Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lutsen, MN Redux

Last week I headed back on down Highway 61 for another trip to the tower site near Lutsen, MN. This time I was up to take pictures for photosimulations, basically engineered photographs to estimate the viewshed of the tower. This is a county requirement that is used for the zoning approvals. I had to swing past another site southeast of Superior, WI on Monday. I had a leisurely drive up to Lutsen, so I decided to enjoy my drive. Most of the time I'm rushing from one site to another and I barely have time to enjoy the sights. Not so on this trip. On my way up I stopped at Gooseberry Falls State Park and spent an hour seeing the sights. Here's a picture of the falls.
I stayed at the same hotel as last time, right on Lake Superior. It wasn't as pretty as the last time, but I'm not complaining. I did try to email back the photographs that I took in Wisconsin to the office, so that the drafters could start on the photosims. However, the photos were high resolution and came in around 3 MB. The WiFi at the hotel could barely process them, and it took me about four hours to send four photos. I still had three left, which meant I had to get back to the office Tuesday night to ensure we made the Thursday deadline.

The next morning I awoke around 5:45, before dawn broke. I took a shower and got ready for the day, and when I came out of the bathroom I looked outside. Fog, and lots of it. This was very bad. As you can imagine, photosimulations in these conditions were impossible. I hung around the hotel for a couple of hours, hoping the fog would lift. No such luck. Finally, around 10:30 I had to check out. Here's a picture from the hotel balcony. Compare this with my photo from my first visit, and you'll see just how socked in I was.
I kept driving around hoping that I would be able to salvage the trip. I finally resorted to going up to a nearby hiking trail, about a mile from the tower site. Even though the weather wasn't cooperating, I hiked about two miles down the trail, taking pictures to demonstrate that the tower wouldn't be visible due to the topography and the tree cover. This was the Superior Hiking Trail, which is used as part of the North County National Scenic Trail. We try to keep towers at least a mile away from the trail, but in this case it was unavoidable, since the trail in this section is close to Hwy 61 and Lake Superior. I put up a photo from the trail this morning, on the previous post.

Finally, at 12:45 I called it quits. I had an eight hour drive back to Wisconsin, and as I said, I needed to get the rest of the photos from the other site back to the office. I was "wet and defeated" as one of my officemates put it. I was mainly upset about the fact that I would have to come up yet again just to get these pictures. However, this won't be the case. I learned on Tuesday that the site has gone down the tubes. The neighbor won't agree to a setback easement and there's just no way to fit the tower on the property while maintaining a 1,000 foot setback to the neighbor, a 200 foot setback to the property lines, and a 300 foot setback to a nearby creek. Oh, and there's a 1,000 foot setback from Highway 61. Put all that together, and the result is no tower.

So, I will be returning to the area sometime in the future, but this trip will be for a new tower site on a different property. Here's to hoping for better weather.

It's been a busy week

I've got all these posts that I've meant to do, but it's been a crazy week. I'm currently in Chicago for a conference on broadband wireless internet (WiMAX). On Monday and Tuesday I was up in Minnesota for a trip, and last week I was in MN as well. I've got a few photos, but here's a picture I took from the Superior Hiking Trail near Lutsen. Enjoy...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Eric Tessmer Band @ the King Club

Two weekends ago I wrapped up a busy week with a Saturday night show with my parents. We went downtown to the King Club to see the Eric Tessmer Band from Austin, TX. I had stumbled across a listing for the show two days prior, and I immediately emailed my father. He and I had seen them play at the Belleville American Music Festival back in July, and I think they were his favorite of the entire lineup. My mother was on vacation with my sister in Germany at this time, but she had been listening to the CDs my father bought pretty regularly. They both told me they would love to come up to see the show.

The show wasn't supposed to start until 9, so I told my parents to meet me for dinner at the Old Fashioned around 7:30. I arrived a bit early to put my name in for a table, knowing how busy this restaurant gets. My parents ran late, as always, and it has been quite a few years since they navigated the Capital Square. Consequently I received three calls from my father for directions to the parking ramp and the restaurant. No harm done - they were only about fifteen minutes late, and I had time to study the menu extensively! The food at the Old Fashioned is exceptional and I always have a hard time choosing. I have this quirk: I don't ever order the same thing as someone else at the table. My father does this too, and he claims that he always gets something different than my mother in case she doesn't like her selection - then she can have his. When the waiter took the order, my mother was going with my first pick and my father my second. So I quickly scanned the menu and picked another. Crisis averted.

After dinner we strolled over to the King Club. I've always loved the King Club for a smaller show. The place is fairly small - maybe 100 people could fit in there without regard to the fire code. The stage is right in front and tables line the walls. There's a nice bar in the back.
When we arrived about 20 people were already present, and we managed to grab the last table. I also learned that two other bands were on the bill that night, both local. Whitney Mann and the Boys were the opening act and the Skintones were also on the bill. While my father an I were at the bar getting drinks, my father found himself standing next to Eric Tessmer himself, and they chatted for a few minutes about the BAM Fest. Around 10:00 Whitney Mann and the Boys took the stage and started off the night. They played a brand of that I found to be good. They played all originals except for one cover: Johnny Cash's "25 Minutes To Go," which I absolutely loved. I was impressed. I'll be certainly making it a point to see them again around town.

Shortly after the Eric Tessmer Band took the stage to a nearly full club. The band consists of just Tessmer on guitar, Allen Daniells on bass, and Doug Day on drums, and they really are tight. While they were the listed headliners, they had moved up to play second and let the Skintones close the show.
No knock on the Skintones, but this was an added bonus for my parents. The band got right into it. Tessmer can straight up play. Their blues-rock sound is perfect for a setting such as the King Club. However, it was a bit loud for my mother. Fortunately they sell earplugs at the bar, which allowed my mother to enjoy the show without covering her ears. The band played a headliner set of nearly two hours, mixing originals with a few blues standards. At one point Tessmer played an extended solo while Daniells walked through the crowd to hit the bathroom and pick up a few drinks at the bar. It was also the Doug Day's birthday, which prompted Daniells to lead the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday." They wrapped up about ten minutes before 1:00 AM and my parents decided to call it a night. Not too bad, considering my father is 60 and my mother is not too far behind!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Getting in Nine at Argue-Ment

For the last few years my father and I have been regular patrons at Argue-Ment Golf Course between Belleville and New Glarus. It is about the closest course to Paoli, and on many Fridays my father and I will cut out early to play a round. Earlier this summer my father injured his shoulder, effectively putting an end to our Friday excursions for a while. Thankfully he's starting to heal up, and he has modified his swing to allow him to play. In fact, he's hitting the ball pretty damn well.

This last Friday was the first time we had been out since early July. I had brought along my camera - these are photos from the course. It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon, and I'm happy to report that I played one of the best rounds I've managed all year. The last three or four times I've been out my performance was atrocious. Friday was a different story. I wasn't setting the world on fire by any means, but I did hit well consistently off the tee and my short game was markedly improved.

Argue-Ment is a course that most golfers wouldn't play regularly, since the tee boxes aren't level, the roughs are thick and the greens are hard, mounded, and virtually impossible to hold. Still, it is a beautiful setting: an old farm in a valley, converted to a nine-hole course. It's the kind of course where you don't berate yourself too badly for a missed shot or a lost ball, because everything is a bit more laid back. And the view from #5 is worth the price alone: