Tawas Point Celebration Days at Tawas State Park June 11-12

Tawas Point Celebration Days, an annual Iosco County regional heritage celebration, will take place June 11-12 at Tawas Point State Park, located at 686 Tawas Beach Rd. in East Tawas. Events start at 10 a.m. both days.

The family-oriented event held each June on the grounds of the Tawas Point Lighthouse, includes historical and educational displays, period encampments, traditional music and old-time children’s activities.

Watch demonstrations of spinning, weaving, blacksmithing, woodcarving and other traditional crafts or take part in the fishing derby, guided nature hike or lighthouse tour.

The event is free; however, there is a $2 fee to tour the lighthouse and a Recreation Passport is required for entry into the park. For details, call the Tawas Point State Park office at 989-362-5041.

The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry into Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites. This new way to fund Michigan's outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails and historic and cultural sites in state parks, and provides park development grants to local communities.

Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking "YES" on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area. Nonresident motor vehicles must still display a valid nonresident Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) to enter a Michigan state park, recreation area or state-administered boating access fee site; these can be purchased at any state park or recreation area, or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore. To learn more about the Recreation Passport, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport or call 517-241-7275.

Long day opening up the camper

A closeup of the gutter over the rear bed end shows the
green junk that needed cleaning out by the detailed brush.
The left side shows how good of a job it did, while the right
side shows what still needs to be done.
For the second year in a row we didn't go camping over Memorial Day Weekend.

Not that we didn't want to. We did. We always do.

But one of our sons had a ballgame scheduled for Sunday night. And he and our other son both had a ballgame Friday night. And our daughter's high school theater banquet was also Friday night. So, as you can see, this weekend was completely occupied with family activities, and camping simply couldn't make it onto the itinerary.

But at least I was able to get the camper from our super secret storage location and open it up for the season.

It was filthy dirty on the outside, but nothing a little elbow grease couldn't handle. The inside was surprinsingly clean and didn't take much to make it sparkle.

The day started with a different project, though. A few years back I made three rain barrels that have worked reasonably well, but they still had a problem of the overflow not being able to keep up with severe rain. When this happens all the water is sent straight down the foundation, and our lower level (we live in a split level ranch), has shown signs of moisture. The solution is the Oatey 14209 Mystic Rain Water Downspout Diverter. Most of the rain will be washed down the downspout and away from the foundation. But the Oatey Diverter will still capture some of the rain, and hardly any leaves and other debris.

It took an hour or two, but once that project was done it was time to get the camper.

But first, a quick trip to the famous RV aisle in Walmart. There I picked up the Thetford RV Wash-n-Wax, Thetford RV Black Streak Remover, Thetford RV Awning Cleaner and Thetford RV Rubber Roof Cleaner. I know there's other products out there, but I've always been happy with their stuff, so there you go.

From there I went and got the camper from its super secret storage location and brought it back to the driveway.

So, here's what I did:

Black spots from bacon grease. Lesson learned.
1. Took off the propane gas tanks and the spare tire from the tongue. Eventually, I will also remove the Equal-i-zer brackets and the battery compartment so that nothing is on it. There's a bit of surface rust on the tongue, and I want to try this product called Rust Converter by Klean-Strip. I'll definitely have a post about this project when I finally get to doing it.

2. Had the boys go and get all the RV "stuff" from our storage shed in the backyard. Stuff like the hibachi grill and mini propane tanks, collapsable trash and recycling bags, ... things like that. All that stuff is now waiting patiently in the garage until it's time to load them back into the camper.

This picture doesn't show it very well, but most of the black
spots from the bacon grease cleaned up rather well. They're still
there, but not nearly as bad.
3. Okay, cleaning time! Exterior, then interior. Roof, then walls. The roof wasn't terribly bad, but now it's clean as a whistle. I have to say, though, that I'm mildly disappointed with some of the Eternabond. I have sung its praises ever since I put it on about 3 years ago. Everything I had read said this product is permanent. But last year I had to replace the entire strip across the front roof seam. Today, I noticed a few smaller pieces around vent pipes were no longer sticking. These will have to be replaced now, too.

4. The walls weren't terrible either, but they were the dirtiest they've ever been. I use a sponge with a normal side to it and a somewhat rougher side as well. The rougher side is not too rough where it will damage anything, but it does a great job of removing all the black spots. The sponge is part of a car wash kit we got at Sam's Club a long time ago. The kit also came with a brush where you can screw a garden hose into the 4-foot handle, plus a stiff plastic brush and a smaller detailed stiff plastic brush. The detail brush came in handy to get the green stuff out of the RV gutters above the bed ends. Got a good picture of that, too.

6. The outside done, it was time for the inside. First up. blowing out the antifreeze. No problems there. Next up, cleaning every horizontal surface (shelves, counters, etc.). Then it was just a matter of cleaning the frig and sweeping the floor. No biggie.

7. And then I discovered my problem for this year. The awning won't unroll all the way. I did a quick search and found an RV forum where it appears my problem is either a broken spring or too much tension. Either way, I have another project on my hands.

That's it. Took me about 3-4 hours to do all that. Came inside, showered and ate some extremely tender New York strip steaks grilled to perfection by my lovely and talented wife.

National Natural Landmark contest under way

Caverns of Sonora, a National Natural Landmark in Texas.
The 8th Annual National Natural Landmarks (NNL) Program Photo Contest is now under way. The NNL Program, which is administered by the National Park Service, recognizes outstanding examples of biological and geological features and supports landowners' voluntary conservation efforts.

There are 586 sites nationwide that have been given National Natural Landmark designation by the Secretary of the Interior. Landmark sites are not national park units but are natural areas owned by a variety of landowners including federal, state, county, municipal, tribal and private organizations and individuals. While many sites are open to visitation, designation does not require public access. Thus some sites are not open to the public or require landowner permission.

For this contest, each entrant may submit up to three photographs, but each photograph must be from a different NNL site. The contest ends June 30, 2011, so don't delay.

Thirteen winning photographs will be selected by vote by National Park Service employees nationwide. Winning photographs will appear in the 2012 NNL calendar, a commemorative edition highlighting the NNL Program's 50th Anniversary. Each of the winning entrants will receive copies of the calendar. First, second and third place winners will also receive a NNL-related prize.

To find a NNL near you, please visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/nnl/nation.cfm.

Official Contest Rules and Entry Form can be downloaded at http://www.nature.nps.gov/nnl/photocontest.cfm.

New Video Highlights Little Traverse Wheelway

Petoskey, MI – A new video highlighting the Little Traverse Wheelway is now online at www.PetoskeyArea.com.

The video, produced by ScottieRock Productions in Petoskey, takes the viewer from Harbor Springs through historic Bay View and Petoskey, Bay Harbor and on to Charlevoix. These resort towns along the lake offer incredible view of Little Traverse Bay. The completion of a 1.4 mile “Resort Bluffs” section of the trail in 2008 opened up even more vistas for riders between East Park in Bay Harbor and Magnus Park in Petoskey.

Parts of the trail are peaceful and secluded, while other areas take you near shopping and dining options. The Top of Michigan Trails Council, who made the Little Traverse Wheelway possible, offers a digital map of the trail on their website at trailscouncil.org.

To watch the video, visit PetoskeyArea.com. You may also call the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau at 800-845-2828 to find lodging near the Wheelway.

Michigan DNR launches ‘Recreation 101: Intro to Summer’ June 4 at Holly Recreation Area

Do you yearn to enjoy Michigan’s great outdoors -- hiking, biking and roasting s’mores over a bonfire -- but not quite sure how or where to start? Beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, join outdoor experts at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ kick-off to "Recreation 101: Intro to Summer" at the Holly Recreation Area.

The event welcomes participants to join experts who will be on hand to offer instruction on recreational activities like fishing, birding and geocaching. Take the opportunity to learn more about hiking, biking and paddling and give the demo equipment a free try. There will be more than 18 hands-on, learning activities in all. A complete list is attached.

“We’re rolling out the green carpet for anyone who wants to learn more about the great outdoors,” said Maia Stephens, a DNR recreation programmer. “By working with Michigan’s expert instructors, retailers, outfitters and manufacturers, all Rec 101 programs will have all the gear, guides and good times included.”

Every new adventure needs a starting point, and visitors won’t want to miss “Base Camp” along the shores of Heron Beach for information, maps, refreshments and additional programs.

DNR officials will be conducting a Meet and Greet session from 1 to 3 p.m. at the recreation area. Staff will answer questions and discuss the new direction of the DNR, including its joint efforts with the Secretary of State’s office to improve recreational opportunities with the new Recreation Passport program. DNR Director Rodney Stokes and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson will offer remarks at 2 p.m.

DNR Conservation Officer Mark Papineau will talk about his job and will have a DNR truck, ATV and boat on display. Jon Curtis of the DNR Wildlife Division will offer programs through an interpretive trailer. Merrell, Michigan-based clothing and footwear company and Rec 101 program sponsor, will be onsite to offer proper shoe fitting clinics. General RV will have recreational vehicles on display and an official DNR vacation planner will help with personalized state park vacation ideas. Information on state visitor centers and Explorer Guide programs will be available while Hudsonville Ice Cream provides free treats.

The event concludes with a beachside bonfire and S’mores. Observe Firebuilding 101, a one-time demonstration on how to light a bonfire, presented by members of Hiking Michigan. Storytelling 101 will offer participants a practice session around the bonfire.

Holly Recreation Area, 8100 Grange Hall Rd. in Holly, is located within the northern portion of Oakland County between Pontiac and Flint, and is less than an hour's drive from the Detroit metropolitan area.

Throughout the summer, the DNR wants Michigan citizens and visitors to come out and play by participating in the new Recreation 101 program designed to introduce participants to the fun and fitness available in Michigan’s woods and waters. Offered at state parks and recreation areas across the state, this year-long program aims to provide intro-to and demonstration-style events for novice outdoor enthusiasts

For details on the Rec 101 program or how to become affiliated with the program or become an instructor, call Stephens, (989) 225-8573 or email stephensm3@michigan.gov.

The Rec 101 programs across the state, including the June 4 kick-off at Holly Recreation Area, are free of charge. However a Recreation Passport is required for entry into Holly Recreation Area. The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry into Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites. This new way to fund Michigan' outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails and historic and cultural sites in state parks, and provides park development grants to local communities.

Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking "YES" on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area. Non-resident motor vehicles must still display a valid non-resident Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) to enter a Michigan state park, recreation area or state-administered boating access fee site; these can be purchased at any state park or recreation area, or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore. To learn more about the Recreation Passport, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport or call (517) 241-7275.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Lots to Do in June at Detroit Institute of Arts

Animals in art, puppet shows and live music part of springtime fun

Enjoy a variety of activities and art experiences in June, including the exhibition It’s a Zoo in Here! Prints and Drawings of Animals. Programs are free with museum admission unless otherwise noted. For more information call (313) 833-7900 or visit www.dia.org.

Guided Tours: Wednesdays–Thursdays, 1 p.m.; Fridays, 1, 6, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays–Sundays, 1, 3 p.m.

Detroit City Chess Club: Fridays, 4–8 p.m.
The club’s mission is to teach area students the game and life lessons. Members have won state, regional, and national competitions. People wanting to learn how to play chess should show up between 4–6 p.m. There will be no teaching from 6 to 8 p.m., but visitors can play chess.

Drawing in the Galleries (for all ages): Fridays, 6–9 p.m.; Sundays, Noon–4 p.m.

Drop-In Workshops (for all ages)
Fridays, 6–9 p.m. – It’s a Zoo in Here!: Use colored pencils and decorative papers to create your favorite animal.
Friday, June 17, 6–9 p.m. – Community Drop-In Workshop: Help us make a baby elephant, using recycled newspapers, paper towels and maps, to accompany a large wooden elephant crafted from recycled wood.
Saturdays, Noon–4 p.m. – Rod Bug Puppets: Use foam core, toothpicks, pipe cleaners, beads and markers to make a fantastic bug puppet on a stick.
Sundays, Noon–4 p.m. – Folk Art Toys: Pinwheels: Create a simple folk-art toy using pencils, markers, beads and transparent paper.

Wednesday, June 1
Lecture: New Discoveries in American Ceramic History: 6:30 p.m.
New archaeological research has transformed the study of early American ceramics over the past 20 years. Ceramic historian Robert Hunter discusses the most important discoveries, paying particular attention to excavations at 17th-century Jamestown, the late-18th-century Bonnin and Morris manufactory in Philadelphia, and several 19th-century Southern potteries.

Friday Night Live, June 3
Music: Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas: 7 & 8:30 p.m.
Detroit native Jessica Hernandez’s vocal style is a sultry blend of Fiona Apple and Amy Winehouse. Her talented band, the Deltas, features Adam Davis on drums, Nick Maher on guitar, Jake Shadik on saxophone, John Raleeh on trombone and Ben Sturley on bass.

Lecture: Kiss & Tell…Partners on Partners: 7 p.m.
For more than 30 years, local and internationally recognized artists have come to Stewart & Stewart in Detroit to create hand-printed screenprints in the tradition of collaborative printmaking. Norm Stewart provides insight into the unique collaborative printmaking process at one of America’s oldest printer/publishers. Stewart gives a history of these partnerships using visuals that show the artists at work developing their complex, multicolored images.

Family Sunday, June 5
Storytelling Performance: Madam to You: 2 p.m.
Madelyn Porter explores the wondrously wide world of women through poetry, prose, music and dance. The works of Georgia Douglas Johnson, Nikki Giovanni, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and other renowned writers open the window of literary genius to celebrate the magnificent matriarch.

Friday Night Live, June 10
Music: Melvin Davis and the United Sounds: 7 & 8:30 p.m.
Detroit soul legend Melvin Davis brings his vintage sound to the DIA, backed by Detroit band the United Sounds. His 1965 recording “Find a Quiet Place (and be lonely)” is a rarity in the history of Detroit soul.

Detroit Film Theatre: 13 Assassins: 7 p.m.
Set at the end of Japan's feudal era, 13 Assassins tells of a group of unemployed samurai enlisted to bring down a sadistic lord and prevent him from ascending to the throne, which would plunge the country into a war torn future. For a detailed description, visit www.dia.org/dft/schedule.asp. Tickets: $7.50; DIA members, seniors and students, $6.50.

Saturday, June 11
Detroit Film Theatre: 13 Assassins: 7 p.m. (see June 10 for description)

Family Sunday, June 12
Artist Demonstration: Jeff Blandford: 1–4 p.m.
Jeff Blandford uses clay for his works that are often a marriage of architecture and interior design. He creates ceramic pieces, displays completed works, and discusses his creative process.

Class: Potter’s Wheel Workshop: (adults only): 1–4 p.m.
Enjoy an introduction to the potter’s wheel in this hands-on class that includes individual guidance and demonstrations. Projects will be fired for pick-up at a later date. Class size limited to 12 students. Members $36, non-members $48. To register, email registration@dia.org or call (313) 833-4005.

Detroit Film Theatre: 13 Assassins: 2 p.m. (see June 10 for description)

Friday Night Live, June 17
Music: Salim Washington Quartet: 7 & 8:30 p.m.
Harlem-based jazz musician Salim Washington is an accomplished composer/arranger who plays tenor saxophone, flute and oboe. He is joined by Detroiters Marion Hayden (bass), Pam Wise (piano) and Djallo Djakate Keita (drums).

Detroit Film Theatre: Into Eternity: 7 p.m.
Nuclear devastation is the subject of this darkly funny new film, which chronicles a 100-year-long building project in Finland designed to safely bury nuclear waste until it no longer poses a safety hazard – that is, 100,000 years from now. For a detailed description, visit www.dia.org/dft/schedule.asp. Tickets: $7.50; DIA members, seniors and students, $6.50.

Saturday, June 18
Class: It’s a Zoo in Here! – Animal Papier Mâché: (ages 5–8 must be with an adult): 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Get inspired as you visit our exhibition It’s a Zoo in Here! Then head back to the art studio to create your own Papier Mâché animal. Class size limited to 20 students. Members $36, non-members $48. To register, email registration@dia.org or call (313) 833-4005.

Detroit Film Theatre: Into Eternity: 7 p.m. (see June 18 for description)

Family Sunday, June 19
Brunch with Bach: Musicians from the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival: 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
The 18th annual Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival presents the finest music in the chamber music repertoire performed by world-class musicians. Led by Artistic Director James Tocco, this year’s festival presents Music of the Spheres, which features music both earthly and heavenly. Tickets: Brunch and Concert, 1:30 p.m. performance only, $35; Continental breakfast and concert, 11 a.m. performance only, $20; Concert only: $15. Call 313-833-4005 or visit dia.org.

Class: Sample It! (ages 5–8 must be with an adult): Noon–4 p.m.
Make a terra-cotta clay tile or creating a simple painting using milk, cloth and chalk. Clay projects will be fired for pick-up at a later date. Class size limited to 20 students. Members $12, non-members $16. To register, email registration@dia.org or call (313) 833-4005.

Family Performance: Eugene Clark's Rocky the Dinosaur in OZ: 2 p.m.
Master puppeteer Eugene Clark presents a puppet adventure featuring Rocky the Dinosaur, Tim the Tin Man, Leo the Lion and Sam the Scarecrow. The characters work with the audience to help Tim the Tin Man to keep from rusting. They must follow the “yellow stick” road along with Rocky’s side kick dog DeSoto. Even the Moonchkins make an appearance in this silly story.

Detroit Film Theatre: Into Eternity: 2 p.m. (see June 18 for description)

Detroit Film Theatre: 13 Assassins: 4:30 p.m. (see June 10 for description)

Friday Night Live, June 24
Music: Saline Fiddlers: 7 & 8:30 p.m.
Led by Artistic Director Ben Culver, the Saline fiddlers perform music, song and dance from the traditions of American folk fiddle, bluegrass, jazz, western swing and Celtic music. They have performed across the United States and have introduced European fans to this unique style of American music.

Detroit Film Theatre: Bill Cunningham New York: 7 p.m.
Bill is the 80-something New York Times photographer and Schwinn-riding cultural anthropologist who for decades has been obsessively chronicling fashion trends and high society soirées. For a detailed description, visit www.dia.org/dft/schedule.asp. Tickets: $7.50; DIA members, seniors and students, $6.50.

Saturday, June 25
Detroit Film Theatre: DFT 101: Faust: 4 p.m.
This visually brilliant fantasy is based on Goethe’s version of the story of a man who exchanges his soul for worldly pleasures. The opening sequence, in which Mephisto makes his deal with Faust, then sweeps him away on his satanic coattails, is enough to provide nightmares for months. The phenomenal power of the imagery is a textbook example of the stylistic heights reached during the golden age of German cinema in the 1920s. For a detailed description, visit www.dia.org/dft/schedule.asp. Free with museum admission and for DIA members; $5 for general public without museum admission.

Detroit Film Theatre: Bill Cunningham New York: 7 p.m. (see June 24 for description)

Family Sunday, June 26
Class: Potter’s Wheel for Adults & Children: (ages 5–8 must be with an adult): 10–11 a.m., 11 a.m.–noon, 1–2 p.m. and 2–3 p.m.
Try a potter’s wheel in this small class, with plenty of individual guidance, for absolute beginners. Participants have their own wheels for one hour of hands-on clay time. Projects will be fired for pick-up at a later date. Each class is limited to 20 people. Members $12, non-members $16. To register, email registration@dia.org or call (313) 833-4005.

Family Performance: “Whistle-Stop Renaissance Music Tour”: 2 p.m.
Anne and Rob Burns have plenty of whistles (and bells, too) to play in this fun family program. The Burnses take the audience to Shakespeare's England, Galileo's Italy and Dürer's Germany, as well as to Ireland, Poland, France, the Netherlands, Spain and even to the New World, through performances of lively songs and dance tunes. They show a fascinating array of instruments with origins in Renaissance Europe and the Middle East. See drums, winds, strings and more.

Detroit Film Theatre: Bill Cunningham New York: 2 p.m. (see June 24 for description)

Detroit Film Theatre: Into Eternity: 4:30 p.m. (see June 18 for description)

Hours and Admission
Museum hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for ages 6-17, and free for DIA members. For membership information call 313-833-7971.

About the DIA
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA's collection is known for its quality, range, and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Illinois DNR reminds visitors to make campsite and shelter reservations at ReserveAmerica.com

As Illinois’ busiest camping season arrives, Illinois residents and visitors are reminded that reservations for most Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) campsites, cabins, group campsites and picnic shelters can be made online through the ReserveAmerica reservation system at www.reserveamerica.com.

The online campsite reservation system makes it more convenient for visitors to reserve a spot at Illinois state parks, recreation areas and state fish and wildlife areas. Families, anglers, hunters, hikers and people just looking to relax outdoors can make a reservation online using a Visa or MasterCard, ensuring that their campsite will be waiting for them.

Reserving campsites and shelters through ReserveAmerica’s easy-to-navigate website allows users to receive instant confirmation of their reservations at IDNR sites. The IDNR no longer accepts camping and shelter reservations through the mail or over the phone.

Reservations for regular campsites and group campsites require a $5 non-refundable reservation fee and payment of the full camping and utility fees at the time the reservation is made. Camping fee information for IDNR sites is available at www.dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/PARKS/. Payment of the entire camping and utility fee amount will guarantee that the reservation will be held for the entire length of the stay. Shelter reservation fees are $25.

Campsites can be reserved for a maximum of 14 nights per 30-day period and reservations must be made at least seven or five days before the campsite is needed, depending on the facility. Reservations for Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends may require a two- or three-night minimum stay reservation, depending on the facility.

Campsite reservations through the online system are available at 67 of Illinois’ state parks and other sites managed by the IDNR. Shelter reservations are available at 51 sites. Campsites that are not subject to reservation at IDNR sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. IDNR encourages visitors to call ahead to the appropriate park office before traveling to check current weather conditions and accessibility.

New RV Product: Snake Eyes Yard Dice

Whether thanking a dad or congratulating a grad, giving them a fun, active way to relax, laugh and soak up some sunshine is a can’t-miss gift plan. Introducing Snake Eyes Yard Dice.

“I was inspired to create “outdoor” dice while tailgating at a college football game,” said Jeremy Exley, owner YardDice.com. “With all of the great dice games 6 5 4, Greedy and more, I thought, why didn’t anyone make giant dice so these games could be played outside? So I create Snake Eyes Yard Dice to meet the need.”

  • Built of solid wood, with branded pips and a rich finish, Snake Eyes Yard Dice are made to last. A jute draw string bag allows for easy transport of these six 3.5-inch cubed dice, which present endless options for testing your luck and skill with versatile games that can be played anywhere. No favorite dice game? Not a problem. Yard Dice come with instructions for 10 different games to play, including Snake Eyes Yard Dice, The Game: Place two rings (3 foot diameter made of rope) on the ground, ~10 feet apart. 
  • Divide up into teams. Each team gets 3 dice. 
  • Using Snake Eyes Yard Dice, players on either team take turns tossing the dice into opposing rings. 
  • Points are added up based on the value shown on the dice. 
  • The first team to reach 21 points wins—unless a team rolls all ones (Snake Eyes) in a single turn, a lucky move that instantly wins the game. 
  • Play to 11, 15 or 21 points depending on how long you want the game to last.
All natural and made in Minneapolis, MN, Snake Eyes Yard Dice retail for $39.99 and are available online. Get a set for dads, grads and yourself, and learn a few new dice games in the process at www.yarddice.com.

Saugatuck, Mich. to host 13th Annual Waterfront Film Festival, June 9-12

Waterfront Film Fest Boasts a Series of Midwest Premieres 
Actors and directors to be in attendance

The 13th Annual Waterfront Film Festival will feature an intriguing blend of drama, comedy, documentaries and film shorts, including features "A Bag of Hammers" and "The Lie" and documentaries "Hot Coffee" and "Senna", all in their Midwest premieres.

Waterfront Film Festival runs June 9-12 in the relaxed and very walkable downtown resort setting of Saugatuck, Mich.

"The Lie" concerns the misadventures of a married couple, two Gen-Xers muddling through the early days of unplanned parenthood. Lonnie, played by Joshua Leonard, tells his boss a horrendous lie to gain a few days off to clear his head. But the consequences quickly spin out of control after Clover, played by Jess Weixler, catches on to her husband's misdeeds. The film is an official selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Independent film fixtures Leonard and Weixler will be two of the many actors, directors and writers in attendance at Waterfront Film Festival. Leonard gained worldwide fame when he broke onto the independent film scene starring in the box office smash hit "The Blair Witch Project". He also starred in Magnolia Pictures' "Humpday", which had its Midwest Premiere at Waterfront in 2009. Weixler starred in a number of Sundance favorites, including "Teeth", and recently was named by New York Magazine as the "New Indie Queen".

"A Bag of Hammers", funny and genuinely moving, is a clever comedy about the "bromance" between two misfit best friends seemingly incapable of growing up. Their lack of direction is tested by an abandoned child worn beyond his years. It stars Jason Ritter and Jake Sandvig. Director and co-writer Brian Crano will be in attendance.

"Hot Coffee" is a profile of the infamous McDonald's "hot coffee case", one everyone seems to know but seem to know little about. The personal story of Stella Liebeck's legal battle serves as a springboard for conversation on the greater issues of product liability and how massive amounts of corporate money and hubris and have shaped the U.S. legal system. The film is an official selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Director Susan Saladoff will be in attendance.

"Senna" is the story of the monumental life and tragic death of legendary Brazilian motor-racing champion Ayrton Senna. Sublime and spiritual, yet, on occasion, ruthless, Senna conquers and transcends Formula One to become a global superstar. In the midst of his prime on what came to be known as the darkest weekend in the sport's history, 300 million people watched live as Senna lost his life and the Brazilians lost a hero. The film is an official selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

The festival kicks off at 6 p.m. on Thursday June 9 with the Opening Night Celebration at Saugatuck's Coghlin Park, at the intersection of Culver and Griffith streets. Admission is $10, and all proceeds go to benefit the non-profit organization. Live music, featuring international hip-hop reggae artist "Shaggy", goes until sundown when the film projector starts up for an outdoor showing of some of the year's funniest comedic short films. Food and drinks, including a wide selection of drafts from the beer garden, will be available for purchase.

More than 70 features, documentaries and shorts will screen throughout the four-day festival. Named by Screen Actors Guild magazine SAGIndie as one of the top 5 film festivals in the world, alongside Sundance and Cannes, Waterfront Film Festival draws thousands of independent film lovers, including dozens of actors, directors, writers and producers each year.

For exclusive access to film and music throughout the weekend, a series of passes can be purchased now at www.waterfrontfilm.org. Individual film tickets will go on sale for $10 Memorial Day weekend.

About Waterfront Film Festival 
Now in its thirteenth year, the Waterfront Film Festival celebrates independent film and filmmakers in a non-competitive environment. Located in Saugatuck, Mich., WFF is one of the leading destination film festivals in the Midwest, regularly hosting Midwest premieres of Academy Award-winning and -nominated documentaries. It has been recognized as one of the top five film festivals in the United States. For more information on the 2011 festival, visit www.waterfrontfilm.org.

Boat, bike or hike Michigan's famous Leelanau County with River Eco Tours

The River Eco Tours Offers Hiking, Biking & Fishing Excursions Through Glen Arbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes and Leelanau Peninsula

GLEN ARBOR, Mich. – The village of Glen Arbor in Northern Michigan’s Leelanau County is 36 square miles of land and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore owns 30 of those miles. Ironically, 90% of the visitors to the National Park never venture off more than 50 feet from a sidewalk or pavement. The experienced guides with River Eco Tour Company are dedicated to getting people of all ages out into the park – by boat, bike or on foot – to experience the abundant natural surroundings the area is known for.

Tucker Lake fishing trips. All you need to do is show up. We provide the boats, the fishing rods and tackle, the ice and soft drinks, the insect repellent and an experienced guide to help you find, catch and release the fish.

First on the River trips. Leaving daily from the dam, this 7-mile trip at 7 a.m. promises peace and quiet and most likely several significant wildlife sightings. Bald Eagles, Otters, Herons, several species of ducks and geese, deer, possibly a bear or even the elusive cougar may be witnessed on any given morning. Our guide will also fill you in on the local flora and fauna, ecological facts, and even a narrative history of Glen Arbor for the last couple hundred years. Dress Warm.

Biking Tours into the Park and around the Lakes. Our guides have several different trips for the beginner, the advanced and everyone in between. Leelanau County is biker friendly and our guides are experienced with getting you to the most beautiful spots safely. From one to six hour trips available. For up to date schedules, just call us or stop in at the shop.

Hiking Tours – Sleeping Bear Point Trail with its spectacular views of the dunes, Manitou Islands, Sleeping Bear Bay, Alligator Hill and Glen Lake, the Sleeping Bear Point Trail hike is the favorite of many visitors to the National Lakeshore. If you only have time for one memorable hike to give you the full essence of the magnificence of Sleeping Bear, this is the one. The looping trail, just under three miles long and rising over 200 feet above the lakeshore, takes 1 to 3 hours to complete depending on the pace, stops, dip/wading in the lake, etc.

The trail covers a diverse mix of dune complex ecology, including: Lake Michigan’s shoreline, beach, foredunes, dune blow-outs, Ghost Forest, and backdunes/stabilized forest. The geography, geology, flora, fauna and history of Sleeping Bear Point will be discussed during the hike. You will see the rare threatened Pitcher’s thistle plant; possibly, the endangered piping plover, which nests along the lakeshore; and if you’re lucky, a bald eagle soaring over head. Although more than half of the hike is in loose sand, and is strenuous at times, our route goes through the forest first, on a hard dirt-packed path, which is the easiest route to get to the highest point of the hike. Anyone in good health will find this guided tour a fun, educational and memorable experience — while getting some great exercise in the process.

This tour is not recommended for small children unless they’re really into hiking, or unless you want to carry them part of the way.

Mike Sutherland has extensive experience on the waters and in the woods of Leelanau County. He has traveled over 50 Countries and is thrilled to offer his guide services right here in his home town of Glen Arbor. Mike has logged many days on the Crystal River and numerous inland lakes like Tucker, Fisher, The Glens, Narada, Shell, Bass, and School. He has plenty of big water experience and received his 50 ton Captains License in the mid nineties. He has chartered in the Bahamas, (6 winters on Guana Cay and 7 on Spanish Wells) Florida, (Eco Tour Guide at the Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada) Nantucket, (including a transatlantic on a 48 foot yawl) and of course many trips on Lake Michigan fishing salmon and Lake Trout, diving the numerous shipwrecks in the Manitou Passage and Sleeping Bear Bay and has run many island trips to the Manitous. He now prefers the calmer water systems “inside the shoreline”, and is excited to offer his guide services and fishing experience on Leelanau County’s inland lakes and the Crystal River. Mike also specializes in skin diving, snorkeling on our inland lakes, even the river, and on calmer days would love to show you a couple of wrecks including the “Rising Sun” just off Pyramid Point. Nothing more than a mask and snorkel is required for this incredible experience.

Mike is excited to offer these trips to you and your family:
  • Evening fishing trips on any of our inland lakes, but preferably Tucker right here in Glen Arbor.
  • Morning or evening floats down the Crystal River.
  • Snorkeling from a kayak or tube on many of our inland lakes or the Crystal River.
  • Snorkeling from a kayak or tube on Sleeping Bear Bay. The wrecks of the Phelps and Rising Sun are in less than 10 feet of water. Also fun to snorkel through the piers at Glen Haven or the old Port Oneida Dock.
John Tris has been hiking the dunes of Lake Michigan’s southern and eastern shores for over 40 years. He first got hooked on a visit to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore while a college student at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Ecology, Conservation and Field Geography classes increased his interest, understanding and appreciation of the natural environment. He received a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Secondary Education from UIC. Fate brought John and his family to Leelanau County on a vacation, and like most everyone else who vacations here, it was love at first sight. Over the past 20 years, he has become very knowledgeable of the hiking trails in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and of the geography, geology, flora, fauna and cultural history of the region. He recently developed a guided tour of the Sleeping Bear Point trail, a favorite of dune hikers. John has also hiked many of the public trails managed by the Leelanau and Grand Traverse conservancies, and is always happy to share his knowledge.

Georg Schluender began his career at 17 years old assisting as a water ski instructor in Northern Michigan. Now over 20 years later, he has guided and / or instructed more than 35 silent sport’s coast-to-coast, border-to-border. Migrating with the birds and telling the time through the tides, moons and seasons, his greatest passion is watching those that rarely experience Mother Nature’s wonders stand awestruck in her presence. Georg understands nature, and loves to show people how to do the same. His focus on eco-tourism began in the San Juan’s and British Columbia Gulf Islands of the Pacific Northwest in 1991.

His tour guide experience for Sea Quest Expeditions and Zoetic (Endowed with Life) brought him face to face with hundreds of Orca in thousands of feet of ice cold black water with no land in sight…..in single man kayaks. He has conquered many a mountain, river and lake with his mountain bike, kayak and snowboard in the back country of the North Cascades. After several years in the Barrier Islands of the Nation’s Southeast guiding birding and kayaking tour’s, he has made it back to cultivate his roots in Northern Michigan. Georg’s passion is examining the natural history of the North Woods and he is available for many silent sport guided trips on foot, bike or kayak. Georg is an expert in geo-caching and is equipped with various GPS instruments and maps to help get him and his guests to natural wonders rarely seen by man.

Georg’s marketing company, Michigan Outdoor Silent Sport Tour’s – “Get the MOSST outta life!” has been featured around the world and allows him to affiliate with other career lifestyle businesses that share in the same eco-tourism philosophies. From winter rafting, snow shoe, and cross country tours to developing corporate retreats, his guiding experience is only matched by his knowledge of Northern Lower and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Mark Ringlever’s mantra as of late is: “Get in the water and let the current do the rest”. Mark has been bitten by the flyfishing bug and is passionately consumed by a monosyllabic image of tight sexy loops and big fish. Mark has wet his line in many foreign and remote places of the globe including various Caribbean Islands and the Bahamas out islands, The Southern Philippines Islands, Nova Scotia-Cape Breton Island, Newfoundland and Central America.

Mark has college degrees in environmental science, geography and business from Michigan Tech and Acquanis and took his first job with the U.S. Forestry Service. Other jobs with Outward Bound and the Bureau of Land Management have given him the inspiration to guide in “some of the best water in the world” here in Northern Michigan. Mark has logged thousands of miles paddling and fishing Quetico Provincial Park and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness. He built his own cottage near Empire and typically spends his winters out of country searching out the elusive fishing experience.
Mark is available for many fishing trips and is armed with a Hyde drift boat and extra rods and tackle. Stop into the shop and help us design a trip that works for you…..from bluegill fishing on Tucker Lake to trout fishing on the AuSable: The sky’s the limit.

Noah Creamer has been photographing the great outdoors for over 20 years. He is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and is a published professional photographer for various local and national publications. Noah is a 2008 Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) nominee in Environmental Journalism & Communication. Noah is extremely active in photography and environmental policy and was a speaker at the 2008 Grand Traverse BIONEERS conference. “Nature is the planets greatest evolving art. No two pictures are ever the same because our environment is in a constant state of change.” Take a photography tour with Noah and you will learn the techniques needed to capture these moments in their purist essence. Noah also loves to show kids the magic of photography.

An excursion with The River Eco Tours means everything you need is provided…all you have to do is show up. The company is fully licensed with the Department of Interior and fully insured.

In addition to its eco tours, The River operates a kayak/canoe/tube livery and miniature golf course along the sparkling shores of the Crystal River at 5959 S. Oak Street in Glen Arbor, just a block off famed M22. To make reservations for any of these activities, call 231-883-7890. For more information, log onto http://theriverglenarbor.com.

The River also operates a kayak/tube livery and bike rental operation at Clinch Park (behind Con Foster Museum), along the Boardman River and Grand Traverse Bay, in downtown Traverse City. http://therivertraversecity.com/ | http://www.facebook.com/therivertc.

Planning to travel this weekend? Leave the firewood at home.

Wisconsin state forest health specialists remind campers and travelers to leave firewood at home. State managed properties only allow firewood onto the property if the firewood:
  • was gathered within 25 miles of the property (and within Wisconsin);
  • was purchased from a vendor who cut it from within 25 miles of the property (and within Wisconsin); or
  • is state-certified.
This reduces the risk of bringing in destructive forest diseases and insects.

All travelers should also follow state firewood quarantine rules to help protect Wisconsin’s trees and to avoid fines.

The Wisconsin DNR has maps illustrating a 25 mile radius from Wisconsin state campgrounds available online. Many federal, county and private campgrounds also restrict firewood on their properties. Call ahead for details before you travel. Second homeowners are strongly encouraged not to move firewood long distances between their properties, to reduce the risk to their trees.

“Invasive species threaten the health of our forests,” said Andrea Diss-Torrance, DNR forest health specialist. “Insect pests such as emerald ash borer and gypsy moth and diseases like oak wilt and Dutch elm disease spread to new areas easily in firewood. Collectively, these invasive species have already killed millions of trees in Wisconsin.”

Wood from vendors certified by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection may enter any state property regardless of where the wood was harvested. This is because to be certified, vendors must treat their wood to kill pests or diseases that might be within it. For a list of certified vendors go to [www.emeraldashborer.wi.gov] (exit DNR) and select the link to Wisconsin Certified Firewood Dealers under “Featured Items.” For more information on the certification program and how to become a certified vendor, visit the “Firewood Regulations” page of the website datcp.wi.gov/Plants/Firewood/Firewood_Dealer_Certification.

People planning to camp in a Wisconsin state park or forest this year, or planning to visit their own vacation property, should get firewood locally, advise DNR property managers. Most Wisconsin state parks and forests have local firewood available for sale on site or from vendors nearby the property. Using local firewood helps to ensure the health of the parks and forests that are so much a part of living in Wisconsin. To learn more about firewood availability at your destination, contact them directly. A list of phone numbers for parks is available on the Wisconsin State Parks web page www.wiparks.net.

For more information on forest health including links to the state’s emerald ash borer and gypsy moth control efforts visit the Department of Natural Resources website.

“A campsite surrounded by healthy, mature trees is basic to a quality camping experience, and so is having a campfire.” says Diss-Torrance. “If we are going to enjoy both, we need to take some precautions to prevent introducing invasive pests and diseases to the parks and forests we love the most. By using wood from trees grown nearby, you help to prevent such introductions.”

New RV Product: Family Motor Home from Playmobil

This one is for the kiddies: Playmobil has come out with a new line of toys that make summertime fun all the more enjoyable.

Family Motorhome
With sink, stove and rack with lots of drawers. Camping equipment can be stowed in the roof.

The motorhome looks pretty cool. It's a sporty-looking Class C featuring a bed over the cab and a dinette that converts into another bed. A bike rack off the back bumper carries a child's and adult's bike, and a removable rooftop cargo carrier holds a whole assortment of extras, including: pots and pans, plates and utensils, grocery items and a handful of other things commonly found on, or in, RVs. Heck, there's even a little map and a table and four chairs for the dad, mom son and daughter figures who round out the set.

Summer House 
Furnished with kitchen, living area, bathroom and bedroom for the whole family. Terrace with garden furniture and grill.

Pool with Water Slide
Lots of fun in the sun, water and sun terrace.
Visit www.playmobil.com for more information.

Michigan campgrounds with available campsites this Memorial Day Weekend

Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds Invites Families to Rediscover Michigan Camping During Upcoming Memorial Weekend

Travelers looking for destinations and activities that will stretch their minds and imaginations, without stretching their wallets, are invited to rediscover Michigan camping this summer. Camping is ranked the #1 outdoor vacation activity in the United States by the Travel Industry Association of America.

There are plenty of camp sites – for tenters, RVers and cabin-dwellers – available at private campgrounds throughout both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas for the upcoming Memorial holiday weekend. The summer season officially kicks off May 26 with the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend, when 1.1 million Michiganians are expected to be on the open road, according to AAA Michigan.

Campgrounds reporting availability for the holiday weekend include:

Type and date(s) of site availability vary by property. This is not an all-inclusive list. This list includes campgrounds that responded back to a survey indicating availability, as of May 24, 2011. Availability subject to change. Reservations are required.

Blood Drives
Throughout the summer, ARVC Michigan is once again teaming with Michigan Blood – www.miblood.org – for a series of summer blood drives at member campgrounds. On Saturday, may 28, blood drives will be held at the following ARVC member campgrounds:

About ARVC - Michigan
ARVC represents more than 180 member campgrounds with nearly 30,000 sites available throughout the state. Whether pitching a tent, parking an RV or reserving a rustic or modern cabin, Michigan campgrounds offer a great way to disconnect from busy lives and reconnect with families. Campers in Michigan enjoy the great outdoors while fishing or canoeing on the countless lakes, rivers and streams or hiking, biking and riding on the miles of trails that wind throughout the state. There’s definitely no shortage of activities, no matter where the campground is located.

The 2011 Michigan Campground Directory, published by ARVC – Michigan, is now available at various locations statewide, including all Welcome Centers. A PDF version is also available for viewing online at www.michcampgrounds.com. The directory not only lists campgrounds by region, but also includes helpful information on the type of sites available, various amenities such as restroom, laundry and dumping station facilities; recreational offerings such as pools and golf courses; and seasons of operation. Campgrounds that now offer wireless internet access onsite are also identified.

New RV Product: The Mini Surge Dual USB Charging Station

Here's a new product that looks tailor-made for RVers: the Mini Surge Dual USB Charging Station from Aluratek.

Most RVs have a limited number of outlets for charging the many devices we use every day, and no one likes to see the clutter of a lot of cords on the counter, table, desk, etc. The Mini Surge Dual USB Charging Station from Aluratek (www.aluratek.com) looks like a perfect, yet astoundingly simple, solution.

A great solution for charging multiple devices at once, without taking up multiple outlets, this small device (MSRP $19.99) turns any standard AC outlet into a USB charging station to charge any smartphone or iPod. It also features two additional AC outlets and surge protection ­ so you never lose any optimal charging space.

The Mini Surge Dual USB Charging Station also eliminates the need to power on your computer for USB charging.

  • Turn any standard AC outlet into a USB charging station
  • 1YEAR Warranty
  • Supports all Smartphones including: iPhone, Blackberry, Droid & Evo
  • Supports all iPods and other MP3 devices
  • Uniquely designed so you don’t lose an electrical AC outlet
  • 3 outlets and 2 USB charging ports
  • Foldable plug for easy storage and protectionBuilt-in fireproof circuit protection with power surge LED

Wisconsin State Parks Open House June 5

Free admission to all state parks, forests and trails

MADISON – Enjoying Wisconsin State Parks, Forests, Trails and Recreation Areas is a bargain any time of year but on the first Sunday of June they are an exceptional value, as entrance to any state park, forest, trail and recreation property is free.

“Open House Day is an opportunity for all residents and visitors to explore some of Wisconsin’s most beautiful natural locations and enjoy a wide variety of outdoor recreation,” says Dan Schuller, Wisconsin State Parks director.

“This year Gov. Scott Walker has officially proclaimed June 2011 as Great Outdoors Month in Wisconsin to highlight the benefits of outdoor activity and focuses attention on our natural resources, including parks, forests and other public lands and waters. State Parks Open House Day will allow people across the state to take in a full day of Wisconsin’s Great Outdoors hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, or just relaxing.”

On State Park Open House Day, no admission stickers are required on vehicles entering state parks, forests and recreation areas, and trail passes are not required for bicyclists, in-line skaters, or horseback riders using state trails that normally require a trail pass. In addition, Saturday, June 4 is National Trails Day and fees are waived to use all DNR-managed state trails on that day as well.

Reservable campsites in Wisconsin state park and forest campgrounds are generally in high demand for the Memorial Day weekend, but there are often campsites available for the weekend of State Park Open House at many parks and forests. Camping fees do still apply on state park open house day. People can check campsite availability or reserve a site (minimum two nights) through the State Parks Web site [www.wiparks.net].

The event also coincides with Free Fishing Weekend in Wisconsin, so no fishing license is required to fish at the many lakes and rivers located in state parks and forests. Several parks are sponsoring free fishing activities, along with other special events (click on tab for June and then see June 5).

Reconnect with Nature at the DNR Earth Keepers’ Weekend Expo June 24-26

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is offering a “GO-Get Outdoors” event that combines workshops on environmental issues and holistic health practices at the Earth Keepers’ Retreat and Expo scheduled Friday through Sunday, June 24-26, at the Ralph A. MacMullan (RAM) Conference Center in Roscommon.

“The term ‘Earth Keeper’ is a reminder that humans are inextricably interconnected with nature,” said Pineniece Joshua, cultural anthropologist and educational programmer at the RAM Center. “The Earth Keepers’ Retreat and Expo will celebrate that sacred ecology by exploring varied world views and traditional knowledge relating to honoring oneself and the planet.”

Workshops on environmental issues and holistic health practices are planned, along with unique outdoor activities for the entire family. During this fun-filled weekend, participants will learn traditional environmental teachings from Native American elders, observe the construction of a sweat lodge, attend innovative workshops with environmental writers, artists and holistic health experts, and choose from a variety of energy-renewing classes like Tai Chi, yoga, meditation and drumming circles. Kidz Korner will showcase eco-fun and educational activities such as yoga, park explorer presentations, storytellers and author visits for children. Families can also spend quality time hiking, windsurfing and kayaking on beautiful Higgins Lake.

The expo will also feature a Green Summit, with workshops and discussions on “green” topics led by DNR experts and organic farmers, and vendors will be showcasing unique green products and services.

The RAM Center has been a certified Green Lodging Michigan facility since 2006. It is located within North Higgins Lake State Park, at 104 Conservation Dr. in Roscommon, five miles west of I-75 off Exit 244, or 1.5 miles east of US-27 using the Military Road exit.

A $250 weekend package includes two nights lodging at the RAM Center, or at a cabin or campsite at North Higgins Lake State Park, plus all meals, drinks, snacks and access to events for adults; children ages 10 and under cost $125 for the weekend package. Reservations for the weekend packages should be coordinated through the RAM Center by calling 989-821-6200. Vendors should inquire about special rates.

Day passes, which include lunch, drinks, snacks and access to events, cost $60 per day for adults; $30 per day for children ages 10 and under.

Persons wishing to make their own camping reservations at North Higgins Lake State Park can reserve online at www.midnrreservations.com, or by calling the central reservation system at 800-447-2757.

For more information about this event, the RAM Center, the park, accessibility or persons needing accommodations to participate in this event, contact the RAM Center at 989-821-6200 (TTY/TDD711 Michigan Relay Center for the hearing impaired), or visit www.michigan.gov/ramcenter.

With Safety and Conservation in Mind, Michigan Morel Lovers Can Enjoy the Hunt

As hungry morel enthusiasts head to the woods this spring in search of their favorite fungi, the Department of Natural Resources ask that they keep conservation and safety in mind.

“It’s important for morel hunters to practice conservation-friendly harvesting techniques,” said DNR Forest Management Division Chief Lynne Boyd. “Proper collection encourages the growth of a new mushroom crop the following year.”

Boyd said that when harvesting mushrooms, hunters should pinch them off at the stem, slightly above the soil. This technique minimizes the amount of dirt on the mushroom and encourages regrowth. She said to avoid raking the forest floor, because raking has a negative impact on the ecology of the forest and overharvests the mushrooms.

Some of the DNR’s activities also promote a healthy yield of morels. “In forests where we have had a prescribed burn, we typically see a larger crop of morels the following year,” said Boyd. The DNR publishes a list of prescribed burn and wildfire areas as a service to morel hunters.

In addition, mushroom hunters must be certain they can identify what they are picking. Some false morels are poisonous and can cause people to get sick, sometimes fatally. The Michigan State University Extension has identified at least 50 types of poisonous mushrooms that grow in Michigan.

“Please be certain you are familiar with mushroom species before picking and eating wild mushrooms,” said Boyd. “If you’re not certain a mushroom is safe to eat, don't pick it.”

Those who wish to search for mushrooms on state land do not need a permit. Mushroom hunters who use off-road vehicles to get into state forest lands are reminded that ORV use in the Lower Peninsula is restricted to designated and signed trails, routes and use areas. Persons who use state forest lands other than state forest campgrounds for camping are reminded they must fill out and post a free camp registration card, available at most DNR offices.

To find maps with suitable ORV trails, public lands available for mushroom picking and types of vegetation, check out the new innovative application Mi-HUNT. To access the application, learn more about poisonous mushroom species and find a list of wildfire locations, visit www.michigan.gov/mushroomhunting.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Stratford Ontario - Canada’s Premier Arts Town - Goes Mobile

Stratford Shakespeare Festival
The Stratford Tourism Alliance announces its move from www.welcometostostratford.com to www.visitstratford.ca with the launch of its new mobile APP effective immediately.

Consumers now have three ways to discover one of Canada’s top cultural and sightseeing destinations as selected by TripAdvisor – on the Web, through our mobile Web Site and with a free downloadable APP for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android smartphone platforms.

People can plan for a Stratford getaway ahead of time on the Web as well as use their smartphones to search for the latest information while on the go for things to see and do including concerts, festivals, attractions, places to stay, shop and dine. We even offer 13 suggested themed itineraries designed around specific interests such “I like art” to “I like budget travel”. With over 80 places to stay ranging from hotels to inns to bed and breakfasts and a host of dining spots arranged in 7 categories including Gourmet Grazing and Café Society.

The APP is available on iTunes, BlackBerry App World and Android Market and contains features such as augmented reality pointing out the sites in real time from where you are; search for places nearby and create personal itineraries. Share your Stratford experiences with friends on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

The early reviews are positive with Stella Yu from FoodJunkieChronicles.com saying, “...you must check out Stratford's newly released App! I played around with it for awhile and found it extremely user-friendly and informative. I think it's a very helpful guide for seeing what's there to do in Stratford, and once you decide on what to do, the app also helps with route planning.”

The new APP joins our existing Web Site, as well as, one specifically designed for mobile smartphones, with our own YouTube Channel, Twitter accounts and Facebook friends. These new additions strengthen the position of Stratford as a Top 7 Intelligent Community and give Stratford a friendly welcoming face in the virtual world.

Interested visitors can download the APP free of charge at the following places:
iPhone: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/visit-stratford/id432782277?mt=8
BlackBerry Desktop Manager: http://i.discoveranywheremobile.com/partners/stratford/420/DesktopManager_or_BES/DAMStratford.zip
BlackBerry OTA (click to install): http://i.discoveranywheremobile.com/partners/stratford/420/OTA/DAMStratford.jad
Android: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.discoveranywheremobile.stratford

The Stratford Tourism Alliance is a 250 member strong tourism destination marketing organization responsible for marketing Stratford, Ontario, Canada as a cultural tourism destination. For more information, and a list of Stratford Tourism Alliance contacts, visit www.visitstratford.ca Call 519.271.5140 or 1.800.561.7926, or visit us at Stratford Tourism Alliance, 47 Downie Street, Stratford.

Graceful Tall Ships Give Traverse City a Nautical Flavor

Stately tall ships glide past the Traverse City waterfront during the
opening “Grand Parade of Sail” at the 2010 Michigan Schooner Festival.
(Photo by Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Among the many pleasant surprises encountered by new visitors to this northern Michigan town is the sight of graceful schooners, sloops and other sailing vessels gliding majestically across Grand Traverse Bay.

Though it’s hundreds of miles from the ocean, Traverse City has always been a seafaring community. The town is still home to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy - the only school in the nation that certifies deck and engineering officers for both saltwater and freshwater vessels - but it’s the “tall ships” that enchant visitors and have become the community’s unofficial mascots.

“People don't always understand the importance that ships played in the development of the Great Lakes,” said Mark Thompson of the Maritime Heritage Alliance, a group of local sailing buffs who build, restore and sail historic vessels. “Before roads crisscrossed Michigan, everything moved by water. Every town on the shore was built with bricks and sticks that were delivered by schooners.”

In fact, Traverse City is home to more of these imposing sailing vessels than any other port in Michigan. And although they no longer haul lumber or carry the mail, the tall ships of Traverse City play a growing role in the community’s economic, educational and cultural life.

Some are working replicas of 18th and 19th century ships, available for dockside tours and (if you’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time) a free ride around the bay. Others offer excursion cruises across the bay each afternoon, and some even serve as floating science classrooms where students learn about the area’s aquatic environment and its maritime history.

Undoubtedly, the most easily recognized vessel in the Traverse City fleet is the Tall Ship Manitou, a 114-foot, 62-passenger schooner that offers three two-hour cruises across the bay each day of the week, as well as a number of specialty cruises (a Microbrew & Pizza Cruise, a Wine Tasting Cruise, musical cruises and “ice cream sails”) at scheduled times. In the fall, Manitou becomes a floating bed and breakfast, and is available for charter sailing..

Just as recognizable, though, are the dark red tanbark sails of the Inland Seas, a 77-foot schooner operated by the Inland Seas Education Association which operates "floating classroom" programs where students of all ages learn about the ecology of the Great Lakes by spending a half-day sailing and studying science on Grand Traverse Bay. The group also sails a somewhat smaller “schoolship” – the 31-foot Friendship sloop Liberty.

A somewhat livelier sailing experience can be had aboard the Nauti-Cat, a 47-foot catamaran based near the mouth of the Boardman River. Measuring 29 feet from side to side, it offers up to four cruises per day during the summer months, often cruising as fast as 14 knots on a breezy day. Like the Manitou, the Nauti-Cat also rents out for charter cruises, and offers passengers the opportunity to raise the sails and steer.

Visitors are also likely to spot some of the many sailing vessels operated by the Maritime Heritage Alliance or see them docked at Heritage Harbor along M-22 just north of the city. Their best known vessel is 92-foot Madeline, the twin-masted replica of an 1840's commercial ship that served as Traverse City’s first schoolhouse during the winter of 1850-51.

They’re equally proud of Welcome, a replica of an armed British sloop from the War of 1812 that was built at Fort Michilimackinac for the bicentennial of the American Revolution; the group spent years restoring the vessel and making her fit for sailing. The Alliance also sails the 39-foot cutter Champion.

The only problem with all these busy ships is that they’re often out of town making goodwill visits to other Great Lakes ports. One place to see them all together – and in the company of some other distinguished vessels – is at the three-day Michigan Schooner Festival, which takes place in Traverse City each fall.

This year’s festival is Sept. 9-11, and will feature eight sailing vessels including Milwaukee’s three-masted schooner S/V Denis Sullivan, the 85-foot Appledore IV from Bay City and the replica sloop Friends Goodwill from South Haven. The festival will begin with an evening “grand parade of sail” as the vessels make their way south to Traverse City’s Duncan L. Clinch Marina.

Other activities will include tours, passenger rides aboard the vessels, an evening “Bassett Island Dance Hall” swing dance party, maritime music throughout the weekend, food, re-enactments and games for youngsters – as well as a tremendously popular Sunday morning “Pancakes with Pirates” breakfast.

For detailed information and directions about other events, adventures, activities and attractions in the Traverse City area, as well as help with lodging and dining visit the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau at www.TraverseCity.com.

RV Education 101 launches free e-newsletter

After starting his own online video program (Mark's RV Garage) not that long ago, one of my very favorite RV experts, Mark Polk, has added yet another product to his ever-growing RV Education 101 business. He recently announced the addition of a monthly RV e-newsletter. Best of all, it's free!

Here's a link to the subscription page. All you need is an email address and you're good to go!

In case you don't know of Mark, here's a little background on him, plus his goals for his e-newsletter:

"I left my position as an RV Sales and F&I manager to start RV Education 101 due to my concern about the lack of educational and safety awareness material available to the RV consumer, in other words, you! We are a small company. My wife Dawn left her position in RV sales to help start the company and is our Sales and Marketing Director.

"After tent camping for years, then a career in the Army (more tents) a used pop-up, and a travel trailer we currently have a 28-foot Class C motor home. We have two boys, Tyler 8 and Josh 13, both avid RVers and two dogs, Gracie and Buck. Gracie is the good one!

"Our goal with this monthly newsletter is to provide you with one of the best RV newsletters available; packed with as much helpful information as possible to make all of your RV experiences safe and more enjoyable.

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Michigan State Parks Plan Memorial Day Weekend Events

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants to remind park visitors to check out “GO-Get Outdoors” events taking place at Michigan state parks and recreation areas for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Some events include:
Educational Memorial Day Weekend at the “Porkies” (Ontonagon County)
Head to the Upper Peninsula where the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (“Porkies”) Visitor Center will offer special guest presentations, Saturday and Sunday, May 28-29, by Joe Rogers of Wildlife Recovery Associates. A wildlife rehabilitator by trade, Rogers has presented his Birds of Prey program to countless park visitors and students across the state. Rogers will feature several live birds during his presentation, such as kestrels, merlins and various hawks and owls. He will also provide an update on Michigan’s peregrine falcon research. The “Porkies” is located at 33303 Headquarters Rd., three miles west of Silver City on M-107. For more information about this program or the park, contact DNR Park Interpreter Bob Wild at 906-885-5206 or visit www.michigan.gov/porkies.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park Memorial Day Program (Keweenaw County)
Come and observe the Fort Wilkins Memorial Day ceremony on the Old Fort Wilkins parade grounds on Monday, May 30. Special programs by the Copper Harbor School’s student body, as well as patriotic musical tributes kick off at 10 a.m. Fort Wilkins is located one mile east of Copper Harbor on US-41. For more information about this event or the park, contact the park at 906-289-4215.

Proud Lake State Recreation Area’s Red, White and Blue Weekend (Oakland County)
Proud Lake State Recreation Area is sponsoring a Red, White and Blue Weekend, May 27-29, in observance of Memorial Day. The weekend events include campsite decorating, yard games and a bike parade for kids. Proud Lake is located at 3500 Wixom Rd. in Commerce Township, seven miles north from Exit 159 off I-96. For details, contact the park at 248-685-2433 or visit www.michigan.gov/proudlake.

Wilderness State Park’s Welcome to Summer Carnival (Emmet County)
Wilderness State Park is offering campers a Welcome to Summer Carnival, May 27-29. Celebrate the start of the summer season with carnival games, a dunk tank, prizes and more. Wilderness State Park is located at 903 Wilderness Park Dr. in Carp Lake, 11 miles west of Mackinaw City. For details, contact the park at 231-436-5381 or visit www.michigan.gov/wilderness.

Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw County) has several events planned for Memorial Day campers. The Bruin Lake Campground is sponsoring a Sidewalk Chalk Art Fair on Saturday, May 28, at the host tent. The campground also has scheduled a Bean Bag Contest for Sunday, May 29. Pinckney Recreation Area is located at 8555 Silver Hill Rd. in Pinckney. Signage off US-23 will direct you to the park entrance. For details, contact the park at 734-426-4913 or visit www.michigan.gov/pinckney.

“GO-Get Outdoors” is a series of continuous, special events designed to encourage all people, and especially families, to take advantage of the many outdoor recreational opportunities that are available in this great state. For a list of events taking place at Michigan state parks, recreation areas and boating facilities, visit the Get Outdoor Calendar at www.michigan.gov/dnrgogetoutdoors.

Camping reservations can be made online at www.midnrreservations.com, or by calling the central reservation system at 800-447-2757.

A Recreation Passport is required for vehicles entering a state park. The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry into Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites. This new way to fund Michigan's outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails, and historic and cultural sites in state parks, and provides park development grants to local communities. Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking "Yes" on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area. To learn more about the Recreation Passport, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport, or call 517-241-7275.

Non-resident motor vehicles must still display a valid Non-Resident Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) to enter a Michigan state park, recreation area or state-administered boating access fee site, which can be purchased at any state park or recreation area, or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.