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Okay, anyone who hasn't been to the Alpine Chocolate Haus, hasn't truly been to Gaylord. I'm just SAYING!! If you want to fall hopelessly into a diabetic coma, this is the place. I bought three, took them home and thought - wait a minute - isn't your cholesterol and pancreas going to fall apart if you eat these? Yeah, okay, good point, I said to myself.
I didn't eat them, but I know a young man who LOVES them, and wears the melted chocolate like an olympic medal. However, these are for props. Here is the first painting of this unwholesome treat. I have two more, and they won't last long. This will be a quick series of deliciousness.
I happened to find a good spot next to the Sturgeon, where the snowmobile trail goes over the river. A pickup truck stopped. A young woman and her mother came to see my progress. They were so delightful! I gave the small study away, and packed up before the mosquitoes carried me away. At home, I began a fresh canvas with some warm cocoa and good music.
Found a lovely spot at the crossroads of Wilkinson and I Forgot Road (because basically I was wandering). The sun was setting on the ribbon of roadway, going up the long hill. Some curious deer decided to creep up behind me. They scared me! I turned around to find several does watching me paint! When I jumped, they all took off.
I decided to paint the Elk Viewing area, off Fontinalis Road. It was so pretty, the field practically painted itself. A couple young men parked nearby, and proceeded to unload five dogs. Three large hunting dogs, a pomeranian-sized dog, and a little puppy. We chatted for a moment, and they left to take all five dogs for a good run.
About thirty minutes later, a woman who had binoculars, and hoped to spot some elk, walked up to me and said, "is this your puppy?" Um, no. I took the little guy, and put him in young men's vehicle. He jumped out, and curled up under my easel. So I put him back in their truck. You guessed it, he leapt out the window. This time, he wanted me to chase him. But I got him bundled up, popped him back in the truck - noticed the keys in the ignition - and rolled the windows up to keep him safe. He barked. And barked...and barked. And I began packing up my paints.
The guys returned, and asked me if I had seen a little puppy. I pointed at the pickup truck, where Naughty Little Pup was now all sweet and happy to see them. They had been out in the field, noticed he was missing, and spent an hour searching for him. I guess he got tired of the walk!
For the record, there are NEVER any elk at the Viewing Area. Plenty of people walking through it though. It seems a popular place. I did see some elk, but they were in a hayfield miles away from the Viewing Area.
It's fun to be in a very remote state forest, and come across these pump jacks out in the wilderness. I mean, you're out in the middle of nowhere - and BOOM - a rusty thing! I like rusty things! I set up in the quiet - oh the pines were so fragrant, and the sun was warm....when all of a sudden the pump jack groaned and moaned to life. There seems to be a common theme with me painting along, and being startled by weird stuff, you know?
There was one car on the two-tracker, and the woman inside asked me for directions. GPS is useless, and she was lost. "Which way to civilization?" she asked me. I dunno, I came here to lose touch with civilization. She got her bearings ( turn south at next stop sign and keep going until pavement appears), and I put up with two more grindings of the pump jack before I went home.
Gotta say, the best adventures start with friends! The thing about my friend Margie Guyot is that she likes to explore as much as I do. Heading into TC for hidden gems, or off into the remote corners - we have some fun! Thanks, Margie, for a couple of great afternoons goofing around. My favorite find so far? The resale shop with the giraffe skull. I think we need to follow up on our idea for a plein air painter weekend this summer or next fall.
It was a rare November day, 70 degrees. I went exploring and found what I thought was a quiet spot next to the north branch of the Ausable River at the dead end of a seasonal road. I set everything up and started painting, when I heard a very odd sound. It reminded me of a transformer, with that really loud electrical "Boop!" and then no power, but instead the really loud electrical sound was followed with a thunderous BOOM. I was a little closer to Grayling and the National Guard base than I thought! They were conducting air-to-ground exercises, complete with A-10s. How did I know this?
A couple stopped by, ready to leave their camping spot, and found me in their favorite place along the Ausable's north branch. They told me it was called The Ford, where vehicles could once-upon-a-time drive across and continue along the seasonal road. Now, it is closed off - a dead end. Plus I got a primer on being close to Grayling's National Guard base. I missed the morning A-10 flyover and the Howitzers. They also suggested a few more quiet spots, which I really appreciated. They purchased my little painting, and left for home in Ohio. They made my day, and I think I also made theirs!
The exploring of this new place! Allen complains that I have dirtied my little Chevy Equinox enough, and it is time for a wash. Must have something to do with the rectangle of dirt left in the driveway after it rained? Couldn't resist a drive down Jordan River Road to enjoy the autumn color along the river valley. The logging they've been doing didn't help the "road" much at all, so I got a little concerned when I confronted a boggy, black, rutted section. I wasn't the only one enjoying the fall color in a commuter car, so there's that. Sometimes, you have to get a little muddy to find the really interesting views.
I found a great spot to settle in and paint, right on a culvert. A lovely, warm autumn afternoon. As the plein air didn't quite get finished, but there was enough color recorded (and photos taken), I began a larger canvas in the studio.
The weekend after, I returned to Jordan River Road with my friend, Susan. We got some amazing photos, and were having a great time until I realized it was small game/bird season. We got out of the car, went to get more photos of the river and a group of hunters were a little too close for comfort. They shot off a few rounds over Sue's head. I KNOW they heard us yakking, the car doors opening and closing on the road, so no idea what they were thinking. For sure they heard EXACTLY how I felt about this, after the second shot. Ugh!
Allen dug through his hunting stuff, and I now have a very large (and very loud) orange hoodie. There are some plein air situations Up North I really didn't anticipate. But I do like how the painting turned out!
I decided to become an Up Norther. My fiancee asked me to join him in Northern Michigan after dating for a few years. I spent months packing and sorting. The house we would soon be sharing is small, and artists tend to save things. During the Covid shut-down, I sorted "junk" and took my time with this little enamelware creamer left over from my mother's childhood tea set. I think my sister has the plates and a few tea cups. My reward was eating the Lindt chocolate truffles before I put my easel away for the day.
Well, I moved to Northern Michigan in August. Who doesn't like Up North? Of course, I'm not merely renting a cottage with the family, or staying long enough to get through a Plein Air event (they can be gruelling). I'm an official full-time resident. This means that while the rest of Michigan is on vacation during the summer months, I'm working. Also, this means when the rest of Michigan goes home - I remain here. Exploring Michigan's beauty is amazing, but it is different exploring when the resort and vacation crowd is gone for the season.
For example? I went on "safari" to the Pigeon River State Forest. As I drove down the road, I happened to startle two juvenile bull elk. They ran alongside the car for a moment, then disappeared into the woods. How do they manage to run without getting their enormous antlers caught in the branches? I set my easel up next to a stream, and enjoyed the elk bugling in the distance. But the clouds were unkind, and they kept interfering with my view of the ripples in the stream. I gave up, then moved to a better location.
I found this abandoned home with fall colors lined up behind it. I told my fiancee I might have found a great deal on a fixer-upper when he called to check on me. He was not impressed at the description.
Notes from the Easel...
I have an interesting profession. I am an artist, which means I look at everyday life and see interesting things. Welcome to the blog! I'll be including stories about my adventures in art and the colorful world around us.