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Old 5th October 2011, 08:05   #1
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Default North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

It has been 8 months since I came back to US for another year long assignment. This time, I went a little adventurous and bought 2007 Mazda 6 V6. After investing good amount of money in the car, all it had done is to haul me to office and back home - though in comfort and safety. Pretty sedate.

But with a new addition to the family, it was expected. The limits of chaos were pushed long back when I had my first son. And with the beautiful new addition, as they love to say - sky is the limit - I mean for chaos. It's true, unless pushed one never knows the limits.

After enjoying the wonderful drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway last Fall, I and my wife were determined to not miss Fall colors this year as well. The Piscean (they are day dreamers; at least I am) in me was reading books on Twin Cities and Minnesota for eternity. I don't even remember how many plans I made in my mind and then found myself watching TV or detailing my car on the weekends. So deciding on where to go was an easy task - I had done all the reading long back . Just had to do a refresher...

The plan was simple. Drive up to Duluth. Do the North Shore Scenic Route till Canadian border - enjoy some of the points of interest along the way. Do a few excursions in Superior National Forest to enjoy fall colors. All in all, drive and have fun.

Honeymoon Trail (Forest Road 164)
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-fall-colors-honeymoon-trail.jpg
P.S.:
-I have a 7 year old, much abused, P&S camera (with maximum ISO of 400; unusably grainy and slowest shutter speed of 4 seconds) . I love it although it is showing signs of stress.
-All pictures were taken in haste (and without tripod, including the panorama shots). This was not a photography expedition, with one infant and one toddler, this is all I could manage.
-Enough of defensive talk. Please bear with the pictures and the writing.

Last edited by akbaree : 5th October 2011 at 10:00.
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Old 5th October 2011, 10:54   #2
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Default Day 1 (9/29/2011)

A lot of packing goes into any trip when traveling with kids. I admire the way wives can take care of this task so seamlessly. They are indeed the better half(s)...
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9864.jpg

Still fresh from my Woodstock experience (on the TV), the only packing I did was Woodstock recordings of Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, and Janis Joplin.


The little devil is looking all eyes and ears for his first long drive
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9862.jpg


North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn98651.jpg
The Fall is showing its magic right here in our apartment backyard but the lure of discovering the wild and unknown is something else.

Day 1 (9/29/2011)
Minneapolis - Duluth (around 150 miles)
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-md.jpg

At noon we said goodbye to Highway 100 that I use for daily commuting to office and back home. The weather forecast for today is windy and 50% chances of rain...
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9868.jpg

One hour into the drive, Highway 35 was already looking colorful though road work means slow moving.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9879.jpg

We were to take a two hour cruise on Lake Superior after reaching Duluth and then retire for the day. But plans are so that one can feel proud of one's ability to plan. As we took a short break just 20 miles from Duluth to freshen the little ones, the cruise operator called to inform that the cruise stands cancelled due to 60 MPH winds. So much so for advance booking and skipping Thursday office. The cruise comes highly recommended but we were out of luck.

At the rest area...
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn98831.jpg


North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn98891.jpg


North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn98911.jpg


A quick rethink of day's plan and we were off to The Depot.


The building to the right is The Depot and to the left is Duluth Library. I have received quite a few CDs and books from this library - the ingenuousness inter library loan system allows you to borrow from any Minnesota library expanding the selection available to manifold.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9897.jpg


Starting at The Depot, Superior St and the 1st St are the nerve centers of Duluth Downtown. Shopping ops, food ops, and Duluth travel life in general can be enjoyed on these two streets.

The Depot is where the three museums are located - Rail Museum, Arts Museum and Children's Museum. We are here to visit the Rail Museum. My son love trains and Chuggington is his favorite TV serial. I was hoping that he would love this one.
When you buy entrance to the Rail Museum, you get free entrance to the remaining two Museums. The Depot is also where you can reserve scenic rail tours. More about scenic rail tours and the Rail museum at the links below...

North Shore Scenic Railroad

Railroad Museum

An extract from Museum website
"...Housed in Duluth, Minnesota's Historic Union Depot, the Lake Superior Railroad Museum works in conjunction with the North Shore Scenic Railroad to offer one of the richest historic experiences in railroading available anywhere.
The beautiful French Chateauesque building was completed in 1892 and was a bustling hub of activity for much of the 20th century. In 1910, seven railroads dispatched over 50 trains a day from Duluth.
"

As it turned out, the Museum is worth a visit for all ages. It lets you peek into the history.

The two locomotives pictured here are among the earliest locomotives ever used on American rail lines.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9938.jpg

They have enacted entire platform as it would have looked then
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9935.jpg

Then there's this locomotive that was used to haul iron ore to Duluth port and for transporting to elsewhere in America where the earliest steel manufacturing was centered. It used a gargantuan 12 tons coals every hour it worked.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9906.jpg
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9908.jpg

You can pull the honk lever and it starts playing a demo (wheels rotate - on the track - and it makes puff sounds while narrating the historical tid bids. Kids love the demo part and you can enjoy the history.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9917.jpg

Some history...

I often wondered why in the world Minneapolis is such a vibrant city today. The weather sucks, I mean it is cold for 8 months (below freezing for almost 6 months) and still Minneapolis is head quarters to many retail giants - Target, Best Buy, 3M and more. There are other vibrant businesses as well. This trip to Duluth helped me understand better. Minnesota was once entirely under forest cover. But under that cover lied nature's bounty. Coupled with hard work it gave a lot to the American nation and in return flourished itself. IIRC, Duluth is among the cities which have highest per-capita millionaires in the US.

Timber - I have read stories when loggers in 18th and 19th centuries flooded the St Croix and Mississippi rivers with the timber logs from Minnesota forests. The river jams were common. And folks risk their lives to clear the jams - when you find the right log that's jamming the flow and remove it, people lost lives - they were virtually buried in the river as the logs will suddenly fall and start flowing in the river.

Iron Ore/Taconite - They have been mining Iron Ore for 120 years now.

The Great Lakes - Hard work meant that early navigators created locks and canals that enabled ships to come from Atlantic to Duluth. The weather was (is) a nightmare and to date the great lake region is among the top ship graveyards. But they braved it all. It was a boon from transportation perspective. Imagine no interstates or even highways. American landscape is huge. The port of Duluth provided entry of goods for entire central plains. This also helped development of earliest rail lines. The grains from great central plains were transported through Duluth port and rail network. Today too there are granaries and one can see ships docked and loaded/offloaded with grains/iron ore/taconite.

That's where the 2 hour cruise is so recommended. More information on the tour at Vista Fleet

And did I mention the Fur trade?


Back to the rail museum...
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9920.jpg
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9926.jpg
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9928.jpg
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9929.jpg

19th Century snow ploughs - awesome
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9932.jpg

The other two museums are okay. The art museum is actually in pretty poor. There was only couple of exhibits. One on painting
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9943.jpg


To be continued...

Last edited by akbaree : 5th October 2011 at 21:46.
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Old 6th October 2011, 00:00   #3
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Default Day 1 (Continued...)

With some more sun left, the next on agenda was Canal Park. Canal Park drive is another road that one may like to traverse on foot to enjoy the overall atmosphere of the place. But the park itself is popular for viewing Aerial Lift Bridge and the ocean going vessels up close.

The Aerial Lift Bridge
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9944.jpg
The bridge is in normal position in the picture above - the cars are crossing the bridge.

We are here waiting on the vessel that's arriving in 20 minutes. My son was elevated with all sort of ideas about things around and the vessel that's coming our way...
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9949.jpg
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9950.jpg

Finally the vessel arrives and it was wonderful seeing is pass under the bridge. The bridge is in lifted in the picture below. And that small boat was chasing the vessel in child like enthusiasm.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9964.jpg

As soon as the vessel passed away, the light house bore a deserted look. That was the last vessel arriving that evening, so it makes sense.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9970.jpg

I cannot understand the patch that the vessel left behind. It remained their till we left - was it leaked oil?

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9965.jpg

The view of Duluth from the light house
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9954.jpg


Before calling it a day, we dined at Sir Benedict's. It was awesome food - best gnocchi I have ever had. The dessert - cannoli was good as well. The view of Lake Superior shore line and live Celtic music (I counted 6 violinists, 1 guitarist, and couple of folks on bass) was wonderful to say the least.

To be continued...
Tomorrow we drive the North Shore Scenic route

Last edited by akbaree : 6th October 2011 at 00:03.
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Old 6th October 2011, 00:08   #4
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

very nice write up. Waiting for the next part. rated 5 stars.

The patch you are mentioning about does not look like oil leak, though I cannot think of what else it could be!
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Old 6th October 2011, 02:24   #5
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

Amazing start , I guess you are in the best place to view the fall colors. Did you do the UP or Doors county also?
Waiting for more pics of the fall..
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Old 6th October 2011, 09:03   #6
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Default Day 2 (9/30/2011)

Quote:
Originally Posted by vasanthn21 View Post
very nice write up. Waiting for the next part. rated 5 stars.
Thanks Vasanth. I hope you enjoy the remaining log as well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kraft.wagen View Post
Amazing start , I guess you are in the best place to view the fall colors. Did you do the UP or Doors county also?
Waiting for more pics of the fall..
I haven't done Door County - you mean in WI on the coast of lake Michigan?


***********************************


Day 2 (9/30/2011)


It couldn't have been a better morning - sunny and warmish cold. The weather is suppose to be sunny for remaining three days of the trip. And it indeed remained nice and sunny.


We had booked a hotel in Proctor (some 6 miles from Duluth downtown) for two nights. View from the hotel patio
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9974.jpg

The plan for the day was to drive North Shore, enjoy lake superior views, do some hiking and return to the hotel for night.


We started our day by trolling Duluth Skyline Parkway. At Proctor the Skyway intersects I35. The West section (it actually goes North but lies west of 35) lets you get a bird's eye view of Duluth's commercial might - it's port. It doesn't have majestic views of the city as the book claimed but nonetheless is a nice drive.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-duluth-skyline-parkway.jpg


North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9986.jpg


If nothing else, one should drive this Parkway for the sheer beauty of the residential homes that dot certain sections. The houses are not only beautiful but have a peculiar architecture that uses a lot of plain glass. Some of them literally look glass homes; well almost. We couldn't shoot any pictures as there were no overlooks for these sections of the Parkway and we didn't wanted people staring at us for stopping the car in middle of the road and taking pictures of what may appear to a Duluth citizen a normal home.

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9992.jpg

The ocean going vessel looking humbly tiny. I don't know if it was this same vessel, but a vessel accompanied us to every overlook until that afternoon.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9993.jpg
As you can see in the picture, there were few colors here and there but nothing extra ordinary so far.

We then reached Hawk Ridge - a birder's paradise during this time. That day, there were umpteen photographers with all sort of camera gear and binoculars. After realizing that it is couple of mile trek, we decided to move on. There was a school trip as well making the place very crowded.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn9994.jpg

We then took the Seven Bridges road (named as it passes through the seven stone bridges made almost 100 years back). It joins London Road (another great street in Duluth that's dotted with beautiful homes) finally joining HWY 61 (North Shore Scenic Route). Yes Bob Dylan's song HWY 61 is about his travel on HWY 61. He was born in Duluth - there's a street named after him. However he traveled south from Duluth.

We were there to travel north...

The first stop on North Shore was Gooseberry Falls State Park. It is considered as one of the most popular State Parks in Minnesota. So here we were and it was indeed crowded that day.

The Falls come in three installments - Lower, Mid and Upper falls. A short hike and one can stroll all the three...
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0010.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn00111.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0015.jpg
The Gooseberry river then flows to Lake Superior. Lake Superior is in the background. A short hike along the course of the river can be taken to the Gooseberry beach.

We continued on North Shore, stopping next for Split Rock Light House. This is THE most popular Light House in Minnesota. It has history attached to it in terms of early navigation in Lake Superior. Storms wrecked a few ships right in front of the Light House (early 20th century) which makes the Light House mysterious. One can also take a tour to visit ship wreckage. But for most it is a popular picnic/hiking venue.

The road to the Split Rock beach
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0016.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn00181.jpg

The views are amazing. I hope you can see the Light House in the picture below...
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0024.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0020.jpg
The place is called Split Rock because of the tiny island that's part of the original rock but now looks split. We walked to the island through the tail that is still attached.

The beach from the island
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0030.jpg

The contrast of reflecting sun on crystal clear water is fascinating and I had to click
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0031.jpg

And what's life without good food. We had packed some gourmet cheeses and cilantro chutney to make sandwiches on place just like this. Breathing fresh air from the breeze that was blowing our senses crazy, we relished our lunch. There's always a photo opportunity
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0041.jpg

I managed to mess with the camera angle and the panorama got a little U'ed
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-lake-superior-split-rock.jpg

To be continued...
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Old 6th October 2011, 10:34   #7
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

@ akbaree
Nice write up. Beautiful pictures too! Especially the 'rest area' and split rock.

Good to see a Mazda 6 too.
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Old 6th October 2011, 19:12   #8
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Default Day 2 (Continued)

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@ akbaree
Nice write up. Beautiful pictures too! Especially the 'rest area' and split rock.

Good to see a Mazda 6 too.
Thanks Dhar.

********************************

Day 2 (Continued)

After soaking in beauty of the amazing Split Rock beach, we moved on to Tettegouche State Park.

We were to hike the Baptism River trail and go to the beach. Slowly but we had by now realized that hiking is fun but we have limited time...
1. The idea of hiking was to enjoy Fall colors but on the shore the colors weren't there.
2. Since morning we had hiked only 3-4 miles but when we reached Tettechouce, it was already 4:00 PM

Although my toddler was keen hiking down to the beach, we convinced him otherwise. I am improving my negotiation skill by each day. Or may be he was tired.

These hiking trails must be great during spring where the rivers have lot of water from melting snow. The Waterfalls could be rather spectacular. But now is Falls and we are in quest of colors. So only clicking from top of the bridge.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0042.jpg

And it was time to return. While driving back Duluth we stopped at yet another overlook - Palisade Head.

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0045.jpg

North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0046.jpg
The gentleman was preparing for his descent off that cliff. Palisade head cliffs are popular Rock Climbing destinations for the Minnesotans. And it is things like this that make North Shore drive so unique. You can experience an entire world of things while there. There are hikers, there are rock climbers, there are bikers (both bicycle and mo-bikes), there are boaters, there are canoe'rs, there are honeymooners, there are brides and grooms getting married, and of-course there are casual travelers. All may be camping around with different hobbies to pursue. It is a great place.

These two Corvettes were parked at Tettegouche State Park parking - where we had stopped to pick a map for Palisade Head.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0043.jpg

We finished our day 2 with dinner at Pizza Luce. They claim to be the best Pizza in Twin Cities area. But we needed to travel to Duluth to find them. My wife was keen on Pasta and so we all ordered Pastas. The Pasta was average affair. But then they are more popular for Pizzas and are just next block from where we stay in Edina. We ought to try them one more time.

P.S.: Looking back booking two nights in Duluth was not a great idea. We had to travel back to Duluth, which was still okay but next morning we need to again travel for couple of hours before actual exploration can begin. South of Grand Marias, Two Harbors is a great place to stay. Otherwise, Grand Marias is the place to stay. And campers don't need these places as they have more options than anyone else.

To be continued...
Tomorrow we complete North Shore till the Canadian border

Last edited by akbaree : 6th October 2011 at 19:15.
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Old 7th October 2011, 02:21   #9
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

Yes I was talking bout the county along Lake Michigan. The route around the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior is also supposed to be very beautiful.
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Old 8th October 2011, 09:29   #10
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Default Day 3 (10/1/2011)

Day 3 (10/1/2011)


Even after our best intention (and effort), we checked out from the hotel at 9:30 AM. It wasn't that late but couple of hours late than we had planned.

The plan of the day was to drive to Grand Portage and to Canadian border. Turn back take Arrowhead trail, join Gunflint trail via forest road and retire for the day at Clearwater Lake (Cook County). We have reserved a cabin and want to reach their early evening so that we can enjoy the evening at the cabin.

******************

We first stopped at a Subway. With two foot longs packed to go, the road looked more inviting. Just after Two Harbors, we had missed an eating joint yesterday and were looking forward to it today. Betty's Pies - it claims to make best pies in the world. And going by the amount of crowd, it surely looked a super hit place. So we got a couple of savory pie slices packed to eat later in the day.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0063.jpg

We were clear about one thing. The primary goal is enjoy driving because that's most fun. Everything else is secondary. So it was important that we we drive up to Canadian border. The North Shore was living up to it's name and kept greeting us with magnificent views (of Lake Superior and in general).
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0057.jpg
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0062.jpg

Our first real stop was at Cross River Heritage Center, Schroeder. This museum is right on the HWY 61. And there's a rest area on the opposite side of the highway.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0086.jpg

The museum has artifacts that were popular with early settlers. Like this wall of tools..
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0079.jpg

There's this house models (architectures) of early homes. These architectures are the foundation on which moderns homes (in North Shore, including Duluth) are based as well.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0074-copy.jpg

There's a small space that they have modeled after early schools. They do take classes as well (about the history of early settlers).

Note: Just a few miles from Schroeder is sleepy town of Lutsen. And anyone going on a Fall drive on North Shore should not miss visiting Lutsen Mountain. They have gandola ride that takes you to a view point and fall colors are amazing. Some of my colleagues went there and came back with amazing captures. The museum manager at Cross River Heritage Center mentioned about it to me but I was perhaps not paying attention to what he had to say. My bad.

As we continued our drive towards Canadian borders, the views only kept becoming grandiose.

Lunch break at a rest area just before Grand Marias...And yes those pies were something.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0094.jpg
Another badly taken panorama...
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-lake-superior-rest-area-after-schroeder.jpg

As you drive into the town of Grand Marias, the highway turns west for a moment before turning north again. But you don't see the highway turning west until it turns. What you see the Grand Marias beach are in front of you and it appears like that's the end of the world. Amazing presence that town has. No wonder it is so popular.

We kept driving though. Our next and last stop on HWY 61 was Grand Portage National Monument. US Govt. has reserved the town (and area around the town) of Grand Portage for Native American population (as in no one can buy land except the native people). So last 30 miles of drive is junglish with views of slightly different look and feel
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0100.jpg
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0102.jpg

There are a few Ojibwe people exhibits at the National Monument office. Definitely worth a visit. They also conduct a free tour of mocked up Fur outpost every couple of hour. It is a 45 minute tour and highly recommended. To anyone who's interested they also show a free 20 minute movie on Voyageurs (mostly Canadian French people who pioneered in Fur trade with the native Canadians and Americans). Although it feels a little out of place because the monument is dedicated to Ojibwe community and I would like to see a movie based on their bravado rather. But America has its own problems.
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0109.jpg
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0111.jpg

Are these real timber pillars? On HWY 61, there are quite a few astonishing wood structures (as in shops, homes, etc)
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0112.jpg

This wiki article has more details on Grand Portation National Monument with links to Voyageurs, Ojibwe people, et al...


We continued till we couldn't go any further (without an additional VISA)...
That's US Custom and Border at US-Canada border
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0127.jpg

And we were welcomed back in to Minnesota
North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011-dscn0128.jpg

To be continued..
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Old 8th October 2011, 10:30   #11
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

Excellent writeup akbaree. Those photos are very good even though it is from an old camera. Which model was it?
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Old 8th October 2011, 10:53   #12
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

Nice travelogue with some excellent pictures.
Duluth town seems to good with wooden houses and lots of trees around.
Thanks for sharing.
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Old 8th October 2011, 17:56   #13
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by kraft.wagen View Post
Yes I was talking bout the county along Lake Michigan. The route around the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior is also supposed to be very beautiful.
Online reports suggest fall color in that region are at their peak in middle of October. May be next year but I will be in India then.


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Excellent writeup akbaree.
Thanks
Quote:
Originally Posted by vasoo View Post
Those photos are very good even though it is from an old camera. Which model was it?
I use a Nikon D8700. Although P&S, still it has magnesium alloy casing. I love the camera and what makes it amazing is amount of abuse that it has taken and just continues.

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Nice travelogue with some excellent pictures.
Thanks

Last edited by akbaree : 8th October 2011 at 17:58.
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Old 8th October 2011, 18:28   #14
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

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-Enough of defensive talk. Please bear with the pictures and the writing.
Yes, sounding defensive indeed.

Requesting you to take an advice from this old man - Seldom camera gives you poor result. It's not the point that how many mega pixel your camera has but what are you doing with those mega pixel. Do not think about it at all. Pics are showing great depth and colours. Just love them.

Great coverage and nice write up.
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Old 8th October 2011, 23:54   #15
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Default Re: North Shore Scenic Drive - Fall 2011

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Yes, sounding defensive indeed.

Requesting you to take an advice from this old man - Seldom camera gives you poor result. It's not the point that how many mega pixel your camera has but what are you doing with those mega pixel. Do not think about it at all. Pics are showing great depth and colours. Just love them.

Great coverage and nice write up.
Thanks Rudra for the encouragement. You liking the pics is best compliment on this forum.

Only yesterday I was going through your Leh log to check if I have internalized any of the techniques discussed on that thread.
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