Monday, August 18, 2014

Windmill Island Gardens

Windmill Island Gardens is nestled right at the edge of downtown Holland, Michigan. The windmill that is located in the middle of the tulip gardens is 250 years old and is still a working windmill called DeZaan, meaning graceful bird. There are 36 acres of manicured gardens. The windmill itself is 125 feet tall from the top of the blades to the ground. You can actually buy the stone ground flour that is made at the windmill in the Dutch Village Gift Shop that sits next to the windmill.

The evening I visited the Gardens had closed for the day, but visitors could walk or bike back to the Gardens and Dutch Village. So off I went, albeit a cold front had come through the previous evening, and boy was it a chilly walk, but I persevered.

It was about a one mile hike back to the Dutch Village which housed various shops, a carousel and a conservatory. I snapped images of the back of the windmill as I walked the main road. In Spring there are over 115,000 tulips blooming in the Gardens around the windmill. Seriously, can you imagine 115,000 tulips blooming in all colors in one garden?

The Dutch Village was so quaint and colorful. The main building called the post house is an exact replica of a 14th Century wayside inn. I loved the dots of color on the buildings.

This last image is a smaller replica windmill that sits at the opposite end of the Dutch Village. The Gardens were immaculate and so perfectly manicured. Sadly, I didn't get to see the front of the windmill. I was loosing light fast and had to walk back to my car at the entrance. I seriously underestimated the city of Holland and what it had to offer what with Big Ben Lighthouse, the Windmill Island Gardens and Holland State Park with its huge beach. And Saugatuck and Douglas, the two small beach towns I wanted to visit were only about ten minutes from Holland. It was a great location to set up shop for the week. ENJOY!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Macatawa Bay

Boating Michigan! That's what this post should be called. Of all of the bays, rivers and lakes that I encountered, Macatawa Bay in Holland was one of the most beautiful. The bay literally separates the town, with Downtown Holland situated on the south side, and residences and the Mall on the north side. There are numerous yacht clubs, marinas and parks along all the shores on both sides of the bay.

This is an image of the beautiful Macatawa Bay Yacht Club. There were boats in every size and shape in the marina. I captured this image as I walked back from my half mile hike to Big Ben Lighthouse. I just learned from Google that Macatawa Bay Boat Works is located in Holland which explains why I kept seeing wooden boats coming in and out of the inlet. What is not to love about wooden boats. They harken of bygone days to me.

One of the smaller sailboats I kept seeing in the bay was this orange and white striped sailboat. It was a perfect day for it to as a cold front had come through the day before and made for some great sailing weather.

All along Lake Michigan from South Haven to Leland, the towns I ventured in and out of were very small, so quaint and absolutely charming. The area is virtually unspoiled and free from commercialism like you typically find in other beach towns.

And if you aren't into the Dunes themselves, there's beautiful lighthouses to explore all along Lake Michigan. What I found that added a distinct flavor to the area were the blueberry and cherry farms. And, while I was there, the berries and cherries were ripe and ready for the picking. The tiny, tiny farm markets that sat along the side of the road were so adorable. I wished we had more of those here in Kentucky. If I had had more time, I would have loved to check out the Peninsula northeast of Traverse City where the vineyards and wineries are the big attraction. Stay tuned, as I have more posts from Michigan coming up.

-Ripe Cherries in the Orchard
-Holland Windmill and Dutch Village
-Saugatuck Chain Ferry
-Sauagatuck Courtyard Flowers

I won't be gone long, so check back in soon. ENJOY!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Hope your week is off to a great start. I captured this image at a marsh which sits just to the east of the Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I loved the reflection in the water. ENJOY!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Michigan, My Journey

My recent journey throughout Michigan's lower peninsula, along the western shore of Lake Michigan, has not been documented in its entirety, as I will write more posts over the coming weeks.

However, a quick peek back at where I've taken you was in order. Perhaps, you will find a new image or two to feast your eyes upon. I seldom call my outings a trip, but prefer to speak of them as a trek or even a journey, because after all it is a place and time not yet traveled nor spent, and if for no other reason than the newness of it, I consider it an adventure. ENJOY!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

National Lighthouse Day

In honor of such beautiful historical landmarks as our lighthouses that are found throughout the United States, this is Grand Haven Light in Grand Haven, Michigan.

Hope you are having a fabulous week. The weather here in the Bluegrass state is nothing short of 'can this really be August in Louisville'. ENJOY!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Beautiful Point Betsie Lighthouse

Lighthouses, in general, are very popular landmarks. On a beautiful sunny day a few weeks ago, with the most gorgeous blue sky, and just the slightest breeze in the air, I decided to drive down to Point Betsie Lighthouse in Frankfurt, Michigan.

I had just finished hiking Empire Bluffs Trail and wanted to see the lighthouse as I knew I would be heading home the next day. The lighthouse sits just south of Sleeping Bear Dunes, a mere twenty minute drive. Only a handful of people were at the lighthouse as I drove into the parking lot as it had already closed for the day.

I was actually glad it was closed. That meant I could have this place virtually to myself. A wide path led down to the beach and as I walked along the shore farther away from the lighthouse, I turned and looked back. I knew this would be the best perspective to capture a few images of this old lighthouse and I was right.

I also snapped a few images closer to the lighthouse as I walked up the hillside from the beach.

I read that Point Betsie is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States. The lighthouse dates back to 1858. You should know that if you take a hankering, you can rent the two bedroom keepers quarters for a weekly rental fee. Considering where the lighthouse is situated along the lakeshore with Sleeping Bear Dunes close by, not to mention the beautiful lakes and quaint artist's towns right down the road, and add to that Lake Michigan's beaches, it seems the perfect spot to spend a week. ENJOY!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Empire Bluff Trail, Sleeping Bear Dunes

A mere seven tenths of a mile hike on a relatively level terrain through mostly dense woods, with a sprig of wildflowers growing here and there, and you find yourself approaching a sign that warns to stay on the trail as "Steep Bluffs" are ahead. This is the trail at Empire Bluff just south of the tiny town of Empire, Mighigan. It is also the southern most point of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

As you peer out over the landscape looking north, you catch a portion of South Bar Lake which sits just inland from Lake Michigan. There are many inland lakes around this "thumb in the mitten" portion of the state of Michigan as locals call it.

Most of the images I captured from Empire Bluff looked north toward the massive dune. In the far left of this frame sits South Manitou Island. North of South Manitou is Manitou Island. I would have liked to have taken the ferry over to the island to walk around while I was in Leland earlier on this particular day, but I wanted to drive south and hike to Empire Bluff.

The actual bluff itself with the boardwalk didn't afford the prettiest views of the dunes so these images were taken about a tenth of a mile before you reach the boardwalk. This viewpoint is where the trail ends in winter due to the hazardous snow and ice conditions on the boardwalk and bluffs.

One has to wonder peering down from the boardwalk at this tree trunk just where it began its journey, having found its resting place here on the side of the bluff. I tried to imagine winter's wrath bearing down on this bluff and the sand dunes to the north. Imagine, if you can, five to six feet of lake effect snow covering this bluff and the dunes. It's hard to imagine, but is very real here in winter. ENJOY!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Buffalo, Oleson Farms

As I pulled into Traverse City a few weeks ago while in Michigan, I drove past my hotel before I realized I had missed it. Right as I went to turn around, I looked over to see a good sized herd of Buffalo grazing in a pasture next to the highway. Seriously, I did a double take thinking I was not seeing right. Turns out the Buffalo belong to Oleson Farms who sells their meat and hides and have since the early 1900's.

I was struck by how many calves were in the herd. There seemed to be quite a lot of them.
There are approximately 300 Buffalo at Oleson's Farms in Traverse City right now. It all began as an experiment in the early 1900's when the Oleson's grandfather bought three Buffalo. I guess the experiment worked. At one point, the Oleson's had 500 Buffalo which was the largest herd east of the Mississippi. I think any herd east of the Mississippi would be considered large. You never know what you're going to find when you travel, so keep your eyes open. ENJOY!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Weathered Barn, Charles Olsen Historic Preserve

As you travel the main state road around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, you will pass Charles Olsen Historic Preserve situated in Port Oneida. In 1918, this old weathered barn was built up against the hillside. Today, along with the adjacent farmhouse, it is part of a project to preserve these structures by Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear. Charles Olsen, the original owner of the farm, built this type of barn structure to house cattle in the lower section and hay in the upper section. Normally I see these types of barns out west where cattle ranchers are more prominent.

The day before I took these images, I saw this old weathered barn and got a glimpse of the historic preservation sign and was a tad curious. On my drive south from Leland the next day, I passed the barn and decided to capture a few images when I noticed these beautiful wildflowers blooming in a field nearby. I have to say I tire of taking the standard barn image as barns are a staple everywhere you travel, so finding this patch of wildflowers was a plus.

Charles Olsen raised cattle, but he was also was an avid horseman. He actually maintained state road 22 which traverses this area around the dunes before the highway department took over.

As I got out of my car and walked a short way back to the wildflower field, I wondered what flower this was and discovered online today that they are Everlasting Peas or perhaps you might call them Sweet Peas. I was amazed at the many, many Everlasting Peas growing in abundance along the two main state roads near Sleep Bear Dunes. They are so beautiful I just had to get a close up to share with you.

It has stormed here since last evening. The lightning and wind was atrocious around 10 p.m. last night. Thunder kept me awake and then woke me up again this morning. I'm off to finish a home decor project. Have a wonderful Sunday. ENJOY!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Leland's Famous Fishtown!

In northern Michigan sits the small town of Leland. Now most of you may not necessarily know about Leland, but it is home to the only working commercial fishing village in Michigan that is left today. Fishtown is situated along the harbor in Leland and if you find yourself in this area, get out of your car and walk around. It's worth the time and the effort.

Fishtown in Leland dates back to the 1800's and as you walk down the steps to the docks, you almost feel like you might just be right back in 1890. Forty years ago Carlson Fisheries decided it wanted to perserve the heritage of Fishtown which is why it still serves as a fishing village today. Later Carlson sold Fishtown to the Preservation Society to preserve it. I am so glad they did.

You'll find old fishing nets hanging off the side of the dock railings drying in the sun which I found especially charming. As I photographed this fishing net, several women looked at me like I was a little nuts, but I knew you guys would get the symbolic nature of the image.

As you turn the corner of the main walkway to the dock, look almost straight across and you see one of the best representations of an old weathered fishing shantie with its gear sitting out front ready to be put into service.

Walk around the docks and wander in and out of the shops if time allows, but especially stop and read some of the many printed billboard signs sitting outside that share the story of the 'famous' Fishtown fishermen. It really was heartwarming to read about the fishermen. The town obviously is very proud of their hardworking guys.

Behind the dam that flows into Lake Michigan stands a boardwalk connecting the two docks. Standing on the boardwalk, I captured this image of the weathered fishing shanties and the boats sitting in the harbor. It bears mentioning here that the green boat in the left side of the image is an old fishing tug. The tugs, back in the 1800's and early 1900's, were open mackinaw boats made of wood. In the mid 1900's the tugs were modified when gas engines replaced the sails and later when gas was replaced with diesel. At that time a protective cabin was added to the tugs, allowing the fishermen more protection from the elements and enabling them to travel further out from port, and extending the season further into the winter months. Today, the Janice Sue and the Joy, steel fishing tugs, are still in service in Leland. Now how's that for a history lesson!

As I walked out past the harbor toward Lake Michigan, a long rock wall sat adjacent to the marina. No doubt it was built to keep the lake at bay during stormy weather.

This area of Michigan is so 'cool' if you don't mind the term. It is situated about 35 minutes from Traverse City and is very close to the small artist's community of Glen Arbor. Nearby is Sleeping Bear Dunes, so if you didn't get enough of your drive down Pierce Stocking and you kept your receipt, you could take a second drive. I drove a tad farther south on this particular day to visit Point Betsie Lighthouse and Ranger Station. So many little towns just a hop, skip and a jump away from each other. ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tall Ship Manitou, Grand Traverse Bay

The first leg of my trip was spent in Holland visiting various beach towns and enjoying beautiful Lake Michigan. On the second leg of my trip, however, I drove to Traverse City to spend a few days. Right as I pulled into town late in the day, having spent most of the day at Sleeping Bear Dunes, I noticed a tall ship out in the bay. I had read there was a tall ship company in Grand Traverse Bay, but I didn't know what time of day they sailed so I wasn't sure I would see the ship on my visit.

On this particular day the wind from a cold front that had come through on Tuesday was still very prevalent on Grand Traverse Bay as the Tall Ship Manitou made its way back to the dock. Now mind you I am not an expert, but it seems to be pitching just a tad to one side with the wind against its sail. I would have loved to have been on that cruise.

As luck would have it, the next evening I drove the road that circumvents the bay before heading back to my hotel and just happened to catch the Tall Ship Manitou again. This time it was pulling into dock, sails down, and in a much calmer Grand Traverse Bay. I love the reflection of the sails in the water. This is my favorite image of the bay and the ship. I found Traverse City to be the best place to station myself as it was in perfect proximity to Leland, Glen Arbor and Empire, all tiny towns along or close to Lake Michigan. Also, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is only about 35 minutes from Traverse City.

I had read this area of Michigan is virtually an undiscovered area and has not turned totally commercial from tourism. I have to agree. There is still a great deal of this area where I found myself almost alone along the lake shore. Vacationing in mid July can be tough because of the heat of summer. After spending last year on the Eastern Shore in 95 degree heat and 100 degree heat index, I opted to travel north. The farther north I drove, the larger and more beautiful the inland lakes were. Glen Lake was so gorgeous I couldn't begin to describe it. Cutting my trip into two destinations in fairly close proximity kept my driving to a minimum on any given day making for a more enjoyable trip. To check out Pure Michigan, the state's tourism website, go to ENJOY!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Gorgeous Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore located in the northwest section of lower Michigan in the Grand Traverse area was recently voted the #1 Most Beautiful Place in America. In my humble opinion, it was and is still #1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is such a beautiful area with huge sand dunes that seem to rise right into the heavens. Add to those overpowering sand dunes, the crystal blue waters of Lake Michigan and its beautiful beaches, and it is just a phenomenal place to spend a few days.

As I drove the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, I captured one of my favorite images of Sleeping Bear Dunes which features a huge sand dune off in the distance and gorgeous Lake Michigan, as well as the immediate sand dune with its varying flora and fauna. Flowering Baby's Breath bloomed in large patches all over the dunes making for a beautiful scene. Sadly, Baby's Breath actually destabilizes the dunes and invades the native plant species that stabilize the dunes. So an effort is under way to eradicate this flower from the dunes.

If you look closely while driving the Pierce Stocking Drive, you will see small patches of Butterfly Weed growing in the sand. I love the bright orange color and find it even more beautiful with the Baby's Breath.

A favorite stop along the Pierce Stocking Drive is the Lake Michigan Overlook which features a boardwalk that juts out into Lake Michigan. On this particular day, a lone sailboat was sailing across the lake. Everyone around me was busy taking photos of the dunes and walking out on the boardwalk, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to snap a few images of the crystal blue waters and this solitary sailboat. It has such a serenity about it that was irresistible. ENJOY!