Winter Hiking at Island Lake State Recreation Area

Island Lake is the third busiest park operated by Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources. It offers several miles of hiking and biking trails, canoeing on the Huron River that runs through the park, camping, cabins and even a hot air balloon launch area. The natural landscape features various hardwood trees, open brush land and some meadows. It is in Southeastern Michigan, southeast of the I-96 and US-23 interchange.

Crooked Lake Trail at Pinckney State Recreation Area

Pinckney State Recreation Area is probably the best place in Southeastern Michigan to find long trails and a semblance of wilderness solitude. Historically, the area was home to George Reeves who operated a sawmill, gristmill, distillery and tavern in the town of Hell, which is located in the park. Today, many people enjoy the miles of trails for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing; the various lakes for canoeing, kayaking and fishing; and the campsites, cabin and yurt. Moraines, kettle lakes and swamp areas dotted with deciduous forests are characteristic of the area and provides habitat for a variety of birds and mammals. You can get to the park by taking the North Territorial exit from US-23 (which is between M-14 and I-96) and heading west about 10 miles, following the signs.

Making Snowshoes at Michigan’s Ludington State Park

Three years ago, before I left for Thailand, I spent quite a bit of time researching and contemplating buying snowshoes. And then I reminded myself that I was moving to a nearly tropical and certainly snow-less country for just over two years and that would be a ridiculous purchase to make and that I should just wait. Well, now that I’m back in Michigan, and winter is supposedly approaching (though this El Niño affected weather system has me fooled), I thought this is the time to get those snowshoes.

Then I learned that there is a snowshoe making class at Ludington State Park offered several times in the late fall and early winter, that provides all of the materials and an instructor to make your very own traditional snowshoes and I jumped on that opportunity and decided to make a bit of a trip out of it.

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Where to Find Old-Growth Trees in Michigan

“You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back.”

— “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss

Nearly all of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula was logged in the 1880s and 1890s. When the “Panic of 1893” pausing the clear cutting for a brief window, a stand of trees, now protected by the Hartwick Pines State Park, to escaped unscathed. Hartwick Pines is one of about a dozen remaining locations that the state recognizes as “Remnants of Michigan’s Early Forests.”

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Watching the Northern Lights Flashing in Michigan

Went I went up to Isle Royale in September, I had dreams of seeing the aurora borealis lighting up the night sky. I had done my research and knew that they were most active around 10-11 p.m. and just before dawn in the morning. Around the equinoxes is also a time of high activity.

However, I failed to account for the fact that I would be hiking an average of 10 miles a day with a 30-pound pack and that with the lack of electric lights that I would be sound asleep by at those times. I think I may have seen them one early morning, having been woken up by bright flashes in the sky, but I’m not entirely sure.

I got a second chance earlier this week though, when some kind of solar storm kicked up the solar winds enough to knock the Northern Lights a bit further south than usual.

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Fall Leaf Peeping in Huron National Forest

The joke about the seasons in Thailand is that there are three: hot, hotter and hottest. Truthfully, there are still three seasons, hot, rainy and cool, which leaves much to be desired by people who are accustomed to places that are truly four season wonders, such as Michigan.

While summers in the Midwest get the glory for the outdoor activities and the winters are hailed for the glorious snowscapes and spring brings out a multitude of flowers, nothing quite compares to the autumnal foliage colors.

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Eating the World’s Longest Box of Chocolates

Chocolate. Milk chocolate. White chocolate. Dark chocolate. I’m a sucker for chocolate. So when my friend from high school Alexandra Clark opened up her very own chocolate shop right here in Detroit, I was all about it. In fact, when I had a six hour layover in Detroit on my way to Washington, D.C. for the Blog It Home Top Bloggers Tour in 2014, I had my friend pick me up at the airport and my first taste of America was a bon bon from Alex’s shop, Bon Bon Bon.

And Wednesday, Bon Bon Bon set the world record for the World’s Longest Box of Chocolates, clocking in at 313 feet long. (Detroit’s area code is 313, in case you were wondering why that length.)

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The Birthplace of that Motown Sound

D Town. The Motor City. Hockeytown. Rock City. Motown.

Ah, that Motown sound. The label that created that sound, and in 1975 was producing the most 45s, was headquartered in Detroit, Mich., and has been a museum for the past 30 years. Visitors can learn about the start of the label, its rise to success, how they got those rich vocals and see the studio where it all happened, plus a bonus of Michael Jackson’s famous fedora and sparkly glove.

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5 Days in the Backcountry of Isle Royale

The sun shone down on my face from the peak of its daily ascent. I lay there, on some of the oldest rocks in the world with my feet dangling over the edge of the ridge, dozing in the mid-day heat and taking a break from my ritual of the day.

The ritual of meticulously placing my hiking pole in a spot that would support and balance me as I swung my foot up onto the rocky ridge in front of me, pushing myself forward on the stretch of trail that is routinely referred to as “the hardest trail in Michigan” only to catch myself as I picked my way down the rocks back into the boreal forest. The process would repeat itself less than a quarter mile later.

I lay there, along with the lichen, soaking up the late September sun and allowing it to turn the sweat on my brow into salt lines, giving me a faux aged look, until the call of a bull moose rang out from the wilderness below my feet spurred me up and onto my destination for the day, still a few hard miles on down the trail.

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A Visit to the Arab American National Museum

Earlier this week, I went to lunch with my grandma. I had wanted falafel and she knew the best place to get that would be East Dearborn, which is home to a large Arab-American population. On our way back, we passed the Arab American National Museum, which until that moment, I did not know existed, and I was intrigued. I resolved to research and visit the museum soon. Thursday ended up being the final day for an exhibit showcasing some of Khalid Albaih’s political cartoons and so I made it a point to go and check it out.

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