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Gangster Island 2015

Gangster Island 2015

From Diapers in the Gear Bag blog, 2012

"For those of us afflicted with chronic wanderlust, daydreaming about far away places occupies more of our daily thoughts than we probably care to admit. I often find myself thinking back (nostalgically I should add) to the days when I traveled hard: Weeks spent traversing the high plains of South Africa's Karoo; hitching a late night ride aboard a fruit boat bound for Belize's Turneffe Atolls; scuba diving in the frigid waters of Alaska's Kenai Fjords...I miss those days. And yet now, looking back, I realize my vision was a bit far­sighted, foolishly equating a greater distance from home with a more rewarding destination. This led to some pretty hefty gaps in my travel resume that I cared little about at the time, but now find myself regretting. While I will never regret photographing dolphins off the coast of Honduras, I have never really seen the American West...or the northeast coast during autumn...or been on a respectable mountain ski trip. It's a valuable lesson I hope to pass on to my son: Travel far when you can...and when you can't? Just travel someplace closer. There's an awful lot to see in your own country, in our own state, even in your own city.

Recently, we took just such a trip (four hours by car) to a location that, among other things, boasts the greatest name of anyplace I've ever been: Gangster Island. Tucked into the southwest corner of North Twin Lake near Phelps in northern Wisconsin, Gangster Island (so named for its ownership for a time by Al Capone's personal doctor) is a stunning, ten acre, maple and birch covered islet where the Shaffner family built their 3800 square foot plank and stone house in the early 1900s..."

Gangster Island 2015

Last night, we wearily pulled into our driveway after returning from our third visit to Gangster Island. The bunkhouse has changed little, the tall pines are still home to bald eagles, the lake tempts as it did before, and our travel companions remain some of the most gracious, accommodating people we've ever met. The kids have aged three years since our first visit which  (whether a pre-teen or a toddler) means astonishing changes. For Luc, who first came to this place at five months old, this trip is a special one for a very simple reason: He will likely remember it. We're in the memory building business now, and that carries some weight.

Armed with pretty minimal photo equipment (GoPro Hero 3, Canon 1DX, Tripod and intervalometer) I shot as much as I could but not as much as I wanted...a pretty common theme these days when the tug of spending time with family and friends trumps the desire to sit for hours looking through a viewfinder. Nonetheless we all had some fun combining the two, especially Sunday afternoon when the kids (and a few of the adults) decided to head for the deeper water of North Twin Lake and take turns jumping, twisting, flipping, and diving off the roof of the pontoon boat while I jumped with them or filmed from the water below. While not fully processed yet, the videos were fun to look through and I will post them soon. A special thanks to Jason who risked further water-logging his sinuses to get me some great footage diving from the boat, GoPro in hand.

While Luc busily played boat captain, ran around in the woods with Dane and threw nearly every pine cone on the island into the water, the others canoed, paddle boarded (with the dogs who weren't about to be left behind,) swam, fished and spent time by the fire catching up with one another and treating themselves to some much deserved relaxation.

The weather, while cool, cooperated and provided us with temperatures in low 70s. Although the cloud cover put a damper on my hopes to shoot a time lapse of the stars and Milky Way, it did make for an interesting sky at dusk filled with swirling clouds and a gold-smeared lake surface. The cumulus clouds seemed to endlessly flow in from the northwest Monday and I slipped away from my packing responsibilities for just long enough to set up the camera and shoot them at two second intervals.

More time lapse sequences and GoPro videos to come. Until then, thank you to everyone who made this trip such a success. We can't wait to travel with you again.