Monday, August 1, 2011

Travel memories last a lifetime…

One of my earliest travel memories involves a trip my family took when I was about 3 years old. The details are sketchy, but I remember tall pine trees, blue water, our woody station wagon, a tent – and rain. I later learned that we had spent a few wet days at Leelanau State Park in Northport (sleeping mostly in the car because the tent leaked).

Apparently at one point, we also made a visit into Traverse City because I recall visiting a zoo and riding on The Spirit of Traverse City miniature steam train (in a blue dress, with white polka dots) at the former Clinch Park Zoo.

I expect this trip was one of our first – and to my knowledge, our only – family camping trip. I firmly believe that first memorable family trip helped spark in me the travel bug which sustains me today. And, given the destination of our trip, it explains my ongoing love affair with the Greater Traverse City Area.

Fast forward a dozen years to my next (and last) camping experience – this time, with a high school friend and her family. I can’t recall where we were – I just remember that it rained (go figure) and it was cold. The highlight of the weekend was rustling up a fire to toast marshmallows for smores (today, still one of my FAVORITE treats. Oh, and by the way – August 10 is “National Smore Day”).

So – obviously camping isn’t necessarily my forte. I’m not opposed to camping, it’s just something that I haven’t been exposed to and now at 40+, not exactly sure how to get started.

Luckily for me, there are programs offered to help educate newbies like myself. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” ( provides tips on everything from archery and firearms to paddling, fly fishing, camping and so much more. Taught for women, by women, these programs teach outdoor skills in a non-threatening environment – with all equipment provided!

The Michigan DNR also offers a new Recreation 101 program – with hands-on clinics held at Michigan state parks, recreational areas and boating facilities throughout the state. These free lessons acquaint novice outdoor enthusiasts will the skills and knowledge to get them started in a new activity such as hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, paddling, horseback riding, birding and even geo-caching. (

If, like me, you are looking for an opportunity to get out and explore the Great Lakes State’s great outdoors, August is the perfect time as it is Michigan Camping & RV Month (see featured destination to the left). This state-wide celebration highlights the woods and waters of Michigan and encourages residents and visitors alike to rediscover what makes our state so special. For more information, visit

For more details on other Pure Michigan experiences, visit!

Safe Travels!

Footnote…the Spirit of Traverse City is scheduled to be closed down following this summer season. To help keep this train a rolling, please “like” this Facebook page to “Save the Spirit of Traverse City Steam Train”