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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Southern Illinois Bound (Part One)

After years of hearing from a woman I work with about Giant City State Park in Southern Illinois, this spring I had another co-worker mention an area called Jackson Falls...near Giant City. That only meant one thing: I had to check it out. This June I decided to do a little scouting report of Southern Illinois and being a huge fan of camping... that's how I went about it.

I love getting in the car, tossing in my tent - air matress - sleeping bag - and prepacked camping tub of supplies. 
I arrived in Southern Illinois just after sunset and was able to set up to sleep under the stars in the Johnson Creek Recreation Area. It was a great campground in the Shawnee National Forest and I had the place to myself that night. Just wonderful!

I was so lucky to find my way around the area fairly well by doing a little prep work in advance. I went to the website Shawnee National Forest and clicked on "contact us" - the office sent me information and maps in the mail. SO HELPFUL to have a hard copy of maps on hand and not just rely on an iPhone on an adventure like this... 

Once I woke up from a nice slumber under the stars, I got my map in hand, and knew it was time to find Jackson Falls - which was a bit of a drive from my campsite, but that's okay... it's all part of the adventure! 
There wasn't enough water flowing for the falls to run, but the bit that was there made for some beautiful photographs.
Hiking is fun, even when it's the first official day of summer and VERY unseasonably hot for June. I like looking carefully for the little details I am often missing out on when life gets busy... like this red leaf.
...and a beautiful black-eyed Susan reaching for the sun.

Speaking of that sun.... it was a hot one that day... notice how I kinda "glisten" here! :)

But... you can't let a little sun keep you from enjoying somewhere as beautiful at the Shawnee National Forest at Jackson Falls. 

I loved the cliffs. This place is very popular for rock climbers.

I stayed on the rim and hiked around it for a while... loved how this tree grew - higher and higher reaching for the sky - until it met the rim and grew into the rock.

However, there did come a point I knew I needed to call it quits here for the day and move on east for Garden of the Gods (which will be in the next blog entry) because my time in Southern Illinois was limited on this little "scouting report" trip. :)

Photos and words by Michelle of MK Designs Photography Click here to see my Photography Website

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Missouri Home

Nothing like a long road trip covering nine states and two time zones to make me long for My Missouri Home. Where spring-fed rivers flow and green lush hills roll...

Where the dogwoods bloom in the spring...

Where life seems a little more simple and we hang on to the past...

Where winding roads lead to small towns that have retained their charm... leaving us with a taste for life at a slower pace...

This is My Missouri Home and even though my feet may get the itch to leave and see other sights, I always land back in the state I love.

REMEMBER: Any image you like and would want to order on canvas, or print (paper luster or metallic) contact MK Designs and it can be yours! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Open for Business... Zia Gallery in Downtown New Haven

I often shoot photographs in downtown New Haven, Missouri for MANY reasons that include the scenery and the peaceful setting. Where else can I have a client stand in the middle of the street to get the perfect shot in front of a movie marquee without fear of being struck by traffic?! While I enjoy shooting portraits, my heart is really into other subjects. It was while photographing a senior, Jackie Kleekamp, in the Fall of 2010 a couple noticed me at work. In between my shots, they introduced themselves and talked about how they were remodeling a building and planning to open an art gallery. Talk about a chance meeting that has been such a blessing in my life. My work is there today. Also, this is a sign of the new "life" that is coming back to downtown New Haven in the form of art. Fast forward from the Fall of 2010 to June 2012 and this is what I saw last Sunday. Many "open" signs along Main Street. You can watch glass blowers, find hand-crafted pottery, photographs, paintings, and many items to beautify the home and enrich the soul. Hungry? You can always grab a bite at "Somebody's." Just one street has a lot to offer. Of course, I am going to be a bit biased and ask my fans and readers to go to Zia Gallery to look at my work, but while you're there look at all the other stores and you can even venture beyond and do the little river walk they have in New Haven. It's so beautiful to walk by the Missouri River in this town. Anytime I am there, it's pure relaxation. If you enjoyed your visit, remember you can also have a keepsake because MK Designs has postcards and magnets for sale at Zia Gallery, too. Zia Gallery is at 115 Front Street in New Haven. They also have the upstairs offered as a Bed and Breakfast. You can reach them at 573-237-5770 or email them at - they are generally open Saturdays 11 to 5 and Sundays 12 to 4. Remember when you go see them plan on going up and down Front Street to see several other artist galleries (I really love watching the glass blowers at Astral Glass Studio!) and you can grab a bite at Somebody's, too! Two side notes: #1. don't expect great cell service in downtown New Haven, and that's ok! I find that when I am down there I am way less distracted by the technology that I have a love/hate relationship with at times! Also, you can really make a full weekend of it, too because there are two great wineries nearby: Bommarito and Robller. I am not a beer drinker, but there's also the 2nd Shift Brewing Company I have heard people rave about! All images and words by MK Designs.