Sunday, October 28, 2018

Roadtrip: The other side of Lake Michigan

Since most of our stops were in large cities, we thought a little lakeside resort experience would ease us back into normalcy.

 Previous episodes:    Rock and Rochester      Blue hills, blue water, and black humor       Art is what you can get away with in Western Pennsylvania

Until I was 11 years old, I lived in South Bend, Indiana. About twice a year, we would go up to Warren Dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan to frolic in the waves and the towering dunes. Sparked by that memory, Sarah began collecting a series of Art Deco posters that are in regular rotation in our kitchen promoting Warren Dunes as a getaway from Chicago on the South Shore Line railroad. We decided to make it our last featured destination.

I tried to find accomodation along the lakeshore, and specifically not a chain motel in a cluster alongside the interstate. It was a Saturday night and everything in our range seemed booked with weddings but one of them had a second smaller hotel linked to from their web site. It seemed just the thing, and they had rooms available.

The Gordon Beach Inn, "a casually active, rustic and historic 1920's Inn."  I'd also throw quaint in that description. Both of the men who staffed the desk could easily have been cast in Bob Newhart's innkeeper role, but were much more cheerful. There are separate metal keys for the rooms and the outside doors which they secure at 11:30 pm on weekends. They sent us a letter in the mail confirming the reservation. It was very nice.

Variable Cuboid with 45mm front  - rising pinhole

I had to get a picture of the back porch in the evening sun. My Aunt Stana's cottage on Christy Lake looked exactly like this.

Variable Cuboid with 45mm front - rising pinhole


The Inn is about two blocks from the lake but they have their own private beach accessed by a narrow path between two private homes and a stairway down the bluff.

Variable cuboid with 45mm front

Until the sky cleared while we were on the Ohio Turnpike, it hadn't occurred to us that we would be there for the sunset over Lake Michigan.

I hate to get all Claude Monet about this, but it was notable how the light changed minute by minute as the sun went down. I began with Long John Pinhole to concentrate on where the sun hit the horizon.  It was cloudy in that direction, but The Photographers Ephemeris gave me the accuracy to point with the narrow angle camera in case the sun peeked out. Low tech photography, ya know.

Long John Pinhole.

The sun never actually appeared through the clouds, but the sky kept changing. f362 isn't really where you want to be when the light is fading, so I switched to the Variable Cuboid.

Variable Cuboid with 45mm front

A more shoreward view

The Variable Cuboid with the 45mm front.

I think the shoreline, the reflection of the sky in the moving water and how the pinhole records that last wave are more interesting than the sky.

Variable Cuboid with 45mm front

I switched to the Populist to see if I could keep following the more intense visually, but technically dimmer show.

The Populist

The display just kept getting more intense. We had dinner reservations for our last night on the road so about twenty minutes after the sun had actually set, we headed back toward the hotel. It must have been sunny in Wisconsin because when we got to the top of the stairs, the underside of the clouds was illuminated creating a flaming red psychedelic sailor's delight.

I can't believe how bold I'm getting. After enjoying breakfast in the adjacent dining room, I decided to try to get a picture of the lobby. I put the Populist on the big tripod behind one of the leather couches and explained to the gentleman at the desk what it was. He said he'd watch out that no one bumped it. I went back to the room, finished packing, hauled our stuff out to the car and after exchanging pleasantries about our plans, closed the shutter just as we left. This should help you understand my reference to the Overlook Hotel in a previous post .

The Populist

Warren Dunes is just a few miles from the Inn. It was still fairly early with the sun low behind the dunes.

Long John Pinhole

We climbed one of the lower dunes. A favorite activity as a child was to climb the steepest face of Tower Hill, the highest one, and run down with our arms windmilling to keep our balance until we fell and rolled down in the sand. A group of 10 year olds demonstrated this while we were there.

The Populist

Down near the lake this one giant clings to the sand.  The wide angle makes it look a little more isolated than it really is.

Variable Cuboid with 45mm front - rising pinhole.

It's been there a while from the look of it's gnarly roots. Think I played on it as a child?

The Populist


It was a brisk October day and there were more people around than I expected. Still, the nearly empty beach and overexposed Portra 400 give it the look of an Antonioni film.

Long John Pinhole

A sailboat passed by just off shore.

Long John Pinhole

I have to conclude with a tribute to our noble steed - union made in Michigan.  It brought us through nightmare congestion on the Boston Beltway in rush hour (starting in Albany!), New York City crossing the George Washington Bridge and downtown Chicago over the Calumet Skyway. We went into the middle of Cleveland, Rochester, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. We went over the Appalachians in continuous drenching rain. It did everything it was asked including escaping from a few tailgaters in almost 90mph traffic. Also seered in memory is the high fidelity voice of Siri over the car audio system, with her omniscient and insistent description of where to go.

Long John Pinhole

There's always the sweet conflict of having a few frames left in the camera. We returned on Sunday night and Camera Casino's weekly trip to the lab happens at 10:00 am on Monday.

On the way downtown, I took a photo of the Oshkosh Publish Museum to make up for leaving and dallying with other museums.

The Populist

And then to Miller's Bay and Lake Winnebago to make up for flirting with two great lakes and Cape Cod Bay.

The Populist.
Next, random thoughts on traveling with a pinhole camera.

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