Unearthing Hidden Gems on an 1,800 Mile Eastern Upper Peninsula Ride

Car, Horse, Motorcycle or ORV – No matter what your preferred method of transportation, guest blogger Bryan Much shares his tips for taking the road less traveled on an Eastern Upper Peninsula ride.  

Eastern UP you say?  Yeah, been through there many times. Nice place!”  That was me before I took the time to dig in and really explore the history, scenery, and attractions of the area.  I always thought the eastern UP was “nice”, but now I’m in awe of all that I’ve missed over the years.

I like to do my exploring on an adventure motorcycle, but a car – or even a horse (as I learned along the way) – will take you to treasure.  With motorcycle riding upon us, it’s a good time to share some opportunities for the curious to explore and enjoy.

Rolling along to take in hundreds of points of interest, I covered about 1,800 miles of Pure Michigan goodness.  My goal went beyond the entertainment of taking my own trip.  I wanted to share some information that would make it easier for others to plan a trip of their own. On my trip, I toured counter-clockwise generally along the lakeshores with loops deep into the interior.  I crossed and re-crossed the bridge, ferried to Drummond Island, and rode the highways and back roads that took me where I wanted to go.

EUP 0002-XL

My favorites points of interest usually involve history.  Visiting places and exploring what once was in the past is a very rich experience for me – especially when you add in some interpretive displays or stories from books.  We are still making history today, so the modern and new are equally fascinating.  The thrill of watching a giant ore ship navigate a narrow channel leaves an impression not easily forgotten.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

It’s not just the places.  The people you meet and the stories they share make for a memorable trip.  Slowing down and taking a moment to chat often brings great reward.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

The end of the day brings the time to reflect while relaxing on a beach listening to lapping waves while watching the sun slowly sink below the horizon.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Waterfalls, mom-and-pop restaurants, fishing villages, wildlife, and history new and old are all part of the fare.  The pictures and stories from my own trip can be viewed here.  Hopefully, it will help a few people sort out some places they’d like to explore on a trip of their own.

So take a look, make some plans, and go hunting for some treasure of your own!  See you in the eastern UP!

Bryan Much retired from the military after having advanced from Private to Colonel. He now spends much of his time advocating for off-highway motorcyclists and exploring and recording paths for them to ride and enjoy.  He serves on two councils relating to trails and is a member of many organizations related to this recreational interest.

The Agri-Tourist’s Guide to Taking a Michigan Farm Tour

Spring is here, which means Michigan’s growing season is just around corner. Today, the Michigan Agritourism Association shares their insider tips for having some fun on a Michigan farm this summer. 

postfarm

As warmth fills the air and the sun stays up longer each day, spring is a welcome relief from a winter of bone-chilling temperatures. Michigan farms are waking up. Greenhouses are planted, seedlings are sprouting, newly born baby animals cry out, and orchards will soon be blooming.  Farm crews are opening up the barns, dusting “winter” off the play areas, and preparing to open the wonder of a farm to visitors.

Asparagus3Fresh, delicious, local produce will soon be available at road-side stands and farm markets, along with an opportunity to interact with those who grow your food. Asparagus is the first harbinger of spring  that normally pops out of the ground in early May. It can be prepared in so many different ways and is a treat to the taste buds after a long winter.

Insider tip:  Since it is only available fresh for about 6 weeks, try to get it as frequently as you can before it is gone for the season! 

This year’s Asparagus festival is May 15-17 and includes a Kick Ass-paragus 5K Fun Run/Walk, the infamous asparagus poem contest, a parade full of homemade asparagus hats and more.

In June, strawberries make their debut!  Many Michigan farms offer picked or u-pick strawberries, which is a fun experience for families. Ask the farm folks to show you the different growth stages of a strawberry:   from their start as small white blossoms to plump red ones which quickly fill up a quart box.

SB6_11_14Insider tip:  Wear a red shirt for when the strawberry juice drips down your chin!

In late June and into July, the growing season kicks into high gear with cherries, raspberries and blueberries.  If you loved picking strawberries, look for farms that offer U-Pick on these fruits, too.

Insider tip: If you’re not already a jammer, try hand-making jams and jellies and freeze them to savor the flavors year round!

The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City is one of the oldest and largest festivals in the country. The eight-day celebration, held July 4-11th this year, is jam-packed with activities for all ages. Though not as large, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries take main stage at various festivals around the state.

tomatoesThrough mid-July well into August, indulge in fabulous Michigan sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, sweet onions, peaches, plums, and almost any vegetable you desire.

Insider tip:  Visit the farm market first to get what is locally fresh in season, then plan the rest of your meal planning and shopping from there. Grilled vegetables?  Absolutely delicious!

For longer outings, look for farms which offer farm-style play areas, animal petting, and educational sessions and tours. Enjoy the onsite bakeries and food venues for fruit slushies, ice cream, fruit pies and of course – donuts!   We have no scientific proof, but farm bakery donuts just taste better when eaten while enjoying fresh air and the views of a farm!  A down-to-earth farm outing will simulate all five senses, teach you how food is grown, and most importantly, it’s just plain fun.

donutsInsider tip: Look for picnic areas, inviting benches and chairs to pull up and soak it all in. 

Plan your next experience by searching for local farms at www.michiganfarmfun.com or with a printed directory available at Michigan Agritourism Member locations, Michigan Farm Bureau offices, Michigan Welcome Centers or by calling the Michigan Agritourism Association office at (866) 964-3628.

Have you been to a Michigan farm? Tell us about your visit!

Allissa McManus and Beth Hubbard are passionate Board members of the Michigan Agritourism Association, which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote agritourism by supporting our membership of farmers, farm marketers, and agritourism operators, who work tirelessly to provide fresh, delicious produce, education and farm fun to residents and visitors of our great State of Michigan. For more information about us and our members, please visit www.michiganfarmfun.com.

Eight Reasons to Love Ypsilanti

Ypsilanti – generally referred to as “Ypsi” by the locals – is a progressive city just four miles east of Ann Arbor. The city is rich in history and thrives with a creative community. Surely, there are more than 8 reasons to love Ypsilanti, but this list from Visit Ypsi will get you started!

1. The Events

Events are a large part of Ypsilanti’s culture and keep visitors coming back for more – from weekly cruise nights and farmers markets, to art shows and air shows. Ypsilanti is home to major annual events such as, Michigan ElvisFest, Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival, The Color Run Michigan Eastside, and the Thunder Over Michigan Air Show. These events attract thousands of visitors and are just a few of the events that help make Ypsi unique and thriving. Click here for a list of the city’s major events.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

2. The Food

Adventurous diners and comfort-food connoisseurs will have their cravings satisfied in Ypsilanti. Fresh salads, cultural fusions, classic barbecue, and ample amounts of mac and cheese can be found on menus in the charming city. The city has a passion for mastering the burger, crafting local beers, and creating artisanal coffee beverages. But the best part is that every dining hotspot is 100% authentic, local, and served with a smile.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

3. The Parks

Ypsi parks offer the perfect setting for afternoon strolls, concerts, ballgames, and more. Riverside Park hosts the majority of the city’s outdoor events and runs along the historic Huron River. Just across the “tridge” is Frog Island where you can find a gorgeous/unique amphitheater and a spacious soccer field. Ypsi has endless parks tucked away as you wander through the city and contributes to the 400 square miles of parks in Southeast Michigan (also known as The Big 400).

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

4. The People

Many people who choose to live in Ypsi are attracted to its sense of community, but the hometown-feel is not exclusive to locals. “Ypsilantians” care about their city and are passionate about sharing it with others. The affordable housing has drawn in a creative community – which is why you will find art galleries inside third-wave coffee houses, or a rustic beer pub inside a renovated historic warehouse. Visiting Ypsi is as good as making time for your creative side. The spirit of the community, made by the people, will align your mind with inspiration.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

5. The University

Eastern Michigan University’s campus is a beautiful gem in Ypsi. Historic and modern architecture create a unique juxtaposition for students and visitors. An active student body hosts many research symposiums, athletic events, and art happenings. You can find affordable and unique dining experiences close to campus (and for an insider tip: campus is a great place for a breezy walk or bike ride). Go Eagles!

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

6. The Shopping

Bring an extra suitcase when you Visit Ypsilanti! You are sure to be packed with antiques, novelties, and artisan gifts by the time you make your way home. The rare antique shopping is a regional attraction and quirky storefronts are full of must-have knick-knacks.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

7. The History

Many people want to know about the origin of the tongue-twisting name, Ypsilanti, but that’s only one of many fascinating stories that can be told about the individualistic city. (It’s pronounced ip-suh-lan-tee, by the way, and you can learn more about the name by clicking here).

Early settlements of Native American tribes along the Huron River is where the story begins. In later years, Ypsilanti played a major role in WWII at the Willow Run Bomber Plant (home to many real life Rosie-the-Riveters), and also laid claim to the last Hudson Dealership.

Ypsi has four local museums dedicated to preserving and sharing stories throughout the centuries. However, simply walking through the streets will take you back in time – historic architecture lines the city’s sidewalks, and heritage events take place throughout the year.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

8. The Neighbors

Ypsilanti is surrounded by seven outstanding communities – each with their own unique events, shopping, dining, and outdoor activities. Nationally acclaimed theatres, fun-in-the-sun waterparks, and art and music festivals should be added to your Ypsi itinerary. All of these adventures and more can be easily accessed by major highways (with a complimentary scenic drive) just minutes away from Downtown Ypsi!

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

Honorable Mention: The Water Tower

A blog like this wouldn’t be complete without mention of Ypsilanti’s historic water tower. Built in 1890, Ypsi’s water tower stands 147 feet tall in the middle of the city.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsi

There is so much more to discover in Ypsilanti. Click here to start your journey, or follow this blog for regular updates about the unique Pure Michigan city!

What do you love about Ypsilanti?