As my mother and I left St. Joseph, Michigan, we stopped at another spot along the shore called Lookout Park. This park is along a cliff overlooking the lake and is a beautiful spot for just sitting and gazing out over Lake Michigan. You can park right along there and we saw many locals pulling in and eating dinner in their cars.
There used to be houses along this stretch but, in 1954, after a prolonged rain and previous erosion, the houses started to slide into the lake. I guess a couple of them did. Others were moved to other locations and this park was created to memorialize that event. Fortunately, no lives were lost. Across the street from this park are a lot of beautiful old homes from the same era that overlook the lake, too.
Another point of interest in St. Joe is this railroad swing bridge that is still in operation a couple of times a day. Years ago, I saw it working.
Here’s a short video of it in operation:
And, to finish off my trip to the midwest, I saw a bird that is seldom seen in Phoenix but all over the midwest:
Northern Cardinal, male
The Northern Cardinal is Indiana’s State Bird and I did see them everywhere…as flashes of red darting through trees. I didn’t get one good photo of any!
Northern Cardinal, fledgling
I never saw the woodpecker that is often in my mother’s Sweet Gum tree, unfortunately, because it would have been a different kind than we have in Arizona.
Her tree also had a pretty fungus.
Bye, Indiana and Michigan, where everything is lush and green.
These are the St. Joseph Lighthouses on Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan. The North Pier has 2 lighthouses, both over 100 years old, but which have replaced previous lighthouses prior to that. The South Pier, which is the one I was on, has a conduit light at the end, not in a lighthouse, but in a little lookout tower.
The city of St. Joe now owns the lights and they are fully operational, all 3 of them. They were renovated in 2015 for over $1 million. The piers at St. Joseph and Grand Haven are the only ones on the Great Lakes that retain their range lights and catwalks. The St. Joseph Pier Lights were featured on a postage stamp issued in 1995.
Lighthouses fascinate me. You can read more about the history of these lights and see what the lighthouses look like in the winter here.
This is the South Pier, where the conduit light is located, at the top of the pole above. You can see that the pier has no fencing so you have to be careful to not be swept away when the waters are rough. It happens a few times a year when people are careless or overly daring.
Looking back to land from the end of the South Pier. The North Pier is to the left.
If I ever wanted to live in the midwest again (and I don’t), it would be in St. Joe. But, next best thing, they have a livestream going all the time so I can check out the lighthouses any time, day or night. I mostly look forward to nice Arizona winter days in the 70s, looking at the ice-covered lighthouses. You can see the livestream here.
A variety of natural habitats await the visitor to Potato Creek State Park in northwest Indiana including the 327 acre Worster Lake, old fields, mature woodlands, restored prairies, and diverse wetlands. I know there were a ton of birds there but I was with my 95 year old mother so my opportunities for birding were limited (plus I didn’t take my birding lens back there).
I did get 3 lifers relatively easily so I can imagine what a few hours there would yield.
Brown-headed Cowbird, young
It rained 8 inches the day I got to Indiana so there was much flooding in many places. The park suffered damage to some of the trails and the lake was closed.
It was very lush, very humid, and pretty buggy. I’d forgotten that feeling of something cold and slimy flying right into your eye that I used to experience in midwest summers in the woods.
I just got back from northern Indiana and, disappointingly, the leaves were just beginning to change on most of the trees. It’s a very late fall. It was also cloudy and raining most of the time I was there…
It was even foggy one morning, something rarely seen in Phoenix.
Now that’s what I wanted to see more of, above.
Behind those marshy grasses, above, is a little pond where ducks hang out. This girl is the only one who came out to greet me this year wearing her leaf necklace.
She’s a Mallard hybrid which I confirmed with one of my knowledgeable birding buddies.
I was hoping to see some Cardinals, Robins, Blue Jays, something…I heard birds but never saw any close up.
This guy did not seem to want his photo taken as right after this shot, above, he started chasing me. So I left.