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Duluth, Minnesota has some great firework and in an beautiful setting. If you are in the area this 4th of July try and take them in.

My first year of watching the Duluth Fireworks was from our balcony on Michigan Street. All of the shots were close-ups of the explosions.

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The second year we walked down to the North Breakwater and photographed them with the Lift Bridge in the background.

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Last year we walked down to Leif Erickson Park and watched them from the shoreline of Lake Superior.

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Leaving Pullman, Washington we decided to drive back to Missoula, Montana via scenic highway 12 which parallels the Lochsa River for part of the way. The trip was supposed to take a little over five hours but it turned out to be an all day trip. There was a little more traffic than we would have liked because it was a weekend. Most of the delay dealt with the large number of rafters on the Lochsa River. There were a variety of rafts in use and it was a lot of fun to watch them run the rapids. We would drive along until we found some rafters and then drive back to the nearest rapids so we could watch them. There had been a lot of rain in the area for the past several weeks so the water was high and the water was running fast. It looked like the kayakers were having the most fun.

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I was happy to see that I had a couple of photos included in the current Calendar but was appalled to see that one of them was close to a photo of our Idiot governor.

The firs photo was taken at Amnicon Falls State Park under ideal water conditions. Unfortunately it was a sunny day which makes waterfall photography difficult. Fortunately I had just purchased a variable neutral density filter which allowed me to photograph the falls at a slower speed even under sunny conditions.

Now and Then Falls Amnicon Falls State Park

Now and Then Falls Amnicon Falls State Park

The photo of the Coast Guard Cutter Alder was taken during the bitter winter of 2013-14. We were returning from our final visit of the season to the Apostle Islands Ice Caves when we notice on our Marine Tracker that the Alder was out in Lake Superior. This was the first ice breaking trip of the year for the Alder through the Wisconsin Point Entry.  Little did they know that it would be a very long time before ice breaking ended for the season. We tracked the Alder as it sailed out into the lake so we drove out to Wisconsin Point to see if we could photograph it when it returned to the harbor. We waited for quite a while but it didn’t return so we started back to Duluth. Just as we were leaving Wisconsin Point I made a final check of the Marine Tracker and noticed that it was on its way back into the harbor so we turned around and were lucky to get this photo.

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

On one of our days in the Palouse we drove out to Kamiak Butte County Park for a morning of hiking. It was a welcome relief from the constant driving. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful park for hiking. As we rose in elevation the flowers changed. At the top there were many flowers out and the views were outstanding. I would highly recommend hiking the park if you are in the area.

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The Spiderwort is in full Bloom.

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Spiderwort

Orange Hawkweed is Blooming.

Orange Hawkweed

Orange Hawkweed

The Blue-flag Iris is just about done.

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This unknown (at least to me) is in full bloom in the Prairie area.

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On one of our days in the Palouse we drove over to Palouse Falls. It was amazing how the terrain changed as we drove just a few miles east. The farm land was largely gone and there were scattered ranches in the valleys but for the most part is seemed pretty desolate.

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Our plan had been to do some hiking at the Falls but when we arrived it was a hot day (the locals claimed it was a dry heat) so we decided to confine our hiking the rim of the canyon.

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There were a surprising number of people at the falls considering it was a weekday and early in the season.

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Several weeks ago we noticed a Doe and Fawn in the backyard. We had been gone for a couple of weeks but the day after we returned my wife spotted them in the back yard again. It was amazing the difference in the Fawn. When we first saw him he was all legs and had problems walking. Now the was bounding around without any trouble.

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Our destination on our trip west was the Palouse. This is a unique farming area intersecting Washington, Utah and Idaho. We stayed in Pullman Washington on our visit and took day trips into the Palouse. We really lucked out again. There had been heavy rains in the area and we could see washouts along the roads and in the fields. However, it was nothing but sunshine while were in the area. The day after we left the had flash flood warnings in the are.

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The Palouse is known for its interesting crop patterns. While we were there the winter wheat was dark green, the lentils were light green and the stubble from last year and the newly planted fields were golden.

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In addition to the patterns there were old and new building scattered around the area as well as old farm equipment.

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It was very strange not to see very many trees. In fact, photographers love to photograph lone trees.

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On one of our hikes we met a local and started talking with him about farming the Palouse. My wife mentioned that local farmers in Wisconsin wouldn’t attempt to till land as steep as the Palouse. Apparently much of the tilling is done with caterpillars and tracked tractors because of the steep terrain. When it comes to harvest time they use self-leveling harvesters. These allow the columbine to follow the contour of the land while the self-leveling feature allows the cab to remain in a horizontal position. In spite of this there can still be problems. Last year the person we were talking with found a harvester in a gully. Apparently the harvester cane around the corner and encountered some muddy ground. The operator got off to call for a caterpillar to pull the unit out of the mud. While he was making the call the $400,000 slid into the gully.

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I’ve been photographing the first of my alfalfa Alpha plants. These will bloom all summer as long as I keep cutting them.

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This was formerly known as the Custer Battlefield National Monument and now has a more inclusive name to reflect the Native Americans perspective. When we realized we would be driving right past the Little Bighorn Battlefield we decided to stop for a break. Unfortunately there was a storm coming from the west so we were not able to stay long. On our next visit we plan for a longer stay to better understand what happened at the Little Bighorn.

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Things have changed since our last visit. There is now an Indian Memorial and markers placed where some of the Native Americans fell in battle.

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There is also a Custer National Cemetery as part of the Monument.

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The two major sections of the Battlefield are separated by ranch lands that had horses grazing as we drove past.

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