The moon in the afternoon sky as seen from the Indiana Dunes National lakeshore. A warm day for December 31 in northern Indiana.
A roadside attraction along RT 66, the Ambler Becker Service Station in Dwight, Illinois has been preserved for travel buffs.
Complete with vintage gas pumps, and the hose cars used to roll over to ring the bell to signal the attendant, this station brings you back to the 40's. I wish they had vintage gas prices too.
Built in 1891, by the Chicago and Alton Railroad, this station still serves Dwight, Illinois' Amtrak customers between Chicago and St. Louis. These people were heading toward Chicago three days before Christmas.
Downtown Dwight, Illinois, near historic RT66
One of the most interesting windmills I've seen can be found in Dwight, Illinois, just off of historic Rt. 66. Built for pumping water on the Oughton Farm, this windmill was designed to be attractive as well as functional.
Built in 1896, the windmill is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mt. Baldy is a living dune, meaning the winds move constantly blow the sand to the leeward side of the dune, causing it to "move" inland. Due to the traffic on the dune, grasses do not grow and therefore do not hold in the sands.
The dune is moving at a rate of about four feet a year, and in the process is burying the woods adjacent to the dune. The parking lot is also in the path, and may soon be buried as well.
Here's a photo of the dune in 2008. You'll notice the same trees, yet the evergreen is completely buried.
On the windward side of the dune, water erosion is also contributing to the movement. The Michigan City harbor piers are starving the beach for sand, so not much new sand is deposited on the beach. After storms, large logs are often uncovered along the dunes, probably buried for centuries under the sands.
The spring of 2011 marked the beginning of an attempt to save Mt. Baldy. Areas were roped off to prevent people from trampling grasses and eroding the sands. Let's hope these actions will help preserve Mt. Baldy for generations to come.
Our annual trip to view the Walnut Room Christmas tree took place on Sunday. As usual, there were lines waiting to view the tree, and lots of people waiting to eat in the Walnut Room.
Since Macy's took over the State Street Marshall Field store, lots of things have changed, but this tree remains festive.
On our return trip from our fossil hunt, we stopped back at the Ohio River for an evening view of the Louisville, Kentucky skyline. In what looks to be a recently rebuilt part of Clarksville, Indiana, a small park provided a great view of the city.
To get there, we drove through what must have been old flood walls and gates. They were missing the gates across the streets and sidewalks, but I'll bet they once protected the city from the floods of the Ohio River.
Within the boundaries of Mammoth Cave lie the remnants of rural life before the park. Cemeteries and churches remain part of the landscape. The Joppa Missionary Baptist Church was founded in 1862, and the wooden church dates back to the turn of the last century.
The building had two doors in the front, one for men and one for women, and inside, the unwed (and perhaps wed) men and women often sat on opposite sides of the church.
Inside the church, a single wood burning stove provided warmth during services.
Driving through Mammoth Cave National Park, you'll notice some beautiful terrain, and some interesting means of crossing the Green River. The Green River Ferry is one of two operating ferries in the park, and these two are some of the few operating rural ferries in existence today.
I can only imagine approaching this spot on a dark, icy night and not being able to stop before the water's edge.
Relocated to this site in 1934, the ferry provides transport to park visitors as well as local citizens. This crossing is the most direct route for citizens living north of the park to travel to points south of the park and vice versa.
The ferry is propelled by a waterwheel, much the same as old riverboats. Two overhead cables span the river - one on each side, about 20 feet above the water. Four smaller cables connect the boat to these overhead cables, keeping the ferry in line with the road and preventing it from floating downstream.
Each crossing takes approximately one minute from bank to bank. Two cars or one RV are able to ride at a time. Over 90,000 vehicles are transported across the river each year.
During high water periods, the ferries are shut down, forcing traffic to use alternate routes to get to the other side of Mammoth Cave National Park. These alternate routes add as much as 40 miles to the drive.
A recent study by the National Park Service has indicated that while some minor improvements to the approach of the Green River Ferry would improve service, the ferry itself posed "No significant impact" on the environment. So it seems, for the time being at least, a permanent bridge will not replace this small piece of history.
The recent rainfall in the area has raised the water level on the Ohio River, covering the acres of fossil beds at the Falls of the Ohio State Park. Built in 1868, the Ohio Falls Bridge spans this part of the river, leading to Louisville, Kentucky on the far side.
A cool, still December morning near the Ohio Falls Bridge. Also known as the Fourteenth Street Bridge, this mile-long steel truss railroad bridge was built across the Ohio River in 1868 between Louisville, Kentucky and Clarksville, Indiana.
Built by the Louisville Bridge and Iron Company, at it's peak, this bridge was used around 300 times a day in 1900. At the far end toward Louisville, Kentucky, a lift bridge allows boats and barges to pass beneath the bridge.
The boys and I ventured into unknown territory today, into a small, dolomite canyon in a surprising location - smack dab in the middle of an urban area. I couldn't find too much information on the canyon, only a few vague descriptions and grainy photos of a location much easier to view. We walked a bit along the top of the canyon to find a good place to climb down. The canyon seemed about 40 feet deep in parts, and it was covered in slippery moss.
A few hundred yards away from this point is an easily accessible park where the creek flows into the Kankakee, River, where most people visit.
Early morning at Mt. Baldy. Shadows cover much of the area between the dunes and the lake until the sun rises high enough in the sky.
Much of the dune is roped off in an attempt to preserve the dune from erosion. Let's hope it works and the ropes can be removed in a year or two. This dune is moving a few feet a year inland. At that rate, the parking lot will be covered in a few years!
Each year, our holiday season begins with a trip to Holland, Michigan for the annual Holiday Open House. Downtown stores stay open late and offer visitors free refreshments, snacks and gift wrapping. It's a great time to visit shops we normally wouldn't even notice, and find some merchandise we can't live without.
Carolers, Santa Claus, luminaries and roasting chestnuts can all be found on Holland's 8th Street sidewalks.
It's generally pretty crowded - especially at the corner drug store where they serve beautifully made Christmas cookies.
A crisp, November morning along the Lake Michigan shore. Kintzele Ditch meanders through recently eroded dunes creating an interesting path to the lake.
Finding a narrow portion of the stream, the family hops across the water to continue their walk on Central Beach.
The waves have really eroded the dunes this year.
The boys were following an old trail on the edge of a dune when Chris slipped backwards and fell about five feet down onto the next layer of sand. He then continued to slide backwards and down the next layer to the beach.
No one was harmed in the capturing of this image.
A late night, long exposure over the lake. The earth's movement can be seen in the elongated stars and the blur of the hazy moon. Looks like an airplane was flying very far away- seen at the top right of the image.
What interested me was the depth created by the artificial lights on shore. It's rather unusual in landscape photography to see light between objects.
Strong light from the rising sun bathes the shifting sands of Central Beach on this windy morning. The grass seen in the foreground was five to six feet tall prior to the wind and waves; it's now buried deep under the sand.
The Chellberg Farm is part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It's a far cry from sand dunes, but this historical farm is the setting for the Heritage Festival in the Fall and Maple Sugar Days in early Spring.
The original barn and windmill can still be seen in the field.
A warm, windy morning in mid October was the perfect day for dozens of kitesurfing enthusiasts to hit the waves along Michigan City's Washington Park Beach.
Gaining speed, the kitesurfers were able to jump over 20 feet above the waves.
The beach was lined with surfers waiting their turns, as well as spectators gazing in amazement.
Arriving at the beach rather early for a Saturday, gave us the opportunity to explore some other areas of the National Lakeshore.
We pass by this marsh every time we head to the beach, but only stop now and then. In the summer, it's almost impossible to tolerate the biting flies, so it's best to hold off until Fall to explore this area.
Along the trails, lots of wildlife can be detected, along with some remnants of humans - an occasional brick or concrete lump. Must have been part of someone's property years ago. Now it's being reclaimed by nature.
Thousands of beetles grouped together on Indiana's Central Beach during a windy morning. My best guess is they were clinging to anything that would keep them dry and in place.
At first glance, the beetles appeared to be debris on the sand, but closer inspection proved it wrong.
Early morning view of the cemetery at St. James at Sag Bridge Catholic Church. It's the oldest Cathloic church in the Chicago Archdioceses, and incorrectly called "Monk's Castle" by high school kids who tell tales of mean monks.
No monks have ever lived here, and they certainly don't make trespassers kneel in salt or on broom sticks.
My nephew Tom and I set out early Sunday morning to capture some shadows for his photography class. His work is all black and white, but I took advantage of the golden hour to catch some fall color.
A climb to the top of the tallest butte in Dellwood Park West gave us this view of the surrounding land.
Portions of the park were once used for mining and slag disposal from a nearby steel mill, while other parts were used for agriculture. It's an interesting place to visit.
Two days of high wind gusts churned up Lake Michigan, creating waves exceeding 20 feet near the Indiana shore. Shoreline erosion was evident at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The entrance to Central Beach was no longer a hill, but a 6 foot drop to the beach.
The annual Wanatah, Indiana Scarecrow Festival marks the beginning of Fall each September with a parade, craft vendors, rides, food and fun.
Directly across the street from the festival, this house always decorates for the event.