Tag Archives: Pure Michigan

Port Huron: An International Crossing.

When everyone thinks of major border crossings between the United States and Canada they think Detroit and Windsor and also Niagara Falls. They probably don’t think of the second busiest border crossing between the two countries, the Blue Water Bridge. The Blue Water Bridge links Port Huron, Michigan with Port Edward and Sarnia, Ontario.

Port Huron, Michigan - Blue Water Bridge

The bridge crosses over the St. Clair River near the southern end of Lake Huron. I’ve had the chance to hang out around the bridge and river on the US side in the summer and winter, when it’s warm and when it’s not and it’s always a relaxing time.

There is a lengthy walkway that runs along the river, along with parks, to capture the bridge and scenery from different vantage points.

Port Huron, Michigan - Blue Water Bridge. St. Clair River.

The bridge sits about an hour northeast of Detroit and the busiest border crossing, the Ambassador Bridge.

Port Huron, Michigan - Blue Water Bridge. St. Clair River.

Looking south down the walkway and river towards downtown Port Huron. I love how blue the river is.

Port Huron, Michigan walkway along St. Clair River.

Port Huron, Michigan - Blue Water Bridge. St. Clair River.

Blue Water Bridge is a twin-span bridge with the original span opening in 1938. The more recent span opened in 1997. It is one of the fastest routes between Michigan and the Midwest and Toronto and points east.

Port Huron, Michigan - Blue Water Bridge.

Across the way, is the Sarnia skyline.

Sarnia, Ontario, Canada skyline along St. Clair River.

The Port Edward and Canada side just to the north of the bridge. You can almost shake hands with the people visiting the bridge and river over there.

Port Edward and Sarnia, Ontario, Canada

Looking to the north is Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes. No land as far as the eye can see.

Lake Huron, Great Lakes, Michigan

Just north of the bridge and off camera to the left is the International Flag Plaza I’d recommend checking out if in the area. It honors those who respond to emergency calls in the United States and Canada.

Lake Huron, Great Lakes, Michigan

The bridge and river are scenic in the winter months too.

Blue Water Bridge, St. Clair River in winter.

Blue Water Bridge, St. Clair River in winter.

Love watching the chunks of ice float by well into the Spring.

St. Clair River in winter.

If you ever cross the Blue Water Bridge make sure to take the time to hang out and soak in the bridge and the scenery along the river front. I look forward to more great times and also checking out the Canadian side.

Blue Water Bridge, USA and Canada International crossing.

What are some of your favorite bridges to capture? What is the most scenic International border you’ve crossed?

A Foodies Paradise at “What’s Cooking Detroit?”

I had a chance this past weekend to go to What’s Cooking Detroit? at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan. It was a surprise from my love, thank you! 🙂

What's Cooking Detroit?, foodies

What’s Cooking Detroit Wine & Food Festival was a one day foodies and chef wannabes paradise. Cooking demos, hands-on workshops, contests and recipes galore.

What's Cooking Detroit?, speakers, demonstrations

The chef wannabe in me was in heaven sampling cheeses, barbecue sauces, chocolate, cooking oils, wine, spirits, beer and more. In all there were 100’s of Michigan vendors covering every aspect of the culinary world taking over the entire perimeter of the Palace.

What's Cooking Detroit? - The Palace of Auburn Hills

A favorite stop were the cheeses from Farm Country Cheese House out of Lakeview, Michigan. Dozens of flavors of cheese to sample, my favorites being “Onion & Garlic” and “Bacon”. How can you ever go wrong with any three of these things?

What's Cooking Detroit? - Farm Country Cheese House

Another tasty stop was Herkner’s Old Fashioned Cherry Goodness. A versatile northern Michigan cherry topping for desserts, meats and entrées, can serve as a salad dressing and a whole lot more.

What's Cooking Detroit? - Herkner's - cherry goodness

We purchased two passes for the wine, spirits and beer tasting. I had several wine and beer samples from Michigan-based wineries and breweries. I even tried some Black Star Farms pear whiskey. It was interesting trying them all in combination haha. Some highlights included the Pilsener from Frankenmuth Brewery in Frankenmuth and the Peach & Honey sweet fruit wine from Warner Vineyards in Paw Paw, Michigan. You got to keep your tasting glass as a souvenir.

What's Cooking Detroit? - Frankenmuth Brewery, Warner Vineyards

Saw a lot of great items to cook and bake with in the kitchen. This pasta maker caught the eye (forgot the vendor, got some looking up to do) as well as the mini cast iron barbecue grill from PanGrill-it.com.

What's Cooking Detroit? - pasta maker

What's Cooking Detroit? - PanGrill-it.com

They had culinary experts and celebrity chefs in the house, which led to another surprise. My girlfriend also purchased tickets to see the Cake (and Kitchen) Boss, Buddy Valastro. On the floor of the Palace we watched him prepare breaded veal, a potatoes and onions treat and cupcakes.

What's Cooking Detroit? - TLC The Cake Boss

He interacted playfully with the crowd as he cooked, sharing his experiences and though process when it comes to working in the kitchen. There was fun banter in regards to how much salt you should use. Hint: Use more thank you think. He highlighted that cooking is always trial and error and that there will be a lot of improv. You could smell the breaded veal up in the stands yum.

What's Cooking Detroit? - TLC The Cake Boss

We left the show with lot’s of goodies and tips and ideas on future purchases. There a lot of wineries and breweries that will need to be explored in northern and western Michigan. After the experience I have the desire to attend more food and culinary shows in the future.

Any wineries or breweries in Michigan that our must visits? Has any one checked out other foodie or culinary events in their travels?

Photo of the Week: Running Into a Skyline Shot in Detroit.

Detroit shot

Leaving Eastern Market on a crisp Monday morning, I stopped to capture this shot of three well-known Detroit buildings, from left to right:

  • The Renaissance Center, also called the RenCen, is the tallest and most recognized part of the Detroit skyline. It’s home to one of the Big Three automotive companies, General Motors Company. The tallest of the seven buildings that make-up the RenCen, is the Marriott, the tallest all-hotel in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Ford Field which is home to the NFL’s Detroit Lions. Opening in 2002, it has also hosted concerts, the Super Bowl, the NCAA Final and Frozen Fours and more.
  • Right next store is Comerica Park, home to Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers. This stadium has been used for concerts also and will help host the upcoming 2013 Hockeytown Winter Festival. It opened in 2000 replacing the historic Tigers Stadium.

Both stadiums always draw good crowds as the Detroit sports fans are as knowledgeable, passionate and loyal as you’ll find anywhere. You can see other parts of the skyline as well behind the stadiums.

On a cold morning, it was great capturing a skyline shot of the Motor City, with the early morning clouds and blue sky.

Michigan: The Lighthouses of Grand Haven

It was the middle of the afternoon one day recently and all of a sudden I had a travel urge. I was thinking lighthouses. What did I do? I got in the vehicle and made a quick road trip over to Grand Haven, Michigan.

I got there right before dark. The lighthouses in Grand Haven are just outside of downtown. It was cloudy, so no sunset shots this time, rats. On the plus side, there was no snow on the ground, which is a miracle considering this area sits right in the heart of the lake effect snow belt of Lake Michigan.

Grand Haven South Pier and Pierhead Inner Light - Lighthouse

Grand Haven South Pier and Pierhead Inner Light - Lighthouse

Grand Haven South Pier and Pierhead Inner Light - Lighthouse

Last winter was a different story. There were high snow drifts, cold, slush and ice everywhere.

Grand Haven South Pier and Pierhead Inner Light - Lighthouse

I’ve had the chance to spend some time here in the warmer, summer months too.

Grand Haven South Pier and Pierhead Inner Light

Walking down the South Pier you’ll first come across the red inner signal light. A fifty-one foot tower built-in 1905.

Grand Haven South Pier and Pierhead Inner Light - Lighthouse

Grand Haven South Pier and Pierhead Inner Light - Lighthouse

Continuing on you’ll reach the end of the pier and the red outer barn shaped pierhead light (foghorn house) built-in 1875. The pier has been expanded multiple times, most recently in 1905 and the foghorn house was moved to the end of the pier.

Grand Haven South Pier and Pierhead Inner Light - Lighthouse

Grand Haven South Pier and Pierhead Inner Light - Lighthouse

The first lighthouse in the area was built-in 1839. You can get up-close and even touch, but you can’t go into either lighthouse as they are in use.

The two lighthouses are connected via a catwalk. Back in the day, this made it easy for the lighthouse keeper to walk from one to the other. Yellow lights run the complete length of the pier.

Grand Haven South Pier and Pierhead Inner Light - Lighthouse

The South Pier where the lighthouses reside is an extension of “The Boardwalk” (Lighthouse Connector Park). It extends 1,100 feet out into Lake Michigan. Alongside you’ll see the Grand Haven channel which connects Lake Michigan with the Grand River.

Grand Haven South Pier and Boardwalk

Grand Haven South Pier and Boardwalk

There is also a north pierhead light on the opposite side of the channel.

Grand Haven - North Pierhead Light - Grand River channel

Right alongside the pier and boardwalk is Grand Haven State Park, which is all beach and nationally recognized by Good Morning America as one of the best family beaches in the United States. Great views of the beach can be had from the lighthouses and pier and vice versa.

Grand Haven State Park beach

Grand Haven State Park beach

Grand Haven State Park beach

The Grand Haven lighthouses, pier, state park and boardwalk make for a great time no matter the weather, season or time of day. It was definitely worth the short drive.

Now I just gotta make sure I get here around sunset. A sunset over Lake Michigan, with the sand, pier and lighthouses as a backdrop, a romantic setting I need to see! What is your favorite lighthouse? Is it close to home?

Michigan: Holland State Park and the “Big Red” Lighthouse

Michigan is known as the Great Lake state, being surrounded by four of them. Along the shoreline of these lakes are lighthouses, parks, harbors, sand dunes, magnificent beaches and more.

Holland State Park, one of most popular, sits on the west coast of lower Michigan along Lake Michigan.  A short drive from downtown Holland, a destination in and of itself, this park offers the visitor a lot of fun while being surrounded by incredible scenery.

Holland State Park entrance in Holland, Michigan

The beach is large. There is ample room to swim for everyone. There is also an accessible beach trail leading right down to the water.

Holland State Park Beach and Lake Michigan shoreline

Holland State Park Beach. Plenty of sand and beautiful shoreline.

Holland State Park Beach. Plenty of sand and beautiful shoreline.

The sand isn’t just limited to the beach. As with a lot of areas along lower Michigan’s west coast there are sand dunes. The sand also sits in drifts and over the sidewalks and major parking areas, adding to the ambiance.

Sand over the sidewalk at Holland State Park

Holland State Park - Sand Dunes

Many people visit the park to see the Holland Harbor Light, better known as the “Big Red” Lighthouse. It’s Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse built-in 1917 and sits on the south side of the Holland Channel. It sits on the opposite side of the channel from the park. Access to the lighthouse side to get up close and touch the lighthouse is limited, because you can only get to it through a private neighborhood.

Holland Big Red Lighthouse along Lake Michigan

Holland Big Red Lighthouse along Lake Michigan

The Holland Channel connects Lake Michigan with Lake Macatawa. On the north (park) side many people bring lawn chairs and picnics to watch the sail boats come and go from Lake Michigan. “Big Red” serves as the perfect back drop. Many people walk the boardwalk that lines the north side as well.

Channel going between Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa

You can get great views of the lighthouse, beach, shoreline, channel and the vastness of Lake Michigan from the North Pier. There are two more modern lights on the pier. At times you’ll find high waves crashing onto the pier. I’ve left soaked. Though it’s not allowed, you’ll see brave folks jumping off into the cold waters which aren’t that deep. There will be others taking photographs and fishing.

Holland State Park pier

Holland State Park pier

Lake Michigan at Sunset at Holland State Park. Romantic spot at end of pier.

Holland State Park is an amazing place to watch the sunset over Lake Michigan. There are always a lot of people and photographers soaking it in on the beach by the shoreline and along the pier. A great romantic spot.

Lake Michigan at Sunset at Holland State Park on the pier.

Lake Michigan at Sunset at Holland State Park.

The park and lighthouse are definitely worth a visit in the colder months too. There is ice everywhere along the pier and shoreline and snow drifts several feet high. It is a winter photographers dream. The park sits right in the lake effect snow belt of Lake Michigan.

Holland Big Red Lighthouse in the winter

Holland State Park pier. Iced rails and snow covered.

Holland State Park Beach. Snow in the winter.

I’ve been to Holland State Park several times and I’m always in awe. If your ever on a lighthouse tour or just want to hang out at a beautiful spot and on the beach along Lake Michigan, this is a must stop. What lighthouse is your favorite that you’ve visited? Any recommendations on beaches to visit on the Great Lakes or any other lake?