Fall Colors at Holy Hill

Holy Hill Basilica and National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, or just Holy Hill as it is commonly known, is a Roman Catholic shrine and basilica located northwest of Milwaukee, WI. Holy Hill attracts 300,000 visitors, many of whom visit during the fall. Since Holy Hill is located on a glacial kame that is one of the highest points in southeastern Wisconsin, the views of the fall colors can be quite spectacular. Visitors can climb the 178-step observation tower to get better views and during peak weekends, the line to climb to the top can be more than an hour.

Fall colors from Holy Hil

Bed races in Cedarburg

I imagine the first thought most people would have when looking at this photo would be something like “what on earth is going on here?” If so, I guess that means I captured the moment pretty accurately because that was pretty much my thought in the moment. This photo was taken in Cedarburg, WI, which may be the small town festival capital of the world. Lots of towns have small festivals, but Cedarburg takes it to another level and it is reflected in the insane amount of people that flock to this small town a few times a year. This photo was taken during the Winter Festival at the annual bed races. Teams build parade-like floats around a bed frame, dress up in costumes that fit with their bed, throw on their skates, then take to the frozen water just north of the dam to participate in down and back races pitting two teams against each other. A mix of serious competition and absolute hilarity ensues.

Bed races on the ice in Cedarburg, WI

Fireworks over Milwaukee

Taking decent fireworks photos is a challenge. It’s dark, so it requires slow shutter speeds and preferable the camera being on a tripod; you never know exactly where, when, or how large the fireworks are going to appear in the sky, so composing the photo is a challenge; and it’s usually a very high contrast situation, so getting a photo with anything other than the fireworks themselves properly exposed is a challenge. Fortunately everything is digital nowadays, so the fact that I delete 99% of the fireworks photos I take (because they were a complete failure) is not a problem. This photo is from a couple years ago, taken on July 3rd because for some reason the city of Milwaukee does their fireworks a day early. With the long days, the sky wasn’t completely black when the fireworks started, the small clouds captured the light of the fireworks nicely, and I guessed at a shutter speed that made the fireworks look quite nice.

Fireworks over the city of Milwaukee

Fall colors…but not in the trees

Spring is just arriving but it’s never to early to think about fall colors. I’m not a fan of cold days and short days but the changing of leaves during the fall is something I really enjoy. The thing about this photo that I like, and what makes it different from most of the other fall colors photos I have taken, is that the photo was taken later in fall after most of the trees had lost their leaves. The shrubs and other plants that grow closer to the ground still had their leaves and the brilliant reds stood out in contrast to the mostly brown colors elsewhere.

Fall colors in a state park in Wisconsin, the trees are mostly bare but the smaller plants have bright colored leaves.

Phoenix of China Lights

China Lights is an event that has been held in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area each of the past three years. The event features a large display of handmade traditional Chinese lanterns. This lantern features the Phoenix, a mythical creature which could regenerate or be reborn from the ashes of its predecessor. The lantern was massive with vibrant color and intricate detail for such a large display.

Phoenix traditional Chinese lantern

Saturday morning walk

Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh found in the United States. The Marsh is divided into a State Wildlife Area and a National Wildlife Refuge. One of the highlights of the marsh is that it is a popular birding location during the spring and fall migrations. This photo was taken on a weekend in late spring along one of the trails near the Visitor’s Center in the State Wildlife Area. The marsh was filled with tons of geese, including this family which decided to take a leisurely stroll along the trail, the goslings busy trying to find something to eat while the parents kept an eye on the surroundings. While it was fun to watch, it also meant that we had to wait until the geese finally got off the trail to continue our hike since we did not want to disturb them.

Geese walking along a trail at Horicon Marsh

Like A Storm

Taste of Madison is an event held each year on Labor Day weekend in the city of Madison, Wisconsin. The streets surrounding the state capitol are closed and the area is overtaken by a combination of local food vendors and music. There are three stages featuring a wide range of music, from rock to country to hip-hop. Admission is free, the food is reasonably priced, and they usually manage to put together a pretty impressive music lineup. This photo is of Matt Brooks, the guitar player/vocalist from the band Like A Storm.h They are a rock band from New Zealand that incorporates the didgeridoo into some of their songs, which is rather unique.

Matt Brooks, guitar player and vocalist for the band Like A Storm

The one red tree at Copper Falls State Park

The waterfalls in Wisconsin may not be as impressive as those in Iceland or Hawaii but there are some that are worth seeing. Copper Falls State Park is a beautiful state park in northern Wisconsin at the intersection of two rivers. The park has a couple waterfalls (spoiler alert: one of them is named Copper Falls), trails with great views of the rivers and surrounding forest, and interesting geology. We visited on a fall day several years ago to see the waterfalls and enjoy the fall colors. The hiking was great due to the beautiful fall weather but the fall colors were just a little before their peak. While many of the trees in the park had leaves that had turned yellow, those that turn red and orange had not really started changing their color yet. Fortunately, the few trees that had started turning already just happened to be right next to Copper Falls.

Copper Falls surrounded by fall colors

The -3°F Heatwave

This photo was taken last winter at Beaver Brook Wildlife Area in northwestern Wisconsin, which has some very nice cross-country ski trails. The weather was rather brutal while we were in the area and on the “warm” day with a high temperate of -3°F, we went cross-country skiing. While the temperature was bitter cold, at least there was no wind and there was even a little sun. This photo was taken in the late afternoon as the sun was disappearing. Not surprisingly, we had the ski trails to ourselves and it was quite peaceful.

Cross-country ski trail in northwestern Wisconsin.