About 2.5 hours from Minneapolis Airport is the town of Brainerd, home to Cragun's family resort and conference center. In late April, Brainerd was my destination for an educational IT conference for MNSCU (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities). It was my first visit to the area and my first appearance at the conference, where I was also to speak.
The resort itself looks like a fun, homey place for a summer retreat. But in late spring, it's still pretty chilly, and as luck would have it, my time there was accompanied with heavy overcast and a fair amount of rain. During my free time (when it wasn't raining) I made an effort to walk around the resort a bit, looking for interesting things to photograph.
I had a cabin all to myself, much like the one you see below. The cabins were rustic and quite large, with complete kitchens and the capacity to sleep at least 4 - 6 people.
While walking around the resort, I came across deer and and even a fuzzy bunny, but I also encountered what I first thought was some pretty extensive clear-cutting. On closer inspection, though, it appears that the area was hit by a rather severe windstorm; many trees were downed by Mother Nature, and the resort had also been busy taking down other trees that were unsafe for the resort visitors. It was a very stark landscape in many places, due to this storm damage.
The deck at the main building was pretty empty most of the time, despite the panoramic view of Gull Lake, due to the weather and the temperature, but the tables on the deck sported these cool, almost retro, metal umbrellas. They rotated in the wind, always on an angle and visually, they spoke to me. I easily spent a half hour making pictures with my Lumix.
This photo of the dock is my favorite image from my time at Cragun's. 
I even used it as the image for one of my Adobe Post social graphics. It's pretty obvious what was on my mind when I created that Post image. LOL
Wednesday morning, I awoke (unintentionally) around 6am and was rewarded with my first view of th sun in three days. It was a very dramatic sunrise and - even captured on my iPhone - the brilliance of the morning was obivious.
Despite the early hour, I luckily had the presence of mind to grab my Lumix as well, to get a couple RAW captures. While my phone does a decent job for a grab shot, comparing the two versions brings home the point of shooting with a higher quality camera that also captures in RAW.
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