Go See Do Photography

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

Tag: Travel (Page 1 of 2)

Michigan Bucket List

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen these location-based “ultimate bucket list” graphics floating around Pinterest. I’ve even pinned a few of them for future trips. I searched and searched for a Michigan one (I was curious how many “bucket list” worthy things I’ve done in my home state) but when I came up empty, I decided to make one myself! Some of these are attractions and others are cities, but they span both peninsulas and are definitely the highlights of the Great Lakes State!

Ultimate Michigan Bucket List:

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Empire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes

  1. Sleeping Bear Dunes
    Located in Northwest Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore covers 35 miles of Lake Michigan coastline. In 2011, the area was named “The Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America. The Dune Climb is one of the most popular hikes in the park, but the Empire Bluff Trail (above) has amazing views of the crystal blue water!
  2. Grand Rapids
    The Second Largest City in Michigan, Grand Rapids is known for its food and its art. In 2011, Grand Rapids tied with Asheville, North Carolina for the title of “Beer City USA”. Grand Rapids was also the childhood home of US President Gerald Ford and is home to the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum.

    Tawas Point Lighthouse

  3. Tawas Point Lighthouse
    An iconic Michigan landmark, the Tawas Point Lighthouse is located on Lake Huron in Tawas State Park. The lighthouse was built in 1853 to prevent shipwrecks on the point.
  4. Pictured Rocks
    Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is located on the southern shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 1966, congress named Pictured Rocks the first National Lakeshore.
  5. The Henry Ford
    Located in Dearborn, The Henry Ford is an indoor and outdoor history museum started by Henry Ford himself. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover dedicated the museum to Ford’s longtime friend, Thomas Edison, on the 50th anniversary of Edison’s successful incandescent lightbulb. On display in the museum are The 1896 Ford Quadricycle, the limousine where Kennedy was assassinated, George Washington’s camp bed, the bus where Rosa Parks was arrested, and the chair from Ford’s Theater where Lincoln was assassinated, among many others. The Village is home to Henry Ford’s Birthplace, The Logan County Courthouse where Lincoln practiced law, Noah Webster’s Connecticut Home, along with many other historical buildings.

    Lower Tahquamenon Falls

  6. Tahquamenon Falls
    Located in the Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is home to two waterfalls on the Tahquamenon River. The Upper Falls is more than 200 feet across with a drop of 48 feet. Located four miles downstream, the lower falls are actually a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island. The Tahquamenon is also known as being the land of Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha, which contains the line: “by the rushing Tahquamenaw”, where Hiawatha built his canoe.
  7. Frankenmuth
    The name Frankenmuth translates to “Courage of the Franconians”. Frankenmuth wears its German Heritage on its sleeve with Bavarian architecture, German Food, and the first Oktoberfest to be recognized outside of Germany. Frankenmuth is also home to Bronner’s, the World’s Largest Christmas Store, as well as dueling chicken restaurants.

    Big Sable Point Lighthouse at Ludington State Park

  8. Ludington
    Ludington is located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Pere Marquette River. Ludington is home to the SS Badger, a car ferry that will take you across the lake to Wisconsin. Nearby Ludington State Park is one of the most popular parks in Michigan and is home to the iconic Big Sable Point Lighthouse. In 1675, French explorer, Pere Marquette died and was laid to rest in Ludington.
  9. Drive M-22
    Running from Manistee to Traverse City up breathtaking Leelanau Peninsula, M-22 is so popular, people steal the road signs to hang up in their homes. The Michigan Department of Transportation has redesigned the signs in hopes of reducing the number of thefts. In 2015, readers of USA Today named M-22 the best scenic autumn drive in the nation.
  10. Mackinac Bridge
    Connecting St. Ignace to Mackinac City, the Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere at 26,372 feet long. The bridge officially opened to traffic in 1957 after three and a half years of construction. Once a year on Labor Day, the bridge is open to pedestrians for the annual bridge walk.

    Scott Fountain on Belle Isle

  11. Belle Isle
    Belle Isle, the 982-acre park on the Detroit River, was designed by urban park designer Frederick Law Olmstead and is the largest city-owned park in the United States. The island is home to the Belle Isle Conservatory, Belle Isle Nature Center, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, The James Scott Memorial Fountain, and Belle Isle Aquarium. Before it closed in 2005,  the aquarium was the oldest operating aquarium in the United States. It was reopened in 2012 as part of the Belle Isle Conservancy.
  12. Traverse City
    Traverse City is located in Northwest Michigan on Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. Being the country’s largest producer of tart cherries, each summer the National Cherry Festival is held in Traverse City. Known for vineyards, freshwater beaches, downhill skiing, and breweries, there is much to do and see in TC.
  13. Detroit Institute of Arts
    The Detroit Institute of Arts has one of the largest and most notable collections of art in the United States. The collection includes works of art by Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and many more. One of the highlights of the museum is the huge fresco-style murals by Diego Rivera known collectively as Detroit Industry, or Man and Machine. Built in 1927, the Italian Rennaisance inspired building the museum is housed in is beautiful as well.
  14. Whitefish Point
    Whitefish Point is a cape in the Upper Peninsula that marks the entrance to Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior. For visitors, Whitefish Point is great for rock hunting, birding, and ship watching. It is also home to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Whitefish Point Lighthouse.

    Kitch-iti-Kipi

  15. Kitch-iti-Kipi
    Located near Manistique in the Upper Penisula, Kitch-iti-Kipi is Michigan’s largest natural spring. Early Native Americans referred to it as the “Mirror of Heaven”. The limestone bottom of the spring gives it its unique emerald green color. The water in the spring is has a constant temperature of 45 degrees so even in the middle of winter, it does not freeze.
  16. Houghton
    Located on the Keewenaw Peninsula in the Northern Upper Peninsula, Houghton is home to a lot of wilderness and is a great place for outdoor exploration from hiking and biking to snowshoeing and snowmobiling.  The Keewenaw is home to the Copper Mining boom and you can experience that history today at Quincy Mine near Houghton. Houghton is also where you can catch a ferry to Isle Royale National Park.
  17. Porcupine Mountains
    Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is located in the Northwestern Upper Peninsula and is made up of a group of small mountains. As a wilderness state park, Porcupine Mountains has a large system of backcountry trails for hiking and backpacking with the North Country Trail running through the park. Seeing Lake of the Clouds should be on everyone’s Michigan bucket list.
  18. Mackinac Island
    Located in the Straits of Mackinac, Mackinac Island is a popular summer tourist destination. The island is closed to most motor vehicles so most people travel by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage and stepping off the ferry is like taking a step back in time. One of the biggest attractions on the island is the Grand Hotel, a Victorian-style hotel with the world’s longest porch. The island is also home to a British fort that was built during the American Revolution and saw action during the War of 1812.

    Tulip Garden in Holland

  19. Holland
    Where Frankenmuth was settled by Germans, Holland was settled by the Dutch. Located in the western part of the state on Lake Michigan, Holland is home to Tulip Time, the largest Tulip Festival in the United States. Located in Windmill Island Park, De Zwaan was supposedly the last windmill that was allowed to be removed from The Netherlands. Dutch culture is pervasive in Holland; wooden shoes are available in all of the gift shops.
  20. Eastern Market
    Eastern Market is a historic commercial district located in the city of Detroit. Covering 43 acres, it is the largest historic market district in the country. The market changes on different days of the week. Saturday Market is a big event with over 225 vendors selling everything from produce to tacos. The Sunday market features a taste of Detroit with the work of local artists, jewelers, cooks, musicians, and more. A more traditional farmer’s market can be found on Tuesdays and every third Thursday in the summer Easter Market offers a unique night market with food, drinks, music, and shopping.
  21. Turnip Rock
    Located in Lake Huron near Port Austin at the tip of the thumb is Turnip Rock, a unique geological formation. The water of Lake Huron has severely weathered this small rock so that the top is much larger than the base with trees growing out the top. The rock is located on private property so the only way to see it is by water. The trip to the rock is a 7 mile round trip paddle along the Point aux Barques trail with several local companies that will rent you a boat for the trip.

    Chapel in the Woods at Hartwick Pines

  22. Hartwick Pines
    Hartwick Pines State Park is one of the largest parks in the lower peninsula. Located near Grayling, the park contains 49 acres of old-growth pine forest, one of the few remaining in the state. The Hartwick Pines Logging museum pays tribute to the 19th-century logging industry when Michigan led the nation in lumber production.
  23. Motown Museum
    Motown Records was founded in Detroit in 1959 by Berry Gordy. Hitsville USA, once the home of Motown Records is now the home of the Motown Museum, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeastern Michigan. Visitors to the museum will walk through Studio A where many Motown Stars recorded their hits including The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, and many more. Michael Jackson’s white glove is on display as well as countless other Motown artifacts.
  24. Headlands Dark Sky Park
    Located near Mackinaw City, Headlands Dark Sky Park is a 550 acre park including 2 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline. It was only the 6th park in the US to receive the Dark Sky Park designation and is one of the best places in Michigan to view the night sky.
  25. Soo Locks
    The Soo Locks provide ships with a way to bypass a waterfall on the St. Mary’s River and gets ships adjusted to differing water levels on Lake Huron and Lake Superior. The Locks are located in Sault Ste. Marie, in the northeastern upper peninsula. There are four American Locks and one set of Canadian Locks. Visitors can watch ships go through the locks from the observation deck, or can take a Soo Locks Boat Tour and experience the locks first hand.

    Meijer Gardens

  26. Meijer Gardens
    Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is a 158 acre botanical garden located near Grand Rapids. The Gardens are home to more than 170 sculptures from sculptors such as Alexander Calder, Auguste Rodin, Dale Chihuly, and many more. At five acres, the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden is one of the largest children’s gardens in the country. In 2009 the Gardens were named one of the 30 “must-see museums” in the world in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.
  27. Silver Lake Sand Dunes
    Located on Lake Michigan, bordering Silver Lake in Mears is Silver Lake State Park. The park is best known for its 2,000 acres of beautiful sand dunes. The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are known for ORVs and dune buggy rides, but there is a section of the park that is closed to vehicles for people to climb. Also within the park is the beautiful, brick, Little Sable Lighthouse.
  28. Isle Royale National Park
    The crown jewel of Michigan and the least explored is Isle Royale National Park. Established in 1940, the 894 square mile park is located in northern Lake Superior and can only be accessed by boat or seaplane. Camping, hiking, and fishing are popular on the island. Isle Royale is the only known place on earth where moose and wolves cohabitate without bears.

So far, I’m at 22/28. What’s your number? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! Feel free to share this on Social Media to show off to your friends!

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: South Bubble Summit

2019: Year in Review

2019 was the best year for travel in my recent memory! Before this year, the last time I had been on an airplane was New Years Day, 2014. In 2019, we took three plane trips and visited more airports than seems reasonable. I finally spent some time west of the Mississippi and even got to break out the passports a few times. We took another amazing cruise and took my family to one of our favorite places.

Today, a memory popped on Facebook that we booked our flights to Phoenix one year ago. That trip was a super busy whirlwind, but it was an experience I will never forget. It was my first time visiting a desert, it was cold and rainy so I still haven’t really gotten a true desert experience. It is still fun to joke about Phoenix being a cold and rainy place. Of course, the highlight was spending a day at the Grand Canyon. Getting there right after they had reopened due to a blizzard was amazing! Crowds were low and the snow really added something special to all of our photos. I’ve printed the above photo and it is now hanging in my living room.

Just about a month after getting home, we hopped on another plane for our much anticipated cruise. We bought a voucher for this cruise on our last cruise back in 2015. We had booked and cancelled and rebooked so many times I was worried we were never actually going to take this trip, so it was a great relief to finally get back on a ship! All of the ports were visited were amazing and we took some great excursions. I can say that I accomplished everything on that trip that I had hoped to. Of course, we also got to experience New Orleans, but I don’t feel like one day was really enough time to take that city in.

After getting home from our cruise, we had just a few short months to prepare for our trip to Maine with my family. It was good to go back and spend more time in a place that has so much to see and do. It was great to share it with my family and watch them take in the beauty for the first time. Of course, we still weren’t able to do all that we wanted to do at Acadia so we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to make it back to Maine in 2020.

Of course, we took some day and weekend trips since June. We went camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes and spent a chilly weekend by the fire in Canada. After spending all that time in airports in the first half of the year, I really do miss getting farther away. Especially with the weather getting colder, I would love to escape somewhere warm for a little bit!  I have been obsessively checking for flight deals so we can jet off for another long weekend.

We do have another trip coming up before the end of the year. We are taking my mother-in-law this time and heading back to Corning, New York. Too bad we didn’t make it back to Boston, or we would’ve hit all of our stops on our 2018 road trip again this year. We’re heading out that way because the Corning Museum of Glass has an exhibit until the end of the year entitled “How Glass Got Us To The Moon” that we wanted to check out. So, be sure to stay tuned in the next few weeks for posts about that trip.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

 

6 Ways to Beat Post Vacation Blues

Coming back from vacation is hard! On vacation you’re relaxing, seeing new places, and sleeping in. Now, you’re home, you’re back to your regular schedule, and it feels like you never left. Here are some tips to get over that post-vacation slump!

    Edit your photos – Even if you don’t have professional editing software, it is a lot of fun to improve your vacation photos before sharing them online! A few minor tweaks can make a lot of difference in your pictures.
  1. Create a photo book – I do this for every trip we take! It is so much fun to put your pictures into print and tell the story of your trip! I’m not loyal to any photo book company. I just try to get the best deal. You can often find good deals on Groupon!
  2. Recreate a great meal from your trip – Food and memory are closely related so recreating your favorite meal will jog your memory and allow you to share your trip with friends and family at home in a way that’s less annoying than the stereotypical slideshow.
  3. Take a day trip – Can’t take another vacation this year? Don’t fret! Find someplace new nearby to explore. Be a tourist in your own town! Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about getting away, we miss the experiences that are close to us.
  4. Keep your eye on travel deals – You never know when the next airline sale will pop up with a deal that you just can’t beat! Airfarewatchdog is a great service that will let you know when a specific flight goes on sale.
  5. Start planning your next trip – Think about where you want to go next? Do you want to return to a favorite destination or find someplace new? Check out Pinterest for inspiration for your next getaway and follow blogs like this one for travel ideas!

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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100 Years of Michigan State Parks

Sauguatuck Dunes State Park

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.

Tawas State Park

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).

Seven Lakes State Park

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.

McLain State Park

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!

Silver Lake State Park

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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AKASO EK7000 Action Camera Review

While our recent cruise wasn’t a photography-centric trip, I can’t travel without taking pictures. If I don’t have pictures, I don’t have content to share with you! Since we were planning on snorkeling and river tubing, I knew I wanted a camera that I could get wet. I considered getting one of those underwater cases for my iPhone, but those don’t protect against dropping it underwater and I really didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars replacing my phone, I began searching for inexpensive waterproof cameras.

After hours of searching Amazon and technology review sites, I found the AKASO EK7000. It is a small, GoPro sized, action camera that came with more accessories than I know what to do with! I think one of them is supposed to be a helmet clip but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to put it together. It has wifi so it can connect to your phone to share your pictures/videos on social media and supposedly it shoots 4K video. This camera is ridiculously highly rated on Amazon so for less than $50 I decided to pull the trigger.

Once the camera arrived, I understood all of the 5 star reviews, and its not because of quality. In the box with the camera was a sheet with several accessory packages you can get for free if you show proof of a 5 star rating on Amazon. Right there, that made me incredibly skeptical of this tiny camera’s performance. I played with it in the house for a little bit before we left, but I wish I would’ve messed around with it a little more (this is a lesson for purchasing any new camera gear, really). While snorkeling, I couldn’t figure out how to put it in photo mode as opposed to video mode. Afterwards, I realized it had date stamped all of my photos with the factory date of June 2000, which really messed up Lightroom when I imported the photos when I got home. After getting back to the room, I was able to figure all of that out, but it would’ve been nice to focus on taking pictures while snorkeling as opposed to just working the camera.

Once I stopped panicking about getting out of video mode, I realized that I could pull still images out of the videos so I was able to get some usable shots. This camera did perform pretty well underwater (top), but when it came to taking daylight shots (above), it didn’t do so hot. And lets not even mention the photos that I took inside the cave. My iPhone 7 takes MUCH better pictures than this. The videos did seem to come out better, though. AKASO claims that with the waterproof housing, it doesn’t record sound, but if you watch these, you’ll see that that’s not exactly true. Is that sound 100% clear and articulate? No, but it is nice to capture some of ambient sound. Watch the videos below to see how this camera handles video. And just a reminder, I’m a photographer, not a videographer!

Overall, I think this camera is worth its $50 price tag. Does it perform like the GoPros that are priced 6x+ higher? Of course not! But for capturing vacation memories and not having to worry about accidentally damaging your phone, I think its worth it! Click here for more information about this camera.

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Cruising out of New Orleans

One of the reasons we chose this cruise was because it sailed out of New Orleans, and even though I had been to Louisiana several times, I had never made down to the Big Easy. We only had one day to explore the city and there really is so much to see.

Beignets from Cafe Beignet

We got up early (not early by our standards, but early by NOLA standards) and headed to the French Quarter. The line at Cafe du Monde was already around the block so we decided to try Cafe Beignet instead. The beignets were pretty good, but I didn’t really get the hype. After getting off the ship, we went to the Cafe du Monde in the river walk, which is right by the cruise terminal, and I understand it now. You really have to try them to get it!

Before we left on this trip, we decided that with so little time to explore the city, we wanted to take some kind of guided tour. There was only one tour that I found that took you around the whole city and that was the Hop on Hop off Trolley tour. The tour was very fragmented that day because of various events happening around the city. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if we were going to be there for three days, but with only one day to see the city, it was frustrating that the tour was cut short in the French Quarter because of the St Joseph’s Day parade. Apparently this happens a lot in parade season (January-March) so be prepared for that. The tour that we got was very interesting, talking about the early history of the city, Katrina, and Madrid Gras. Honestly, I’m torn over whether or not to recommend this tour. If you’re visiting outside of parade season or have several days to use your ticket, this may be a good tour for you.

Live Oak at the New Orleans Museum of Art

We also made the trek over to the New Orleans Museum of Art. The museum is located in a beautiful building next to City Park. Their collection is relatively small, but they have a lovely sculpture garden that was beautiful at the end of March. I could’ve spent a lot more time there, but it was under construction.

Everything I read about New Orleans said you don’t have to rent a car in New Orleans. I’m going to take that a step further and say DON’T rent a car in New Orleans. People drive like crazy and the pedestrians are no better! I watched a lady walk in front of a moving bus! It is a very walkable city and there is a good public transit system. Uber and Lyft are all over too so you can watch a professional get frustrated with the traffic. Honestly, I don’t know how they do it.

I will have to return to NOLA another time because there was still so much we didn’t get to see. I wish we would’ve had more time to explore the garden district. I also would’ve liked to check out the a World War II museum. We thought about taking a riverboat ride, but then I realized we were going to be taking a large boat down the river the next day.

Thank you for stopping by! Be sure to come back next year as we board the Breakaway and head south to Mexico! To read more about our trip, click here! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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100 Years of the Grand Canyon

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of Grand Canyon National Park. Afraid that the Grand Canyon would turn into a tourist trap like Niagra Falls, Theodore Roosevelt declared it a National Monument in 1908, which protected the unusual landscape from development. It took 11 years for congress to get on board and designate The Grand Canyon as the 15th American National Park.

I recently got the chance to visit the Grand Canyon after a flush of strange Arizona weather. Where I was, in Phoenix saw two full days of cold rain. After north in the state saw copious amounts of snow. Roads were shut down. People were stuck at home. There was a message on the National Park Service page advising people to cancel their plans and come back another time. We were very close to doing just that, and if it wasn’t for the clerk at the rental car counter telling us that the roads should be fine, we probably would have. Luckily, by Saturday afternoon, the roads were clear so we headed north. The winter is the slowest time of the year at the Grand Canyon. After our experience this summer at Acadia, I was grateful for that. Because of the crazy weather and the travel advisories, I think traffic was even lighter than usual for a weekend in February. We left our hotel early Sunday morning and we were maybe the third car in the visitor center parking lot. It was cold, but definitely worth it.

The Grand Canyon is indescribable. You really have to see it for yourself to appreciate it. There’s a quote about the Grand Canyon that I love: “I have heard rumors of visitors who were disappointed. The same people will be disappointed at the Day of Judgment.” -J.B Priestly First view of the Grand Canyon Theodore Roosevelt described it best: “In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Lets Talk About Food

Wings at Duff’s in Buffalo, NY

“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonald’s? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head?” -Anthony Bordain

Hot Brown from Ramsey’s in Lexington, KY

If you fly across the world, see the sites, but then eat at a restaurant that you have by your house, did you truly experience the culture of the place you visited? I have to say you did not. I don’t think you can truly experience a place and a culture without trying their food. James Beard said “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”

In all of our travels we try to find unique dining experiences, foods we can’t get at home. Do we typically dine at 5 star restaurants, of course not. Sometimes it’s as basic as finding a local fast food chain that we don’t have at home. If it’s something I can get at home, I try to avoid it while traveling. There was a time a few years ago that we were in Chicago and I was getting hangry. I really wanted to try to find a cool, local place to eat, but my hunger was getting in the way of making decisions. We ended up eating at Panera and I was so upset that I wasted one of our few meals in Chicago on something that is 5 minutes from my house.

Bento Box from Wild Ginger in Corning, NY

With all the technology we have it is so easy to find good and authentic food wherever you go. I talk about it all the time, but TripAdvisor is a great way to get travelers’ honest opinions on restaurants and find places that are under the radar. When we were in Boston we found this very trendy Mexican restaurant called Lolita Cantina. The food was unique and the dining experience is one I will never forget. The meal started with a granita with a splash of tequila and it ended with cotton candy and temporary tattoos.

If you’re looking for something less fancy, go to the dining tab on TripAdvisor and there should be a section labeled cheap eats. We tried all kinds of good restaurants that were unbelievably inexpensive. My favorite was a tiny Italian restaurant in Concord, Massachusetts that served huge portions of pasta. It was not a place I would’ve found just walking around. We also had really good gyros near the campus of Southern New Hampshire State University.

Thin Mint Latte at Higher Grounds in Traverse City, MI

When you travel, branch out of your comfort zone. Try some foods you wouldn’t try at home. It will expand your horizons and transform you. Talk to the people where you’re staying. Find out where they like to eat. Of course check out TripAdvisor. You won’t be disappointed.

Do you have any tips for finding authentic places to eat when you travel? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you for stopping by! Do you have any trip planning tips that I missed? Let me know in the comments! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

National Plan for Vacation Day

The last Tuesday in January is designated as National Plan for Vacation Day. Why? I have no idea, but I have been doing a lot of planning lately and thought I could talk about it here. As I mentioned in my annual New Years post, I have two trips coming up in the next few months and I have been busy planning for all the little details for those trips.

Since it had been a few years since we had flown, the search for the perfect flights took a lot of searching and waiting, and searching some more. One thing I learned from this search is that nowadays, most of the best deals will actually be found booking directly through the airline, instead of Expedia or a company like that. I used both Kayak and Skyscanner to search with Hopper to tell when the was the best time to book. For both of our trips, we got better deals on one-way flights than on a round trip tickets. Those sites helped us pick through all of the flights find the best deals.

For both of our upcoming trips, we are staying in AirBNBs. AirBNB is great because it allows you to find inexpensive vacation rentals for every need. You just want to crash on a couch, you can probably find it on AirBNB. You need a house for 10? They have that too. AirBNB was a saving grace for our pre-cruise stay in New Orleans because hotels near the port are $300+ per night.

There aren’t many AirBNBs near the Grand Canyon that still have availability a month out, so we went the hotel route for that night. My trick for finding hotel deals is to look at both TripAdvisor and Priceline. TripAdvisor has the reviews and Priceline has the best deals. We ended up getting a great price on the #1 hotel in Grand Canyon, Arizona by checking Priceline before booking TripAdvisor’s deal.

I have been scouring Pinterest for how to handle one day at the Grand Canyon as well as must dos for a short trip to New Orleans. TripAdvisor is great for finding the heart of an area, but it can be overwhelming, especially with a limited amount of time. I’ve been enjoying reading what Bloggers enjoyed during their trips and what they would recommend skipping.

Thank you for stopping by! Do you have any trip planning tips that I missed? Let me know in the comments! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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