Thumbs Up for Huron County – A Guide to Pure Michigan’s East Side

Looking to visit Pure Michigan’s east side? From Harbor Beach to Port Huron, and everywhere in between, there are endless opportunities to lose yourself in nature and explore one of the state’s hidden gems. Guest blogger Barbara Ann Siemen, known as Farm Barbie, shares just some of the amazing things Michigan’s thumb has to offer! 

I was raised in Mid-Michigan, only a few miles from I-75; our beachfront home in Bay City was a pit stop for friends and family on their way “up north.” While there are numerous points of interest up north in the Upper Peninsula, and throughout our great mitten state, my roots are in the Thumb, and I think has a lot to offer!

I’ve often joked, because Huron County is its own peninsula, nobody travels through it by mistake. If you are in Huron County, you mean to be there. Sadly, Huron County is easily and often missed. However, there are many wonderful reasons to live, visit, and play in Huron County.

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Photo Courtesy of Karen Murphy.

Let’s start with the geographical fact that Huron County offers you a sunrise to sunset opportunity. Start your lakeshore tour of Huron County by spending the night in my city, Harbor Beach. Stay at a motel, a bed and breakfast, a cabin rental, or a county or city campground. The sunrise view of the Harbor Beach Lighthouse and pier are incredible; enjoy them while walking or jogging along our newly appointed Harbor View Trail.  Our Maritime Festival has been rocking for over 10 years now, and is our biggest event of the summer. Take a tour of the lighthouse, and dine at the beach or at one of our many restaurants before embarking on the rest of your journey.

Travel north on M-25, through Port Hope, but don’t forget to stop for a huge hand-dipped ice cream cone at Grindstone General Store. Enjoy it there, or take it to go. Then, continue on your way to Port Austin. If you enjoy shopping at farmer’s markets, then you are in luck! Port Austin boasts one of the biggest and most successful farmer’s markets in the state! I love picking up fresh vegetables at the market, especially for my Pico de Gallo recipe. I serve it with tortilla chips for a light party dish or afternoon snack, or use it to top off a cheeseburger or scrambled eggs. Of course it is delish in quesadillas, fajitas, or nachos too! Yum! Port Austin is also home to an impressive marina, many restaurants, and a spectacular Fourth of July show. You might even wish to take in a play or musical at the Port Austin Community Players.

Photo Courtesy of Farm Barbie.

Photo Courtesy of Barbara Ann Siemen.

As you travel to the west side of the county, now going south on M-25, be sure to stop at Port Crescent State Park to see the beautiful beach and a favorite state campground.  You will travel through Bay Port, on your way to the quaint cottage town of Caseville, home to the infamous Cheeseburger in Caseville Festival. Caseville also hosts several other festivals and events throughout the year. Caseville is diverse in its accommodations, too, with choices ranging from campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, motels, to weekly cottage rentals. Grab a beer and a bite to eat at the new Thumb Brewery, before heading out on a fishing adventure with Team Gunsmoke.

After you limit out for the day, cuddle up on the beach at Caseville County Park and watch the sunset to complete your journey. You’ve accomplished a lot in Huron County! Congratulations! Now is a good time for you to begin planning your next trip back to HuCo! There are a lot more neat towns and points of interest in Huron County, I just can’t name them all! You” just have to come back soon.

FB Profile picBarbara Ann Siemen, known as Farm Barbie, is a city girl turned country chick, thanks to falling in love with a farmer. She’s a stay at home mom and professional farmer’s wife. She’s also an amateur photographer, chef, and fashionista and an aspiring children’s book author. Check out her blog.

 

5 Pure Michigan Locations Perfect for a Postcard

Do you love to capture that picture perfect moment? Every day, our fans share incredible photos from around the state, showing just a small piece of all of the natural beauty Pure Michigan has to offer. As we continue to celebrate spring, guest blogger Shalee Blackmer from The Awesome Mitten shares her five favorite places to photograph in Pure Michigan. 

My favorite adventure is one with great photo opportunities. Lucky for us, Michigan is filled with natural wonders, killer sunsets and beautiful lighthouses creating endless opportunities for photo-ops. The start of Michigan’s most photogenic season is upon us, which means it’s time to break out the phones, cameras and GoPros to capture another amazing summer of memories. There are many postcard-worthy photo spots around the state—but here are just a few to start your summer list.

image1. Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington

Located about five miles north of downtown is one of my favorite places in Michigan, Ludington State Park. After a hike of about 1.8 miles, you will come upon the massive lighthouse that is delicately nestled into sand dunes. With no cars, light crowds, calm waves, and pure beauty, this one place sums up why Michigan is the best place in the world.

Photo tip: Getting far away from the building and up on a sand dune is the best way to capture the moment. Hike north of the beach about 500 feet and take a landscape shot with the lighthouse sitting in the far left of the frame. You will also never regret going for a sunset.

2. Porcupine Mountains, Upper Peninsula

I’m a mountain and hiking girl at heart, which means the Porcupine Mountains are my Michigan heaven. Although it can be quite the journey for much of the state, the Porkies are beyond worth the trek. Fall is absolutely stunning and it reminds me how lucky I am to live in such an enchanting state. We sure have the lakes, but the mountains are just as wondrous.

Photo tip: Summer and fall are the best times for the photo journey. Find cliff lookouts and mountain peaks to take clean shots without other objects interfering. Think of unique subjects for the photos; hiking shoes, wildlife, a tent etc. Tell a story with the photo to bring others along on the journey.

image (2)3. Turnip Rock, Port Austin

At the tip of “The Thumb” is a rocky shoreline and natural landmark known around the world as Turnip Rock. It requires a three-mile kayak journey from downtown Port Austin and is best to do on a calm day. Saying the trip was a blast is a complete understatement. The area is absolutely unbelievable.

Photo tip: Jump out of the kayak and wade in knee-deep water to capture the perfect shot. Shooting from a low point will capture the rock and the trees on top in one frame. Try your best to make sure nothing else is in the shot or background (even other people).

4. A Michigan beach sunset, Everywhere

image (1)Sunsets are a Michigan selling point and my all-time favorite thing to watch. My best locations for shooting are Caseville, Manistee, Beaver Island and Sleeping Bear Dunes. I think we all can agree when I say a Michigan sunset is the best medicine from reality.

Photo tip: It is important to know that clouds are good. A sunset with clear skies will have no uniqueness. Clouds will give the photo character and the best colors usually come after the sun has set, so don’t give up too early. Shoot from creative angles with creative subjects. A footprint in the sand or your sunglasses on the beach can create a story rather than a photo.

5. Tulip Time Festival, Holland

image (3)Hollands Tulip Time Festival is an annual tradition that takes place every spring. Thousands of tulips bloom and make the fields dance with colors, life and beauty. A windmill placed amongst the tulips makes visitors feel as if they have been transported to a fairytale from the Renaissance era.

Photo tip: Get low. A picture from close to the ground will capture the entire windmill and numerous shades of tulips. Make sure the windmill is not in the center and instead place it on either side of the frame. When editing, don’t over-saturate and make the colors overwhelm the picture.

A fancy camera is not needed to capture some of the best moments. At the end, you can create a calendar to reminisce about all the fun you had down the road. Most importantly, have a blast. Create a road trip or getaway with family or friends.

Gear up! Summer is on its way and there is a lot of exploring to do!

image (4) (2)Shalee Blackmer is a 21 year old college student who grew up in the small town of Mecosta. She currently attends Michigan State University as an Advertising student and spends her time exploring the outdoors. Her hobbies include running her own travel blog, which aims to inspire college-age students to see explore on a budget and taking photos to share her story. She enjoys camping, road trips, hiking and cliff jumping and enjoying Pure Michigan beauty.

 

21 Ways to Make an Environmental Difference in Pure Michigan

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Happy Earth Day! In honor of everything that’s being done to keep Pure Michigan beautiful, guest blogger Kerrin O’Brien from the Michigan Recycling Coalition shares a a list of things everyone can do to keep our state environmentally clean.

How many of these tips do you often keep in mind?

Earth Day provides us with an important reminder that recycling has become a critical foundation for environmental action. As the warm spring sun shines on Michigan, it is a day to celebrate the beauty found across the state and to remember that our vibrant and sustainable economy is dependent on upon a healthy and productive environment.we all can do to help keep the Great Lakes State clean.

While recycling has become universal with positive environmental action, it’s not easily accessible for all Michigan residents and businesses. There are economic and environmental benefits to capturing and utilizing the more than 4 million tons of waste that we put in Michigan landfills each year. But, Michiganders must rely on their communities, businesses and organizations to provide them with opportunities to recycle and ultimately contribute to a healthy state.

If you do have a rolling recycling cart to wheel out to your curb on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, you are well-served. Learning as much as you can about your program is not only good for the environment,  it can actually save you money. Find out what’s happening in your neck of the woods. Inquire about municipal services or subscription-based services with your hauler. Recycling is gaining traction as a valued public service and you can add your voice to the choir to ask for even better services.

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An easy way to contribute to a healthy environment and economy is to make recycling a priority in your business and home. What does Earth Day mean to you? A day to enjoy the outdoors? A day to take action against

There are also a variety of other ways to make a difference. Here are 22 ways you can make a difference!waste? A reminder of the importance of conservation?

  • 1. Turn off the water while brushing teeth and shaving
  • 2. Go Vegetarian for one day of every week
  • 3. Try to cut two minutes off of your daily shower
  • 4. Buy food, clothing and other items that are locally produced
  • 5. Adjust your thermostat to be 1-3 degrees lower for the day- each degree can save up to 10% in energy costs!
  • 6. Check that your car’s tires are properly inflated and air filters are clean. Maintaining your car means less used parts in a landfill.
  • 7. Get unsubscribed from constant junk mail that gets tossed away
  • 8. Bring your own reusable bags for shopping and pack your lunch in reused glass or plastic containers
  • 9. Bring your own reusable mug/bottle/cup or start a  BYOC (bring your own cup) initiative at your office
  • 10. Challenge yourself by air drying an entire load of laundry or washing with cold- warm water instead of hot
  • 11. Writing Action Day – Look at the things you use every day or buy often, are those companies using recyclable packaging? Are they using too much packaging? Or at the end of that products life are you able to dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way? If not,  let them know that as a loyal buyer of that product that you care about the end life and recyclability of those objects- write them a letter, go on their website or social media and let them know!
  • 12. Donate items, time or money – Old clothes, electronics and other household objects can often be reused or re-purposed in unique way
  • 13. Unplug everything – Maybe it’s your toaster, T.V., Cellphone charger or even cellphone
  • 14. Unplug yourself. Grab a board game, go on a walk, sports, read book or have a scavenger hunt!
  • 15. Dust the coils underneath or on the back side of the fridge
  • 16. Learn more about organic produce and plant vegetables in your yard
  • 17. Take the bus, ride a bike, carpool, or walk to one of your destinations or daily commute
  • 18. Get to know where you can reuse or recycle almost everything in your community
  • 19. Use less paper. Cloth napkins, e-tickets
  • 20. Use the stairs, open the door manually, open the door for someone else manually! Use a hand can opener, stapler, etc. Whatever could be done without electricity try it out, rake your leaves or yard clippings instead of using a leaf blower, go for a run outside instead of the treadmill
  • 21. Get educated- maybe there is an environmental issue you don’t know all the facts on- today get educated on something you care about

kobrienKerrin O’Brien has worked with the Michigan Recycling Coalition in a variety of capacities since 1993. In addition to managing the organization, her interest lies in building consensus and movement around pro-recycling policies that work for both the public and private sector. As a nonprofit development specialist and facilitator, Kerrin has led many nonprofit organizations through strategic planning and development efforts. She holds a Social Science bachelor from Michigan State University and has completed ICL’s Executive Director Development Program.