Milwaukee portion

Milwaukee Portion continues my Springfield/Chicago trip with Tim Karas.  The earlier posts about the trip are Springfield Part OneSpringfield Part TwoChicago Day OneChicago Day Two, Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Day Three

MAMHD072016001This is the day I was dreading because it was my last day and the day I was heading home.  I checked out of the hotel and headed over to Tim’s apartment.  After breakfast we drove up to Milwaukee to have lunch with my brother.  Since Milwaukee is about 90 miles from Chicago, we didn’t have a lot of time before meeting Rick for lunch so we headed to the Milwaukee Art Museum.  The architecture of the building is itself art work.  The museum is one of the largest museums in the country.  Since we only had about 20 minutes, we took photos of the architecture and the shadows. 

We had lunch at Hooligan’s.  It was great seeing my brother and Tim had a front row seat to our relationship.  Rick and I have a very unique relationship, we are very sarcastic with each other.  It drives our parents nuts.

All to soon, we were heading back to Chicago.  Tim and I said goodbye and I headed on my way home around 3pm local time.  Not really looking forward to the long drive.  Nor surprisingly I hit heavy traffic leaving Chicago.  It took me over an hour to get out of the city. The drive went pretty smoothly after that until I hit Louisville and had to take a detour around the western part of the city.  I ended up stopping in Tennessee at Hampton Inn around 12:30 EDT. I didn’t set my alarm, deciding to let my body decide when to get up.

The next morning I was on the road a little after 8am.  I saw an exit for Great Smoky Mountains National Park so I decided to head there to get a stamp in my passport and maybe hike to a waterfall if it wasn’t too far.  After driving for 20 minutes and not seeing any more signs, I quickly brought it up on my phone GPS and was shocked to see that the entrance to the park was too far away so I turned around and headed back to Interstate 40.  I did stop by a roadside store and pick up some fudge before getting back on the interstate.

Drove into a thunderstorm in Columbia.  The weather cleared once I passed Columbia until I hit Conway. It was getting darker as I got closer to home and then as I passed the turn off to Highway 544, the skies opened up and torrential downpour.  Thanks for the welcome home Mother Nature.  It was a great trip but one I will not make again.  I will fly next time I take a vacation in Chicago.


Raven Cliff Falls Hike

RCF102015002This is part 2 of the series,  Part 1 can be found here.  This is the actual hike to Raven Cliff Falls at Caesars Head State Park.

After leaving the Visitor Center, I headed further up to the mountain to the parking lot where Raven Cliff Falls trail starts.  The parking lot was full so I ended up parking along the road.  I grabbed my Thinktank Streetwalker backpack which had both the Nikon D300s and D700 camera bodies along with the following lenses:  24-70mm, 80-400mm, 10.5mm Fish Eye and 85m Macro.  I also carried Thinktank Photo’s Hubba Hubba Hiney which had my bottle of water and I hand carried my tripod because I forgot the 2nd strap to attach it to my backpack.  I was not packing light. 

The beginning o the hike is a down slope which I was not going to look forward to at the end of the 4.5 mile hike.  The hike to the observation platform is 2.2 miles and is a beautiful hike especially in the fall but it has a lot of twists, goes up and down frequently and sometimes the trail was on the edge of a steep drop.  You definitely want to watch where you are walking.  There is also a 8.5 mile hike that takes you to the bridge over the falls but I was making another stop before heading home so I just decided to head to the observation platform.  And to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I am in good enough shape especially carrying all the equipment to do the longer hike.

It was interesting to see all the couples hiking where the guy was carrying all the equipment they had.  I hiked alone so I really had no choice but to carry my own equipment but even if I did, I plan to use it, its my responsibility to carry it.  I would estimate my backpack probably weighed more than what most people were carrying.

I finally made it to the platform. The view of the falls surrounded by the fall colors was spectacular.  Luckily I brought the 80-400mm  lens because the fall were across a valley and not that close.  Between the two cameras,  I probably took about 350 photos, most of them were HDR.  

The hike back was interesting and took longer for two reasons – I did stop more often to rest but I also stopped to take some photos with the photo I carried around my neck.  The hill up to where my car was packed was  especially brutal but I made it then proceeded to hit myself in the forehead with my camera as I was putting it away.   

Next time I go hiking, I either need to get my hiking boots repaired or get a new pair.  Sneakers just didn’t cut it.