As home of the longest freshwater coastline in the world, we’re blessed with lots of water here in Michigan. We are the Great Lakes State, after all!
But with record-high lake levels, we now have so much water it can be hard to enjoy all that coastline. Many beaches are cramped and have even disappeared in some places.
Not in Ludington. There’s plenty of shore where you can spread out a blanket and soak in the wonderful beauty of our Michigan.
With so many of you staying closer to home this summer and trading long-distance vacations for drivable destinations right here in our state, we’d like to invite you to experience Pure Ludington.
Not only can you relax and recharge at the beaches in Ludington, but there’s opportunity for outdoor recreation all over Mason County. Here are just a few ways you can get out in the fresh air of Ludington and immerse yourself in the unique splendor of your own state’s backyard:
There’s still a ton of beachfront in the Ludington area along Lake Michigan, from the half-mile of sandy shore at Stearns Park Beach downtown to the seven miles of pristine shoreline leading to the iconic Big Sable Point lighthouse in Ludington State Park. The state park also has an inland lake beach along the warm, shallow waters of Hamlin Lake, one of the largest inland lakes in the Lower Peninsula.
For water recreation, there’s no shortage of options in Ludington. There’s Lake Michigan, of course, which is great for everything on water from skipping stones to wind surfing. There’s also all-sports Hamlin and Bass lakes for boating as well as Pere Marquette and Lincoln lakes for fishing.
Paddle the Lincoln River, enjoy a family-friendly float by tube down the Big Sable River in Ludington State Park or explore the wilderness of the Manistee National Forest by way of the many canoe liveries along the Pere Marquette River.
For an overland adventure, you can hike, bike or ride off road vehicles through the massive Manistee National Forest. Hiking and biking trails weave through Ludington State Park, too, and there’s an Urban Single Track system that’s perfect for novice mountain bikers with 10 miles of trails in town.
Precautions surrounding COVID-19 have resulted in many summer events being cancelled around Michigan, but there’s still a lot going on in Ludington. From a summerlong farmers market and monthly bonfires on the beach to weekly live music events downtown, there’s something happening whenever you visit this summer.
We haven’t even mentioned golf, ice cream at House of Flavors, shoreline tours on the SS Badger…the list goes on! To plan your visit, go to pureludington.com!
Isiah Lattimore’s murals speak for themselves, and the large-scale, colorful pieces get people talking to each other.
And the site of those conversations this summer is the Lansing River Trail, which is playing host to the third annual ARTpath along a 3.5-mile stretch of the path from Old Town to REO Town. The public art exhibition features 19 unique art installations from Michigan-based makers, with the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center providing the push to bring visual arts to accessible spaces.
Lattimore, of Flint, has two pieces in the exhibition, and he says they address the moments in time that we’re living. Outdoor art is exciting to Lattimore for a number of reasons.
“They exist in a space that the viewing is more prolonged,” he says. “Outside doesn’t close. It doesn’t have to be interaction between artist and viewer (because they can do it at their moment).”
The gallery partnered with donors, the City of Lansing and its Parks and Recreation Department to create ARTpath River Trail Exhibition. The path, accessible on foot, bike or hopping in and out of a kayak from the Grand River, features sculptures, paintings, large scale murals and mixed media.
The pieces, which can be found on this map, are designed to be interactive and engaging with park visitors. Last summer over 62,000 visitors enjoyed the River Trail during the duration of the project.
To golfers, the former Little Traverse Bay Golf Club in Harbor Springs was known for dramatic downhill tee shots and unparalleled views of the water from high above. Although the course now has closed, the 290-acre property high on a bluff above Little Traverse Bay retains all the same rolling hills and scenic vistas.
Only now, instead of being a destination for golf, the land that has reopened as the Offield Family Viewlands offers a glorious escape for hiking, biking and birdwatching that everyone can enjoy free of charge.
“There are hiking trails all over the Petoskey Area communities, and this is another wonderful addition,” said Diane Dakins, assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.
With the Little Traverse Conservancy turning the former golf course into a natural space, there’s more room to roam than ever in the Petoskey Area near the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. That’s especially important in the midst of an ongoing pandemic when many outdoor activities present low-risk opportunities for recreation. In the Petoskey Area communities of Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor, Alanson, Petoskey and Boyne Falls/Boyne City, it’s easy to social distance, get fresh air and enjoy the striking beauty of northern Michigan all at the same time.
In addition to plenty of room to roam, the Petoskey Area also features room to glide through the pristine waters of northern Michigan on a kayak, boat or paddleboard. There’s room to ride through the beautiful scenery of biking trails, and room to safely enjoy time with family. Of course, there’s still lots of room to take out the golf clubs and launch drives on award-winning courses, too.
Here are five more places with “room to roam” for you to keep in mind while planning a northern Michigan getaway this summer:
Boyne Valley Trailway – Newly completed this summer, this scenic 6-mile paved path between Boyne City and the Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls is perfect for biking, running and roller blading. It’s one of many paved trails in the Petoskey Area including the Little Traverse Wheelway, a 26-mile path between Harbor Springs and Charlevoix that passes through beautiful parks, along eye-popping stretches of waterfront and into unique places such as historic Bay View and the elegant Bay Harbor. (Please note that a couple sections of the Little Traverse Wheelway are currently closed due to erosion.) Whatever trail you choose to ride, you can find bikes to rent at shops throughout the Petoskey Area.
Bay Harbor Golf – With 10 golf courses at Boyne resorts alone, there’s more than enough tee times to go around in the Petoskey Area. The Boyne collection includes one of Golf Magazine’s top 10 courses in the country in Bay Harbor, as well as the National Golf Course Owners Association’s 2019 National Golf Course of the Year in The Heather. Beyond Boyne, there are several other renowned golf courses within a 30-minute drive including Belvedere Golf Club, Dunmaglas and Hidden River Golf & Casting Club.
Little Traverse Bay Ferry – The new non-profit ferry service between Petoskey, Harbor Springs and Bay Harbor made its debut this summer. It’s the first time in 80 years that the communities have been connected via ferry service. The ferry offers a unique perspective on Little Traverse Bay and is one of many ways to get out on the water this summer in the Petoskey area, from sailing or charter fishing in the big lake to renting a kayak and paddling down the river to boating the Inland Waterway that is Michigan’s longest chain of rivers and lakes. To experience an old-fashioned car ferry, check out the Ironton Ferry over the south arm of Lake Charlevoix.
Petoskey Breakwall – This harbor breakwall in Petoskey is one of the best places to find an elusive Petoskey stone. Searching for Michigan’s state stone is a relaxing and fun activity for all ages, and it’s a thrill to find one of our state’s special treasures! Other popular Petoskey stone hunting grounds include Magnus City Park Beach, just west of downtown, and Petoskey State Park northeast of the city. If you like relaxing without being on the hunt, the Petoskey Area has plenty of beaches to spread out a blanket, soak up the sun and take a dip in the crystal clear waters of northern Michigan.
Zipline Adventure Tour – Imagine yourself soaring down a mountain instead of skiing down one. On the Zipline Adventure Tours at Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands you’ll ride a chairlift up to an elevation of over 3,000 feet, then fly back down on the longest zip line in Michigan at speeds of up to 25 miles an hour! For a slower-paced experience of the panoramic views atop the ski hills, you can enjoy a scenic chairlift ride and see as far as the Mackinac Bridge on a clear day.
In addition to all the great places with room to roam, the Petoskey Area also features hundreds of rooms where you can rest your head after a day of adventure. Whether you’re looking for a world-class resort, a hotel in the middle of town, a secluded getaway tucked in the woods or an historic bed-and-breakfast, you can find it in the Petoskey Area.
COVID-19 cost Rachel Schwartz her job. Now, she’s working to keep the coronavirus from costing other people their lives.
Several weeks ago, the 25-year-old Sterling Heights native was working for the U.S. Peace Corps in Africa. Then she and thousands of other volunteers were evacuated as the pandemic spread.
Back home in Michigan and ineligible for unemployment compensation, Schwartz decided to look for a job. What she found has given her a first-hand experience of Michigan’s essential medical heroes responding to COVID-19.
“I instantly sensed the additional burden that COVID-19 was placing amongst the workers and was eager to provide any relief that I could,” said Schwartz, who started working last month as a waiver care aide at MediLodge of Shoreline, a skilled nursing facility in Sterling Heights. “Every individual has been affected by this crisis, but all of these frontline workers are experiencing an intensifying effect.”
The waiver care aide positions are temporary, non-clinical roles that were created by MediLodge’s network of 50 skilled nursing facilities statewide to have extra hands in care centers at a time of need. The jobs, which do not require prior health care experience, are also a response to community residents in the wake of pandemic-related layoffs, furloughs or hour reductions in other industries.
With a background in social work and a desire to help others any way she can, Schwartz was immediately drawn to MediLodge when she came across it during an online career search. She applied for the job and became one of many newly hired team members who are providing facility support in a variety of ways.
The daily to-do list for Schwartz includes making sure all employees are wearing a mask and documenting the results of COVID-19 screenings that employees undergo each day. She also helps residents at mealtime and with their daily hygiene, while also providing emotional support.
From sewing homemade face masks to joining the MediLodge team as an employee, there are many ways to support skilled nursing care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a few weeks on the job, Schwartz has alligator-skin hands from constant handwashing and also a new appreciation for nurses who have readily adapted to an environment of COVID precautions including visitor restrictions and personal protective equipment.
“I am both amazed and appreciative of the strength and commitment that I witness within my new co-workers,” she said. “They continue to maintain positive attitudes, to support one another and to provide optimal service.
“We are strong, we are dedicated, and we are constantly adapting. We are the service workers and we are all in this together.”
Of course, support isn’t only coming from within MediLodge skilled nursing facilities these days. Across the state there are stories of heroic acts by family members of residents and the community at large who have rallied around MediLodge facilities to affirm and support the quality nursing care happening inside.
The list of examples is endless:
The Clare Fire Department paraded past MediLodge of Clare and donated lunch for staff members.
Staff members at MediLodge of Grand Blanc have been blessed by a wide range of community donations including crocheted mask extenders, homemade face masks, free lunches and cinnamon rolls delivered by the Grand Blanc High School Class of 2022.
Community members have placed signs in the front lawns and along the driveways of MediLodge of Gaylord and many other MediLodge skilled nursing facilities across the state to honor the healthcare heroes that work there.
This sign was placed on the front door of MediLodge of Port Huron by a resident’s family member on Mother’s Day to thank the nurses and non-clinical staff. On Easter, the facility received dozens of flowers donated by Sam’s Club. Other MediLodge locations have received signs with uplifting messages to place around the building. They’ve received donations of hand lotions and hand sanitizer, fresh cut flowers for residents’ rooms, gift cards and even Kindle tablets for residents to use!
Lakepointe Church usually conducts Christian worship services for residents every month at MediLodge of Shoreline in Sterling Heights. But since visitors can’t come into the building during the pandemic, church members have delivered cards of encouragement to residents and a catered lunch to employees.
The Howell Gun Club has donated face shields for team members at MediLodge of Livingston. Many other MediLodge facilities also have received generous gifts of face shields and homemade masks.
How can you support your local skilled nursing facility during the COVID-19 pandemic? By donating lunch? Delivering snacks or treats? Sewing masks? Sending cards of encouragement or putting signs in the lawn?
Or maybe by joining the team at a MediLodge facility as Schwartz did. Temporary job opportunities are available across the state under 30-, 60- and 90-day contracts for positions in activities, dietary and facility support, as well as for certified and licensed staff such as CNAs, LPNs, and RNs. People who’ve lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, retirees and college students home from school are all among the workers hired in recent weeks.
Some new hires are even turning their temporary jobs into launching pads for a new career, even if they’ve never thought about working in long term care before. For example, Amanda Macias was working in childcare when the spreading coronavirus shuttered her workplace and forced her to be laid off. She applied at MediLodge of East Lansing for a job as a temporary waiver care aide, doing things such as taking employee temperatures at the door, sanitizing surfaces and wiping down wheelchairs.
About an hour into her first shift, Macias was asked by a resident for some assistance. But because she’s not a certified nursing assistant, she had to find another staff member to help.
Macias realized right then that she wanted to pursue her CNA certification. She’s looking forward to taking the certification class, at MediLodge’s expense, and becoming a permanent part of the team. She’s even planning to pursue a nursing license and will start taking classes in the fall.
“I love it so much!” Macias said. “It is physically demanding, but so rewarding to know when I leave work that I made a difference in someone’s life.”