See What It’s Like to Paddleboard on Icy Lake Michigan

Today, filmmaker and videographer Seth Haley shares what it was like to film adventurous Lake Michigan paddle boarders amidst the serene frozen beauty of a Pure Michigan winter.

Photo courtesy of Seth Haley

Photo courtesy of Seth Haley

As Michiganders, we all know that famous saying which goes something along these lines, “If you don’t like the weather in Michigan, wait a day or two. It will change.” And as the weather changes, the mood changes too.

I moved back to Michigan early last year and took up residence in St Joseph. The lake had captured me long ago, before I ever moved away. But now, I live close enough to see it and experience it every day if I wanted. Everything about it was a kind of homing device–its waves, its calm; the way it looked on a warm, sunny day, as quiet and bright blue as the Caribbean; its grey, threatening anger; its dynamic nature—kind of like Michigan itself, a study in contrasts.

Photo courtesy of Seth Haley

Photo courtesy of Seth Haley

As a filmmaker of an adventurous sort, I make it my business to be out at the lake as often as I can. There is something immensely satisfying in experiencing the lake and capturing whatever mood it happens to offer and then showing it to as many people as care to look.

Shortly after the New Year rolled in on a Sunday afternoon, I was out at the lake with a friend, Karol (Carl) Garrisons. Karol is a reserve coast guard with many years of experience rescue swimming and dealing with cold water temperatures. Suited up in a 6/5 millimeter wetsuit, Karol was out with his surfboard, catching some of the huge waves that had developed over the course of the day. Not a particle of ice could be seen beside the icicles in his beard, but that was all about to change. A storm was brewing. Over the course of the week, the snow came down and the winds blew. Temperatures dropped into single digits. By Friday, the lake was covered with ice as far as the eye could see.

I walked out on our ice-covered pier the next day, careful of my footing. The ice over the water creaked around me. The temperatures were warming, and already the lake had begun to morph. The ice was beginning to breaking up. I looked out over the stark white ice as huge chunks almost imperceptibly swelled up and down, pulsing like a heartbeat, and an idea struck me. A lone figure out in the water juxtaposed against the freezing landscape—now that would be an image to capture.

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Photo courtesy of Seth Haley

On my way up the bluff from the lake, I texted Karol. “Do you know anyone crazy enough to go kayaking among glaciers?” (Never mind the faulty terminology. Chalk it up to my excitement!) Turns out, he did. As we planned, the kayaking idea changed to paddle boarding since paddle boarding isn’t something you see a lot of around here in the winter.  Better and better.

The next day, Karol and I headed out to the lake with Josh Nowicki, a local photographer. Josh spends a lot of time photographing the lake and has a massive portfolio of photographs and his own wetsuit to prove it. Intrigued by our plan, he came along to hang out and take pictures. But it wasn’t long before the lake’s pull got to him, too, and he ventured out into the icebergs right along with Karol. Even as we filmed, we could see the lake changing in front of our eyes. Icebergs floated past Karol’s board as the ice opened up and slid out of our bay.

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Photo courtesy of Seth Haley

Three hours later, we had some of the most incredible and exciting footage I have ever been privileged to shoot. I knew right then, that showing Michigan in all of its moods, all of its weather, and all of its seasons was something I had to do. Instead of hunkering down when the cold blasts in, I want to be out there in it. Instead of running for cover when thunderheads gather over the lake, I want to film them as they unfold and break over our heads. Instead of just sunbathing on the beach, I want to capture the waves breaking against the lighthouse and share them with anyone who wants to see what it is to experience Michigan.

Check out Seth’s unforgettable footage below!

Seth Haley is an outdoor adventure filmmaker, always on the hunt for new ways to fully experience and capture people enjoying Michigan’s changing landscape. Say hello on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or on www.SethHaley.com and maybe your adventure will be his next story.

Four Photos That Will Convince You To Strap on Some Snowshoes and Explore

Guest blogger and landscape photographer Aubrieta Hope shares her tips for a Sleeping Bear Dunes snowshoeing trek to remember.

Winter brings ever-changing dramatic vistas to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Ice sculptures form on the beaches, every tree in the forest sparkles, and the dunes become snow-swirled works of art.  In deep snow, hiking can be a struggle; but with snowshoes, those drifts are no longer obstacle courses!  Strap on a pair of snowshoes and meet your inner explorer.  Over the next hill or through the woods, snowshoes can take you where you want to go. Blaze your own trail!  Don’t worry about dropping breadcrumbs to find your way back – just retrace your tracks.

Photo by Aubrieta Hope - Michigan Scenery.

Photo by Aubrieta V. Hope – Michigan Scenery

You can begin your explorations anywhere.  Snow season is an especially lovely time to visit the overlooks at Sleeping Bear Dunes, particularly Pyramid Point and Empire Bluff.  The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive (though closed to vehicular traffic in winter) offers panoramic views to snowshoers and cross-country skiers.  With the absence of summer visitors and songbirds, these popular areas are quiet, but you won’t feel alone.  All season long, shy creatures venture out and stitch mysterious tracks in the snow, revealing the presence of wildlife that summer visitors rarely notice.  Another silent, but spectacular snowshoe destination is Sleeping Bear Point, accessed by the Dunes Trail just west of Glen Haven.  The Lake Michigan shoreline also offers amazing scenery, and snowshoes provide good traction for traversing icy beaches. Wander at will, but use caution.  Never venture onto the lake, even if it looks frozen.

Photo by Aubrieta V. Hope - Michigan Scenery

Photo by Aubrieta V. Hope – Michigan Scenery

If you don’t mind company, consider snowshoeing the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.  This recently-constructed multi-use trail runs nine miles from Empire to Glen Arbor (with the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, the Dune Climb, and Glen Haven Historic Village along the route).

Photo by Aubrieta V. Hope - Michigan Scenery

Photo by Aubrieta V. Hope – Michigan Scenery

Snowshoes are remarkably stable and easy to use.  It’s tough to topple over on them unless you try going backwards without thinking (I’ve tried that).  Some people snowshoe without poles, but hills require less effort when you have poles.  When snowshoeing up a hill, lean forward and press your toes into the slope.  On the way down, lean back a bit and dig in your heels. Snowshoeing will make you warm, so dress in layers.  Be sure to wear waterproof, insulated boots and gloves (or mittens).  Stay safe by bringing a buddy or letting someone know where you are going.  Stuff a few high-energy snacks and maybe a hand warmer into your pocket, and you’re good to go!

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Photo by Aubrieta V. Hope – Michigan Scenery

You can rent snowshoes and poles from Crystal River Outfitters in Glen Arbor if you’d like to strike out on your own.  Or, if you’d prefer snowshoeing with a guide, sign up for a ranger-led snowshoe hike through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  These hikes are offered every Saturday afternoon during the winter months.  Call 231-326-4700 x 5010 to register (you can borrow a pair of snowshoes free of charge for the afternoon if needed).  Visit the website for details.

What’s your favorite way to spend a snow day? Share your photos enjoying the snow using #PureMichiganSnowDay on Twitter and Instagram or visit michigan.org/snowday.

Aubrieta V Hope Snow PortraitAubrieta V. Hope is a landscape photographer with a special interest in northern Michigan and a lifelong, incurable affection for winter!   To view more of her images, visit www.michiganscenery.com or stop by Great Goods in Suttons Bay, Michigan.

 

Inside Information: Helpful Hints for Planning Your 2015 Summer Vacation

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @john_a_gessner

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @john_a_gessner

Before we know it, the snow and ice will begin to melt and we’ll be looking forward to warm sunshine and long days. The only thing better than a Pure Michigan summer, is a Pure Michigan summer well planned. With that thought in mind, and summer dreams dancing in your head, check out this inside guide on the best times to book a warm weather Michigan getaway. Plus, see what’s new around the state in 2015 to help you plan your travels. 

When to book your stay

A stay at a Michigan resort is the perfect way to spend a summer getaway, and travelers from all over the country know it. The busiest times for these hometown hotspots are during the summer peak months of June, July and August. Typically, space sells out well before the busy season.

When planning a trip to a popular Michigan resort, it’s best to book a reservation months ahead of time to assure vacancy and lower prices. The Grand Hotel staff on Mackinac Island recommends booking summer trips as soon as registration opens in November, as rooms typically are sold out by August and sometimes even July!

Consider planning and booking your trip months ahead to avoid the headache of overbooked resorts.

When to go on a summer vacation

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @oni_one

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @oni_one

Once you’ve decided where you want to stay, it’s time to pull out the calendar and pick when you want to go.

A great way to avoid the sunscreen-covered masses it to plan your trip during the slower times of the season, which are right before or after the peak summer months. For example, resorts like The Homestead in Glen Arbor are popular during both the summer and winter seasons due to the complex being a golf and ski resort.

Expert travelers might advise that a trip in May or September could mean a Pure Michigan paradise nearly all to yourself. Besides not having to fight to find a beach chair, many resorts will offer lower prices for stays outside of the busy seasons!

When to buy your tickets

If you’re looking for some summer fun closer to home, summer events and concerts are always happening around the state. Similar to resorts, buying tickets to a concert, show  or festival early could potentially save you hundreds. Tickets to a popular concert only increase closer to the event date, and can be harder to come by when looking last minute. An added bonus of buying tickets early is the assurance of being able to sell your tickets if you can’t make it through services like StubHub.

Now that you know when to book, you can plan the most important part of your Pure Michigan summer getaway – the attractions!  In 2015, travelers will discover a diverse offering of new and improved things to do, places to stay, food to eat and activities to explore. Here’s a just a sampling of them. See a full list here. 

New Attractions

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit opens at the Detroit Institute of Arts March 15 and runs through July 12, 2015. The exhibit explores the couples’ careers and their impact on Detroit with nearly 70 works of art.

Photo courtesy of SEA LIFE

Photo courtesy of SEA LIFE

- The Sea Life Michigan Aquarium opens at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills at the end of January. Measuring 35,000 square feet the aquarium features more than 5,000 aquatic creatures, including an exhibit highlighting the Great Lakes.

The Detroit Zoo will open a new, $21 million Penguinarium in late 2015. The 24,000 square foot center will be the largest center in the nation dedicated to penguins.

The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Gardens at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids will have its grand opening June 12, 2015. The garden will have an authentic Japanese teahouse, waterfalls, and zen-style gardens.

- The Discovery of King Tut Exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum opens May 16, 2015 featuring more than 1,000 reproductions of items from the tomb of Tutankhamun.

- The exhibit Roadside America: From the Lens of John Margolies will be on display at The Henry Ford Museum May 9-April 7, 2015 and the revamped Ford Rouge Factory Tour opens February 2015 with full production at The Henry Ford.

- Grand Traverse Commons now features a botanic gardens on the grounds of Historic Barns Park. The 25-acre garden incorporates existing meadows, hillsides and a pair of massive 19th century barns.

- Two new exhibits have opened at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners. The Lincoln Motor Heritage Museum was patterned after a historic Lincoln dealership and celebrates the Lincoln with more than 20 vehicles. The Cadillac-LaSalle Club Museum is a premier attraction for enthusiasts.

- The Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson is now offering tours of Cell Block 7 – the only prison exhibit within the walls of an operating penitentiary.

- Owosso’s rebuilt, LEED certified Lebowsky Center has re-opened featuring live shows from the Owosso Players.

The Thumb Quilt Trail showcases barns and agricultural traditions in Huron, Sanilac, and Tuscola Counties.

- Ludington will be offering smartphone tours of both the Mason County Barn Quilt Trail and the Mason County Agricultural Trail.

What’s New to Do 

Adventure and Recreation

- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Outdoor Adventure Center on the Detroit riverfront will provide guests with exhibits, displays, and hands-on simulators to showcase the natural and cultural resources in Michigan.

Zehnder's - Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Zehnder’s – Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

-Zehnder’s Splash Village of Frankenmuth has opened its new 29,000 square foot atrium waterpark. The retractable roof is the only of its kind in the Midwest.

Trestle Park in Denton Township provides recreation opportunities in Roscommon County including campsites and swimming at Sullivan Beach.

Thumbs Up Wine Trail is a 275 mile trail spanning from Bad Axe to Clinton Township. The trail consist of vineyards, wineries, a meadery and a cider house.

- The 42-mile Fred Meijer Clinton Ionia Shiawassee State Trail is now open. The trail connects the communities of Ionia, Muir, Pewamo, Fowler, St. Johns, Ovid and Owosso, utilizing a former railroad corridor.

- Michigan’s new statewide trail running from Belle Isle Park to Ironwood is now open offering two distinct routes (one for hiking, one for biking) and serving as a link between many existing trails.

Michigan Activity Pass (MAP) has combined with Michigan state parks, the Michigan Historical Center and Michigan libraries to offer free passes to more than 120 historic and cultural destinations around the state.

Hanson Hills Recreation Area, in Grayling, has a new six mile Fat Bike trail.

- Au Train’s new trailhead was completed this fall. The trailhead includes a universally accessible kayak launch and fishing pier, railroad depot pavilion, log cabin interpretive center, picnic tables, restrooms, and trail head for multi-uses.

- A 9-hole footgolf course is coming to the Riverwood Resort in Mt. Pleasant and Hawk Hallow in Lansing is also now offering a footgolf course.

- Holland has created a new walking guide/map allowing people to take advantage of the snow-melted streets and sidewalks as well as enjoy the natural beauty of the town all year long. New walking and driving guides of historic and art sites in the Holland region is also now available.

River Town Adventures has opened in Lansing offering kayak, canoes or paddle boards available to rent and explore the Grand and Red Cedar Rivers. Taxi tours are now also available from the Lansing City Market, Old Town or REO Town.

- Traverse City’s Mt. Holiday now has a ten station zipline available with advanced reservations.
-Running Rivers in Douglas now offers a three hour kayak and stand up paddle board float trips on the Kalamazoo River.

Sports and Events  

- A new, reversible Tom Doak designed golf course will be built at Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon.

- Bassmaster returns to Michigan with an Elite Series tournament at Lake St. Clair August 27-30, 2015.

- Kalamazoo hosts the U.S. Curling National Championships February 14- 21, 2015 as well as the PDGA Amateur Disc Golf World Championships July 18-25, 2015.

- ATV Riders will be able to travel across the Mackinac Bridge for the first time ever as part of the inaugural Trek the Mighty Mac event October 3, 2015.

DisArt Festival – a 15-day multi-faceted celebration of arts – is launching in downtown Grand Rapids April 10-15, 2015.

What’s New to Eat or Drink

10298784_10152849038958289_2327881022500686165_nWineries – New wineries opened or opening in Michigan include:

Walloon Lake Winery (Walloon Lake)

Petoskey Farms Vineyard (Petoskey)

3 North Vines (Croswell)

J-Tree Cellars Winery (Tecumseh)

Love Wines (Ludington)

Aurora Cellars (Lake Leelanau)

The Villa Mari Vineyard and Bonobo Vineyards (Traverse City)
Seasons of the North (Indian River)

WaterFire Vineyards (Torch Lake)

Breweries – Michigan’s craft beer scene continues to grow with the opening of the following breweries:

Thumb Coast Brewing Company (Port Huron)

Thumb Brewery (Caseville)

Cognition Brewing Company (Ishpeming)

Elk Street Brewery (Sandusky)

One Well BrewingBrite Eyes Brewing CompanyTexas Corners Brewing Company (Kalamazoo)

Photo courtesy of The Mitten Brewing Co.

Photo courtesy of The Mitten Brewing Co.

Tecumseh Brewing Company (Tecumseh)

Territorial Brewing Company (Battle Creek)
Tripel Root Brewery (Zeeland)

Hop Lot Brewing Company (Suttons Bay)

Brewery Becker (Brighton)

Constantine Brewing Company (Constantine)

Elk Brewing (Grand Rapids)

Eternity Brewing (Howell)

Fetch Brewing Company (Whitehall)

Northport Brewing (Northport)

Railtown Brewing Company (Caledonia)

River’s Edge Brewing Company (Milford)

Upper Hand Brewery (Escanaba)

Other Spirits  

Grey Skies DistilleryLong Road DistillersFlatlanders Barstillery (Grand Rapids)

Detroit City Distillery (Detroit)

Ready to plan your trip? Visit michigan.org to see everything there is to do in the summer, and all year long.