Extended Offer

Since I love the outdoors and do one to two backwoods trips a year, I thought it would be fitting to offer the following service. If you manufacture gear for the great outdoors and are looking for someone to test a product that you manufacture, I may be able to help. Please contact me using one of my contact forms at Northern Branches. I am well versed in GPS’s, mapping software, solid modeling (currently a design engineer), wood canoe/kayak building, and digital photography. My plans for a spring ’08 trip into the Boundary Waters are underway. The route will be a 35 to 50 mile loop probably in the northeast corner of the park. Again, contact me via Northern Branches with any questions.

NorthernBranches Photos

Since we have received such a positive response to my wifes BWCA give away I have decided to create my first photos available for purchase. You will find the page here I will be adding more this weekend as well as my paypal account.


Saturday, December 29, 2007


Today i will start the trip of unraveling my spirit. I know my body, haven't met my soul but live with my spirit yet don't know it's confusion. The way it is explained to me is we have a body, a spirit, and a soul. I've interpreted that to mean our body is a temporary vehicle for our soul and our spirit or spiritual life will determine where our soul will go.

The unraveling is i was raised in a very religious rearing and that in itself is not the problem. The problem is i have witnessed the power of god, seen and heard the tangible, felt his presence and delighted in receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. I am not writing this to dispute or argue upbringing beliefs or religions. I am just trying to reknit my fabric to heal my spirit make myself realize my despair my deep sense of nothing. I have a very happy family life. I just want to fill my life to it's fullest potential. I do no longer listen, hear, or always obey i don't even talk to him anymore. What a waste considering i at one time was on fire and lead worship for 3 years.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wordless Wednesday Aug. 15 2007

Taken with a 30 second exposure painted with a flashlight!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wordless Wednesday August 1, 2007

View more entries here.
View more PADDLING photos here.
Tomorrow I will update this post with a short story of when, where, why.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wordless Wednesday July 25 2007

This is a photo from the giveaway collection you can see the collection here. And get the skinny here.

For more WW post click here.

Thanks Mike

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wordless Wednesday July 18, 2007

Check out more ww here!
My wifes post here!
The beginning of this story here!
The rare photo of me!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Are We On The Map Yet?

Post Started on July 16th

This will be a long post and I will continue to make additions to it 'till it is done!

Day 1 July 12th

Clear sky
Rain dripping from the trees hitting my back
Fire in my face burning my knees.
I pine for the cadence of the paddle.
Chided by the invisible shanty calling me.
Still awaiting nature to paint the shadows with color.

This is a poem I wrote well sitting by the fire Thursday night.

The trip was from Thursday July 12 until Sunday July 15, 2007.

I left my house at 5:30pm after a long hot shower because I knew I may not get one later. I arrived at Jim and Brad's (names changed) house, loaded their gear up, and we were on the road at around 6:00pm.

The beginning of the trip was quite mundane. After passing the Newago exit about 30 minutes north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, an awesome gray, all-encompassing front moved in heading southeast. I called my wife and she informed me that www.weather.com seem to indicate that it was just a "lake effect" band and it would end quickly. Sure enough, after stopping for a while down the road at the Big Rapids exit for some awesome breath-altering-wife-repelling Doritos and a soda, the rain subsided and quit.

And, on the road trip went.

All of a sudden, the GPS piped up "exit ahead on right point eight miles." Exiting on a not-so-good paved road, I thought to myself - this isn't right! It doesn't look familiar. But with my complete trust in all things techy (especially GPS's), onward we plodded.

Driving through some of the prettiest farm land I have ever seen, we saw a full double rainbow form. It was spotty at first. Then, it presented itself to us in all of its untouched glory. I couldn't control myself - stopping the car as quickly as possible to take some photos. I took one with pine trees on the left and a tall grassy meadow on the right. In that grassy meadow, a faint two-track disappears off in the distance. All this framed on one side by this awesome rainbow. We followed this thing for 20 minutes. I have never seen anything like it.

Remember the road? Well, it got worse. The pavement ended and the gravel began...luckily only for about five miles. After passing The Old Log Resort where we were going to bed for the night and then receive one of their high-speed vehicle portages to our entry point in the morning, I did a police-style flip-flop on M115. Twelve-year-old Brad was impressed anyway.

Arriving at the Old Log Resort, we met with Jeanette to square away the money for our little adventure. I purchased a pair of water shoes and Jim and Brad each bought a hat and one bundle of firewood.

I still wasn't sure of the route we wanted to take so she took out her Canoe Michigan guide and we queried the different trip descriptions - looking mostly for times and miles. They were pretty vague. She told me that it was 12 hours from Jonesville Rd. Bridge to M61. Unfortunately, I didn't hear her mention the subsequent 3 hours from M61 to M115. So that actually would be a 15 hour trip. But, I had 12 hours in my mind. Here was my thought on that - 12 hours is nothing we need something longer.

I asked about the longer route which I thought I had most of routed on my GPS.

"Well, that would be Cadillac Rd. Bridge."

"What do you think, Jim?" I said

"I don't know are you sure?" he said with trepidation in his voice.

"Well, it is a river and we have some current to help us. Sure!' I responded. So we signed up for the second longest trip they offer. Then, it was off to the campground.

We then arrived approximately where Jeanette told us to. We unloaded the canoe, pitched our tents, unfurled our sleeping bags, and wow! Instant home.

After lighting a campfire, we stayed up and talked 'till 2 am. Just before turning in, I shined my flashlight out in the woods, scanning it for black bear. What was that!? We were treated to a white-looking creature trudging through the bush. Upon further inspection and a few animal noises from me, it stood up. Okay, this is not raccoon! It was all white. Not a opossum. Oh my! It was a large river otter, eyes all aglow.

Clambering into bed, I set my alarm for 6:30 am. As Jeanette told us we would need to be at the office at 8:00am.

Day 2 July 13th

Morning came earlier than the alarm was set for. I didn't sleep very well and was rousted by the excitement of another canoe trip. I dressed and headed out to see about taking another one of my last showers.

With only one eye open, thoughts of fresh coffee filled my mind. I remembered a gas station convenience store on the way in not too far up the road so i cleaned a spot off in the car. And, after asking Jim if he needed anything, I headed out to get some coffee.

I arrived at the store at around 6:00 am just in time for it to open. I chatted with the owner long enough for me to fix my 20 ounce coffee. Then, I was on my way back to the livery.

I arrived to find Jim riffling through his gear. I started to pack up some of mine. Then, I headed up to take a shower. Now the word "shower" - that is an understatement. On a rating of one to ten, I'd give it a two. And that is not because of the 25 cent per minute charge. I think that's probably is a good idea because I would have been in there for twice as long. It is because of the extremely low water pressure. I probably wasted the first two quarters on the water heating up. However, the shower ended up being a great pick-me-up for the morning and, at a cost of $2.25, it was worth it. After my shower, I dressed, donned my new sporty water shoes, and headed back to camp.

Arriving back at the camp site, I found Brad starting a new camp fire and Jim packing gear. I opened the food pack and we choked down a couple of granola bars and some chocolate. After our ad hoc breakfast, we loaded up all the gear and Jim help me put the canoe on my back. I portaged the canoe up to the office with Jim and Brad in tow. I met Jeanette and her husband up at their van. I helped move a canoe off the roof of their van and then load an Old Town 15-6 Discovery which we rented for the weekend which made a nice partner to my 16-4 Discovery.

As we loaded the boats, I pulled my Inuit paddle from inside the hull and showed it to the owner. I explained to him it was in fact a paddle that works really well with a kayak. And that my brother had always bugged me to take a kayak paddle to use canoeing. Well, I finally was willing on a last minute decision to take his advice and loaded it up.

For the non-paddler-kayak folks, an Inuit paddle was traditionally crafted from a long piece of drift wood collected on the beach. Its proportions are derived anthropomorphically i.e. custom fit to your body. They are almost never wider than 3 1/2 inches the stock width of a common 2 x 4. So, it actually looks like something that you would burn or pry against things. Anything but a paddle. I explained to him that to buy one cost around $200 and I made mine in about 4 hours with some instructions I downloaded from the net for a grand total of about $8.

Once the canoes were secure, they opened the van up and we stuffed it full of gear. I moved my car and we were off. As we pulled out on the highway, Jeanette anounced "I hope you don't mind but we are going way into the booneys so I need to get gas."

Well, with one more chance for coffee, I was in jubilation.


I place what I thought maybe my last phone call to my wife.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hosting by Godaddy

Anyone who uses GODADDY probably WON'T get there comments. It appears to me they have blacklisted blogger.com THANKS now I will probably be forced to move my domain.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wordless Wednesday July 11, 2007

Published in "The Alluring Islands of Michigan" edition of Michigan History along with a blurb from my BEST half.
See more WW entries here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wordless Wednesday June 27, 2007

Visit more entries here.

Check back tomorrow for the story of this photo.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wordless Wednesday May 30, 2007

What is the irony here? (Hint Last WW post's explanation) How did I get in there?

1.) I'm bald so I don't need a comb, but this is what i'm trimming off on this kayak - the combing.
2.) I'm standing inside the cockpit this photo was taken before both halves of this kayak were assembled together.

3.) Photo credit Beth/Mom2twovikings
AKA DaWife

Thursday, May 24, 2007

See ya on Tuesday.

I will be somewhere along the right most point of this area of Neebish Island. Remember to hit the satalite button.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I'm nearly out of time so I'll be brief. NOT!

This was my seventh backwoods canoe trip. It was a 16 mile loop - where you start on a lake and portage and canoe in a big circle. The loop included about 6 miles of portaging and 10 of canoeing. The trip was taken in September of 2006 and lasted 5 days. This was the shortest of all of my trips. I traveled from SW lower Michigan around the bottom of Lake Michigan through Chicago entering Wisconsin above Rockford IL. Then we travel completely through Wisconsin entering Minnesota at Duluth. From there, we travel all the way along the coast of Lake Superior to Grand Marias. Man, is that a long trip. The next morning, we drove another 65 miles down the Gunflint Trail passing the Lurentian Divide which I thought was cool. At the entry point, we were only about 2 miles from the Canadian border.

Total time I have spent doing this is about 55 days. Oh, my wife and I rented this cabin for a week and did the same type of canoeing/hiking. All this for our honeymoon - what a girl! Having said all that, over the years I have trimmed things down quite a bit so the list is short but here goes.

1.) Five Gallon buckets: They are for: mainly carrying food and breakables like the gas stove and water filter. I think they also cut down on the food smell as to not attract bear and other animals. They also come in handy for washing dishes and carrying water for bathes.

I will leave them behind next year because they are a little awkward to carry and on the longer portages (anything over 1/2 mile) they start cutting through your hands. They are a whole lot of fun to hang at night when it's dark and someone says "hey, we going to have to hang the food". This is usually done for me about 1000 feet from camp and that walk at night can be pretty scary at times. These will be replaced maybe with a sea bag-type duffel which is waterproof so it should be smell-proof.

2.) I also have a paddle that is bent so it is more ergonomical to paddle. You can see it sticking out to the right of the white 5 gallon bucket that is laying horizontal. This paddle cost me $125.00. It is very pretty but it is very useless in my opinion.

I will leave it behind next time because it is shaped in a very subtle way. And, when you are portaging your canoe, the goal is to take as much as you can in as few trips possible. Well this paddle is like trying to carry a sheet of plywood on the roof of your Ford Focus. You can do it but it is a pain.

3.) As for boots, I think I will just get a pair of portaging shoes or a sacrificial pair of tennis shoes ( NOT CHEAP ONES) they are much lighter than boots.

4.) I will also try to leave my jeans behind. These are heavier than nylon or a light cotton pant and just don't dry out very fast despite being very durable.

5.) I never take these items:
a. Fishing gear
b. Books
c. Friends who you really don't know
d. A comb because I'm bald (Hint for next weeks WW)

6.) Things you can't leave behind.
a. First aid kit
b. Maps (I use Topo USA Parks version): They have all the contour lines and can be printed to any scale you want. So every boat gets a set of custom maps showing route and waypoints for campsites.
c. Route programmed GPS unit. I use a Garmin III Plus which works well for navigation.
d. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER (I can't stress this enough) get into a canoe without a life jacket! "You may not make it if you dump but at least they'll find your body" was my brother's saying
e. Water filter and water storage bag
f. A good camp cook! Not including yourself. Although I enjoyed it, cooking for three people on fire and camp gas stove with no refrigerator is not a lot of fun.

For the comments on my canoe, I built this one back in 1999 and it has been on all my BWCA trips with me. I have a total of about 150 miles on it. I paddle solo as to avoid getting peeved with a paddling partner. It is 13'-4" inches long and doesn't paddle worth beans but it makes for a very interesting trip. Its best quality? It is very maneuverable. You aso have to be two steps ahead of the wind. It is a Laker design built out of the book from Gill Gilpatrick. The canoe is made from western red cedar strips cut 5/16 thick x 3/4. They are beaded and coved, then glued with white glue, sanded, and then fiber glassed. I hand cane all of my seats.

Anyway, I'm leaving for the U.P. at 3:am on Friday morning and it is now 12:21 am Thursday and I need to get up at 5:00 am.

Hope you enjoyed this post. If so leave a comment and please forgive me if I haven't left any comments on your site as I'm kind of just learning this blog environment. I had my moderate comments turned on and now it's too late. This will be my last computer entry until Tuesday of next week.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Sundries You'll Not Find on This Trip?

Check back tomorrow I will put the "Where, When, and the Story." I will also include a general list of what I don't bring on these trips and a humorous "why." I will also list what I brought on this trip which I will leave home next time.

Monday, May 21, 2007

What do you think it is worth? No you are NOT obligated to buy it!

As the new financial crunches take hold and the complete change of lifestyle that having children brings, we are reluctantly considering selling our kayaks. I have had offers from people to buy them but never really considered it - partially because I don’t have the audacity to ask what I think they are worth! Each boat that we have took approximately 300 hours to make. And, we adhered to the design as closely as possible and only strayed when it came to out fitting.

The boat you see here is a Great Auk. Its design came from the book The Strip-Built Sea Kayak . Its' dimensions are 17’ long with a waterline length of 16.6’. The overall beam is 24” with a waterline beam of 22.7”. The cost to build one boat I can estimate to be around $1200.00 and that’s only material cost. I have priced "Tupperware" plastic boats of roughly the same length to be around $600 to $2000. Those boats are virtually indestructible but at a cost where they are usually heavier and not very eye-appealing. The fiberglass boats usually will run from $1500 on up. These tend to be way more fragile than their plastic cousins.

I have an idea of what I want to get for them since I’ve seen them on E-bay from $2000 to $5000. And, I have a neighbor who runs a class on stitch-and-glue kayak building and one of his students asked me if you could really get $3000 for a boat like this? I said you probably could. Then, I went home and looked in the garage. I was in a quandary. If can find 5 people in a small town I live who will take a class at $1000 each and they don't think $3000 was too much to pay for epoxied plywood, then what could I get for cedar strip? Those stitch-and-glue boats look great but it is still plywood.

Friday, May 18, 2007

This is a E-Mailed BLOG entry. Well at least the text is.

Tonight I will finish the final coat of epoxy on a sea kayak I’m building. It is a guillemot Great-Auk - the one on the right - a very nice low volume design boat with a long waterline length 16-8”. I built this one back in 2003 as I get more of it done I will be posting more photos of it.

The Best Half's kayak is on the left.

Eyes by Ear

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Favorite Vacation Spot

A Photo Contest Entry

Forever indelibly marked.

This was my second trip to Lake Superior Provincial Park about 99 miles northwest of Sault Ste. Marie Ontario. The lake is Fife Lake. The trip was taken in the fall of 94. My brother is catching a brook trout while I was on the shore waiting for the moose to come out into the little bay to the north of us. He is looking in that direction, listening to the crashing sounds as they make there way through the woods.

Google Maps Find the formation that looks like Mickey Mouse's head at the tip of the lake. The photo was taken in the left bay just north of the little island. I was on the left shore across from the peninsula that divides the two bays. The trees in the background of the photo are located at the end of that peninsula.

These trips were special they can never be repeated you see I lost my brother to lung cancer two and a half years ago at the age of 44. Just memories now.

Go here - An Island Life - to vote and see the other contestants. You can vote once a day starting May 18, 19, and 20th 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Face of ?

The Story

This was the first day on our 2006 BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) camping trip. I was waiting to take a posed photo of my dad and brother-in-law who had done a little back tracking so I could capture the moment. Well as I was waiting - actually sculling in place to capture the moment I couldn't help but notice this very small wave carved in the face of this shore line cliff. So I snapped a few photos. As it turns out the other pictures didn't. They ended up spending too much time turning around and the wind started howling in between this channel. I snapped a few then it was on to find the next portage.
How did this photo end up here? Last night my best-half and I purchase a new printer - Canon Pixma iP6700D. At midnight before going to bed I selected a handful of images to print kind of as a test of the new printer. In the morning I showed them to DaWife and this image was viewed with perplexing curiosity. She said "what is this." As the image was rotated from 90° to 90° I explained it then brought them to work with me. We as the morning progressed i was impressing fellow employees with my images from my new printer. I kept getting the same results 90° to 90° it went. So my best-half posted her wordless Wednesday entry I thought this maybe fun I have the perfect image. So I posted it and here we are.


Gotter Lake Northern Minnesota

Looking at these images you see a point sticking out on the south shore of the bay in the northern most point of this lake. Follow the shore into the channel to the southwest it was taken about 100' from the point.

P.S. I did rotate the WW image.

Google Maps: Remember to select the "Satellite" button.

Google Earth: If you have google earth installed you can paste this - 48° 4'15.89"N 90°53'0.05"W - into the "fly-to" drop down.


September 1st 2006 at 4:46 pm.

This photo below is taken looking due northwest. Directly across from the point.

Wordless Wednesday

Face of ?

Check back tomorrow I will put the "Where, When, and the Story."

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Full Moon Over Tuscarora

Google Maps Upclose : The browser should show a satellite-picture follow the coast of the penninsuala. Along the bottom you'll see two beachlike features with what looks like a dock in the middle. This was taken from the left granite-beach looking south-southwest.
Google Earth kmz File: For this you must have google earth installed right-click the link and save it to a place on your hard drive then double-click on it.
Taken on September 4, 2006 at 8:35 pm.
The Story
It was a night to remember i had just put supper on to cook and noticed the sky changing. I grabbed my camera and headed down to the granite beach to try to capture the moment.
Places Where You May Find This Photo
www.northernbranches.com , www.twolittlevikings.blogspot.com , Behind my couch printed 36" x 10.3/4" and mounted in a black frame.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Just Starting

I have chosen this format and modified it to fit the media that I will be posting her. I set my background color to black as to not distract from the post themselves.