Happy Halloween

Kim o Lantern
A Kim-O-Lantern

Heidi o Lantern

It's Halloween! Time to carve pumpkins and trick or treat.

I've got a lot of great co-workers, so I started to carve pumpkins with their portraits. I wish I had the time and pumpkins to carve all of my co-workers - maybe I'll get started earlier next year - so they better watch out!

Pumpkin Contest Entries

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Turkey Pumpkin
Christopher's Turkey Pumpkin

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Shrunken Head
Mike's Shrunken Head Pumpkin

The boys entered the annual pumpkin decorating contest at school today. The pumpkins had to be under 5 pounds and could not be carved (what fun is that??).

Chris decided to make a turkey, and Mike made a shrunken head. Winners will be announced on Friday.

Early Morning at the Cemetery

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Bachelor's Grove Stream
Stream Bordering Bachelor's Grove

A cool, overcast morning seemed perfect for a trek to Bachelor's Grove Cemetery and Settlement. Arriving just before sunrise, there was very little light - especially hiking through the dense, wooded trail that leads to the cemetery. A small stream brushes the border of the cemetery, and feeds a still pond on the north end, between 143rd street and the cemetery.

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Bachelor's Grove Pond
Pond Adjacent to Bachelor's Grove

Legend has it that Chicago mobsters dumped bodies in this pond in the 20's. It's certainly secluded and dark enough, and the old Midlothian Turnpike used to pass a few hundred feet to the south providing the necessary transportation to get the bodies close enough to dump.

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Swirls and Fall Color
Fall Color

Unfortunately, most visitors to the oldest cemetery in Cook County are thrill seekers or vandals who tend to damage what's left of the cemetery. Most of the gravestones are missing, dumped into the pond or at local police impound rooms.

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Vandalized Gravestones
Bachelor's Grove

A small group of people are attempting to restore Bachelor's Grove Cemetery and settlement to a respectful, historic place in the south suburbs. It seems however, that Cook County would rather forget it ever existed.

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Sterling Grave
Path Toward Pond and Stream

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Infant Daughter
Infant Daughter Gravestone
with Offerings

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery is considered by some to be a very haunted place. From Ghost farm houses to balls of light, to ghostly figures sitting on gravestones. There are over 100 documented sightings in this small cemetery.

Read on:

Halloween Party

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Halloween Party
Costume Judging
Halloween Party

23 costumed, screaming, sugared-up kids enjoyed our annual Halloween party last Friday. Ranging in ages from 4 to 10, these guys behaved really well - especially after they filled up on pizza, punch and desserts. Here they are all crammed into a corner downstairs.

They had plenty of activities including a ping pong ball bounce, Halloween riddle contest, costume contests, a treasure hunt outside in the "haunted" graveyard, and of course, just horsing around acting like the character they dressed up as.

Illinois and Michigan Canal

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I and M Canal Channahon, IL
I and M Canal and DuPage River Confluence
Channahon, Illinois

Chicago's growth and importance in America can be traced back to the building and opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848. Following more than a decade of work digging and blasting, the canal became the main mode of transport from Chicago to the rest of the world. Connecting Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico, goods could finally be moved by water from world markets directly to Chicago.

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Lock Six
Lock 6 and the Lock Tender's Home
Channahon, IL

A series of locks raised and lowered the water level appropriately so canal boats could navigate both upstream and down. The boats were pulled by mules and sometimes horses along a parallel towpath, parts of which still exist today and are used as the I and M Canal trail for hiking and cycling.

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Lock Seven
View from Lock 7
Channahon, IL

The locks were created out of Limestone hand-quarried from Lemont, IL. Most of the locks are still visible today in some form or another, but only a few can still show us exactly how the locks worked.

Everything is Falling

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Falls and Leaves
Falls and Leaves

It's autumn and things in this photo appear to be falling - leaves, elevation, water, temperatures - almost everything. An autumn walk through the canyons of Matthiessen State Park is a sure way to celebrate the arrival of Fall and the colors that go with it. I'm not sure what I enjoyed more, the colorful trees or the leaves on the ground and in the water.

You'll need to get there fast if you're thinking of exploring the park - I think this weekend will be the last before most of the leaves are off of the trees.

Walking Over the Falls

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Walking Through the Falls
Falls Filling Giant's Bathtub
Matthiessen State Park

One of the great things about Matthiessen State Park is that you can freely explore the canyons, streams and waterfalls. This freedom allows you to see each waterfall from many different perspectives, and if you don't mind getting wet, you can go under them too!

These falls lead from Lake Falls into Giant's Bathtub, a wider pool of water that catches the reflections of the woods surrounding it.

Fall at the Falls

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Lake Falls
Autumn Frames Lake Falls

Fall at Matthiessen State Park near Utica, Illinois is quite spectacular. Last Saturday was no exception.

Look Mom, No Hands!

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Look Mom, No Hands!

St. Peter and Paul Church is undergoing some clock repairs, so the hands have been removed for the time being.

Last Hurrah

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The Last One in the Lake
Evening on the Lake
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Last weekend was unusually warm for October - 85 degrees on Sunday. The kids were feeling better, so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to get out to the beach for one last "comfortable" walk.

Arriving at the dunes just before 5:00, we figured we'd be treated to a colorful sunset. Just on the horizon was a band of clouds that kept us from seeing the sunset, but we were treated to some great colors prior to the clouds getting in the way.
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Downtown South Haven
Downtown South Haven, Michigan

The trees are beginning to change color, so it's the perfect time to explore the outdoors while the weather is still warm. Last weekend was no exception - 85 degrees and sunny in South Haven, Michigan, where we spent the day shopping and enjoying the beach. The last time I was in South Haven, it was around 3 degrees and the lighthouse was covered in ice.

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south haven light north side
South Haven Lighthouse in Winter

At least we were all able to walk out to the lighthouse this time.

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An Afternoon Paddle
Paddling in Lake Michigan
South Haven, Michigan


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Danny in Chrome
Danny in Chrome

One thing I miss about new automobiles (besides engine power and large body size) is chrome.
This Studebaker certainly had enough to go around.

Strider's Shadow

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Strider Shadow
Water Strider and Shadow

Water Striders are always interesting to watch, but one of the first things I noticed is how the sun plays with their shadows. The surface tension on the water creates a shadow larger than the creature, but also reflects down to the bottom of the stream making interesting rings of light around the shadow.

Skylines, Lights and Shadows

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Lines Patterns Shadow and Light
Glass Reflections

Saturday was a bit too cool to spend splashing around in the lake, so we spent a bit more time than usual inside. The early Fall sun washed into the house through the blinds and created some great patterns as it passed through a piece of depression glass.

On the upper right hand of the photo, you can see where I'd rather be -- in the lake. I guess it wasn't too cold for the canoe - there's always next weekend!

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Chicago on the Horizon
Chicago Skyline on the Horizon

On a clear day, you can see the Chicago skyline from Michigan City, Indiana, some 50 miles across Lake Michigan. Washington Park is free again (from October to May) so it's a great time to explore the lighthouse on the end of the east pier. Since the weather is cooler, there aren't too many people to get in the way of your shot either! Wait until January and February - I'll once again be the only human on the beach.

From the Keeper's Catwalk

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On the Catwalk
Michigan City Lighthouse
Michigan City, Indiana

Every now and then you just have to ignore the "no trespassing" signs and wander a bit off course. That's what I did on Saturday, when I decided to climb up to the catwalk that goes out to the Michigan City East Pierhead light. You get a totally different perspective from up there, one that only the lighthouse keepers would normally see.

The friends of the lighthouse managed to save the catwalk from demolition a few years back. Catwalks are not too common on lighthouses outside the great lakes, and this one is still complete (many have had their walkways removed).

Maybe one day, when it's very cold and deserted, I'll trek all the way out to the lighthouse via the catwalk. It'll take some time for the Coast Guard to spot me - and in frigid weather, even they won't want to come out to chase me off!

Afternoon at the Lake

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Kintzel Ditch Mouth
Kintzel Ditch

Between two tall sand dunes is Kintzel Ditch, a small stream running from Michigan City, Indiana, through the wooded sand dunes, and ultimately into Lake Michigan. It's been interesting this year to watch the mouth of this stream change almost daily. In early spring, the mouth was almost in line with the stream. In mid summer, it was several hundred feet south, and ran parallel to the shore of Lake Michigan, creating a neat little island of sand between. Now, it's just a few feet south of the stream and changed every day by the wind, waves and water level.

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Seeing Double
Chris Setting Up His Next Photo

Last Saturday was a perfect day to photograph the sand dunes and the stream, as the skies were perfectly blue and the lake was relatively calm, creating some great reflections.

Scarecrow Festival

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Scarecrow Fest Float
Festival Float

The 14th annual Wanatah, Indiana Scarecrow Festival took place last weekend. Wanatah is a town of about 1000 people in LaPorte County, Indiana, about 20 miles from Michigan City. The town is named after the Potawatomi Indiana Chief and means "knee deep in mud" - the town was built on a large marsh turned into farmland.

The scarecrow festival celebrates the harvest and for a town of 1000, they really had a crowd. The population must have quadrupled on Saturday during the parade.

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Hair Do
Hair Dresser Float

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Show Off
Bicycle Show Off