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Tag: EpicMiRoadTrip (Page 2 of 2)

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.

Wordless Wednesday: Upper Falls

Upper Falls

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.

Wordless Wednesday: Tree on Rock

Tree on Rock

Epic Michigan Road Trip: The Keewenaw

Superior Sunset

After leaving St. Ignace we began our trip up to the Keewenaw. It was our longest drive of the trip and we made it longer but going down to Manistique and Palms Book State Park to see the Big Spring which I will write about at some point. McLain State Park  has beautiful views of Lake Superior and you can catch both the sunrise and sunset at the campground. Views aside, it is one of the strangest State Park campgrounds that I’ve ever stayed at. Its biggest problem is that road that used to run the loop around the campground eroded off of a cliff into Lake Superior. So, while I’m assuming you used to be able to drive the whole way around, now you can only go one way and to get back to the front of the park or to the beach, you actually have to leave the park and drive a half mile back past the entrance booth. This is especially frustrating to those in campers and RVs who actually have to leave the park and come back in to use the sanitation station. The park has a camp store, which on the map is listed at the information booth but is actually at the beach which is a good two miles from the campground. Also, when compared to Hartwick Pines and Straits, the restrooms at McLain leave something to be desired.

About the Photo:
The campground at McLain State Park has these benches along the cliff overlooking Lake Superior and when I first saw them, I knew I had the subject for a sunset shot. This shot started with merging 3 RAW exposures using Lightroom’s HDR funtion. From there I adjusted the exposure, contrast, and color temperature.

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

Date Taken:
June 28, 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 McLain State Park visit the Michigan DNR.

Wordless Wednesday: Lady Mackinac

Lady Mackinac

Wordless Wednesday: Rock Under Water

Water over Rock

Epic Michigan Road Trip: Straits State Park

Mackinac Bridge at Sunset

Straits State Park was the first major stop of the trip and it was my favorite campground. The park has three campgrounds the upper campground and two lower campgrounds. The lower campgrounds have a view of the Mackinac Bridge. If you are a tent camper, they have about 6 sites right on the water with a completely unobstructed view of the bridge, but no electricity. These sites do fill up fast, we were only able to be on the water on a Sunday night, so if you’re interested, I recommend booking as close to that 6 month window as possible. If you are not a tent camper, or you can’t do without electricity, there are some spots just on the other side of the road that have a good view and there is a small park, which was right next to our site, where you could set up your tripod. Chris has an awesome shot of our tent lit up at night with the bridge in the distance. That photo will be up on the site on Friday.

Straits State Park also has a bridge viewing area away from the campground if you’re not looking to camp. The park is also home to the Father Marquette Memorial which is on the other side of I-75 and also features a bridge viewing area. The bridge is definitely the biggest attraction at this park.

About the Photo:
This photo was taken during sunset from our tent site on the water. It was a single RAW exposure with basic edits done in Lightroom. I also used a graduated filter in Lightroom to darken the sky.

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 55-200mm kit lens on a tripod

Date Taken:
June 26, 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 book your stay at Straits State Park, visit the Michigan DNR.

Epic Michigan Road Trip

Mackinac Lights

I have just returned from my Epic Michigan Road Trip and I am excited to begin recapping my trip with you! It was a long trip and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to organize my posts, but let me give you a brief overview of my trip! We camped this trip after and setting up and taking down camp 8 times, we can now do it so efficiently; its awesome! I can’t wait to go camping again!

Day 1: Hartwick Pines Campground
Days 2 & 3: Straits State Park, visiting Mackinac Island
Days 4 & 5: McLain State Park, visiting the Keewenaw
Day 5: Bay Furnace Campground, visiting Munising
Day 6: Aune Osborne Campground, visiting Sault Ste. Marie
Day 7: Hoeft State Park, visiting the Lake Huron Coast
Day 8: Rifle River Recreation Area

I want to give my review of Hartwick Pines Campground now because we got in late and left early so I don’t have a photo of it, but I don’t want to neglect it. I had visited Hartwick Pines once before but I had never been to the campground. Hartwick Pines is a large state park located off of I-75 in Grayling, Michigan. It features the largest old growth White Pine forest in the lower peninsula. One of the biggest draws to the park is the logging museum.  The campground is small and we got the last available site for Friday night. I was pleasantly surprised that the site was secluded, wooded, and quiet (until the guys in the site next to us came back at 1 am, but I don’t think that’s indicative of the park). Of all the parks we stayed at, they had the nicest, most updated bathroom facilities. I would highly recommend this campground to anyone and I have a feeling we will be back for a longer stay!

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 Hartwick Pines, visit the Michigan DNR.

Happy 4th of July!

Grand Ole FlagsHappy Birthday America!

This is the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Construction began on the hotel in 1886 and is a National Historic Landmark. Its 660 foot porch is the longest in the world. The hotel features 7 suites designed and named for U.S. First Ladies: Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Laura Bush. Two movies were filmed here: This Time for Keeps from 1947 and Somewhere in Time from 1980. I thought all flags were appropriate for Independence Day!

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 Grand Hotel, visit GrandHotel.com.

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