Rounding the Palisades

Rounding the Palasades

A freight train rounds a curve and passes next to the tall cliffs bordering the Mississippi River on the Illinois side. The Mississippi Palisades (or cliffs) are relatively old rock formations that were not covered by the glaciers of the last ice age, therefore, they were not scoured and flattened by the ice.

A great vantage point to view the Mississippi River, trains, barges and boats, wildlife, and even the eastern edge of Iowa, the Palisades State Park also allows rock climbing in certain areas.

No Sheets, Just Pillows

No Sheets, Just Pillows

Relaxing on Silver Beach, St. Joseph, Michigan's white sand beach, we watched the clouds billow up out of nowhere. Boaters began heeding the warning; this sailor lowered his sheets and headed back under power.

Weather on Lake Michigan can change in minutes, and these clouds - fed by moisture from the lake - turned into storms, dumping heavy rains on southwest Michigan.

Converging Old and New

Converging Old and New

Modern wind turbines tower above vintage barns and silos in central Illinois near Dixon. A forming storm system would later create severe storms southeast in Kankakee, Illinois.

Very little wind was blowing, yet these turbines were still spinning ever so slowly.

The Old Lighthouse

The Old Lighthouse

Forty years ago, the people of Michigan City restored the deteriorated old lighthouse that sat vacant for decades. Once the current lighthouse was built on the end of the east pier extending into Lake Michigan, this light was no longer necessary, and was left to the elements.

Today, the building is home to the Old Michigan City Lighthouse Museum. It features nautical and historical items that once belonged to the former lighthouse keepers, and other local people and businesses.

Well worth a visit - open April to October.

Testing Lake Michigan Water Quality

Turbidity Test

Mike and Dan performed a couple of tests aboard the W. G. Jackson, a floating laboratory.

The first test they performed was turbidity. They collected a gallon of water from the lake, then slowly poured it into a tall graduated cylinder. At regular intervals, they looked down through the water to the bottom of the cylinder to see if the indicator on the bottom was visible. On this day, the water was very clear.

Second, they helped prepare plankton that was strained from the lake by the crew. Pouring the concentrated liquid back and forth from beaker to beaker, the micro organisms were suspended so a sample could be obtained and placed on a slide for viewing under a microscope.

The W. G. Jackson tests the waters of lower Lake Michigan, and is operated by Grand Valley State College.

The East Pierhead Light Upon Return

The East Pierhead Light Upon Return

I had an unexpected trip aboard the research vessel W. G. Jackson this afternoon, watching the scientists gather samples of water, sediment and plankton. It was a great day for a cruise on Lake Michigan, and the scientific work made it an interesting afternoon as well.

Owned and operated by Grand Valley State University, the W. G. Jackson's home port is Muskegan, Michigan. The vessel is used by scientists in central to southern Lake Michigan.