Tag Archives: fly fishing

Hannah’s Haircut + Kris and Shane, engaged!

My TU friend, Hannah, is a rockstar. She’s a badass farmer and triathlete who lives in the northern Wisconsin country. She also has been growing out her waist-length hair for years, and she volunteered to shave her head and donate all of her hair. What a champ!   
 The stylist is my beautiful friend, Stef, at Kasha Salon, and she volunteered her time and services. Thanks, girl!
 Hannah, your hair is going to make a child very happy! Thanks for being awesome. Enjoy your newfound scalp freedom!

The next day, I went to help out at a Friends of the Little Plover River event- the fourth graders from the Stevens Point district all come out on an afternoon field trip and learn about their local stream. I was at the fly casting station with Stu, a member of my TU chapter.  I left the FOTR event early to head down to Madison for a very special photo shoot- a lifestyle shoot with Kris and Shane… turned surprise proposal! Kris had been planning this day for months, and I was in on the surprise. It’s hard to plan a photo shoot for “no reason” with someone less-than-thrilled to ham it up for the camera without giving it away, but Kris’ masterfully laid plans worked perfectly. He convinced Shane to play along, and we ended up having a lot of fun!

We started taking photos at Kris’ mentor’s piano, then headed downtown at the Capitol (to drink wine on the lawn, of course!), around the square, then over to the Monona Terrace.Right after this picture was taken, a woman walking by asked if we were taking engagement pictures.

Kris and I looked at each other with a look of panic, and we all mumbled, “Oh, no… these are just for fun,” or something equally awkward. Shane turned away and I looked at Kris with a face of shock as I mouthed, “OH MY GOD.”

I thought the jig was up! Luckily, Shane didn’t suspect a thing… so we moved on.

The tulips on the capital lawn were in full bloom and proving to be bright and beautiful. I hoped my giant smile wasn’t giving me away, and blamed my positive mood on the beautiful weather and these pretty flowers. 🙂We set up so I was facing the capital…and then, on my cue, when the lighting was right, Kris got down on one knee, said something (I’d imagine to be) very sweet, and Shane said, “YES!”

It is difficult to be a part of a moment without intruding, but I did my best…Congratulations, guys! I’m so happy for you. Thank you for letting me be a part of this big moment! I still get goosebumps when I look through this gallery. ❤

As were walking back to the parking ramp, I heard someone call my name. I looked up, and saw all my Madison friends from WLCV! They convinced me to stay for a drink (I love edible orchids!) and to catch up. Twist my arm…  I made it home late and tired, but charged my camera batteries and swapped out memory cards, getting set up for the weekend’s photo shoots. More on those later!

Thanks for reading, friends. 🙂

Miles this year: 269.1

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Early season fly fishing in the Driftless, a.k.a. my love affair with pink polka dots

I love fly fishing early trout season. Yeah, it’s cold. And sometimes snowy, sometimes rainy. On last year’s trip, we fished all day in the ice-cold pouring rain. Bundling up is a necessity… but after a long winter inside, it feels good to breathe some fresh air and splash around.

I often head down to the driftless, here in Southwestern Wisconsin. It’s hilly, and there are tons of little creeks full of beautiful trout.

Viroqua is usually my first stop.

 Matt and Geri, a couple friends that I met through Trout Unlimited, own the fly shop down there- The Driftless Angler. It’s right on the main drag. Look for the fish sign!   

 They have a beautiful shop and even better guides! and I have had lots of fabulous days of adventure that started  here.

 Meet Pete and Teak. He’s a friend of mine, a super busy guide, and she is the best fishing dog I’ve ever met.

 Let the games begin!

He took me out to several unnamed locations. It was snowing, and windy, and definitely a challenge! The high temp was in the low 40s. I love hiring guides, even though I’m an independent angler, because they always teach me something new- either a new type of fly, or a casting technique, or they take me to new places and show me how to read different water.

Plus, when my fingers are frozen, they tie on for me. 🙂  Pete can demonstrate any kind of cast that I want to see. I love fishing with and learning from talented fly anglers- they make everything look effortless and they are just plain fun to watch. There are a couple distinguishing features of the driftless region– it’s only a couple hours from my house, in the Central Sands, but I never see geography like this…  The driftless area is called such because it escaped glaciation. The sediment in glaciers is called drift, thus… drift-less. Of course, when I think of sediment, I think of silt and and sand, though drift can contain boulders, and large rocks. The driftless region has carved river valleys for miles- there are hundreds of trout streams!

Before I knew it, I was laying into gently hooking some beauties. Pictures of me fishing, courtesy of Pete. He’s a photographer, too!

  I’m in love. My first fish on a fly rod was a brook trout, and I’ve been head-over-heels for those pink polka dots ever since.

Seriously.

I. Love. Brook. Trout.

I handle them with care and always put them back. 🙂         I took a break to warm up in the shelter of Pete’s van (curly hair, don’t care)…

…then headed out for more. Trout are my favorite, but they weren’t the only fish out there…


 As always, it was a fabulous trip. I hung out with Pete and Teak at their fabulous wooden fishing cabin, warmed up, dried off, studied the tools of the trade… …drank a good Wisconsin beer, and eventually made my way back home.

 I use this barn to mark my “halfway point” between Viroqua and my warm cozy bed.
 Thanks for the stream adventures, Pete! I’ll be back soon.

I lead a charmed life. Until next time… ❤️

Miles this year: 264

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How did I get into conservation and fly fishing, anyway?

It’s a pretty simple story, and a perfect example of the butterfly effect. A couple years after I graduated from college, our photography business was growing and we were making a name for ourselves in our small college town. I was very close with my professors in our department as a student, and our department chair’s husband is an active Trout Unlimited (TU) volunteer. He knew of our photography, so he contacted me and asked if we could meet for coffee- he had a request for me.

To be honest, I kind of put it off. I didn’t know what TU was, and I was busy! Thankfully, he was persistent, and we eventually met at my favorite local coffee shop. He talked to me a little bit about what Trout Unlimited does in conservation, and asked me if I’d be willing to donate my time and take before, during, and after photos of their local stream restoration projects. 

Of course, I thought this was really interesting. I didn’t fish, and I didn’t spend much time in small streams. As a sea kayaker, I’ve spent lots of time on the water in a very non-intrusive way, but this was something totally new. I immediately agreed to help them out, and before I knew it, I was out on their streams with my camera. 

 

  

  

I brought the photos to their board, and asked them what their plans were for these images. I thought they were very powerful, and wanted to see how big their reach is. As it turns out, they had an outdated and not-maintained website, so I offered to build them a new one and run it. Shortly after, they created a position for me on their board, and I started learning more about what Trout Unlimited does in our community.

On those stream outings, the guys were always picking up rocks to look for bugs. They talked to me about the bugs that trout eat, and what different bugs indicate about the ecosystem below the water surface. In fly fishing, the “bait” is called flies. Some of the guys tie their own flies, out of special feathers, thread, and various materials. Some of the guys had flies with them, so they showed me which bugs the flies are supposed to imitate. I used to make a lot of jewelry, and I’m a crafty person, so I was quickly interested in fly tying, and went to several TU-hosted workshops.

  

In the winter, my chapter gets together to build lunker structures that we install when the weather is warmer. They even let me help! I kind of think of building lunker structures as Habitat for Humanity for trout. The structures go into a stream bank (or we create a new one) and give the fish a place to hide and safe places to hang out.  I have met some awesome people through my work with TU. Our university has an incredibly intelligent and approachable hydrologist, who worked diligently with me to help me understand groundwater in a more accurate way. It’s a pretty complicated system! The university even sent me out with them when they tested water flow on some of our local streams, and explained to me the different variables that make a difference in the health of a stream. That led to me being invited along with the DNR on some of their fish shocking outings. Fish shocking is the casual way to refer to their fish survey techniques. They basically put an electrified probe in the water, and the current causes a little muscle spasm on the side of the fish that is the closest to the probe. It causes them to swim toward the probe, and the fisheries guys net them up, measure them, then let them go.  

  

  

  

 They’re so efficient- the fish are hardly out of the water, and they seem to be totally unharmed. It’s not like a tazer kind of shock! Being such a soft-hearted girl, I was worried about hurting the fish, but they reassured me that the fish continue on their merry way. These surveys help the DNR learn the diversity of fish in a stream, the age of the fish, and the health of the stream… if there aren’t any young fish present, it probably means that the fish can’t naturally reproduce in that section of stream. It’s so interesting, and I got to see some of the prettiest (and tiniest!) fish in some of my home water. 

I learned more about the threats to water in my area, and in the Central Sands area of Wisconsin, where I live, high-capacity well pumping is the problem. Well, specifically, over-pumping. A lack of DNR’s ability to effectively judge cumulative impact in the past has caused major problems. I became active with the Central Sands Water Action Coalition and met many folks from river and lake associations who are watching their streams and lakes dry up, quite literally. 

 I’ve found it a good challenge to raise awareness of groundwater problems since we can’t see the problem until it’s too late, and it manifests itself on our surface water, or in dried up streams like in the photo above.

After a couple years of volunteering, my local TU chapter gave me a fly rod and reel at their banquet, as a gift for helping to bring them more up to date with media. Here’s a very cute picture of me holding the rod awkwardly after the presentation, because I’d never held one before!  

They also gave me a scholarship to their Fly Fishing School, so I could learn how to use it. I waited anxiously for a few months until the school, then I learned about casting, the gear for fly fishing, the knots we use, some of the bugs, and how to read a stream. 

  

  

Those TU guys in my chapter really know their stuff! Most of them have been playing in the water since before I was born, and they were surprisingly eager to share their knowledge and passion for fly fishing with me. We went fishing after the school, and I caught my first trout, a beautiful little brookie.

 

The hot pink spots just blew my mind. I didn’t touch her, I was afraid I was going to hurt her! That’s when I knew that I wanted to spend my time helping to protect these gorgeous creatures and the bigger environment that they represent. Our beautiful “canary in the coal mine,” if you will… 

TU isn’t necessarily a fishing organization, but there is a strong connection between trout and stream health. Trout are a very delicate fish, and they can’t survive in warm water. When the water becomes warmer for a variety of reasons (erosion, less cold water coming in, warming air temperatures, etc…) trout cannot thrive. Our only native local fish, the brook trout, is the most sensitive of all trout. A perfect example of this is on the Tomorrow River in Amherst. It’s about a 15 minute drive East of my house, in a tiny little town. In Amherst, there is a dam on the river, and a big mill pond above the dam. On the river upstream of the dam and the pond, brook trout are living happily and healthily in nice, clean, cold water. When the river widens for the pond, it is stagnant, and wide, and shallow, and the water warms up several degrees. There is also poisonous blue-green algae thriving in the pond. Don’t kayak in there! Below the dam, there are no brook trout. The water is too warm for them to survive! The pond has totally changed the ecosystem of that stream, and fish are no longer able to swim up and down that river naturally. It’s a manmade problem. 😦 Fly anglers, due to the nature of the sport, often spend time in their waders (waterproof pants), standing in the water. They go back to the same places again and again, and can see changes over time. That’s why there are so many fly anglers concerned about the health of our streams! 

So, I learned what TU does, and I learned to fly fish, and I learned more about the environment and cold water conservation, then I learned the key players in water in our area. The Wisconsin State Council of TU asked me if I would be willing to help them get more women involved in TU and get more of our current female members engaged at the state level. I jumped at that chance, and I became the first women’s initiative chair on the state council. I started learning more about the challenges to water in our state, rather than just my region, and I started connecting with lots more like-minded women. One of the big challenges to healthy water in our state was the Penokee Hills and the impending Gogebic Taconite mine. Our Wisconsin NLC rep (leadership within national TU), Bill Heart, took me up on a tour of the proposed mine site, took me through the Native American camp on the land, and showed me first-hand the beauty of that area.  After a couple years of being the Wisconsin Women’s Initiative chair, I found myself working as a contractor for national TU, continuing to further the women’s initiative- getting women involved, engaged, and helping to encourage and lift women up into leadership. Those of you who have known me for a while know that I’m a big advocate for empowering women and diversifying leadership in our country. I grew up with an incredibly awesome and strong single mother, and I’m a girl from the “Girl Power” generation. 

I’ve even gotten a couple photography gigs from the folks that I’ve met through TU. A couple guide companies and a few articles, and I’ve gotten to travel and hang out with some very cool people.

   

             I have gotten more and more involved with politics, as well. I didn’t realize, until spending time volunteering for TU, that there are a lot of politics in conservation! I wanted my opinions known, so I’ve taken advocacy trainings from the River Alliance and befriended folks at the Wisconsin League of Conservation voters, and I’m working to make sure that my legislators know that I’m here, and I’m speaking for the fish. It’s not just the fish, though… healthy, cold water for the fish means healthy, cold water for us. For our kids. For our drinking water. The water is all the same, and someone needs to look out for it. 😀

So… that’s my story. How a girly-girl turned into a serious conservationist, fly angler, and educated advocate for water. My involvement with Trout Unlimited has changed my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂

Thanks for reading and following me on my adventures!

Miles this year: 217.45

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Tulips + Stewardship + Lemongrass Noodle House

Hello, spring!

  

The first few warm days always seem to draw attention to the salt that is caked on to my car. It amazes me that cars can survive multiple winters and humid summers and sun beating down and layers of ice. I planned to get out to fish early season, but wanted to swing by the car wash first. Of course, every other person in Wisconsin had the same idea, so the lines were long. Luckily for me, I had my briefcase in the car, so I pulled out my laptop and spent my 45 minute wait writing my column for Wisconsin Trout. Before I knew it, I was enjoying the abstract art on my windshield. A short drive later, and I was out on the river. 

That’s my home water, the Tomorrow River. There’s something so special about going out for the first time after a long winter… I love watching the changes that happened while I was “gone.” I didn’t catch anything, but to be totally honest, I was mostly just checking things out. 🙂

That healing time on the water was good for my soul, and my next photo shoot was good for my tummy! I headed over to the new Thai restaurant in town, Lemon Grass Noodle House. They’re known for their egg rolls, but all the food was delicious. They were so sweet to me, and they packed up all the food after the shoot for me to take home for dinner. They even included a bottle of that orange-y drink… I think it’s called Thai tea. It was kind of like a spiced iced tea with milk and sugar.

   

  

   Thank you for your hospitality, Lemon Grass Noodle House! We’re happy to have you join the downtown businesses. 🙂

I burned off those extra calories by meeting Carmel up in Wausau and running up and back down Rib Mountain. With Wisconsin’s governor’s budget, stewardship funding is drastically cut. Being a lover of the outdoors, I take advantage of many benefits from stewardship, and the trail up the mountain is one of them. It breaks my heart to watch our governor attack so many things I care deeply about. I’ll post soon about the politically-motivated actions that I’ve taken this spring. 

Thanks for the miles and smiles, Carmel! Running that path makes me feel like a badass. 🙂

 

Up next? Baby K, my 16 miler, a going away party, and St. Patrick’s day shenanigans in Chicago.

Miles this year: 161.35

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Kasha salon + food + Chicago

I’ve spent a lot of time in salons. Almost every wedding morning, I’m skipping through a salon, camera in hand, with blushing brides and excited bridesmaids. This time, I was invited to Kasha Salon, in Wausau, for new promotional photos. This is Stef. She’s an absolutely stunning woman (seriously, those eyes!), with a sweet personality and a powerful creative streak. I met her on dance team back in my high school days, and it was really fun to reconnect with her over a couple shared brides as clients. The salon is beautiful, and filled with fabulous products!  Thanks for bringing me in, Kasha staff! It was a pleasure working with you all!  I had a busy week, but was able to steal away for a Skype coffee date with my first sole sister, Nancy.  Nancy moved to warmer climes last year, so we’ve only been able to keep up our dates virtually. 🙂 I hope to get out to the Vegas area to visit her soon!

I had lots of food in the studio this week. I am absolutely in love with these lavender lemon shortbreads.

  Of course, I ate them as soon as I was done, and I washed it down with my newest favorite food- bug macaroni and cheese!!  As a fly angler, I have a special appreciation for all things buggy. 🙂

Keeping with the lemon theme, I worked on some stock photography of translucent fruit…

 …and I finished off the work week with a beautifully rich French Napoleon from Andersonville’s Swedish Bakery.

 I spent Saturday at TroutFest, a TU event. I had a booth for the women’s initiative, and I also had blank trout outlines for kids to color. My booth was right along the window, so I kept my eye out on the water- as the ice melts, the eagles come out.

     

  I hurried home on Saturday night, and packed for Sunday… the highlight of my weekend was a trip to Chicago with this little love… …my niece, Ember! ❤ My sister, Erin, and I had a chance to catch up, and I spent a little time down in Chicago, including lunch with my cousin, Max.  A whirlwind week, filled with my favorite things. With spring around the corner, spirits are high!

Miles this year: 137.25

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Fly fishing on my mind

What is an avid fly angler to do in the winter months in central Wisconsin? 

Go to trade shows. Lots of trade shows.

I went to the Chicago Outdoor Sports show to visit my friend, Jen, who runs DUN magazine and had a booth there. It was awesome to play around with a couple new rods and remember what it feels like to cast a line to water. They had a pool for us to cast into. 



I stayed with my aunt Eileen and uncle Rick in their beautiful Elk Grove home, and I got to hang out with my cousin twin, Killeen. She just bought a super cute house and it was wonderful to hang out there, drink some wine, and relax. 🙂



I loved running around their neighborhood- they even have a little pond.





I returned home to the frozen tundra, and headed over to the Eastern part of the state for Fox Valley TU’s Cabin Fever event.



Jen is an active volunteer in the Fox Valley chapter and she’s doing great work for the women’s initiative. It was great to see you, girl! I also had a booth at Central Wisconsin’s TroutFest, and I’ve been working on reaching out to the women in our communities and in the angling industry to get them hooked up with the work that Trout Unlimited does here in Wisconsin. 🙂 I also have some blank trout outlines for kids to color. How cute is this?



The short days and no sun has really been getting to me, so my incredibly talented electrican husband whipped together a light box for me.



After sitting in front of that contraption for a few days, I felt like a million bucks! We were lucky enough to cap off our busy week with Central Waters’ 17th anniversary party. I was covering the event for Hoopla magazine, but I ran into Lydia at the party!



We drank some delicious beer and danced to live music. A perfect Saturday!







Thanks for the fun night, Central Waters!

I’ll leave you with some of the most refreshing subjects I’ve had in the studio lately- fruit!





I just love working with food. Seriously. 🙂

Up next? Frame’s 150th anniversary, an encaustic artist, and out of town friends.

Thanks for reading!

Miles this year: 84

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Winter photo projects

Winter projects are some of my favorites, as I take more risks. I have a little more time to learn and experiment when the weather is cold. 🙂 I haven’t done much work with paintings before, other than a couple gallery shoots. This beauty was taken for the cover of a client’s book that will be released soon. 🙂

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I also worked on a special project for an author and fly tyer… Take a peek at this fly! I love it when my interests collide for work.

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This little cutie turned one, and his parents wanted to play in the snow with me!

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We were in the middle of a crazy snowstorm, but these guys were too much fun.

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Thank you for braving the snow, Rumberg family! I had a blast. 🙂
That’s all for now 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Miles this year: 5.5 (I hope it warms up to above zero soon so I can get back to running!)

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A restaurant + a barbershop

Two awesome shoots this week… starting with Sconni’s up in Wausau.

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They are known for their blackberry old fashioned. Beautiful!

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They also make a flatbread that screams “Wisconsin” since it has cheese curds on it.

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They’re an ale house with a very cool ambiance and delicious food. It was a fun (and delicious!) shoot. 🙂

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I also had a shoot at the Chop Shop- a new car-themed barber shop in Plover.

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I don’t even need to caption these- this place was awesome. It even had a little car as the child seat! I made an appointment for Brian while I was there. 🙂

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The cold weather has arrived, and Abbie has lost all desire to play outside.

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Even with the cold, we ventured out to hear our friend Ryan play a faculty jazz piano recital. We love jazz, and it’s awesome to hear a friend play so well. 🙂

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Congratulations, Ryan!
Carmel and I didn’t let the cold stop us either, and we headed out on the Green Circle.

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I’ll leave you with a little field trip. I headed over to Green Bay to see “Flies, Films, and Foam.” It was sponsored by Tight Lines Fly Co., and was a highlight reel of our favorite F3T segments over the past years. I even saw some of my favorite Wisconsin TU women, and all the proceeds of the event went to help with TU work projects. A win-win!

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That’s all for now…

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Recovery: am I supposed to be taking it easy?

In traditional Heidi style, I was way overbooked. The day after the marathon was filled with a physical therapy appointment (to check me out and test out my stress fractured foot), an oil change, and a pedicure appointment with Carmel. 🙂 My sore little toes loved it!

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At least I wore compression socks!
I drank smoothies…

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…and smelled the roses.

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I even found time to do a brook trout manicure before my trip to Minnesota…

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…and I snuck in a photo shoot at the next local brewery- North Abbey Brewing. The space was recently purchased, so they’re in the middle of demolition and starting to move equipment in. I can’t wait for them to build their dream so I can see (and taste!) the finished product!

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I spent my day and a half at home being a busy bee, then loaded up the car to go visit the TU Western Restoration staff at their retreat in Minnesota. It was pretty cool for me to visit the driftless area in another state. I love learning through travel! We had some beautiful weather, took a couple field trips, and I ran on the trails near our cabin.

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I loved this trip. It was wonderful to meet some new people and see some old friends! 🙂 after the retreat, I drove a half hour south with my friend, Mike, to catch my first Iowa fish. Trout season was closed in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but Iowa was just a stone’s throw away.

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The Asian Lady Beetles were terrible. I’m not positive, but I think it’s because they live in soybean fields, and during the harvest time, they’re evicted.

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My stratus and I reached a new milestone, I drank some great diner coffee, and I hurried home for another busy weekend. 🙂

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Thanks for reading, friends!

Miles this year: 509.1

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Henry and Christina, and my last taper week

Hi, friends! I spent my last taper work keeping busy with all sorts of things, including a trip to Green Bay to work with Henry and Christina and capture their engagement portraits. We took advantage of a beautiful fall day along Baird Creek.

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I love Henry’s bow tie. Too cute! Congratulations, friends. We’re looking forward to working with you again next year!
I stopped at my “local” fly shop, Tight Lines, and had my new fly line put on my birthday present to myself, my new seven weight reel.

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I can’t wait to put that baby to good use!
I also went to dinner with my friend, Aaron. 🙂 it’s hard to get him to come out- combining grad school with someone who works in politics a month before an election, and I was lucky to snag an invite!

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I started working on a secret photo project with some beautiful products…

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Did some very cliche photo work “out of the office” at Starbucks…

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Ate some of my pink applesauce…

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And went on my last run before the race with my Abbie pup.

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It was all good preparation for my ridiculous weekend ahead… Stevens Point to Milwaukee to Chicago to Stevens Point to Wausau to Chicago to home.
That story is up next! 🙂

Miles this year: 480.5

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