No Camouflage Required! Three Ways to Spend Deer Widow’s Weekend 2014

It’s that time of year again! The hunters stuff their bags with layers to keep warm in the woods, pull on orange apparel to be seen by fellow game-pursuers and keep their minds set on nabbing that coveted 12-point buck. But, while the hunters are away, those back at home will play!

As opening day of firearm season approaches, we’ve compiled a list of things for girlfriends, wives – and maybe a few househusbands – to do during Deer Widow’s Weekend while the hunters are gathered at deer camp. From spa packages to wine tasting, there’s camouflage required for these relaxing getaways perfect for a weekend alone or with friends.

The Spas

Facial2Planning a spa weekend might be the best way to unwind alone, or with friends. Check out these spa packages to find your Zen (and maybe save a few bucks, too!)

The Relaxation Package, Troy
Spend a weekend at the Troy Marriott, where exceptional service provides you with effortless travel. The weekend spa relaxation package features a deluxe guest room, breakfast buffet for two in 200 west bistro, and your choice of a 60-minute customized spa service at Schenden’s Spa in Troy (located directly across the street from the hotel) with complimentary hotel shuttle service to and from your appointment.

Girlfriend Getaway, Gladwin
Get the girls together and escape to Riverwalk Place! One night stay in a luxury suite or hotel room, one spa treatment (facial, pedicure or 60-minute massage), one signature gift, boutique shopping discounts, $20 at Riverwalk Grill and $10 for Oasis Salon & Spa retail, and pool access at a sister property, Rivertown Inn, located just one mile away.

Melt Your Stress Away, Saugatuck
Upon arrival, you’ll find a beautiful wine and cheese basket with a bouquet of fresh flowers. During your visit, you’ll  experience a soothing massage in a style suited just for you and a $30 voucher good toward dinner at a fine restaurant. Upon your departure (which you’ll want to delay as long as possible before returning to the real world), a gift from us: a compact disc of relaxing music and an illustrated guide to massage

Learn more about indulging in a Pure Michigan spa experience in the video.

The Shopping

If there’s ever been a time to put the saying “shop till you drop” to the test, it’s Widow’s Weekend! Discover some Pure Michigan shopping havens from around the state that will make you never want to leave.

BirchRunBirch Run Premium Outlets, Birch Run
Go shopping in Michigan and visit the Midwest’s largest outlet shopping center with 145 factory direct stores including Coach Factory and Michigan’s only Pottery Barn Outlet!

Ultimate Shopping Package at the Somerset Collection, Troy
Discover a shopping getaway at the Somerset Collection with a $25 gift card, complimentary shuttle & more! Conquer all of your shopping at the Somerset Collection & spend a weekend at the Troy Marriott in metro Detroit. Stores include: Nordstrom, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, & many more. The Ultimate Shopping Package includes overnight accommodations, $25 Troy Somerset Collection gift card, complimentary shuttle to and from Troy Somerset Collection, breakfast buffet for two in 200 west, complimentary appetizer from the Small Bites menu, and Somerset Collection Platinum Pass, which includes complimentary coffee from Starbucks, gift wrapping, bottle of water, and coat and package check.

Great Lakes Shopping Package. Auburn Hills
Who doesn’t love the thrill of the hunt? A stay that’s all about your favorite sport–Shopping. Ready. Set. Enjoy! The Great Lakes Crossing Shopping package includes overnight accommodations, $25 gift card to Great Lakes Crossing, complimentary Wi-Fi, and complimentary on-site parking.

Tanger Outlets Shop and Stay, Howell
Book the Tanger Outlet Shop and Stay Package at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Howell, Michigan, and you will not only enjoy your overnight stay in our beautiful hotel, you will receive a $20 Tanger Outlet gift card, a voucher for a Tanger Outlet coupon book, a Tanger Outlet shopping bag, and two bottles of water. Please use the below booking link or contact the hotel directly to make your reservation.

Ladies Nights and Women Weekends

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Who doesn’t love a good ladies night? A time to get the girls together and hit the town, no guys allowed! We’ve put together a list of some ladies nights and weekend getaways that can are sure to become an annual trip!

Ladies Night Out, Marquette 
Eighteenth annual Ladies Night is set for Thursday, November 13 from 4pm – 8pm in Downtown Marquette. Enjoy a night of shopping, delicacies, entertainment and fun. Checker Bus provides free limousine rides to stops throughout the district. A complimentary photo booth with props will be located at the Masonic Center.

Ladies Night Out in Flint, Flint
Ladies, gather your friends and get a jump on the holidays when the Village opens for a fun-filled night just for you! Vendors will offer everything from homemade soaps and fresh wreaths to folk art and beautiful jewelry. The shops will be stocked with gifts for everyone on your list. Enjoy an old-fashioned wagon ride with your girlfriends to see gorgeous, glittering lights. Laugh out loud as you take a free spin on a  100 year old carousel. You and your girlfriends can even get your picture taken for free with Handsome Harry or Chilly the Snowman.

Women’s Only Weekend, South Haven
Sorry guys, the gals are taking over South Haven! It’s Women’s Only Weekend November 13th-16th, 2014. Steer clear as droves of women hit the shops, restaurants, and local attractions in downtown South Haven to enjoy each other’s company and be entertained! Ticketed event.

Girlfriend’s Weekend, Lexington
Girls just want to have fun, and there is no better way to do that than with your closest gal pals! Head to Lexington for dining, games, prizes, spa treatments shopping, and fun.

How are you planning on spending Deer Widow’s Weekend? Tell us your plans below!

Five Helpful Tips for a Late Season Ride on the Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail

Today, guest blogger and off-road vehicle enthusiast Bryan Much shares his top tips for enjoying a late season motorcycle or ORV ride along the Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail. 

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Winter may be somewhere up ahead, but there is still time to get in that last great motorcycle ride of the season.  Late fall riding allows us to be comfortable in our riding gear without the sweat, bugs, and discomfort of hot summer days.

As autumn colors fade and leaves begin to fall, the fields and forests offer another aspect of their beauty for us to appreciate.  We soon are able to enjoy the now unrestricted views that penetrate the forests. Features hidden in summer and early fall are now there for us to discover and enjoy. What better time than now to take that stroll to a hidden waterfall or a scenic overlook?

Wander off the Beaten Path
One of the best ways to enjoy scenery unique to late autumn, and to discover some of the remarkable history of the Upper Peninsula, is to tour the forests and towns by dual sport or adventure motorcycle.  Many know that road riding is great for traditional bikes, but riding dirt and gravel paths through the backcountry provides an experience not available to many.

Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail

Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail

The Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail (UPAT) is a GPS guided 1,250 mile loop of the UP.  The path is principally off-pavement often following twisty and rolling paths through the forest.  Points of interest that detail the location of historic and scenic places that are not to be missed are included in the GPS file.

Take Your Time
It takes 5-6 days to navigate the entire loop, but riders have the option of riding either the east or west loop over a long weekend. I’ve enjoyed some stimulating wildlife encounters including a wolf that lingered long enough for me to take a few photos.  I’ve also encountered bears, moose, and a variety of other wildlife along the way.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

A Little Research Goes a Long Way
Points of interest on the trail offer riders the opportunity to explore the fascinating maritime, mining, and logging history of the UP.  A little advance reading provides a rich background that makes in-person visits to these sites a fascinating experience.

It’s Nearly Impossible to ‘Pick a Favorite’
I tried to sort out a few locations on this ride that I might consider favorites.  In the end, I had to admit that nearly every section had some element that propelled it to near the top of the list.  The technical riding, the scenery, the wildlife, the history, and so much more.  Touring the mining towns and camping at the very tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula certainly is near the top.  But so are the long rides through uninterrupted forest and visits to the now small towns that were once major logging and fishing centers.

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Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Customize Your Route
Some people might be wondering if this ride is within the capabilities of their motorcycle or their skills as a rider.  To help people explore the route and answer these questions as they plan a trip of their own, I’ve prepared a “ride report” that gives detailed information and photographs. View the report here or download the GPS file.

For those that don’t ride, but enjoy overland travel, there is a version of the path tailored specifically for standard four-wheel drive vehicles.

So what are you waiting for?  Get started on that late season motorcycle adventure.  See you in the UP!

Where is your favorite place in Michigan for a motorcycle or ORV tour

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.

Deer Hunting Traditions Run Deep in Pure Michigan

Are you ready for opening day? Today, guest blogger Katie Keen from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources shares her family’s yearly hunting season preparations and traditions. 

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Deer season means something a little different to each hunter, but for many Michiganders November is a very special time of the year!

For me, deer season will always catch me off guard!  How does fall arrive so soon?  I always have a goal of where I need to be in my deer season preparations, which I seem to fail at miserably.  It really should be easy, when the antlerless deer application period is open July 15 – August 15, the same time every year. I should be thinking deer and thinking deer should tell me to get shooting!  Usually my goal is to get my bow out sometime in the month of August and start practicing, I’ve accomplished this task about 50% of the time, because you know you have those little voices in your head saying “oh you overachiever, you’ll be fine if you don’t start until September.”

My family and I go out on our property stomping around on about a daily basis, we could be picking berries, mountain biking or taking a hike but I’m always multi-tasking.  Finding deer trails is our past-time, and we love looking for any animal sign, but tracks, scrapes, scat, and rubs are our favorite!  So really, that’s my scouting, which I generally feel good about.

For me, fall is the best time of the year to be outside, the absolute best months of the year hands down!  Many others must agree, because annually over 660,000 hunters take to Michigan’s fields and forest for deer season.  That is a lot of families, friends, and neighbors that are all sharing a common interest in getting some fresh local and organic deer meat, not to mention having a little fun while we are at it!

DSC01912This year the deer licenses are even more flexible than ever before!  You can buy a deer license (limit one so if you’re going to want to harvest two bucks go for the combo deer license) and hunt in any season!  With the deer license you can hunt archery season and harvest an antlerless or an antlered, or you can use the same license and hunt firearm season for antlered deer.  This is by far the best change of 2014 – so flexible and no application required (so it’s okay if you’re a person who can’t remember what you are did yesterday).  Visit www.michigan.gov/hunting  to read about your specific areas hunting seasons, antler point restrictions, baiting regulations, and more.

The Hunting and Trapping Digest is a must have! It’s in my purse, goes with me to the blind, and is stashed in my vehicle.

SX-Michigan-DNRSo with over 660,000 deer hunters taking to the woods, rituals or traditions are happening year after year and although the traditions may vary, they are at every deer camp and literally with every hunter.  It could be the same giant wool socks you’ve had for a decade, the big feast the night before or the “eve” of the deer season, maybe cleaning out the party the mice had in your deer blind the past winter, or walking that same trail out to your favorite spot in the crisp dark early morning of the opener.

It’s different for everyone one, but yet it’s the same.  It’s kind of nice to think about.  It’s neat to think on November 15 as I’m walking out in the darkness, questioning whether that tree was there before or if I got turned around or not, thousands of other people are doing the same exact thing.  THOUSANDS! We all might not think the same on so many other issues, we might come from so many different backgrounds, and we might say go STATE rather than go BLUE, but we are still sharing one of our most favorite times of the year – together.

Do you or a Michigan hunter you know follow any special deer camp traditions? Tell us!

DSC01915Katie Keen is a Wildlife Outreach Technician for the DNR in Cadillac who spends her working hours with hunters, landowners, educators, and media outlets for their DNR related needs! In her off-time, she is a hunting-landowner who loves to educate folks about the DNR!