Sunset Plunge

Sunset PlungeTaking advantage of the last weekend before school, the boys swam in the lake until dark. Nothing unusual for them - they tend to swim all day anyway, but this week seemed different. The weather turned rainy during dinner, but cooperated and stopped in time for them to enjoy the lake for a few more hours. Sunset itself wasn't too spectacular, but as the sun dropped below the horizon, the clouds broke up and displayed some beautiful golden colors against the dark blue sky. I've found this to be the case numerous times when disappointed by the sunset, stick around for 30 minutes, sometimes the sky is more amazing after sunset. With any luck, we'll repeat this scene a few times during the next few weeks.

Just Past the Golden Hour

Just Past the Golden Hour

It's said that one of the best times for photography is the "golden hour," an hour just before sunset. I've found this to be true, but I've also found that the minutes just after sunset can create striking images as well. Using the golden hour, generally the sun is behind the camera, illuminating the subject in golden light. This image was shot into the light created by a colorful sunset after a storm moved through the area. No color enhancing in this image, they sky was on fire. The fun certainly doesn't end at sunset. The boys enjoyed a summer day swimming in the lake until a storm rolled in at dinner time. After a meal and dessert the rain ended, allowing them to get back in the water until dark. School is in session again, but summer isn't over yet.

Wetland from the Dune Ridge

Wetland Below the Dune Ridge
An easy hike up from the trail head on a normal day, this turned into a workout in the heat and humidity. No complaints here.

3/4 of the way to the ridge, we were greeted by several Cicada Killer wasps - huge wasps that hunt cicadas in mid flight, then return with them to their burrows to feed their larvae. They're quite intimidating, but if you realize the ones that seem to fly at you are male and have no stinger, you allow them to fly toward you. The larger female can sting, but is timid, and usually won't bother.  They're about the size of an adult's thumb.

Eastern Cicada Killer
After several minutes watching the wasps battle for territory, we headed up to the ridge of the dune for a great view of the wetlands below. In summer, the view is mostly shielded by green leaves, but in winter when the leaves are gone, you have a wider view of the area.

Also found along this trail are six lined racerunner lizards - in fact, at times you can see half a dozen in a few yards.  These lizards are found in many locations within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Six Lined Racerunner