The Big Sable Point Lighthouse is located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan near Ludington, Michigan. It is located upon a spectacular sand bluff with a panoramic view of the Great Lake, and is an especially wonderful location to watch the sunset.

Called Grande Point au Sable by French explorers and traders, Big Sable Point was an important landmark for mariners traveling a treacherous stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline between Big Sable Point and present day Ludington. In 1855 twelve ships wrecked in that area. Commerce linked to the lumber industry required that Big Sable Point be suitably lighted so in 1867 the Big Sable Point lighthouse was built. As lumbering waned, steamers carrying coal, agriculture products, and tourists continued to rely on the lighthouse for navigation.

The Big Sable Point Lighthouse tower is 112 feet high and is one of the few lighthouses in Michigan with a tower reaching over 100 feet. In 1902 the deteriorating brick tower was encased in steel. The keeper's dwelling, which once housed a single family, has been enlarged over the years to the present three family residence. Indoor plumbing and heating and a diesel electric generator were added in 1949. In 1953 power lines were extended to the Point. In 1968 the station was fully automated and a lighthouse keeper was no longer needed. Big Sable Point Light Station is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

To reach the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, take Highway M-116 north from Ludington to Lakeshore Drive, and then proceed 6.5 miles and enter Ludington State Park. The 1.5 mile well-maintained walking trail through sand dunes is picturesque and well worth the trek. Go at sunset and take your camera!
A writer friend of mine recently mentioned she writes when she is either extremely sad or extremely happy. I thought about that a while and wondered why it is different for me. I am least likely to write when I am very happy or sad. For me, I need my "writer's zen."

Urban Dictionary defines zen as "A state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts."

When I am euphoric or unhappy I am too distracted to create romantic fiction. I am most likely to write my style of romantic comedy when I feel serene. Give me windless skies and still waters. Let me drift peacefully and dream. 

Let me reflect upon a sea of tranquility and I will produce for you a story worth telling.

Last night I went to the Manistee, Michigan, USA, to watch the sunset. Manistee is on the shores of Lake Michigan, and it has a picturesque lighthouse. After several days in a row of cool temperatures and rain, fickle Michigan weather had finally coughed up 70 degrees, and I was eager to enjoy a Great Lakes beach.

The skies were blue with barely a cloud, and in my experience clouds are usually what I need for sunset photography to have a lot of visual impact. But this sunset surprised me. The skies turned golden, and as the sun dropped below the horizon it was a massive red ball. Amber tones quickly morphed to reds, pinks, and purples. I snapped away, not wanting to miss a single Pure Michigan view.

It was later when I looked over the photos on my computer that I realized just what an array of colors this one sunset had. Who would believe the pastels pinks and blues of the final photos are the same location as the deep golden tones in the first?

And I knew, once again, this is why I am addicted to photography, for someone has to record these magic moments.


Love on the Beach


I didn't see it at first.

There I stood, high on a Lake Michigan bluff somewhere north of Saugatuk, Michigan, gazing out at a spectacular Great Lakes sunset. It was that magic moment that is the subject of countless forms of art and poetry. The weather was a perfect 70 degrees. The breeze was mild. 

I am a photographer and a romance novelist, so as I stood on that platform upon a massive dune my artistic side was taking in the larger picture. I scanned the horizon. There was blue sky and fresh water as far as I could see. I glanced up and down the pristine beach. There were many footprints in the sand, but miraculously I was alone.

I still did not see it.

Glad I had brought my Nikon, I snapped a few photos and began my descent down the stairway, intending to count the wooden steps but there were so many I soon lost count. I descended down to the next platform, and that's when I finally saw it.

Written in the sand, in huge letters, were the words, "I love you." The letters were facing the viewing platform, and all around the message were hundreds of footprints in the sand. It must have taken quite a bit of time and effort to carve out that heartfelt message. Who had written it, and for whom? Maybe it had been an engagement proposal?

My romance writer side was captivated, and soon I was imagining a heroine on the platform and a hero down on his knee. Of course she said "Yes," because who can resist love on the beach?


Tahquamenon Falls


Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula encompasses approximately 50,000 acres stretching over 13 miles. The centerpiece of the park is the Tahquamenon River and its upper and lower Falls.

Upper Tahquamenon Falls is one of the largest falls east of the Mississippi. It drops nearly 50 feet and is more than 200 feet across. A maximum flow of more than 50,000 gallons of water per second has been recorded cascading over its precipice. 

The Tahquamenon River was made famous in the Longfellow poem, "Hiawatha." According to Indian lore, the origin of the name Tahquamenon is attributed to the water's amber color. In modern day it is often often called "The Rootbeer Falls." The color is attributed to tannic acid produced by decaying hemlocks, cedars, and spruces along the river's banks. 

Reaching Tahquamenon Falls is an easy drive along M-123. The highway loops from Highway M-28 through Paradise, Michigan.

There is a restaurant and gift shop located at the Upper Falls. Originally a logging camp, "Camp 33," the building is a replica of the original camp. There is a large deck with an outdoor fireplace and places to sit and relax. By far the biggest surprise for me was the fine dining and the micro brewery! I can testify that both are excellent!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a 35 mile stretch of Lake Michigan's eastern coastline in Michigan's lower peninsula. The sand bluffs tower 450 feet above the Great Lake and it is a sight guaranteed to take your breath away.

The park was established primarily for its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations and ancient glacial phenomena. The lakeshore also includes an 1871 lighthouse, three former Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard Stations. and over 100 miles of hiking trails. 

In 2011 tens of thousands of GOOD MORNING AMERICA viewers voted Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore as the number one most beautiful place in America.Contenders in the top ten included Newport, Rhode Island; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Point Reyes, California; Aspen, Colorado; Sedona, Arizona; Destin, Florida; Asheville, North Carolina; Lanikai Beach, Hawaii; and Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore visitor center is in Empire, MI., about 25 miles from Traverse City. Most people visit the park via car, but you can fly to Traverse City and rent a car to drive to the park.Hardy adventurers like to run down the sand dunes to the beach, but, I warn you, it is a long climb back up, and many who attempt the climb suffer heat exhaustion. Me? I'm just glad I brought my camera.

Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore is located along the northwest coast of the lower peninsula of Michigan in Leelanau County and Benzie County. This United States national lakeshore is named after a Chippewa legend of the sleeping bear.

According to the legend, long ago a great famine spread over the land. A mother bear and two famished cubs in Wisconsin gazed wistfully across the great lake at Michigan, the land of plenty. Finally hunger drove them into the water and they launched out toward the opposite shore.

After miles of swimming, the two cubs grew weary. With only twelve miles to go to reach Michigan the mother's heart was broken when she saw one babe sink and drown. With the remaining cub she struggled toward the beach, but in two more miles the second of her beloved cubs perished.

The mother reached the beach alone and crept to a resting place where she lay facing her lost loved ones. As she gazed, two beautiful islands slowly rose to mark the graves of the cubs. Impressed by the mother's determination, the Great Spirit Manitou created two islands (North and South Manitou Islands) to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear. 
Sand Point Beach is a popular destination within Picture Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. With its white sands, shallow water, and panoramic view of Munising Bay, it is a great spot for walking and watching the sunset. Swimmers often find the shallow water bay warmer than other lakeshore beaches.

Sand Point Beach is located about four miles northeast of Munising, Michigan, at the end of Sand Point Road. In 2007 The Weather Channel named Sand Point Beach as one of the 'Top Five Summer Beaches in America."

A short walk down the beach to the east is a former United States coast guard station. This historic station operated from 1933 to 1960. In 1966 it was donated to the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore and today serves as the park headquarters.

As my daughter and I walked along the beach in front of the coast guard station we found the tattered wooden remains of an unknown boat wreck. My photographer side was delighted I had brought along my camera at the same time my fiction writer side was captivated.  I could not help but wonder what the history was of the lonely wooden wreck. Who was the owner? What was the story of the boat's demise? Were lives lost? We will never know.
Tannery Falls is a waterfall on Tannery Creek located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula at the western border of Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. The Falls are also sometimes called the Rudy M. Olson Memorial Falls because the grave site of Rudolf Olsen can be seen along the trail. The falls drop 40 feet into an impressive sandstone canyon that reveals colors Picture Rocks are known for. There is a cave behind the falls and you can walk behind the falls without getting wet. 

Tannery Falls is one of the less-advertised and less-maintained falls in the area and is a little tricky to find. It is near Sand Point Beach. Heading east out of Munising, Michigan, take highway H-58. Turn left onto Washington St. (which becomes Sand Point Road), then pull over to the side of the road and park right away, near the small brick utility building. Directly across H-58 is a small wooden staircase. Go up the staircase and follow the woodland trail. 

The rustic walk alone is worth the trip! My daughter claims it is like being in an Indiana Jones movie.
Sand Point Beach is located just four miles northeast of Munising, Michigan, and is within Picture Rocks National Lakeshore.  It is situated at the end of Sand Point Road.  This gem of a beach is very popular spot for tourists and residents alike.  Also, Sand Point is a great place to watch sunsets. The Weather Channel named Sand Point Beach as one of the "Top Five Summer Beaches in America."
The Straits of Mackinac is the narrow waterway separating Michigan's upper peninsula from its lower peninsula and connecting two of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Five miles wide and 120 feet deep, the Straits is known as one of the busiest crossroads for shipping in the Great lakes and historically has long been considered hazardous to sailing vessels. Even before European explorers, Ojibwa lit the shore with fires for water travelers.

A fog signal was built at the Straits in 1890, and Congress authorized the building of a lighthouse in 1892. Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse was constructed of ashlar limestone and the attached keeper's dwelling was constructed of brick trimmed in limestone. The double-walled cylindrical tower has an outside diameter of 13 feet 4 inches and is 45 feet tall. The tower was originally outfitted with a fourth order Fresnel Lens.

With the completion of the Mackinac Bridge in 1957 there was no longer a need for the lighthouse, since the bridge has lights on at night. In 1960, the lighthouse property was purchased by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission. The Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November 1969. 

Today the lighthouse is open to the public. Admission is through the fog signal building, which houses the museum store, and an admission fee is charged. Pets are welcome. 

On my most recent visit I was lucky to be there at sunrise and was impressed by the beach views! This is surely a "do not miss" Pure Michigan destination.