• Nielsen Studios Inc

American Faces No. 80

Sometimes people seem a bit larger than life. Harriet Quarles stands a hair over 5 ft tall, with a personality as big as the North Shore she travels. She’s known for her robust stories (not always rated G) of her many adventures across the United States. Harriet’s storied life reflects a hearty love for the open road she happily shares with the back-country hikers she shuttles along the Superior Hiking Trail north of Silver Bay, Minnesota. Driving may be her occupation, but Harriet considers herself first an entertainer, delivering each tale with infectious joy and dramatic flair. Her 15 passenger van is often filled with muddy, smelly, bug-bitten hikers, exhausted from testing themselves on the relentless landscape shouldering Minnesota’s side of Lake Superior. She takes on all types, and welcomes all travelers on even terms. A time-weathered sign clipped on the visor declares to all passengers Harriet’s Rules, which she jokingly (I think!) enforces wielding a ball-peen hammer:

4 - Puking = Death

1 - No Open Containers

2 - No Sex in the van

3 - No Pot Smoking

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Experience true adventure: take on the challenge and stunning natural wonder of the Superior Hiking Trail, and ride with Harriet, the entertaining sage and larger-than-life North Shore legend. You wont regret it.

Cascade River Birch

The photo above was taken near the Cascade River while hiking on the Superior Hiking Trail near Cascade River State Park.

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  • Nielsen Studios Inc

American Faces No. 79

Nick Gordon, better known as “Nick of the Woods,” is a man with a wealth of outdoor knowledge and a passion to share that knowledge with others. I recently took a WFA (Wilderness First Aid) course in Waupaca, Wisconsin offered through Nick’s company, NOW Outdoors Expedition Co. Nick was a brilliant instructor, helping bring to light “real world” solutions in situations that would require “on the spot” medical attention. While I was there for the WFA class I also added to my personal knowledge base on hammocking, hiking, knot-tying and a host of other outdoor skills enriching my weekend in ways I had not imagined.

What made the class feel particularly “real-life” and applicable to me was the fact we were camped in the woods of Wisconsin. Campfire smoke would fill our nostrils, and sometimes our eyes, as Nick shared how to assess each emergency situation (without freaking out), take inventory of the situation and then work together for the best outcome. Those last two words “best outcome” really made me think about the impact of what Nick does. He teaches people how to administer Wilderness First Aid. Some of those people –myself included – may encounter someone in a dire situation and have to administer first aid that may save someone's life, or at least change the course of what could have been a very negative outcome. That right there is the definition of a “World Changer.” At least in my eyes. Perhaps at some future time, one of Nick’s students may give life-saving CPR to another human that saves their life. That is simply amazing to me!

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But Nick of NOW Outdoors has even more depth to his resume! He, along with others, leads and guides expeditions on wilderness hiking trails, into the BWCA and to distant places like Base Camp Everest. Sharing a campfire with this outdoorsy guy is an experience one does not easily forget. His way of making a person feel comfortable in the outdoors makes you feel like you can conquer a backpacking journey deep into the woods, or paddle a canoe into the wilderness.

In the photos above, Nick has sawdust (Man Glitter) from tending the fire. His hair is not perfect and he is not wearing a button up flannel shirt. But he is wearing a smile that speaks volumes to his love for the outdoors. Nick of the Woods, you help make the wild places even more amazing with your outdoorsiness. Thanks for the amazing experience!

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  • Nielsen Studios Inc

Updated: Apr 29

American Faces No. 78

Confession: there were tears as I wrote this American Faces story. You see American Faces #78 is my son and my soldier, Isaac . You never are really prepared for the time when your children take flight. But I guess I should have seen this coming. Isaac has forever been filled with gusto and an extraordinarily loyal heart for his people and his country. His loyal heart was on full display in late August of 2019 when at age 16 he sat at the bedside holding the hand of his 79 year old Papa as he passed away. Isaac never left my dad’s side until his last breath was breathed that day. He said, “I didn’t want Papa to feel alone.” That was one of the most powerful examples of undying loyalty I have ever seen in my 52 years on this globe, and it still takes my breath away nearly three years later. Just amazing.

Now for the soldier part: I think it is just in this young man’s DNA. When his sisters weren’t trying to get him to dress up in a TuTu, or play dolls or house, Isaac was outside slaying some dragon or fighting some battle in some imaginary place. But one of his “best days ever” was when he modeled on a photo shoot I did for J.M. Cremps and he dressed as a soldier. At the tender age of 8 I saw glimpses of someone who would wear a uniform and wear it well, with dignity and pride, for the U.S. Army National Guard. Ike (our nickname for him) may have been playing that day in 2010, but to him he was a real soldier on a real mission.

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On March 21st, 2022 we said our goodbyes to Isaac as he headed out for 9 weeks of Basic Training. After conquering Basic, he’ll move on to 20+ weeks of specialized training (MOS).

Our family is so proud of the direction that Isaac has taken and how he plans to move forward in life with this decision to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

I closed my photo session with Isaac by asking him to share a word for his sisters Anna, Abigail and Bethany, in case he never saw them again. He simply said, “Thanks for loving me, for growing up with me. Thank you for sharing our childhood years together. I will be forever proud to call you my sisters.”

We’re so proud of you too, Ike. Keep living, loving with your whole heart and showing us what it means to be loyal!

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