Category Archives: Home and Gardens

The Great Up North

This past week my dear friend Alexis and I decided it was time, time for
that drive that we had talked about for over a year.  So we each packed
2 bags, one with clothes and the other bag brimming
with camera gear, then we headed to the great up north.

The original plan was to drive slowly throughout the trip, but as usual, we
were running late that initial bon voyage day.  As we pulled away from our
beloved Ann Arbor, we could feel all stresses being left behind.  We were
on our way to the island, Mackinaw Island.  Now we just needed to make
that last ferry of the day, or we would be losing our reservation at Mission

After driving 4 hours and 23 minutes, or 285 miles, our plan to drive
directly up 75 hailed us a front row seat (if we had chosen) on the hydroplane
ride to paradise.  Okay, so it’s not the Caribbean, but it is our island,
Michiganders little slice of the slower life.

 The first day was spent soaking up the sites, but in a quieter, slower version then a day-tripper would.  The slow walk from Mission Point to the downtown area provided us with many beautiful photo ops of flowers, a sweet old lab resting in a big chair, architecture and of course horses and the quaint fudge-filled village.  It was still early on Friday, so the weekend crowds were only beginning to arrive.  We headed down a back street and discover a new coffee place and possible job opportunities for next summer (for my friend, not me!).

Once again, we realized that an appointment made earlier was upon us, so we
dashed back to the resort to enjoy some much needed spa treatments.  You
may wonder what this has to do with photography.  Well, I believe to find
ZEN in this world, I must be in a Zen place myself.  So this was our treat
before leaving the island that afternoon. 

Onward to the Mighty Mac and beyond. Next stop the other paradise, Paradise,
Michigan.  The drive up highway 2 was stunning with the setting sun
catching the yellows, oranges and red on fire!  We were surprised at the
low availability of rooms once we arrived in the sleepy town, but finally found
a place to rough it for the night.  Let’s just say we were inside…I
think.  A quick trip to find some food and the shoreline to view
the amazing starlit sky, then off to sleep.  Another 69 miles for the

The next day was filled with a lot of travel.  We completed the 15
minute drive to Whitefish Point to catch the strong winds blowing in some nice
sized waves, then back south to view the Taquanamum falls and across the bridge
to the Lower Peninsula before a big storm was predicted to hit.

I love the northwest side of Lower Michigan.  Its beauty is like an oasis.  To end the day we traveled through the tunnel of trees, catching the sunset on the beautiful tree lined winding road.  The plan was to find a place in Petoskey to relax for the night, but we found what seemed like the entire southern half of MI occupying every hotel room in the northern hemisphere!  Sigh, this was not a part of the plan, but we are flexible, and the drive down to the thumb area just gave us new destinations to photograph the next day.

Our last day was spent touring the countryside to Port Austin and lunch in the German town of Frankenmuth.  I live in such an amazingly beautiful state, from the rolling hills and farmlands to the rocky, pine tree filled Upper Peninsula, to our gorgeous shoreline that surrounds us.  We are very lucky to have the 4 seasons and over one fifth of the world’s fresh surface water. 

Nine hundred twenty two miles and hundreds of photographs later, we arrived home with the feeling of real satisfaction for what we accomplished, along with a twinge for another road trip soon!

Space Camp Botanical Gardens

So this year I decided to drive my son from Michigan to Huntsville, Alabama for one of his summer camps.  What? Am I crazy?  Okay, yes I am a little crazy, but this was Space Camp!  I just knew he would love Space Camp and this was the first year that I was able to send him.  Along with my son I took another dear friend, who is like family to attend with him.  This was family week, so having a 19 year old attend with an 11 year old was totally cool.  As a matter of fact, their roommates were a retired FBI agent and his grandson!

Here is a photo of the retired space shuttle Pathfinder.  The next photo shows the shuttle’s rocket boosters and its fuel tank.  This tank is so large that you cannot see the actual space shuttle that’s on top of it from this angle! Let me just say, when you walk underneath – you suddenly feel like an ant!

While the boys were playing astronaut, I decided to check out the local botanical gardens in Huntsville.  I was so impressed, I bought early Christmas gifts there and a membership (that I can use at over 200 other gardens).  It was beautiful!  I must have been there over 4 hours taking photos, even so I am certain I missed some of the trails. 

Note, I should have used something in the photo to give a better perspective, because the colorful chairs are so big, that an adult gets lost in one – like the one that Lilly Tomlin sat in while playing Edith Ann back in the 1960’s!

My favorite place in the gardens were the hammocks. 

In this wonderfully shaded area they had a circle of hammocks, with a long string of them, looking like little boats tied together.  I just had to try one out!  It was so relaxing and fun listening to the little ones squeal with delight as their parents pushed them in their own swinging pillow under the trees.

After leaving the gardens, I drove to the Huntsville historical district, where I photographed many old homes.  It was very humbling to look at the historical signs that read over 100 and sometimes 200 years old – wow!

At the end of the day, I realized that Decatur was only a 15 minute drive from my hotel. From the map I could see there was water, which possibly meant good views for the sunset.   I dashed over there, to capture the remaining 10 minutes of that days light.  It was beautiful.

  I don’t know about the boys, but I think this Space Camp idea was pretty cool!