Fall into the Canal

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falls into IM canal
Falls spilling into the Illinois and Michigan Canal
Lemont, IL

On the second I & M Canal photo group meet up, we traveled the canal towpath east from downtown Lemont, Illinois, about 1.5 miles to a small stream that emptied into the canal. I can't find the name of this stream, but I did find its source about 2 or 3 miles up stream.

The canal was cut through the limestone bedrock in this area, so at least the canal did not need to be lined with limestone! Lots of limestone quarries were located here, and have long since filled up with water, creating some very nice fishing holes.

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Into the Depths
Rocky Shore of Consumer's Quarry
Lemont, Illinois

One can still see evidence of the quarries all along this part of the canal. The Great Lakes Quarries Recreational Area is a park created around these old quarries and the I & M Canal. It's a mix of nature, including a natural limestone fen (or wetland), the man made canal, and heavy industry along the Sanitary and Ship Canal just in the distance. A fen is very common, but limestone fen is a rare thing indeed. Water bubbles up from the shallow limestone bedrock in this area creating this unique habitat.

Rock Creek

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Colorful Limestone
Rock Creek Canyon

The colorful limestone cliffs line the banks of Rock Creek, part of the Kankakee River State Park in Illinois. This creek carved it's way through the limestone until it reached the Kankakee River. It's a bit difficult to walk along the bank of the creek without getting wet, and the main trail is at the top of the canyon, so you have to climb up and down the canyon walls to get from place to place. Rock climbing is not allowed, but obviously everyone does it.

There are plenty of breathtaking views of the creek from the top of the limestone cliffs, and the views aren't so bad once you get down into the canyon either!

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Rock Creek Falls
Rock Creek Falls

The Rock Creek Falls cascade gently over a natural drop in elevation of the limestone. The falls can be seen from the top of the canyon some 50 feet above.

Semphore Relic

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Railroad Semaphore Signal Tower
Old Semophore Signal Tower
Dwight, Illinois

On a recent drive through Dwight, Illinois, I spotted three of these odd structures along the Amtrak tracks. It appears they once held the old semophore signals before electric signals were used.

Michigan City Lighthouse Watercolor

The art bug is really biting me. I hope it doesn't wear off too soon. It's been years since I actually sat down and painted, then I tried a watercolor of the Wind Point Lighthouse and now a week later, I decided to create one of the Michigan City, Indiana Lighthouse.

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Michigan City Lighthouse Watercolor
Finished Painting
Watercolor on paper.

Here's the painting with the reference photo (one I took a few months back).
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Watercolor with Reference Print

I'm still trying to get used to painting with washes rather than opaque colors that hide what's underneath. It's an unpredictable medium to an extent, the colors blend the way they want to; the trick is to control it as best you can and use the nature of the paint and water to your advantage. They still control me most of the time, but I'm sneaking up on them.

More works to come!

Egg Coloring

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Coloring Eggs 2
The Boys Coloring Easter Eggs

It never fails, we seem to color way more eggs than we can eat! That's okay, it's all part of the East fun. We colored over six dozen eggs (probably more like 9 dozen!!) for Easter. That makes lots of egg salad, and deviled eggs for everyone at the beginning of this week!

Chris, Mike and Dan had a great time coloring the eggs, fingers, hands, faces, shirts, table and floor. Fortunately for us this year, they didn't really make a mess - they are getting older.

Tightly Wound

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Embedded Turnbuckle
Vines and Metal Band
Silo, DuPage County, Illinois

On an abandoned farm near Naperville, Illinois, a vine has worked its way under the metal band that holds together an old concrete stave silo. The meandering vines offset the perfect vertical and horizontal lines of the silo.

I'll bet it will be interesting to see when the foliage comes back in the spring.

It's the First Day of Spring!

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Sunny Snowfall
February Day
Naperville, IL

....and it's supposed to get cold and snow! We could get a few inches of the white stuff over the next couple of days.

I'm tired of snow already - let's get on with spring.

View of Lake Michigan

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A Window to the Lake
View from the shelter at 12th street beach

The new shelter at 12th street beach was constructed in 2003, after Meigs Field was mysteriously closed in the middle of the night by the City of Chicago. This beach is small, but sits inside a relaxing little cove formed by Northernly Island where the Adler Planetarium is located. The Adler Planetarium is one of the few structures left from the 1933/34 Worlds' Fair.

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Ice Covered Branches
View of Chicago Skyline, Planetarium and 12th Street Beach

Almost Finished with the Watercolor

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Almost Finished with the Wind Point Lighthouse Watercolor
Windpoint, Wisconsin Lighthouse Watercolor

Got the painting bug last weekend, so I started a watercolor painting of the Windpoint Lighthouse. I've never painted with watercolors before, so it took a lot of getting used to. I have to keep remembering to use light washes of color not bold globs like oils or acrylics. So every stroke I have to think through and build up from light to dark and front to back which is opposite of everything I've ever done before!

Here's the Windpoint Wisconsin lighthouse photo I used as a reference.
Wind Point Lighthouse
Reference photo

Frozen Shore

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Ice Covered Branches

A windy day on the shore of Lake Michigan combined with cold temperatures created a frozen wonderland near McCormick Place. The spray from the crashing waves froze on every item within 25 feet of the water.

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Icy Branch

The ice was several inches thick in some spots, bending trees down to the ground.

Chicago Harbor Light

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Chicago Harbor Light
Chicago Harbor Lighthouse
Lake Michigan

The Chicago Harbor Light was built in 1893 and moved to the present location in 1917. It's a brick covered, metal structure, 82 feet off of Lake Michigan. The lighthouse uses a third order Fresnel lens and is an active navigational beacon.

The lighthouse if off limits to visitors, but can be seen from the Chicago lakefront, Navy Pier and by private boat.

Chicago from Montrose Harbor

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Leaving Montrose Harbor
View of Chicago from Montrose Harbor

After being sick for the past 9 days, I finally have something to post!

It was a cold and windy afternoon, but I was able to get over to the Lake Michigan shore to snap a few pictures. I was going through photo withdrawal!

This is the Chicago skyline as seen from the entrance to Montrose Harbor on Montrose Point, a few miles north of the Loop. This is a rather large area of lakefront that has a lot of beach, fishing areas and park. One of the best things is that parking is FREE! That's an unusual thing to find in the city.

The beacon pictured in the foreground marks the right side entrance to the harbor. A similar beacon with green stripes marks the left side. Red is always on the right of a channel when returning from a larger body of water, so it's pretty easy to determine what direction you're traveling on a stream if you remember "Red right returning."