Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

The Horizon, Vastness, and Memories

The Daily Post, in this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon, asks the question, “Is there a particular horizon that speaks to you?” I would have to answer that question, “not really”, but as someone who grew up spending many a summer day in western Michigan along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, I first thought of that horizon. The lake seems more like an ocean than a lake, especially to a child, and the sharp line where water meets sky has always intrigued me.

Back then, the water always seemed so infinite, until the day a brisk east wind took my new beach ball “to Milwaukee” (as my Dad said), and I realized that the lake, although great, was finite. Later, when my dad gave me an old camera of his, it was the lake and the horizon that were my favorite subjects, and I took plenty of overly dark and blurry sunset pictures. My dad took better pictures of us too with that horizon as a backdrop, and those pictures bring back great memories. As an adult, I realize that it’s the people and the memories that I cherish, not just the scenery behind us.

When I thought about taking this challenge, I set some parameters for myself. My gallery of pictures includes only pictures from my walks in 2013. As an ode to the horizon of my childhood, the first group includes pictures taken along the shores of Lake Michigan, from three of the four states that border it: Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.

It’s the “things” in these pictures that makes them interesting: the things in front of the horizon, the things that break up the horizon, and the natural wonders like clouds and waves. I’ve enjoyed looking again at these pictures with a new eye and remember those walks well. It brought to mind other, different walks that I also remembered and enjoyed.

One of the things that surprised me most through these past ten months of walking is just how beautiful the flat grasslands of Illinois are. The interaction between prairie and sky is different than the sharp horizon line between water and sky, but has an infinite beauty of its own.

As I look back at the pictures from these walks, I remember the beauty of creation: the colorful fields of flowers, the waves of the grasses, and the vastness of the sky. But, I also remember who was with me on each walk and that we had a nice time, and that’s what speaks to me.

Those memories are as important as the scenery.

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My son, enjoying the vast quietness of a closed road, at the Midewin National Prairie.

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Day Two Hundred Ninety-three

Segway Tours, Bridal Parties, and Great Views

I was in Chicago again today, so I walked around the Museum Campus and Northerly Island, which is actually a man-made peninsula. I really enjoyed exploring the area. We visited the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium often when our older three children were young, but I haven’t been there in years.

In fact, it’s been so long, that the last time I was there, the adjacent Meigs Field was still operating as an airport. In 2003, then Mayor Richard M. Daley tore up the airfield in the middle of the night, without FAA permission, citing security risks and causing quite the stir.

Converting the island into usable green space is still ongoing. A “semi-temporary” outdoor concert center takes up part of the former air strip. The rest of the space needs some work, but a large flock of geese seems to like it as-is. The streets around the museums are much less treacherous, and the parking is considerably better than it was before, so kudos, Mayor Daley…

Museum CampusNortherly Island1Northerly Island does offer some great views of the lake to the east and Soldier Field to the west. It’s a popular place for segway tours; several groups passed me while I was walking around. Along Burnham Harbor, I liked walking near the boats, past folks fishing from the side and piers. I saw American coots in the harbor as well.

Museum CampusNortherly Island2Next, I walked to Solidarity Drive, briefly along the Lakefront trail, and back up the other side of Solidarity Drive. I continued by looking around the Adler Planetarium which sits at the farthest point out into Lake Michigan and makes the Chicago skyline a popular backdrop for photographs. I saw professional photo shoots of families and two wedding parties. I must admit, I did more people-watching at this point than walking!

Skyline weddingsFun spot, good walk!

Day Two Hundred Eight

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore-West Beach Loop

I’ve been wanting to do a dunes walk for awhile.  With today’s really cool weather and my nineteen-year old wanting to join us–today was the day!

We drove to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and visited West Beach.  We walked the West Beach Trail Loop and the Dune Succession Trail Loop.
Indiana Dunes West Beach

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The West Beach loop is away from Lake Michigan and is unnaturally low after years of sand removal to other areas around Chicagoland.  We saw some interesting wildflowers and prickly pear cacti.  It was a nice walk.

The National Park Service map describes the Dune IMG_0781Succession Trail as “scenic but strenuous,” an apt description as the views were breathtaking and climbing the dunes and stairs, exhilarating but exhausting.  Despite some clouds, we could see views of downtown Chicago and the entire South Shore.  I even found the views of Gary, Indiana, interesting!

Good day, good walk!

Day One Hundred Ninety-five

Beach Day!

I had every intent to go for a walk along the beach today.

I spent the day in Michigan visiting family on the shores of Lake Michigan.  I enjoy walking on the beach and really thought I would be able to squeeze a short walk in, but between catching up with family and chatting with neighbors, I never made it.

By the end of the day though, my legs and feet sure feel like I have actually been walking quite a bit.  I guess walking to and from the beach a couple of times and walking on the soft, sandy bottom of the lake in the sun is more strenuous than this shoe-wearing flatland-prairie girl is used to, because I’m exhausted.

Good day, good beaching!