First off, I'd like to say that despite having this blog, I really wouldn't consider myself a blogger. Although I enjoy telling these stories, I don't post here on a regular basis, there's no consistency between the posts, and I really have no point to make with any of these stories– this is simply a place where I can share some of my favorite travel photos (usually the ones that don't make the cut for my IG page) and provide a little context for whomever may be viewing them.
That being said, I hope you enjoy the following images and stories from my recent trip to Madeline Island– a small paradise located in the Apostle Island chain on Lake Superior.
The night before we left, I stayed at my good friend Ben's house, knowing that we would be
leaving very early in the morning. The reason for taking this trip was two-fold. The primary reason was that our good friend Makenna (Ben's girlfriend) had entered a race– a two mile swim across Lake Superior and we wanted to be there to support her as she crossed the finish line. The second reason was that Ben had just turned 21 and this was an opportune moment for some birthday celebrations. A little piece of unnecessary trivia– my watch broke as soon as we got there.
The trip to Madeline Island took us (Ben, Ian, and myself) about six hours– stopping for coffee, groceries, beer, and a ferry ride from Bayfield, WI to the island. I'm a big fan of the way this oddly shaped window creates a natural frame in this image. I'll leave it up to you to decide if the bun belongs to a man or a woman crew member because I honestly cannot remember.
After meeting up with the Friehl crew at their rental cabin and setting up our tents, we altogether set out for Tom's Burned-Down Cafe. This is the island bar, which actually burned down days before opening years ago. The owner, obviously someone who can make the best of a bad situation, threw up some tents and had his opening anyway. Since then, the bar has grown into this amazing open-air establishment that has the vibe of a hippie/pirate shantytown. Here, we bought Ben birthday drinks and celebrated the making of new friends. These photos are a mixture of my own and Taylor– an amazing photographer/creator whose you all should definitely take some time to view at northbound93.com.
While waiting for our two swimmers, Kenna and Jess, to get back from checking in for their race, the rest of us took to the harbor to cool down. Judging from the looks on the faces of folks eating at nearby waterfront restaurants, I'm 100% certain that we looked ridiculous flipping, diving, and tackling each other into the water– but we're not ones to be easily embarrassed.
Photo Credit– Taylor Friehl
The next morning, we woke up early to give our best wishes to Kenna and Jess as they left for their race. We then made our way down to the beach to see the sun come up over the water. While sipping our coffee, someone noticed that the water was surprisingly warm. Naturally, we decided to change/strip-down and take an early morning swim to wake ourselves up for the day.
A little gif I put together of Ben's dive. Please, take note of the first frame and appreciate his hilariously majestic stance as he prepares to jump.
Around 9:30am, after our dip in the lake, we made our way to the finish line to wait for our swimmers to come in. These three super-humans swam over two miles in under two hours across Lake Superior. When finally they got on land, they were welcomed with smiles, hugs and a shot of whiskey– at their request! Needless to say, these are some pretty remarkable individuals.
From left to right: Kenna, Kevin, Jess. "Whiskey Shot" Photo Credit- Taylor Friehl
The rest of the afternoon was devoted nothing but enjoying the warm sun, cold drinks and clear water in the company of amazing friends.
Click on individual images to enlarge and read more.
An attempt was made at some stick-and-can baseball, but as Taylor demonstrates here, it turned out to be a lot harder than we thought it'd be.
After a while, Kevin– the captain of the paddle board and of that beautiful boat in the background– graciously came by to pick all of us up and take us to the north end of the island where we would be able to do some cliff jumping.
I brought my camera on the boat, and was able to snag a few shots there, but had to leave it on board before heading to the cliffs because we had to swim to get there. Thankfully Ben and Taylor both had their gopros with them so we were able to capture a few cliff-jumping shots.
Photo Credit- Ben Schuller + Taylor Friehl
I'm not sure what caused this moment, but isn't it the sweetest? I'm blessed to have some pretty awesome people in my life.
Photo Credit- Taylor Friehl
Upon returning from the lake, Ben and I chopped firewood for our last night on the island. This is one of the last photos I took that day before putting my camera away and allowing myself to be completely immersed in the moment. Later on, we went back to Tom's Burned Down Cafe where I somehow ended up on stage to sing a song I soon forgot the lyrics to. We then made a fire on the beach where we stayed until the early hours of the morning before retiring to our tents.
As you might guess, the next morning was a slow start for all of us. We took our time in gathering our belongings– partially because of our tired bodies, but mostly because we couldn't believe that this weekend had come and gone by so quickly. Kenna and her family had a few more days left to themselves at the cabin– apparently this trip was something of a tradition for them, but they were gracious enough to let us take part. Before sending us off, we had a breakfast– thats Taylor's foot and egg in the photo above– and said our goodbyes to each other.
This last image basically sums up the experience of driving home that day. Because we left on a Sunday– the day when everybody else is trying to leave the island– we got stuck waiting for the ferry for nearly an hour. Then, in the first hour of driving we realized that we were nearly out of gas without the promise of a gas station for miles. As we pulled into the town of Superior, WI, on "Empty," we fueled both the car and ourselves before continuing our drive home. On the way, we got stuck in a seven mile stretch of traffic which delayed us by another hour. By the time we arrived home, we'd been in the car for over eight hours– however, I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.
To whoever is viewing this, I wanna thank you for taking the time to look at these photos. I put a lot of effort into my photography, on both a professional and personal level, and although I don't do it for anybody but myself, it does mean so much to know that my photos can bring joy, excitement, and adventure into the lives of others. Thank you so much for your support.