As the evening drew near, the partly sunny skies turned mostly cloudy, creating a haunting look on the dunes.
After several days of gloomy, rainy weather, the sun appeared on Sunday afternoon. With temperatures up near 60, I headed right for the beach!
The waves over the past few days really eroded the dunes, and created the little pool of water seen parallel to the shore of Lake Michigan. As the afternoon progressed, the sun disappeared behind rain clouds, and I jumped over the 6 foot wide pool of water to get a photo from the little sand "island" seen here. As soon as I landed, I sank into the loose, wet sand almost up to my knees. Not something I was prepared for! Lake Michigan is cold this time of year, and the wet sand seeped into my shoes instantly. It was not easy to get back to solid ground without crawling, but I managed.
I guess the sand eroded from the dune was simply deposited along the shore, and the wave action kept if from settling. It was almost like quicksand. I did manage to get out, and I also managed a few shots before I sank too far............what the heck, I was already wet.
It was a beautiful Fall weekend at Matthiessen State Park, The temperatures were a bit cool but the sun was out (finally) and the leaves were vibrant. The lack of water in the streams was a bit disappointing, as the waterfalls were only trickles.
The streams hardly moved at all, so I decided to take a long exposure of the leaves along the stream bed. Apparently, the stream was moving!
The late afternoon sun really highlighted the autumn leaves at Matthiessen State Park on Sunday. This footbridge crosses over the top of Lake Falls, a 35 foot tall waterfall flowing from Matthiessen lake through the upper dells and into the lower dells of the state park.
The canyons are a great place to explore in any season, but fall is the most colorful for obvious reasons.
After the Civil War reenactment at Dollinger Farm on Sunday, we headed out to Matthiessen State Park to view the fall colors. With all the gray days we had lately, it was nice to finally see some color.
The late day sun illuminated the fall colors on the opposite shore of Matthiessen Lake. The colors were unreal and brilliant; there wasn't much done to this photo except bring out some of the shadows. The combination of blue sky, colorful leaves and intense sun at just the right angle saturated the place with color. Even the scum on the water took on the blue from the sky.
Rich Koz, better known as Svengoolie, the Chicago television host, had a meet and greet at a local costume store. After about an hour wait in line, we all got to meet the great Svengoolie.
He began his show back in 1979, hosting B (and C) horror movies, with comical introductions, songs and parodies.
At least we didn't have to drive to Berwyn.............
An early morning walk through Cowle's Bog yielded some excellent fall color on the wide variety of trees.
It seems that this path is seldom explored, judging by the small number of footprints and lack of trash. Since the trail from the two parking areas to the beach varies from 2 miles to 3 miles, I suppose many people don't bother with the hike when they can drive a few blocks up and enter at the state park.
On the Cowles Bog trail, one can walk for a few miles from wetland, to woodland, to prairie, to beach. During this walk, the plant life varies greatly -trees such as maple, oak, sassafras, cedar and hickory are common. I also believe I saw a few cypress trees in the wetland area! I'm going to make sure of that, but the bark, shape, crown and even the cypress knees were the same as the trees I've seen in the south. I'm sure these are a different variety since they are so far north.
If you decide to walk to the outer light of the St. Joseph, Michigan lighthouses on a cold windy day, you need to realize that you're going to get your feet wet - maybe even your entire body! This day wasn't too windy, so the waves crashed onto the pier and only got me wet up to my ankles. Last summer, the waves were breaking two feet over the pier - getting me wet from head to toe and almost knocking me into the water. That's fine in the summer, but the water temperature now is way too cold to get that wet!
Here, I'm standing next to the outer range light, looking toward shore as the waves crash in front of me. As much as I hate winter, I can't wait until the water begins freezing on the lighthouses - the November gales begin to create alien-like forms out of the great lakes lighthouses.
A sunny morning highlights the colors of the leaves in the woods of Cowel's Bog. The leaves were just beginning to change, so we found islands of color scattered throughout the area.
Our early start enabled us to photograph in the sunlight, soon after we left the park, the cloud cover began.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
A scaffold erected around the St. Joseph, Michigan outer lighthouse was in need of adjustment after 50 mile per hour winds churned up Lake Michigan, and the waves tossed the scaffold around. Workers here were carefully removing the scaffold that was "floating" in mid air.
It appears some restoration work is being done to the outer lighthouse.
The early morning sunlight revealed evidence that we were not the only creatures on the dune. Cracks were also evident in the sand, most likely the sand was falling under it's own weight after two days of 40 to 50 mile per hour winds stacked it a bit too high.
Left over from the days of coal fired steam engines, this concrete coal tipple can still be seen in Michigan City, Indiana. Coal (or grain if this was used after the steam age) would be sent up the conveyor at the left, to the top of the tower. It would then drop into the open topped rail cars below.
Too bad there isn't a water tower in the vicinity as well........
The 125 foot tall Mt. Baldy sand dune in Michigan City, Indiana is washed with early morning sunlight on a crisp, October morning. This is a living sand dune, meaning it is constantly changing and moving inland - driven by wind and erosion. It is slowly taking over the woods on the back side of the dune, at the rate of about four feet a year.
The blowout is evident on the left side of this image. Marram Grass and some trees are able to hold the sand in place on the high portion of the pictured dune, but this grass is unable to take hold on the rest of the dune. Since nothing can hold the sand in place, it blows over the top and eventually falls down the dune and covers whatever is in it's path.
Created at the end of the last ice age, Pinhook Bog is a kettle shaped depression lined with clay made by the advancing glacier. The depression filled with water and the clay prevented it from soaking into the soil.
Over time, sphagnum moss took hold and began to make the water acidic, and unsuitable for most plants. Now, only certain plants thrive here, many normally found farther north, are not seen anywhere else in Indiana.
The moss continues to spread today, and is several feet thick in places. It floats on water up to 60 feet deep, and can support shrubs and some trees such as Tamarack. The moss also helps keep the area more humid than the surroundings by holding a remarkable amount of water. It was actually used by the Native Americans for many things including diapers.
Here, a park ranger squeezes the water out of a handful of moss.It took three squeezes to get the majority of the water out.
Among many other interesting species in Pinhook Bog are the carnivorous plants. One in particular is the Pitcher Plant.
This plant attracts insects into it's "pitcher" filled with water. Once the insect drops in, small hairs pointing downward on the plant prevent the insect from escaping. It is then dissolved and ingested by the plant. These plants require nitrogen and minerals, and since a bog is not a good source of nitrogen, it gets it's nutrients from insects.
Looking into the plant, you can see some insects trapped inside.
Pinhook Bog is an interesting place to explore. It's only open on select weekends, and tours are guided by park rangers.
Approaching the beach minutes after sunrise, I stumbled upon a piece of driftwood on the shore. An interesting enough object to photograph, but as I got closer, I noticed a few ladybugs on it. Each of them had drops of dew on their backs, mimicking their black spots. I'm sure after a few more minutes, the dew evaporated and the ladybugs flew away.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore