Wandering Educators

I am delighted to announce that I am now the Michigan Editor for the Wandering Educators travel website. In the future I will post my articles on the WE website instead of here on www.jkroyce.com. You can see them at:

http://www.WanderingEducators.com

http://www.Facebook.com/WanderingEducators

https://www.instagram.com/wanderingeducators

http://www.youtube.com/WanderingEducators

The site will include new articles plus a compendium of past articles.

http://www.wanderingeducators.com/best/traveling/exploring-michigans-coasts-compendium

To introduce the compendium, we are using the photograph of Big Red, the Holland, Michigan, lighthouse. Gary Martin, a talented lighthouse photographer, has graciously allowed me to use his beautiful photos throughout my travel books and in the articles, I’ve written for Wandering Educators. For a visual feast, check out his website http://www.coastalbeacons.com.

Wandering Educators is a nationally recognized and top ranked travel website. Jessie Voigts describes her site as a travel library for people curious about the world: extraordinary travel destinations, fascinating people, and global artists and photographers. I am currently posting a series of articles about the shipwrecks of the Great Lakes.

For nearly five years, from 2008 to 2013, I wrote a monthly column for Wandering Educators, In 2013 I reached a milestone: I wrote my 50th article for Jessie Voigts. My relationship with her was a side benefit to two early travel guides I authored. Jessie somehow stumbled across Traveling Michigan’s Thumb and Traveling Michigan’s Sunset Coast and interviewed me for the new travel site she was launching. I became her first columnist/blogger (first as her Michigan Editor and then as her Travel Adventures Editor), and our relationship has endured.

Back when I started, I submitted articles to WE because it was a chance to write. Then I wrote for WE because I liked the website, and I liked Jessie. Eventually, I also wrote because it brought me perks. As a travel writer, my monthly columns for a well-respected travel site gave me credibility. In Australia, I got a free trip to the Great Barrier Reef in exchange for writing a column about it when I got home. I enjoyed a special-guided tour through the Australian Rainforest. I stayed a five-star luxury resort for the price of a Red Roof Inn.

At some point, my life circumstances changed and my travel article stint felt like it had run its course. I moved on to writing novels and pursuing other challenges.

In 2019, however, my interest returned to my home state of Michigan. I wanted to write another travel book to encourage Michigan tourism. What started as a one-book project grew into a three-book travel series. I spent several years traveling and researching Michigan’s coastlines. The result was Exploring Michigan’s Sunrise Coasts, Exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Coasts, and Exploring Michigan’s Sunset Coasts.

I had remained in contact with Jessie during the intervening years and asked if she’d like recent stories about Michigan. I had come full circle back to the Great Lakes and Jessie Voigts at Wandering Educators. Jessie liked the idea. Meeting Jessie Voigts was one of the happy coincidences of my life. If you’ve never visited Wandering Educators, I encourage you to do so.


I hope you enjoy my future articles about Michigan and that along the way, you are inspired to explore Michigan’s coastlines.

Let’s promote Michigan Travel.

My travel series is available on Amazon Books.

Belle Isle Park

As I traveled, writing and compiling information for my three-volume travel series exploring Michigan’s coasts, I reveled in the many intriguing museum and amazing parks available to Michiganders. My posts share my favorites.

 Belle Isle Park, 99 Pleasure Drive, Detroit, Michigan, (844) 235-5375, is steeped in history. The park is accessed by the McArthur Bridge and provides spectacular views of both the Detroit and Windsor skylines from where it is perched in the middle of the Detroit River. With 987 acres, Belle Isle is the largest city-owned island park in the United States. It became Michigan’s 102nd State Park on February 10, 2014, when the City of Detroit entered an agreement giving the city ownership and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources management responsibility.

The island offers visitors the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, an aquarium, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, a nature zoo, tennis courts, giant slide, 15 acres of wooded area, botanical gardens, watercraft rentals, three lakes, swimming beach, athletic fields, and picnic areas. A Michigan Recreation Passport is required for entry.

Belle Isle was settled by French colonists in the eighteenth century. They named their beautiful island the less than flattering Ile aux Cochons or Hog Island because livestock were allowed to roam free. The name was changed during a July 4, 1845, party at Belle Isle to honor the daughter of Governor Lewis Cass.

The conservatory and the aquarium were designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn, who also designed Cadillac Place and the Ford Rouge Factory. During World War II, the island was used as a staging ground for a re-enactment of the Pacific Island invasion by the Navy and Marine Corps. The local citizenry watched an island invasion, minus the death, bloodshed, and carnage.

In the late 1800s, the island became home to a large herd of Eurasian fallow deer, but the herd was decimated by disease and inbreeding. In 2004 the last of the herd was captured and moved to the Detroit Zoo.

Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and Gardens on Belle Isle

Photo by rmhermen, March 30, 2005, permission Creative Commons

From 6/9/22 to 6/22/22, you can get a free 386-page PDF of Exploring Michigan’s Sunset Coasts. Click the button on the sidebar of my website (www.jkroyce.wordpress.com) and provide your email. I will delete your email when I send the book. If you like the book, tell your friends and suggest they get the free PDF or buy the book on Amazon. Better yet, if you like it, write a review on Amazon. Let’s promote Michigan!

Available on Amazon Books

Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village

As I traveled, writing and compiling information for my three-volume travel series exploring Michigan’s coasts, I reveled in the many intriguing museum and amazing parks available to Michiganders. My posts share my favorites.

Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village located at 20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, Michigan, (313) 982-6001.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay Free Images

Opened to the public in 1933 as the Edison Institute, the museum is dedicated to the innovation of American Genius. The complex is the largest indoor and outdoor history museum compound in the United States and is visited annually by nearly two million people. With more than 26 million artifacts—give or take a dozen one way or the other—, it is an educational treasure. The exterior of the main museum structure incorporates facades of Philadelphia landmarks like Independence Hall.

Inside, you’ll find an enormous exhibition space full of vehicles ranging from early models to the classic cars of the ’50s and ’60s to newer designs, plus a collection of retired presidential limousines. The most widely recognized is the 1961 4-door Lincoln Continental convertible in which John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

Other famous exhibits from the museum’s vast historical collections are Abraham Lincoln’s chair from the Ford Theatre and the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to relinquish a seat. You can climb inside and sit in the same spot Parks sat prior to her arrest that triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The museum also houses one of the largest collections of Americana in the country with examples of American home life, music and pop culture. On a more whimsical note, you can see one of the Oscar Mayer Weinermobiles. Most Michiganders can hear the Oscar Mayer jingle in their head (Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Hot Dog . . .).

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay Free Images

Greenfield Village led the way in preserving historic buildings, relocating them to its grounds, and sharing their significance. This outdoor museum is a small hamlet of buildings spanning different periods of American history. Most of the structures have been relocated from their original site and situated in a village-like arrangement that you can stroll and enjoy at your own pace. Period-dressed staff provide historical perspective in many of the buildings. You can enter the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop or meander a replica of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory. But my favorite is the Illinois courthouse where Abraham Lincoln tried a case. Several shops replicate old-time craft production like glass blowing. If strolling isn’t for you, you can ride in one of the museum’s fleet of Model Ts or climb aboard a horse-drawn trolley.

In 1962 the museum earned a Michigan Historical Marker. In 1963 it was added to the State Register of Historic Sites. In 1969 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1981 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

This is not a museum complex to which you should allot an hour. It is a day-long destination. Fortunately, there are several eateries to provide sustenance for your adventure. The museum hosts a variety of events during the year. Special exhibits and events may factor in choosing your date to visit. Check online before you go.

From 6/9/22 through 6/22/22 you can get a free 386-page PDF of Exploring Michigan’s Sunset Coasts. Click the button on the sidebar and provide me your email. I’ll delete that email once I send the book. If you don’t like the book, just delete it. If you like it, tell your friends and suggest they get the free PDF. Better yet, if you like it, write a review on Amazon. Help me promote Michigan travel.

Available on Amazon Books

Free Admission to the Thomas Edison Depot Museum, Huron Lightship, and Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in Port Huron, Michigan

As I traveled, writing and compiling information for my three-volume travel series, Exploring Michigan’s Sunrise Coasts, Exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Coasts, and Exploring Michigan’s Sunset Coasts, I reveled in the many intriguing museums and amazing parks that I encountered. In my next posts, I’ll share my favorites.

Beginning April 1, 2022 all Port Huron Museums are free for one year!

In addition to the main Port Huron Museum (the Carnegie Center) discussed in last week’s blog, you can take advantage of free entry to the Thomas Edison Depot Museum, the Huron Lightship, and the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. There will still be a small charge for guided tours at the lighthouse. Group tours must book in advance by calling (810) 982-0891, ext. 118. Tours are first come, first served with strict adherence to fire code capacity. For any of these museums, call for current hours as they change with the season.

Thomas Edison Depot Museum, 510 Edison Parkway, directly below the Blue Water Bridge. The museum chronicles the life and history of Port Huron’s most notable, and perhaps favorite, son. Thomas Edison spent his childhood years in Port Huron. The museum is housed in the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Fort Gratiot Depot, a building included on the National Register of Historic Places. Trains connecting at this depot carried people and freight between Port Huron and Detroit, Port Huron and Sarnia, and Port Huron and other destinations. In its time, it was Port Huron’s link to the greater world. Twelve-year-old Thomas departed the depot daily on the Port Huron to Detroit run and sold newspapers and snacks to finance supplies to foster his burgeoning quest for knowledge. Edison, who loved experimenting, marked all of the vials in his lab Poison, so no one would disturb them. The depot building was constructed in 1858 and became a major stop for immigrants. In 1881 more than 77,000 arrivals from other countries took their first steps into the United States here. The museum’s exhibits demonstrate Edison’s history of invention, family ties, the obstacles he overcame, and his ultimate triumph as one of the greatest—if not the greatest—inventors of his time. The museum has several hands-on, interactive displays and its own small theater.

The Huron Lightship Museum, 800 Prospect Place, was the third lightship placed at the Corsica Shoals where it served 36 of its more than 50 active years on the Great Lakes. At the Corsica Shoals, it replaced an ineffective gas buoy. Commissioned in 1921 as Lightship Number 103, it was the last operating lightship on the Great Lakes. Today, she is permanently moored in the sand along the banks of the St Clair River in Pine Grove Park. The museum displays an extensive collection of artifacts including model ships and a live camera feed of the bottom of the river. Her operable light and foghorn are still on board. She packs fascinating history in a short tour.

The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse Museum, located at 2800 Omar Street, just north of the Blue Water Bridge, is the oldest operating lighthouse in Michigan. It was built in 1825 and named after the engineer in charge of the construction. It collapsed in 1828 due to shoddy workmanship and was rebuilt in 1829. The tower is 86 feet above the lake level. Additional rebuilding was required in 1861. In 2011 the five acres upon which the lighthouse and outbuildings stood was deeded to St. Clair County Parks and Recreation Commission. The Port Huron Museum schedules the various programs and activities of the Lighthouse Museum. Even though admission to the grounds is free through the next year, there is a charge for tour, but it is worth the fee. A knowledgeable guide escorts you through the keepers dwelling and provides you with the history of the lighthouse and the area. The climb to the top allows you to overlook Lake Huron where she meets the St. Clair River. There is a small beach area with picnic tables near the water. You can visit the museum store in the renovated equipment garage.

From 6/9/22 to 6/22/22, you can get a free 386-page PDF of my Exploring Michigan’s Sunset Coasts.  Click the button on the sidebar of my website (www.jkroyce.wordpress.com) and provide your email. Your email will be deleted once the book is sent. If you like the book, tell your friends and suggest they get the free PDF or buy the book on Amazon. Better yet, if you like it, write a review on Amazon. Let’s promote Michigan!

Free Admission to Port Huron, MI, Museums

Last week’s blog was titled Free Stuff. This week I begin blogging excerpts from my three-book travel series, Exploring Michigan’s Sunrise Coasts, Exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Coasts, and Exploring Michigan’s Sunset Coasts. Building on the FREE theme, I found the perfect way to segue into sharing some of my favorite museums.

Beginning April 1, 2022 all Port Huron Museums are free for one year!

The four museums with free entry are: Port Huron Carnegie Center (the main museum), the Thomas Edison Depot Museum, the Huron Lightship, and the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. There will still be a small charge for guided tours at the lighthouse and special featured exhibits such as Discovery City. Group tours must book in advance by calling (810) 982-0891, ext. 118. Tours are first come, first served with strict adherence to fire code capacity.

Carnegie Center/Port Huron Museum, 1115 Sixth Street at Wall Street. This is the main Port Huron Museum. Built in 1904, it originally served as the city library. Andrew Carnegie, the famous Pittsburg-based steel magnate and philanthropist, provided $45,000 for construction of the beautiful classical building. After the City Library merged with the St. Clair County Library, the building was slated for demolition. Dedicated volunteers stepped in to save this important piece of Port Huron history. On May 3, 1968, the Museum of Arts & History opened its doors. The main museum site contains permanent and traveling displays and is the repository for the majority of the 45,000 objects and archival items relating to the history, pre-history and culture of the Blue Water Area. (Details of the other three museums will be provided in subsequent postings.)

Photo Courtesy of Bob Royce

The Carnegie Center boasts a 6,000+ square feet gallery for display of exhibits, one of which, the James C. Acheson Marine Gallery, is the largest ship model collection in Michigan, and it continues to grow.  You can step inside a Pilot House and experience what it felt like to captain a ship. From Whence We Came, the most recent permanent exhibit, documents Black History in the Blue Water Area.

Visit the Kammer Cabin located on the museum grounds. This 1850’s cabin is a living history exhibit depicting rural life in St. Clair County. The cabin was originally constructed in Casco Township southwest of Port Huron. Several generations of the Kammer family lived in it. In 1981 new owners were intent on tearing down the structure and rebuilding. By that time, the exterior had been covered with layers of siding. When the treasure beneath was discovered, the owner donated it to the museum, and it was moved to the current location.

Courtesy of Bob Royce

Call for Museum hours as they change by season.

Exploring Michigan’s Sunrise Coasts, Exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Coasts, and Exploring Michigan’s Sunset Coasts are available at Amazon books.

From 5/26/22 through 6/8/22 you can get a free 211-page PDF of Exploring Michigan’ Upper Peninsula Coasts for use on your iPad or notebook as you travel. Click the button on the sidebar and provide me your email. I promise I’ll delete that email once I send the book. If you don’t like the book, just delete it. If you like it, tell your friends and suggest they get the free PDF. Best of all, if you like it, write a review on Amazon. Help me promote Michigan travel.

Free Stuff

My former boss, Jennifer Granholm, once said of a political opponent, “Seems that ‘free stuff’ is in the eye of the beholder.”

We’ve all heard the cliché, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” In today’s texting shorthand, that’s TANSTAAFL

The meaning, of course, is that while something appears free, there’s always a hidden price. The term originated from a common practice of old-time saloons in this country. They offered a free lunch to customers who purchased at least one drink. The marketing gimmick was successful because the barkeep offered highly salted foods and high-priced liquor.

Rudyard Kipling, writing in 1891 about this practice, suggested an individual, even if destitute, could feed himself—generally only men frequented these establishments in the 1800s—quite lavishly in San Francisco, but he could go bankrupt, if he wasn’t already, by over-drinking.

TANSTAAFL

Marketing has changed and these days you would be hard-pressed to find a bar offering free lunches although many still offer the free salted snacks. Today’s promotions aimed at convincing us we are getting something for free generally fall into four categories.

1. The sales pitch. This is the new version of a free lunch or dinner. You sit through a high-pressured sales talk where the promoters guard the door to keep you from leaving. The dinner only comes after the pitch is over. I’ve attended a few. Time Shares. Retirement communities. Land in the Florida Swamps. If you don’t have trouble saying “no,” you may get a tough, over-cooked piece of room-temperature chicken and possibly even pick up a few words of wisdom.

2. Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO)

You buy one item and get the same or a lower priced item free. This can be a way to save money, but you are really getting each item half off—not free. Plus, it only works if you need the second item. If that extra purchase merely languishes on your shelf or in your home until you get rid of it, you’ve paid full price for the item you needed and inconvenienced yourself with the second.

3. Free Trials. Sign up today for a one-month trial of free shipping or premium TV channels. For most of these deals, the fine print indicates that unless you cancel, you will automatically be obligated for the rest of your life after the free trial ends. This works fine for the super organized who make note of when to cancel.

4. Free * (followed by an asterisk). That asterisk denotes terms and conditions apply. My experience with this comes primarily from photo book companies that give you a free book but then charge $28.63 for shipping and another $9.24 for handling. I exaggerate, but by the time I’ve filled out the form, or in this case chosen my photos and compiled a book, I hate to give up in spite of the fact that the shipping and handling costs as much as I expected to pay for the item in the first place.

After reminding you of how we are duped by offers of free goods, I’m going to take a chance and offer you something. Totally free. I’ll even share my motives.

I recently completed a three-book travel series (three years and hundreds of miles in the making) about my home state of Michigan. Michigan’s main draw for tourists, visitors, and locals seeking a good time is her lake shores. The books are entitled, Exploring Michigan’s Sunrise Coasts, Exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Coasts, and Exploring Michigan’s Sunset Coasts. All are available on Amazon books. These books are not filled with the typical listings about motels, hotels, restaurants, and tchotchke shops. Those establishments often go out of business, and most travelers seek up-to-date info online. My new series is intended to be a traveler’s companion. Each volume provides city backgrounds, museums, ghost stories, famous and infamous people from the places you’ll travel, lighthouse stories, movies and books set in the locales, and even a recipe or two from the area.


The first book, Exploring Michigan’s Sunrise Coasts is 364 pages, and for the next week (thru 5/25/22) I’ll send you a free PDF that you can use on your ipad or notebook as you travel. Use the button on the sidebar to provide me your email. I promise I’ll delete that email once I send the book. If you don’t like the book, just delete it.

OK, you ask. What’s the gimmick—what’s the catch?


My motive is to promote travel in my home state. That’s it, pure and simple. Oh, yeah, I do have a favor to ask. If you like what you see, tell your friends and tell them to order it FREE. I’ll be offering the other two books free in future blogs. Even better, review the book on Amazon books where I’m selling the paperback. And best of all, travel Michigan and spread the word.

A Few Words About Michigan Welcome Centers

Welcome to Michigan. Courtesy of Bob Royce.

When your travels take you past a Michigan Welcome Center, pull into their spacious parking lot, stop your vehicle, jump out, and prepare to enjoy a hearty dose of Pure Michigan friendliness. You’ll find much more than a clean restroom and a place to walk your dog. Employees at the Pure Michigan Welcome Centers are chosen from the hospitality industry and their goal is to serve you. They work in close conjunction with the travel industry. Fourteen welcome centers are spread out over the lower and upper peninsulas. The staff can give you the latest highway closures, weather information, and the insider’s scoop of what is happening in their area. If you need reservations, they’ll make the call for you.

Twelve things about Michigan that the Welcome Center staff may or may not share with you:

1. The bright side of winter is that you won’t see a mosquito for months.

2. When Michiganders want a blizzard in May they don’t always have to go to Dairy Queen.

3. Michigan is always fresh, sometimes frozen.

4. Michiganders are not weird, they’re limited editions.

5. You don’t have to be rich to travel well in Michigan.

6. They say all you need is love, but a little Sanders chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.

7. Fill your life with lakes not things.

8. Michiganders keep it reel at the lake.

9. You can’t buy happiness, but a day at the lake is pretty much the same thing.

10. To gain an appreciation for the simple things, spend a summer in Michigan.

11. In Michigan you are never more than 85 miles from a Great Lake.

12. Everyone complains about the cold, but Michiganders revere it.

Informational poster at Monroe Welcome Center. Courtesy of Bob Royce.

Starting on I-75 near Luna Pier

My goal was to travel all of Michigan’s Great Lake’s coastlines. I would start in Luna Pier the southeastern most point in the state. I was looking for museums, parks, and stories. Plenty of stories that I thought would interest readers. For an early morning riser like me, following the sun was a natural way to organize the journey. Following the sun, of course, was metaphorical. My husband, Bob, and I didn’t make the entire trip in a day. We savored our travels a little at a time. A word of warning. While I love Michigan, while I love Michigan’s Great Lakes, and while I love Michigan’s people, the visitor to Michigan’s coastlines has to be someone who values small pleasures. If you are looking for a Disney World-type experience, there is no such animal in Michigan. Of course, driving to Luna Beach’s pier, you may get a priceless view. Unlike large scale attractions, it won’t cost you a small fortune. You won’t have to contend with the crowd or a three-hour wait time to experience what you came for. These are the trade-offs. Myself? I’m not much of a Disney World kind of fan, whereas a good book, a blanket and an uncrowded beach is darn near perfection. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

Luna Pier

Four Out of Five Great Lakes Choose Michigan

Before starting the project that resulted in my current three-book travel series (Exploring Michigan’s Sunrise Coasts, Exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Coasts, and Exploring Michigan’s Sunset Coasts), I had to rethink how I would approach travel writing. The Great Lakes are arguably Michigan’s greatest tourist draw. Four Great Lakes define Michigan’s borders: Erie, Huron, Superior, and Michigan. My primary focus would be on the coastlines of those four lakes where they touch Michigan.

With that in mind, I recognized that how we obtain information had changed since Thunder Bay Press published my prior travel books nearly two decades earlier. Today’s travelers turn to the internet for information about hotels, motels, and eateries. When they want hours, prices, or maps, they go online. There are cellphone apps for every travel function. The upside of these changes is immediacy. The most current information is at a traveler’s fingertips. I wanted to create a traveler’s companion to add flavor to Michigan’s Great Lakes waterways and coastal towns and villages. The books would include city histories, museums, parks, beaches, lighthouses, ghost stories, shipwrecks, stories about the famous or infamous with ties to the lakeshores, disasters that shaped the state, and movies and books set along Michigan’s Coasts. (Elmore Leonard created the background world for The Big Bounce in Michigan’s Thumb. Hemingway set his Nick Adams series in Michigan’s north woods.) The reader could turn to the internet for specific details, and the web could provide the latest updates of eateries and hours. I would be looking for the quirky, the unusual or interesting background. I found some pretty strange stories including the story of Michigan’s very own Great Lakes Pirate, Dan Seavey who was the scourge of Lake Michigan.  

The Pirate Dan Seavey (Public Domain)

by Julie K Royce

A Traveler’s Companion

​ 
For my current travel book series, I envisioned a trip that began on I-75 in Michigan’s southeast corner, travelled along Lake Erie, the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River, Lake Huron, St. Mary’s River, Lake Superior’s southern coast, and Lake Michigan’s northern and sunset coasts. The route would end at Michigan’s most southwestern point. I wanted to create a guide that would be a traveler’s companion as they made the journey. I wanted to share the kind of background that would make traveling more interesting. Think ghost stories, lighthouse facts, movies and books set in the area, and even a recipe or two from the locale.  Hotels, motels, restaurants, gift shops? You’ll find the most recent information on the internet. You no longer need a travel book for those. In fact, if you want current information, check websites and maybe call ahead. Don’t rely on a travel book that will likely be outdated by the time it hits the market.
What started as a one-book project ended up filling three volumes with nearly 1,000 pages. That’s a lot of love for my home state.
Coming shortly, I will tell you how to get a free PDF of Traveling Michigan’s Sunrise Coasts