stopped and scanned the trees looking for birds and spotted a large bald eagle in the trees on river right.  We crossed the road and doubled back.

On the way home we made a quick stop at Turkey Run State Park and photographed a few birds around the Nature Center bird feeding station.  We walked into the woods and photographed ice, rocks and water.

On the drive home we came across a small flock of wild turkeys including some beautiful Toms.  Ernie hit the brakes and we backed just in time to see them disappear into the trees.

In Crawfordsville Ernie spotted another bald eagle flying right over the downtown buildings.  We followed it through a neighborhood and onto the Wabash College campus.  Ernie got a quick shot before it flew out of range.

Ernie an I spent a week together in New England in October of 2010 and really had a great adventure.  It was nice to be together and pick up where we left off.

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Greg Adams, Willow Furniture Maker, and I spent Friday and Saturday together at a show in Troy, Ohio.  I discovered the Greg enjoys exploring new towns as much as I do.  We discovered K’s Hamburger Shop.  It’s been in Troy since 1935 and is still in the original family.  It’s squeaky clean, friendly, fast, inexpensive and delicious.  Most importantly it’s a time capsule and a great place to see and hear the folks of Troy.

(It was the neon “EAT” sign that lured us in.  We’re both suckers for old neon!)

We lunched on double cheeseburgers, fries and Coca-colas.  We returned this morning.  Greg had biscuits and gravy, I had one giant hotcake (paper thin and crisp on the edges.  We both had bacon and coffee (refills $.10!)

I will have to find an excuse to get back to Troy and have a meal.

Other meals of note included Maid-Rite Sandwiches in Greenville, Ohio and Grilled Ham Sandwiches at Sparky’s Doghouse in Mt. Summit, IN.  All are highly recommended for taste and value.

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As a “folkie” I’m really interested in folks, their skills and talents and the communities that develop form them.  Yesterday I had an opportunity to celebrate and share much of my circle of talented and sharing friends.

For the third year Blue Stone Folk School was featured on the stage of the Pioneer Village.  It was a day of great music, traditional arts and sharing.  My daughter, a fine performer in her own right, represented us and all of Hamilton County as our 4H Fair Queen.  She is our designated county representative at the fair and she made the most of it.

I want to introduce you to these folks.  I’m sure there are others.  I didn’t get photos of all of the members of Alice Chalmers and the Stick a Cork in It Jug Band.  I regret this and apologize.

(Note: I cannot get captions to show.  Check back later for captions.)

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I teach 5th and 6th grade.  I’ve spent this weekend in meetings and preparing for my students.  I’ve been working hard to  make the most of my few days of summer.  When I had an opportunity to head home an hour earlier than expected I detoured to Lapel to make a long overdue visit to the shop of Greg Adams.

I made a brief entry last week when Greg presented me with my recent Indianapolis Monthly feature nicely framed in his trademark rustic picture frame.

I’ve been  aware of Greg’s work for years but we didn’t connect until we were both named Indiana Artisans late last year.  We later spent a weekend together at Marsh Madness in Linton.  He surprised me last week by dropping in for a few moments at the Gathering at Garst in Greenville, Ohio.

(I didn’t realize until I was doing some Googlin’ for this piece that Greg and I both participated in a Traditional Arts Indiana initiative several years ago.  I’m surprised we didn’t meet then.)

I sat and talked with Greg for just a few moments before John Bundy pulled up in front of the shop.  John spent the weekend with us in Linton.  Bundy Decoys are beautifully carved and finished and can be found in shops and galleries across the country.  John is a character and once he arrived we sat back and listened to his stories.  They are colorful and sometimes not fit to print.


I realized that we were experiencing something akin to the gentlemen that once hung around the Corner Drug Store in Noblesville, or the Liar’s Bench in Nashville or one of a million general stores, barbershops and taverns across this country.

It wasn’t long before we all parted ways to head home to family, a little better for some quality time shooting the breeze.

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Hear me (and a lot of smarter folks) talk about our art, the alternative craft movement and Saturday’s Bloomington Handmade Market.

WFIU – Radio Broadcast about Saturday’s Handmade Market

Tuesday, March 29

See images and links for all of the vendors here.

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I spent this weekend in Linton, Indiana celebrating the restoration of a giant wetland, Goose Pond, and the return of an amzing variety of waterfowl.

I never saw Goose Pond.

I joined three other Noblesville area wildlife/outdoor artists to participate in an arts and crafts show.  These artists included: Greg Adams, Bruce Neckar and John Bundy.  We were hosted by Indianapolis photographer Wilbur Montgomery at his Lake cabin in Parke County.

When we arrived at the Linton City Park we were surprised to find the entire park under water.  The Roy Clark Building, where we were to exhibit was on a bit or raised, and dry, land at the back.  We plunged ahead and set up.  It was a rainy miserable day.  The park drained, but water kept falling and the crowds were thin all weekend.  During the day the DNR, from Hardy Lake, displayed a variety of Indiana Raptors.  Two or three times daily the gave a great lecture about the birds and their work.

Throughout the day folks stopped by and reported the  birds that they had sighted including coots, sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, snow geese and a variety of ducks.

We didn’t take our work to the event to make money.  It’s a cause in which we all beleive.  This was a show of support.  In spite of this we all were able to sell enough to leave pleased.

I did have an opportunity to spot some interesting birds.  On the drive south from Brazil we came across a vulture eating carrion on the side of the road.  Sartled it flew up and into the path of the car.  John Bundy was driving and swerved to miss.  The bird struck the radio antennae about two feet in front of me.  I got a clear view and could identify it as the rarer black vulture.

On the drive home we drove for miles past the flooded Eel and White Rivers.   Near the Eel River we spotted a bald eagle perched in a tree.  Near Martinsville we were driving along flooded fields and I spotted quite a few coots.  At dusk outside Paragon we noticed a flock of large birds flying parallel to the highway about 50 yards to our left.  We speculated that these must be sandhill cranes.  Sure enough we came upon hundred and hundreds of sandhills in the shallow floodwater.

In further support of the effort to restore and reclaim this marsh (and to get a nifty hat) I joind Friends of Goose Pond. Look into it.  It’s a great effort.

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I traveled with Ernie to get back to New England.  I traveled with Ernie to revisit my Maine home.  I traveled with Ernie to spend time with a serious and focused artist.  I traveled with Ernie to see and experience places that I’ve never visited.  I did not travel with Ernie to “get my picture took”.

This evening Ernie sent me an email of severial photos of me birding, walking and loving the New England Autumn.

To see more of Ernie’s work and to pick purchase copies click here.

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When the girls were little we spent two weeks in Maine.  Julie flew up to join us for the second week.  At the end of our time there we put Julie on a plane in Portland and headed home in an ancient (25 yrs. +) giant Dodge pick-up with a kayak on the roof.

It was late afternoon drove straight west through New Hampshire and into Vermont and crashed into a tiny mom and pop motel.  We had no idea where we were (Visually.  I was a geography major I knew where we were.).  We got up at the crack of dawn and drove around a bend only to find the earth open before us as we emerged from the forest and were overlooking miles and mile of overlapping mountain ranges.  This night and morning has always been some kind of milestone in my life.  I don’t know why.  I never thought that I’d see it again.

Yesterday morning we drove around a bend and the same vista opened before me!  It turns out the Ernie had a similar experience and was moved by just being there.  Wow!

(I now know that we stayed in the Molly Stark Motel and that the spot is called Hogback Mountain west of Brattleboro, VT on Rt. 9.)

A bit further west we stopped to photograph the sea smoke rising from a pond surrounded with fall colors.  My camera didn’t do it justice, but Ernie shot some beautiful stuff.  I got a shot of Ernie shooting this pond.

The highlight of the day was when we crossed into New York and hapened across Joanne Tarbox opening her farm stand east of Troy.  We stopped and asked if we could shoot the farm and she invited us to make ourselves at home while she uncovered her beautiful display of mums and pumpkins. While Ernie shot we chatted about milk prices and the hardship of running a dairy farm.  She explained that they now raise steers to supplement their income.  With the local food movement this has been very successful for them.  They plan to soon pasteurize their own milk and sell independently to avoid the price fixing and government programs that keep milk price depressed.

Later she opened her 1830 corn crib and shared her quilts.  We had a great conversation and a bit of her story in a beautiful place.  I truly hope to drop in on Mrs. Tarbox, her cows and her friendly cat again.

That’s it.  We were on the road over 19 hours yesterday and awoke this morning with our wives and children.




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Photo by Ernie Mills Photgraphy (Of Course)


Ernie, my photo-junkie companion, spent three years driving tourists to the summit of Mount Washington, the highest peak east of the Mississippi.  If you’ve not driven, or ridden, The Road it simply cannot be imagined.

We’ll try.  Just imagine the narrowest, twisting, steepest road that you can and then imagine that it climbs 4000 ft in just 8 miles (In a recent hill climb a driver topped the mountain in just 6 minutes!)  Then imagine ice and snow (every month) and 60, 70 and even 100 mph sustained winds.  That’s a little like this road. (I didn’t mention the 500 – 600′ shear drops.  Guard rails?  Hah!)

Not only was this road built in such an unlikely place, it was built before the Civil War.  At that time the road led from a valley summer house (The Glen House) to a smaller hotel on the summit (The Tip Top House).  Folks rode in carriages.  The ride took four hours up mountain and 2 down.  Most folks take about 40 minutes in a car (Ernie did it in a little less time!)

Folks die on the summit from falling, exposure and getting lost.  In the long history of the road there has only been one accident with two fatalities.  This safety record indicates the road safer than most neighborhood roads.  These folks work very hard to maintain this record.

The Mount Washington Weather Observatory claims the mountain has the worst weather on earth.  Throughout its history the MWOBS has reported the world’s fastest winds and some of the most extreme temperatures.  Visibility changes in seconds as the clouds wrap around the summit.  It’s an mecca for weather watchers.

We arrived at the base of the road before the 8:00 open time.  We were told by the folks at the toll house (all friends of Ernie’s) that we would be held for and hour or so.  While we waited we visited the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) Joe Dodge Lodge at Pinkham Notch   We began our of the summit ascent at 9:15.  Ernie was anxious to be at the summit before the tourists and through his knowledge of the road we were able to be the first to arrive.

Ernie, the folks at the summit, the drivers that we hung out with, the experienced climbers all called today the perfect day.  There are only 30 fog free days a year and today was crystal clear.  The weather had been bad (we were turned away earlier in the week) so the summit was covered with a thick layer of rime frost. It was warm for the summit, about 28 degrees with moderate winds.  When we reached the summit we had a clear view of the Atlantic from Portland, Maine  to Portsmouth, New Hampshire (Well over 60 miles).  On the other side of the summit we looked down on a solid mass of stratus clouds that wrapped and spilled around nearby peaks and dissipated.

From the backside of the mountain the world’s first cog railroad operates.  About a half hour after we arrived trains began to arrive.  The first train of the day is always pushed by a tiny steam locomotive shrouded in a plume of black coal smoke.

Adjacent to the weather observatory is a visitor center with a museum, post office, two gift shops and a restaurant.  I enjoyed a wonderful bowl of chicken and dumplings.

After our descent we parked and hiked the Alpine Garden Trail.  This trail leads through boulder fields, along the head wall of a huge glacial valley (I stayed back from the edge) across a tiny stream and through a huge meadow of rare and tiny alpine flowers.  The path, like all AMC alpine paths is marked with a series of ancient cairns.  It was a tough hike.  We walked less than a mile, but the elevation varied by several hundred feet.

Our last stop of the day was to Glen Ellis Falls.  The Glen Ellis Valley was blocked by a series of ancient avalanches.  The tiny river fights and twists as it drops down from the mountain.  The largest drop is 65 feet into a series of pools.  Beautiful stuff!

I’ve been carrying around a Zoom digital recorder.  I’m not sure why I brought it, but I’ve been setting is along various babbling brooks, roaring surf and waterfalls.  It’s nice to listen to.

We’re in southern Vermont tonight and planning a drive towards home tomorrow.  We’ll see what’s in store.

See Ernie’s photos of today here.

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