St. Augustine Lighthouse

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lighthouse keepers
St. Augustine Light

Built of Alabama brick and Pennsylvania iron, the lighthouse was completed in 1874 and a keepers house was added just two years later. Originally the lamp was fueled by oil, but it was eventually converted to electricity. In 1955, the light became fully automated and a live-in keeper was no longer necessary.

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lighthouse stairway
Climbing to the top of the lighthouse
St. Augustine, Florida

A view of the stairs leading to the top of the 165 foot tall lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida. There are 219 steps to get to the top, with a few landings on the way up. It must have been an ordeal to carry the bucket of oil (needed to keep the original lamp lit) all the way to the top.

The view is great from the top, and there is a nice, cool breeze.

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View from the top of the lighthouse

Fatso Stove

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fatso stove
Fatso Cast Iron Stove
Farmhouse in Pioneer Village
Lockport, Illinois

This one speaks for itself, a kitchen stove named Fatso. I guess that's what you'll become if you buy a Fatso stove.

Corn Tassel

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knee high
Walkerton, Indiana

The corn tassels are the male flowers of the corn plant. Seen high atop the cornstalk usually in July in this part of the country.

The female parts are the corn silk located on the ear of corn. Each pollinated strand of corn silk will produce a single kernel on the ear of corn.

Symerton Illinois Train Station

The Wabash Depot from Symerton, Illinois was built in 1881 to serve the railroad line running from Chicago to Decatur, IL.
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symerton train station
Symerton, Illinois Train Station 1881

This building was moved to Lockport, Illinios and is on display at the Will County Historical Society's Frontier Village located along the I and M Canal. It's open for tours on the weekends, and last weekend a very helpful and friendly man dressed in period costume showed us around the interior of the building.

The depot was designed as a one person operation. The station agent sat at a desk along the bay window (where he could see down the track) and manned the telegraph machine. He was also responsible for ticket sales, baggage and just about everything else at the depot - talk about full service!

Illinois and Michigan Canal Lock Number 1

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Lock Number 1
I and M Canal

Lockport, Illinois

View of the first lock on the Illinois and Michigan Canal (I and M Canal). This waterway is just under 100 miles long and links the Chicago River to the Illinois River using an ancient Indian portage path. The I and M Canal ultimately makes it possible to travel from New England to Louisiana and beyond via the St. Lawrence Seaway, Great Lakes, IM Canal and the Mississippi River.

Completed in 1848, the I and M Canal helped make Chicago an important port city.

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Lock Number 1
I and M Canal

This area originally had two gates that would close filling up the lock to the next level of the river

The I and M Canal is now part of the National Heritage Corridor and is open to the public. The original mule towpath exists today as a walking/bike path. Mules were used to pull barges along the length of the canal.

Red Sunset

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Sunset over Lake Michigan
June 2007

After a short trip to South Bend, Indiana for some shopping and just a general weekend drive, we passed by Michigan City on the way home. It was right around sunset, so we decided to head over to see the sunset on Mt. Baldy, a 125 foot tall sand dune on the east shore of Lake Michigan.

We walked along the shore watching the boats and birds until the sun dipped below the horizon, then hiked back over the dune, through the woods to the car to resume our trip home.

Modern Hairdo

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Gabrieleen Silver Queen Hairdo Machine
LaPorte County Museum

Here's something every woman should own, and modern hairdo machine. Imagine sitting down every morning and rolling up your wet hair with the numerous electric rollers connected to a metal machine without any sort of ground.

It's a toss up determining what your hair would look like:
1. Lots of tight curls if the machine worked as directed.
2. Hair standing straight up if the machine shorted out and you got an electrical shock.

First Solo Fishing Trip

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Catching fish on Fish Lake

Chris and Mike after their first time taking the boat out by themselves to fish. The fish wasn't a keeper, but they still had a good time.

Tranquil Spot to Stop and Rest

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Red Barn
LaPorte, Indiana

Here's a nice place to stop and rest in the shade on a warm summer afternoon. That's exactly what we did right after visiting the LaPorte County Museum in Indiana. This historic private farm was a short walk away from museum and a great place to get away from the noise and hassles of the city.

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Door Prairie Barn

The barn was built in 1882 by John Jeffery of LaPorte, Indiana for horse and cattle breeder Marian Ridgeway. This unusual nine-sided barn has numbers stamped on its frame suggesting the timbers were cut specifically for this barn then assembled on site.

The Door Prairie barn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lazy Lizard

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Male Brown Anole Lizard
about 5 inches in length
Sunken Gardens
St. Petersburg, Florida

Calm Waters, Lazy Afternoon

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The Boys Canoeing on Fish Lake
July 7, 2007

Wild Gators

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Alligator swimming in Lake Tarpon
Tarpon Springs, Florida

An afternoon walk through Anderson Park in Tarpon Springs, Florida showcased a number of native Florida animals. A few 4 to 5 foot alligators were hunting near the shore, as were turtles and several types of birds. The large alligator we saw (probably about 8 feet long) was swimming in the center of the lake.

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Perfect Weekend

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Boys Canoing on the Lake

After a full day of swimming and canoing, we were treated to a great sunset.

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End to a Perfect Day
Sunset over Fish Lake

Marina at Night

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Clearwater Beach Marina at Night
Clearwater Beach, Florida

After watching the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, enjoying the daily festival of Sunsets at Pier 60 and walking along the beach until dark, we headed back to the car that was parked in the Marina parking lot. The Marina still had many of the same fishing boats I've seen since the 1970's. This used to be a daily walk when we stayed in Clearwater Beach, but since the little motels are being replaced by condos and all of the heavy construction has messed up this island, we only stopped for a visit.

It seemed to be a different place - and it was. Gone were the loads of families walking around to the beach, gift shops and motels. It was a different crowd, mostly couples without kids - probably all disappointed that their vacation is in the middle of a construction site. There are still a small handful of little motels left, but they are most likely being managed by the large landowners who will soon raze them all and build high-rise condos.

I personally hope they build their million dollar condos only to realize what people loved about Clearwater Beach were the little motels and small town atmosphere, not high priced high-rises. Maybe in 10 or 15 years I can visit and watch the high-rises being demolished! If I want to stay in a high-rise hotel, I'll visit Panama Beach or Miami Beach.

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Clearwater Beach Marina at Night
Clearwater Beach, Florida


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From the Village Fireworks Display
4th of July, 2007

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4th of July

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Mike making Os with his sparklers

Weather Photos from Florida

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Lightning in the sky over Tampa Bay.
Treasure Island, Florida

I'm finally back from Florida with some photos of severe weather. Even though the photos show lightning and a funnel cloud, I didn't experience any rain! The weather was great, but I managed to see a lightning show over Tampa Bay as I walked a few miles away on a warm, breezy beach. I caught a funnel cloud over the Gulf of Mexico, but it was just about the only dark cloud in the sky around 6:00 in the morning; the sun came out an hour later.

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Funnel cloud over the Gulf of Mexico

June 22, 2007

We had a great time, saw a lot of firsts and a lot of familiar things too. I'll have to start going through the 1300 photos I took and begin posting them real soon.