The Dunesmobiles by Phil Balyeat

The Dunesmobiles

The Dunesmobiles, by  Phil Balyeat

Don Harrison operates UpNorth Memories and shares many of the historical post card photos I feature on Michigan in Pictures. Yesterday in honor of photographer Phil Balyeat’s 99th birthday he posted an incredible collection of photos Phil had taken over the years from the Traverse City area including this one.

View Phil’s photo bigger on Facebook and see LOTS more via UpNorth Memories  here, here and here!

More about the Dunesmobiles at!

Life’s a Beach in Michigan

Glen Haven Dune Hike

Glen Haven Dune Hike, photo by Jess Clifton

I don’t think that enough is made of the fact that as long as you’re in Michigan, you are never more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes. To make matters better, Michigan law permits you to freely walk the entire Great Lakes shoreline so get out and have some adventures this weekend!

About this photo, Jess writes: These images were taken on a hike on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Glen Haven MI roughly two years ago. Can’t recommend this hike enough! (I’m curious if any shipwreck remnants are still explorable with this year’s higher waterline.)

I’m curious too and will try to find out!

View Jess’ photo background bigtacular and see more in her Glen Haven Shipwreck Hike slideshow.

Lots more Michigan beaches and more Michigan summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Michigan’s Blue Economy

Where Two Waters Meet

Where Two Waters Meet, photo by Robby Ryke

Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, the three universities that make up Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC), have released a report titled “Innovating for the Blue Economy“. The report cites nearly $300 million in awards for water-related research and outreach from 2009 to 2013 that have led to innovations from dealing with invasive species and monitoring water quality to finding ways to optimize water use in agriculture. Their news release on the report prepared by the Anderson Economic Group (AEG) says in part:

AEG’s analysis showed that Michigan ranked fourth in the nation in the percentage of jobs associated with industries related to water, at 718,700.

“One in five Michigan jobs is tied to having good and plentiful water,” said AEG founder and CEO Patrick Anderson. “It is an important economic driver in Michigan, and extends to Great Lakes shipping, advanced manufacturing, agriculture and fishing, and over 80 other industry subsectors where Michigan workers are employed today.”

While most of Michigan’s water-related jobs are in water-enabled industries such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing, about 138,000 are in core water products and services producing water treatment facilities and solving water quality and quantity issues.

“Water isn’t just Michigan’s defining characteristic but the foundation of life on earth,” said Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Our three universities make significant commitments to support water-related research and programs. These not only support Michigan’s economy and quality of life, but position the state as a knowledge wellspring for the world’s most precious natural resource.”

Read on and read the full report right here. The report is chock full of interesting facts including that those 718,700 jobs represent 21.3% of Michigan’s total employment (4th in the nation) and details many of the accomplishments of Michigan’s investment in our “Big Three” university research programs. Also note that “downstream” industries like tourism that rely on healthy water resources aren’t included in the numbers.

Robby writes that Otter Creek Beach has to be the reason why Sleeping Bear Dunes was Voted “Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America. View his photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Michigan in Pictures has over 40 pages of water-related photos – drink deep!

Lunar Eclipse Tonight!

Inside the Ghost Forest

Inside the Ghost Forest, photo by jimflix!

There’s an eclipse of the full moon tonight! It begins at 2 AM Eastern time with the total eclipse lasting 78 minutes and starting about 3 AM. While the forecast is not great, it looks like there’s a chance that those brave souls who trade sleep for a shot at viewing the eclipse won’t be disappointed.

Eastern Daylight Time (April 15, 2014)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 1:58 a.m. EDT on April 15
Total eclipse begins: 3:07 a.m. EDT
Greatest eclipse: 3:46 a.m. EDT
Total eclipse ends: 4:25 a.m. EDT
Partial eclipse ends: 5:33 a.m. EDT

If you’re up in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area, they are having a star party tonight. If anyone knows of other viewing gatherings, post them in the comments! If the eclipse ends up getting clouded out locally, you can always take to the net and watch via the live stream from the Griffith Observatory. As I wrote about last week, this eclipse is the first of four total eclipses without a partial in between known as a Lunar Tetrad.

This photo is of the ghost forest on Sleeping Bear Point created when sand of the world’s largest shifting sand dune covered living trees.

View Jim’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Sleeping Bear Dunes slideshow.

More of the moon and more dunes on Michigan in Pictures!

In between the dark and the light on Empire Bluffs

Sun Spill, Empire Beach

Sun Spill, Empire Beach, photo by jess_clifton

Recently Michigan in Pictures regular Jess Clifton and her family made a wintertime excursion to Empire in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. She writes (in part):

At Empire, the beach was already sprinkled with about 10-15 other folks and the scene was surreal. Kids were crawling in and out of caves carved into the thick, massive ice formations built up along the water’s edge. Clouds intermittently descended and receded, offering up dramatic skies that beckoned you out.

…Once I finally convinced myself the beach was “safe” to venture out onto after watching about 14 other people successfully make the trek, I was off cresting mini ice mountains at a snails pace until I could finally peer into the water.

It was there that I finally got a sense of just how still the water was. Pancake ice floated gently on the barely breathing lake. The revelation of something so calm in such a harsh environment was almost jarring. (In a really good way.)

Read on for more and lots of stunning photos in her Why Michigan? blog.

View Jess’s photo background bigtacular and see more in her Winter in Northern Michigan slideshow. She also has a comparison photo from last year.

Lots more winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

View of Manitou Islands from Sleeping Bear Dunes

View of Manitou Islands from Sleeping Bear Dunes

View of Manitou Islands from Sleeping Bear Dunes, photo by jess_clifton

Last week’s Leelanau Enterprise is reporting that October 2013 had the lowest number of Sleeping Bear Dunes visitors in a decade – an impressive testimony to the impact of our recent government shutdown. You’ll be able to read the article in a month … when it’s no longer news I guess.

Jess took this from the Pierce Stocking Drive a week ago. Check it out background bigtacular and see more in her Sleeping Bear Dunes slideshow.

More dunes on Michigan in Pictures.

Sleeping Bear Winterscape

Sleeping Bear Winterscape

Sleeping Bear Winterscape, photo by ManualFoci

We interrupt this summer to check in with winter. James writes:

I’ve been visiting Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes all my life but it wasn’t until I was an adult photographer that I hazarded a trip up to our northern Michigan National Lakeshore landmark in the depths of Winter. I was confident it would be awesome and I wasn’t disappointed. Driving north on Route 22 from the little town of Empire I turned left onto South Dune Highway and soon could see Glen Lake to my right and Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes to my left. The Visitors Bureau is officially closed in Winter and so I parked my Cherokee at the side of the road and proceeded on foot along Hunter Road to the base of the mountainous dunes. Ahead of me was the leeward side of the dunes and as such they are steep. Part way up I saw an ominous sign that read “Avalanches Stay Off”. I noticed that there were other brave souls already on the dunes and so I figured it was safe to climb.

With Linhof camera on Gitzo tripod and a 35 pound Domke camera bag the climb up the dune was a challenge. Flat, and with small undulating hills punctuated by the occasional tuft of intrepid dune grass, the top of the dunes resemble the high desert plains of the southwest. As if trying to brave the frigid gale winds of nearby Lake Michigan, the sandy hills had solidified into rows of spiny ridges with the top of the hill resembling a marble cake with layer upon layer of sand and ice. In the distance the luminous midday sun lit a gently sloping bank upon which a barren stand of trees proudly stood. I moved my gloveless hands frantically over tilt and swing controls and finally turned the aperture ring to F22. The wind chill was well below zero. I snapped off but two 4 X 5 exposures and quickly donned my Baxter gloves to venture off in search of another Sleeping Bear winterscape.

Check this out background bigtacular and in his A Great Lakes Love Affair slideshow.

You can check out the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore website and see more black & white photography on Michigan in Pictures.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Concert

Dune Shift

Dune Shift, photo by farlane

Today on I posted about one of my favorite Michigan musical events – the Glen Arbor Art Association’s 15th annual Dune Climb concert. The FREE concert takes place this Sunday, July 14 at 7:00 pm.

The setting is the incomparable natural amphitheater of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and I heartily encourage you to join thousands of others at this free concert that has become a summer tradition in Leelanau.

This year one of Michigan’s premier jazz ensembles, the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, will present big band and original compositions. Some of the area’s finest musicians will be performing, including vocalist Edye Evans-Hyde. There is no charge for the concert, but a National Park pass is required for parking. Free shuttle buses will provide transportation to overflow parking lots. Bring chairs or (better) blankets to sit on. Some folding chairs are also provided in front of the stage. In the event of rain, the show will go on at the Glen Arbor Town Hall.

The Dune Climb concert is an amazing experience for folks young and old (sand dune = good fun for energetic kids) and is part of the Glen Arbor Art Association’s Manitou Music Festival.

If you regularly follow Michigan in Pictures, you know that I don’t often feature my own photos but this one really captures the amazingness of the dune concert! The ladies at the top are actually hundreds of feet up the dune yet still getting amazing sound flowing up to them. Check it out background big and see more from the show including the unmodified version of this photo in my Music Makes Me Smile slideshow. The photo uses a technique called “tilt-shift” created using a simple photoshop technique.

More dunes on Michigan in Pictures!

Sleeping Bear Dunes Ghost Forest

Ghost Forest

Ghost Forest, photo by Neil Weaver Photography

Walk silently through the haunting landscape of the ghost forest of Sleeping Bear Point Trail
and wind spirits whisper to you and chatter among the skeletons of long dead cedars.
If you do not hear them you are not listening.
I am sure the Anishinaabek knew the song in their day on Sleeping Bear.
~Jonathan Schechter, Earth’s Almanac

Jonathan Schechter who runs the very cool blog Earth’s Almanac at the Oakland Press penned these lines about the Ghost Forest on the Sleeping Bear Dunes (thanks for the link). Click through for a photographic account of his visit!

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore page on the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook explains how the ghost forest was created:

The Sleeping Bear Dune is estimated to be about two thousand years old and has a fascinating history. It is classified as a perched dune because it is perched on top of a plateau, high above the lake. When the dune was forming, it was not at the edge of the bluff, but somewhat inland.Wind carried sand from the upper portion of the Lake Michigan bluff inland and deposited it to form the Sleeping Bear Dune.

Notice the skeletons of dead trees within the eroded bowl of the dune. This called a ghost forest and tells a story of alternating stability and change. After an initial phase of active sand accumulation, a period of stability followed when trees began to grow on the dune. Later, more sand moved in and buried the trees. Two layers of buried soil within the dune indicate that there was a second period of stability and tree growth, followed by another period of sand build-up and then the final growth of the trees and shrubs that now cover the sheltered portions of the dunes.

For a long time, the sleeping Bear Dune stood at about 234 feet high with a dense plant cover. However, trough most of the twentieth century, erosion has prevailed.

By 1961, the dune was only 132 feet high, and by 1980, it was down to 103 feet. The process is a continuing one. The major cause of the dune’s erosion was wave action wearing away the base of the plateau on which the dune rests. As the west side of the dune loses its support, it cascades down the hill. The wind, too, is a major agent of erosion, removing sand and destroying the dune’s plant cover. What does the future hold? It seems that the present trend will continue and it is only a matter of time until the Bear disappears completely.

See Neil’s photo bigger and see more in his Sleeping Bear Dunes slideshow. You can see a bunch more shots from Sleeping Bear for viewing & purchase on his website!

More dunes on Michigan in Pictures.

Good Harbor and Good Harbor Bay

Spring on Good Harbor Bay

Spring on Good Harbor Bay, photo by Eric Raymond

Good Harbor is located on the northern edge of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at the Lake Michigan end of County Road 651. Today only evidence of the vanished village are the pilings of what was once a 500′ dock that could load 4 schooners at a time. The Good Harbor page from the Lakeshore explains that logging in the area began in 1863 to supply cordwood fuel for  steamers, leading to the founding of a village in the 1870s.

Shortly after 1880 (Henry) Schomberg bought out Schwartz’s interest and built a big sawmill which had a capacity of 30,000 feet in a 10-hour day.

…The Schomberg Lumber Company ran a hotel, two stores which became a shopping center for the local farmers, and a saloon. The township line between Centerville and Cleveland townships ran down the middle of Main Street in Good Harbor. Centerville did not allow saloons, so Good Harbor’s saloon was built on the Cleveland township side of the street … At the height of the lumber business, the mill worked day and night during the winter and during the day in the summer. As many as 75 teams of horses were used hauling logs to the mill, lumber to the dock, and supplies to the camps. The lumber company owned some of the teams and the rest were owned by local farmers and rented to the lumber company. At its peak, the mill cut 8,000,000 board feet of lumber per year.

The schooners were loaded by farmers who were called to work at the dock when the ships arrived. Good Harbor had no protection from storms with a northwest wind, so ships had to leave the dock and sail to the Manitou Islands for protection when a storm would come up. Sometimes storms would come up too fast and the ships were driven aground.

You can read on for more and also see some of the wrecks in the area in the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve.

Check this out bigger and see more great photos from the Sleeping Bear and Leelanau Peninsula (including another shot of the pilings by Terry Clark) on Eric’s Leelanau County Facebook page.