Tuesday, May 31, 2011

5 Great Lakes Water Safety Tips

It's hot, it's windy, and I want to enjoy the waves—if only the water would warm up just a bit. Last summer Michigan Sea Grant posted a list of tips for staying safe in the Great Lakes, "Water Safety and Rip Currents." With summer finally upon us, I'm reposting five additional tips of my own.

1. Get to know your lake. Teach kids to swim in the Great Lakes. Swimming pools are good for perfecting strokes and dives, but there's no substitute for first-hand knowledge of how your lake behaves. It can take a lifetime to learn.

2. Respect the water. The Great Lakes are powerful—enjoy at your own risk, and know when you've reached the point of exhaustion.

3. Take caution and take care of your kids. If you're not a strong swimmer, be careful of the waves, and don't let your kids in the water if you're not capable of saving them yourself.

4. Don't swim alone. If there's violent waves, swim with a partner and keep an eye on fellow swimmers. Preparation and responsible swimming saves lives.

5. Have fun. Red flags at the beach mean it's time to party. Nothing is more fun than crashing in the waves and feeling the power of the Great Lakes. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cool Video Tour of Grand Rapids

The "American Pie" lip dub makes sense for length, but you might have to mute it to make it through the full nine minutes. Still, great shots of Grand Rapids. Read about the video on MLive, "Rob Bliss' Grand Rapids Lip Dub Video of Don McLean's 'American Pie' now online on YouTube."

Marion’s Dairy Bar: Ice Cream on the Sunrise Side

Next time you’re on Michigan’s sunrise side, grab an ice cream cone at Marion’s Dairy Bar and take a walk along the East Tawas State Dock. In fact, make a special trip. Eating ice cream along Tawas Bay is a favorite pastime of locals and tourists, and reason enough to visit the Lake Huron coast.

Marion’s is a throw-back soda fountain, decorated in Coca-Cola artifacts and with comfy red booths. Marion’s fantastic view of the bay and their unwavering small-town charm has made them an East Tawas institution. When I suggested as much to head scooper, Marty Brummeler, he said, “If this place stays the same that’s all I can control.”

I met Marty while I was living in Tawas Point Lighthouse as part of the Michigan DNR’s volunteer keeper program. It was Mother’s Day, and Marty, his wife Natalie, and their three-year old son were peaking in a window of my temporary residence. After giving them a tour to the top of the lighthouse, Marty invited my wife and I for an ice cream cone.

When we visited in early May, Marion’s had just opened for the summer, kicking off their 100-day business season. When business is at its peak Marion’s makes homemade waffle cones non-stop for 12 hours a day. “My wife, Natalie, is a really good waffle cone maker—a hot commodity during the summer rush.”

My moose tracks waffle cone was fantastic, and expertly scooped by Marty himself. The waffle cone exceeded all expectations—sweet and al dente. When we visited, the weather was cold and rainy, but the ice cream still managed to inspired a walk on the dock.

What the heck, it’s summer, or at least we can hope. And though I sure didn’t need it, I had to try one of their authentic chocolate malts for dessert. You can “like” Marion’s at facebook.com/marionsdairybar, and be sure to visit if you’re driving up M-23 this summer. Marion’s is located at 111 East Bay Street, East Tawas—right on the water.

Monday, May 16, 2011

By the Light of Tawas Point: Sunrise Side Top 10

I’m happy to report that no ships crashed into Tawas Point during my stay at the lighthouse. I can’t take full credit—some goes to the automatically operated Fresnel lens. Still, it’s an accomplishment. Once I have a full write-up on the experience I’ll be sure to share. In the meantime, here are 10 recommendations if you happen to be in East Tawas or driving up the Lake Huron coast along M-23:

Tawas Point Lighthouse
1. Tawas Point Lighthouse: 85 steps to the top of the tower for some of the best views in Michigan, and incredible hiking trails on the point. I highly recommend the lighthouse as a working vacation with the Michigan DNR.

2. Reed's on the River: Gourmet, home-cooked food, including meatloaf (stuffed with ham and spinach, wrapped in bacon), pasties, and gourmet sandwiches and soup. Charming atmosphere—only four tables, family run, and nice views of the river and of Tawas Bay across the street.

3. Northwoods Steakhouse: Fine dining in East Tawas, and right near the state park—though oddly attached to a Big Boy. Sit at the bar and chat with Judy—she gives generous pours.

4. Marion’s Dairy Bar: A downtown ice cream institution. Marion's is a throw-back ice cream shop with delicious malts and homemade waffle cones.

5. Scenic Lookouts on the AuSable: Big views on of Michigan's best rivers. Fun to run down, tough to climb up. Check out Iargo Springs and Lumberman's Monument.

6. Mr Jack'ss: I think you’re supposed to pronounce the name with a sizzle. Of all the local watering holes in East Tawas, this is the friendliest. I didn’t try the food, but the drinks and company were solid.

7. Wiltse’s: Worth the 20 minute drive to Oscoda for a taste of northern Michigan beer. The food could be better, but craft beer is a welcome treat up north, where few bars carry even Oberon.

8. East Tawas State Dock: Grab a Marion’s ice cream cone and head for the dock—see and be seen. We visited before the summer rush, but from what I hear this is the place to be from Labor Day to Memorial Day.

9. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary: If you get inspired to drive all the way to Alpena—or as I like to call it, Alpe├▒a—this maritime museum is worth a visit. Fascinating history and artifacts, and a ship that creaks and rocks, so bring your sea legs.

10. Shipwrecks on the Point: Tawas Point is home to two easily accessible shipwrecks. Wade around the May Queen, swim in Lake Huron, and enjoy the sandy beach and hiking trails.

What other M-23 highlights have I missed? I’m looking for recommendations anywhere along the AuSable, between Grayling and Oscoda.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Haunting Tawas Point Lighthouse, Zoinks!

Tomorrow I begin my one-week tenure as the keeper of Tawas Point Lighthouse. I’ve always wanted to live right on one of the Great Lakes, and I grew up a huge Scooby-Doo fan, so haunting a lighthouse has been a lifelong dream of mine. I was born to do this. 

The Internet access is limited at best, but I’ll do what I can to post photos and commentary from my new home on Lake Huron, if not on Great Lakes Guru, at least via Twitter. If you’re interested in participating in the lighthouse keeper program, learn more from the Michigan DNR, and watch for my write-up after our stay. 

And should you happen to be in Tawas this week, stop by for a visit—I’ll be giving tours to any meddling kids who dare venture onto the point. Scooby Dooby Doo!

Vezi mai multe din Desene animate pe 220.ro

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oysters and Tigers and BULLs, Oh Thanks

On Saturday I watched the Tigers game at Mac’s in Saline, over Oberons and raw oysters. Without cable TV, and largely without a way to watch Detroit baseball, the wife and I find creative ways to stay plugged-in, and we enjoy the side-effects of turning minor events into grand adventures. The food and drink and company helped me forget the 13-inning debacle against Cleveland.

The outing also helped me come to terms with BULL: Men’s Fiction falling just short (second place) in our bid to win $100,000 from Dockers. Oysters saved me from wallowing—the shucking, the brine, the slurping—it’s the most purely primal way a man can eat. It was nice to feel fully in control, if only of my food, instead of groveling for votes or pulling for a losing team, which is how I spent most of last week. I’m finally over the losses.

And I’m realizing now how much support I enjoyed from friends and family, and how much support BULL received from the literary community, friends like Art of Manliness, my alma mater, and even celebrity authors. Thank you to everyone who voted for BULL. We appreciated your votes and hope you’ll keep reading men’s fiction. I turn it over to Jarrett Haley, editor-in-chief, for a message, "BULL Salutes You!"