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All Things Michigan

Michigan travels, events, photos, and more

Filtering by Tag: Outdoors

Lack of snow putting a hurt on Upper Peninsula economy

Andrew Norton

Every week that goes by without a significant snowfall costs the Upper Peninsula businesses that depend on the money that snowmobilers bring in. Hotels, gas stations, restaurants, and other stores where money is normally spent as snowmobilers buzz across the U.P. are suffering. A large chunk of their annual income is usually generated around Christmas and New Year's, but without snow that did not happen this year. Michigan's Upper Peninsula is a tourism dependent economy and snow is what drives folks to visit in the winter. No snow - no visitors.

Governor Granholm can't do much to help the winter economy of the U.P. unless she can somehow influence the weather patterns with the same icy exterior normally reserved for state Republicans. ;)

Think snow.

Read more about the Upper Peninsula economy's plight at The Mining Journal.

Twenty Essential Camping Tips

Andrew Norton

I feel the need to impart a quick list of camping tips to help make your next camping endeavor a pleasant one. Every camper always picks up a new trick or technique on any given outing. Whether you copy something you saw from another camper or "invented" a new way of starting a fire out of necessity (i.e. forgot the matches). Have no fear. We have compiled a top twenty list to get you started and you can add things as you see fit.

  1. Canning rings can be use to cook your eggs in for egg sandwiches.
  2. Plastic butter tubs make good storage containers for your camp kitchen
  3. Waterproof matches by dipping in melted paraffin
  4. Make fire starters by filling paper condiment cups with saw dust and pouring paraffin into the cup
  5. Put matches in corrugated cardboard strips (about every other hole) and dip into paraffin for fire starters
  6. Prescription bottles make good match safes
  7. Laundry lint makes good tinder
  8. Cover the ice in a picnic cooler with foil to help it last longer
  9. Run candle stubs along the edge of a saw to help it glide better
  10. To help shed burrs easily, rub the laces of your hiking boots with paraffin before hitting the trail
  11. Keep a dry bar of soap in your sleeping bag to combat musty odors which develop during damp-season camping
  12. When handling evergreens or pine cones, they can remove the sticky sap from their hands easily if they use baking soda instead of soap to wash
  13. To keep mosquitoes away rub the inside of an orange peel on face, arms and legs
  14. Don't forget the heavy-duty aluminum foil. There are many uses for it at camp
  15. Prepare soups, stews or chili etc ahead of time. Freeze and keep in cooler. Reheat for a quick meal
  16. To avoid unwanted visits from animals, keep food stored away or hang above ground level
  17. Put a pan of hot water on the fire while you eat so that it'll be ready for cleanup when you are done
  18. To remove odors from your cooler, wipe with a water and baking soda solution
  19. Check with the campground about security and quiet hours. Be respectful of others
  20. NEVER forget your tent!

An Environmental Governor

Andrew Norton

April 22, 2006, is Earth Day. A day to focus on ways to better the environment. In honor of this day, I thought I would mention former Michigan Governor, William Milliken, a pioneer in taking care of Michigan's natural beauty. I did not know it, but it was Gov. Milliken who campaigned for the $.10 bottle deposit law. Evidently, Milliken was disgusted with the amount of garbage along our state highways and wanted to do something to keep our state clean.

In addition to the deposit law, Milliken also saw the Michigan Environmental Protection Act in 1970, the Wetlands Act of 1979 and the Natural Resource Trust Fund come to fruition during his tenure.

Thanks to Milliken, our state is probably a lot cleaner than it might have been had we not passed those laws to help preserve Michigan's natural beauty and resources.

Read more about former Governor Milliken at the Traverse City Record Eagle.

Check Out the Sugar Shack

Andrew Norton

The sap is running. No, not the village idiot that has cabin fever and runs through the woods in nothing but his flannel pajamas. The sap from Maple trees, of course. Sap will run for approximately 15 hours after it thaws, then it waits for the next cycle to run again. The folks at the Sugar Shack in Maple City offer free tours and tasting. They eagerly anticipate this annual ritual so they can process gallon after gallon of the sweet stuff.

The sugar house is set in the rolling, wooded hills south of Glen Lake. The farm consists of pumping stations, miles of tubing, and the sugar house with its country store at the front. Miles of tubing and a huge stainless steel evaporator help to boil 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup. If you think you have had real maple syrup, check the label on the grocery store syrup. Chances are there isn't even a drop of real maple in its contents.

If you go: The Sugar Shack is located 15 miles west of Traverse City. From M-72 turn north on Fritz Road and in a quarter mile turn west on Baatz Road where the farm is 1.5 miles on the left. During syrup season and summer the store is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and until noon on Saturday. Tours and tasting are free.

On Tap for the Weekend - 3/24-3/26

Andrew Norton

Here are some select events taking place this weekend. There are many things happening around Michigan and these are just a few. Have a great weekend! Listening to the Past - Michigan Historical Museum Hear fun stories from the past from people who were there, learn games from the past and play with the toys that were used 150 years ago, try foods from the past and tour the museum. $5 per child, no charge for chaperons. Hours 10am - 3pm. Phone (517) 241-4060.

Native Americans on the Great Lakes Day - Michigan Maritime Museum, South Haven Explore Native American traditions through song, dance, and stories. Free to the public. Boat Shed and Museum campus from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm. Family program. No admission. For more information, call (800) 747-3810.

Annual Ann Arbor Pow Wow - Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor A Native American celebration of spring featuring dancers, drum groups and food and craft vendors. 10,000 spectators from all over the US and Canada. All are welcome. Phone for more detail (734) 647-6999

Kalamazoo Antique Show - Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds A great collection of true antiques will be on display on March 25-26, 2006 with dealers from all over Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan selling their prize items. Show hours are from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday and 9 am to 3 pm on Sunday. For more details, Please call (517) 784-4608.

Klondike Canoe Race - Oscoda Hardy paddlers set out in the kickoff race of the Michigan Canoe Racing Association season on March 25-26, 2006. Call (989) 739-9231 for more details.

Getting Sappy Makes me Happy

Andrew Norton

I love maple syrup. My pancakes become rafts floating in a carmel colored pool of sweet sticky goodness. You can keep your jams and other fruit-flavored syrups. I'll take mine with maple, thank-you. Call me old-fashioned or plain. I don't mind. To me, nothing tastes as good on pancakes as pure Michigan Maple Syrup. Yum!

Another breakfast use for maple syrup that I enjoy is putting it on my oatmeal with a little brown sugar. You can probably call me old-fashioned for eating regular oatmeal, too.

Did you know maple syrup was the sweetener of choice for Michigan's Native Americans? They had figured out how to boil it down and concentrate the sweetness. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. So, in case you thought you could go out in your yard and tap a couple of your maples to save some money, you better think again. You need a large grove of sugar maple trees (called a sugar bush) to collect enough sap for making maple syrup.

Here are some maple syrup facts courtesy of the Michigan Maple Syrup Producers Association:

  • Michigan produces about 80,000 gallons of maple syrup each year
  • Michigan ranks 6th in the nation in maple syrup production
  • Maple syrup is one of the few agricultural products where demand exceeds supply
  • When trees bud out the sap becomes bitter, this is what makes production cease
  • Pure Michigan maple syrup has 50 calories per tablespoon and is fat-free

Hartwick Pines is holding their annual Maple Syrup Day this Saturday, March 25. Read about it in the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Read about a Milford family that makes their own maple syrup in a suburban setting.