Sunday, July 31, 2005

Seeing red

This is a little red lighthouse, not to be confused with the little red lighthouse in New York harbor called the Little Red Lighthouse. This particular little red lighthouse is located in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin. It marks the east entrance of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, which cuts across the Door County peninsula.

Red is a popular color for lighthouses, especially around the Great Lakes. I'm not sure why. It may have something to do with the gravity of the work associated with lighthouses, much like red is associated with fire engines and other emergency vehicles. But I'm totally speculating here.

They do make for good photographs, though.

Click on the little red lighthouses to make them bigger red lighthouses.
© 2005 James Jordan

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Savoring the summer - part 3

I love anything that breaks light into fragments. I'm a sucker for old stained glass windows. Something like this does the trick, too. I especially love sunlight filtering through trees. I'm searching for a spiritual connection for this predilection. I'm not sure if I'll find one.

This scene, then, just naturally grabbed me by the throat. It was the view behind a pottery studio in Door County, Wisconsin on a typical summer day. Thousands of points of light were begging me to photograph them, so I obliged.

I took the photograph to savor the light of summer.

Wait. One spiritual connection just came to me. God is light and those who believe and follow in the way of the light are the fragments of His light and love.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

Click on photo to enlarge. Copyright 2005 James Jordan
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Photo Friday: Somber

A crescent moon rising behind St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Algoma, Wisconsin creates a somber mood. This is a repeat of my post from June 27, but I thought it fit with the theme of this week's Photo Friday Challenge.

Photo Friday visitors: Welcome to my photo blog. Click through the recent post links and the July archive for photos of my recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Click on image to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Savoring the summer - part 2

My wife and I passed William Clark’s house on our way to a coffee shop each morning during a summer visit to Algoma, Wisconsin. We admired the architecture and the color of the house’s front doorway.

As we passed the house one morning, we saw Mr. Clark sitting on his porch, reading a newspaper. I was struck by the sight of a distinguished-looking gentleman in front of his distinguished-looking house. I stopped, introduced myself, commented on the architecture of his home and asked if he would mind if I took some photos of him reading his paper. He didn’t object at all, and I shot several frames.

Mr. Clark shared that the house was vintage 1880s Italianate architecture, which was popular in the area at the time. He pointed out several other houses in Algoma with similar designs. He is slowly renovating the home as he has time and finances. He is a writer, a poet, a collector of antiques.

This photo depicts a man who is at one with his home, down to the tones of his clothing matching the tones of the bricks behind him. He is his home. His home is him. He is savoring his place in the world. He is savoring the summer. He is savoring his life.

Click on photo for an enlarged view. © 2005 James Jordan. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Savoring the summer

This is the time of year when I notice the days getting shorter and stores promoting their back-to-school sales and I think to myself, “Where in the world did the summer go?”

I frequently find myself too busy to enjoy the simple things that summer has to offer. Unless I consciously focus on doing those things, they simply slip away into the land of lost opportunity. “Why didn’t I (fill in the blank) more often?”

This thought can also apply to the big-picture items of life. This particular summer will end with my youngest child going off to college. Where in the world did that time go?

The next few days I’ll post some photos that say, “Savor the summer.” In this one, a couple takes in the sunset at Eagle Harbor in Door County, Wisconsin.

Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Still hot outside

Record-setting heat continues over much of the U.S. To continue something I started yesterday to help deal (psychologically) with the heat, I present the above air-conditioned photograph. This is Horseshoe Bay Farm in Door County, Wisconsin in late December. A heavy evening fog followed by a quick freeze coated the landscape in thick layers of frost. Mmmm ... brrr. Enjoy.

Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005 James Jordan

Still the Beav

The mystery is solved as to the identity of the lumberjack by the side of the road, as discussed in a post yesterday. He is none other than Tony Beaver, the Appalachian version of Paul Bunyan (not to be confused with Tony Manero, the John Travolta character in Saturday Night Fever, although Beaver’s pose does bear some resemblance to one of Travolta’s dance moves ... I guess that would make him Saturday night Beaver ... never mind).

A number of local folk tales tell of Maw and Paw Beaver’s boy growing up big and tall and building a sawmill on the Eel River. Tony’s long strides took him from mountaintop to mountaintop and he could chop down two trees with one swing of his axe – one on the backswing and one on the downswing. A few tales have Tony teaming up with Paul Bunyan, his cousin to the north.

Thanks to Jeff at Anti-Itch Meditation for cluing me in. Additional details were found via Google. It helps to have Google set on safe search before looking for images of Tony Beaver. You also get quite a few pictures of Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Baby it's hot outside

It’s been six years since the temperature reached triple digits here around Chicago. We registered 104 degrees yesterday and will be facing a heat index of up to 105 today. Much of the rest of the country continues to bake.

So I offer this air-conditioned photo, taken in Algoma Wisconsin on a day 100 degrees colder than it will be today. Makes my ears sting just remembering how cold it was that morning.

Click on photo for a bigger blast of arctic air. Chill out.

He's a lumberjack and that's okay

I must have passed this guy a dozen times or more while traveling through Wears Valley on the way to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I still don’t know the reason for his existence. He’s not connected to any of the nearby businesses on U.S. Highway 321. He just stands all alone by the side of the road.

When I’m out photographing, a scene will usually elicit an internal response in me, and I will try to capture that feeling in the photograph I am making. It’s hard to explain, but I think you can see the results in the photos throughout this blog. I then try to interpret those feelings in the posts which accompany the photos. I’m still trying to figure out the meaning in this photo. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.

So I don’t know who this guy is, how he got here, or what his purpose for existence is. On a Monday morning, I can identify with that.

Click on photo to enlarge. © 2005, James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Light of hope

This lovely cemetery is located in Wears Valley, not far from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I came across it one morning while searching for photographic subjects. The morning mist and brilliant sunlight backlighting the rolling hills and aged monuments made it a "must stop."

This is a photograph of hope. Hope that death is not the end. That the light of God shines beyond the dimension of this life - that there is a life to come.

A mathematician has postulated that there is a 97% probability that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The mathematical and logical probabilities are irrelevant. The Bible makes it pretty clear; it's faith that unlocks the door.

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies." John 11:25

Click on photos to enlarge. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Aggravating beauty

Ever been bitten in the backside by something that looked really good in the beginning?

The silky, showy petals of the mimosa are a common sight along roadways in eastern Tennessee. Many people, though - among them the highway workers who must continually clear away this hardy, fast-growing plant - now consider them weeds.

Like kudzu , the mimosa tree is not originally native to the U.S. But once introduced in the south, it found an ideal climate for growth, often to the detriment of native species. The government considers the mimosa an invasive species of plant and has active programs to manage its spread.

I just thought they were pretty, so I brought back a photo. Hope that was a good idea.

Click on photo to enlarge. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 22, 2005

Photo Friday: Attractive

Photo Friday is a photography site that puts forth a weekly themed challenge. This week we've been challenged to depict the concept of attractive. And I'm sure there will be more than a fair share of gorgeous babes and hunky guys depicted.

So I've thrown a curve by submitting the photo above. To me, "attractive" conveys the idea of something that gets your attention. My wife and I were driving along a back road in Tennessee and this waterfall made us both turn our heads as we drove by. The contrast of the greenery and red rocks, the sound, the action of the water caused us to want to stop and admire. Which we did.

Yeah, a nicely configured human being can attract attention, but why limit yourself just to people?

Click on photo to enlarge. Copyright 2005 James Jordan

Photo Friday visitors: Welcome to my photoblog! Click the previous post links to see more attractive photos of the Smoky Mountain region of east Tennesee.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Blooming where planted

Rhododendrons are a very resilient plant and are very common in the Smoky Mountain region. In fact, they are one of the few species of plants that thrive at all elevations of the park.

This particular young rhododendron is getting its resilience tested in a big way. While on the trail to Laurel Falls, I noticed this little guy sprouting from an outcropping of rock. A seed fell in just the right space to put this plant literally between a rock and a hard place. But for now, this plant is doing what it can to survive and thrive in the difficult situation it finds itself in.

Good lesson for me when I find myself less than pleased by the circumstances around me.

The guys at Spoken Groove have produced a Flash animated video which picks up on this theme. Click here to see The Little Tree.

Click on photos to enlarge. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A game of inches

Laurel Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I got a chance to photograph a fair amount of water in the Smokies. The region receives an average of 63 inches of rainfall each year, and all that water has to go somewhere. My wife and I saw where some of it went while we were visiting a couple of weeks ago. We encountered the remnants of tropical storm Cindy, which brought torrential rains for a day and a half. Streams and creeks (many of which we didn’t know existed until they suddenly appeared) were swollen and many roads flooded.

The mountains drain water in all directions, and in many places, the difference of just a few inches will determine whether a drop of water will end up in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.

I’ve thought back on some seemingly small decisions I’ve made that have greatly influenced where I’ve wound up in life. That math class I didn’t take my junior year. My choice of college. Staying in one job one month too long. Going after another job I had no intention of getting, then accepting when offered it. Is it just chance that I went a few inches one way instead of the other, which brought me to a radically different place in life than I would have been otherwise? Or was Someone nudging me in a direction of His own choosing?

I'm thinking the latter.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8

Blogotional adds some thoughts to a Scotwise piece about Christian service. Good thoughts about being obedient to the urgings of God.

Click on photos to enlarge. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Like a mist

Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Most mornings in the Smokies feature misty fog and are a photographer’s paradise. I was standing at one side of the cove looking through the morning fog across to the mountains on the other side.

The challenge for me on these misty mornings was to settle in one place long enough to concentrate on the photo at hand before being drawn in another direction. I had just captured the above photo to my satisfaction when I caught sight of the morning sun brilliantly streaming onto a bend in the road that loops around the cove.

The Bible describes our life as a vapor like the morning fog; but for those who live by faith, the light of God can shine through our lives to bring beauty to the world and perhaps even draw some to Him.

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14

Click on photos for an enlarged view. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 18, 2005

Quick! Nobody's around!

One bit of advice when planning to explore Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Arrive early! Cades Cove is the most popular area of the most popular national park in the United States. It is what remains of a mountain community that began in the early 1800s.

An 11-mile road loops around the cove, with various restored homesteads, churches and farms along the way. This road quickly becomes clogged with traffic as the day progresses, which kind of works against the charm of the surroundings. I arrived this particular morning at 6:30 a.m. and there were already a dozen or so people ahead of me on the road around the cove. I had taken the drive a couple of days previously and had made notes of various locations that I thought held potential for good photographs.

I staked out this location to catch the sun rising in the morning fog over the trees and mountains surrounding the cove. I actually had to wait several minutes for the road to clear of traffic before tripping the shutter on my camera, so the solitude of this shot is more or less an illusion, but is effective nonetheless.

Click on photo for an enlarged view. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Resting in peace

Among the approximately 70 structures left by settlers in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, are several churches. I photographed the grounds of the Primitive Baptist Church on a misty morning.

The church was such a central point of the community that it was a foregone conclusion that members of the church would be laid to rest in the adjacent cemetery. I cannot imagine anyone, let alone myself, wanting to be buried next to the suburban megachurch I attend. I love the church, but I'm not that attached. Maybe it's the difference between a church that is run like a business as opposed to one that is run like a family. (Thanks to Robert Williamson at Dead Man Blogging for his thoughts.)

This photo speaks to me of peace and rest; and the church, when it has its priorities in the right order, as the bringer of that message of peace and rest to the community around it.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Click on phtoto to enlarge. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Too soon

The observation tower on Clingman's Dome has a 15-foot "crow's nest" at the top. This particular evening, about 8-10 people cycled in and out of the tower as the evening progressed. Two other photographers along with myself, had tripods set up to catch the sunset.

One friendly chap struck up conversations with people, inquiring where they were from. It turned out one woman had traveled from a town not far from mine. Small world at 6,630 feet.

I talked in an earlier post about a woman, who, seeing clouds roll over the Dome, decided that's all there was to see and that it was time to leave. I stayed and got the pictures you see here and in my last two posts. As the sun got lower, I decided that the cloud layer was too thick to get any more decent shots, so I packed up and left.

Halfway back to the parking lot, I noticed that everything along the path began to take on a pink tinge. I turned around and saw the sky on fire with a gorgeous red afterglow. I quickly set up my tripod and was able to get a couple of shots before the display faded away.

I guess even the faithful can misjudge things.

Click on the above images to enlarge. Photos copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 15, 2005

Feud for thought

Native Americans named the area around the Smoky Mountains "Cataloochee," which means, "Waves of Mountains." Standing on the summit of Clingman's Dome, it's obvious why they did. From the top of the Dome, the haze-shrouded ridges stretch to the horizon in all directions.

Clingman's Dome is the second highest peak east of the Mississipi River. A few miles away in North Carolina, Mount Mitchell stands about 40 feet higher. I suppose not to be outdone, the folks of Tennessee built a 50-foot tall observation tower on Clingman's Dome so they could look down on Mitchell.

Petty, I know, but mountain feuds have started over less than this. Just ask the Hatfields and McCoys.

Click on photo to enlarge. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

This photo has been entered in the Photo Friday contest to depict "silky." Thanks to ShutterJunkie, on whose photoblog I learned of this.

Blogotional offers some good thoughts on handling disputes in a sprit of grace.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Nothing to see here, folks ... not!

Clingman’s Dome, at an elevation of 6630 feet, is the second highest point east of the Mississippi River and the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is accessible via a 7-mile drive and then a half mile hike.

A tourist’s guide I bought for this trip described the hike as “about as rigorous as a trip to Macy’s.” I don’t know where the author does his shopping, but that hike was definitely no stroll through the mall. The half mile path rises several hundred feet on the way to the top of the Dome. The steep climb combined with the thin mountain air made for a very challenging hike.

I passed a number of people descending from the top as I made my way up. One woman, seeing my tripod and large camera bag as we passed, said, “You’re not going to get any good pictures tonight. The clouds have moved over the Dome.”

I thanked her for her tip and continued my climb. Having photographed the outdoors for a decade, I’ve learned that all weather is subject to rapid change without notice, and I hadn’t driven and climbed more than a mile into the air to turn back now. I would take my chances.

Thick clouds indeed covered the dome when I arrived at the top, but they were moving, which was a good sign. After a few minutes, they had cleared enough for me to get the photo above. Before long, the clouds had nearly completely cleared out, and I shot two rolls of film while watching the sun set over the mountains.

Having had time to reflect on this experience, I can relate the woman’s point of view and my own to that of having faith (or the lack thereof). The woman saw the circumstances and could see no further, and decided to leave the mountain. I believed there were possibilities in spite of the circumstances and continued my climb. I saw the sunset. She did not.

Some people will see difficulties and wonder where God is. Others will recognize that He is there and forge ahead, confident that He will hold to the promises He has given in the Bible to be present and caring at all times.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

Click on photo for an enlarged view. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

This blog was down for a couple of days due to computer problems. They're still not completely solved, but I'm getting there. You can see previous photos I've posted of the Smoky Mountain region here and here.

Interim plan

Got the word back yesterday from the Best Buy Geek Squad about my computer. It was DOA. Kentucky Fried Motherboard. Can't complain for a computer I bought after Y2K (yes, that long ago). I was thinking about replacing it anyway. This development just got me thinking faster.

I was told they would happily recover everything on my hard drive for around, say, $450-550. Or do it for free if I were to buy my next computer at Best Buy. After perusing the Best Buy web site and deciding they had nothing I was interested in (too much cost for too little value) and that I wasn't all that attached to what was on my computer (I have backup CDs of my photos), I purchased one online at CyberPower. Five times the capacity of my old unit at less than half of what I paid for it. Have it in 7-10 days.

In the meantime, I will try to set up a spare laptop to get this blog going again ... hopefully tonight.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Power down at Points of Light

My apologies, but at the present moment my home computer, with my photo editing software and all my photos from the Great Smoky Mountains, is in the possession of The Geek Squad at Best Buy. They're trying to figure out why the computer refused to boot up this morning, and hopefully will fix it with a minimum of pain.

Their standard answer when trying to ascertain any clue of when they may actually do something is "24 to 48 hours." That's just to diagnose the problem. I'm fearing it'll be another 24/48 to fix the problem. We'll see.

My first couple of photos from the Smokies can be seen below. To receive a notification when I'm fully operational again, take a minute to subscribe to this blog at the bottom of the sidebar. Your e-mail address is safe with Bloglet and me.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Land of Wonder

This photo was taken shortly after sunrise in Wears Valley, adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains. The photo immediately below depicts what I saw directly behind me after I had taken this photo. I found myself literally surrounded by the beauty of God's creation.

U.S. Highway 321 rolls through 15 miles of valley from Townsend to Pigeon Forge. Along the way lie farms, country churches, cemeteries, a few gift and craft shops, eateries and lots of great scenic views of the Wonderland Ridge, minus about 30,000 people, which is the average number per day that visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Highway 321 provides a much less traveled route into the park.

For more than a century, enterprising individuals have tried to figure out ways to make a buck from this magnificent scenic area. A resort area was built near Gatlinburg at the turn of the 20th century and named Wonderland as a way of drawing folks in from the cities. The ridge running from Gatlinburg through Wears Valley became known as Wonderland Ridge. The mountain in the photo above is Wonderland Mountain.

Given what I saw and photographed here, the name Wonderland works just fine for me.

More photos from Wears Valley and the Smokies will be posted daily over the next couple of weeks.

Click on photo for an enlarged view. Copyright 2005 James Jordan

Playing tricks

Optical Illusions, Etc. features various visual illusions. Recently, one of my photos supplied some visual and mental trickery. Check out what Optical Illusions, Etc. had to say about it. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The blogger returns

I just got back from a week in the Smoky Mountain region of eastern Tennessee. Over the next couple of weeks I'll share pictures and thoughts gathered while my wife and I were there.

This fog-shrouded sunrise was captured in Wears Valley, a cove area adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; the droplets from a midnight shower still clinging to the blades of grass as the sun rose over the distant ridges.

Click on photo for an enlarged view. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Runaway blogger

I am going to take a page out of the Jennifer Wilbanks playbook and disappear for about a week and then resurface with a wild story I made up. Who knows? At best, I'll score a half-million dollar book and movie deal. At worst, I will have gotten away from everything for a while and gotten to see some nice scenery along the way. You could call it a vacation.

So while I'm gone, feel free to look around Points of Light. Check out the previous posts and wander about the archives. I'm told there is some cool stuff here. Please leave comments, even on old posts. And if you'd like to receive an e-mail alert when I get back, take a second to subscribe to Point of Light via the form in the sidebar below.

Enjoy yourself. I'll be back in a week. With pictures.

Click on photo to enlarge. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 01, 2005

Only choice

Fourteen miles east of Manistique, Michigan sits the Seul Choix (pronounced Sis-SHWA) Point Light. It marks a small harbor on Lake Michigan located on the south shore of the Upper Peninsula. The name means "only choice."

Native Americans and French fur traders traveled in canoes across the rough waters of Lake Michigan. It was named by the French who found that it was the only harbor of refuge in this part of Lake Michigan. For boats headed for the Straits of Mackinac, Seul Choix provided the only choice for safety.

Once the centerpiece of a thriving fishing village in the 1890s, the lighthouse and accompanying outbuildings are now all that remain.

This photo was taken as the late afternoon sun broke through a cloudy sky.

Click on photo to enlarge. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Picasa

In a day and age where pluralism and multiculturalism are values, the claim that Jesus is the only way to heaven is usually met by incredulous stares or outright denouncement. presents a few things to consider.