Backlit Blowout

Backlit Blowout The morning sun bathes the dunes in warm light, while the air temperatures were in the 40's. This dune has a rather large blowout in the center. A blowout is an area with no vegetation to hold the sand in place, so wind and weather erodes it. While I believe this is a natural process, the National Park service wants people to keep off of the dunes so they can recover. By the number of footprints in this blowout, it's not working. While I respect the "keep off" order, I have doubts about it. It seems that if the path to the top of a dune is blocked off, people simply walk around it, creating much more erosion as they stomp and kill the marram grass next to the path. Now the path is larger, and eroding more. For what it's worth, I think the existing paths should become trails, and people should be allowed to walk on them. Providing they stay on the path, erosion would be kept to a minimum. Instead, visitors will ignore the signs, and blaze new trails, further eroding the dunes.

Coming in Waves

Coming in Waves To get to this part of the beach, we enjoyed walking on the rocks placed there to prevent erosion. More of a rock climbing excursion than a walk on the beach. At times when the lake is just right, we've been able to walk in front of the rocks, without climbing, but that's usually when the wind is blowing offshore, pushing the water toward Wisconsin. Of course, we could have simply walked on the street to our left, but what fun would that be? As we rounded the curve of the shoreline, this was our view. Nothing special - due to the industry on the horizon - yet the manner in which the waves lined themselves up prior to pounding the shore attracted me. More like the ripples in drifting sand, or cultivated rows in a farmer's field, than water hitting the beach; perhaps hurdles between the start and the finish line. In this cold weather, definitely hurdles.

Crawling Out

Crawling Out A leaf, moments before a wave washed it off the beach by a large wave. Autumn this year arrived late, but ended quickly. The beaches of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore were covered in leaves from the Oak trees atop the dunes last weekend, many carried to Lake Michigan by wind, others by small streams. This particular leaf appears to be crawling out of the water like a crab or crayfish.

Evening at the Fulton Windmill

Late Evening at the Fulton Windmill Built in the Netherlands, and shipped to Fulton, Illinois, "De Immigrant Windmill" stands nearly 100 feet tall, on the bank of the Mississippi River. The working windmill was assembled by Dutch Millwrights who travelled to Fulton for this express purpose. While the authentic smock windmill is only 13 years old, it is fully functional, including wooden gears, and two millstones. Bilinga wood was used to construct the windmill. Bilinga is a clear wood (very few knots)that resists rot and insects. In conjunction with the Windmill Cultural Center, a local museum displaying Dutch artifacts, the windmill teaches visitors about Fulton's Dutch heritage, and the industrial methods of the past.

Running Through the Dappled Light

Running Through the Dappled Light On our way back to the car, the boys ran under a canopy of autumn gold and green, filtering the sunlight, creating a multitude of shadows on the ground. The running figures strobed as they passed in and out of the patches of light. Mississippi Palisades State Park

Rolling Countryside

Rolling Countryside A landscape more familiar to that of Kentucky, the rolling hills of the Galena, Illinois area are beautiful all year, but a real treat in autumn. Rust and yellow leaves dot the fields, along with plenty of cattle, hay and barns.

Fall at the Palisades

Fall at the PalisadesA bright, crisp Fall day was the perfect excuse to drive out to the Mississippi Palisades State Park. Fall color seems late this year, and it looks as if we arrived at the peak of color here in northwestern Illinois. Following a track between the Mississippi River, and the tall, stone cliffs known as palisades, a train rounded the distant bend moments after we arrived at the lookout point. The trees here turn a rust color in Autumn, and they put on quite a display for us in the early afternoon sun. This area of Illinois was not covered in glacial ice during the last ice age, so the ancient cliffs and canyons remain to this day. We encountered so many breathtaking autumn views along the roads of western Illinois, unfortunately, I was unable to capture many of them as I drove along. I need to find a chauffeur so I can point the camera out of the car window!

Peering Into the Past

The Past A few leftovers from times past can be found on the grounds of the Chellberg Farm. Now part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the farm is used to demonstrate early Indiana farm life. In addition to the farm, a few miles of wooded trails wind through the property - perfect for autumn hikes.

Golden Canopy

Autumn Footbridge The Chellberg Farm is known in the Spring for it's Maple Sugar Days, where the Maple trees are tapped for their sap, and volunteers demonstrate how the sap it turned into Maple syrup. The woods are full of Maple trees, and Autumn is the perfect time for a hike through a golden forest. The colors seemed to be at their peak last weekend, and the dappled sunlight brought out the best in the leaves. Chellberg Farm Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Colorful Hills

Golden Leaves The woods surrounding the Chellberg Farm are glowing with yellow-green leaves, creating the perfect backdrop to an autumn hike. In a few short months, these Maple trees will begin producing sap for Maple Syrup production.


Converging The canyon walls, stream, and trees, all converge in the distance - at the confluence of the stream and Vermillion River. A rainy day at Matthiessen State Park made for some difficult photography, but the moisture, mud, and dim light were overcome by gear, persistence, and high ISO!


Harvested The field of a small farm between Hollowayville and Princeton, Illinois is ready for winter, harvested just a few days ago. The morning rain left a blueish haze in the distance, creating a painterly look to this landscape.

Bend of the Vermillion

Bend of the Vermillion River After getting wet by the rain, it didn't matter much to simply walk through the stream to avoid the deep mud on the trail. We arrived at the confluence of the stream and the Vermillion River, and decided to hike the bank for a while. Chris crossed the river to find out what was beyond the bend, since the slippery rocks in the foreground make if very difficult to hike on the near side of the river. He's on the bend of the river, giving a sense of scale to the area.

Rain Forest

RainforestWell, rain in a forest to be more specific. The day began with light rain, and progressed into a steady rain as we arrived at Matthiessen State Park to view the Fall colors. Sunrise went unnoticed for quite a long time, as the cloud cover and steep ravines prevented any light from reaching the canyon floor - dark and wet, a total nightmare for photography. We pushed on. Already wet and muddy, we decided to explore a canyon we haven't seen before, finding it much easier to walk through the ankle-deep water, than the soft, sticky mud along the bank. (Time to invest in a great pair of waterproof boots). We arrived at the Vermillion River a short while later, and explored the area around the confluence of the two waters. Despite the rain, mud, and darkness, or perhaps in spite of them, today's hike was memorable.

Lock Tender's House

Lock Tender's House Vacated decades ago, the Lock 20 lock tender's house remains standing along the Hennepin Canal near Wyanet, Illinois. While the canal didn't recieve the traffic it was meant to handle, it was historically significant. At over 100 miles in length, it was the first canal in America built of concrete - quite an undertaking for such a large scale project. The concrete locks still stand today, and all but one are visible (lock 1 is sometimes under water). A few of the lock tender's homes remain, most in need of significant repair. This one, according to locals, is said to be haunted. I've met some people who spend time on the grounds next to the home on nights with a full moon, hoping to see something supernatural. Last year, they pointed out something interesting. It was late afternoon, and temperatures were in the mid 80's all day. I expected the boarded up home to be very hot inside. They pointed out an eight inch hole in the siding. While peering inside, very cold air was rushing out - an interesting occurence on such a warm day. Sounds like a great place to spend Halloween night.

Red Covered Bridge

Red Covered Bridge The late afternoon sun bathes the Princeton Red Covered Bridge on a beautiful Autumn day. Built in 1863, at a cost of just over $3,000 the bridge has a 149 foot span over Bureau Creek, and is one of only five covered bridges in Illinois. Once part of the Peoria-Galena Trail, the bridge is now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The bridge is still open to traffic.

Color on the Hennepin Canal

Color on the Hennepin Canal Couldn't ask for a better Fall day for a hike, and we took advantage of it Sunday afternoon. Being a holiday weekend, I tried to find a remote place to enjoy an afternoon. About 30 miles past the tourist laden state parks, was a familiar place for me: The Hennepin Canal. One mile outside of the small town of Wyanet, Illinois, the lazy, quiet waterway was the perfect spot to spend a few hours away from crowds. At over 100 miles in length, this linear park was created after the Hennepin Canal closed. The canal linked the Mississippi River with the Illinois River, providing transportation for goods and industry from the Gulf of Mexico to Illinois. Add the Illinois and Michigan Canal, and access increased across the state to Lake Michigan, and ultimately to the Atlantic Ocean.

Colorful Walk

Colorful Walk Can't argue with the weather we had on this Fall afternoon. High 70's, and partly sunny, a perfect day for a walk through Sawmill Creek at the Waterfall Glen forest preserve. The trees were just beginning to show signs of Fall color as wel walked through the water, upstream toward the waterfall. Peak color should arrive within the next two weeks.


Fall An early Fall afternoon at the fall of Sawmill Creek in the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. The colors of Autumn were just beginning to appear on this unseasonably warm Fall day. Colors should peak within the next two weeks or so. As we hiked back to the trail head, clouds gathered in the southwestern sky. Less than a mile down the road toward home, and the skies opened up with heavy downpours - perfect timing, yet again.

Wavy Skyline

Wavy Skyline Not only was it a wavy day on Lake Michigan, but the atmosphere made the Chicago skyline wavy as well. Approximately 30 miles across the lake from Boater's Beach- the beach one hikes to from the Cowles Bog loop- Chicago is clearly visible, yet a bit distorted by the distance. The 2.5 mile hike through Cowles Bog to the beach ends with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan, and a wide, soft, sandy beach. Due to the distance from the parking lot, this beach is mostly populated by boaters and residents of nearby Dune Acres. The beach for us is the halfway point of our hike, and a great resting spot. Of course, we need to hike back as well.