Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hidden Travel Gems In Michigan

Michigan's known for a variety of things to the common traveler. These include:
  • The Great Lakes
  • The Motor City
  • Mackinac Island
Not bad things to be known for, as the beaches of the Great Lakes and the shorelines are oftentimes spectacular and are enjoyed by travelers year round. Detroit, for all of its struggles, is still one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the United States and has some exciting things going on downtown and in the surrounding suburbs. Mackinac Island is known for its ability to take us back to yesteryear, a time when life was simpler (and gives you a weekend without having to deal with a car...what a concept!)

But outside of those three items, Michigan is often referred to as "fly over country" to many. Without sounding like a tourism guide, I have to say that Michigan brings much more to the table whether it's for a romantic weekend getaway or a fun family trip. Here are a few gems that travelers would find well worth their time on a visit to Michigan.


  1.  Traverse City.

    Home of the Cherry Festival, Traverse City is well known throughout Michigan and in surrounding areas like Chicago. Locals have certainly found that the place is quickly gaining a reputation as a hot tourist spot, as the influx of people throughout the summer and into the Fall season. Traverse is home to countless wineries, an amazing shoreline, award winning breweries like Right Brain Brewery, and some of the country's finest bed and breakfasts. There is a local airport, but it tends to get pricey to fly into. So, if you want to make the trip, extend it a few days and fly into Grand Rapids' bigger airport and then make the 2.5 hour drive North. There's a good reason for this as well...

  2. Grand Rapids.

    If you think of Michigan as a state with one city, you'd be surprised to find out what the state's second biggest city, Grand Rapids, has to offer. As an acquaintance of mind remarked driving into the city once, "Hey, it has a skyline and everything!" On top of the skyline, Grand Rapids boasts some luxurious hotels in the downtown JW Marriott and Amway Grand. Highlights of a trip to Grand Rapids should include the local museums as well as breweries like Founders and Brewery Vivant, a couple of the reasons the city has been named Beer City USA for the past two years.

  3. Saugatuck.

    If you love quaint ocean side cities, you might want to try Saugatuck, which replaces the ocean with the freshwater equivalent of Lake Michigan. If you have never experienced the Great Lakes, and you'd like a relaxing or romantic weekend getaway in the summer, you'd be hard pressed to beat Saugatuck, Michigan. Located only a couple hours around the lake from Chicago, Saugatuck boasts a burgeoning little art community, fine dining, an amazing beach, a breathtaking state park (Saugatuck Dunes) and enough luxurious lodging to keep you coming back year after year. 

 
Saugatuck Dunes State Park




Seen enough yet? Ready to book your next getaway to Michigan? That's what I thought!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why I'm Not a Fan of Winter

If your Facebook is flooded with complaints from people about how frigidly cold it is during winter, count me as one of them. In fact, I turn into a depressed human being at this time of the year because of the lack of Vitamin D and outdoor activities -- I even dread going out to check the mailbox that takes barely a minute to reach from the door.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Top 10 Things to Do on the Mendocino Coast



In the corner of Northern California you’ll find the beautiful Mendocino coast and its laidback, artsy culture that has made it one of the top tourist destinations in the country – or even the world. Appearing in television shows (Murder She Wrote) and movies (Overboard), Mendocino is a dramatic but fun-filled location making it an attractive town to explore and experience a wide variety of activities.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mentally Managing Your Chronic Lower Back Pain

British Airways 747-136 G-AWNF
Flying can be tough on the back.  (Photo credit: caribb)
This post courtesy of mispinecenter.com

One of the most common health plaguing Americans today is living with chronic lower back pain, and for frequent travelers cramped into uncomfortable spaces, it can be as taxing on your mind as your body. In many cases there is no single treatment for this problem and most people don’t want to be constantly taking pain killers, muscle relaxers and visiting chiropractors to live with the pain that never seems to cease. Today we will be looking at an alternative to the traditional route of treating back pain, using your mind itself to overcome the pain.

First off, a little background information for those who may not know much about lower back pain. Lower Back Pain is not usually attributed to one single issue but the combination of multiple factors such as: lack of exercise / muscle strength, improper posture, being overweight, smoking, and many more. All of these things can increase the likelihood that you will suffer from lower back pain.

One thing anyone dealing  with lower back pain needs to be aware of is that just as nerves in our body shoot signals up to our brain to tell it “Ow this hurts!”, there are also signals being sent down from your brain itself that actually regulate how sensitive areas of your body are, like your lower back, and determine how we feel much pain we receive in those areas even when the actual amount may not be high, in fact, most chronic pain is more attributable to sensitization of the nervous system than actual problems with the area in pain.

So what can someone do who has tried everything they could think of? Below are some helpful tips to conquer your back pain one day at a time in an alternative fashion.

•    The most important thing to learn for mentally managing back pain is to how to truly relax, take classes, watch YouTube videos or read articles like this one on the subject. The standard process usually follows a few simple steps. (1) Put yourself in a reclined position and dim the lighting. (2) Start taking slow deep breathes using your chest to pull breath into your stomach. (3) Concentrate on a spot just above your naval, how it rises and falls with each breath.

•    After feeling yourself slip into a deeper relaxation, try a few imagery control techniques. These include; Altered Focus, Dissociation, Sensory Splitting, progression/regression and Mental Anesthesia

Other helpful tips to try:
•    Mood, anxiety and stress all profoundly affect how we feel pain, you may have noticed this correlation already, when you are enjoying yourself, worry free, away from a stressful environment you are less likely to even notice the pain that seems so excruciating at other times, when you find yourself getting stressed or upset, walk away from the situation and focus on relaxing, your back will thank you.

•    Focusing on the pain and worrying it will never end, also known as catastrophizing instead of thinking about a time when you had a good back day with little to no pain, or a time when you won’t feel the pain anymore, this is along the lines of regression/progression thinking we mentioned earlier.

•    Counting, much like the other practices on here, the root idea is to take your mind off of the pain and concentrate on something else often times this alone can help tremendously.

•    Join a support group! You would be surprised how many other people out there deal with the same problems as you and sometimes all you need is the understanding, empathy and input of others dealing with your problems to help make you feel better

•    Boost your endorphins- While not only improving your mood, endorphins also block pain signals, a great way to do this is by exercising more, especially cardio exercises and stretching.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Summer Cruising on Lake Winnipesaukee



Among other things, one reason why I love going to New Hampshire during summer is Lake Winnipesaukee. And it appears that I wasn’t the only one who thought so. I met people from as far as California and Texas who came all the way to New Hampshire to visit its largest and most beautiful lake. How did I meet them? Well, let’s just say it was on board the M/S Mount Washington, a cruise ship that took us for a Sunset Dinner Dance Cruise on the lake. 


The majestic view of Lake Winnipesaukee is indescribable. The mountain ranges surrounding the lake are thick with trees and wildlife. As we glided across the water, habitable islands counting up to 240 would greet us as if we were on a vast sea instead of a 44,000-acre crystal clear lake. 

Here’s a picture of the breathtaking sunset we encountered during the dinner dance cruise. I think what made it even more glorious was the fact that we were in the middle of this nature’s gift and all we could hear was the breeze and some birds.


The buffet dinner filled me up I had to stand throughout the cruise to bring down the calories! Dinner was also accompanied by a rock n’ roll band singing the blues. I wasn’t much of a dancer but I had a great time watching couples make simple moves on the dance floor. 

Anyway, I heard that fall is also a great time to take a cruise and see the red and orange fall foliage that makes the biting cold worth it. Maybe I would if I’m not doing anything on Halloween. I think I’d look great wearing some catsuit at the Halloween Masquerade Ball. 

After a special evening of relaxing and chatting with other solo travelers like me, I headed to my bed and breakfast at the Inn on GoldenPond in Holderness. I was tempted to sink myself in the inviting hot tub but I had to resist. My early morning flight was ringing loudly in my ear; I had to make sure I got a good night’s sleep. Tired but happy that I made my own travel plans and my summer is just starting! Where is my next destination going to be?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Unknown East Coast Summer Destinations


The Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York

Summer time equals travel time. People across the globe save up money and vacation days to travel to places, new or old, and experience an escape from the normal routine. The East Coast of the United States has famous destinations like New York City, Boston, and Washington D.C. that take most of the attention of travelers. The big cities may take the spotlight but there are beautiful unknown destinations on the East Coast that you may not know about.

Vermont: 

Widely known as the “hippie” state of the East, Vermont has much more to offer than Ben & Jerry’s and maple syrup. Beautiful mountain forests, rolling green hills, and secluded lakes makes Vermont a nature seekers paradise. Vermont’s slow pace and easy living makes it a relaxing summer destination for travelers with an appetite for organic vegetables and unique craft beer

Type of Traveler: Nature seeking, pancake loving, beer snob hipsters.  

Upstate New York: 

Unknown to most Americans, New York is not just New York City. Upstate New York is home to the Adirondack Mountains, a unique mountain formation just off the highway. Filled with hiking trails, rivers, and lakes, the Adirondack Mountains and upstate New York is a summer get away for any adventure seekers. Take in a beautiful mountain view after a canoe trip at a small cabin nestled in the woods.

Type of Traveler: For those who like to fish, canoe, kayak, hike, and explore without flying out to Colorado.

Western Massachusetts:

 Boston gets all the hype in Massachusetts but it shouldn’t. The western part of the state is a unique destination full of history and beauty. The area is full of landmark small towns and museums galore. Stop by a historic inn like The Gateways Inn in Lenox that converted a mansion into a destination for travelers seeking to step back in time. There is also a prominent music scene in Western Massachusetts including area festivals throughout the summer.

Type of Traveler: History nerd, lover of jazz, and fan of small towns made of brick.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Winter Activities for the Family in Cape Cod



The subfreezing temperatures that Old Man Winter brings are enough reason to hibernate at home until spring. But maybe you could appreciate the frigid weather better if you visit some attractions that are available in winter. Cape Cod may be a popular summer destination, but there are still interesting activities that you will find there for you and your family. Plus, if you don’t like the heavy summer crowds, you will get your quiet time better during the colder months.