New Years Eve Moon

The moon in the afternoon sky as seen from the Indiana Dunes National lakeshore. A warm day for December 31 in northern Indiana.

Meramec Caverns

A nostalgic barn painted to advertise Meramec Caverns, a roadside attraction in Missouri. Between Dwight and Odell, Illinois, along historic RT66.

Ambler Becker Texaco

A roadside attraction along RT 66, the Ambler Becker Service Station in Dwight, Illinois has been preserved for travel buffs.
Sky Chief Pump
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.

Chicago Alton Station

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

The Oughton Windmill

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.
Dwight Windmill
Built in 1896, the windmill is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rock Creek

A view of Rock Creek near the confluence with the Kankakee River. Both the Kankakee and Rock Creek flow through limestone canyons carved over the centuries by the waterways.

Buried Alive

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.
Shifting Sands

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.

From the Seventh Floor

Holiday shoppers roam the Marshall Field building in search of the perfect Christmas gift at Macy's on State Street.

The Walnut Room Christmas Tree

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.

Louisville, Evening

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.

Joppa Missonary Baptist Church

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.

Joppa Church Interior

Inside the church, a single wood burning stove provided warmth during services.

Warning: Road Ends At Water's Edge

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.

Green River Ferry

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.

High Water on the Ohio

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.

Ohio Falls Bridge

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.
From the Top of the Ohio Falls Bridge

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.

Exploring the Dolomite Canyon

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.