Green Valley

Green Valley The sunlight filtered through the trees onto the green undergrowth, making it glow against the shaded tree trunks. A vibrant landscape to walk through at this time of year, and the 2.5 mile walk allows plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings - and so does the 2.5 mile hike back! Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Low Ceiling, High Waves

Low Ceiling, High Waves A float plane surprises us on our hike, as it takes a low altitude flight along the shoreline of Lake Michigan and Cowles Bog. As we aimed our cameras at the plane, we were even more surprised to find two others close by. Flying low over the waves must be exhilarating; it's something I see quite often while hiking here.


Slope The reward following a 2.5 mile hike is a climb up, over, and down the foredune of Cowles Bog. Lake Michigan is a few yards away, but the view of the wooded foredunes is worth the hike. From this point, the dunes appear to go on forever, at least all the way to the horizon. After a walk along the beach, we take another trail back up the dune and into the woods, a two mile hike back to the tiny, secluded parking area. The parking area has been a bit more crowded lately. I remember just a while back where I would be lucky to see another person on the trail; now it seems more people are visiting. I wonder if it has anything to do with the August issue of Backpacker Magazine's article on Cowles Bog (featuring one of my photos)?

Liquid Mountain Range

Choppy Waters Once again, Lake Michigan flexes her muscles, turning the sometimes glassy-smooth lake into a choppy liquid mountain range. Nonetheless, a couple enjoys an afternoon walk along the shore, undoubtedly overloading their senses with sites and sounds more common to oceans. This is only a few miles from the southernmost point of Lake Michigan, where Indiana meets Illinois, evidenced by the steel mills on the horizon. This area was once industrial as well, but is now part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.



An unusual morning at Kintzele Ditch - the stream was not flowing into Lake Michigan. Apparently the high waves of the previous day built up the beach so high, it dammed the stream. We watched as the edge of the water moved slowly across the sand, at the rate of about an inch every 20 seconds, looking for a way to the lake. The edge of the water appeared to breathe, as it moved back and forth.

I imagine by the early afternoon, the stream found the lowest point in the sand, and finally made it to Lake Michigan. First a trickle, then after eroding a path, a steady flow of water.

Geographic construction in progress, right before our eyes.


CoveThe bright morning sun casts long shadows on the dunes, as beach-goers arrive at Central Beach for a late summer day of fun. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Valley of Shadows

Valley of the Shadows Certain times of the year, the morning sun casts shadows onto the steep angle of the dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan, causing the shadows to grow many times their normal length. The patterns that result often create surreal backgrounds to those visiting the beach. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Bean Field

bean fieldA field of soybeans turns yellow, right before drying out, signalling harvest is near. Luckily, this field was next to a small rural road with very little traffic. I was able to stop for quite some time to compose this image, without ever seeing another car. LaPorte County, Indiana.


Central Beach from the Delta Technically, this may not be a true delta, but Kintzele Ditch deposits sediments on the shore of Lake Michigan every day, and on this particular day, the running water created fan-like fingers that reached into Lake Michigan. Unusually wide and shallow, the "delta" was an interesting place to investigate - numerous rocks, minerals, tiny fossils, and aquatic life filled the area.


Confluence The sand dunes between Central Beach and Mt. Baldy are divided by a small stream that cuts its way through the shifting sands to Lake Michigan. While this stream often changes course from the dune to the lake, it's not often that it appears to enter Lake Michigan at two points. This confluence provides an interesting place to explore, as well as a great environment for wildlife.

Updated Classic

Impala The Lemont Legends Car Show takes place (weather permitting) every Wednesday evening during the summer. Classic cars of all types line up on Main Street, and several adjacent streets to give people a glimpse into automotive history. From perfectly restored classics, to rat-rods, almost everything is represented. This classic Impala was lovingly restored, and updated just a bit to make it interesting.

Running in the Rays

Running in the Rays Nothing beats cooling off on a hot summer day, and these boys found relief in the cool waters of Lake Michigan. Chasing each other in the water, they hardly noticed the patterns in the clouds that created some interesting rays on the horizon.

From Indian Head

The Mississippi from Indiana Head A panoramic view of the Mississippi River following a climb to the top of Indian Head, a large rock formation at the Mississippi River Palisades State Park. Resembling the head of a Native American, this formation towers over the river below, and seems to peer out from the dense trees of the cliffs. Approaching from the top, the formation is eight or ten feet away from the rest of the cliff - apparently it has pulled away over time - creating a steep, crevasse that must be crossed to reach the top of the "head." Looking around, one can see several bolts drilled into the cliffs, these are anchors for rock climbing. This area seems to be full of great places to climb. As I stood on the top of Indian Head photographing the landscape and searching for bald eagles, I watched several buzzards fly below me. Perhaps a warning of what could happen with one slip of a foot.


Meandering the Shore

The boys walk through Kintzele Ditch, a small stream that flows between two sand dunes, and into Lake Michigan.  The waves and wind constantly change the path the stream takes to the Lake, at times, by hundreds if not thousands of feet. Like us, it meanders along the shoreline. Often, this stream flows directly perpendicular into the lake, but following stormy or windy weather, the sand is piled up by strong waves, so the stream must meander along the shore until it finds a point to enter the lake.


This changing shoreline offers so many new things to explore each time we visit.  Last week, the stream flowed in a different direction, depositing mud onto the beach.  Once the water changed direction, the mud began to dry in the sun, forming familiar cracks in the mud.  However, at only 1/4 inch thick, the mud began to curl as it dried, revealing the sand beneath, creating an unusual pattern on the beach, reminding me of chocolate nonpareils.

All Ashore

All Ashore

Boaters anchored just off shore, wade to the beach for an afternoon of fun on the dunes.  Part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Central Beach is home to rolling dunes, soft sand, and about 100 parking spaces - a premium in this area, especially in the summer.  These people have the best parking spot available.

A few miles west of this area, at Cowles Bog, the beach is a two mile hike from the nearest parking lot.  The beach there is rarely crowded, however, the shore is often lined with boats - hence the nickname Boater's Beach.  Arriving by boat is the easiest way to enjoy the large expanse of soft sand that particular beach has to offer.

Cruise Night

Buick Eight A summer highlight of numerous towns and villages through out America is the weekly Cruise Night, or Classic Car Night. Classic cars from nearby towns are parked along the main street or in the lot of a local drive-in. Gear heads, and wanna-be hot-rodders alike walk up and down the rows of cars, reminiscing about the times when cars were cars. Each cruise night has it's regular showings- the cars that are on display each and every week. You get to know the cars and the owners after a while. But it's most exciting when a fresh classic comes into town, a car that hasn't been seen for a long time, or when you come across a car you once wanted or rode in as a child. The memories begin to flow.

Soaring Chrome

 No plastic grilles, 5 mph vinyl bumpers or airbags, just pure chrome, horsepower, and memories.

30 Miles Offshore

30 Miles Offshore Technically, over 30 miles from the Chicago shore, but only a few hundred feet from the beach at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. On clear days, the Chicago skyline can be seen from the "dunes" beaches, making the distance across Lake Michigan seem short, but at this point, it's almost 40 miles across. The curvature of the earth prevents the bottom of the buildings from being seen so far away. In fact, an average person standing on the beach can only see about 3 miles - that's where the curvature of the earth begins to slope away from them, and the horizon is perceived. Elevated on a hill or dune, and the distance is increased; add a 110 story building on the horizon, and one can easily see it from 37 miles away.

Kite Surfing Emerald Waters

Kite Surfing
A lone kite surfer tries his luck on a rather calm day on Lake Michigan. The large kite was able to catch enough of the breeze to tow him along, but I'll bet he was a little disappointed in the size of the waves. High winds and large waves give kite surfers a fast and wild ride, which is one reason you'll find these intrepid surfers on Lake Michigan in November. The waters around Silver Lake State Park, near Mears, Michigan, were rather flat, but displayed beautiful bands of emerald and blue - especially when viewed from high up in the dunes, or from the Little Point Sable lighthouse.

Celedon Waves

Celedon Waves Overcast skies and windy conditions create deep green waves reminiscent of the ancient Celedon pottery of Asia's Eastern Han Dynasty. On clear days with high waves, the water is deep blue, and one can often see sand in suspension for quite a distance in the water. The waves pick up the sand and move it out into the lake, making the water near the shore a bit tan in color, with deep blue in the distance. Rarely the same twice, Lake Michigan conditions and colors can change by the minute, and never fail to impress.

Midwestern Sentinel

Big Sable Point Standing guard since 1867, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, the Big Sable Point Lighthouse dwarfs the surrounding keeper's house and rolling dunes. Located just north of Ludington, Michigan, an old Midwestern logging town, the 112 foot lighthouse marked the middle of the three most prominent points extending into the great lake - Point Betsie to the north, and Little Sable Point to the south. Open for tourists in the warm months of the year, the lighthouse is a 1.8 mile hike from the nearest parking area, but well worth the hike. Consider hiking in on the trail, and hiking back along the beach.