Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Category: Camping (Page 2 of 3)

B&B Road Trip: From Pennsylvania to Virginia

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Our first night of the trip, we stayed at Laurel Hill State Park in Pennsylvania. We got in late and had to set up camp in the pouring rain. We had a lot of driving to do so we left before we really got to explore the park, but what I saw I liked and I would like to visit there again when I had more time to relax and explore the nature of Pennsylvania’s highlands.

UntitledAnyway, from the park it was a twisty-turny road through rural Appalachia. We made our first stop along the way at the C&O Canal Visitor’s Center (left) so Chris could get his first National Park passport stamp of the trip. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal is a 184.5 river system that was designed to connect the east coast and the Great Lakes. The towpath trail is a popular biking spot that runs from Cumberland, Maryland to DC.

After exploring the canal trail a bit we continued south and made our next stop in Fredricksburg, Virginia. We visited some of the sites at the Fredricksburg Battlefield (above) and the Fredricksburg Cemetery. Fredricksburg was a Civil War battle that ended in a Confederate victory and over 12,000 Union casualties. This was the first Civil War Battlefield I had visited and it was hard to reconcile the history and the tragedy with the beautiful scenery that has sprung up in over 100 years since the bloody battle.

It was a short drive from Fredricksburg to Williamsburg where we set up camp for the next two nights. More on that next week. Thanks for stopping by! For more information on the C&O Canal and Fredricksburg, visit the National Park Service. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.Untitled

Beaches and Battlefields Trip Report

Cape Hatteras Sunset

We are back from our Outer Banks road trip and I am excited to begin recapping my trip with you! This was another camping road trip visiting 6 different campgrounds in 4 states in 10 days.

  • Night 1: Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset, Pennsylvania
    • Explored Fredricksburg Battlefield
  • Night 2 & 3: Chickahominy Riverfront Park near Williamsburg, Virginia
    • Visited Yorktown and Jamestowne
  • Night 4 & 5: Frisco Campground in Buxton, North Carolina
    • Explored Hatteras Lighthouse and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
  • Night 6 & 7: Ocracoke Campground in Ocracoke, North Carolina
    • Explored Ocracoke beach and the Village of Ocracoke
  • Night 8: Oregon Inlet in Nags Head, North Carolina
    • Visited Bodie Island Lighthouse, Wright Brothers National Memorial, and Roanoke Island
  • Night 9: Owen Creek Campground in Thurmont, Maryland
    • Explored Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, Anteitam National Battlefield, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park

In some ways, this trip was the exact opposite of our trip last year. Where last year we headed north, this year we went south. Where it was cold last year, this year I felt like I was on the surface of the sun. Tent camping on the beach is rough because there is no shade and no escape from the relentless southern heat. I love the Outer Banks but next time, I’m staying in the air conditioning.

This photo was taken at the beach at Frisco Campground at sunset. Sunsets on the beach can be tricky because they are often lacking a foreground subject. Being that this is an ORV beach, I found my foreground subject by looking down.

Thanks for stopping by! Come back next Monday to read more about our trip. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

Exploring the Thumb

The Fury of Lake Huron

This past weekend we ventured to Port Crescent State Park, at the tip of the thumb. I had never been to that part of the state before and I was excited to check it out. Luckily, we were able to catch a stunning sunset the first night because it rained the rest of the weekend. I was really hoping to kayak to Turnip Rock, but I wasn’t about to do that in a thunderstorm.

We decided to not let the rain get us down and we drove around and explored the area. The lake was gorgeous like all of the Great Lakes, but honestly, there wasn’t much else to see. It’s a very flat part of the state and is mostly filled with farms and windmills. Maybe it was the weather, but The Thumb didn’t win my heart like the Ludington area did. I’m sure we will be back because I still want to check out Turnip Rock, so maybe my second impression will change my mind.

To learn more about the Thumb Region, visit ThumbTourism.org. Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

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First Camping Trip of the Season

Big Sable Sunset

This past weekend, we ventured out to our first camping trip of the season. We’ve been wanting to check out the Jack Pine campground at Ludington State Park since we discovered it on our first visit to the park several years ago. What really intrigued us about this campground is that it is a hike-in campground a mile from the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. We were really looking forward to this because it would allow us to stay at the lighthouse later and photograph it during blue hour without worrying about our car getting locked in the day use area parking lot. The light didn’t end up being as phenomenal as we were hoping, but it was nice to spend sunset on Lake Michigan. We absolutely loved our campsite (site F). It was secluded and quiet but also close to the road to the lighthouse. One night wasn’t enough. We will have to make plans to stay at this campground again sometime soon!

If any of you are heading to the Jack Pine campground, one tip to know is that the path to the campground is actually a gravel road used to service the lighthouse. They say everything must be backpacked or biked in, but we brought a foldable wagon and it worked great and held more than a backpack would. While Chris’ arm got tired pulling it, I have to think it was easier than carrying everything on his back.

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

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Pure Michigan Beach

Beach Sunset

For one final summer hurrah, Chris and I took a camping trip to Van Buren State Park in South Haven. While deciding what park to visit, I knew I wanted to be on the water, but other than that I wasn’t too picky as to where we would go (we even considered going back to Straits but the lower campgrounds were already full) after checking a few times, an spot opened up at Van Buren so we jumped on it! I began looking into what to do in South Haven and discovered that our trip coincided with the Blueberry Festival. We always enjoy a good Pure Michigan festival! We explored downtown South Haven and walked out to the lighthouse (since it was a festival, it was impossible to get a shot of it without a million people in it), and got some blueberry jam at one of the festival tents.

This was my first visit to Van Buren State Park. Our site was very sandy, which made our tent very sandy due to the rain, but it seemed like other sites had more grass. The beach at Van Buren was just a short walk from the campground. Once again, the bathroom facilities did not live up to Straits, but at this point I wasn’t surprised. One of the strangest things about the park is that it wrapped around a working nuclear power plant. On the way to the beach you encounter a fence with “no trespassing, violators will be shot” signs posted every few feet. Other than that, it was a pretty quiet park and if I was looking to camp in the area again, I would definitely stay here again.

About the Photo:
After exploring the festival, we headed out to the beach to capture the sunset. I love capturing the sunset over Lake Michigan because you get an unobstructed view but oftentimes it is difficult to find a compelling subject. After taking a few kind of boring sunset shots I pointed the camera down and captured the colors in a reflection of the receding tide. To get the motion of the water, I used a long (1.6 second) shutter speed.

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 18-55 kit lens, on a tripod

Date Taken:
August 13, 2016

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. To plan your visit to South Haven check out SouthHaven.org. To book your stay at Van Buren State Park visit the Michigan DNR.

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Epic Michigan Road Trip: Recap

McLain Sunset

Wow! I can’t believe this summer-long blog series is coming to an end. What am I going to write about now? Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on this epic trip, I wanted to give you a little recap and share some of my favorite things from the journey.

Favorite Campground: Straits State Park lower campground, St. Ignace. You just can’t beat that view! And that was the bathroom I now measure every campground bathroom to. I would love to make a trip to Straits an annual occasion!

Favorite Tourist Attraction: Soo Locks Boat Tour – Its one thing to watch the Locks from the viewing platform its another entirely to get to ride through them!

Best Natural Wonder: The Big Spring (AKA Kitch-iti-kipi) – This was a really tough decision, but I have never seen anything like this before. The water was so calm and such a unique color! It was breathtaking!

Best Sunset Spot: McLain State Park Campground – unobstructed views over Lake Superior and benches to watch it from. Not mention you can also catch a sunrise here.

Best UP Pasties: Lehto’s, St. Ignace – This is a no-frills restaurant that serves one thing, pasties. You can get them hot or chilled or frozen to take home. They also sell canned soda and they have picnic tables outside if you decide to eat them there. They stay warm awhile so we enjoyed ours in Manistique. If you’ve never had them, you can even order them online and they’ll ship them to you!

About the Photo:
Our second night at McLain we were able to catch this fabulous sunset. This is a big deal at this park and people flock towards the water to watch it. After the sun went down, most of the people went back to their sites, but the sky was not done with its show! Lately, I have noticed that the best colors seem to come out after sunset! Don’t rush off after the sun goes down, you never know what Mother Nature has in store for you!

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 18-55 kit len, on a tripod

Date Taken:
June 28, 2016

Thanks for stopping by and for following along on my trip! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

Epic Michigan Road Trip: Rifle River

Rifle River Pano

Wow! We are at the end of my road trip! I am so sad to be done retelling it, but don’t worry, I have plenty more photos coming! Back to the trip!

After making our way down the Lake Huron coast, we headed inland to the Rifle River Recreation Area. We chose this as our last stop on the trip because it was literally the last campsite available in the northeastern part of the state for the Saturday before the Fourth of July. It was a rustic site, meaning no electricity and outhouses instead of bathrooms. The park was definitely the largest we visited on the trip. We drove for a while before we got to our campsite. And for the outdoor adventurer, there is a lot to do between hiking and canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. If you’re looking to camp and spend time on the water, this would be a great place for you!

About the Photo:
This shot was taken in the morning of the day we were heading home. Before we left the park I wanted to stop at the observation platform and get a photo for the blog. This shot was an 8 RAW exposure panorama stitched together with basic edits in lightroom.

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 18-55 mm kit lens, handheld

Date Taken:
July 3, 2016

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. To learn more about Rifle River Recreation Area, visit the Michigan DNR.

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Epic Michigan Road Trip: Lighthouse Hunting

Clouds at Tawas Point

In Sault Ste. Marie I picked up a Michigan Lighthouse Map which shows every lighthouse in Michigan and whether or not its open to the public. So, when we were making the drive down the Lake Huron coast, we made a point to stop at all the lighthouses we could. We managed to stop at 7 lighthouses on our way down south including three in Presque Isle, two of which we climbed. The above photo is of the Tawas Point Lighthouse.

For our night on Lake Huron we stayed at Hoeft State Park in Rogers City (south of Cheboygan). This park surprised me. We were there the Friday before the Fourth of July and I was expecting it to be kind of rowdy but it wasn’t at all. It seemed to be mostly families, a lot of which had bikes and were making use of Huron Sunrise Trail. The sites were big and wooded, but the bathrooms didn’t live up to Hartwick Pines (this was the theme of the trip). If I was looking to stay near Lake Huron, I come back here in a heartbeat!

About the Photo:
I got incredibly lucky with this picture! There were no Photoshop tricks or external flash used here. We happened to get to the lighthouse when it was sprinkling a little, but a bigger rain was definitely on its way. To the west, the sun was not covered by clouds with made for this awesome cloudy background with evening light on the lighthouse. This was a single RAW exposure with basic edits done in Lightroom.

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 18-55 kit lens and polarizer, handheld

Date Taken:
July 2, 2016

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. To plan your Lighthouse Exploration Trip, visit MichiganLighthouseGuide.com. To book your stay at Hoeft State Park visit the Michigan DNR.

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Epic Michigan Road Trip: The Soo

Soo Locks Boat Tour

I have wanted to visit Sault Ste. Marie (which means the Rapids of the Saint Mary’s River, thank you Google!) for as long as I can remember. Since I was little, I’ve heard about how my grandfather guarded the locks during the Korean War and yet, I had never seen them. So, when we were planning our road trip, I added a stop in the Soo. After doing some research, I discovered that the best way to experience the locks was on a Soo Locks Boat Tour. I always enjoy these kinds of tours because they give you interesting facts and history of a location. This tour had so many facts, I barely remember any of them, but getting to go up and down in the locks was an experience I will never forget. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Soo Locks were built to bypass a 21ft waterfall on the St. Mary’s River that runs from Lake Superior to Lake Huron. Unless you have your own boat, the Soo Locks Boat Tour is the only way to ride through the locks. I highly recommend it!

The nearest state park to Sault Ste. Marie is in Brimley which is a 20 minute drive to town. So, I started exploring the private options. There are several private campgrounds in Sault Ste Marie, but only Aune Osborne allows you to reserve your spot in advance (although you have to call, they don’t take online reservations) and as I mentioned in a previous post, that is very important to me. I am not wasting vacation time driving around trying to find a place to sleep. The biggest thing this campground has going for it is the location. It is right on the river, the Soo Locks Boat Tour dock was two doors down. Waterfront sites are available (although not to tents because of “liability reasons”. I’ve posted the pictures from Straits right? This seems nuts to me) so you can watch the freighters go by while you sit around the campfire. That is pretty unique. Also, the bathrooms were the cleanest and fanciest of the trip, although they are locked which caused me a little headache trying to remember the code to get in. The downside and the reason why I usually stick to public campgrounds, we were one of three sites with a tent. I could get over this if it wasn’t for the fact that the other campers looked at us like we’d slept in an igloo or something. It was an interesting experience. I asked myself if I would stay here again and that’s really hard for me to answer. If could get a waterfront spot, I would be back in a heartbeat.

About the Photo:
This was a single RAW exposure taken on the Soo Locks Boat Tour and with basic edits done in the Lightroom. I was trying to highlight the architecture of the building along with the engineering marvel that is the locks.

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm kit lens, handheld

Date Taken:
July 1, 2016

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For more information about The Soo Locks Boat Tour and Aune Osborne Campground, visit SaultSteMarie.com.

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Epic Michigan Road Trip: Chasing Waterfalls

Wagner Falls

The Upper Peninsula is home to roughly 200 waterfalls and many of them can be found on the drive from Houghton to Munising. Some of these waterfalls are in parks with trails and parking areas, while others can be found on the side of the road or even in subdivisions. My favorite was probably Scott Falls (unfortunately, none of my pictures of it turned out) which is just on the side of M-28. The falls were just at a trickle when we were there, but I liked how I could get right up to the falls and put my hand in the water. A lot more of the falls used to allow people to walk behind them but because of the erosion, now there are fences keeping people back.

In Munising, we stayed at the Bay Furnace Campground, which is a rustic National Forest Campground right across from the Kewadin Casino in Christmas. I booked Bay Furnace because it was one of the few campgrounds in the area that you can book in advance. I would’ve liked to stay in the Pictured Rocks, but I was worried that there wouldn’t be any availabilities and we’d waste time driving around for a place to stay.

About the Photo:
The above photo was taken at Wagner Falls. One of the tough things about this shot is that I knew I wanted to blur the motion, so I was going to need a long exposure. As I mentioned above, a lot of the waterfalls have walkways and railings to keep foot traffic from eroding the falls, this makes space for a tripod tricky, especially with 2 photographers camping out. I chose to leave the tripod in the car and use the railings to support the camera. Compositionally, its not the best approach, but I felt like I could crop it and make it work. This was a single RAW 1/3 second exposure, with basic edits done in Lightroom. Because of the time of day we were at the falls, there were some blown out spots, so I pulled it into Photoshop and used content-aware autofill to bring back the texture to the water.

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm kit lens, with a polarizer

Date Taken:
June 29, 2016

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. To plan your UP Waterfall tour visit, UPTravel.com. To make a reservation at the Bay Furnace Campground, visit the National Forest Service.

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