Cruising Along Lake Michigan in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Is the Michigan summer open road taking you to Mackinac Island or just into the Upper Peninsula and St. Ignace? If so, take some time to drive westbound U.S. Route 2, one of the major east-west drives in the U.P. Once you are about ten miles off I-75 and the Mackinac Bridge you will find yourself along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

You will be on a part of the official Lake Michigan Circle Tour. For miles and miles it will be just lake, beach, sand dunes and brush straight ahead. The brush along the road is narrow, along with the beach that snugs the northern shore of the Great Lake.

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

There are plenty of places to park the car alongside the road to walk the beach. Despite being here in the middle of the summer, I had the scenery all to myself.

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

Well without further ado, some more pics of my time out on the open road in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan:

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

U.S. Route 2, Lake Michigan shoreline - Upper Peninsula, Michigan

What lake side drives are your favorites? Any in Michigan?

Ketchikan, Alaska From The Boat

Ketchikan is a small fisherman town within the Inside Passage of Alaska and a popular stopping point for cruise ships. It was the first port of a Celebrity Alaskan Cruise I went on a while back. Being the first stop a lot of people were ready to get off the ship, walk the town and go on excursions.

I was surprised how few people there were as we came into and also when we left port. Being me I ran quickly from one side of the ship to the other and from the front to the back. I wanted to capture the town and its surroundings. This felt like an excursion in and of itself.

Ketchikan, Alaska, coming into port on a Celebrity Cruise

As we came into town in the morning, it was cool and overcast which was the norm. I got my first taste of the colorful buildings and houses that make up Ketchikan.

Ketchikan, Alaska, coming into port on a Celebrity Cruise

Ketchikan, Alaska, coming into port on a Celebrity Cruise

Ketchikan, Alaska, coming into port on a Celebrity Cruise

Ketchikan, Alaska, coming into port on a Celebrity Cruise

Fishing and crab charter boats went from docked…

Ketchikan, Alaska, coming into port on a Celebrity Cruise

Ketchikan, Alaska, coming into port on a Celebrity Cruise

…to out on the open water. The Aleutian Ballad Is part of the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour, one of the more popular tours in all of Alaska. Speaking of fish, Ketchikan is known as the salmon capital of the world.

aska from the Celebrity cruise ship

Besides boats, I watched seaplanes take off and land on the water and cars take the ferry across the Tongass Narrows over to Ketchikan International Airport, as there is no land access. The air and water are the two ways people can get into town. There is no road access to the outside world from Ketchikan, which resides on Revillagigedo island.

Ketchikan, Alaska, coming into port on a Celebrity Cruise

Ketchikan in the Inside Passage of Alaska

Being the first major cruise ship destination coming from the south there were other large ships docked.

I can’t get enough of looking at the colorful fisherman village style buildings that make up the town.

Ketchikan, Alaska from the Celebrity cruise ship

Ketchikan, Alaska from the Celebrity cruise ship

The tan, expansive building with the American flag on top is the historic Tongoss Trading Co. Their ideal location right along the docks, led me and scores of other tourists into picking out various Ketchikan and Alaskan souvenirs. For locals, sports gear, furniture and apparel are aplenty throughout.

The capturing continued as our stay in Ketchikan ended and we started heading north, getting further and further out.

I made sure to look up and out all long the way as Ketchikan is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest.

Ketchikan in the Inside Passage of Alaska

I previously posted about the scenes I was welcome to on a dawn arrival in Skagway, at the top of the Inside Passage. Stay tuned as in-between our Alaskan journey brought us into the capital city of Juneau.

Are there any scenic places you visited on a cruise that got your camera out coming into and leaving port?

Drinking Sambalatte Third Wave Coffee on the Las Vegas Strip

Starbucks. Starbucks. Starbucks. It’s one after another when walking Las Vegas Boulevard and the Vegas Strip. Within the hotels and casinos themselves you’ll find cafes and places where you can get drip coffee, lattes and other specialty drinks. I admit some of these are nice spots with good coffee offerings, however they give off more of a restaurant feel then a coffee shop.

While spending the mornings recently just walking the Strip I went looking for a true, craft coffee shop experience, which lead me to Sambalatte Torrefazione just outside the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino. This is one of three locations this popular coffee shop chain to locals has in the Las Vegas Valley.

Sambalatte Coffee on the Las Vegas Strip

Upon entering just looking at the coffee themed art, renderings, gadgets, bags of beans and historical items, I immediate knew this place meant business.

Sambalatte Torrefazione Coffee on the Las Vegas Strip

Sambalatte Coffee on the Las Vegas Strip

Sambalatte Coffee on the Las Vegas Strip

Sambalatte Coffee on the Las Vegas Strip

Sambalatte craft coffee on the Las Vegas Strip

I did a double take when I saw the coffee roaster. Sambalatte is the only coffee shop you will find on the Strip who roasts their own beans. The coffee beans from Brazil and other spots in South America and Africa are roasted on a weekly basis from only sustainable farms, which they personally visit to ensure quality.

Sambalatte coffee roaster on the Las Vegas Strip

I had goosebumps during my initial visit as I was enjoying my first third wave coffee experience in Vegas! You can have your craft coffee made here by every means imaginable. What to get? What to get? On my first visit, I went for a Rwandan V60 Pour Over. Excellent.

Sambalatte Torrefazione pour over coffee on the Las Vegas Strip

Sambalatte pour over coffee on the Las Vegas Strip

Sambalatte pour over coffee on the Las Vegas Strip

Sambalatte pour over coffee on the Las Vegas Strip

Is specialty coffee your thing? On another visit, I enjoyed their signature Rainbow Latte. Smooth.

Sambalatte Rainbow Latte, Las Vegas, Nevada

Sambalatte refers to their Monte Carlo location as “the theater of coffee” and it is hard to disagree. On both visits I just soaked in the open atmosphere, while savoring my handcrafted coffee drinks in colorful mugs. They also offer outside seating in front. I look forward to visiting again soon for another true coffee experience when on the Strip.

You can find Sambalatte Torrefazione on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Where do you like getting your coffee on the Las Vegas Strip?

Experiencing Makers & Finders Craft Coffee in Downtown Las Vegas

On a recent early morning on the Strip I was looking for two things. The first was to see more of Las Vegas away from the high rises of Las Vegas Boulevard. Secondly, I wanted to take part in a true craft coffee experience. Both of these led my friend (another coffee snob if you will) and me to the Arts District and the 18b in Downtown and Makers & Finders Coffee.

Makers & Finders Coffee, Arts District, Downtown Las Vegas

Upon entering this Cuban inspired coffee shop, I immediately sensed a creative vibe as there were a few people working on laptops or notepads. We set up shop at the full length bar, but could have also sat at a communal table, on couch-like chairs or on the outdoor seating in front. Plenty of options. At the same time I looked up and noticed the industrial feel of the ceiling.

Makers & Finders Coffee, Arts District, Downtown Las Vegas

Makers & Finders Coffee, Arts District, Downtown Las Vegas

Makers & Finders Coffee, Arts District, Downtown Las Vegas

Now sitting, right in front of our eyes stood the M & F neon signage beyond the Syphon, pour over, French Press and other coffee gadgets. My friend ordered a Lavender Infused Latte made with their in-house syrup which looked delicious. That was amongst a full menu of espresso and specialty drinks.

Makers & Finders Coffee, Arts District, Downtown Las Vegas

Makers & Finders Coffee, Arts District, Downtown Las Vegas

Seeing those gadgets led me to choosing a V60 pour over drip with their Kenyan bean offering. You will find each cup of coffee is brewed to order. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t mind waiting for a craft coffee. It’s part of the true coffee experience which Makers & Finders definitely brings to life. I chatted coffee with the barista as he made my pour over out in the open. I sipped on the coffee during the rest of our stay, outstanding.

Makers & Finders Coffee, Arts District, Downtown Las Vegas, pour over coffee

Makers & Finders Coffee, Arts District, Downtown Las Vegas, pour over coffee

We only experienced the coffee of Makers & Finders on this visit. They have a full breakfast offering and a regular menu filled with Latin comfort food. I hear the arepas and empanadas are a must try. Something to look forward to for next time!

This was the best coffee I’ve had in Las Vegas. Next time you are on the Strip or on Fremont Street for that matter and are looking for a true craft coffee experience, make the short trek to the up-and-coming Arts District and the urban Makers & Finders coffee bar.

Makers & Finders Coffee, Arts District, Downtown Las Vegas

Makers & Finders Coffee, Arts District, Downtown Las Vegas

Learn more about Makers & Finders Coffee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas

When in Vegas exchange the neon lights of Las Vegas Blvd, with those of Downtown and old town at the Fremont Street Experience. Being only at the Fremont Street Experience during the day before, my friend had never been, we had no idea what to expect once the sun went down, the lights turned on and the streets filled up.

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Arriving there recently at dusk we quickly became exposed to what I would describe as part carnival, part tourist trap, part family fun and part adult playground. We were amongst families, couples, barely dressed ladies dancing on the bars, street performers throughout and basically a bunch of people walking around with their camera out or an alcoholic drink in hand. A true, fun Las Vegas party was in full effect!

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada

I have never seen so many neon lights concentrated in one place. Within the heart of the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown are all the old-town and famous hotels and casinos. At the intersection with S. Casino Center Blvd on the four corners sit the Golden Nugget, Binion’s Gambling Hall, the Fremont Casino and Four Queens.

Four Queens Resort and Casino Las Vegas

Fremont Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas

Golden Nugget Las Vegas

As we walked we saw dozens of places to eat, one outdoor open bar after another and tourist souvenir shops. Music and videos were playing over our heads on the larger than life ceiling panels that cover much of the enclosed five block entertainment center. Tip: Get your souvenirs here versus along the Strip.

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Speaking of music, the party really begins every hour on the hour with the Viva Vision Light Show, currently between 6 pm and 1 am. The casinos neon lights will go away, the lights of people’s cell phones will come on and all the eye balls will be focused up-top at the world’s largest video screen. Each hour will feature the music of a different performer. We caught Green Day and Heart.

Fremont Street Experience - Viva Vision Light Show

Fremont Street Experience - Viva Vision Light Show

Fremont Street Experience - Viva Vision Light Show, Green Day

Fremont Street Experience - Viva Vision Light Show, Green Day

Check out a glimpse of Heart’s Magic Man being played.

While watching the shows and walking about we randomly heard people screaming from up above. Look closely a few seconds into the video above. People are zip-lining! You can Zipline half-way across or Zoomline from one end of the experience to the other. The adventurers take off from the world’s largest slot machine. Everything does seem to be bigger in Vegas.

In fact, the first question people asked me when they realized I visited Fremont Street was whether I zip-lined? Unfortunately no. Something to think about for next time.

Fremont Street Experience - Viva Vision Light Show , The D Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

In between all the experiencing of Fremont Street we grabbed some Irish pub food and Jameson whiskey at Hennessey’s Tavern. A relaxing, quieter place if there is such a thing in this part of town.

The first taste of the Fremont Street Experience at night is in the books. It is definitely worth the short Uber or cab ride from The Strip when in Las Vegas. Tip: Make sure to check out the old-school casinos and hotels themselves as well!

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Checkout the Fremont Street Experience on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.