Friday, June 25, 2010

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Sunny and hot today!

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wicked Summer Storm!

Wow! We had a wicked summer storm last evening! It had been hot (90F) and humid all day yesterday so evening thunderstorms were no surprise. And since the National Weather Service and local media had kept the public abreast of the possibility of severe weather all day the fact that we got a monster storm was no surprise either. But boy, I was still amazed at the ferocity of this particular storm!

D and I enjoy storm chasing.  For us, it's all about the photo op. We seek out good opportunities to photograph storms. Which is kinda funny really because as a kid I was terrified of thunderstorms and tornado warnings. And now I find it a fun challenge to capture Mother Nature's fury with my camera.

Anyway, I kept an eye on the local radar throughout the day. When it looked like the storm was imminent, we headed down to Silver Beach. Unfortunately, the beach was closed and everyone had been asked to evacuate. So we went on to Lion's Beach where we found ourselves among a handful of others with cameras in their hands.

You could tell from the cloud formation that it was going to be a whopper of a storm.

It looked ominous and it felt ominous.

These "before" pictures are pretty amazing. But there was no way for me to capture the hurricane force winds that came up in an instant. I've never experienced wind like that before. I don't know what the exact wind speed was but according to the local media it was between 70-90 mph. The force was so strong it felt like a heavy wave crashing against me. And I have a big bruise on my arm where it flung me against the car to prove it. Awesome!

And then it rained.

Then after the storm it cleared up enough to catch another wonderful Lake Michigan sunset.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend, Part 2

[Continued from Memorial Day Weekend, Summer is Here!]

The sun was shining when we woke up on Sunday but the weather forecasters were suggesting that the sky would cloud up in a few hours. So we made a bee line for our photo destination of Michigan City, IN bright and early. We've been to Michigan City before but this time we made the trip specifically to photograph the lighthouse. I've seen the lighthouse in several publications and it looks identical to St Joseph's inner lighthouse to me. I'm guessing it was the same designer who is responsible for both.

It was sunny when we left St Joe, cloudy most of the drive down to Michigan City, and sunny again when we got there. :-) We had a bit of trouble finding Washington Park. We should have used our GPS, the map we had wasn't detailed enough to get us there from I-94. But we did get there! It took us approximately 35 minutes from St Joe.

Washington Park is a pretty park with lots of grass and trees and places to picnic. The beach is lovely with a nice long stretch of white sand. D and I were surprised to find the beach almost empty when we got there but then we remembered about the time change. Indiana is an hour behind Michigan's EDT. Guess it was a little early for all the Saturday night revelers ;-)

We walked along the pier out to the the lighthouse. Sure enough, it looks just like St Joe's lighthouse up close too. But sadly, it's in need of a paint job. It looks a little sad and neglected to me.

There weren't many boats leaving the marina yet but there were a few. We got a big kick out of this boat named "Breaking Wind"... the name just cracked us up! (D and I find bathroom humor hilarious ;-)

When the temperature started to really heat up we headed back to the car and made our way out of the park. We decided to grab some lunch and then make a quick stop at the outlet mall (is there such a thing as a quick stop at an outlet mall?). We passed this place, Matey's, that looked interesting.

I'll admit I was a bit fearful that it would be just a "hamburger joint" but that was not the case. The inside was tastefully decorated with nautical decor and the food we ordered was yummy!

I ordered a chicken salad that had no description on the menu. This is what I got.

It not only had a good portion of tasty grilled chicken but it also had tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions, black olives, a chili pepper, and cucumbers on a nice bed of fresh lettuce. It was very good!

D ordered the steak sandwich. He really enjoyed his too!

Then it was off to the Lighthouse Outlet Mall. The mall was having a sidewalk sale and the place was packed with people. We were lucky and got a close parking space :-) There were only a handful of stores we wanted to stop in so we really weren't there very long. D and I each bought a watch at the Fossil store (the plastic kind to wear in the pool), I found just the hat I wanted at the Eddie Bauer store, and I picked up a few (OK, 4!) pair of shoes at the Crocs store. Hey, they were having a terrific sale!!!

With our shopping done, we headed back to St Joe. We arrived in plenty of time to take a quick dip in the pool and make dinner to enjoy out on the deck. After dinner we made our way over to Silver Beach for yet a third night in a row of lovely sunsets. The beach was more crowded than I've ever seen it. And if I must say, it wasn't the nicest crowd either. But we were able to find a nice less-crowded area to watch the sunset and once again appreciate the beauty of Lake Michigan in the evening.

The weather forecasters said it would rain on Monday and boy did it! I watched the weather radar throughout the morning on TV hoping to catch some shots of lightning over the lake. About noon it started to look promising so we headed on down to Silver Beach. It was raining but we were prepared to shoot pics from inside the truck where we could stay dry and away from lightning bolts ;-) Unfortunately, the line of storms coming across the lake sort of lost its gusto (and lightning) by the time it got to St Joe. We didn't get any lightning shots in spite of the fact that there was a good deal of lightning over the city from a separate line of storms coming up from the south :-( We did watch a bunch of really foolish people cavorting in the lake in the middle of the storm though.

And there were plenty of others hanging out on the beach too...

So what did we do the rest of the day? We stayed inside and bowled on our Wii game!

All in all it was a terrific Memorial Day weekend and I think we had more hot, sunny weather in one weekend than we did all last summer!

I'm sure hoping this very hot beginning of summer is a harbinger of things to come. I'd love to have a summer of hot weather to enjoy Michigan's great Southwest!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend, Summer is Here!

Summer came to Southwest Michigan with gusto the past couple of weeks. The weather was sunny and in the mid to upper 80s much of the time. Woo Hoo! (I love it hot!) I worried that the heat wave would be over by the time the weekend got here but that was not the case.  :-)

D and I arrived in St Joe at dinner time on Friday and since the weather was soooo beautiful we decided to head over to the Bistro on the Boulevard where we could dine out on the patio overlooking the lake.

It was much cooler in St Joe than I expected (64F) due to a north breeze off Lake Michigan. I was glad I'd thought to bring a light jacket (always a good idea to have a sweater or light jacket handy when you're in a beachtown ;-). I ordered filet mignon and D ordered a spicy tomato-pasta-shrimp dish. Both were excellent, but as usual when I dine at the Bistro, everything was not as expected. This time the Yukon Gold mashed potatoes were cold, not luke warm mind you, but cold. Every time we dine there something is not quite right. But we keep going back for the view, because that is ALWAYS right!

After dinner, we went down to the south pier to watch the sunset. It was lovely, as always. The pier was crowded with people and the lighthouses were looking majestic. It's so calming to the soul to witness nature's quiet beauty.

Saturday dawned clear and warm. We did some grocery shopping and then headed for the swimming pool in the afternoon when the weather got hot. Oh what a treat! It was our first time in the pool this year and it was every bit as nice as I remembered from last year. In fact, we enjoyed it so much we stayed in a bit too long and I have the sunburn to prove it! :-(

After dinner we headed to Warren Dunes State Park. We'd been there once before, last November. At that time the trees were barren and the wind blowing off the lake was biting cold! Still, you couldn't help but appreciate the awesome dunes.
This time around the dunes were just as awesome but the beach was much more inviting! Here's a picture of D with K near the top of one of the dunes.
What do you mean you can't see 'em? They are right there near the top. ;-) D is the one in a bright yellow shirt with the big brown dog. And speaking of dogs, yes they are allowed at Warren Dunes State Park. And I believe they are the only place in the area that actually allows dogs on the beach! They aren't allowed on the whole length of the beach though, just the section to the right of the third bathhouse. But that's a plenty long stretch for doggie swimming and sunning.
Yep, that's D in the yellow shirt above trying to coax K into the water. As a rule, Dobermans aren't water dogs in the way that say a Labrador Retriever is. We thought we'd give K a chance to try swimming but he wasn't having any of it, LOL! The water was pretty cold though. I think we'll try again in another month or so and see if we can get him to give it a try.

We left Warren Dunes about an hour before sunset and headed back to St Joseph. When we got to Lake Bluff Park it was obvious that others had the same idea. Here you can see a crowd of people lined up along the bluff watching the Lake Michigan sunset.
And others strolling along along the promenade...

And oh it was a lovely sunset! That evening I chose to photograph the view looking across the new Compass fountain and out to the lake...
The wonderful thing about watching Lake Michigan sunsets is they are different every day depending on the atmospheric conditions. Some days the sky has clouds, some not. Some times the lake has big waves from high winds, sometimes it's placid. Sometimes the sky is more golden and sometimes more pink. Regardless, it's always a good show!

And here is my patriotic Memorial Day weekend photo...
This beautiful sunset brought Saturday to a close. If you'd like to know what we did on Sunday and Monday of the holiday weekend, come back soon for Part 2!