Hey all, hope everyone had a good 4th of July weekend.

Click on that black square above (or download the whole thing here) to make your own fireworks. It's a freeware program (I picked it up from EHOWA). You may need to install Java to get it to work.

 

My weekend was good, I went with a few friends to Michigan to go camping. We headed out Saturday as any good campers do - in a van full of supplies but no backseats, with no idea where we are going on one of the busiest weekends of the year. We left Chicago and headed through Northern Indiana. We had gotten a late start and our driver was tired so we started looking for a campsite soon after crossing the Michigan border. Of course, the first few places we check are full, but we find a trailer park in Stevensville/St. Joe that has a few vacancies.

 
 

On first impression place pretty much sucks, as most trailer parks in the middle of nowhere do, but it wasn't too bad. We set up camp and then took the 10 minute drive to the beach in Benton Harbor. We passed through some pretty depressed area - looked more like the South Side of Chicago than the middle of the woods. As we got close to the lake though, things changed rapidly. Suddenly there's hotels, antique shops, and ice cream parlors; the lakefront is beautifully landscaped with new roadwork and shops; and the cars that are driving by are simply rediculous - sportcars, low-riders, Hummer-limos... What the hell happened? Where did all this come from? In any case, it's really beautiful and relaxing.

 

We head back to our trailer park after sunset. We like it more than before, knowing there's a nice place nearby. Plus, the neighbors don't bother us and the area looks better at night (weird how that works, isn't it?).

 

The next day we head straight back to the beach. It's a gorgeous day, couldn't have asked for better weather. There's a bazillion people at the lakefront. I keep thinking how the whole thing seems strange... the people don't seem like "small town people". How could there be so many people, in a town this small, with this much money?

 

Then it dawns on me... If you live in Detroit, and you want to head to Lake Michigan as fast as possible, you'd end up in St. Joe - it's almost straight west through Southern Michigan. Aaaahh.. that explains the hotels and shops, the obviously wealthy families, and especially the ridiculous cars. We had inadvertently landed in the middle of the 4th of July celebration for half the Motorcity suburbs. Could have done worse.

 
 

They had a pretty impressive fireworks display on June 3. The beach was even more crowded than in the day, people were everywhere and the lake was packed with boats. The pics I shot of the fireworks came out well considering I've never really tried to photograph fireworks before, much less while lying in a sandy hole and using an older digital camera.

 
 

The morning of the 4th we headed back to Chicago in time to experience the neighborhood warzones. This city is crazy during the 4th. There's fireworks going off in almost every corner of Chicago for a good two weeks before, culminating in a nearly non-stop display of firepower on the actual holiday. Gotta love it. One of the great highlights for me was dodging - 3 times in a row - plastic, spark-shooting "helicopter" fireworks that don't blow up in the air, just plummet to earth, usually as a fireball.

 
 

All in all it was a good weekend. That last picture is the actual label of the only fireworks I personally lit over the weekend (one pack of black cats and I was all good). Check out the gallery I-Mockery put up few days ago, The Underappreciated Art of Firecracker Labels.

By the way, congrats to NASA on the success of the Deep Impact Mission on July 4 - NASA has the best fireworks! Here's a couple of pictures from Astronomy Picture of the Day. Pic 1 - Pic 2 - Pic 3