Along Lake Michigan

How much can you discover in one day? Joshua Nowicki, a St. Joseph local, recently found out as he explored the coast of Lake Michigan earlier this fall. Today, Joshua shares his experience with us.

Read about it below and let us know where your favorite place to take a day trip in Michigan is!

Kite surfer near Muskegon, Michigan

Michigan’s Great Lakes feature an astounding number of parks and nature preserves.  Equally amazing is how few of them I have had the opportunity to visit despite being a lifelong Michigander.

So often when I travel, I concern myself with the amount of time that it is going to take for me to get from Point A to Point B.  I have stubbornly ignored dozens of billboards and Pure Michigan signs encouraging me to “Stop, slow down, and enjoy Michigan’s beauty along the way.”

This has been a folly of mine, and this is a wrong that I intend to right.  I recently decided to start taking day trips that do not have set destinations and let the sun determine how far I travel.  I want to focus on all of the ‘places in between’ that I have overlooked in the past and gain a deeper appreciation for my home state.

Holland, Michigan

For my first trip, I wanted to find out how many parks and nature preserves I could visit along the coast of Lake Michigan in one day.  Between busy work days, I planned an adventure, part personal challenge and part scavenger hunt.  How many different locations along Lake Michigan could I photograph? 

I started in the early morning at the City Beach in New Buffalo and completed my journey with a beautiful sunset at Pioneer County Park in Muskegon.  Along the way I visited 24 additional locations, many of which I had never even heard of before.

A few highlights:

  • Enjoyed watching deer walk across foggy dunes at Warren Dunes State Park
  • Talked with fishermen on the pier at Silver Beach County Park while standing under the monumental sculpture ‘And You, Seas’ by Richard Hunt
  • Delighted at seeing the Friends Good Will Tall Ship in South Haven.  
  • Waded in the water and rested on the beach at Pier Cove Park.
  • Watched sailboats near Saugatuck.
  • Stood amazed by the breathtaking view of Lake Michigan from Tunnel Park.
  • Felt exhausted and accomplished after walking the trails at Rosy Mound Natural Area.
  • Marveled at the patterns in the windblown sands of P.J. Hoffmaster State Park.
  • Enjoyed the view of the autumn leaves and Lake Michigan from Muskegon State Park Blockhouse.
  • Stood in awe of the paddle and kite surfers at multiple locations throughout my trip.
  • Relaxed on the beach at the end of the day and enjoyed the sunset from Pioneer County Park.

    Pioneer County Park, Muskegon, Michigan

My trip was fun, beautiful and tiring.  I hiked miles through woodland trails, over sand dunes and climbed thousands of steps on boardwalks.  I intend to return to and spend more time hiking the trails, wading in the water and appreciating all of the new destinations I have newly ‘discovered’ close to home. 

I look forward to my next road trip along the Great Lakes in Pure Michigan… See you there!

Joshua Nowicki is the Director of Community Relations at the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph, Michigan and is a member of the board of directors of the Michigan Museums Association where he serves as the Vice President for Marketing.  Joshua’s interest in photography began while working for a museum in the Metro Detroit area, photographing artifacts, exhibits and events.  After moving to St. Joseph, Michigan in 2011, he started taking nature photographs to encourage his friends and relatives to visit and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the area.  Joshua’s inspirations range from Lake Michigan and wildlife to sculpture and architecture.

Tulip Time in Pure Michigan

The Tulip Time Festival, taking place from May 5 – 12 in Holland, is a celebration of Dutch heritage and culture. Today, Gwen Auwerda, Executive Director of the festival, answers some of our questions about this fun event.

Q: How did the Tulip Time Festival start and why did it start in Holland?
A: Lida Rogers, a Holland High School biology teacher, had an idea in 1929 to beautify the city.  Implemented by the city of Holland and Mayor Earnest Brooks, the city purchased 100,000 imported bulbs from the Netherlands and planted them in the parks and along the street curbs.  Lida’s idea was to have one day set aside every years as a “tulip day.”  When the tulips bloomed in 1929 and Tulip Time was first announced to the world, the response was overwhelming.  Thousands of tourists visited the city during an eight-day period, this date chosen because the tulips would be in full bloom.  Over the years the festival has grown in attendance with over 500,000 visitors each year and 6 million tulips planted in the city, parks and local attractions.

Q: How many people attend the Festival and how far do people travel?
A: Attendance is over 500,000 visitors during the Festival and in 2011, visitors from over 40 countries were represented.

Q: What sorts of activities are planned for the festival?
A: Dutch Dancing is a highlight for guests.  The Netherlands is divided into 12 provinces, seven of which are represented in costume by the dancers during the festival.  In general, the clothing represents the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Over 900 dancers can be seen daily in their traditional dress.

We have 3 signature parades with the largest parade being the Saturday Muziekparade (Music Parade) with approximately 30 bands participating.

Community art & culture organizations provide a variety of evening events showcasing their talent.  Also included in the evening shows are national entertainment acts.  Additionally, as part of the festival we have fireworks, art & craft fair, Kinderplaats – our children’s festival, Tulip City Tours – a 70 minute guided tour of the local area and the Tulip Time Run.

Q: Are there any activities new for this year’s festival?
A: New for 2012 – Modern Delftware Art Class, Family Rest Area, QuikTrip Parking Shuttle, Bier Tuin – our Dutch Beer Garden, and a text to vote for the Volksparade on Wednesday for your favorite float and a text to vote on Saturday’s Muziekparade for your favorite band.

Q: How does the festival focus on Holland’s Dutch heritage?
A: Our focus on Dutch heritage can be experienced at the  Dutch Marktplaats – a place where you can experience the tastes, sights, sounds and crafts of 19th century Holland.  Dutch food, dancing, crafts, costumes and shopping all in one place. 

Q: Do you have any tips for people that want to grow their own tulips?
A: Tulip bulbs are planted in the fall before the ground freezes and they bloom in the spring.  They can withstand very cool temperatures and even snow after they have begun to pop out of the ground in the spring.  They are a very hearty flower.  The blooms last approximately 21 days and come in early, mid and late blooming varieties.

Q: Where can people go to learn more about the festival?
A: tuliptime.com is the website for the Holland Tulip Time Festival.  The schedule of events, map of the tulip lanes, shows and ticket purchases can all be found on our website.

Gwen Auwerda is Executive Director of the Tulip Time Festival.

How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 7

In our ongoing series of how cities in Michigan got their names, we’ve been able to share with you the history of cities from around our state. In case you missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6. This week, check out part seven, which shares the stories of how five more Michigan cities were named.

Holland
As you might have guessed, Holland was settled by Dutch immigrants. They were looking to escape social, cultural and economic troubles in Europe in the 1840’s. The settlement established by them was known as the “Holland Kolonie.” It was formally founded in 1847.

Pigeon
Started as a railroad town in 1883, Pigeon was originally called Berne Junction. However, the new community began calling it Pigeon due to the nearby Pigeon River. The river was named for the huge flocks of passenger pigeons that lived near the river. It’s said the flocks were so thick that, when flying, they blacked out the sky. Despite this though, the passenger pigeon was named extinct by 1914.

Ypsilanti
Like Pigeon, Ypsilanti wasn’t always known by the name is has today. The city was originally a trading post set up in 1809 and called Woodruff’s Grove after Major Thomas Woodruff. The name was later changed to Ypsilanti in 1829 in honor of Demetrius Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti was a hero in the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Munising
Munising is a Native American name meaning “Place of the Great Island.” In 1820 the Chippewa village was located at the mouth of the Anna River, but they later moved camp to Sand Point. Munising was actually officially founded in 1850, but the first civilization was built in Au Train. The town consisted of thirty homes, one blacksmith shop, the bay furnace, a sawmill and a government lighthouse.

Gaylord
Gaylord’s namesake comes from Augustine Smith Gaylord. It was established in 1872 and named Barnes, but it was changed a year later to honor Gaylord, who was an attorney for the Jackson, Lansing, Saginaw railroad. Still, if you were to ask someone why the name was changed just a year later to Gaylord, no one could tell you as the reason for doing so has been lost!