South Haven

click to enlarge
South Haven Splash!
High Winds at South Haven

High winds, water and a lighthouse -- a perfect combination. 45 mph winds churned up Lake Michigan last Sunday making for some dramatic splashes along the lighthouse and pier in South Haven, Michigan. The 35 foot tall tower was dwarfed by splashes reaching 50 feet in height.

In a few more days, this lighthouse should be covered in ice.

I'll head back.

Icing Up

click to enlarge
St. Joseph Outer Light
Outer Light
St. Joseph, Michigan

The waves and spray are beginning the process of icing up the lighthouse and pier marking the entrance to the St. Joseph River at Lake Michigan. The 45 MPH winds created waves at least 10 feet high, and splashes up to 50 feet high.

Even though the ice thawed from the lighthouse over the weekend, there was still plenty of shelf ice along the shore. This photographer wandered right out onto the ice to get some photos:
Dangerous 1

Here's why this is dangerous:
Dangerous 2

He's standing on about 25 feet of ice (who knows how much is below the surface), but it's full of air pockets and could be paper thin anywhere. He was very lucky - I'll bet he thought he was on the shore. Shelf ice is deadly, and should be avoided at all cost.

Winter Along Lake Michigan

click to enlarge
Lake Michigan Fury
St. Joseph, Michigan Lighthouse

Waves crash over the rail of the St. Joseph, Michigan Lighthouse pier. Driven by winds in excess of 45 MPH, and 30 degree air temperatures, the water quickly froze on every surface it touched. I've seen this lighthouse covered with much, much more ice, but since the thaw a couple of days ago, the process needs to start over again.

I got drenched by another wave just after this photo was taken. I managed to keep the camera pretty dry, but I can't say the same for me. I was as wet as if I jumped into the lake up to my waist - and let me tell you Lake Michigan is cold this time of year. Needless to say, it was a long, wet drive home.


click to enlarge
Freezing River
A Cold December Morning on the River

A hike on a minus 2 degree morning along the Kankakee River yielded a bit more than cold hands. The mist from the warmer river created hoarfrost along the banks, turning the landscape into a winter wonderland. Couple that with the ice storm two days earlier, and the hike got much more interesting.

click to enlarge
Cold River

The Ice Storm

click to enlarge
Iced Branches
Iced Branches

The storm just before Christmas this year layered everything with about 3/4 inch of ice - more in some places. While dangerous and difficult to navigate, it made some beautiful scenery once the sun returned.

click to enlarge
Dripping Crabapples
Dripping Crabapples

I love how the color from the tiny crabapples has gone into the icicles hanging below.

Ice Along Rock Creek

click to enlarge
Steamy Winter Morning
Ice on Rock Creek

Minus 2 degree temperatures and sunlight made for some interesting hiking along Rock Creek inside the Kankakee State Park near bourbonnais, IL. The roads were closed inside the park, so I was asked to leave by the park employees, but they allowed me to walk back after I parked the car elsewhere.


click to enlarge

Finished Red Nutcracker
Bell Ringer Nutcracker

green nutcracker
Green Nutcracker

After years of talking about it, I finally decided to make some nutcrackers.

They started out as oak 4x4s , so I turned them on my lathe. Each is different, but the bodies and heads are a very similar shape.
Turning the Nutcracker

After turning them, I needed to make the notch for the lever and mouth, so I had to cut the head portion off to access the top of the body.
Separating the Head

No easy task to get that even, and it was really difficult to get the notch straight.
Drilling to notch nutcracker

Panoramic View

you'll want to click to enlarge this
View from Indiana Dunes
Panoramic View of Indiana Dunes

The weather was so warm on Sunday, that we decided to stop at the dunes along Lake Michigan on our way to a Christmas party in Indiana. It's a rare treat to walk comfortably along the lake in December, so we enjoyed every minute of it!

This image is stitched together from 5 separate images. Next time, I'll do a full 360!

Washington Park Festival of Lights

click to enlarge
Michigan City Festival of Lights

Each year, over 100,000 Christmas lights adorn Michigan City's Washington Park. A slow drive through the park on a windy, winter evening is just the thing to get you into the holiday spirit- even if it took 1 1/2 hours to get to the park.

Elf with Gift Cannon

Even the old, historic lighthouse was decorated for Christmas.

Old Michigan City Lighthouse

And the current lighthouse is depicted in the show as well:

Marshall Field Christmas

click to enlarge
Walnut Root Christmas Tree Panoramic
Walnut Room Christmas Tree

Christmas wouldn't be the same without a trip to Marshall Field's on State Street. I know, it's Macy's now, but I figure that's only the merchandise, the building is still Field's.

I love sharing with my kids, the anticipation of walking into the Walnut Room to see the tree each year. It's always a surprise to see how it's decorated from year to year. The view from the 8th floor is great too (see the panoramic photo above- it's 3 shots stitched together).

Even the lower levels of the building are decorated in grand fashion. It's nice to see Macy's kept these traditions going.

click to enlarge
Tiffany Ceiling
The Tiffany Ceiling

The famous Tiffany Ceiling seen above in this three shot panoramic photo, serves as a great back drop to the long, decorated garland that greets customers.

I hope these things are still around when my children visit with their own kids.

Chicago Christmas

click to enlarge
Daley Plaza Christmas Tree
Daley Plaza Christmas Tree

No trip to downtown Chicago in December would be complete without a visit to Daley Plaza and the official Chicago Christmas Tree.

Thanksgiving Struggle

click to enlarge
Breaking the Wishbone

Mike and Chris pull on the wishbone to break it in two, so they can determine who's wish will come true. This was a stubborn bone, it bent mostly, but after a couple of minutes of struggling, the bone broke and Mike was holding the larger piece!

Christmas Season Kick-Off

click to enlarge
Tinley Park Christmas Tree
Tinley Park Christmas Tree

Each year, Tinley Park, IL kicks off the Christmas season with a free festival for children. A couple of small carnival rides, photos with Santa (really nice ones too), hot chocolate, cookies and carriage rides are part of the festivities. The weather didn't exactly cooperate this year, but the hot chocolate tent was dry and warm. After the festival, the official Christmas tree lighting takes place with local carolers leading the crowd in song.

click to enlarge
Carriage Ride
Carriage Approaching the Old Zion Church
Tinley Park, IL