Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Craziness!

Well it has been a month of crazy holiday parties, long work days and shorter days. Which is why it is easy to get distracted from time in the great outdoors and other passions. However, at Great Lakes Adventure Travel we stand firm in the belief that whether you have 30 minutes or 30 days you can get outside and enjoy this time of year.
In fact we are planning a section of the Coast to Coast trail after the Holiday Season has ended. If you are unfamiliar with this trail system that is not uncommon. In fact I only learned about it a few years ago and have been interested in doing some winter hiking/nordic skiing along its terrain. The trail is broken up into approximately 3 sections and the one we are planning on hiking starts in Oscoda, MI and follows the Au Sable River, which is known for its trout and steelhead fishing.
We are planning on this trip lasting 3 day and 2 nights and will be an experience that we are looking forward to.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving in the Backcountry

As we approach this festive season of eating, I can't help but long to grab a backpack and a tent and head out into the beautiful crisp fall air. Granted, the leaves have all fallen and it feels as if snow is *about* to fall at any minute, but isn't that the fun of fall camping?

The only thing I'd miss about a backpacking Thanksgiving would be the pumpkin pie. But we did try a Thanksgiving dinner one trip- rustic style, of course. A variation of the Backpacker recipe, we boiled water and added it to savory stuffing mix with diced apple, dried cranberries, crushed walnuts and a packet of chicken. Let me tell you, after a day of hiking in the rain in West Virginia, it seemed like the most delicious meal we'd ever eaten. Had I the forethought of that pumpkin pie, it would have been heaven.

As we ate, we talked about how fun it would be to take the whole family camping on Thanksgiving. Maybe not rustic backpacking (not everyone is as adventurous as we are, I know...) but with preset tents, cots and blankets. A truly cozy campfire, lounge chairs and a hearty Thanksgiving feast... Campfire Roasted Turkey... Cornbread... Cranberry Relish... Baked Potatoes... Pumpkin Pie... Sounds like a dream to me! And a bit more true to the first Thanksgiving, don't you think??

True "glamping". Probably the only way my family would even consider it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A note on "VIP"s

VIP: "Very Important Person"
n.  A person of great importance or influence, especially a dignitary who commands special treatment.

 I know it's a fairly common practice to treat certain clients differently. They get special perks, discounted pricing, the royal treatment. And in this world of actors getting a hand slap when they're instead of jail time, universities covering up crimes for fear of scandal and people becoming celebrities for absolutely no reason, it seems our whole moral code has gone out the window.

This is definitely a pet peeve, but it goes deeper than that. Why give someone special treatment over another person? Because they have money? Because they're famous? Because they travel in the right circles?

The wonderful thing about starting a business from scratch is being able to identify your company values. And one of our most important beliefs is that everyone is a VIP. It doesn't matter if you're taking a trip with your family or you're the President of the United States, everyone will be treated the same. We will work hard to provide an amazing experience for every single person who travels with us, no matter who you are.

We're one small company but, maybe, if we stand firm in our values, we might make a difference.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Whoa, we have a website!

That's right! We have a website!

Ok, so it's only one page... but it's a start!

And the flood of enthusiasm we're receiving as we pursue this business more and more is incredible. From the talented friends offering to help with logo and website design, to the skilled adventurers offering to lead tours, to the family and friends who are there just to chat and offer their love and support. Thank you everyone! It makes this potentially-scary venture so much easier.

And what comes from this outpouring of support is all of the new ideas gathered! Everyone brings something new to the table. "Have you thought about trip...?", "Would you consider doing this...?". I constantly find myself looking for my notebook to jot down all these amazing ideas! Fly fishing in Canada, an urban bike trip from Chicago to Ann Arbor, backpacking on Isle Royale...

Something tells me we're never going to run out of ideas for this business...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cross State Cycling

This idea has been on the back of our minds for awhile now.

It started from the lifelong dream of cycling cross country- taking a few months off and just exploring this amazing nation. But since Bobby and I aren't closet millionaire, trust fund babies or completely irresponsible, it's going to continue to simmer on the back burner of our fantasies for a little while.

But it's how our cross state idea came about. We were walking along the Huron with shop dog, talking about our 30 Before Thirty lists. One of his is to take a motorcycle/backpacking trip with a couple of his Army buddies when one of them gets back from Afghanistan next year.
And in the midst of the bungee-jumping and wine-tasting-in-Italy fantasies, we both came up with biking across Michigan. From Ann Arbor, up the east coast, all the way to Mackinac Island.

The 340 some miles sounded daunting, but soon visions of small town charm, local eateries and inns along the way, horseback riding and ice cream on the island filled our heads. This could be incredible!

At a leisurely pace, we could comfortably ride 60-70 miles in a day, with frequent stops for dining, exploring and relaxing, making it a 5-6 day ride with a day or two days on the island. Add transportation for the trip home and I think we're onto something!

The only question is... are we the only crazy ones? Would anyone want to take this trip? I guess we'll find out as we dive into it further!

oh, Mackinac Island, how I love you!

Friday, November 4, 2011

So sorry...

Hey all,
Sorry for the lack of posts lately! It's been pretty crazy in our neck of the woods. Work, business planning, family, traveling... and a root canal, to top it all off.

I've been ignoring this pain in my mouth for months now, hoping it would go away. After all, I'm a busy girl! I've got things to do! Places to go! People to see! Mountains to climb! No little toothache could slow me down!

Until Tuesday. When the pain became so unbearable, I could hardly walk. I couldn't eat or sleep. All I did was lay on the floor crying in pain. After staggering to the dentist, he suggested an emergency root canal. But before I could have a chance to freak out, the nurse had me sucking in nitrous oxide and it was off to la-la land for me! I vaguely remember a drill and dreaming that I was in a Super Mario game.

Suffice it to say, I'm feeling much better thanks to rest and my personal pharmacy next to me. :)

So onward and upward! Time to keep dreaming and keep planning! What's next? WINTER TRAVELS!! Looking forward to cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hot cocoa and all things Christmas!

  En guard!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wine & Bike Tour

This weekend was one of the best we've had in a long time.
Perfect weather, beautiful autumn colors and really delicious wine to sip.
Add to that a 40 mile bike ride, our favorite shop dog, beaches and camping and we're in heaven.

The trip is a perfect ode to everything Michigan. The colors, the flavors, the scents, the scenery.

We start our adventure at a local state park. In all fairness to our backpacking ways, I will tell you it is a fully modern campsite. But for the trip we're taking, it was perfect. After a day of cycling in 70 degree sunshine, a nice shower in a cleaned-once-a-day locker room was just right.

This was shop dog's first real camping trip and he was pretty geeked about it.
Our first night kicked off with a casual ride around town, in search of an outdoor restaurant that was Scout-friendly. Alas, being October, many had already put away their patio tables for the season. So we dined (happily!) at House of Doggs and chatted with visitors making friends with Scout.

After a bonfire and a few beers back at camp, we fell into a blissful sleep under the stars.

The next morning, after a quick patio breakfast at Morsels (homemade breakfast sandwiches, espresso and bite size cake "morsels"... oh wow... too good for words), we set off for the vineyards!

First stop was Black Star Farms... let me just say, how they get the pears into the bottles of Spirit of Pear liquor is astonishing.

The rest of the trip was a fabulous blur of wine tastings, flying down hills on my trust Peppermint Patty bike and waving at travelers as they "awww"ed at Scout in his trailer.

Sitting on the patio of Bowers Harbor, with a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio in my hand, a dog at my feet and a view of the autumn colors and winding vines... all I can say it, this feels like Heaven.

The wine stewards are such cool cats; hip, funny, warm and honest. They have extra tasting tables set up around the property to avoid lines and crowds.

"How's the hard cider?" I ask and the fiesty woman behind the counter shoots back with "I only like red wine, so here, try it for yourself!" and pours me a big glass. Love that. The other gentleman, who appears to have stepped right out of a mid-1940's jazz scene, seamlessly pours from different bottles, taking care of the crowd of wine-hungry guests with ease.

Of all the vineyards we visited, this cozy little place felt like a vacation home. Our dog got to hang with Brix, the winery dog and we felt like we never wanted to leave.

As we grow this business and take on new adventures, we know in our hearts that we've found the epitome of Great Lakes Adventure trips. This is to become our signature, our classic.
The food, the wines, the people,... this is what it's all about.

This, as they say, is pure Michigan.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autumn Flavors

Autumn is the season that makes me fall in love with Michigan all over again. The beautiful colors, the crisp air... and the food!!

After an hour of wandering our local market (and spending way too much!), Bobby and I returned home to get cozy in our pajamas and cook a flavorful autumn meal together.
He made an incredible Plum Mascarpone Bruschetta... crispy baguette with a spread of honey & whiskey sweetened mascarpone... a layer of homemade peach-plum jam topped with fresh sliced plums. It was out of this world incredible.

I tackled a Butternut Squash Risotto. It was the perfect blend of an Italian classic, with Parmesan and sage, mixed with Michigan flavors of creamy butternut squash and caramelized onions.

Eaten on the floor of our new house (we're still working on the whole "furniture" thing...), listening to the rain outside in the trees... it was perfection.

Picture (and recipes) to come!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bicycling Thoughts

As we settle into our new house, one of the first things to be unpacked was my trusty bicycle. A sage green Trek Allant lovingly nicknamed "Peppermint Patty".

Being closer to both of our jobs makes commuting a breeze. Six miles of cornfields and dirty roads, passing children waiting for their school bus and horses freely munching on grass. It is ideal.

Which got me thinking about biking, in general. No offense to the spandex-wearing speedsters I see all over Ann Arbor- but that just isn't my style. The world opens up to you on a bike. It makes me want to slow down and take it all in. Whether in jeans or a skirt and heels, biking is the perfect ride. 

In a couple weeks, we'll be setting off for our next adventure- biking Old Mission Peninsula in northern Michigan. Wine tastings, eclectic restaurants and amazing views await in this hidden gem of the Great Lakes. So why would we want to speed by it all? We've got two days to enjoy seven wineries and meet the incredible folks who run them. Urban bikes, a trailer for Scout, a tent and sleeping bags... we're really looking forward to this one. And we plan on enjoying every minute of it.
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