Traverse City

Legendary Ice Caves on Lake Michigan!


mLive called out this incredible video by Tom Auch and George Meredith of the massive ice caves off the western shore of Leelanau County.

Getting to the formations is no easy task, he (Meredith) warned. Observers need to be careful about jagged terrain and ice alterations that could be dangerous. He suggested that some type of walking cleats are needed.

“You have to go out pretty far. That’s the rub,” he said. “You have ridges that you have to go around.”

Since news stations began reporting on the ice formations a couple of days ago, large numbers of people have come to see them.

“This is a once-in-a-decade natural beauty,” Meredith said. “Some of the caves literally have loft formations in them.”

They are located off Gills Pier about 7 miles north of Leelanau and the article includes a map. I feel compelled to add that Lake Michigan is deep, cold and dangerous so please use some common sense and buddy up!

Northern Lights predicted for Michigan tonight!


Aurora Borealis ... over 'the Narrows'

Aurora Borealis … over ‘the Narrows’ by Ken Scott

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center:

CME on the way…Want to see the Northern Lights?

We have completed initial analysis of the CME associated with today’s X1 (NOAA Scale – R3) solar flare from Region 1944 (center disk) and have developed a forecast for a geoeffective event. Despite the CME not coming directly at Earth, a partial impact to the magnetic field that protects Earth is expected and a resulting geomagnetic storm as high as G3 (strong) levels is forecast to begin early to midday (UTC) on Thursday, 9 January (just after midnight to early morning hours EST).

It looks like we will have clearing late so you might want to set a 5 AM alarm! They also say that Friday night there’s a chance of aurora if we get clouded out! More aurora info at Space Weather.

You can view Ken’s photo bigger on Flickr and also check out an awesome time lapse from the October 2013 Northern Lights below!

2014 Traverse Microbrew & Music Festival

Feature via eatdrinkTC – Traverse City’s Culinary Almanac…

Microbrew Festival TixWhat would winter in northern Michigan be like without the Winter Microbrew & Music Festival? It’s an annual event that plays tribute to some of the things that make Northern Michigan special: real winters, the great outdoors, good spirited people, incredible musicians and of course craft microbrews created by artisans and entrepreneurs!

The Brew ShackThe festival takes place on Saturday, February 8, 2014 from 4-10 PM in Downtown Traverse City in the Farmers Market lots onthe Parkway. Attendees can enjoy 30-40 Michigan craft breweries & wineries along with a handful of carefully selected national brands pouring 150+ flavors of brews, wines, ciders and meads. There will also be some great live musical acts, marching bands, silent disco and local food vendors. Festivities are scheduled to take place from 4-10 p.m. New in 2014 features will be a curated selection of brews you won’t be able to find elsewhere including a few custom “Microbrew & Music Festival” brews from select brewers.

Tickets and festival details are available at
Tickets always sell out, and they go on sale on Saturday (Dec 7) at noon. You can get them online or at Oryana and both of High Five Threads locations in Traverse City (downtown and Village at the Commons). Festival announcements, give-aways, and other information can be found on their Facebook.

Harvesting Michigan Beechnuts

Absolute Michigan is excited to share this article about a tasty treat you can find in the woods right now courtesy of the new eatdrinkTC website from Traverse City, Michigan. The site is dedicated to Traverse City’s exploding culinary scene and has a lot of great features including business listings, cooking classes, specials and great features like this one!

by Laura Herd, eatdrinkTC

Beechnut-in-shellI’ve been eating beechnuts off of the forest floor for as long as I can remember. I like to roast them and eat them on their own as a treat, so this season I collected a few extra beechnuts to bring back to my kitchen. Read on for lots of beech nut facts, videos and a photo gallery and how to prepare a tasty snack!

From the Hiker’s Notebook:

Beechnuts are encased in a woody husk that is covered with spines, each containing  two irregularly triangular shiny brown edible nuts. They are only produced after the beech has reached the age of about 40 years; annual beechnut production ramps up at this point to reach maximum yields after at about the 60 year point. 

April is Michigan Wine Month!

Future wine.. by Daylily18
Future wine.. by Daylily18

Governor Rick Snyder has declared April as “Michigan Wine Month” to honor Michigan’s wide selection of quality wines and the wine industry’s significant contribution to the economy. Sales of Michigan wine in the state rose more than 6 percent in 2012, while total wine sales increased just 1 percent. Michigan wine sales have outpaced total wine sales over the past 10 years, doubling Michigan wineries’ market share to 6.5 percent.

The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council has added 11 new wineries to its roster over the last year — for a total of 101 wineries that support Michigan agriculture by using primarily Michigan grapes and other fruit for their wines. Michigan’s wineries welcome more than 1 million visitors to their tasting rooms each year, and Michigan’s wine and grape industries contribute more than $800 million to the state’s economy annually.

The impact of record low Great Lakes levels

This post originally appeared on Michigan in Pictures.

Low water levels, West Arm Grand Traverse BayOn Michigan in Pictures I usually blog beautiful things, but today I’m featuring an ugly thing that we in Michigan should all be concerned about. Traverse City based Circle of Blue has an in-depth feature on the record-low level of Lake Michigan-Huron:

The latest numbers released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on February 5 show that both lakes Michigan and Huron — which are two connected lakes — are experiencing their lowest point since records began in 1918. Water levels were an average of 175.57 meters (576.02 feet) for the month of January, approximately 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) lower than the previous record set in 1964.

“Not only have water levels on Michigan-Huron broken records the past two months, but they have been very near record lows for the last several months before then,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office at the Corps, in a press release. “Lake Michigan-Huron’s water levels have also been below average for the past 14 years, which is the longest period of sustained below-average levels since 1918 for that lake.”

The low water levels, which the Corps attributes to: below-average snowfall during the winter of 2011-2012, last summer’s drought, and above-average evaporation during the summer and fall of 2012, have the potential to hurt the Great Lakes’ shipping industry.

…For the water levels on Lake Michigan-Huron to reach even near-average water levels again, the Corps said it will take many seasons with above average precipitation and below-average evaporation.

Read on at Circle of Blue for much more including the struggles that wildlife are having with the changing climate. You can also view the release from the Army Corps of Engineers and see historic Great Lakes levels back to 1918. From the Army Corps, I learned that at 1 1/2 ft below normal, ships are losing 8-10% of their carrying capacity.

Beyond harm to the multi-billion dollar shipping industry which feeds countless industrial endeavors, the low lake levels are making many of our recreational harbors inaccessible. These feed our multi-billion dollar sport fishing industry and  this has prompted Gov. Snyder to endorse a $21 million emergency dredging plan, $11 million of which would come from Michigan’s general fund. With over a half a million jobs in Michigan alone tied to the health of the Great Lakes, getting a handle on the threats that impact them are likely to be at the center of our policy and spending for a long time.

In a curious bit of synchronicity, you can see just how vital the Great Lakes are to Michigan in Michigan Sea Grant’s reports on Economic Vitality and the Great Lakes. View this photo bigger and see more in their Grand Traverse Bay Low Water slideshow.

Lots more Lake Huron and Lake Michigan on Michigan in Pictures.

Pure Michigan Statewide Sing-along premiers

Rob Bliss & Jeff Barrett, creators of the fantastic Grand Rapids lip dub video premiered their Pure Michigan Statewide Sing-along at halftime of the Lions game on Sunday. It was filmed in 50 Michigan cities in 7 days. It’s a pretty cool travelogue of the Great Lakes State in under 4 minutes.

Check out the finished video below and also don’t miss the behind the scenes blog from

A Song to Cinema from the Traverse City Film Festival

Michael Moore & Wim Wenders by John Russell
Michael Moore & Wim Wenders by John Russell

Earlier this month at the 2012 Traverse City Film Festival, Absolute Michigan had the good fortune to work with The Treefort Collective on an amazing project that explored how filmmakers fell in love with the cinema, how it captured their imaginations and why watching a film on the big screen is such a special experience.

The video features Academy Award Winner Michael Moore, Academy Award Winner Terry George, 2 time Academy Award Nominee Wim Wenders, 3 time Academy Award Nominee Julia Reichert, Mark Cousins, Ira Deutchman and Brian Knappenberger. Watch below or (recommended) click for HD viewing on YouTube.

A great weekend for beer in the Great Lakes State!

We got an email from the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival asking us to remind folks about this weekend’s festivities. A quick check revealed several opportunities to raise a glass to the Great Beer State on tap.

This Friday & Saturday (August 24 & 25) the 4th annual Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival returns to the beautiful grounds of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. It’s our front yard at Absolute Michigan and an incredible place for a summer festival. The crew at Porterhouse Productions brings together over 50 breweries, cideries & wineries from Michigan and elsewhere and backs that up with a top-notch slate of entertainment. Friday night is Pint Night (alcohol sales benefit Cherry T Ball & Goodwill Inn) and a concert with country music stars Dierks Bentley & Rachel Holder. Saturday  features all the breweries plus a great musical lineup that includes Absolute Michigan favorite The Ragbirds along with a full slate of entertainment that includes Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, the Dirty Guv’nahs and more.

Gallery of photos right herehere and click for all the who, what & when of this big celebration.

If you can’t make it up to Traverse City, don’t despair. This week is also the first-ever Lansing Beer Week. There’s a Beer Tasting Cruise on Friday night and a Brewery Bus tour on Saturday. Click the link for all the details.

Beer Color Wheel

Beer Color Wheel by dblstripe

The good folks at New Belgium Brewing (makers of the “Fat Tire” ales) are also kicking off a tour of Michigan next weekand as a part of that, Brewery Vivant of Grand Rapids is releasing the first of 2 collaborative brews called “Escoffier”.

The beer is named after the French master chef of the same name. It’s deep amber in color and uses one of Brewery Vivant’s house Belgian yeast strains, as well as wild yeast from New Belgium called Brettanomyces Bruxellensis.

“Michigan has already been a great partner with a broad network of breweries, distributors and beer lovers,” said Bryan Simpson, New Belgium’s spokesman. “Working with Brewery Vivant has been a great way to meet and work with local brewers while making something new and unique for both breweries.”

A release party is scheduled at Brewery Vivant on August 27, followed by a Michigan release of draft and signature 16-ounce cans.

All this interest in craft brewing is doing more than putting new, local beers on the shelf. The Rapidian has a great feature about how it’s feuling a boom in organic hop growing in Michigan.

Here’s another of our favorite Michigan acts, the now defunct Ella Riot / My Dear Disco performing last summer!

Releasing a River: Boardman River Dam Removal Begins

Brown Bridge Dam by Happyhiker4
Brown Bridge Dam by Happyhiker4

The Boardman River watershed encompasses 291 square miles and flows 179 miles from its origin in Kalkaska County to West Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City.

Last Wednesday, the process of removing three no longer used hydro-electric dams from the Boardman began at Brown Bridge Dam. The removal of the three Boardman River dams (Brown Bridge, Sabin & Boarman) will be the largest dam removal project in Michigan’s history, and the largest wetlands restoration in the Great Lakes Basin. It will allow the Boardman to return to a more natural state as a free-flowing, cold-water river. The Boardman River website explains that:

The Boardman River played a vital role in the economic growth of the region as it was cleared of debris in order to drive logs downriver to the mills. This process fueled a growing city but was devastating to the river’s aquatic habitat, contributing to the extirpation of Michigan Grayling in the river. After the logging era, several dams were constructed to provide power for the growing needs of Traverse City. These hydroelectric dams originally supplied a large percentage of the city’s electrical needs, but this declined over time. Before being decommissioned in 2005, these dams only provided 3.4% of the power used by Traverse City Light & Power customers each year.

You can read all about the dam removal and also read the a Boardman River Prosperity Plan that will seek to turn a solid environmental decision into a sound economic one was well.

Also listen to a feature on IPR News Radio. We’ll take you out with a cool video about the dam removals produced for The Grand Vision Natural Resource Network by Miles Chisholm of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The video includes some great old photos of activity on the river.