At first, the thought of a two mile hike to a lighthouse seemed a bit much - especially when we were only stopping by for a very short visit on our way down the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. The consensus was to make the trip as fast as possible so we could continue our journey down the shore.
The trail began at the Ludington State Park campground, a wooded area, but soon meandered through a stand of Jack pine, then grassy dune. Signs of dune progression could be seen along the way, as the structure and vegetation of the dunes changed the closer we got to the shore.
Flat and covered in crushed limestone, the trail was easier to hike than expected - more like a road; it's also used a few weekends a year for bus traffic to the lighthouse. Passing a walk-in campsite, I thought about the next trip here, and camping amid the dunes - the perfect way to capture dusk and sunrise at the lighthouse.
Rising up from behind a series of dunes was the Big Sable Point Light, it's cast iron cladding painted white with the middle 1/3 black - a daymark for navigation. What a great home this must have been for the lighthouse keepers of the 1920's and 1930's - secluded and quiet.
Climbing up higher, I gazed to the north and east at what seemed to be an endless series of dunes as far as I could see. I instinctively began walking to see what lied beyond, but quickly remembered our tight schedule.
There will certainly be a next visit, soon I hope, where I will give in to my instinct and explore the expansive landscape.
A two mile walk from the nearest parking area, the Big Sable Point Lighthouse rises over the seemingly endless expanse of dune and beach. Built in 1867, the light stands 112 feet tall, is built of brick, and clad in cast iron It is one of the most recognizable lighthouses on Lake Michigan.
We followed the marked path to the lighthouse, but decided to walk along the beach on the return trip. On this particular summer morning, we only passed one couple on the beach - pretty much had the place to ourselves.
A morning tradition, I've been told, walking out to the north pierhead light to wave farewell to the passengers on the S.S. Badger. I'm also aware of the evening tradition of welcoming the ferry back to Ludington.
Morning in Ludington, Michigan was quiet, laid -back, and peaceful, broken only by the horn of the Badger as it left port. I can only imagine how it appeared in the early 1900's, with scores of vessels moving in and out of port on Lake Michigan. Now, it seems, the lake is host mainly to pleasure boaters; the commercial vessels are few and far between.
The lighthouse is tilted about 7 degrees from vertical - a nightmare for photographers. Either the horizon is level or the lighthouse is straight, can't have both. This occurred during the pier restoration a few years back, when too much material was removed from the base of the pier. The tilt was not corrected, but it was reinforced to prevent further movement.
The early morning sunlight bathes the Ludington, Michigan north pierhead light. From what I've seen, this small lakeside town wakes up slowly, but once activities around Lake Michigan kick in, they're slow to wane.The downtown area and lakefront were busy with visitors until well past 10 pm.
Our morning began with a visit to Ludington's Sterns Park, a lakefront park with FREE parking, a soft sand beach, and of course, a lighthouse. Built in 1924, the North Breakwater Light marks the entrance to Pere Marquette Lake, and Ludington's port where the historic S.S. Badger extends US Route 10 60 miles across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
2013 marks the 60th year of the Badger's operation as a car ferry across Lake Michigan. The 410 foot vessel makes the four hour trip across the lake twice a day. 180 vehicles can be loaded on the ship, along with 600 passengers, and 60 crew members. A friend of mine was a crew member for a number of years, and often talked about the experience working on a real steam ship.
The drive north from Savanna, Illinois to Galena winds through a rolling countryside dotted with small towns, and picturesque farms.
Directly on the Apple River, and a stone's throw from the downtown area of the tiny town of Hanover, Illinois, this farm appears to be in perfect working condition.
Atop the Mississippi Palisades- steep, wooded cliffs overlooking the Mississippi River - traffic on the river can be viewed. This tug heads upstream with several barges on its way to points unknown to us.
Many decades ago, before the abundance of roads and railroads, the traffic here must have been heavy. Passengers and cargo would have passed here, before heading to St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, and even Chicago once the Hennepin, and Illinois and Michigan Canals were complete.
The countryside just south of Galena is more like Kentucky than Illinois. This area of northern Illinois was not scoured by the glaciers of the last ice age, so the hills and eroded rock formations remain untouched.
A viewing tower once stood where this photo was captured, but even without it, the view is wonderful.
Wading through the creek, casting his fly-rod again and again, it seemed this fisherman was evading us. But a 300mm lens caught up with him before he wandered too far off.
The gentle waters of the creek become swift at this point - the confluence of Rock Creek and the Kankakee River.
The perfect mix of shade and sun, and the patter of the fountain, make this the perfect summer spot for reading and relaxing.
Two blocks from the downtown shopping district, Centennial Park is located in the heart of Holland, Michigan. During the Spring, the park is packed with vendors and Klompen dancers when the annual Tulip Time festival welcomes people from around the region to celebrate the Michigan town's Dutch heritage.