Colorful Reflections

Colorful Reflections

A peaceful walk on the Hennepin Canal towpath is enhanced by the low, late afternoon sun, and the colorful leaves of Autumn. Located a couple of miles outside of Wyanett, Illinois, Lock 20 was the location of a lock tender's home.  This lock tender served Lock 20 and 21, which are both in very close proximity to one another.

Today, the house is vacant, and in ruins. If you believe in such things,  it is also said to be haunted, or at least some supernatural events have been experienced by locals.

The Hennepin Canal runs from the Illinois River to the Mississippi River, thus linking Chicago to the Mississippi, and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico. Completed in 1907, it was the first major American canal made with concrete, and due to the success of railroads, it was obsolete the moment it was built.

Autumn Afternoon

Autumn Afternoon

The Princeton, Illinois covered bridge on a warm, sunny autumn afternoon. The changing leaves provided the perfect backdrop to the historic structure.  Built in 1863 over Bureau Creek, the 149 foot long bridge remains open to vehicular traffic.

Under the Covered Bridge

A small park is located at the foot of the bridge, allowing visitors, to use the area for picnicking, playing, photography, and fishing. A narrow path gives access to the creek for exploring. Kids love skipping rocks, fishing, and catching frogs under the old, wooden structure.

Heading Up

Heading Up

The 3.4 mile Long Lake Trail is one of three trails at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's West Beach. The loop begins with an ascent up a sandy dune, and follows the dune ridge through the rather dense woods first bordering the beach, then overlooking the grass of the Great Marsh.

The second half of the loop follows the foot of the dunes past Long Lake, and through the grassy, flat areas filled with prickly pear cactus, and pitcher's thistle.  You might even spot a few six lined racerunner lizards in the summer months.

This trail is one of the few places at West Beach one can still hike up a sandy dune - something that is becoming increasingly rare at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (all in the name of erotion prevention). It seems to me that blocking off the paths through the dunes does very little execpt create more erosion due to ignorant visitors walking around the signs and fences. Instead of one path, many more are created, and in the process, more and more plants are trampled adding to the problem.

If the traditional paths are left open to those who have walked them for decades, as well as new hikers, not only will visitors enjoy them, new, destructive paths won't become a problem.

Instead, visitors can admire the dunes from the asphalt parking areas, and tell their grandchildren storys of how they once walked on top of the dune.

Lake Willowmere

Lake Willowmere

Autumn color reflected in the still waters of Lake Willowmere, inside Chicago's Graceland Cemetery. A picturesque and calm final resting place for many of Chicago's famous people.  A walk through the cemetery yields familiar names such as Louis Sullivan, Marshall Field, George Pullman, McCormick, Kimball, Newberry, and Goodman.

Reflected in the lake, stands the tomb of Potter Palmer, the businessman responsible for most of the development of Chicago's State Street.

The 119 acre Graceland Cemetery, once stood two miles outside Chicago's boundary. Now surrounded by the city, and only a stone's throw from Wrigley Field, the cemetery is open for the public to view the magnificent memorials to Chicago's rich and famous.

On a Clear Day....

On a Clear Day You Can See Chicago

...You can see Chicago.  From atop the tallest sand dune of West Beach, Chicago is 28 miles across the lake; easily seen on a clear, crisp day.  This morning was the coldest in six months, yet the cold air or high winds didn't keep us from hiking the progression trail, taking us from the beach to the top of the wooded dunes, where the urban skyline became a backdrop to the natural environment around us.

We were greeted by a cold wind as we approached the top of the dune, reminding us of the winter ahead, and how most of our trips to the beach for the next few months will require plenty of warm clothes and a bit of determination to get to our destination.

Day's End

Day's End

The calm end to a windy, Fall day in rural LaPorte County, Indiana. It seems at times when the sunset is obscured by clouds, it's best to wait about 20 minutes after sunset to photograph the sky.  The colors are often vibrant for a short time, and when combined with the still waters of a lake, the reflections can be just as brilliant.

It was a fitting end to a day of hiking the Indiana Dunes, the remains of the Kingsbury Ordinance Plant, and some areas around our property.

Everything seems to calm down in the evening here - no matter how busy or windy the day was.



Following a full day of hiking and exploring new places, we stopped at the beach just before 11pm. Because the moon was out of sight, the sky was relatively dark, allowing the stars to shine through. As usual, light pollution from Chicago affected us 40 miles across Lake Michigan, but along with the high, whispy clouds, it added interesting light and color to the horizon.

You can see the Chicago skyline on the horizon - no fireworks this time, but sometimes we watch the colorful blurs of distant fireworks launched from Navy Pier.

We gazed up at the stars, watched the airplanes taking off from Chicago, and wondered what made the sounds in the woods behind us.

A Taste of Fall

Fall is in the Air

Giving us a taste of what's to come, the blustery weather kept most people away from the beaches on this cold morning. In fact, we were the only people there. The high winds continued from the day before, eroding a lot of the sand from the beaches, exposing many interesting rocks and fossils.

Even though I enjoy hot weather most, days like these are some of my favorite. We can experience nature by ourselves, with no other human distractions.  It's interesting how civilization is just a mile or two away, but if you look around, you don't see anyone - you're seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Very cold winter days are very similar, except the blanket of snow often muffles the sounds of nature, making it seem even more remote and tranquil.

The beaches will fluctuate from summer-like to blustery until November, giving us an opportunity to experience the last of summer, and a taste of the bitterness of the winter to come.