How I Discovered the Pileated Woodpecker

It all started this past week when I discovered damage to the mirror on the passenger side of my car. It looked like someone had either come along and punched it or shot at it with a BB gun. We have a couple of kids in my neighborhood that I suspected of causing the damage, but I never said anything to their parents.  As much as it irked me, I let it go.

I am glad that I didn’t say anything because a few days later, I discovered that no one was responsible for the damage to my mirror. At least not a human being. The culprit was actually surprising.

This is the damage to my mirror. It’s cracked pretty good and even missing pieces. What was more impressive is that the mirror itself was pushed in and down and I had to readjust it back it its original position.

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I am a member of an app called Next Door. Next door is a social networking tool that connects you with people from your own neighborhood. There are several categories or topics to chose from.  Of these many topics, one of them is “Crime”.

I saw a post made by a neighbor about vandalism to his vehicle. He posted a photograph of his own side mirror that had been damaged and he wanted to know if anyone else had their vehicles vandalized.  The damage to his mirror looked very similar to mine.

Someone else piped up and said that they had witnessed a Pileated Woodpecker attacking its own image in the side mirror of their truck. They went outside and chased it away but it was too late, they too had damage.  They explained that the birds were aggressive towards other males during mating season, which was now. The bird believed it was fighting another male.

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The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker that lives in our area of northern Indiana. They measure roughly 16  inches from head to tail and have a wingspan of almost 29 inches. They are usually recognized by the flaming red crest on their head. The Pileated Woodpecker is the second largest woodpecker in North America, second to the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, which is nearly extinct.

The Ivory Billed Woodpecker species is listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The American Birding Association lists the Ivory Billed Woodpecker as a class 6 species, a category it defines as “definitely or probably extinct”

I’m an optimist.

As the day went on more and more neighbors were popping in with their own experience. They had either seen the bird or had damage to their own vehicle too.  Neighbors in the know suggested putting grocery bags over the mirrors or fold them in to avoid attacks.

Later in the week, the St. Joseph County Parks had posted a photo to their Facebook of a tree that had been pecked pretty good by a Pileated Woodpecker. They explained that they will excavate deep into the wood of dead trees to eat nests of carpenter ants.

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Photo courtesy of Audubon.com

Quite honestly, as much as I love nature, animals and the outdoors, I had never paid much attention to the woodpeckers and the  different varieties. What an interesting way for me to discover them.

While I haven’t been lucky enough to actually see the one that’s terrorizing local vehicle owners, I have heard him. He’s been hanging out somewhere nearby as I’ve heard him several times in the mornings.

They really are beautiful. To learn more about the Pileated Woodpecker, visit Adubon.com

 

The Dausman Ditch Farm Bridge

In my post about the Northern Indiana Floods, I mentioned the wooden bridge over the Dausman ditch. This bridge is located on the property that belongs to my friend Chalisa’s family.  I often take my horse, Belle, down the lane and across the bridge to ride the trails in the woods and the edges of the fields.

This was the bridge during the flood. As you can see the ditch spilled over into the back fields.  It was an incredible sight to see. This is significant for our area.

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The water came up and over the bridge for several days. Chalisa’s father and brother made attempts to save it by reinforcing the structure the best that they could. Their efforts paid off because the ditch crested and the water slowly receded.  The bridge still stands.

This past week, Belle and I took a walk down the road and down the lane to the bridge and the back fields. It was a gloomy gray and misty morning but warmer than it had been. It felt good to get outside and enjoy some quiet time.

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I can’t explain what’s so great about this bridge. It just is.

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The wooden bridge over Dausman Ditch- March 28, 2018

 

The ditch is back to the usual water level. Thankfully.  I hope we don’t have to deal with this again any time soon.

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Nothern Indiana Flood 2018

Yes, I am still alive. I have started several entries this way over the past 2 years since I began blogging here. A lot has happened since the start of the year.  The next few posts are likely to be things that already happened that I want to write about.

I will begin with the flooding in Northern Indiana that we experienced in mid February.

In three days, we received 7 inches of rain that fell on top of approximately 2 feet of packed snow.  The snow was already melting from unseasonably warm weather that we got to enjoy for a couple of days before it began to rain.

Below is a photograph of my house approximately two days before the warm up. I took this photo because I was complaining  discussing how I was clearing snow from the street so I could park and the neighbor kept stealing my space.

 

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This was the scene a few days before the warm up and the rain started. Reports stated that the rainfall would have equaled almost 60 inches of snow.

 

The mayor of south Bend, Pete Buttigieg, referred to the event as our 500 year flood.

“When we talk about flooding in an area we don’t have 500 or 1,000 years of records,” said David Call, an associate professor of meteorology at Ball State University in Muncie. “We extrapolate out, we graph it out based on the data we do have. When people say a 500-year flood, it’s what we would expect the magnitude of flooding to be once every 500 years.”

If you have been following me on social media, you have seen my numerous photographs of the St. Joseph River. I love the St. Joe. I live a couple of blocks away and I often hike along it, kayak and of course, photograph it.  The river is a huge part of our community.

I have never seen the St. Joseph River that high or the flooding that it caused. I have also never seen the local ditches spill over the way that they did. It was incredible for our area. A lot of people lost their homes and businesses.  Roads collapsed or washed out, bridges were swept away.  Schools were closed for several day and shelters were created in additions to the locations that were already available.

In addition to the St. Joseph River, I also frequent the area of the Dausman Ditch, located near Bremen, Indiana. I often take my horse down the lane and cross the ditch to ride a trail and along the fences and fields that belong to my friend Chalisa and her family.  There is a wooden bridge they use to cross their equipment to get to the back fields.

The water threatened the bridge but they were able to save it.  If you’re following me on social media, you’ve seen photographs of this bridge several times.  It’s a plan wooden bridge but for whatever reason, I am enamored with it.

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The bridge over the Dausman Ditch. I am amazed that it’s still there!!

Professionally, we handled numerous water rescues from homes and vehicles. It was bad enough that everyone was out of barricades and signs. Marshall County, Indiana was in a state of emergency.  One of my close friends is an officer there and told me that one of the most frustrating things that he was forced to deal with was figuring out how to get to the people that needed help either because he couldn’t get to them or couldn’t get to them without serious risk of getting himself killed in the process.

I am begging you to NOT drive your vehicles through high water. It never looks as deep as it really is. You’re going to stall your motor and become stranded. You can also get swept away.  Not only does this put yourself into a bad situation but you’re also putting the responders into a bad position when we have to come and save you.

If there is a barricade or a road closed sign set up that means that the road is closed. It means that it is closed for you, regardless of who you think you are or where you think you need to go.  It’s closed for a reason.  Turn around and find another way to reach your destination.

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Near Wyatt, Indiana- Someone spray painted “road closed” on this van. This was approx 3 days after the rain stopped.

 

The first morning that the water was really high and covering the roads, I had to get really creative to make my destination and at one point, I was going to simply cancel my reasons for travel. It’s not worth putting yourself at risk.

Below is a small gallery of photo’s from our area. I did my best to add captions since the locations are from different areas with different sources of water.  I wasn’t able to get very many because I didn’t go near the affected areas since the roads were closed.  I took the majority of the photo’s and noted which ones I didn’t.

 

First And Final Camping Trip 2017

This year was incredibly busy and it seemed like my days never matched up to give me an opportunity to get out and camp and hike as often as I would like. Last year, by July, I had already gone camping 6 times. I hiked more often than that.

Sometimes in life, you have to take what you can get.

I completely understand the bumper sticker that reads “A bad day fishing beats a good day at work”.

A bad weekend camping also pretty much beats a good day anywhere else. Even if it’s cold and raining half the time and you have to will yourself to be there because it beats anything else that you have going on.

We tried. That’s all I can say.

I’ve known my friend, Chalisa since childhood. We are both equine enthusiasts, her a little bit more than me these days. We started planning about three weeks in advance to go camping for the weekend and to take the horses with us.

 

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Chalisa and I

 

Who plans a camping trip on Friday the 13th? We do. I was in charge of picking up the groceries for our dinners. I couldn’t resist buying a large package of chicken that retailed at $6.66. I dubbed this “The Devil’s Chicken” and claimed to everyone that I was using reverse psychology on the universe to avoid our pending murders at the state park.

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I’m known for my weirdness.

As only Murphy’s Law would have it, it was gorgeous all week up to the day of the trip and then the rain was to move in. Not just a little rain, but thunder and lightning on top of heavy downpours. And wind. We can’t forget the wind.

We weren’t going to let that stop us though!

I was finally able to make it to the campsite in the horseman’s campground at Potato Creek State Park. Chalisa was already there getting the horses settled in and our campsite squared away. She likes to stay in her trailer while I prefer the confines of my Kelty Trail Ridge 3 tent. It’s glorious.

Since we knew that the rain was coming, we set up a canopy over the picnic table.  We enjoyed some drinks and laughs while we caught up with our lives and gossip. There’s always plenty to talk about.

We were both exhausted from our day and turned in. We were blessed with a pack of coyotes calling very close to the campground. It was eerie and fantastic all at the same time.

We were up early and enjoyed a breakfast made up of coffee,  bacon, sausage, eggs and fried Honey Crisp apples.  The rain seemed to hold off a little while to allow the sun to peek through the clouds.  It was short lived.

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We didn’t waste a lot of time getting our horses saddled up so we could head out.   We got about 4 hours of riding in before the thunder and lightning arrived and we had to get off of the trail. It was even nice to just hang out in my tent and read a book.

It was about suppertime and we were contemplating if we were going to let the weather win or if we were going to stick it out all night in hopes that the morning might deliver some better news.

The radar told us that cold, wind and rain would be what we would have to look forward to. Other campers were already loading up and heading home.  I joked that they were quitters knowing that we would likely also be quitters before the night was over.

We decided to at least make our Devil’s Chicken for dinner before making the call to go or stay.  I wrapped our chicken quarters in the aluminum foil along with the other ingredients and placed them into the Dutch Oven.I had never used a Dutch Oven before and I was impressed by it. I didn’t think it would heat up as quickly or as hot as it did.

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We enjoyed our dinner and the conversation.  At about 7 o’clock when the rain and wind was picking up we decided to go ahead and call it and head home. The majority of the people that had managed to last the day were now starting to pack up and head out.

We were disappointed but at least we got to go out for a bit and enjoy our time together and with the horses. Just that one night and the day spent out on the trail was enough to recharge the batteries a little bit.

I’d do it again.

In other news. I hung my Kelty Trail Ridge 3 tent up to dry with a fan blowing on it.  It took almost 3 hours to completely dry. That’s how soaked everything was.  I also managed to drop my wifi hotspot on the ground at the campsite. I went back the next morning and found it buried under some leaves.  I was amazed when I discovered that it still worked. I dried it out and I am using it as my primary internet connection as I type this post.

Good times. Ain’t we lucky we got em?

 

Election Day

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My grandfather used to say that if you want to keep the peace with your friends and family to never discuss politics and religion. So I don’t.  Based on what I see unfolding on my Facebook and my Twitter, I am glad that I don’t.  Holy turmoil.

One of my cousins actually posted that “If you voted for Trump, unfriended and block me now you people make me sick,”

Way harsh?

I don’t care who anyone voted for. We all had our reasons for choosing our candidates. I don’t think it’s any reason to actually banish your friends and family from your lives. Those people are the ones who love and support you every single day. To disown anyone based on their voting habits is pretty foolish.

Anyway.

My son has been studying the election in school so I thought it would be fun to take him with me to our polling place to vote with me. Also, his school was closed so there was no reason not to take him with me. He even chose his American  flag shirt to wear. He looked cute.

We are set to vote in a building in a park that isn’t too far from our house. When we arrived we found the line to be fairly short. However, there was a hold up in the line. It was explained to everyone in line that the hold up was because a voter arrived who had previously opted to vote absentee. They then changed their mind. If you do that, you have to bring the ballot with you to your polling place to verify that you hadn’t already voted. She didn’t bring the ballot with her.

They were turned away until she could provide that ballot.  They actually made the call to head quarters and put it on peaked phone so that everyone could hear the conversation that was happening. Which I thought was great because if they hadn’t, I would’ve called to report the incident.

Dom was fascinated with the whole thing. I was really proud at how interested, polite and patient he was. He had a pretty good time while his mother as stressing out over her decisions.  Which I will not discuss here. Although, I did tweet to Jackie Walorski to let her know that I didn’t vote for her. I’m catty like that.

I know that’s probably childish and unnecessary but it got liked and retweeted like I wasn’t the only dissatisfied citizen.  The feed to that particular post was pretty crazy without my input.

Before heading in to work for the day, I dropped my kiddo off at his grandma’s house. He explained to her that we had gone to the park and that he “Voted for the United States Of America”.  He was proud to be a part of it.

I stayed up as late as I could for the results. I fell asleep and actually woke up as they were calling it in favor of Donald Trump. I listened to his speech and then turned off the TV.

Did anyone else take their kids with them to vote? Do you explain the process along with how it works and why it is so important to get out there and make your voices heard?

I hope everyone is having a great day!

Camping On Friday the Thirteenth- Pokagon State Park

How did this girl celebrate Friday the 13th? I went camping in a fairly isolated section of the campground at Pokagon State Park. Pokagon State Park is located in north eastern Indiana and is approximately one hour from where I live.

The park was originally called Lake James State Park, but was changed to Pokagon State Park  to  honor the state and regions Native American heritage. Leopold and Simon Pokagon were father and son and the last two notable leaders of the Potawatomi.   Please click here to learn more about the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi.

Also noteworthy, is that Pokagon State Park was home to the Civilian Conservation Corps , Troop #556,  from 1934-1942. The CCC was created as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to provide employment for unmarried boys and men 18-23 (later 17-28) as a relief effort during the Great Depression.

While the CCC camp is long gone, you can still see evidence of their work in the park through the stone and log structures and also in the pines and lilac trees that still thrive here.  While on one of my hike’s, I came across one of the old stone dams. You will see a photograph of the stone dam in my photo gallery.

I wanted to mention that the staff I talked to were so nice and really helpful. Since I hadn’t visited this park before, I had a lot of questions and everyone was happy to assist me.  They also have a really nice camp store with pretty much everything that you would ever need, including bundles of fire wood. Too bad I brought my own, there’s was cheaper.

I arrived in early afternoon on Friday the 13th. I reserved my campsite in campground #2 site 247. This site is in a small cul-de-sac and is fairly isolated from the rest of the campground. On this day, it was myself and one other camper who was a few sites over. Otherwise, there weren’t a lot of people around.  I was avoiding other people at all costs as I was having an “introverted episode”.

In all seriousness, I wanted to mention that there are no bad campsites in this campground. They are all great. They are incredibly spacious and there is enough room between you and your neighbor to allow you to have some privacy.  I was overjoyed.

The first adventure that I had was when I was setting up my tent, I set it up on a nest of what I am pretty sure were fleas. Tiny and jumpy. So, I shook off and moved a few feet. I set my tent up and sprayed it with Permethrin to keep the jumpies and the crawlies away.  I didn’t have an issue after that. I am pretty sure I was standing on a nest.

This was the first time I had set up my brand new tent. In another blog entry, I wrote about ordering a Kelty Trail Ridge 3 tent and that it was a replacement for another tent that I no longer owned. That entry was called Planning and Deep thoughts-Replacing What Was Lost.  This camping trip was its maiden voyage.  This tent is great. Kelty products are quality and I honestly can’t say enough that’s positive about this tent.

After I was fairly settled in, I decided to take a drive around and get to know the park. My goal was to spend all day Saturday hiking. Lu and I hopped back in the car and drove through all of the campgrounds, we found the Nature Center, the saddle barn and the giant Toboggan Slide that the park is known to have. We walked around and explored the beach and visited with the horses for a few minutes.

I was so over the moon happy.

As it got darker I returned to my campsite and started a fire. I spent the next few hours sitting in front of the fire. I roasted some hot dogs for Lu and I to enjoy for dinner. I had my iPad with me so I could do some fireside reading. I also enjoyed some music.  Most of all, I just took a breath and relaxed.

As I was sitting enjoying the campsite, I was visited by a raccoon who was watching me through the trees. Later I learned my lesson of not having Lu tethered or leashed. After several warnings because I noticed her watching the woods where the raccoon had been, Lu saw her opportunity to go after the raccoon.

There was a short fight before I got her to come back and somehow, Lu didn’t have a scratch on her. A review of the area where the tussle occurred didn’t show any evidence of the raccoon being hurt either.  Huge miracle because based on the all the noise, I was expecting to take Lu to the emergency vet. 

Follow the rules and keep your dogs on a leash!

I decided to turn in around 11pm. It was starting to sprinkle a bit. I knew that there was rain in the forecast and pretty much didn’t care. I drifted off to sleep while listening to the rain fall outside of my tent. It was amazing.

The temperature dropped about 30 degrees over night. I experienced heavy rain and high winds for awhile. My tent held up like a champ. No leaks.  Bone dry and between Lu and my own body heat and my sleeping bag, we were warm and comfortable. Even though it was cold, it was still wonderful.

We got up, I started another fire and made some breakfast. I enjoyed scrambled eggs and some sausage. I boiled water for coffee and even made some fried apples. It was just wonderful.  Of course I shared some sausage with Lu.  We sat around for awhile and then headed out to hike for the day.

I drove to the parking lot of the Potawatomi Inn, which is located inside of the park, and left my car there for the day. Armed with water and snacks, we headed out to find trail 3. Our destination was Hell’s Point, which is the highest point in Steuben County.

It didn’t take long to reach Hell’s Point.  I have never understood why people give such horrible names to beautiful places. The only thing hellish about Hell’s Point was the climb up the stairs to get there. Or down the stairs, depending on how you come in on trail 3 to get there. It’s just an overlook.

We met two other women at Hell’s Point and had a really nice conversation about my hydration pack. One of the women explained that they both were going to “backpacking boot camp” in Vermont in June. They were looking to buy some gear. I did my civic duty and directed them to REI to look at gear and explained the benefits of being a member.

I also educated them about Lyme Disease and asked them to be vigilant about checking for ticks and suggested that they treat their clothes with Permethrin. They both took notes and one of them was Googling REI and Permethrin. I thought that was great.

Lu and I hiked along trail 3, 9 and then 7. Trail 9 was a lot of fun and loops around the Potawatomi Nature Preserve. The springtime wildflowers were in bloom and the Dogwood’s were all blooming. It was really beautiful.

I got pelted with frozen rain quite a few times. I dressed for the weather, thankfully I had brought a hat, gloves and my wool head scarf that I always just wear around my neck. I love that thing. I decided that it was better to be pelted with frozen rain than unfrozen rain. Ha!

On my way back, I inadvertently took the wrong trail and ended up doing parts of trail 3 twice. After reviewing my map, I finally found my way and started heading out of the woods. I stopped and took a break on a bench that was along the trail. I was taunted by a sign that pointed to trail #7 that was right in front of me.

After a minute or two of debating with myself, I looked at the map to see how long the trail was. It was an easy mile and a half, so I decided to go ahead and go. I was glad that I did.  Trail #7 is also known as Bluebird Hills. Between the Dogwoods in full bloom, the open meadow and the wetland, it was a breath taking sight from on top of the hill. It was like stepping into a painting.

Beautiful.

I completed the trail and headed back to my car. Lu looked wiped out. I was mostly hungry and cold. Yet, really okay with that. We drove back to our campsite to relax for a little while. It was almost 6pm.

I consulted my weather app and saw that the temps were going to continue to drop that night and it was going to rain again. I had to be up very early in the morning so I made the decision to just go ahead and pack up and go home.

Ugh. I didn’t want to leave.

I packed up and pointed my car to the west and went home. Relaxed and pretty happy.  The only thing worse than having to go home after camping out is having to put everything away when you get home.

It was the perfect weekend. I can’t wait to do it again.

Below are some photo’s I took over the weekend. I hope that you will check them out!

 

 

 

Wandering the Region- West Beach

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is located in northwest Indiana along the south shore of Lake Michigan. The national lakeshore was established in 1966 and includes 15,000 acres of wetlands, prairies, sand dunes, oak savannas, forests, and historic sites.

The West Beach area is located on the edge of Gary, Indiana and near the town of Porter, Indiana. It is also a quick drive from Interstate 80/90 and 80/94 if you’re passing through the area.

West Beach offers approximately 3.5 miles of trails. This includes the Long Lake Loop, that I wrote about previously at “Wandering the Region-The Long Lake Loop”. I also wrote about the West Beach area in January during my last visit.  You can check out that post here at “A Walk On the Lake: Lake Michigan In Winter”

West Beach offers three trails:

The Dune Succession Trail (ecological succession) is a 1 mile loop trail that highlights the stages of dune development. It is an incredible and scenic trail that offers a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan from atop a 2,000 year old sand dune.

On a clear day, you can see the the city of Chicago, Illinois in the distance.  As you hike along with path (and up some stairs, I promise it’s totally worth it)  you will enjoy the shade so generously offered by the Jack Pines, Black Oak Trees and other species. I especially love watching the prairie grass as it sways in the wind.

The West Beach Trail is a more flat and easier 1.4-mile hike through an area that was sand mined in the 1920’s. This area is being restored as an oak savanna and is a great place to see prickly pear cactus. If you checked out my blog post about the Long Lake Loop, I showed a few photographs that included the prickly pear cacti that were technically on the West Beach Trail and were involved in the recent controlled burn.

Lastly, The Long Lake Loop that runs along the south side of West Beach. The loop is 1.5 miles in length and connects to the West Beach Trail Loop.  You will pass by the shoreline of Long Lake which is popular for birding, running and offers much more solitude than the busier sections closer to the beach area.

I should mention that West Beach is also close the Marquette Trail. I haven’t ventured down that trail yet so I can’t tell you much about it. Click on the link and check out more information and see what others have had to say. I’ll write about that trail in the future.

Below is a gallery of photographs that I took during my most recent visit to West Beach. I hope that you will check it out.

 

 

 

Throw Back- Two Years Ago Today

Yesterday, I wrote about the “On This Day” app that you can use on FaceBook that will show you every post you made on a specific date in previous years.  It’s a really neat thing to have and I think it’s fun to see what I was doing then and to read through the comment threads.

Today I got to see more posts that I made regarding the huge snowstorm that we had in January of 2014.  On this date, two years ago, I was still shoveling snow. More snow. We referred to it all as “Snowmaghedon” and the “Snowpacyplse”. We had a regional travel ban for days where if you got caught out on the roads you could be given a ticket and even taken to jail.

Lucky for me I am considered essential and I was permitted to be out on the roads. It was actually kind of nice ( and fun) to be out and about when no one else was. The streets were pretty empty.

In the photo below, I had just shoveled a new path out to the street. Dingo Lu is sitting on the steps, supervising my work. She’s clearly not impressed. She doesn’t care for the snow at all. She doesn’t get excited about it or want to play in it the way that Sasha (the Rottweiler) does.

The curb to the street is actually about a foot and a half from the tree. The snow probably came up to just above my knees. As you can see, the snow is pretty deep out into the street. This is due to the issue I mention yesterday about people not moving the I cars for the plows and the plows not being able to get in to plow the snow.

This is why I had to constantly keep up with shoveling so I would have a place to park.  The plows can only do so much people people don’t want to comply. Our street kept getting narrower and narrower.

Today in 2016, with the exception of what is piled up in parking lots, we have no snow on the ground. It actually rained the other night for a little while. I know I keep sending myself the reminder about how I should be careful what I wish for, but I still hope we get a fair amount of snow before Spring.  There’s still time.

It seems typical around here to usually have a fairly cold January and the real snow doesn’t come until February and early March. Weather forecasters always seem to convince their viewers that our weather is doing strange things. I agree that sometimes it does, but it really doesn’t for the most part.  I snows in the winter and gets hot in the summer.

It annoys me and I find it irresponsible how the weather gets dramatized. It’s my opinion that it sets people up to get hurt. After awhile nobody takes anything seriously, then when something big is coming people won’t prepare themselves.

I watched the Weather Channel last weekend and did a lot of hard eye rolls at the reporters who dramatized the situation they were in. One of them went on and on about snow plows and wow can they talk a lot to fill the segments.  Then another was losing their mind over a couple inches of snow. Even the people in Central Park were looking at this person like “Why are you making such a big deal about this?”

I am not downplaying the situation out east. I know a lot of places got hammered. It’s not normal to get what they got in the Carolinas, I get that. I just don’t think we need to make a whole lot of something out of nothing. It’s dangerous.

Anyway, I miss the snow. Sasha misses the snow. I also posted the photo’s below on this day in 2014. Dingo Lu was simply not impressed. Sasha is so funny. I had a videos also but I couldn’t save it from FaceBook. Too bad too, Sasha was going nuts playing in the snow.

Lu stole Sasha's bone but Sasha didn't mind because she was too busy enjoying the snow.

Lu stole Sasha’s bone but Sasha didn’t mind because she was too busy enjoying the snow.

 

Lu overseeing my snow removal efforts.

Lu overseeing my snow removal efforts.

 

Sidenote, the spiffy green house is currently for sale. I really miss the woman and her dog that used to live here.

A Walk On the Lake- Lake Michigan In the Winter

One of my favorite songs is performed by Toad the Wet Sprocket. It’s called “Walk On the Ocean”.  It’s an oldie but goodie and I’m sure that you probably know it. If you don’t, click on the link and enjoy.

The lyric that resonates with me the most is:

“Now back at the homestead, where the air makes you choke. People don’t know you and trust is a joke,”

Ah life. Ain’t it grand? Sometimes it’s more grand than other times. Quite often it’s of the sarcastic sort. Between the usual stressors of life and the added stressors of life, I am at a tipping point. I’m not so sure it’s a bad thing anymore though.

Trials are part of life. If you’re unhappy you need a change. If you want change you have to make it. Good bad or indifferent, you’re the only one who can do anything about your situation.

My problem is letting go of attachments and fear. I want to make sure that I am doing the right thing.  It never fails that when I am at my breaking point ( again) that the universe catches wind of it and then whispers into the ears of people and situations around me and it makes a positive change. Usually though, it’s only temporary.  That’s the sad part that I have come to realize.

Holding out hope for anything is just another form of bondage.

Or is that the universe ( or God ) telling me to just be patient and hold on? That’s one way to look at it.  Either way, it’s a beautiful day and I decided not to be a headcase and go for a walk at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore at West Beach.

The West Beach location is small. In the summer time it is usually crowded down on the beach, but not so much out on the hiking trails.  Admittedly, the hiking trails around the West Beach location, aren’t a whole lot to shout about.  I enjoy them nonetheless.

I think the best part of exploring the area is climbing to the top of the ominous looking staircase and taking in the views.  If you care to check out the photo gallery, the staircase is pictured in the fourth photograph. It looks challenging to some, but it’s worth the climb.

From the top of the staircase you are above the pines. You have a 360 view of the area. On a clear day you can see the city of Chicago. You can also see this in the gallery on photograph number eight.

I was alone in the park. The final patrons were returning to their vehicles when I arrived. I was lone. This is the way that I prefer it most of the time. I have been hungering for time to myself. This is the best way to get it. I passed by an older gentleman who was walking an Afghan Hound on a leash. I’m sure he thought there was something wrong with me by the way that I was staring. I’d never seen an Afghan Hound in person.

I didn’t have any of my dogs with me.

I started out my hike by walking along the path to the stairs. I made it to the stop and paused for awhile, taking in the views.  The sun was out, the day was clear and you could see Chicago in the distance. It’s approximately 40 miles from where I was standing to the city limits.

I made my way down the back side of the stairs into the dunes. Most of this section of the park is fenced off to keep people from disturbing the dunes. Humans cause a lot of damage in addition to the natural changes that are also occurring. We needs fences and signs to remind us to leave things alone.

I enjoy this section of the stairs going down because you’re above the pines and also at tree level. There is just something about the pines that I like. More than just the smell. They make me happy. They make me feel peaceful.

I eventually landed on the beach.  Lake Michigan is beautiful no matter what season it is. In my opinion though, the best sunsets come in the fall.  In the wintertime, the lake will eventually freeze over in some spots.

If you look at the photographs you will see what are known as “ice shelves”. This is basically the frozen edge around the water.  The waves crash against the store and bit by bit it freezes. If you look at the photographs you will see where the shelf has formed ( in this spot ) approximately 20-30 feet onto the lake.

I went against the warnings and walked out onto the shelf until I was about 6 feet from the edge. I took great care to make sure I didn’t slip and fall and also listened to paid attention to any movement or change that would indicate it wasn’t going to hold my weight. I wasn’t over concerned. It’s been pretty cold lately.

I stood on the edge for quite awhile. Just looking. Thinking. I also managed to take some photographs and make a couple of videos. It held the peace I was looking for and it made me forget what was on my mind when I left my vehicle in the lot.

After I made my way off the ice, I sat down on a small log that was  frozen in place on the edge of the grass and the sand. I sat there for quite awhile just to watch the waves crash into the shelves, and to listen.

On a humorous note, when it was time for me to leave, I walked towards the bath house, which is where I usually exit to go out to the road that leads to the parking lot.  I didn’t realize until I had gone up the steps to the building that the giant garage doors were down and the bars were up. I couldn’t pass through to leave.

Instead of going all the back from the way I came, I decided to take the only other option available.I walked around the stone pillar and went underneath the bath house. Much like structures built along the ocean, the bath house sits up on concrete pillars to protect it from real high tides and or flooding.

That was an adventure.

It was a good day.

It was a good weekend.

I hope that you’ll check out my gallery that’s included in this post in addition to the short video below.  This video is the first one that I have uploaded to YouTube in almost 7 years! It’s only 17 seconds long. Long enough for you to get the gist of what Lake Michigan is like at this time of year on a calm day.

Photo gallery..