A frigid morning on the half-pipe at a local skate park. At ten years old, Mike is able to hold his own while skating with the 15 - 20 year olds. The older skaters tend to show-off once mike arrives, just to prove they're better than him. Let them come back in 4 years to see who's the better skater.
The Holland, Michigan lighthouse - often called "Big Red" - silhouetted against a colorful, November sunset.
We arrived in Holland in the late afternoon, with plenty of time for a walk on the beach, and dinner, before heading out to the annual Holland Holiday Open House. It's the kick off to the holiday shopping season in downtown Holland. The stores are open late, and offer holiday treats and refreshments to shoppers. It's our way of getting into the holiday spirit.
The old Walkerton interlocking tower stands unused next to a double diamond intersection of tracks.
Once three stories tall, this tower was used for switching trains from one track to another in this buys rail yard.
Now, switching is done electronically, and remotely, so interlocking towers are no longer needed (either are cabooses).
A view into a farm I've always wanted to wander into, just to see what was beyond the pile of topsoil.
Not matter the season, this property always seemed interesting to me, and the warm, Fall sunlight made it all the more inviting.
A makeshift path made from wood pallets leads into the wetland bordering Cowles Bog. This was set up by volunteers who are restoring the wetland - eliminating non-native species and replanting native plants.
The sign said "Keep out" and I did, but the path was so tempting!
National Lakeshore officials and volunteers replanted thousands of Marram Grass plants after they were uprooted by winds from Hurricane Sandy.
Planted just weeks earlier, in an effort to restore and retard the erosion of the dune, the grass didn't stand a chance against the 50 -70 mph gusts off Lake Michigan.
Volunteers walked the beach and recovered the small plants blown hundreds of feet across the dune. Others dug a series of holes for volunteers to drop in the small grass plants.
For about a year, areas of Mt. Baldy have been sectioned off with rope to prevent visitors from walking on the delicate grass until it reaches a state where it is mature enough to hold in the blowing sand. These plants will help prevent Mt. Baldy from "walking" away from shore - literally. Sand is picked up by winds from the windward side of the dune, and deposited on the leeward side, in effect, moving the dune grain by grain.
The dune moves on average four feet a year, but it appears to have moved at least that much during this single storm. Trees on the leeward side of the dune are being buried at a fast rate.
As my son and I helped, around 20 others assisted with the planting on Saturday morning - staying as long as they could. Many people helped out the day before too. Their efforts will help Mt. Baldy remain the largest "living" sand dune in Indiana.
Some days it pays to get up early. This particular weekend, we headed out around 5am, and drove the 1 1/2 hours to Mt. Baldy, then hiked the dune and set up some camera gear.
A few minutes later, the sun made a short appearance, illuminating the summit of Mt. Baldy with a gold and red light. Set against the storm clouds, the sand appeared to catch fire.
Click on the image to see it larger on Flickr.com
Mt. Baldy, a "living" sand dune in Michigan City, Indiana, is on the move. Winds off of Lake Michigan carry sand grains from the windward side of the dune (facing Lake Michigan) to the leeward side (away from Lake Michigan), in effect, moving the dune south at a pace of a couple feet per year.
Over the past four years, I've taken photos of the trees on the backside of the dune. The movement of the dune can be seen by looking at the branches of the tree in the center of each image. The pine tree was completely covered by 2010.
Following the windstorm last week - from Hurricane Sandy - the dune seems to have buried the tree two or three additional feet.
Dune restoration is in progress, but the storm was a set-back. Tens of thousands of marram grass plants were planted a few weeks back. The grass holds the sand, and prevents it from blowing away. Unfortunately, the 60mph winds of the recent storm uncovered the newly planted marram grass, threatening the success of the restoration. Last weekend, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore park officials and volunteers picked up all of the uncovered grass plants and replanted them in hope they will remain, take root, and keep Mt. Baldy from literally blowing away.
Figuring it was the last "easy" time I would be able to capture the sunrise at Mt. Baldy, I headed out around 5am. A 90 minute drive and a ten minute walk later, I arrived at the top of Mt. Baldy, a 125 foot tall sand dune on the outskirts of Michigan City, Indiana.
Set up the camera and waited for the sun to rise. Clouds covered the sky above and all around, except for a tiny band along the east horizon - just enough to allow a clear view of the sky.
With only about 10 minutes of time before the sun was covered by clouds, I turned around to capture the first light on the dunes behind.
The effects of Hurricane Sandy were felt as far west as the Great Lakes, and Lake Michigan, in particular, was hit hard. The Indiana shore of Lake Michigan received quite a punch from the storm, with winds topping 60 mph, and waves towering over 20 feet.
It was nearly impossible to capture clear images of the storm - the lenses were covered with water in seconds. I was wise enough to enclose my camera and lenses in plastic prior to heading out, so the equipment was safe and protected, but the exposed glass had to be wiped clean every 10 seconds.
Most of the Indiana beaches were closed, so I had to remember all of the access points I frequented over the years just to get a glimpse of the lake. I was one of the few who ventured near the sand - getting sand in my eyes, mouth, ears and everywhere! Turns out a bit later, I found one beach that was easily accessible (along with several other people), so photos were possible for a bit - until the rain.