Tag: sand dunes
Last month, the Michigan State Park System celebrated its 100th anniversary. With 103 parks, there are a lot of places in the state to enjoy natural Michigan. From Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Western Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in the Detroit River, Michigan State Parks encompass miles of freshwater shoreline, hills, waterfalls, and forests. There is a state park for whatever type of recreation you are looking for.
Mackinac Island was actually the first Michigan State Park as a gift from the Federal Government after a brief stint as the second National Park in the country and became the nation’s first state park (wiki). In 1917, the state of Michigan purchased land to make Interlochen State Park the second state park. By 1919, the Michigan State Park commission was created to “oversee, acquire, and maintain” state parks for the enjoyment of the people. Up until that point, many of the beauties of the state were privately owned and there weren’t places for the average person to go visit in their new automobile (govdelivery.com).
I love how forward thinking the state of Michigan was back in the early 20th century. What else was happening around the country at that time? In 1919, the Grand Canyon became a National Park. Isle Royal, the only National Park in the state, didn’t become a National Park until 1940. Other state park systems didn’t exist until the 1930s.
Back in 2012, I set a goal to visit every Michigan State Park. By my estimation, I have visited 49 so far and I have many more parks to explore! Through my explorations, I have seen some pretty amazing places! Of course, I have shared on here my absolute love of Ludington State Park. I probably visit Ludington more often then some parks which are closer to home. I’ve seen the unique beauty of the big spring at Palms Book State Park. I have witnessed the history of Fort Wilkins and Fort Michilimackinac. Just this past weekend, I camped along the shores of Lake Michigan at Fisherman’s Island State Park. I greatly appreciate the experiences I have had at these wonderful parks and I look forward to many more!
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In honor of National Plan for Vacation Day, I thought I would share some of my best tips for planning vacations.
Flight Deals: Everyone is always searching for the best deal on flights. Assuming you’re not loyal to a specific airline, I recommend you check out the Hopper app. You tell it where you want to go and when and it will watch for flight deals. Every week it gives you an update on prices and if there’s ever a great deal, it will notify you. If you don’t have a set date or destination, I recommend Skyscanner and Airfare Watchdog as well.
Look Outside the Hotel Box: Hotel rooms are small and expensive. Get more space for less money by renting a room or a whole house. HomeAway, and airbnb are great places to look for a hotel alternative for your next trip. HomeAway has been around longer than airbnb and is more sophisticated, HomeAway is great option if you are looking for accommodations for a larger group (castles and whole islands are available to rent on Homeaway). On airbnb you are able to rent a whole home, but you also have the option of sharing a room or even renting a couch for even cheaper travel.
Hotel Deals: That being said, sometimes you want to amenities and comfort of a hotel. There are so many different sites for booking hotels that it can be really overwhelming. I typically look at two site: Priceline and TripAdvisor. Priceline is great because it has the name your own price option and express deals if you’re OK with not knowing exactly what hotel you’re booking. I have used Priceline quite a few times and I have never had a bad experience. Its a great way to get a high end room for a discount. Since you can’t book through TripAdvisor, I find that their reviews are the most honest and accurate.
Plan a Road Trip: I absolutely love using Furkot for planning road trips. It helps space out stops and helps you find a place to stay along the way. It can even help find stops along the way to help break up the drive.
Take a Cruise: Want a vacation where you visit a tropical island, go to sleep and wake up in a new place while dining in Five Star restaurants and seeing world class shows? Take a cruise. Don’t know where to start? Check out Cruise Critic. Also, listen to cruise reviews on Cruise Radio.
Things to Do: You have arrived at your destination. What do you do now? Check TripAdvisor. As mentioned above, users of TripAdvisor rate experiences and allow them to rank restaurants and attractions in a designated area. I have found some hidden gems while traveling (in my home town) because of TripAdvisor. If you travel without TripAdvisor, you are really missing out.
Do you have any travel tips for me? I would love to hear them in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter! 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 information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
Over Spring Break, one of the places I wanted to visit was the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. It was supposed to start raining and turn into snow on the day we had chosen and I was skeptical about whether or not we should still go. Well, Chris talked me into and I’m glad I decided to brave it! It was a great photographer’s sky! Those rays in the sky are not Photoshopped in! That is the rain coming in off the lake! Tip for photographers: Don’t let “bad” weather stop you from exploring and shooting! Be brave! Clear sky days are the time to stay home and do housework!
About this Photo:
I knew going to the dunes that I was going to want the widest lens I have and that wasn’t even really wide enough, so I decided to go the panorama route. This was 5 shots stitched together in Lightroom. Once Lightroom did its thing, I did my basic edits and voila!
Nikon D3100 with 18.0-55.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, handheld. Tip: If you’re planning a visit to the dunes, bring your camera bag with you. It is quite a climb up there and you don’t want to get any sand in anything!
April 1, 2016
Since Spring Break is over, I have been busy planning our summer road trip. I was looking for an app or website that would help me with this planning; something that could help me choose an order for stops and let me know if the distance between stops was unrealistic. Well, after a quick Google search, I found exactly what I was looking for. Furkot.com does all that and more (and no one is paying me to say this). Furkot can help you find lodging in your chosen destinations or at certain intervals throughout your trip that you can customize. It will also help you plan your meals and activities once you’ve finalized your stops. If you are planning a road trip, you’ve got to check out Furkot!
About this Photo:
This photo was taken near the Little Sable Lighthouse at Silver Lake State Park near Mears, Michigan. This shot was taken right as a snow storm was blowing in off of Lake Michigan. It was a single RAW exposure with basic edits done in Lightroom.
Nikon D3100 with 18.0-55.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 handheld
April 1, 2016
I have visited the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore many times. As a child, the “Dune Climb” was something to be done every few years. One time, in my college days, I tricked Ashleigh into doing the entire hike with me all the way to Lake Michigan. “Just one more dune,” I would say, and eventually we made it to the lake. We also one time had the good forture of being able to have a fire between Lake Michigan and the first large dune near the Lake Michigan overlook, which was really special.
About the photo:
This photo was taken from the Empire Bluff Trail, a really great trail just south of Empire, MI, with a picturesque view of the dunes, Platt Lake, and at least one of the Manitou Islands. It was pretty cloudy the day we were there, which allowed for nice, even lighting.
Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
March 30, 2016