Running Through the Blowout

The boys love running along the dunes whenever we visit the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. They get quite a workout doing it, and they often come across interesting insects, land features and even treasures.

The views of Lake Michigan and of the woods behind are excellent from such a high vantage point.

Sand Yoda

Along Kintzele Ditch, wind, water and waves created some interesting sculptures in the sand. This one really looked like Yoda from Star Wars, or perhaps an Egyptian god.

We often come across beautiful and interesting patterns in the sand, but it's not often we see something recognizable.

South Haven at Night

The South Haven Lighthouse on a cool, November evening. As we made our way home from the Christmas Open House in Holland, Michigan, we decided to take a mile detour to see this lighthouse at night. The illuminated catwalk is quite striking in person.

The wind made it difficult to keep the camera steady, even on the tripod.

Chosen for Publication

Just received word today that this photograph "Early Morning Storm" was chosen by the viewers and publishers of Capture My Chicago, a book of photographs of the Chicago area.

Last year's book also included a photograph of mine: Limestone Waterfall.

It's great to have a photo included in a publication with so many other great photographers.

Holland Holiday Open House

The annual Holiday Open House in downtown Holland, Michigan kicks off the holiday shopping season. Carolers, musicians, lights, holiday snacks, and refreshments are found all around the downtown area. Stores stayed open until 9:00 pm, offering sales and free snacks for the shoppers.

Christmas Open House
 Thousands of people visited the shops and restaurants, and Santa and Mrs. Claus made an early appearance as well.

Santa and Mrs. Claus

Fall Morning

A warm fall morning at Matthiessen State Park's Lake Falls. It's been a relatively warm fall, so the leaves have been sticking around for quite a long time.

Three Oaks

The old Three Oaks, Michigan train station.

In 1899, President McKinley arrived at this newly built station to dedicate the Dewey Cannon war memorial just a few hundred feet away. The cannon was captured during the Spanish American war by Admiral George Dewey. The citizens of Three Oaks raised $1400 for a memorial to the battleship Maine - at the time it was the largest per capita contribution in the United States.

November Snowfall

The first snowfall of the winter at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Lake Michigan and cold north winds, often create lake-effect snow in this region during the winter, and this early storm dumped around 4 inches of snow at the dunes near Chesterton, IN, but only a dusting a mere 3 miles away.

South Haven Pier

Gale force winds pound the South Haven, Michigan lighthouse and pier during a two day storm. Gusts of over 50 miles per hour created 16 to 20 foot waves in open water.

It was difficult to keep the camera still - even with a great tripod.

The Reason for The Catwalks

Some Great Lakes lighthouses have catwalks leading from the shore to the tower. None are regularly used right now, but people often wonder why they were built. Last week's storm shows exactly why - to prevent the lighthouse keeper from being washed into the lake by waves and wind.

The 60 mile per hours gusts here created quite a spray over the entire length of the pier, and the occasional wave washed over as well. Anyone walking on the pier would most certainly have been pushed into the cold water. In winter, there is very little chance of surviving a plunge into the lake.

Gale Force Winds

It's been pretty windy around here over the past couple of days. The storm that passed through reportedly had the lowest barometric pressure of any storm in the Midwest in decades. The winds blew around 30 miles per hour for at least two days, and gusted into the 60s at times.

After checking up on and fixing the wind damage to the house, I drove a short distance in the afternoon over to the Lake to catch the waves. South Haven, Michigan had a great display of splashes on the pier and lighthouse. It's easy to see why this lighthouse tower gets encrusted in ice each winter.

Here's a disappointingly low resolution video of the waves.  They were much more frequent than I have seen in the past.  Generally you get a splash every minute or so, yesterday it was every few seconds.

Among the Giants

Dwarfed by the tall trees along the trail, Mike runs through the freshly fallen leaves at Matthiessen State Park near Utica, Illinois.


While standing in line for the Tram or Terror at Brookfield Zoo, I noticed an interesting illusion created by two spot lights a few feet behind a tree branch. This was totally unintentional, and you had to be in the exact spot to see it, but it was certainly fitting for the Halloween events.

If you moved a couple of feet to the left or right, the tree branch no longer took the shape of a skull, and was simply a branch near two flood lights.

The Bridge to the Burnham Plot

A wooden footbridge allows access to the small island where Daniel Burnham and his family are buried.

Graceland Cemetery in Chicago is the resting place for many famous and important Chicago people: Potter Palmer, Marshall Field, Cyrus McCormick, Mies Van der Rohe, George Pullman and Louis Sullivan to name a few.

The memorials are spectacular, and set in a beautiful landscape.

Fall Resting Place

The colors of the trees have been spectacular so far this fall. The trees on our annual tour of historic cemeteries around Chicago were no exception. So many local historic figures are buried at Graceland Cemetery in Chicagao, and the monuments are architecturally beautiful as well.

Daniel Burnham, architect and urban planner (producer of the 1909 "Plan of Chicago" is buried here on a small island near the north end of this pond. It's a peaceful place, overlooking the water, and countless other legendary Chicagoans.

The Golden Hour

The setting sun highlights the rich colors of the changing leaves. Fall seems to reach the dunes faster than the surrounding areas. It's probably due to the sandy soil - it may introduce a bit more stress to the trees, making them drop their leaves a bit early.

I know it certainly makes the trees easy to uproot - hundreds of trees lay on the forest floor, their root system fully visible from the bottom.

Entering Mud Lake

A rare 80 degree October day was perfect for exploring Mud Lake in our canoe. John, Dan and I paddled a couple of miles to reach this area, then back again. Probably the last paddle of the year (at least in comfortable weather).

Attempt at the Summit

Chris and Dan attempt to reach the summit of this dune on a very windy afternoon at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Not the tallest dune in the area, but they chose the steepest approach with sand that was very loose.

I'm glad they get out and climb these dunes instead of playing video games all day - they'll be plenty of time for that all winter.


Lake effect rain showers covered a portion of the southern shore of Lake Michigan, but most of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was spared. Partly sunny skies overhead highlighted dramatic, dark clouds over the lake, while the fall winds created white, foamy waves that crashed into the shore.

It was rather difficult to walk along the beach, the waves would often reach all the way to the dunes, causing us to quickly jump up to avoid getting wet.

Once again, we had the entire beach to ourselves- as is the case almost every visit from now until spring.

Under Sail

A sailboat returns to the Black River after a day's sailing on Lake Michigan. The South Haven, Michigan lighthouse and catwalk guide her into the harbor.