Back Roads and Time Travel, Discovering Sleeping Bear Dunes’ Best-Kept Secret

Today, Northern Michigan photographer Aubrieta V. Hope lets us in on Sleeping Bear Dunes’ best-kept secret.

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Photo courtesy of Aubrieta V. Hope Photography (michiganscenery.com)

Sometimes the best travel secrets are hidden in plain sight. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, known for its Dune Climb and majestic Scenic Drive also harbors a secret place off the beaten path that many visitors never see.  It’s a quiet place that invites exploration, where the past seems so near that maybe you could just slip into it.  To discover this special place, travel north on M-22 from Glen Arbor and turn west on Port Oneida Road into the Port Oneida Rural Historic District.

Drive slowly, or better yet, ride a bicycle along the back roads that branch out from Port Oneida Road.  It’s a storybook landscape with more than a dozen farmsteads dating from the mid-1800′s surrounded by rolling hills, wildflower-tangled pastures and beautiful Lake Michigan beaches.

Photo courtesy of Aubrieta Hope Photography

Photo courtesy of Aubrieta Hope Photography

The old pioneer community is quiet now.  But life goes on: wild roses and poppies bloom, orchards bear fruit, and migrating birds and other wildlife proliferate. Two well-marked hiking trails (the Bay View Trail and the Pyramid Point Trail), traverse the region, both offering panoramic views.  You can spend an entire day here and feel like you have just begun to explore.

Port Oneida offers endless inspiration for artists. As a photographer, I visit the area every chance I get.  I especially enjoy photographing the old farms on misty days and during the fall color season when the trees glow like candles on the hills.  I find secrets of Port Oneida’s pioneer past everywhere, in the glint of an old window at sundown or the crunch of a vintage apple in late summer.    ­

Photo courtesy of Aubrieta V. Hope Photography (michiganscenery.com)

Photo courtesy of Aubrieta V. Hope Photography (michiganscenery.com)

Every season brings beauty to Port Oneida, but summertime is special because that is when many events bring the old farms to life.  It’s a fun way to connect with the area’s rich history.  Some events during the summer in Port Oneida include: the Port Oneida Fair, a 5K Barn to Barn Trail Run/Walk, ranger-led interpretive programs, art classes, horse and wagon tours, and volunteer building and restoration projects.

Go ahead, take a back road and time travel into the heart of Sleeping Bear Dunes’ past.  Bring your hiking boots, your binoculars, a picnic, a friend, maybe even your whole family.  You might just want to stay awhile…

For maps, schedules and other information, stop by Sleeping Bear Dunes’ Visitor Center in Empire.

Aubrieta V. HopeAubrieta V. Hope is a landscape photographer with a special interest in Northwest and Upper Michigan.  To see Aubrieta’s images, visit her website, www.michiganscenery.com, check out her Michigan Scenery Facebook page, or stop by Petoskey Pete’s in Glen Arbor or Great Goods in Suttons Bay, Michigan.

 

10 Fun Facts About Michigan International Speedway

Photo courtesy of Craig Gardiner Photography

Photo courtesy of Craig Gardiner Photography

Pure Michigan 400 race weekend is here! More than 100,000 fans will be at Michigan International Speedway to cheer on their favorite drivers as they race around NASCAR’s fastest track on August 17th.

Think you know NASCAR? Test your knowledge with these lesser known facts about Michigan International Speedway

  • The 40 trams used at MIS that bring fans from the parking lots to the track were the same trams used at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
  • Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson has never won at MIS, but he’s the honorary president of the MIS Kids Club. He even holds special events at the track.
  • There are 9,000 campsites at MIS – making it the largest registered campground in the State of Michigan.
  • Marcos Ambrose broke the 200 MPH barrier in qualifying in 2012. Marcus was recorded at 203.241 mph.
  • Bill Elliot is the active driver who has led the most laps at MIS. In his 37 year racing career Elliot has been in the lead at MIS for 1004 laps.
  • Parking is always free at MIS! Guests can also bring in their own food and beverages, and parking lots open two hours before the grandstand so there is plenty of time for tailgating.
  • MIS is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack! MIS is superfast due to the repave in 2012 and long straightaways on the track that let drivers reach their highest speeds.
  • People have gotten married at the track before, but did you know that Roger Curtis presided over the wedding? It’s true! Roger Curtis, the president of MIS is an ordained minister and married a happy couple in Gatorade Victory Lane on June 17, 2012.
  • David Pearson has won the most Cup poles at MIS with 10. Who will take the pole this year?
  • MIS is the only racetrack where a fan awards a special trophy to the winning driver and team. It’s part of MIS’s Fan Appreciation Program.

Plan a visit to MIS and other Michigan automotive attractions at michigan.org. Follow the race on Twitter at #PureMichigan400. 

Five Reasons to Race Across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge

Stretch those hammies and get ready for the Mighty Mac Bridge Race – a certified, 11k run like no other in Michigan or beyond. Today, Mindy Rutgers from St. Ignace Visitors Bureau tells us why this race is a can’t-miss.

Mackinac BridgeThe Mighty Mac Bridge Race will take place on Saturday, September 27, 2014 with the starting line in Mackinaw City and the finish line and after party in St. Ignace. What makes this race special? Here are five reasons you’ll want to race across the Mighty Mac.

Twice as Nice

Why run a course on one peninsula when you can cover two? This span connects Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with the Lower Peninsula. Why run on a bridge that crosses one body of water when you can race across the nexus of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan? One is fine but twice is nice and that’s never truer than when your own two feet are taking you to new heights.

Bucket-List Worthy

Photo courtesy of St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

Photo courtesy of St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

If you’re a runner with a bucket list of interesting locales, what could be better than the 5th longest suspension bridge in the world? Maybe the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere? Check! The Mackinac Bridge is the fifth longest in the world and the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere with a total length of 26,372 feet. For those keeping track, the length of the suspension portion is 8,614 feet.

Enjoy the Journey AND the Destination

For those who say the journey is more important than the destination, we say you can have your fudge and eat it, too. Enjoy a truly awe-inspiring view across the five-mile bridge and then land in picturesque St. Ignace, where a Samuel Adams party, complete with participant medals and division trophies, awaits. From Noon to 6pm, snag some swag while mingling with runners, visitors, and people who only wish they had your endurance and commitment.

Carb Loading Yooper Style

Photo courtesy of St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

Photo courtesy of St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

There’s never been a better excuse to have a baked potato with your fresh-caught whitefish dinner or a traditional U.P. pasty, with its starchy potato and ground beef filling, than fueling up for a race. Foods of all types are found in St. Ignace restaurants and, of course, the car trip home might require a slab of fudge or two. Go ahead. You earned it.

This isn’t just any selfie

Race participants will each receive a “Time to the Top” photo on the Mackinac Bridge – a truly special memento from race day. Forget the selfie. Watch the comments roll in when you share this picture on social media. Runners will also receive a long-sleeve t-shirt and a Kewadin Casino package, which means the Mighty Mac Bridge Race could make you both rich and famous.

Learn more and register for the Mighty Mac Bridge Race at www.stignace.com or call (800)338-6660.

Mindy Rutgers is the Executive Director of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. She has worked in Michigan’s tourism & hospitality industry since 1996, holding posts in the Detroit metro area, as well as in the Upper Peninsula.