Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hurricane Ike's Damage.. Northwest Indiana gets more rain than Texas!

Hurricane Ike did more than dump water on the Texas coast.. It wrecked havoc all up and down the mid-section of this country, some places getting hit harder than others. Near Dayton, Ohio, the winds were so fierce, that trees were broken or uprooted.. wading pools sailed through the air, 'til neighborhood children caught them and held them down and the remnants of IKE were felt all the way to Iceland, the winds fierce there, also.

Gasoline prices in Tennessee and Kentucky climbed to incredible highs near $5.00 a gallon, when the scare of refiners being shut down in Texas because of the storm, drove people into gas stations to buy gas they didn't need.. filling up every tank and gas can they owned. Stations ran out of gas quickly.. The station owner we talked to was on his fourth delivery for the day and it was only mid-day. He said it would be all gone within 2 hours.. and then, he didn't know what he was going to do about prices.. Everyone around him was already at $4.29 or more.. So far, he'd been able to hold the line on his prices at $3.85.. I thanked him for doing so. Shouldn't have had to thank him for doing the "right thing".. but greed is a powerful thing.. and greed for money is far worse. And all the stations anywhere near him has already succumbed to making a quick dollar.... the "Almighty Dollar".. I can't even imagine how many fortunes were made that day.. at the expense of people who probably couldn't afford to lose any of theirs. :(

Here, in Northwest Indiana, however.. the real story was RAIN. I've never seen so much rain fall on this area.. not ever... and I've been living here almost 29 years. The exact measurement was somewhere over 11 inches.. If not for the fact that the ground was so parched from not having adequate rain the 2-1/2 weeks before the deluge, things here could have been far worse, tho things were bad enough... of this I am postive.

At Indiana Dunes State Park, on the northern-most end of Chesterton, IN, what happened was so bizzarre, it was almost unbelievable. My friend, who saw it happen, could hardly believe his eyes... Depending on how the wind blows, men using sand-moving equipment move the sand around on the beach to keep up with the flow from the water from the Creek that runs through the park and empties into Lake Michigan.. We're not sure exactly how it happened, but apparently the sand was piled wrong.. or it moved after it was piled up... and the water rushing out of the Creek started to back-flow. It back-flowed all the way to the gully on the far east side of the parking lot... and after that area was full, it started to run it's way down the side of the parking lot... back towards the Lake where it normally flows.

It was raining here so hard at the time, the rain coming down in sheets most of that while.. that it was not only running down the side of the parking lot, but started to wash away the sand at the same time.. The harder it ran, the more sand it picked up and washed away.. first from the side of the parking lot.. then UNDER the parking lot. It eventually undermined the asphalt and that collapsed, sending the water in a new direction... now running under the cement pad that runs directly over the Creek and the discharge area to the beach. Eventually, part of the cement pad had no sand left to hold it up and that also broke away, leaving only the cement barrier wall that the pad that backed up onto. If you look at the one photo, it clearly shows the drop-off where cement used to be, but is no longer..

Another photo shows where the beach USED to be.. Now, it's all water that's coming in there.. and with each wave of water, more sand is being washed out from the area that was once many-feet-deep with sand... and the parking area that continues to erode. The one photo that's taken from the beach looking up towards the eastern-most curved retaining wall for the Creek, clearly shows water now where the sand used to be, but beyond that, you can see part of the Dune has also been sliced-away, the trees at the bottom used to be on top of that dune... as did the now-dangling fence. The asphalt from the parking lot has heaved in that area, but in other areas, the gaping hole is anywhere from 10 to possibly 20 feet deep. No matter which edge of the cement or asphalt we looked at today, there is nothing under them for quite aways..

I wonder exactly how much more of the cement pad and asphalt parking lot will have to be destoyed in the effort to rebuild the damaged area.. Without a doubt, this is going to be an incredible feat to repair all the damage.. and what's visible isn't all there is... many more materials will have to be removed before they can even begin to fix the problem.. Probes will have to be driven down through the cement to see how far towards the Pavillion building (and the rest of the parking area) the erosion has traveled.. And none of it visible at all. Right now, you can't get to the Eastern side of the beach... the only access there.. is entry from the campgrounds, even though the beach at the West Lot in IDSP is still open. Many people don't even realize the West Lot exists..

This is a really heart-breaking situation for those of us who frequent the Indiana Dunes... but a true catastrophe for the already money-strapped State Park.. I do hope no one is hurt in the process of rebuilding it all, as I noticed one man couldn't resist the temptation to walk down the sand and stand on one of the slabs of upturned asphalt.. and if one man did it, many others have already and will again.. A very dangerous situation over there. :(

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Buckingham Fountain.. 8-12-08

Chicago's Buckingham Fountain.. ... for it's history.. and a very interesting history it is..! While it's size is unsurpassed in the world, there is something etherial about this fountain.. Its beauty and unique architecture make it a place to visit often.. maybe to eat lunch nearby... to watch the lightshow each evening.. to hear the din of falling water... This fountain is the starting point of Historic Route 66 that ran all the way to Los Angeles. Short, but interesting history is at the website..

Summer Sundog at IDSP..

SUNDOGS... ... I guess even after reading this brief explanation, I still can't relay what a sundog really is. All I know is that it's very interesting and quite beautiful.. In this photo, taken from the Indiana Dunes State Park beach area, the real sun is on the bottom.. and the "fake sun" looks to be a reflection off the clouds above.. Don't know if that's true or not, but it sounds good.. therefore, it should be right. lol Enjoy! :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Totes, a Harley.. & other stuff..

On August 4th, Thursday, we surveyed the damage done at a storage facility in Griffith, IN.. after the EF-2 Tornado passed through that area..

I've never thought much about how very many lives are affected in one communal storage area like that.. But seeing the storage units with roofs ripped off and contents strewn about and so very many people trying to save what was still left of theirs, it occured to me that while a home sustains great damage and has a terrible effect on one family's lives.. those little storage units hold many lives in it's grasp.

The damage at that storage complex was incredible. Some people weren't even in town.. some had no way to pick up their things as of when we were there.. and while things hadn't been ruined by rain.. yet.. the potential was just a matter of time, before salvageable goods turned into ruined goods.

We talked briefly to one man who had much of a jewelry business tucked into one unit.. Much there was ruined or lost completely. He saved what he could.. took everything, I'm sure, to go through at home or elsewhere. Another unit was loaded with shoes.. New shoes? Am not sure, tho all the over-stuffed racks were marked with sizes. With so much debris everywhere, each shoe would have to be cleaned thoroughly to ever look new again.. and even then, I can't see how that would have been possible. Maybe it was Amelda Marcos' hideaway...

The storage unit that faired the best was the one where everything had been storaged in totes or sealed plastic bags.. One of the bags had ripped open and goods were bursting forth with air expansion.., but when we were there, all that was needed, was for those things to be washed. Of course, if they were new, they'd never be new after a washing, but they were still there.. and definitely useable. I loved that even tho things were in plastic totes, the owner had thought to tape the tops down to the tote bottoms.. Plastic totes, depending on the brand, don't always seal very well... but only one of these totes had broken open. A lesson for the rest of us, as we pack away our treasures?

No matter how we try to pack our things, we only think that the storage unit will always be there protecting our items.. These things were packed as if the storage unit might not always be there... Extra care was taken to protect their goods.. and in the end, that extra care paid off. Most all their goods were still there.. safe and sound...packed tightly together... despite the fact that the roof and wall was gone.

One beautiful Harley laid on it's side in a storage unit.. it must have been stored in one of the sheds, but from what others had said, it had been somewhere else and he put it in that unit (maybe because his own unit didn't exist anymore?)... just to put it out of the way until he could pick it up. I don't know if that's true or not, but I know that everyone who saw the black-and-chrome sparkling in the sun, had an intake of breath.. followed by a groan or a sigh and a shake of the head.. The good thing was that the side we saw looked pretty good... No one asked what the other side of the vehicle looked like, each of us picturing it in our own minds... as we let out another sigh.

A Man & His Problems..

I met several really wonderful people on Thursday, 3 days after the August 4th Tornado touched down in Griffth, IN..

One man said he'd be out of his home for between 8 months and a year.. Knowing that, he called the utilities to shut off service. When he got to NIPSCO, they said he could shut down service, however, when he went to start serQvice again, he'd be subject to a $1500 deposit.. Of course, he'd get that back one day, after so much time has passed.. And the reason that deposit was so high.. is because he'd missed a couple oaaf paymentQs. Missed a couple of payments? Even several payments..? NIPSCO.. these people are lucky to be alive and they've lived through something horrific, losing most of their belongings, so incaaredibly fortunate that their loved ones are alive and uninjured. And now, through the most difficult times in their lives, you're going to strap them with a $1500 deposit, when they want to restart their service... knowing you could HELP them, if you wanted to.. to make starting their lives over again a little easier, but nope.. that's apparently not what you intend to do at all... Omg.. Well, one thing is true.. You certainly can't call yourselves "the company with a heart..".. Nope.. you sure can't.

....unless, of course, that decision was just that of the woman he talked to on the phone.. ? You would repeal that decision and be a little more sympathic to the problem if you.. and that's a collective "you".. knew exactly what happened.. Right? Right.

The good thing about leaving service turned on is probably that during construction, having electric and gas will be needed. I'm not even sure the workers could do their jobs, if they're rebuilding a home in the middle of winter in this area with no gas or electric, as a new furnace will go in there one day.. and workers would have a though time of finishing the inside of any home without heat or electric.. Darkness will come early and home interiors are difficult to work on with no electric to light their way on a dark and cloudy day.. so as far as leaving the electric on.. well, most insurance companies will reimburse for that expense, knowing the services are necessary for the rebuild...

However, NIPSCO's attitude rather took all of us aback...

I hope this man and his family have an easier time of it than it seems right now.. And I wish them well, as they muddle through the days of restoration ahead of them!

Do well, Griffith.. do well. I'll keep you all in my prayers for the next several months..

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tornado Miracles 2..

I am so impressed with the people of Griffith who went through that horrific evening.. Nice people.. ordinary joe's.. but lovely that they welcomed us to show us all that they'd gone through and what they'd accomplished since. This is the 3rd day.. and already, one family's garage is totally dismantled and removed.. and in it's place, there is this bit of complete order and cleanliness on a slab of concrete that had to have been unrecognizeable on Tuesday morning. The pile of rubble in front of their house went from one end of their property down the street to the middle of the next home's property.. or so it seemed. All that's left is to take this 8 to 10 foot wide.. and 5 or 6 foot tall mound and throw it away. Gee, that's all.. :( Not so fast. And certainly, not so easy. The city brought a dumpster in for them.. it's just past their pile of "stuff".. Of course, it's for the entire neighborhood. I'll say that the pile on the lawn was about 2 or 3 times the size of that dumpster... so it will be a few days before enough dumpsters have come and gone, before they can finish their task..

There was a small angel in a lovely garden.. and my thought was that the angel was hiding behind one of the plants, afraid to come out.. It was untouched. But all around that garden, there was chaos.. a street light that had fallen to the ground.. a pillar from the covered front porch of the house, that had been totally swept away in the high winds. Unbelieveable sights.. Chaos and angels.. neither touching the other, but existing side-by-side.

And speaking of Angels.. there are those from Reed's Temple Church. Standing out in the street and hawking bottles of water as if he was holding gold in his hands, he approached me and asked me if I'd like some water.. I said I didn't live there.. He very warmly said that made no difference.. was I thirsty? Yes, I was.. so thank you very much, as I took the bottle of cold liquid from his hand. I talked to him a few seconds and he took me over to three other church women who all got up and shook my hand until the last one gave me a hug, that is.. I told them I was a volunteer storm spotter from the National Weather Service in Chicago and was there to report what I saw.. with photos and words.. and they welcomed me. The man who gave me the water said how lucky they were to have a wonderful Minister like Rev. Reed.. and I said Wonderful Minsters are lucky to find wonderful congregations.. That's paraphrased, because I'm older 'n' dirt and somethings don't come out the 2nd time the way they did the first, so why try, huh? ;)

When I left there, I have to say it's the only church where I've liked the people so very much, that if I lived in the area, I'd have a hard time staying away.. Warm.. loving.. giving.. so upbeat.. and volunteering their time to do so much good for the entire neighbhood.. especially for the people who have no electric.. no anything.. can't cook for themselves at all. The church is out there.. feeding them. How lovely. How truly, truly lovely. Thank you, Pastor Reed for all your congregation is doing for the people who need your help so much!!

Tornado Miracles..

As we were running for shelter on the night of August 4th, 2008, I never realized that so many people's lives would be touched by the Tornadoes that evening. Our Storm Chase Team had been in the State Park campgrounds, hurrying people into shelters.. and when the wind started blowing the campfires sideways, I knew it was time for me to give up and join in the others.. in the men's bathroom of the west shelter! The next 45 minutes were spent waiting out the storm.

A little earlier, the storm had come across Grittith, Indiana.. we had gotten the tornado warnings for Lake County, IN and knew it was headed directly for Porter County. What we didn't know was that part of a city was being bitten off, chewed up and spit back out that evening. The next day, every camera and newspaper crew from every newspaper that covers that area appeared.. They were all over the place, so we were told.

Today, Thursday, 3 days after the tornado, we ventured into that area.. All the photographers and camera crews were gone.. and life had settled into the clean-up and clear-out mode for those whose homes were damaged beyond repair.
We talked with several people who had lost their homes and things, but were unbelieveably happy to be alive. They are forever changed by what they went through.. and will never look at a storm the same way again. Ever. ForEVER changed.
We saw unbelieveable sights, among them a church congregation full of loving, giving people and a pastor who quite definitely brings out the best in each one of them.. They were handing out food to the neighbhood.. water to them and everyone else going down the street.. and they had buttons made that said "I survived the EF-2 Tornado in Griffith Indiana, Aug 4, 2008. They gave those buttons to all whose lives were affected that day.. What a lovely thing to do. All of it. Some mighty nice people at Reed's Temple Church in Griffith.. I can't say enough good things about them..!! :)

Endless Sunsets.. this is one of 'em..

There is no end to the beautiful sunsets at Indiana Dunes State Park and the beach area is a wonderful place to snap them. Tonight, after sunset, it got far windier than it had been.. the white caps starting out on the Lake. Beautiful scenery and NO MOSQUITOES on a windy night like this.. Yippee! :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

IDSP..Honorable Mention..

Yep, if you can find this title further down in the list of photos to the left, this is the one that got Honorable Mention in the Winter Photo Contest at IDSP. After the snow melted and we went back to this spot, I couldn't even find the tree that was so beautiful to me; it had blended back into the barren background of shades of brown, as most trees at the Park seem to do on snowless winter days, tho there is beauty even in those beigy blends. This picture was taken just as a very heavy snowfall was ending.. and it created this incredible sight.. one that passed by far too quickly.
However, for that short moment in time, the snow turned this tree into something truly splendid. We just happened to be there at that particular time and I just happened to have my camera in hand..

Sentinels in Winter, IDSP..

Indiana Dunes State Park is a really beautiful place to visit in Winter.. ANYtime in Winter is good and anywhere in the Park is a new photo opportunity and a scene to ooh and aah about..! Seriously, the place is awesome any time of year, but winter.. with how quiet it is--the summer crowds just a distant memory--is probably my favorite time of year.. especially during or just after a new snowfall. From the grayest days to those of sunshine and sparkling snow, the scenery is always very beautiful. The photo, "Sentinels in Winter" is one that was taken for a photo competition at the Park.. then, I ended up never entering it in their contest. To this day, I know that was a mistake, tho I did get an honorable mention with another photo.. However, it's a shame for it to still be on my computer... just one of many being forgotten as time passes by... so, I went in search of it and thought I'd share it here.. Enjoy!

Smokey & Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton, IN

Smokey the Bear was a cutie pie up close.. Those chubby cheeks just make ya wanna pinch 'em, though if you ever get close enough to do that, you'll find those chubby cheeks are a bit..uh..stiff.. Still, we were smiling when we first saw him.. and smiling when he left.. He's a cute character for adults and children alike.. Always fun to run into, for sure!! Btw, he didn't say much, but he posed for the camera and waved and then, in a flash, he was walking down the path again.. on his way to visit more Park visitors.. Ah.. a brief.. and rare treat; we enjoyed it much! :)

Storms Over Lake Michigan..

There are some magnificent storms over Lake Michigan.. Many of them stay out over the Lake and make for impressive viewing from this end of the Lake.. If Chicago disappears from the skyline out over the Lake, it's probably not a good sign, but on the other hand, our weather isn't always affected by what happens there. It's only 50 miles away.. You'd think we'd have the same weather, but we definitely don't. I was in Chicago, visiting with my cousin and sitting on a bench outside the gates of Navy Pier.. the day we got heavy rains here.. I could see the build-up of clouds high up in the atmosphere.. but Chicago got none of the weather that affected this area that day. Kinda nice, as I think of it.. I took the train into Chicago and took it back home... and had great weather that entire day.. never did experience even a drop of rain in either place.. I guess that's called "great timing"!! lol

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sunsets at Indiana Dunes State Park..

There are no two sunsets alike.. especially true at the Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Indiana, where you can watch the sun setting into Lake Michigan.. Some nights you can almost feel it sizzle as it touches water! Each night of the year, the sun sets in a slightly different place, making each sunset a unique experience. If you're close enough to visit the Park, you can start with a sunrise (just as beautiful as sunset), stay to enjoy the park and beach all day and behold a sunset over the water before you head home. It's definitely worth the entrance fee.. $5 in state, $10 out-of-state vehicles.. If you want to come back more often (we visit almost every day and some days, we visit twice or more..) there are season passes for $36 in-state, $48 out-of-state.. If you're traveling this way, stop in.. They have a really nice improved campground here, but I strongly recommend advance reservations, or you'll probably be disappointed, as the place is a very popular destination!! Nature puts on such a beautiful show all year 'round at this end of Lake Michigan.. We never get tired of visiting this beautiful place.. :)
And RAINBOWS.. This one over the east side of Chesterton, Indiana.. Lovely things, rainbows.. and this one was quite spectacular after the rain and just as night was falling..
If there was a pot of gold at the end of this one, I didn't see it... but the rainbow itself was worth plenty! :)
And BOATERS.. This one passing by just as the sun was setting west of Chicago.. I think that one of the buildings that were outlined on this photo was the John Hancock Building, but wouldn't swear to it.. All I know is that it was a spectacular sunet.. and from what I'm told, a very rare sight. :)

The Barred Owl..

Barred Owls prefer deep moist forests, wooded swamps, and woodlands near waterways. The average length is 16-25 inches, it's wingspan 38-50 inches.. The Barred Owl is a nocturnal bird that hides in dense foliage during the day, usually high up. May also roost on a branch close to a broad tree-trunk, which is exactly where we first saw this one at the Indiana Dunes State Park. This is a beautiful Owl.. and once he noticed us, he just kept on posing for photos.. :)
I would write more, but instead, I'll give you the link to the really wonderful website, where much of the above information came from.... .. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Robin Storm..

Wanna read a really interesting webpage with a miriad of very interesting marine news and marine weather information.. is the place to visit. He takes you from Blue Water to the Great Lakes with all sorts of information and lots of links to some of the coolest websites around. Interested in watching live storm chases as they're happening? He's got a link for that, too.. :) :) :) Rob is a Storm Chaser in his spare time.. Hey, check out the Photos and Webcams..!! Cool stuff here..!!

The First Evening

Tonight, I begin a journey to try to share all that I love and find amazing... through photos. There are so many powerful and incredibly beautiful sights that nature presents.. and so many loving and wonderful components that make up the rest of my life.. it would be a shame not to share some of these moments that make life so worth living. It is with much encouragement from the special man in my life, that my love of photography has grown.. and is because of him that this page exists. I hope you like the photos you see here.