An Ann Arbor Morning Stroll Along the Huron.

Just north of downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan, a little bit off the beaten path, is Barton Park. Here along Barton Pond and the Huron River you’ll see the calmness of the blue water and all the lily pads and greenery that surrounds. It’s a place close by, yet away from all the interstate and city noise. It makes for a great place to walk, run and get away in the early morning.

Barton Pond,, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Barton Pond,, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Barton Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Barton Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Barton Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Barton Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Well it’s time to continue out on the open path. :) Stay tuned for when I roam across the Huron River into the Barton Nature Area.

Barton Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Huron River

Any other parks, trails or sights that you would recommend checking out along the Huron River around Ann Arbor?

Finding that Pure Michigan Sunrise Spot.

Dawn was fast approaching along the Lake Huron coastline in Michigan. I was out on the open road in the wee hours of the morning looking for a place to capture the sunrise over the waters of the second biggest Great Lake. Driving along Heritage Route U.S. 23 between Au Gres and Tawas City, I randomly spotted the Singing Bridge Public Access Point. With not a soul around, I parked, walked a few steps and below is what I saw.

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

Lake Huron, sunrise, Michigan

I can now see why the Lake Huron coastline in this part of Michigan is known as the Sunrise Coast. Beautiful colors and scenes await those who live or travel along here every day. In fact, I went back to the same spot on another road trip to experience the romantic scenery all over again. :) Gotta love random finds!

Where have you captured a sunrise around home or in your travels that you’d like to go back to over-and-over again?

St. Pete Beach: The Views, Cocktails & Seafood of Crabby Bills.

Crabby Bills Seafood in St. Pete Beach, Florida sits right along the beach and Gulf of Mexico. The up-top outside deck provides beautiful tropical views during the day and romantic sunsets each and every night. A rum runner or two and some Sea Scallops and Bairdi Snow Crab are the last pieces to the puzzle of a fun St. Pete Beach experience.

I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

St. Pete Beach, Florida, tropical cocktail, Crabby Bills

St. Pete Beach, Florida, tropical cocktail, Crabby Bills

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, beach bar

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, scallops

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, king crab

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, scallops

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, king crab

Food-wise you aren’t looking at the same dishes more than once. :) The photos are from consecutive days. When you find great seafood why not order it again. The sides of choice are the Southern Green Beans and Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Crabby Bills has other locations in St. Cloud and nearby Clearwater, but how can beat the beauty of being alongside St. Pete Beach and the Gulf of Mexico?!

What delicious, scenic, outdoor dining fun have you had in your travels? Or around home?

Tampa: A Helicopter Skyline Tour.

When photographing a city skyline people like to walk and drive to various vantage points, grab a shot from the water and look for the high rises when landing or taking off in an airplane. What about getting up close and personal to the heart of a city via helicopter?

My wife and I had the chance to see the Tampa, Florida skyline via a helicopter tour from Old City Helicopters. We met the helicopter in the Davis Islands neighborhood at Peter O’Knight Airport. You could already see the skyline off in the distance from the runway.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Upon take off Seaplane Basin and Hillsborough Bay sat right in front of us. My wife sat in front with the pilot and I was the backseat flyer. :)

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Doing a 360 in the air there was the heart of Tampa off in the distance along with the Seddon and Sparkman water channels.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Before reaching downtown we went over some ritzy neighborhoods.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Our pilot was friendly and made sure we were safe and having a great time. He also pointed out various spots all along the way. Can anyone guess whose white mansion with the pool that is in the center of the picture? Hint: He is retiring from his sporting profession this year. :)

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, celebrity home

Well it was time to head into downtown via a brand new means, getting goosebumps as we got closer and closer. Nothing like capturing a photo of someone capturing a photo of a city skyline in the air!

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

You could almost touch the buildings. The tallest building in Tampa and along the Florida Gulf Coast is the 42-story 100 North Tampa building to the far left.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Looking to the east you can see McKay Bay, also capturing more of the neighborhoods as we looked away from downtown in each direction. Typical of Florida, you have dark ominous clouds on one side and clear blue skies on the other. :) We lucked out with no rain during our tour.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

It was time to head back towards the airport and Hillsborough Bay.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, Tampa Bay

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

We circled the bay getting some skyline and marina shots from out on the open water, I mean over.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline, harbor

Back to Peter O’Knight Airport we go, where you’ll find lots of small planes and helicopters taking off continuously.

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour

Tampa, Florida, helicopter tour, skyline

tampa-helicopter-tour-025

We went on the Bay & Downtown Tour. Along with various Tampa tour options, Old City Helicopters also provides aerial tours of St. Petersburg, the nearby Gulf of Mexico beaches, St. Augustine and the Florida Keys. You can get flight instruction or even just go on a ride that is photography based. Checkout their website and Facebook page for more information.

We had a great time and would definitely recommend this excursion when visiting the Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater area.

Old City Helicopter tours, Tampa, Florida

Have you ever had a helicopter tour? Any around the heart of a city?

Florida: The Sunsets of St. Pete Beach.

No matter the evening, viewing a sunset on St. Pete Beach along the Florida Gulf Coast is magical. The beach, sand, palm trees, Gulf of Mexico and other beach goers in combo make for a romantic and beautiful setting every time. A great spot for honeymoon! :) I’ll let the pictures from various summer evenings do all the talking.

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach, sunset

Where are your favorite spots, either around home or that you’ve come across in your travels, to capture a sunrise/sunset over and over and over again?

Alaska: A Dawn Arrival in Skagway.

One of the best things when on a cruise is pulling into port, especially around sunrise. It’s the beginning of a new day and you’ve arrived at a new place like Skagway, Alaska.

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway is a historic gold rush town that sits at the top of the Inside Passage and panhandle of Alaska near the border with Canada and the Yukon.

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

We weren’t alone as it was summertime at the heart of the Alaskan cruise season. The town population of 900 doubles this time of year with tourism traffic.

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Walking up-top the Celebrity Solstice in port we enjoyed the calmness of the Taiya Inlet waters and the early morning light shinning on the snow-capped mountains.

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

It was the wee hours of the morning so of course a coffee and it’s mug had to take in the experience too. :)

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Skagway, Alaska, Celebrity Cruise

Well it was time to get off the ship and head for some rafting fun on the Taiya River. What a great first taste of Skagway, Alaska though by pulling into port at dawn.

What ports have you enjoyed pulling into when on a cruise? Any Alaskan favorites?

Chicago: Bucktown’s Ipsento Coffee.

While in the Bucktown (Logan Square) neighborhood of Chicago recently, I was hanging out in a couple of coffee shops. I was tweeting about my whereabouts, posting pictures online (surprise, surprise) and interacting some with the locals. Some of the comments I received online and the questions I was asked face-to-face had nothing to do with where I was at, but where else I should go in the neighborhood, Ipsento Coffee.

So in the early morning the next day I returned to Bucktown and this is what I came up to along N. Western Avenue just north of N. Milwaukee Avenue.

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee

Lots of bikes, racks and outdoor seating in front of the entrance to Ipsento Coffee. It immediately reminded me of the setup in front of Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco. :)

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee

Walking inside Ipsento Coffee the baristas were busy making individual coffee’s as the customers waited amongst the warm, cozy, retro and wood like atmosphere. I ordered my coffee and set up shop on one of the bar stools seen to the left.

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee

The baristas were knowledgeable and friendly asking new customers what their names were and talking to regulars about how things were going. The coffee shop definitely had that true neighborhood vibe. I soon had my coffee, a Nutella Latte made with beans roasted in-house, and laid it to rest on the wooden counter.

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee, Nutella Latte

My pre-sipping routine always involves capturing the caffeinated beverage in all its form. This coffee definitely passed the eye test. A fun backdrop, some latte art and a colorful mug with the coffee shop logo displaying front-and-center. All these things say a lot about the care Ipsento takes in making for a great coffee experience.

Oh yeah, I did put the camera down to experience the Nutella Latte. Outstanding. It was recommended from more than one person. Note: I always post my coffee Instagram pictures after consumption has already begun so the coffee doesn’t get cool haha. :)

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee, Nutella Latte

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee

Loved the retro Pepsi storage containers that were used as shelves through out. I enjoyed the rest of my latte while reading the paper, brainstorming my future Chicago roamings and using Ipsento Coffee as my #coffice, home base for that early morning. I’m so glad I listened to all the feedback I received the previous day.

If you are ever in Chicago and especially around the Bucktown neighborhood, make Ipsento Coffee your coffee destination. :)

Chicago, Bucktown, coffee shop, Ipsento Coffee

Some additional information:

  • Get there early to grab a seat.
  • You can learn Coffee 101, classes offered up on what Ipsento has learned in their coffee travels.
  • 6 AM! Looking for that very early cup of coffee before work? They open up earlier than others in the area.
  • Quieter seating options are available in the back, away from the hustle and bustle of the counter/entrance area.
  • Get the Ipsento Latte! I didn’t have a chance too. Tell me what you think?
  • Check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

What’s a neighborhood in a city you frequent or have come across in your travels that has a great coffee shop, cafe scene?