On an unseasonably warm winter day, pancake ice and drift ice gather at the confluence of Lake Michigan and the St. Joseph River. While temperatures climbed high to melt the snow, the ice was thick enough to withstand a couple of days of warmth. Temperatures are expected to drop to near zero in the next day or two, helping the ice to grow once again. Dozens of people walked along the frozen beach and piers to get a view of frozen Lake Michigan; a few even ventured out on to the shelf ice. Luckily, nobody fell through the ice into the freezing water.
An unusual morning at Kintzele Ditch - the stream was not flowing into Lake Michigan. Apparently the high waves of the previous day built up the beach so high, it dammed the stream. We watched as the edge of the water moved slowly across the sand, at the rate of about an inch every 20 seconds, looking for a way to the lake. The edge of the water appeared to breathe, as it moved back and forth.
I imagine by the early afternoon, the stream found the lowest point in the sand, and finally made it to Lake Michigan. First a trickle, then after eroding a path, a steady flow of water.
Geographic construction in progress, right before our eyes.
The boys walk through Kintzele Ditch, a small stream that flows between two sand dunes, and into Lake Michigan. The waves and wind constantly change the path the stream takes to the Lake, at times, by hundreds if not thousands of feet. Like us, it meanders along the shoreline. Often, this stream flows directly perpendicular into the lake, but following stormy or windy weather, the sand is piled up by strong waves, so the stream must meander along the shore until it finds a point to enter the lake.
This changing shoreline offers so many new things to explore each time we visit. Last week, the stream flowed in a different direction, depositing mud onto the beach. Once the water changed direction, the mud began to dry in the sun, forming familiar cracks in the mud. However, at only 1/4 inch thick, the mud began to curl as it dried, revealing the sand beneath, creating an unusual pattern on the beach, reminding me of chocolate nonpareils.
Boaters anchored just off shore, wade to the beach for an afternoon of fun on the dunes. Part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Central Beach is home to rolling dunes, soft sand, and about 100 parking spaces - a premium in this area, especially in the summer. These people have the best parking spot available.
A few miles west of this area, at Cowles Bog, the beach is a two mile hike from the nearest parking lot. The beach there is rarely crowded, however, the shore is often lined with boats - hence the nickname Boater's Beach. Arriving by boat is the easiest way to enjoy the large expanse of soft sand that particular beach has to offer.
No plastic grilles, 5 mph vinyl bumpers or airbags, just pure chrome, horsepower, and memories.
A lone kite surfer tries his luck on a rather calm day on Lake Michigan. The large kite was able to catch enough of the breeze to tow him along, but I'll bet he was a little disappointed in the size of the waves. High winds and large waves give kite surfers a fast and wild ride, which is one reason you'll find these intrepid surfers on Lake Michigan in November. The waters around Silver Lake State Park, near Mears, Michigan, were rather flat, but displayed beautiful bands of emerald and blue - especially when viewed from high up in the dunes, or from the Little Point Sable lighthouse.
Open for tours during the warm months of the year (a $3 bargain), the view is worth the climb up. Friendly staff are there to answer questions and guide you through the history of the lighthouse.
Climbing up the spiral stairs inside the Little Sable Point lighthouse, we anticipated a great view, but instead, we were presented with an awesome view. The sun, waves and sand created patterns in Lake Michigan that I've never seen before - and weren't seen from the ground.
Along the railing of the deck are tags with distances of popular cities around the area. According to one, it's 60 miles across Lake Michigan. In addition to the tags, it's always fun to read the writing in the sand on the beach below. The usual "Cindy loves Bill", and "Hi mom" were trumped on this day by "Don't Jump!"
Built in 1874, the lighthouse stands over 100 feet tall and utilized a third order Fresnel lens.