Tag: Great Lakes Travel

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Hoist the Mainsail on 18 Tall Ships During August's 'Battle of Lake Erie' Festival

August 1, 2013 at 12:07 PM | by | Comments (0)

The War of 1812 actually didn't happen in 1812. In truth, it was a 32-month conflict between the US and Great Britain which stretched from June 1812 to February 1815, with one of the most notable turning-of-the-tides going down in 1813. On September 10, Captain Oliver Hazard Perry flew the flag "Don't Give Up the Ship" on the ships of his fleet as they went head-to-head (or cannon-to-cannon) with the Royal Navy, eventually winning the Battle of Lake Erie.

His victory is essentially the reason why (most of) Lake Erie, Detroit and much of eastern Michigan and northern Ohio belong to the United States.

Naturally this is a huge frickin' deal, and 2013 marks the bicentennial of the battle. To celebrate, ports of the Lake Erie Islands are banding together to host a gathering of 18 tall ships and re-enactments, and the public is welcome to do more than watch; you may sign up to join the crew on a ship, be a part of the land militia, or just volunteer to help the onboard tours when the ships pull into port.

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Inside Ohio's New Liberty Aviation Museum and Ford Tri-Motor Airplane Restoration

July 23, 2012 at 5:15 PM | by | Comment (1)


Yes, that's a plane being restored right there

Hey, did you know that Ford once made airplanes?

It was the 1920s and Henry Ford had a finger in many industries, but aviation took a backseat only to cars. During the period from 1925-1933, 199 Ford Tri-Motors were produced in Dearborn, Michigan and Henry himself blatantly bragged that its all-metal, American-built construction made it the "safest airliner in the world."

Ford Tri-Motors are still puttering around, outliving and outflying countless other airplanes. They've lived crazy lives, for example going from Pan Am to drug smuggling in Central America, doing domestic routes in Cuba to hopping between the Lake Erie Islands. It's that last piece of the Tin Goose's history that's being celebrated with the debut of a new museum at Ohio's Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport (PCW), the former home of Tri-Motor operator Island Airlines.

The Liberty Aviation Museum formally opened on Friday, and we were there for the fanfare. Focusing on World War II, the golden age of aviation and vintage aircraft, the museum covers multiple bases for history lovers. However, it's the Ford Tri-Motor that rings most truly with us, having figured in our personal family history. This is a story, told by my mother, of her first flight ever—onboard an Island Airlines Ford Tri-Motor from PCW to Lake Erie's South Bass Island.

Let's continue.

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Three Crazy Easy Ways to Get Out on the Water in Upper Michigan

July 20, 2012 at 3:36 PM | by | Comments (3)

Summertime, and the livin' is easy. So you're thinking of a late season trip so long as there's blue water involved, hm? Believe it or not, Michigan's got beaches, blue water and budget-friendly destinations. This week we'll be looking at the ways and places in which you can chill out while diving into the state's northern bits.

We known we know. It's too hot outside. That's nothing that a little getting-out-on-the-water can't fix. Plus we have a theory, that as global warming continues, more and more people are going to be looking favorably on beach vacations in traditionally cold locales, like—oh—upper Michigan (where it was in the high 80s last week!)

Flying over the state, you'll be able to pick out at least ten lakes you wish you were cannonballing into right that moment. The good news is that you can...but you know, get off the plane first and check out these three ways to get on the water in Michigan's Upper Peninsula:

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True Story: We Got a Blackberry Peach Pie Past the TSA

July 20, 2012 at 9:26 AM | by | Comments (0)

What you see above is a Blackberry Peach Pie in a bag. It is not a weapon. It is not a dangerous material. It is neither liquid nor gel. IT IS A YUMMY NUMMY SCRUMDIDDLYUMPTIOUS PIE.

Luckily we know what it is, because the Transportation Safety Administration sure is confused. After forking our way through a piece of Grand Traverse Pie Company's ABC (apple-blueberry-cherry) pie way too quickly this last weekend, we caved and bought an entire "Tall ship" (blackberry-peach) pie with the noble intentions of flying it back to share with family.

The Delta agents checking us into our flight from PLN to DTW gently ribbed us about our carryon, but were sure TSA would let it through. In it went into the security buckets, with our Keds and laptop, successfully passing through the X-ray machine. Then maybe it made the TSA agents hungry, because they discussed (in front of us) whether or not it was allowed.

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Michigan Field Trip: Sippin' on Sweet Cherry Wine in Harbor Springs

July 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM | by | Comments (0)

Summertime, and the livin' is easy. So you're thinking of a late season trip so long as there's blue water involved, hm? Believe it or not, Michigan's got beaches, blue water and budget-friendly destinations. This week we'll be looking at the ways and places in which you can chill out while diving into the state's Upper Peninsula.

In honor of #winewednesday, and partly because we dedicated our palate to Lake Erie Wineries last week, today we visit a winery in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, just outside the hopping town of Harbor Springs.

Harbor Springs Vineyard and Winery sits on Pond Hill Farm, an organic working farm with a general store, restaurant, wine tasting room, garden (full of hollyhocks right now!), sheep, pigs, livestock barn, greenhouses and something called a Squash Rocket.

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Michigan Field Trip: This Island Was Made for Bicycling

July 17, 2012 at 6:24 PM | by | Comments (0)

Summertime, and the livin' is easy. So you're thinking of a late season trip so long as there's blue water involved, hm? Believe it or not, Michigan's got beaches, blue water and budget-friendly destinations. This week we'll be looking at the ways and places in which you can chill out while diving into the state's Upper Peninsula.

Did you know: The entirety of Mackinac Island is both a National Park and a National Historic Landmark?

Did you know: Mackinac Island State Park was only the second National Park established, following Yellowstone?

Did you know: There are over 70 miles of paved and natural trails for biking on the island, and all trails are completely free of motor vehicles?

Stepping off the Shepler's Ferry, the very first thing to greet us on Mackinac Island was a sunburnt tourist man wobbling on his beach cruiser bike, shouting a warning: "first timer here, watch out!" We jumped back onto the sidewalk, but secretly our hopes for mankind were renewed; here is a place where Americans get up off their butts and get to pedaling, enjoying the outdoors. Sure, it's the only option other than hailing a slow-moving horse carriage, but still—progress.

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Michigan Field Trip: How to Make It to Mackinac Island

July 16, 2012 at 6:40 PM | by | Comments (0)


Inside the terminal at Pellston Regional Airport

Summertime, and the livin' is easy. So you're thinking of a late season trip so long as there's blue water involved, hm? Believe it or not, Michigan's got beaches, blue water and budget-friendly destinations. This week we'll be looking at the ways and places in which you can chill out while diving into the state's Upper Peninsula.

Google Map Mackinac Island. Do it right now. It's waaaay up there in Michigan, isn't it? And yet, it's a real island that's been insanely popular with vacationers for 125 years. There are no cars on the island nor is there a bridge to reach it, so how do the seasonnaires, the daytrippers and perhaps even you get on over there? Let's see...

By Air:
· Commercial flight. The nearest major airport for scheduled flights is Pellston Regional (PLN). The airport is super quaint with only two gates and an interior chock-full of flannel, stone fireplaces and taxidermied animals. Even the carpeting is hunter's plaid. Delta is the only airline with year-round flights, and only from Detroit, so you'll need to connect at DTW.

Don't miss heading up the carved wood stairs off Delta ticketing to reach the second level of the airport, with its observation windows and couches, plus a full restaurant and bar. FREE WIFI throughout PLN!

You'll still have to drive/call a cab from PLN to the ferry to Mackinac Island, as Pellston Regional Airport is on the mainland, but only a 20-minute drive to the dock.

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On Ohio's Lake Erie Wine Trail: Put-in-Bay Winery

July 13, 2012 at 2:06 PM | by | Comment (1)

Everybody knows the Wine Trails of Napa/Sonoma, Argentina, the Loire Valley and, more recently, NY's Hudson Valley, but this week it's all about Ohio. Yes, Ohio has wineries—lots of 'em actually—and we'll be sharing our favorites with you.

Today: Put-in-Bay Winery in the town of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, Ohio

Perhaps the newest winery of all in the area, Put-in-Bay winery only opened in 2009 but at least took over a vintage Victorian mansion on prime waterfront property to make its mark. WIthout a history like Heineman's has, PIB decided to focus their energy on becoming a pretty place for drinking wine—get the tourists that way.

The first floor of the Italianate complex is given over to a few rooms of tables for indoor tastings, plus a retail store and tasting bar. Head out back to a gazebo and massive park, or out front to the porch and front yard that looks over toward Put-in-Bay harbor, the tiny Gibraltar Island and the towering Perry's Victory Monument. We ordered up our wines, took 'em to the porch and played a game of checkers while enjoying the lake breeze. Cheap, easy and absolutely idyllic.

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Wish You Were Here: The Grand Hotel on Michigan's Mackinac Island

July 13, 2012 at 10:01 AM | by | Comments (0)


This photo of the hotel and its Esther Williams pool is unedited. Yes, it really looks like this.

If we told you that the temperature is low 80s, the sun is high and the clouds are absent and the water is Bermuda-blue and clear, you probably wouldn't think that we're speaking of somewhere way way up near Michigan's border with Canada, huh? Well, we are and we give Mother Nature a gold star on this one. It's Mackinac Island, a vacation destination since the railroads constructed the imposing Grand Hotel in 1887 and started funneling genteel city folk up here for the summer season.

This year the hotel celebrates its 125th Anniversary—this weekend, actually—but what's being celebrated the most is the fact that it still exists, still is owned privately by a family and still made of wood. Consider that it was built in a remote location with basic handtools and underskilled laborers in only 93 days, with the intention of it not lasting nearly this long, and you can begin to understand the importance of it hitting the century-and-a-quarter mark.

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On Ohio's Lake Erie Wine Trail: Heineman's Winery and Crystal Cave

July 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM | by | Comment (1)

Everybody knows the Wine Trails of Napa/Sonoma, Argentina, the Loire Valley and, more recently, NY's Hudson Valley, but this week it's all about Ohio. Yes, Ohio has wineries—lots of 'em actually—and we'll be sharing our favorites with you.

Today: Heineman's Winery in the town of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, Ohio

Now that we've detailed how exactly to get to the little Lake Erie island of South Bass, it's time to start hitting them wineries. Just a short golf cart ride/bike ride or long walk from the Miller Ferry's Lime Kiln dock sits Heineman's, a whole complex that includes more than just some winemaking machinery; there's a weingarten and a very cool cave, its walls lined with crystals.

If you think Heineman's looks and sounds German, that's because it very much is so. The winery was started in 1888 by an immigrant who headed to the new world from Germany's wine-growing region. While digging for a well, Heineman happened upon one of the natural caves that dot the island. Though what's now called Crystal Cave is indeed lined with massive crystals, they sadly have no commercial value (thought the Smithsonian houses one).

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On Ohio's Lake Erie Wine Trail: Getting to South Bass Island

July 11, 2012 at 12:06 PM | by | Comment (1)

Everybody knows the Wine Trails of Napa/Sonoma, Argentina, the Loire Valley and, more recently, NY's Hudson Valley, but this week it's all about Ohio. Yes, Ohio has wineries—lots of 'em actually—and we'll be sharing our favorites with you.

Today: Getting to the town of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, home to two excellent wineries

Now that we've covered two coastal Ohio wineries on the mainland, it's time to head out over open water to two more...on an island...in Lake Erie. Yes, you read that right. Not only does Ohio have excellent wineries, but it's also got excellent islands. We like to think of Put-in-Bay as the cheaper, more casual, Midwest version of Nantucket and, just like with Nantucket, there's few ways to reach it.

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On Ohio's Lake Erie Wine Trail: Mon Ami Winery

July 10, 2012 at 5:24 PM | by | Comment (1)

Everybody knows the Wine Trails of Napa/Sonoma, Argentina, the Loire Valley and, more recently, NY's Hudson Valley, but this week it's all about Ohio. Yes, Ohio has wineries—lots of 'em actually—and we'll be sharing our favorites with you.

Today: Mon Ami Winery in Port Clinton, Ohio

First, some disclosure: we've been coming to Mon Ami Winery since our youth. In fact, this was the first place we (legally) drank on our 21st birthday, binging at Mon Ami's brunch and popping the pink champagne when Sunday alcohol sales began that day. All good memories that only continue as Mon Ami enters its 140th year of making and serving a range of wines in a stone building on Catawba Island, a short drive from downtown Port Clinton, Ohio.

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