Enjoying the Pebbles

Danny sits in the pebbles and searches for little fossils. We generally find a handful of interesting fossils and geodes on each visit.

This portion of Central Beach is usually under water. It seems a few times each year, this area becomes dry, and you can walk along the shore. It must be when the winds are strong off shore and they blow the water to the other shore of the lake.

Beach Flower

Each summer ,these yellow flowers blossom amidst the Marram grass of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. They are so striking in the sunshine against the deep blue sky.


The Flagship Niagra fires its cannon during the Tall Ships Chicago Parade of Sail on Lake Michigan. Over 20 tall ships participated in the parade, along with countless modern sailboats.

The best place to see the ships is on Navy Pier, but during the parade of sail, the boats were not moored at the pier, so why pay $15 just to walk out there?

Sailing Chicago

It was a beautiful summer day for a sail along Chicago's lakefront. The Tall Ships Chicago festival kicked off this afternoon with a parade of sail. The parade includes 20 tall ships, but dozens of modern, small sailboats ventured onto the lake around the parade.

We walked along the lakefront for a couple of hours (five miles to be exact) to find a good location for photographing the parade. After discovering we could no longer access the breakwater from the DuSable Harbor area, we walked back to Northerly Island where the parade was set to begin. The tiered retaining wall along the shore was perfect - great for seating, and tall enough so people walking past did not walk in front of the camera.

This small sailboat heads out to join the others, with the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse on the horizon.

Windpoint Lighthouse

The Wind Point, Wisconsin shoreline is much different than the Indiana and Michigan side of Lake Michigan - it's much rockier, making it difficult to wade out into the lake for a photograph. The submerged, algae covered rocks are very slippery, and the waves hide the bottom of the lake from view, making the walk out rather difficult.

While I've visited this light station numerous times, I've never been here in warm weather, so the Lake was always frozen - hiding the rocky shore.

Windpoint Wisconsin

There is a small museum inside the old fog house, containing a handful of relics, some beautiful model ships and souvenirs. The area is beautifully maintained with flower gardens and a fountain or two, and the rocky shore is a great place to find fossils and interesting rocks.


While walking around the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, I spotted lots of these insects hovering around the trails. They hover in an exact spot for minutes - as if they were hanging by a string. When you get close, they zoom away extremely fast, then hover a few feet away.

They almost appear mechanical since they are able to stay in one exact spot for so long. I believe this is a Horse Fly, or Hybomitra Epistates. They're a lot of fun to watch.

This one was hovering over the trail through Cowles Bog.

Flat Snake

While beginning the 2 mile walk back from the beach back into Cowles Bog, I spotted this tiny Hognose snake. Looks to be a juvenile (judging by his small size). He was very docile, never even pretended to bite, and didn't try to get away.

Little, Flat Snake

I've never seen one so flat before. I know when Hognose snakes are threatened, their heads flatten almost like a cobra, but this snake was totally flat all the way to his tail.

Maybe my identification is wrong...any ideas?

Six Lined Racerunner

For years I've heard of lizards living in certain places of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and every once in a while, I've spotted one running through the Marram Grass, but I've never been able to get a photograph of one.............until last Saturday.

Walking through the grass, I spotted this little lizard running from clump to clump. I tried to photograph him, but he kept hiding, so I kept him moving for about five minutes. That was enough to get him tired so he was easy to catch.

This particular Racerunner was a juvenile; I've seen them at least twice as large. Lizards are commonly found in the southern United States, but rarely seen this far north. I suppose the unique environment of the Indiana Dunes helps support this population. Other plants and animal species not common to the area have a hold here too, including Prickly Pear Cactus, Pitcher's Thistle, and it's possible there is a breeding population of Rattlesnake as well - I can't confirm that....yet.

Bald Roots

One of the few trees that has managed to survive at the top of Mt. Baldy. The constant wind moves the sand from the lakeside of the dune to the opposite side at a rate of about four feet a year. There were plenty of sailboats on Lake Michigan this sunny Saturday morning.

Early Morning Storm

A severe storm approached the area this morning, making the drive to work a great visual experience. I left early enough to stop and capture the storm front moving in over an abandoned farm in Cook County.

This Morning's Storm

Moments after these images were taken, the winds picked up to around 50 mph and the rain began to fall. The remainder of the drive to work was wet, and not nearly as dramatic as the first 10 minutes.

Common Green Darner

Lake Michigan was as calm as a pond on Saturday morning, with bright sunshine - in stark contrast to the Chicago area which was covered by clouds.

The calm waters allowed us to explore Kintzele Ditch a bit farther upstream than usual. During our walk, we came across lots of wildlife, including this dragonfly, a Common Green Darner. He flew over the stream, dipped into it briefly and then landed on some tall grass. He didn't seem to mind me getting closer and closer, and only moved when I changed lenses and attempted to get within an inch of him.


The White Sox Scoreboard lights up and launches fireworks following Paul Konerko's home run. Konerko's homer tied the score in the fifth inning. Later, a single by Alex Rios drove in the winning run for the White Sox.

Behind 5-1 since the second inning, the Sox pull a 6-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Friday's Storm

Lightning streaks across the sky following a strong storm that passed through northern Indiana.

Just after the storm passed, things calmed down, and we were able to enjoy an evening on the beach. Just to our left, there was a beautiful sunset, ahead was the back end of the storm.

Beautiful evening.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Fountain and Garden

Last year, I walked through Chicago's Grant park and noticed that the old rose garden was looking a bit shabby. I brought up the fact that it was a shame a city garden looked so bad. I wondered what the Park District was doing; how could they let it get to this poor condition?

This week, we visited Buckingham Fountain, and on the walk back to the parking garage, we walked through Grant Park and into a brand new garden. It was partially funded by Tiffany and Company (according to the sign inlaid on the pavement).

No wonder the rose garden wasn't manicured last year - they must have not cared since this was in the works for this year.

I hope they maintain it well, so it appears like this for years to come.

Red Sky at Night

Sunday at the beach concluded with a spectacular sunset. A small line of clouds sat just above the horizon, creating some excellent highlights in the clouds and interesting sun rays.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Marblehead Lighthouse

A beautiful summer day at the Marblehead Lighthouse State Park. Built in 1821 on a rocky point of Lake Erie, this is the oldest continually operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. It's home to a small maritime museum that houses the original Fresnel lens from the tower.

Views of Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay can be seen from the park and tower - and it's only $2 to climb up.

Chicago From the Treetops

An evening drive to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore yielded a great view from the top of a tall sand dune. The sky was threatening rain, yet the hour before sunset was spectacular, creating sunbeams of every shape, size and color imaginable.

Viewing the Chicago skyline from above the treetops was well worth the climb up the loose, sandy slope. The skyline can't be seen as clearly from the water's edge, as the curvature of the earth hides the bottom of the buildings. Climbing up about 70 feet, allows you to see a few more miles in distance, thus, a bit more of the skyline base.

Happy Independance Day!

The Indiana Dunes State Park celebrated the 4th of July a bit early with a fireworks display on the beach.

Holiday traffic was miserable - taking more than twice as long to drive out to the dunes from home. Once there, the beach had a big crowd, but due to the limited parking, it wasn't packed or uncomfortable - a few thousand people.

The drive out of the parking lot took well over an hour ... actually, to back out of the parking space took over an hour because the cars were not able to move more than three feet every 10 minutes or so. Finally, once the local police took care of traffic problems outside the park, 20 to 30 cars were able to move every five minutes or so, and the drive out was pretty quick.

Seeing the fireworks over the water made the display even better.

Brandywine Falls

On our trip through Ohio, we passed through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Brandywine Falls lies within the park, at the end of a wooden boardwalk and observation deck just a short walk from a parking area. The fall cascades 60 feet to the sandstone canyon below. It's path is rugged and spreads the falling water across a 40 to 50 foot span of rock, creating a bridal veil effect to the water.

Fairport Harbor Evening

Darkness falls upon the Fairport Harbor, Ohio lighthouse and keeper's quarters. Built of stone in 1871, the structure now houses a maritime museum that's well worth the $3 admission.