A Frozen Forest

Guest blogger Joshua Nowicki, a Saint Joseph local, shows us how beautiful a Pure Michigan winter can be.

I have fallen in love with living in Saint Joseph along the sunset coast of Lake Michigan.  Every season, every day, and every hour looks different, is absolutely beautiful and is truly inspiring.  The winter is especially amazing; snow and ice make the lakeshore sparkle in the day light; and when the moon is full, it appears to glow at night.

Last year, though very little ice accumulated on the lake, the spray from the waves coated the rocks, trees, and plants in layers of ice.  The first time I saw the frozen forest below the bluff, I was awestruck by the shimmering beauty of it.  It was as if every branch, bush, and blade of grass had been individually dipped in water and frozen like layers of wax on a handmade candle.  Trees were transformed into fascinating sculptures and individual branches into unique works of art. 

The photos shown here were taken last winter.  Both the gorgeous sunny days and pounding winter storms provided stunning examples of the wondrous power and beauty of nature.

From the North Pier to the sculptures on Silver Beach to the breakwalls south of the city, it is simply an amazing experience to get out during the winter to enjoy the snow and ice along the lake.

Of course, after a walk along the lake in the cold and wind, there is nothing as refreshing as a cup of hot coffee and a pastry from one of the local bakeries or cafes.  Caffe Tosi (Saint Joseph), Bit of Swiss (Stevensville), and the Phoenix (Benton Harbor) are a few of my favorites. 

If you are in southwest Michigan on February 8, 2013, be sure to visit the Magical Ice Carving Festival in downtown Saint Joseph.  It’s a great opportunity to watch professional ice sculptors turn blocks of ice into beautiful and fantastical creations.

A word of caution: Walking along the lake in the winter is very cold and can be wet and extremely slippery. It is never safe to walk out onto the ice on Lake Michigan. But when viewed from a safe vantage point, it is a breathtaking experience! Please take caution in your explorations!

For more information about Saint Joseph and southwestern Michigan, visit St. Joseph Today www.stjoetoday.com and the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council www.swmichigan.org.

Joshua Nowicki is a freelance photographer and graphic designer in Saint 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 the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, 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. You can see more of Joshua’s photos at http://www.facebook.com/startvisiting.

A Pure Michigan Winter

The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting that Michigan will be a snowy, winter wonderland this year, and we can’t wait to show everyone how much fun a Pure Michigan winter is. Michigan is home to more than 4,000 miles of snowmobile trails, 3,000 miles of cross country ski trails, beautiful terrain for snowshoeing and much more.  We are the birthplace of snowboarding and organized skiing, ranking second in the nation for number of ski areas. 

Today, we launched the Pure Michigan winter video series to showcase the variety of attractions and activities that make the winter months a great time to visit. From sweeping views of Michigan’s sparkling winter landscape to extreme sports in motion, the series will feature a total of 13 videos released over the course of the next two months.

Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, a thrill seeker, looking for a family getaway or anywhere in between, check out the adventures a Michigan winter has to offer in our new Michigan winter adventure video series.

To help kick off our series, we asked Dave Lorenz, Manager of Public and Industry Relations for Travel Michigan and our go-to guy for Michigan destinations, to explain what he loves about the winter months in our state.

One of the great things about Michigan, as a travel destination and as a place to live, is that we get to enjoy four very distinctly different seasons. Sometimes it seems, all on the same day. Most people think of Michigan as the place to experience “America’s perfect summer”. For me, the best time to enjoy the splendor of this beautiful place is during the winter months.

When I admit this to others, most people start to cringe just a bit. But, it’s true. I’m that guy who can’t wait to pull out the snow shovel, stack the wood-pile high and unpack the ski gear. For me, winter in Michigan is a magical time, especially if you get out there and enjoy it.  Here’s a short list of some of my favorite winter-time activities. If you haven’t tried them before, give them a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Skiing, downhill and cross country

I was 25 years old when I learned to ski. I had always thought that skiing was for “real athletes” so it was a real surprise to learn that skiing is just controlled falling, so to speak. Friends taught me to ski but if you want expert advice, several of our ski operators throughout the state offer lessons for people of all ages.

Snowmobiling

There are so many fantastic places to snowmobile in Michigan. We have hundreds of miles of groomed trails and several sled rental operators and guides. My favorite experience was when a guide showed me how to cross a section of Lake Superior ice to get to Grand Island, in Munising. I was joined by a travel writer from the south who had never even seen snow before. He later told me it was one of the best experiences of his life.

Ice climbing

The UP is one of the best places in the world to ice climb. It’s the home of Michigan Ice Fest, a national ice climbing festival, and for good reason. There are several waterfalls in the Pictured Rocks region for example that freeze up and build walls of ice that are perfect for climbing. The folks at Downwind Sports in Marquette showed me that climbing ice is like climbing a ladder, although it proved to be about a thousand times more difficult. After you figure out the basic balance issues, most people will love this.

Some of my other favorite winter activities include snowshoeing, dog sledding and hiking our snow covered trails.  But, one of the best things about it all, is that at the end of your winter adventure you can come back to a cozy cottage, world-class resort or great restaurant and take in the beautiful scenery from the indoors.  A Michigan winter truly offers something for everyone to enjoy.

Cross your fingers for plenty of snow and we can’t wait to hear about your Michigan winter adventures.

Check out the kickoff video for the new Michigan winter adventure series below, and let us know what you’re looking forward to this winter in Michigan!

David Lorenz is the Manager of Public and Industry Relations for Travel Michigan. He oversees Travel Michigan’s public relations activities.  He also manages Travel Michigan’s efforts in the areas of international marketing, packaged travel, conventions and meetings, industry relations, golf and sports-event promotion. 

Prior to coming to Travel Michigan in October 2002, Mr. Lorenz was the Manager, Partnerships and Promotions, for Meijer, Inc. where he was responsible for the facilitation of collaborative marketing programs with key consumer goods manufacturers. 

David Lorenz attended Western Michigan University.  He lives in Norton Shores with his wife, Roberta, and son, Tyler.