Archive for the ‘Great Lakes’ Category
Friday, November 15th, 2013
While the official start of the winter is still over a month away, weather wonks are already predicting colder than normal temperatures leading into the 2013-2014 snow season. How are you getting ready?
Whether you like to run, bike, hike or ski, enjoying your favorite winter activity means prepping gear, replacing worn out equipment, and generally getting in shape. Here’s a roundup of websites providing dozens of useful tips for getting the most out of your favorite cold-weather activities.
Winter-Proof Your Run
Everything from tips on hydration to tricks for not taking a fall on icy roads are covered in this article/slideshow by online Health correspondent Rozalynn S. Frazier. However, one of the best pieces of advice with carryover into every other active winter activity has got to be this: Think nylon, not cotton.
“Start with a base layer top made of a sweat-wicking fabric,” says Frazier, “and steer clear of cotton, which traps moisture and draws heat away from your body…Running tights will usually keep your legs warm, but if it drops below 20 degrees, switch to a fleece-lined pair.”
Winter-Proof Your Bike
Techniques for staying warm tend to dominate any talk of enjoying the outdoors in winter. That’s why bikers will appreciate this five-tip list from Active online. The real nut is the advice on installing fenders, replacing chains and cables corroded by road salt, and why you should ditch the skinny road tires and get something with studs when the snow begins to fly.
Your edges are sharp and your skis are tuned. But how about your body? The National Ski Patrol says: “If you haven’t done any preseason ski-or snowboard- specific cross-training, the muscles that have been relatively dormant for several months are going to get a rude awakening, and you’re sure to be quaffing Ibuprofen before day’s end.”
While this list of tips stops short of offering any ski-specific workouts and conditioning workouts, it does a great job of explaining the difference between aerobic and anaerobic training and why you should be working flexibility and strength now to get the most out of the coming season.
Snowshoeing Quick Tips
Did you know that wet, compact snow is best handled by smaller snowshoes? Do you know why you should never leave the trailhead without some duct tape, an extra shirt and some energy bars? Snowshoeing looks so simple to the uninitiated…that is, until you’re miles from home with a busted binding, no water, sweat -soaked clothing and tired legs that feel like they’re made of lead. REI offers a dozen tips for making your next snowshoe adventure fun instead of a miserable sub-zero slog.
Thursday, August 29th, 2013
Earlier this month, a plover chick, last seen in July at the Sleeping Bear Dunes, was spotted on Florida’s Keewaydin Island. That’s a migration of roughly 1,500 miles!
Here’s the report about the lakeshore’s incredible migrating plover, plus information on how the new Sleeping Bear Birding Trail can connect you to some of the best birding opportunities in the region this fall.
The distinct yellow and orange leg bands indicate this Sleeping Bear plover chick was one of the siblings spotted by researcher Beverly Anderson in Florida earlier this month. Photo by Alice Van Zoeren.
Blogging in early August for Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, researcher Beverly Anderson announced that she had spotted three plovers while conducting a beach-nesting bird survey on the south end of Keewaydin Island near Naples, Florida.
One of the birds, Anderson noted, sported a unique combination of orange and yellow plastic bands on its legs – a designation that indicates a bird from the Great Lakes region. In her Rookery Bay blog post, Anderson tells how she contacted Alice Van Zoeren, a fellow researcher who works with both the National Park Service at Sleeping Bear Dunes and the University of Minnesota team that runs the plover banding program. Zoeren confirmed that the bird was one of three chicks that hatched and were banded from the same nest over the summer at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. That particular chick was last seen at the lakeshore in mid-July.
Autumn Brings More Birding Opportunities
Hawks, ducks, and songbirds – Oh my! Everybody knows that mid-April to mid-May is the best time of year to catch a glimpse of the amazing array of birds that live and pass through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
This annual spring spectacle is closely rivaled by the incredible experience birders can behold at the lakeshore come fall. Set against the backdrop of amazing autumn color, birds of every variety begin streaming through and along the Sleeping Bear coast, starting with the first frost of the season.
If you’re wondering about the best places to see some of the over 240 species identified in the park – from ruddy ducks and red-tailed hawks to bobolinks and vireos – check out the website for the Sleeping Bear Birding Trail. The SBBT provides bird watchers with an interactive, online birding checklist and a web-based “road map” to over 120 miles of birding hot spots along the lakeshore. The trail includes almost 40 birding sites within a short distance of state highway M-22 from the Traverse City limits to Manistee.
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
Looking for something fun to do at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore after the sun goes down? Rangers are hosting a couple cool events this month.
Check out how you can celebrate National Park Week, Sleeping Bear Dunes style, by catching the acclaimed documentary, Chasing Ice, followed by a star gazing party at Platte Point Beach.
Did you know that National Park Week is April 20-28? On Saturday, April 27th, rangers are planning to celebrate with two showings of the documentary, Chasing Ice, followed later that evening with a sunset and star watching party on one of the parks most popular beaches.
The Big Screen
Chasing Ice follows filmmaker James Balog across the Arctic as he deploys revolutionary time-lapse cameras designed for one purpose: to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers. Balog’s hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate.
Visitor’s Center showings are scheduled for 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Reservations are recommended. Seating is limited to 100 people per showing. Those with reservations will be seated first. Click here to make your reservation either by phone or email.
The Big Sky
After the final showing of the movie, park visitors have a few hours to get a bite to eat before heading down to Platte Point Beach (at the end of Lake Michigan Road in Benzie County) to catch the sunset followed by an evening of star gazing.
The “sun drop show” over Lake Michigan starts at 8:44 p.m. After the sunset, rangers will be on hand with telescopes for star viewing and constellation identification. A park pass is required for both events. Click here for more information.
Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Talk about taking a long walk on the beach! First, Battle Creek’s Loreen Niewenhuis walked 1,019 miles around Lake Michigan. Then, she walked another 1,004 miles along the shorelines of all five Great Lakes.
Niewenhuis has written two books about the experience and still considers the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore her favorite part. Read this USA Today article about her amazing journey along with information about her newest book, A 1000-Mile Great Lakes Walk, and upcoming appearances throughout the state.
Like Forrest Gump, who one day just put on his shoes and decided to set off on a little run, one day in 2009 Loreen Niewenhuis, decided to “do something completely different” by setting off on a journey around Lake Michigan.
Sixty four days later and writing in her blog about the adventure, Niewenhuis said the Sleeping Bear Dunes was the place her mind returned to most when recalling the experience. Her love for the region was clear in her first book, A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach, in which she wrote about passionately about discovering the many wonders (and ecological threats) facing Lake Michigan.
Now she’s done it again by completing another 1,000 miles around the remaining Great Lakes. USA Today spoke with Niewenhouse this month in an article timed with the release of her latest about, A 1000-Mile Great Lakes Walk. At a time when lakes Michigan and Huron are at their lowest levels ever, Niewenhouse (who used to work as a research scientist/biologist) offers a unique, on-the-ground perspective on the state of the Great Lakes today.
Earlier this month, Niewenhuis launched her latest book tour with a signing at The Cottage Book Shop in Glen Arbor. To catch one of her dynamic presentations about her adventures and the ecology of the Great Lakes, check out her website (www.laketrek.com) for a list of more scheduled events and personal appearances throughout Michigan this summer.
Sunday, April 21st, 2013
The Homestead has partnered with naturalist photographer, Mark Carlson, and digital guru, Bob Grzesiak, to offer Great Lakes Photo Tours in the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” Find out how to get an insider’s pass to discovering the most scenic coastal outlooks and breathtaking natural wonders in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Have you ever been on vacation, looked at the postcards on the rack of a local souvenir shop, and wondered, Wow! Wouldn’t it be great to take pictures like that? If you’re planning a trip to Leelanau County and the Sleeping Bear Dunes next month, The Homestead knows two great northern Michigan image makers who would be more than happy to show you how.
So many guests of The Homestead have used the resort as a home base while attending one of Mark Carlson and Bob Grzesiak Great Lake Photo Tours that the resort now promotes this unique adventure with special rates of $149 for a one-day excursion; $249 for a two-day tour.
There are two, full day classes dates set for May, the peak of the spectacular wildflower season at the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Participants on either date, May 11th or May 12th, will tour the lakeshore’s sprawling hardwoods and pastoral meadows in search of native flowers (over 40 species) common in the park. A special weekend-long tour (May 11tha nd 12th) offers photography lovers this insider’s tour of the Sleeping Bear Dunes plus the opportunity to experience the cherry orchards, historic barns and scenic hillsides of the park and surrounding Leelanau Peninsula.
Whether just learning your way around the camera or come into the tour as a more advanced “photog” looking to deepen your files, Carlson and Grzesiak can personalize your experience to make sure you get the most out of it.
Carlson’s images have appeared in magazine, books and calendars. His fine art photography regularly exhibits in galleries and private collections throughout th country. Carlson has been exploring the region since boyhood and presents a wealth of naturalist information to attendees, as well as many helpful tips and suggestions on how to make you a better nature photographer, regardless of equipment or skill level.
Grzesiak decodes the tech-talk of digital image photography into understandable, layman’s terms. His expertise in assisting digital photographers with their cameraand accessories allows tour attendees the opportunity to create cherished photographs, not just memories, while enjoying this unique photo excursion.
Together, your guides bring over 50 years of combined experience as professionals in their respective fields. Click here to see the May 2013 schedule. The Homestead is offering discount Great Lake Photo Tour packages throughout the season that includes a special rate that combines lodging and tour costs.
Tuesday, April 9th, 2013
Reports are putting the snowfall total for Leelanau County and the Sleeping Bear Dunes at around 125 inches for the season; in other words, a beautifully average winter.
Check out season through the camera lens of one of northern Michigan’s best known photographers, Ken Scott, and this slideshow that might make you a little sorry to see Old Man winter go.
From sunsets over the Empire Bluffs to starry skies over the Manitou Islands, Ken Scott has compiled a wonderful array of winter images from the Sleeping Bear Dunes on flickr. If you like what you see, check out Scott’s website for more information on posters, postcards and frame-quality prints.
Monday, April 8th, 2013
The park is open, but some visitors may notice changes. Automatic reduction in the federal budget (otherwise known as “sequester”) mean a 5-percent cut to the $4.7 million budget of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Here are the details on how federal spending reductions will affect services and attractions at northern Michigan’s favorite vacation destination.
Around $234,000 — that’s the amount gone from the budget of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore this year due to sequestration spending cuts that took effect March 1st.
As part of the National Park Service, the Lakeshore is forced to take actions necessary to comply with sequestration. Nut the good news for peak summer visitors, according to a recent park update, is that these changes will not result in any park closings during peak season this summer.
“The park remains open, welcoming visitors and continuing to protect the resources entrusted to our care,” says Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Shultz.
Seasonal Staff Cuts
With about 98 percent of the park’s $4,676,000 budget going to pay for staff salaries and fixed costs like utilities, seasonal staff are taking the biggest sequester hit with 22 seasonal positions being shortened and five seasonal jobs being cut all together.
According to a park service news release, reduced staffing will impact park operations in following ways:
- Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will not open until Memorial Day Weekend and will close after Labor Day.
- Ranger programs, including environmental education programs for school groups, will not be available until Memorial Day Weekend and will cease after Labor Day.
- Other than those at the visitor center and campgrounds, restrooms and trash cans will not be available until Memorial Day Weekend and will close after Labor Day. This includes the Manitou Islands.
- Mowing of picnic areas and historic farmsteads will be sharply reduced.
- These actions are expected to affect over 250,000 visitors to the park, including 10,000 school children.
- Protection and monitoring of the endangered Piping Plover will be sharply reduced.
- Follow-up control of invasive plants such as black locust will be sharply reduced.The park also reports that travel, training, overtime and supply purchases are also being slashed to meet sequester goals for the fiscal year ending September 30th.
Sunday, April 7th, 2013
What do wine, waterfalls and asparagus have in common? Each is a central theme to three of the coolest warm-weather traditions happening around the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
It’s not too early to get a jumpstart on planning your spring calendar. This shortlist of the region’s best parties and most talked about events will get you rolling into summer.
Spring Sip & Savor — May 4th and 5th
As northern Michigan vineyards wake to the sun and warmth of May, the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association is inviting wine lovers to enjoy special wine and food pairings at each of the now 25 wineries surrounding the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Tickets for the annual “Sip & Savor” wine tour are just $35 and include wine and food pairings at each winery, a commemorative glass, a $5 gift certificate that can be used at any LPVA winery and a $5 donation to a select local charity to be announced in April.
Discount lodging packages are also being provided by area providers:
The Homestead: Sip and Savor package includes two nights lodging May 3rd to May 5th; dinner at Nonna’s one evening; tickets to the Sip & Savor wine trail event; and a pass to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Rates are from $94 per person, per night.
For added fun, Sip & Savor participants are encouraged to participate in the “Sip o’ de Mayo Hat Contest” for a chance to win prizes that many of the wineries will be offering. There’s also a fabulous grand prize of two nights lodging at The Homestead (subject to availability) and a pair of tickets to any LPVA weekend tour or the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival.
To get you tickets and to check out a complete list tour activities and special lodging packages, go to www.lpwines.com/spring.
Empire Asparagus Festival, May 17th, 18th, and 19th
Spring in the Sleeping Bear Dunes means lush green forests, sunny skies, morel mushroom hunting and the most ass-paragus kicking festivals in the North. Say what?
Listed as one of the World’s Weirdest Festivals by MSN Travel, the Empire Asparagus Festival kicks off with a dance and pig roast from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor on May 17th. Admission is only $5. Grab a pint of Right Brain Brewery’s asparagus beer (or any local brew you choose) and enjoy a good time and the great music of local band, The Benzie Playboys.
Saturday starts bright and early in Empire with a 5k walk/run, followed by an asparagus poetry-writing competition, asparagus food and beer eats, asparagus recipe cook-off, and more.
For the most up-to-date information on this wacky rite of spring, check out the Empire Asparagus Festival on Facebook.
Here Comes the Sun Party, May 27th
Party on the deck overlooking a waterfall, right next door to historic Fishtown. For 25 years, The Cove restaurant in Leland, Michigan, has been the place locals go to officially welcome sunny skies and warm temperatures to northernMichigan. With great food, local brews, creative cocktails and live entertainment, the annual “Here Comes the Sun Party” kicks off on Memorial Day at 11 a.m
Saturday, April 6th, 2013
Not only the best place in Michigan to vacation, LeelanauCounty— home of the Sleeping Bear Dunes — is now ranked as the healthiest place in state to live, according to a recent study by the University of Wisconsin.
Find out where your home county falls on the list, along with what factors make Leelanau an Eden for health-minded people.
Wayne County ranked dead last while Leelanau was number one in an annual study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the annual report ranks Michigan counties against each other based on six variables: mortality (length of life), morbidity (quality of life), health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.
While access to quality food and outdoor activities galore undoubtedly contributed to Leelanau taking the top slot, Universityof Wisconsin associate researcher Angela Russell told the Free Press that rankings were also driven by income and education levels.
“We know that communities with higher incomes and higher education levels are more likely to be healthier,” Russell said.
Click here to see where your county ranks along with a detailed, county-by-county breakdown of the numbers.
Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
A favorite Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore town made big news last month, but not for a good reason. Leland, home of historic Fishtown Harbor, might soon be facing tough times because of the dramatic drop in Lake Michigan water level.
Check out this report to find out what’s causing the problem, what’s at stake and how Leland community officials are working to keep the harbor open.
The beaches of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore have always been one of the biggest draws for visitors to the region. So you might think that receding lake levels would simply result in even more sandy shoreline for people to enjoy.
While that might be true at some of the most popular beaches located along the 65 miles of shoreline in Sleeping Bear Dunes, many places off the beaten path have changed to the point of becoming unrecognizable from photos taken a decade ago.
Some beach-goers are finding a barrier of weeds growing where waves once broke over beautiful sand. Lake Michigan is so low in other places that it requires a long walk over slippery rocks just to get to water that’s above the knees. And the low water issue is even worse in harbor towns like Leland where, according to this Chicago Tonight report, low water is threatening to hurt tourism in a big way.
The low water endangers Leland’s historic fishing industry: a huge tourist draw. Now the fishing boats, which were bought and are now run by the local preservation society, sit perilously close to the bottom of the lake. If the tugs do hit bottom, they will be stuck until water levels rise.
According to reporter, Elizabeth Brackett, scientists at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, blame “evaporation and less precipitation for the dropping lake levels.” The Great Lakes are getting warmer and the scientists Brackett interviewed blame climate change while also admitting more research needs to be done.
Leland harbor officials recorded a two foot drop in the average lake level last year. In 2012, the town raised $120,000 last year to pay for dredging to keep its harbor open. The looming question is how long the community can support this cost. Officials believe that, without recreational boats docking in Fishtown, there will be fewer visitors, which means business and shop owners will certainly suffer.
Click here to check out the full story. And to see for yourself just how much the water has fallen in Leland from 1986 to 2013, check out these images “is the Lake Michigan water level low?” by local photographer Ken Scott.