On Tuesday afternoon, Chris and I decided to explore the outer range light in St. Joseph, Michigan. After a slow, slippery walk from shore to the end of the railings on the pier, we noticed it may be possible to venture further. If it weren't for the ice covered railings, I would not have even set foot onto the pier.
Once past the railings, the pier heads out a few hundred more feet, and this area was mostly clear of ice, and seemed safe enough to walk on. We were able to walk out to the inner light with no problems, but had to cautiously walk around the inner light to get to the last couple of hundred feet of pier to see the iced outer light.
Lake Michigan never fails to impress, as the outer side of the outer range light was covered in thick ice. The wind shapes the ice into intricate patterns, and these seemed to be like curls of hair on a giant monster. Click on the image and go to flickr to view the largest available image to see what I mean.
Winter has only just begun - I'm optimistic we'll have some more icing yet to come!
Aside from making travel difficult, the ice storm on Christmas Eve created some beautiful sights outdoors.
Our Knockout roses bloomed until mid December. The remaining blossoms withered and then were covered in ice.
Our crabapple trees were also made into ice covered sculptures.
Helping the Bell Ringer at Daley Plaza
My old friend Jim called up and invited the family along for an interesting tour of Chicago. His friend owns and operates O'Leary's Firetruck tours, a company offering tours of Chicago aboard vintage firetrucks. They wanted to get a group together to travel around the loop and sing Christmas Carols at some Salvation Army kettle locations.
We pulled out around 11:00 am on a cold, snowy December 23rd, and headed first toward Engine 13's firehouse. Driving a vintage firetruck really attracts a lot of attention, but singing carols while driving really turns people's heads. There we sang carols to the firemen - most of whom knew and/or at one time worked with the owner of the tour company.
Our next stop was Daley Plaza, the location of the official Chicago Christmas tree. We sang at two locations there, on the southwest and southeast corners of the plaza. We attracted lots of attention and photographers as a large number of donations were dropped into the Salvation Army's kettle. Even the bell ringer joined in and sang.
After about an hour of caroling, we boarded the 1949 Mack Firetruck and headed off to sing by the Marshall Field building on State Street. The Salvation Army had two musicians there, and they were happy to accompany us as we sang about six carols.
Despite the cold, It was really a great time. I certainly hope we helped bring a little cheer to some people this year, either by helping to raise a few extra donations, or just by seeing us driving around in the old truck.
First Day of Winter and Ice Covered Already
Recent high winds churned up Lake Michigan and splashed up onto the 35 foot tall outer range light in St. Joseph, Michigan. It's pretty early for this much ice (there was more, but it has melted some).
The pier was pretty icy in places, but not bad enough to cause me to slide into the lake. The worst part was the end of the pier (seen here in the foreground); I didn't want to venture too much further - another three feet and I'd be in Lake Michigan.
Repairs have begun on this lighthouse. It was leaning due to a crumbling foundation and the interior structure was pretty rotten. It's a good thing they're saving it. The way it was leaning last year, this much ice may have caused it to topple over like the small beacon on the other side of the harbor.
Here's what the lighthouse looks like without ice:
Illuminating the Night
While visiting the Washington Park Festival of Lights in Michigan City, we walked over to the lake shore and headed out to the lighthouse. There was a bit of ice around the pier, so we decided to stay on shore.
6 second exposure.
Ice Along Kintzele Ditch
I think I enjoy the beach and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore even more in the winter. While I don't like cold weather, I tend not to think about it when I'm immersed in it taking photographs.
Kintzele Ditch runs between two dunes, and it's mouth often changes course due to the high waves and currents of Lake Michigan. It's interesting to see it change from week to week.
Changes along the rest of the creek are most dramatic in the winter. Here, ice has formed along the edges of the creek, but as the water levels dropped, the ice lost support and came to a rest with a crash.
Soon, this stream will be frozen across - accept for a small portion where it drains into frozen Lake Michigan.
On my way home from work on Monday, I stopped by the Illinois and Michigan Canal for a few minutes. Just east of Lemont is a feeder stream that cascades into the canal. It's a great little place to stop and rest and take in the scenery. Not much to see at ground level, but if you climb down into the canal (you can do it if you're careful) it's a different world, and you quickly forget about the industry surrounding you - and you can't see or hear it!
Once at water level, you can get a view of the canal from a boatman's vantage point. The waterfall above is located just to the left and off the picture in the second image.
Of course, I forgot my tripod, but I was still able to blur the water hand-held without blurring the static objects. This is one of my favorite places along the entire canal.
Ground water can often be seen seeping out of the lower parts of sand dunes eroded by Lake Michigan or small streams. Here, along the shore of Lake Michigan, the waves have caused the dunes to collapse somewhat, and exposed layers of sand and mud. Water cannot percolate through the mud and clay, so it seeps out toward the lake.
During cold periods, the seepage freezes into beautiful ice walls such as these.
I think beaches are more fun in winter months: No crowds, no dogs, no bugs!
And yes, we found fossil crinoids! These hasn't been a day when we visited the beach and not found a crinoid fossil.
CBS in Chicago developed a project where photographers submitted photos of the Chicagoland area for voting and possible publication in a book. Users uploaded photos to the Capture my Chicago website, and the public had a few months to vote on the photos. The best photos were to be published in a coffee table photo book.
Over 2,800 photographers submitted over 28,000 images. The public voted and the top 200 or so photos were published in a book entitled "Capture My Chicago."
One of my photos was included in the book - Limestone Waterfall. This photo was taken just east of Lemont, IL, a suburb of Chicago. A small stream cascades into the man-made Illinois and Michigan Canal, a waterway cut by hand in the mid 1800's linking the Illinois River with Lake Michigan.
This canal ultimately linked the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River, making Chicago what it is today. Without the Illinois and Michigan Canal, there would have been no easy way to transport goods and supplies to the area. After the completion of the canal, the railroads (which paralleled the canal) took over and eventually made Chicago the hub for the railroad industry.
The book is available in Chicago Barnes and Noble and Borders bookstores.
Just days before the cold weather hit us, trees and limestone reflect in Rock Creek on a cool December afternoon.
This was as far as we could walk without having to climb back up to the top of the limestone wall. To proceed further, you either get your feet wet and walk in the water, or climb up and down the rock walls at various points in the canyon.
I really need to explore this a bit further than the 1/2 mile or so I've seen - maybe next spring.
Decorated Old Lighthouse
With the Washington Park Festival of Lights taking place right next to the Old Michigan City, Indiana lighthouse, they seem to have gotten in the spirit as well. Last year, only the lantern room was decorated with Christmas lights.
It really fits in well with the festival of lights.
Where Am I?
We've been to South Haven lots of times, but never wandered around the neighborhoods too much. After a walk on the pier, then along the beach, we decided to head up toward the homes along the lake, then into the surrounding neighborhood.
Along the way, we found ourselves at the intersection of Monroe and Monroe.
Santa Arrives in LaPorte
A giant Santa greets everyone passing the LaPorte, Indiana County Complex on Lincolnway. It was a warm weekend leading into December, but cold weather is on the way tonight, and perhaps some snow as well. - Santa should feel right at home.