Behind the Gateway Lodge in Land ‘O Lakes, Wisconsin.


The Gateway was quite the swanky place back when it was built in the 1930’s. Heavy timbers, a massive fireplace in the main lobby, trophy heads all over the walls–the quintessential hunting lodge in Wisconsin’s north woods. The dining room was huge, with high timbered ceilings and room for a band at one end, the bar dark with leather-upholstered booths.  A long list of B-level celebrities stayed there over the years and their autographed black and white photos line the walls. (Trophy heads of a different sort, I think.)

I worked here as a waitress, summers and holidays, from the time I was 16 until I was 21. The Gateway was already in steep decline from its glory days but it was still an adventure and an education for me.

Like Kellerman’s from Dirty Dancing, there was an alternate universe at the resort where the help existed, especially the summer help.

In the kitchen, wait staff quickly learned to fear the chef–a cruel and moody ass. His assistant had a serious speech impediment, so often you could only smile and nod and hope that you had somehow not agreed to bear his love child. Do not piss off Sylvia, the salad dominatrix, or your life could be a living hell.

 I will spare you the rest of the stories: how to stack a tray and carry it above your shoulder on one hand, how to smile at rude and boozy patrons, fold napkins into boats and chip candle wax out of the table lights. It was both an adventure and an education.

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Taking a week or so off for adventures of other sorts: a houseboat trip on the Mississippi is next on the Wabi Sabi agenda. Packing all my camera gear for this one.

And meclizine. Lots of meclizine. It is only just now occurring to me that I am not a big on-the-water kind of gal.



Seven images

Last of the shots from my foggy morning walk to the Wabi Sabi farm:








I thought this image should stand alone.


Same time and place as last week’s foggy farm posts, different building. Five images.





I like this last picture: a selfie shot into the window of today’s building. I didn’t plan it, but I will have to say it puts me in mind of the painting The Arnolfini Portrait  by the Dutch painter, van Eyck, where each component of the painting carries symbolic/iconic weight. Here I am, face obscured by my favorite camera and reflected in a smudged and dirty glass, framed by old and cracking brick. Instead of roses or flowers, the scene is graced by a spray of thorny brown thistles. Interpretive possibilities abound!


I believe this picture should be titled “Exceedingly Prickly Wench” and it would certainly reflect my current frame of mind quite accurately.  However, I am on my way to northern Wisconsin for a couple of days where I will hang out with my friend,  Karen, we will revisit the scenes of our misspent youth and with any luck at all, we will have the chance to poke around the Abandoned Sawmill. (Yes! Please! Yes!)  All of that…plus a couple of Old-Fashioneds in the bar at the Gateway…and the current annoyances and demands of the world should appear a lot less thorny.

6 images

Yesterday’s outbuilding unveiled.


In this series, the fog is a visible presence.





If you would like to place this building in context, the final shot is from a post I did in early August.


Next time: Hey! What about that big red building?

I’ve brought you along with me many times to the deserted farm around the corner…and here we go again.

A developer (hissssss boooo) purchased  the property a few months ago and several of the buildings have been torn down. The two or three remaining have really deteriorated.

Yet…on a foggy morning last week there was so much beauty still to be found.



Today is my photo version of The Dance of the Seven Veils: a slow reveal of one of the last buildings standing.

The tall brown stalks are mulleins going to seed. The mullein is a wildflower as well as an herbal utility player.  You can smoke it, drink it or apply it as a poultice.


Or, you can crouch behind some to shoot your photographs, getting some pretty sweet vertical lines in the bargain.


The fog doesn’t play a starring role in this series, yet it served as a filter for all of my shots that morning, subtly softening both the landscape and the buildings.  That will be more obvious in the next couple of posts.


Six images

We’ve had early morning fog here for four of the past ten days, so I think my posts for the next two weeks will reflect that.

Unless I see something else all shiny.

Or a squirrel.

But right now, our theme for the next several posts will be “Fog.”

Bay Beach Amusement Park,  7:00 Saturday morning,  well before the park opened and the Labor Day weekend crowds began to arrive.


This is the Zippin Pippin, a classic wooden roller coaster.



The fog provided a spectacular filter and I had my exposure dialed up to account for it. Generally the wood has a warm golden tone but that was negated by the fog and I saw no reason to attempt to recapture that color.


My favorite thing about the Pippin is the structure itself: the framework, the hardware, and the wood grain. If you have time, click on the pictures for a larger view. Then you can see what I mean about the wood.


Yes, I have ridden the Zippin Pippin–exactly once–and the crazed litany that passed through my lips for the entire ride would have done a sailor proud.