Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tour de Michigan

This past weekend Adam took me on a trip around Michigan, well, more like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We left after Adam was done with work on Thursday at around 4:00pm. He did not tell me where we were going (which was slightly frustrating to me) but it was fun and well worth it.
Stops on the two day trip included:

View Larger Map

The first "stop" which was more of a passing through than a stop was Christmas, Michigan. I had seen it on the map and since it was on the way to our unknown destination (well unknown to me anyways), I asked Adam to stop for a picture.

And we hit the road again...

PICTURED ROCKS-Munising, Michigan 
We then traveled an hour along the beautiful shore of Lake Superior until we arrived at Pictured Rocks. Picture Rocks is an area of lake shore along Lake Superior that extends for 42 miles. It is not actual pictures of petroglyphs but rather mineral-stained sandstone cliffs that are colored in shades of brown, tan, green, and blue by the iron, manganese, limonite and copper in the water. As the water trickles down the rocks or mountainous waves slam into the cliffs with vicious suddenness, the sandstone Pictured Rocks are formed and changed.

After gazing at Pictured Rocks we continued on our voyage for another two hours. Adam would not tell me where we were headed, and I did not much like waiting. We turned down a seasonal road that warned it was not plowed in winter and then passed "East-West Road"...yeah I was confused.
The "Bear Butt" a Bar and Grill we passed on our way to Tahquameon Falls Park, it was on one of the winding roads.

After a long journey of winding road through thick forest we arrived at our destination-Tahquamenon Falls.
     The Tahquamenon Falls has two parts, the upper falls which are large and the lower falls which look more like rapids. The Tahquamenon Upper Falls is the largest waterfall east of the Mississippi, second to Niagara Falls!! It has a drop of nearly 50 feet and spans more than 200 feet across. It flows more than 50,000 gallons of water per second as recorded in 2007! I have been to Niagara Falls but I must admit these falls were pretty impressive.

The falls have a brown tint and are nicknamed "Root Beer Falls". The brown coloration is a result of Tannic Acid. Along with water, organic materials work their way into the Tahquamenon River. These materials originate from the decomposing vegetation found in the cedar, hemlock, and spruce forests found in the drainage basin. The water is not harmful to wildlife as a variety of fish call this area their home including brown trout, and walleye.

     We set up camp for the night and then went to look at the lower falls. Which were not as impressive but still a sight to behold. It was sprinkling and we saw the sign of God's Promise--a rainbow, it was faint but still there.

The next morning we set out EARLY! We were on the road by 6:30am to travel another two hours to Mackinac City. Upon this travel we crossed the third largest suspension bridge in the world-The Mackinac Bridge. The Mackinac is currently the third longest suspension bridge in the world. In 1998, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan became the longest with a total suspension of 12,826 feet. The steel superstructure will support one ton per lineal foot per roadway (northbound or southbound). All suspension bridges are designed to move to accommodate wind, change in temperature, and weight. It is possible that the deck at center span could move as much as 35 feet (east or west) due to high winds. It was fascinating to me.

Picture take from the Ferry we road to Mackinac Island.
Driving across the bridge.

We arrived in Mackinac City in time for the 9:00am ferry. It was a very cold, 18 minute ride on a "rooster tale" Hydro Jet ferry to the island.
Hydro Jet Ferry-Rooster Tale

Mackinac Island is famous for its lack of motorized vehicles. There are no automobiles, and the main source of transportation is bicycle or horse and buggy. Roller skates and roller blades are also allowed, except in the downtown area. Adam and I did not have bicycles but rather walked our way around the island. The island is only a mere 3.8 square miles. It contains much historical preservation and is of high importance to the previous inhabitants of the native Indians

Several historical and interesting rock formations exist on the Island as well. These include arch rock (see picture below), Devil's Kitchen (cave)Skull Cave, and Sugar Loaf.

Other famous, non-natural landmarks include the Grand Hotel. The Grand Hotel has the worlds LARGEST Porch. The Grand Hotel is well known for a number of notable visitors, including five US Presidents, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, inventor Thomas Edison, and author Mark Twain. Adam and I noticed several things about the Grand Hotel. 
View of Grand Hotel from the Ferry.
Each room has its own balcony.
This was all the closer Adam and I could get, as we did not have proper attire. 
Horse carriage pulling carts of luggage to the Grand Hotel.

It costs $10.00 to enter if you are not a guest.

Sign warning that one needs "Proper Dress" Men need suit and tie, women  NOT slacks.

 There was a great deal of additional historic buildings including several churches; The Biddle House, one of the oldest structures on Mackinac Island, was built about 1780 and is interpreted in its role as a prosperous family home during the height of the fur trade in the 1820s; The Round Island Lighthouse, The Michigan Governor's Summer Residence; a Yacht Club; and Fort Mackinac.
     Fort Mackinac was an American military outpost used in the late 18th century to the late 19th century. The British built the fort during the American Revolutionary War to control the strategic Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron (and by extension the fur trade on the Great Lakes) and did not relinquish it until fifteen years after American independence. It later became the scene of two strategic battles for control of the Great Lakes during the War of 1812. During most of the 19th century, it served as an outpost of the United States Army.

KITICHITIKIPI SPRING (Big Springs)- Manistique, Michigan 
The Kitichitikip Spring is Michigan's largest Spring. It is two hundred feet across and forty feet deep. It gushes 10,000 gallons of water a minute. The spring continues throughout the year at a constant 45 degrees Fahrenheit. We were able to go out on a raft and look down the crystal clear water. The raft is attached to a long cable and is powered by tourists as you turn the pulley wheel attached to the cable. Pictures did not do justice so I took a video, the video does not even capture the amazing spring. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I could not see water actually gushing in but we could see the sand forty feet below us "dancing". Check it out!

Kitchitikipi - Big Spring
The "raft" to look down at the spring.

The 400+ mile road trip was fun and very interesting. I enjoyed every minute of it, as well as time with Adam. It was certainly an adventure and I look forward to being able to lead the next adventure when Adam comes to Alaska in the fall!

Wedding Invitations!

It is finished! Well the wedding invitations at least. Adam and I spent over 30 hours making our own invites. We had a pretty good system going. Adam was on the stamping and embossing glitter while I ran the embossing heat tool. I have such an amazing fiancée who is willing to spend time, with GLITTER all over his face, hands and clothes, to be all artsy to make our invitations. 

Some people may call us crazy but we did save on money. Now people argue that the extra cost would have been worth the amount of time (30+ hours) we spent but for Adam and I it was a good chance for us to have quality time (something that is difficult long distance). Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! Would Adam? When I asked him, he also agreed it was worth it.

So how does one make wedding invitations? Here is our steps laid out...
1. Print the invitations
2. Cut the three pages in the proper size (Special thanks to Bridget Wass and Alex Ling for their help with cutting as I was not able to help, you guys rock!)
3. Punch holes in the invitations
4. Stamp with clear embossing fluid, and sprinkle glitter
5. Solidify the embossing with heat tool
6. Cut the ribbon for the invitations
7. Tie the invitations

30+ hours later and they are finished.

2 packages of white card stock............$16.00
6 containers of embossing powder........$30.00
Stamps for the invites...........................$8.00
Embossing Heat Tool...........................$16.00
8 spools of ribbon................................$15.00
Spending 30+ hours making unique invitations with the one you love..... PRICELESS

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Perfect Storm

      Call me crazy, but there is something about storms that I simply love. I'm not sure if its the powerful claps of thunder, the brilliant energy of the lightning or the refreshing smell of after the rain. Don't get me wrong the potency of the storm is something to be respected but I really enjoy storms. I have never had a first hand account of severe damage due to the weather. In Worthington I can recall the flood of 1993 when my family could not get to town because all four roads were washed out, and our basement was submerged, but until I have a frighting experience I rather enjoy storms.
      When I was little my mom would tell me that the angels were bowling in heaven as the loud claps of thunder gave me trouble sleeping. I recall one time in particular that I even got out of bed grabbed a crayon and paper and sat next to the night light in the corner of my room to keep tally of the teams. The louder team with short, piercing burst was God's team and the quieter rumbles that were more drawn out was the team of the angels. The once fearful sounds of thunder turned into something of a fun pastime.
     As I got older when all of the weatherman would encourage television listeners to take cover my dad and any of us children wished to go along, would pile into the car and we would drive to watch the storm, and to check on our various acres of crop scattered throughout the county. Dad would carefully examine each field to see which ones suffered wind, hail, or flood damage and which ones did not. I really enjoyed those times and today, like when I was younger, I too ventured outside during the approaching storm.
      With today's approaching storm I first turned on the television to which the regularly scheduled programing was interrupted by the local weather team of Kare 11. Ironically after about five minutes of their weather broadcast the national weather service interrupted Kare 11's weather, to tell us more about...the weather. I found it somewhat of an overkill. I decided to venture outside, like all the stations said not to. The storm was for the most part west, in Minneapolis, and north in Elk River, but I did get a chance to gaze at some awesome cloud formations. The sky held hues of pink, and yellow due to the sunset, with overtones of green, gray and blue compliments to the storm.
Looking across campus to the northwest storm.
Looking toward St. Paul-my dorm building to the right

Back of the chapel
      I hope that while I am in Alaska I get some thunderstorms I sure do enjoy them but if I do not get some thunderstorms I supposed I can live with the beautiful scenery, mountainous view, and exotic array of wildlife. :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Minnesota Meets Alaska!

Is this not the greatest looking bunch of interns ever? Okay well I am biased since I am one of them. At any rate the above group is the interns going out from Concordia University St. Paul. In the picture you will see the students in front and the supervisors standing behind his or her intern. I got a chance to meet my supervisor over the past three days during internship orientation.
    Each supervisor traveled to Concordia for a three day event of introductions, meetings, policies and fun. My supervisor is Pastor Steve Heinsen from Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Chugiak, Alaska. We were both glad to finally put a face to the voice over the phone. I feel that Steve and I will work very well together as he and I are both planners and communicators which is a big plus! Steve also knows about the Midwest as he was born and raised in Iowa so he can relate to all my farm talk and geographical babble of Southwest Minnesota and northern Iowa.
    I start internship is less than a month and I am getting more and more excited each day. I cannot wait to meet the congregation and begin my work in a parish ministry setting. It will be a change in climate, time, and role for me but I feel ready for it.

Living Hope

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:13).
     This is the theme verse from the 2011 Junior High Youth Gathering (JHYG).        Each year junior high students gather from across the surrounding state area (Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and UP Michigan) drive to Concordia University St. Paul, to take part in a weekend event of rejuvenation, spiritual connection and fun. This year 250+ students and their adult leaders made the trek. 
     I feel that too often the age of junior high/middle school is the most forgotten age. There are mission trips, national youth gatherings, and outings for high school youth but what about the junior high youth? I am pleased that Concordia offers such an event.

     This year Brian Weyers and myself were the co-chair leaders for the gathering. I really learned about what goes into the planning process. The planning over half a year ago back in October. We got together as a committee to prayerfully consider the theme and verse. We then had to coordinate chair leaders for each area; music, drama, speaker, hospitality, counselors, recreation etc. I am so blessed to have such wonderful leadership. The students here at Concordia are truly extraordinary. It made Brian and my job a whole lot easier with such great leadership.

     As with any event there is alway rough patches. The week before the gathering feels like an intense race, everything is fast paced, leading up to the opening moment. Converting the gymnasium into a place of worship, finding all the necessary electronic elements including spotlights, soundboard, and musical instruments. Coordinating with the sports practices to work with and around their schedule to use their practice space...Let's just say I have a whole new respect for those in leadership roles when it comes to planning big events.

The day of the gathering arrived and I could not have been more proud that my home congregation was the first registrants to arrive! Soon more students began to fill the gym and then 6:00pm rolled around and it was time to open in worship.
     Once the gathering started I was surprised to find how things sort of ran themselves. All the planning that everyone had done paid off and things went smoothly. If you have never been in a gymnasium filled with 250+ junior high students singing at the top of their lungs songs to the Risen Savior you are missing out. Brian and I stood at the top of the bleachers to just take it all in and I have to say the Holy Spirit was truly present as I got goosebumps over my arms from that moment.
     The week leading up to the gathering I felt worn down and busy all the time. Upon an evening phone call with my fiancée Adam he told me a word of advice "Don't become so busy with the logistics that you miss a ministry opportunity and point of connection". Once at the gathering I realized what he was saying.
     The first evening students and adults have an opportunity to participate in a carnival. We bring in inflatables, games, movie, food etc. for a chance for the students to just have fun. I wandered around with a camera in hand to take candid photos to be used in the powerpoint. As I was walking I noticed two girls in particular sitting alongside the wall with their feet pulled up to their chest. Being tired I decided to sit alongside them. In talking with her I found out that this was the first gathering that either one of them had been to and that neither of them wanted to go, as it was something that their parents "made them do". I asked the one girl how she liked it so far to which she replied "it is unlike anything I have ever been too". Not sure how to interpret this statement I further asked if she enjoyed it. She replied with a smile "yes, but I only wish I could have came the past two years". By this statement I was taken back. It is like this so often with life. There are so many opportunities but we often miss them for one reason or another. Sometimes it takes the gentle encouragement of a parent, lead of a friend, or guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    Exhausted and relieved the gathering is over and it is a moment that is bittersweet. The planning and preparation seemed to last forever, and it was here and gone before anyone really realized what had happened. I cannot express my thanks for the wonderful volunteers who helped to make the gathering a success, and I cannot wait to take this experience with me into internship.