We get wicked gales in the fall. The early September gales can carry water spouts formed over a still warm Lake Michigan. We usually have one or two in October that carve the beach and strip the fall leaves but this year, due to the warmest summer and fall on record, the gales were late, not arriving til November 19.
When the waves hit the light they erupted into myriad twisting torrents that hung in the air until the winds carried them off. It was mesmerizing. It was cold.
For you photographers; technically, I do not own a gale proof tripod. I’m not sure if there is one. The winds play havoc with your zoom while driving ice and sand in your gear. I was jammed up against a fence which steadied me somewhat but it’s a gale, the fence did shudder and I still got blown backwards a few times. Reducing my profile was not an option. The heartbreak? You’ve done it too, camera 101, check your settings. I was under the weather (actually had someone else drive me down to the beach) and I forgot to check ALL settings. The ISO was set at 1000 because the last time I used that body I had been playing with night shots. Yes. I really cannot enlarge and print any of these. They are well focused but the grain is quite painful. I did not waste bandwidth on a high res picture today.
Anyway it was still fabulous, those spiraling, dancing tornadoes of water spinning off the light were pretty epic. You loose your sense of self when shooting something this magical.
“Gently the waves would break (Lily heard them in her sleep); tenderly the light fell (it seemed to come through her eyelids). And it all looked, Mr. Carmichael thought, shutting his book, falling asleep, much as it used to look years ago.”
― Virginia Woolf,
This video, taken with an iPhone on September 20, shows a spectacular late summer morning up at Little Sable Point Light. Opening the tower and looking out on a morning world is my delight, with my coffee cup in hand it is pure bliss. I looked forward to this.
Edit: God, am I lucky. And grateful.
It had been years but I was nostalgic for the sent of warm pumpkin flesh and so I was finishing the touches on this as the first Trick or Treaters were ringing the bell.
The kids are long gone but I love that smell of candle burnt Jack O Lantern. He’s still burning as I write. I hope you had a great Halloween!
“But Children, remember Sarah Stout and always take the garbage out.” *
It was a glorious, chill fall day. We set off for a nice long walk on the beach and I got some fabulous fall color shots…and then I stumbled upon this. I’m still processing this.
The shores of Lake Michigan are dynamic, always changing with weather and water levels. I am guessing the last time the waters were this high, 1986, someone threw together a homemade seawall to prevent further erosion. Unfortunately the materials used weren’t legal.
Shoot forward 30 years, the beach had built back up for decades but now the water is high again. Even as our city beach, to the north of this place, was eroding away, we were stymied by the appearance of tires washed up on our beaches all summer long. My spouse and I have picked up 7 or 8 tires over the course of the summer. We’d have a gale, or a fun day where the surf was up over 10 feet, and then the following day these tires would appear. We pondered, we asked each other, did they fall off a passing barge? Did they come across from Wisconsin? Why so many?! Is someone sneaking down to the beach at night and dumping them? It was an anomaly in the usual flow of beach trash and I spent a lot of time thinking on it this summer.
It is difficult to dig these tires out of the sand and roll them up to the road so the city can take them to the dump. As a matter of fact, at the close of one day I was struggling up the dune with the latest tire hoping to catch the city workers as they emptied the garbage cans by the road. The guy on duty was as mystified as I for earlier that day he and his crew had picked up SEVEN tires at dog beach.
As I said I’m processing this. I posted a vid of it on FB to notify my neighbors, some of whom have been picking up tires too. Two years ago I posted vids of construction garbage that had been dumped on our local beaches, bricks, nails, concrete, broken plate glass, ceramics etc. It stirred up a lot of trouble but after the hoopla settled the garbage was picked up. This too is going to blow up. I don’t want to make trouble I just want the responsible parties to pick up their friggin’ garbage.
In explaining to others where I found this pile I looked at satellite photos of the area and noticed another suspect mound. I’m tired, it’s difficult for me to get to this garbage, I really need to focus my energy on ensuring a safe election for all but the longer I sit the angrier I get. Just pick up your flipping garbage and stop throwing it in my back yard.
There is nothing so sweet as entering your home harbor.
This series was shot as we were returning home from a cross-lake race on Lake Michigan. In the above shot you can see both of Muskegon’s lighthouses, the inner South Pierhead Light towards the left of the frame and the outer South Breakwater Light to the right. It feels pretty epic to enter Muskegon harbor and pass these sentinals in succession.
As you enter our man-made harbor you will make your way through the “washing machine”, so dubbed by the Coast Guard as this is where the river current piles up against the prevailing westerlies and waves of Lake Michigan, tasty fun if you know what you are about. Next landmark is the West end of the channel which is guarded by the red conical tower of the South Pierhead Light. This lighthouse was opened to the public for tours two years ago but it’s closed for the season as of this writing. By the way, all of these shots are from the starboard side of the boat showing the south side of the harbor and channel (I was working on that side of the boat and therefore using a small, waterproof camera.) The North side of the Channel is taken up by Muskegon State Park.
Next in line is the old Coast Guard station which is now the NOAA building where Scientists collect meteorological and hydrological data on Lake Michigan. You can see red and green buoys on the pier next to NOAA but those belong to the Coast Guard, which is stationed behind that pier. In the third photo we are passing our Maritime Museum with our submarine, the Silversides, which is also my Precinct HQ where I vote, alas, not on the submarine but in the museum next to it. This voting at a submarine which served to protect my freedom to vote pleases me to no end. Also in the frame is the USCG Cutter McClane, which also saw active duty in WWII.
As we near the East end of the channel you will always find fishermen. I enjoy riding my bike down to and along this pier, talking to the fishermen and circling around that red and white light. Next photo is Harbor Town Beach, a great little beach on Lake Muskegon for those days when the rougher waters of Lake Michigan can be challenging. Where you go from the beach depends on your home marina.
The adage goes “East-West, home’s best”. There is nothing like coming home along such a spectacular route.
More on our pier lights This link also features an ariel photo that will show you the shape of our man made harbor and lights.