Michigan BLUE Summer 2024

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Top hikes we think you’ll like!

Paintings that enchant | Fishing Lake St. Clair | Southwest sojourn

U.P. sailboat cruises | Breathtaking helicopter rides | Mackinac inn redo A Leland-area house tour | Belle Isle aquarium update PLUS: Cool cottage furniture + burger recipes $5.95

Walks of Life
Wish you were here.

View more photos of this home!


means comfort, safety, and security, and being with the people we love most.”

— Jenna & John

View more photos of Molly’s home!

Meet Jenna and John

This edition features the story of Jenna and John, a couple who moved into their Eastbrook home just before the 2023 holiday season. With a diverse set of needs, from wanting to entertain family and friends to creating a dedicated space for their teenage son and his friends, Jenna and John needed a unique home design that could accommodate their lifestyle.

With the help of Eastbrook, the couple was able to create the ideal dream home in a cozy Jenison community that perfectly captured their vision!

How did you incorporate your family’s lifestyle?

My husband and I love entertaining, so we liked the main floor accommodating that with the open concept kitchen/dining/living space, a teen hangout/gaming space downstairs for our 13-year-old son, and the rest of the bedrooms & laundry upstairs.

What is your decorating inspiration?

I love calm, muted tones for the most part: greenery/ succulents, with some modern and vintage accents.

What do you love about your Eastbrook community?

We love this community! The location is close to family work, and the shared pool and clubhouse was definitely a bonus!

What are your favorite features in your home?

My favorite features are the two-sided fireplace, walk-in pantry, and having my own walk-in closet! My husband loves the owner suite bathroom: the upgraded shower and heated floors.

What was your Eastbrook Experience like?

Our experience with Eastbrook was really positive. Our agent, Jessica, was great at navigating us through each step, and the whole team felt helpful and supportive when we had questions or any concerns.

Do you have any tips or tricks for new homeowners?

For those considering building a new home, I would say it is worth exploring your options. It may be within reach for you, too! Eastbrook guides you through the process, from the knowledgeable agents to their preferred lenders, and the whole process was feasible and achievable. Our home is truly a dream come true for our family!

If you’re interested in learning more about building or buying new with Eastbrook Homes, our team is here to help. Reach out today with your questions and dreams, and we’ll help turn them into a reality.

616-226-3891 | EastbrookHomes.com Download our Free Interactive Home Building Guide Today! Are you ready to begin your Home Building Journey?



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J. Terrance Dillon Butzel Long PC

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John E. Anding Drew Cooper & Anding

William M. Azkoul Gruel Mills Nims & Pylman PLLC

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Douglas W. Van Essen Legacy Litigation Group Grand Rapids 616.988.5600 Commercial Litigation; Gov/Muni/Lobby/Admin;

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John G. Van Slambrouck Miller Canfield


Karl P. Numinen Numinen Deforge & Toutant PC Marquette 906.964.6977 Criminal Def: DUI; Criminal Def: Felonies/Misd; Crim Def: White Collar; Family; PI:

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“We didn’t want it to feel like a cold, modern house — and I think we accomplished that.”


50 The View

Celebrated architect Lou DesRosiers designed his Leland-area home to showcase a panoramic vista.

By Megan Swoyer

60 Five Top Nature Hikes Immerse yourself in the beauty of Michigan’s wonderland along these stellar trails.

By Amy S. Eckert

64 Beach House Makeover Unexpected leaks required a change of plans; the result is an inviting home with natural appeal.

By Megan Swoyer

72 Creative Flipping Burgers — a summer staple — don’t have to be traditional.

By Honey Murray

76 Shoreline Surprises

For summertime thrills, indulge in a bevy of outdoor adventures throughout the state’s southwest region. By Mark Spezia


Warren Dunes State Park is one of several must-sees in southwest Michigan’s Berrien County. Its large sand dunes and lakeshore beaches are stunningly beautiful.

Photo courtesy of New Buff alo Explored



If your idea of the perfect vacation is sugar-sand beaches, clear blue waters along 28 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, outdoor adventures, climbing to the top of historic lighthouses, or exploring a charming downtown, Ludington is your destination for Pure Michigan fun. Ludington's unspoiled natural resources offers a quintessential “Up North” experience all within easy reach located at the intersection of U.S. 31 and U.S. 10. Now is the time to get up and go. Start planning your Summer adventures now at:



18 Sky, Sand & Surf

From musky to walleye, the “Sixth Great Lake” sparkles as a world-famous anglers’ playground, and a cool way to see water views is from a a helicopter.

By Bill Semion and Chris McElmeel

24 Get Outdoors

A Drummond Island handcrafted tall ship and U.P. Sailing Co. offer voyages, and journey across Lake Michigan aboard the historic S.S. Badger. By Dianna Stampfler, Giuseppa Nadrowski, and Marla Miller

28 Page-Turner

A fascination with culture and history takes an author on adventures. By Tracy Donohue

“We want people to say, ‘This is good wine,’ not ‘This is good wine — for Michigan.’ ”

30 Staff Picks

From gluten-free beer to shipwreck sites, here’s a sampling of summer favorites in northeast Michigan and a bit beyond.


36 Studio Visit

Historic structures and old farmhouses catch the keen eye of oil painter Wendy McWhorter. By Katy Klimczuk

40 Design Stars

These design-andbuild experts produce fascinating custom furniture, from bourbon-tasting tables to yacht additions. By Tracy Donohue

42 The Elements

Great Lakes colors, ice cream and popsicle

gadgetry, and beach and poolside must-haves.

By Jamie Fabbri



84 Tasting Room

Modales shifts to growing organic grapes, while Fenn Valley celebrates 50 years of crafting fruitdriven wines.

By Julie Bonner Williams

86 Dining Out

The Local Epicurean entices chefs ranging from novices to foodies to experience its interactive cooking classes.

By Susan R. Pollack

88 Book It

Mackinac Island’s iconic 120-year-old resort, The Inn at Stonecliffe, showcases a luxurious $40-million renovation. By Dianna Stampfler

90 Discoveries

A pandemic-era closure gave the Belle Isle Aquarium’s caretakers an opportunity to make this Detroit gem shine. By Amy S. Eckert


14 Reflections

Connected to Nature. By Megan Swoyer

92 Postcard

A kayaker focuses on the loon, one of Michigan’s most beloved birds. By Jenifer Selwa


Connected to Nature

As I look at a watercolor painting hanging in our northern Michigan getaway, I count my lucky stars that we made the leap into cottage ownership. The painting, by Robin Ward (@cheerfulbird) of Beverly Hills, features our sons when they were very young, wading in long marsh grasses near our cottage holding a net and marveling at a tiny frog perched on one of their hands. There seems to be a big connection between the three of them, almost as if the frog is saying, “I’m glad you love nature and exploring my world. Keep it up, it will do you well.”

And, indeed, it has. Since those days of seeking out minnows, chasing after butterflies and dragonflies, spotting turtles and frogs, discovering pretty rocks and stones, and reveling in the tap-tap-tap of woodpeckers, they both consider nature a best friend.

When one of them was really ill, spending time with a fishing rod, some worms, and his brother and dad brought him great joy in spite of his physical pain. A scene of the three of them catching panfish by the bucket often pops into my mind. The serene memory of their bodies bent over the edge of the dock as they tossed the perch and bluegill back into the water to watch them swim o is lit not only by the onset of stars and fireflies in the grasses along the shore, but by the votive candles I lined the dock with that evening.

drop-dead photos (now blown up and hanging on their walls) — peaceful scenes their minds can evoke when they’re knee-deep in the workaday world or when pushing their way through life’s lows.

It’s no surprise that many of their favorite vistas feature water. Raised in the Great Lakes state, water will always charm them, as it does so many. In fact, according to the U.S. Travel Association, beaches fall into the top five must-haves when travelers select their vacation destinations. Why?

Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, hit the dock nail on the head when he wrote “Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do” (Little, Brown and Co.). He points out that when we step away from our high-stress lives and head to the water, a shift occurs. We transform as we relax. Water, in fact, can change the quality of our thoughts!

My husband and I once thought a certain Michigan biking trip (always along water) we’d planned might be the last. Would 20-somethings want to spend hard-earned vacation time with their parents? As a matter of fact, the answer was yes — especially if lakes, rivers, or streams we’d never previously explored were on the agenda.

And there’s still so much more to explore, now with some special women they’ve met.

As years went by, the pull of the great outdoors grew. My sons learned more about camping and hiking — a passion that’s taken them to the Upper Peninsula and beyond. Mother Nature continued to be something they could count on, whether they were basking in her beauty solo, with each other, alongside friends, or with the two of us. Their brotherly escapades have been highlighted by sightings of moose, grizzly and black bears, elk, big-horned sheep, foxes, and creatures that slither. One of them even shared a path with a mountain lion once, luckily only for a few seconds.

Many of nature’s wonders star in their

About those girlfriends. Our oldest son met his match online after learning about her passion for nature. His first words describing her were, “Mom and Dad, she hikes better and faster than I do! And she’s a more experienced camper!” Meanwhile, the first thing we asked our other son about his new partner was, “Does she like the outdoors?” Oh, yes, he told us. Yes!

I believe our grown sons aren’t far removed from the young boys in the painting, communicating intently with a tiny frog.

Volume 19 | Issue 3 mibluemag.com

PUBLISHER: Jason Hosko


EDITOR: Megan Swoyer

TRAVEL EDITOR: Ron Garbinski

COPY EDITOR: Anne Berry Daugherty

WRITERS/STYLISTS: Tracy Donohue, Amy S. Eckert, Jamie Fabbri, Katy Klimczuk, Chris McElmeel, Marla Miller, Honey Murray, Giuseppa Nadrowski, Susan R. Pollack, Jenifer Selwa, Bill Semion, Mark Spezia, Dianna Stampfler, Julie Bonner Williams





CONTRIBUTORS: James Haefner, Glen Rauth, Martin Vecchio


ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: advertising@hour-media.com

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES: Maddy Gill, Nick Irwin, Jessica Laidlaw




PREPRESS ARTIST: Jonathan Boedecker





DIGITAL DEVELOPMENT SPECIALISTS: Jim Bowser, Marissa Jacklyn, Luanne Lim, Connor McDonald



VIDEO PRODUCER: Nicole Toporowski


IT IT DIRECTOR: Jeremy Leland





CIRCULATION COORDINATORS: Susan Combs, Cathy Krajenke, Michele Wold









ACCOUNTING ASSOCIATES: Kate Manley, Austin Schmelzle


CEO: Stefan Wanczyk | PRESIDENT: John Balardo

Michigan BLUE magazine is published quarterly by Hour Media. Publishing office: 5750 New King Dr., Suite 100 Troy, MI 48098. Telephone 616-459-4545; fax 616- 459-4800. General email: info@hour-media.com. Copyright ©2024 by Hour Media. All rights reserved. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Michigan BLUE magazine,1965 E. Avis Dr., Madison Heights, MI 48071. Subscription rates: one year $14.95, two

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18 Sky, Sand & Surf

The “Sixth Great Lake” sparkles as a world-famous anglers’ playground, and a cool way to see water views.

24 Get Outdoors Drummond Island and Marquette sailing fun, and journey across Lake Michigan aboard the historic S.S. Badger

The Huron Jewel, launched in 2018, offers sailing adventures on the Great Lakes. It took the Drummond Island owners three years to build the ship by hand.

28 Page-Turner

A fascination with life, culture, and history takes an author on adventures that “sometimes get a little spooky.”

30 Staff Picks

From gluten-free beer to shipwrecks, here’s a sampling of summer favorites in northeast Michigan and a bit beyond.



Exploring Michigan: Tips, trends, and tidbits

Trail Project: Work on a 4-mile Michigan section of the proposed 60-mile Marquette Greenway Trail, which will eventually connect New Buffalo with Calumet Park in southeast Chicago and beyond, began earlier this year. The nonmotorized greenway along the south shore of Lake Michigan, connecting Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, is expected to be completed in 2027. The eastern terminus trailhead will be in downtown New Buffalo, and the hope is that someday it will connect with other trails north of the city and beyond. facebook.com/marquettegreenwayswmi

Park Volunteers: From being park hosts or recreation instructors to removing invasive plants or improving wildlife habits, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers plenty of rewarding volunteer opportunities for a day, as well as extended options. You can even be a Loon Ranger. michigan.gov/dnr/about/get-involved

Urban Wildlife: The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge has added the 19.93-acre Robert and Laurie Sharkus Tract, near Estral Beach, into the National Wildlife Refuge System. This habitat-rich property joins other tracts as part of the greater Strong Unit of the refuge and remains closed to public access for now. The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge owns and cooperatively manages more than 6,300 acres along the lower Detroit River and western Lake Erie. fws.gov/refuge/detroit-river

Heritage Homes: The Michigan Historical Society is looking for homes that are at least 100 years old and substantially in their original condition to be recognized in the Michigan Heritage Home Program. Click on Awards at hsmichigan.org.

— Compiled by Ron Garbinski

Have news that pertains to Michigan travel and exploration? Send a note to MSwoyer@Hour-Media.com

Gone Fishing

From musky to walleye, the “Sixth Great Lake” sparkles as a world-famous anglers’ playground

When two veteran anglers describe Lake St. Clair as a “fishbowl” and the “world’s best,” believe it.

This 430-square-mile lake, known as a summer playground for boaters, is also the favorite of two of Michigan’s best and most affable charter boat captains. Both men mainly target two fish that have made Lake St. Clair famous worldwide.

Capt. Steve Jones learned his trade under legendary St. Clair musky angler Homer LeBlanc, whose lures are still used 70 years after he created them. Jones has been watching musky-fishing on the lake get better and better for 50 years; he says it’s now the world’s best.

Capt. Marcel Veenstra, a former nationally ranked tournament smallmouth bass angler, takes guests on fishing trips to the place that’s also the world’s best for smallies.


Steve Jones says he’s probably booked more than 6,000 trips to Lake St. Clair’s Michigan and Canadian sides.

“I’ve definitely pulled more charters than any two captains combined out there. In the 1980s, there were only like eight of us. Now there are probably 200. Of those, very few have a larger boat,” Jones says, noting that he’s also invested in tackle and lures specially made for handling musky.

“The whole lake’s a good spawning area and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so good. For bass, you could have been fishing for two hours with nothing, and all of a sudden you’re going to get 30,” he says. “It’s such a fishbowl, and it’s all about following the bait.” Bass bait includes minnows and crayfish, which Jones says are all over the lake’s bottom.

“We start running for walleye April 5 on the Detroit River until about the 20th of May. In May, we’ll be on southern Lake Huron,” he says. Then, from May 25 through Nov. 10, it’s musky time.

“Lake St. Clair has undoubtedly the best musky-fishing in the world, no question about it,” Jones asserts. Musky used to be called the “fish of a thousand casts” because they were few in number. Now, Jones will often land and release six or more per trip. One trip in 2018 was the most memorable to date, as his clients boated and released a 44.5-pound, 53.5-inch — that’s 4.46 feet long — monster that was the fourth largest ever caught on the lake.

To coax them to hit, he uses 5- to 9-inch-long lures. As the season progresses, they get bigger, sometimes up to a foot long. Jones always sets at least one lure only 3 feet behind the stern, because the fish are so curious and so aggressive.

When he’s not trolling for musky, Jones targets Detroit River walleye. He says thanks to a vigorous state planting program, even Atlantic salmon are showing up in his net in lower Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair.

Top left: Capt. Steve Jones releases another big musky caught in Lake St. Clair. Top right: John Monroe from Brighton and his father, Mike, handle a 38-pound musky on a Capt. Jones outing. Above: Capt. Jones with Jerie Semion, of California, who spent the day fishing for big ones.


Capt. Steve Jones fishpredator.com

Capt. Marcel Veenstra marcelsguideservice.com

A valid Michigan fishing license for each person aboard is required, and plan to purchase a one-day Canadian license for each trip. Both guides provide all necessary tackle and lures, and water. Bring your own snacks.

Capt. Marcel Veenstra

Lake St. Clair is also considered the best lake in the world for smallmouth, which can get up to 6 pounds because there’s so much feed, Veenstra says.

He’s been guiding bass fans for 22 years on Lake St. Clair, and has added numerous northern Michigan lakes to his list. Veenstra works with a team of five other guides under his Marcel’s Guide Service umbrella.

“This is a phenomenal fishery. I think

of it as one of the most consistent bodies of water in the country. You catch fish every day; even on a bad day, Lake St. Clair still yields fish,” he says.

“Most days, we’ll start between 7 and 7:30 a.m. (and fish) for eight hours. In the spring we start shallow, and as summer progresses, we go deeper. Into fall we come back in a bit, but there are still fish deeper. I’ll start the year off on the western side, between Eight Mile Road and Lake St. Clair Metropark. Then it could be Anchor Bay one day or in the Middle Channel or on the Canadian side the next,” he says.

“We’re going to put an average of 25 to 50 fish a day in the boat. Most will weigh between 2.5 and 4 pounds. The trophy, for most, is a 5-pounder,” but a lifetime fish will be 6-pounds-plus. All fish are released, since you can now order a trophy mount using a photo.

What keeps this veteran fisherman coming back to the water?

“Have patience and confidence. If a beginner goes out and does everything I tell them to do, they’re going to catch fish. The only thing that will prevent it is the weather.

“I love it. The satisfaction of taking everything you’ve learned and watching someone else being successful (is) almost like putting the last piece of the puzzle together. You’re prepping them for success, and at the end of the day they’re happy customers.”

Above: Capt. Marcel Veenstra routinely lands smallmouth bass. Left: Anglers from around the world, like Yang Hou from China, enjoy trips with Capt. Veenstra.



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If you’re looking for new ways to enjoy Michigan’s waterways, you don’t need to go off the beaten path. Just go above it.

From Grosse Isle to Mackinac Island, helicopter tour operators are providing bird’s-eye views of Michigan’s most iconic and picturesque waterfront locations. And with more than 26,000 inland lakes, 120 major rivers, and 3,288 miles of freshwater coastline, you’re never more than six miles from a picture-perfect aerial view.

Northern Michigan’s Grand Traverse County is a good example. Almost 25 percent of the region is water, and there are Caribbean-blue lakes, winding rivers, and hidden ponds you might best see from above. Below are some helicopter tour companies that operate in Michigan.

Royal Stag Aviation

Royal Stag Aviation in Williamsburg offers aviation photography flights while it waits for its tour license from the FAA. In the meantime, they focus primarily on the Grand Traverse Bay area, where passengers can capture photos of sights including Old Mission Point, Elk Lake, and the Mackinac Bridge.

Breathtakingly Blue

These pilots say the best way to see Michigan’s amazing water views is from a seat onboard their helicopter tours

“Being 500 feet over these wonders gives guests a whole new perspective and makes for some stunning pictures,” says Derrick Rockey, a Royal Stag pilot with more than 2,000 flight hours. “Each season provides unique views that dictate what the best locations are to fly over.”

For an extra shot of adrenaline, Royal Stag partners with Sky Dive TC to offer helicopter skydiving opportunities to certified skydivers. “It provides them with a chance to take in the sights while the earth rushes toward them,” Rockey explains.


Red Hawk Aviation

If you haven’t seen the views paralleling I-96 between Holland and Benton Harbor from the sky, you’re missing out, according to Collin Kelly, owner and chief pilot at Red Hawk Aviation in South Haven. He’s on a mission to help people see this stretch of shoreline from an entirely new perspective. “When I started flying the shoreline in South Haven, I knew I wanted to share that view with as many people as I could,” he says.

Even after nine years and nearly 1,500 flight hours, flying helicopters never gets old for Kelly. “It starts with that odd feeling of just lifting off the ground without speeding down a runway before takeoff,” he says. “If you’re familiar with Aladdin, I liken it to his magic carpet.”

Red Hawk also flies a little farther inland to showcase Allegan County’s sprawling woodlands, which Kelly says are even more breathtaking during the fall color season. With such amazing views, most guests don’t want the tour to end. So, Kelly will oblige and give them an encore after the sun dips below the horizon. “I’ll climb just a couple hundred feet,” Kelly explains. “We get to see the sun peek back up over the horizon and watch it disappear again for good.”

Maxflight Helicopters

Taking off from Grosse Ile, tours with Maxflight Helicopters follow the Detroit River upstream, providing riders with amazing views of the Detroit and Windsor skylines. Pilot Kaleb Brady is quick to point out that Maxflight tours are more than just a ride, as the pilots provide a detailed narrative of the region while highlighting interesting landmarks and historic buildings.

“The high point is the breathtaking view heading back to Grosse Ile from Belle Isle at sunset, when you can see the silhouette of the Detroit skyline,” Brady says. Sometimes he has to remind himself he’s flying in Michigan because the water is so blue and vast, with Lake Erie appearing like an ocean below.

Maxflight also offers gender reveal powder and smoke drops, golf ball drops for fundraisers, and even Halloween, Easter, and wedding/funeral rose petal drops.

Michigan Helicopters

Flying out of Oakland County International Airport in Waterford, most of Michigan Helicopters’ tours fly over southeast Michigan, giving passengers a new perspective on familiar landmarks. “The best part of any helicopter tour is watching the smiles on our passengers’ faces,” says Chief Instructor

Pilot Benjamin Tong, who’s logged almost 10,000 flight hours in helicopters alone. Its most popular tours include the Cass Lake Tour and the City VIP Tour, both of which allow passengers to experience the helicopter’s maneuverability and agility while traveling at 100 mph. The most popular add-on service in the warmer months is the doors-off tour, which is similar to riding in a convertible or Jeep with the doors off — except you’re at 1,000 feet in the sky. “It’s a unique sense of euphoria, almost like you aren’t supposed to be able to do this — yet you are,” he explains. Michigan Helicopters also offers customized Michigan tours that will take passengers wherever they want to go — within FAA regulations, of course.

“The lighthouses in the Thumb are great to see,” Tong suggests, “and northern Michigan, near Charlevoix and Mackinac, are also awesome tours. Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, and the Detroit skyline are just some of the other interesting sights.”

While some tour operators can’t accommodate people with disabilities, Michigan Helicopters prides itself on never turning away anyone who wants to experience flight. “We want to share the sky experience with everyone,” Tong says. “You’ll never catch us in a bad mood or grumpy prior to a flight. We know you’re here to relax, and we want you to enjoy your flight.”

TIPS: When searching for a tour, ask about insurance, pilot experience, aircraft age, and maintenance practices. While most helicopter tour companies operate year-round, summer is the best season to soar over Michigan’s waterways.


Royal Stag Aviation royalstagaviation.com

Red Hawk Aviation redhawkhelicopters.com

Maxflight Helicopters maxflighthelomi.com

Michigan Helicopters mihelo.com

Above: Royal Stag Aviation operates four-seat helicopters with bubble windows and air conditioning. Opposite page, inset: Royal Stag pilot Derrick Rockey (right) and owner William Saputo love flying and are passionate about providing customers fun adventures around the Lake Michigan region (far left) in the northern part of the state.
WATERWAYS Sky, Sand & Surf


Drummond Island Tall Ship Co. ditallship.com

Scenic Sailing

Drummond Island’s hand-crafted tall ship offers voyages on the Great Lakes

For centuries, majestic schooners have plied the waters of the Great Lakes. Today, visitors to Drummond Island are invited to embark on a scenic sail aboard the region’s newest vessel, the Huron Jewel.

Over the course of three years, the 78foot, gaff-rigged ship was hand-crafted on the island by Capt. Hugh Covert, his wife and first mate, Julie, and a group of 50 drop-in volunteers. The ship was launched in June 2018.

From mid-June through mid-September, the Huron Jewel offers multiple two- or fourhour and full-day sails most days, including a Picnic Sail, Fudge Sampler Sail, Supper Under Sail, and Sunset Dessert Sail (Sundays only). The Coverts partner with local caterers and chefs to provide a rotating menu.

“Sailing aboard the Huron Jewel was absolutely fantastic,” says Michelle Walk of Cedarville, who took a two-hour excursion around Potagannissing Bay. “Passengers have the opportunity to help with tasks such as raising the sails. There are only a few people on board, so it really is a personalized experience.”

Day trips are limited to six passengers and are ideal for families looking for a fun freshwater voyage. While under sail, the crew shares information about the local ecology, as well as the area’s geography and history. Multi-day overnight trips include meals, sightseeing, stargazing, and relaxation. Lynn Johnson, of Project Lakewell, will lead a new three-day Nature Wonders Sail from July 29-31.

Left: The Huron Jewel sets sail for another Great Lakes excursion. Above: Capt. Hugh Covert and his wife/first mate, Julie, relax aboard their 78-foot sailing ship based at Drummond Island.
WATERWAYS Get Outdoors

“Focusing on Michigan’s first inhabitants, the Anishinaabe, and European explorers and settlers, Lynn will entertain passengers with stories about the lifeways and traditional skills of the people who opened up Michigan’s vast wilderness to exploration and settlement,” Julie Covert says. “She’ll explain how knowledge of the past reveals the importance of preserving the future of our Great Lakes and the rivers of Michigan.”

Other multi-day windjammer trips include the two-day Around Drummond and the four-day Around and Under, which travels west to the Mackinac Bridge. A special trip to Hessel the second weekend of August, for the Les Cheneaux Antique and Wooden Boat Show, can incorporate a floating bed-and-breakfast stay.

The two-week Canadian North Channel trip, departing Sept. 3, is the ultimate Great Lakes sailing expedition. The Huron Jewel typically coasts past scenic and historic sites like Moiles Harbour, Little Current Swing Bridge, Strawberry Island Lighthouse, Heywood Island, Collins Inlet, and Devils Door Rapids. Expected stops at The Pool at Baie Fine allow for hiking to Topaz Lake, while visits to Little Current and Killarney give a glimpse into the history of these culturally significant towns.

Four passengers are allowed on the multi-day sails, and sleeping arrangements below deck include a queen and a twin bunk berth. Guests must be at least 14 years old for these extended trips.


Departing from Marquette, this skillful sailing duo showcases the wonders of Lake Superior

As an American Sailing Association accredited school and private charter, the U.P. Sailing Co., based in Marquette, offers guests a chance to see the breathtaking sights of Lake Superior — including Pictured Rocks, the Huron Islands, Keweenaw, Grand Marais, and more — while letting them try their hands at raising the sails, rigging lines, and even steering the boat.

After selling out their first season last summer, owners Brian and Kristen VanWieren invite all levels of sailors, whether beginners or those who are preparing to bareboat charter somewhere, to join them on an excursion or for lessons.

“What you see (sailing) on Lake Superior is a different environment than you could get almost anywhere else in the world,” Kristen says.

The response since opening has been “mindblowing,” she adds. The couple is looking to add a third boat to their fleet (currently a Freya Colgate 26 made for training and instruction, and a customcrafted Bennett 46 named Tsuru for day sails and trips).

The idea to start their venture began with their mutual love of sailing. Brian, who grew up in Hudsonville, has sailed and raced for more than 30 years. “He’s on the board of the Great Lakes Singlehanded Society,” Kristen says, “and he’s done nine solo Chicago races, two Mackinac races, and a solo Trans Superior (race) across Lake Superior.”

Kristen, a native of Fowlerville, fell in love with the sport “after going sailing (on a date).” Living in Chicago at the time, she signed up for classes soon after. “I actually bought four lessons and never went

back for the last two,” she says. “I bought my boat, and that was it.” She’s been racing and sailing for more than 15 years.

Married in 2021, the couple met at a marina. “We were both living in Holland,” Kristen says. “One day I came back in from sailing by myself, and a man walked up to me and said, ‘Hey, have you ever thought of doing solo long-distance races? I see you sailing by yourself a lot.’ And I thought, oh, that’s quite a pick-up line!”

Not long after, they discovered a new hobby Up North — snowmobiling — that wound up leading to the opening of their business.

The couple purchased property with the hope of building a cottage, but instead they built a home and relocated.

“We thought sailing on Lake Superior with this beautiful clear water, black rocks, the Pictured Rocks, and everything that you can see only from the water — what an opportunity to be able to take people out on that,” Kristen says.

From Memorial Day weekend through September, the duo offers private multiday (customizable) adventure trips, sunset (and daytime) sails, events (bachelor/ bachelorette parties, corporate teams, etc.), and instructional classes.

U.P. Sailing Co. upsailingco.com

invite guests to experience exciting Lake Superior adventures. Above: The 46-foot Tsuru is based out of Marquette.

BLUE | SUMMER 2024 25
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Left: Owners Brian and Kristen VanWieren

The S.S. Badger steamship makes daily departures June through October from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wis.

Whether cruising across Lake Michigan on a starry night or a bluesky summer day, a trip on the S.S. Badger is more than a shortcut across the lake.

Enjoy a unique journey across Lake Michigan aboard the historic S.S. Badger

The Badger provides travelers with an adventure — an authentic steamship experience that harkens back 70 years and mixes history with nostalgia. A National Historic Landmark, the S.S. Badger car ferry resumes sailing this year after repairs were made to the ramp system at the dock in Ludington, which was responsible for sidelining the crossings last year.

“It’s a piece of history, and if you’re thinking about trying it, you should definitely try it because it’s a very unique experience,” Lake Michigan Carferry General Manager Sara Spore says.

The S.S. Badger offers daily cross-lake trips between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis. This season marks the 71st year for the last remaining coal-powered car ferry in the nation. Crossings will start on June 14 or sooner, depending on when the dock renovations are finished.

Passengers can relax outdoors, walk around and admire the history, or wave to people on shore as the Badger cruises in

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and out of port. Families are able to enjoy an onboard museum, games and scavenger hunts, free movies, and live entertainment during the four-hour trip.

“There’s a lot to do onboard with the arcade, the movie theater, and Badger Bingo,” Spore says. “It’s great to relax out on the bow. We have lounge chairs out there, two different areas to eat, and three bars on board, so there’s a little something for everyone.”

The Badger departs out of Ludington at 9 a.m. daily from June until early October. An 8:45 p.m. Thursday-Sunday crossing returns this season, and there will be a 1:30 a.m. Friday-Monday return trip out of Manitowoc through Labor Day. “A lot of people like those nighttime cruises across the lake,” Spore says.

The historic steamship car ferry has served more than 2.5 million passengers since she began daily service on March 21, 1953. The 410-foot-long ferry can transport 600 passengers and 180 vehicles, including campers, motorcycles, semis, and oversized loads.


The S.S. Badger ’s full season runs June 14 through Oct. 6. Wisconsin is in the Central Standard Time zone.

The ferry departs at 9 a.m. (EST) from Ludington/arrives at noon (CST) in Manitowoc, and departs at 2 p.m. (CST) from Manitowoc/arrives at 7 p.m. (EST) in Ludington. Doubles/overnight crossings are available until Labor Day. For schedules, fares, and specialty cruises, visit ssbadger.com

Ludington Shoreline Cruise Dates:

July 4: Patriotic cruise with live entertainment and fireworks over the water; $70/person.

July 24: Evening cruise with entertainment; $58/person.

Aug. 21: Bon Voyage to Summer, with entertainment; $58/person.

Boarding for each cruise starts at 8:30 p.m. EST.

The S.S. Badger will cruise along the Ludington shoreline from 9-11 p.m.

“The Badger is an important economic catalyst to both Ludington and Manitowoc and the surrounding region,” explains Arthur Chavez, a historian and author of “S.S. Badger: The Lake Michigan Carferry.”

Many travelers use the ferry to save travel time on their vacation, or avoid driving through Chicago or across the Upper Peninsula. Others ride the ferry for the memories or to take a quick weekend trip to one of the Badger’s port cities.

The Badger offers discounted round-trip mini-cruises for those who want to ride the ferry without a car and return within 48 hours. Travelers also can enjoy the ship’s amenities on a themed shoreline cruise in either community, relaxing on the water and taking in the scenery or the sunset.

“I think it’s a good mix,” Spore says. “We have people who will go over to the Wisconsin Dells or spend a weekend in Manitowoc or vice versa. We also have a lot of people who use it as part of their trip. We can take campers and larger semis, and oversized semis.”

Guests can lounge on the Badger’s bow deck during the four-hour cruise across Lake Michigan.
WATERWAYS Get Outdoors
In addition to a hot buffet, travelers can enjoy the onboard arcade and children’s activities, watch a movie, or visit the gift shop and ship museum.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is full of wilderness, wildlife, wonder — and good stories.

That’s why writer, photographer, historian, and adventurer Mikel B. Classen started writing about the U.P. more than four decades ago, when he realized that little was being penned about the Wolverine State north of Grayling.

“The U.P. is an extraordinary place full of history and adventure, from pioneers and pirates to heroes and villains. It’s a place that has been largely ignored in literature and history. Over the years I’ve dug up many

lost and unknown stories,” Classen shares.

“(The U.P. is) full of historic boom/ bust towns due to mining and lumber. It was the Wild West before the Wild West moved west. It was lawless and ruthless; if the harsh environment didn’t kill you, your neighbor might.”

Classen’s unconventional path to a successful writing career began with hitchhiking to the U.P. after a factory job layoff in Lansing during the economic crisis in the 1980s. He landed in Marquette and, after a brief period of homelessness, he was able to utilize a government program that paid him minimum wage to attend Northern Michigan University, where he studied English, history, journalism, and photography.

Around the same time, he started writing local feature stories for magazines and newspapers, then added photography to his professional skills when he realized it was easier to sell his articles with accompanying photos.

U.P. Chronicles

A fascination with life, culture, and history takes an author on adventures that “sometimes get a little spooky”

Since moving north, Classen has always lived along the storied and majestic Lake Superior coast. He currently lives in Sault Ste. Marie with his wife, Mary Underwood, who’s also a writer. Marquette and Grand Marais have also served as home bases for his writing and adventures.

“Water is everything here. The economy is based on water. Living in Sault Ste. Marie with the Soo Locks, the highway for ships, you see it every day,” he says. “When it comes to logging, rivers were everything. As a state, our livelihood is based on tourism and water recreation. Water is everything.”

His fascination with the life, culture, and history of Michigan’s north country

Author Mikel B. Classen (inset) relishes memories like his Upper Peninsula excursions to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore’s Sable Falls (left) near Grand Marais, and an encounter with a young bull moose translocated from Canada (opposite page)

has materialized into eight published books with more on the way, including a second volume of his bestselling book, “True Tales: The Forgotten History of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”

His most recent works have been published by Modern History Press in Ann Arbor. While Classen mainly writes about the U.P., he recently published an adventure novel titled “The Alexandria Code, An Isabella Carter Adventure.”

“I’ve never written a book thinking how much it will sell. I usually approach a book with ‘I think this is pretty cool and I think someone else will, too,’ ” he explains. “Some stories are light, and some are pretty dark. But that’s history.”

Classen’s popular “Points North” guidebook was inspired by the column he wrote for the now-defunct magazine he published, Above the Bridge. “Each column featured a new place that wasn’t one of the big five destinations where everyone goes. For the book, I took three


Mikel B. Classen mikelbclassen.com

or four summers revisiting these places to make (sure all the information is) current. The book lists 40 destinations, from every corner of the U.P., that are among my favorites,” he says.

The prolific writer and adventurer often travels alone to desolate areas of the U.P. and admits, “It sometimes gets a little spooky.” One of his favorite more isolated places along Lake Superior is Grand Island, offshore from Munising. It’s part of the U.S. Forest Service’s Hiawatha National Forest.

“Grand Island is incredibly beautiful. It’s as breathtaking as Pictured Rocks. It’s a lesser-known island, so it’s a quieter experience that’s great for hiking and kayaking, and as one of the earliest settlements on Lake Superior, it has lots of history,” he explains.

“I’ve thrown up a tent (on the island) at a primitive campsite at Trout Bay — an area where ships would scoot in to escape bad weather. There’s a glass-bottom boat tour on Munising Bay that goes over shipwrecks. I highly recommend it. I’ve taken my kayak and paddled over the wrecks in more shallow water, then dropped a

GoPro to really see it.”

Another one of Classen’s favorite outlying U.P. destinations is Old Victoria, a little-known copper mining ghost town along the picturesque Ontonagon River near Rockland. A group of restored log cabins shows visitors what life was like for copper miners and their families at the turn of the 20th century.

“The attraction of this area, for me, is the rough and rugged terrain and brutal weather. You can really feel the struggle and all that was done to survive in this harsh new land, working the copper mines of the Keweenaw Peninsula. It was an immense accomplishment,” he says.

In his decades-long pursuit of adventure, history, and good tales, Classen often uncovers some of the best untold, forgotten, and hidden stories when he stops by remote libraries and historical societies to conduct research. He also taps his collection of out-of-print history books dating back to the 1850s, when the U.P. was just starting to attract settlers.

Some of his own experiences have become part of U.P. history, such as when he worked on the North Country National Scenic Trail in the mid-1980s. The trail extends between North Dakota and Vermont, and runs through both of Michigan’s peninsulas. According to Classen, the U.P. section “meanders through Michigan’s truest, most awe-inspiring wilderness.”

During this time, he witnessed and photographed the Michigan DNR’s incredible Michigan Moose Lift project, which successfully translocated 59 moose from Ontario, Canada, via helicopter and truck to an area west of Marquette, in an effort to restore the moose population. Of course, this exceptional experience is on Classen’s list for another future book.

“The extraordinary beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula touches my soul every day,” he says. “Writing nonfiction is a blast. It has taken me to places to do things most people don’t get to do. When I look back, I know I not only had fun as a modern-day adventurer, but I accomplished something. It’s been an adventure.”



From gluten-free beer to shipwreck sites, here’s a sampling of summer favorites in NORTHEAST MICHIGAN and a bit beyond


Allergen-Free Meals: The Alcona Brew Haus in Harrisville specializes in allergenfree menu options (nuts, gluten, and more). It features house-made beer (some gluten-free varieties) and other beverages to wet your whistle. The crew makes their own pizza dough and smokes their meats out back. Favorites include the slow-roasted pulled pork, veggie burger, gluten-free (and regular) pizza, and vegan bowls.

2 History Outing:

visitors can experience upbound and downbound passage through the engineering marvel of the Soo Locks, which link Lake Superior with Lake Huron. Two companies offer tours that include Sault Ste. Marie (Michigan and Ontario) sights along the St. Marys River. Afterward, dine at the legendary Antler’s Restaurant or the Soo Brewing Co. & 1668 Winery.

3 Lighthouse Visit:

Light, a lighthouse built in 1896 in Presque Isle County on Lake Huron off U.S. 23 near Rogers City, shares property with a pilot house, an old school, and a former work crew building that’s now a gift shop. Check out the lovely trails to the beach, where you can see the remains of a shipwreck, have a picnic, and more. fortymilepointlighthouse.org

4 Happy Riding:

5 Park It:


On a two-hour cruise, Alpena is home to several State forests, trailscouncil.org

enjoyable bike trails. The 70-mile crushed limestone North Eastern State Trail starts north of town and heads into Cheboygan. The fairly fl at route runs through rural terrain and scenic forests, with a link to Rogers City and the 11-mile Huron Sunrise Trail. Another path, the Presque Isle and Grand Lake Loop, passes two lighthouses and views of Lake Huron. Find great maps at

Straits State Park in St. Ignace is

a delightful spot to enjoy picturesque day or night views of the Mackinac Bridge, awesome campsites on the Straits of Mackinac, hiking, birding, and more. St. Ignace is a great launching pad for trips to Mackinac Island, Sault Ste. Marie, and the Father Marquette National Memorial (undergoing restoration).

1 2




Migration Paradise: Truly off the beaten path, the Tuttle Marsh Wildlife Area, between Oscoda and East Tawas, is a 5,000-acre wonderland of ponds, nesting islands, and lots of birds and animals, especially during spring and fall migrations. Drive slowly on a long dirt road that skirts the wetlands; you never know what you’ll spot. Part of the AuSable Valley Audubon Trails system, Tuttle also has a few marked hiking trails. us23heritageroute.org


Tempting Trifecta: Free museums, freighter-watching, and tasty dining await in Port Huron. Start at the Thomas Edison Depot Center (one of four fun museum sites) to learn about the famous inventor. Then step outside to explore the Blue Water River Walk and watch the international freighter traffi c plying the St. Clair River. End the day at nearby Freighter’s Eatery & Taproom or Courses Restaurant. bluewater.org

8Magical Paddling: The two-plus-hour guided Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tours from Munising are amazing. After a 45-minute boat ride, pairs are launched from the vessel into sea kayaks to explore sections of the Lake Superior national lakeshore up close. Paddlers glide through the crystal-clear, turquoise-colored water for about fi ve miles to see towering cliff s, waterfalls, and caves. picturedrockskayaking.com





Play Ball: Tickets to Great Lakes Loons minor league baseball games include fun times in the stands and lots of action on the fi eld. The team plays at Dow Diamond, overlooking the Tittabawassee River in Midland. As an affi liate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, they compete in the 12-team Midwest League with the Lansing Lugnuts (Oakland A’s) and the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers). milb.com/great-lakes


Welcome Aboard: For 30 years, the 418-foot U.S.S. Edson destroyer proudly served American interests around the world. After being decommissioned in 1988, the decorated warship was acquired by the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum in 2012. Today, the restored vessel is a fl oating museum that’s open for tours and even overnight activities at its home dock on the Saginaw River in Bay City. svnsm.com

Let the S.S. Badger escort you over beautiful Lake Michigan. Learn more at www.ssbadger.com FROM POINT A TO POINT SEA


36 Designers’ Notebook Michigan BLUE ’s first Design Awards, make-your-own wall art, and fresh outdoor furniture and fabrics.

36 Studio Visit Perspectives on capturing in oil paint some of northwest Michigan’s most beautiful and charming elements.

40 Design Stars Design-and-build experts produce custom furniture, from bourbon-tasting tables to yacht additions.

42 The Elements Great Lakes colors, ice cream and popsicle gadgetry, and beach and poolside must-haves.

“August Garden, Port Oneida” embodies the essence of bucolic northern Michigan. Read about Wendy McWhorter, who painted this captivating beauty, inside this section.


Home-related tips, trends, and tidbits

Enter Your Best Work: Attention architects, designers, builders, and others in the design industry! Michigan BLUE magazine is launching its first-ever waterfront living design awards competition. Entries will be accepted through July 1. Visit mibluedesignawards.com for more information on how to enter everything from beautiful bathrooms to landscaping, dock areas, and more.

Pressing Matters: Participate in a workshop at Sunrise Studio & Art Supply in downtown East Tawas and make your own wall art using fun printing techniques. In addition to conducting the classes, artist/owner Joanna Frye sells her own work at the studio. Her favorite subjects include Great Lakes wave motifs and botanical themes. sunriseartsupply.com

Sit On It: Fabricut’s eye-catching outdoor prints from Stroheim are making a splash! Lealani, Fantasy Garden, Vermejo, Waterlilies, Palimaand, and Brush Petal are inspired by colorful, organic beauty. Designer Furniture Services, Michigan Design Center, Troy. michigandesign.com

Outdoor Refresh: Sustainable furniture brands Urban Natural and Azenco have added beautiful new outdoor living pieces to their collections just in time for summer. Look for inspiration in their seating, tables, bar carts, pergolas, and pool cover options. urbannatural.com, azenco-outdoor.com

Nice Ice: The top winner of Visit Keweenaw’s spring photography contest is Colton Haataja, who impressed the judges with his stunning shot titled “Lake Superior Ice Wanes under a Spring Sunrise.” Haataja says he loves how the sun shines through melting ice. @c.h.exposures, visitkeweenaw.com

— Compiled by Megan Swoyer

Have news about home design and waterfront living? Email MSwoyer@ Hour-Media.com

Plein Air Preservation

Historic structures, old farmhouses, and beaches catch the keen eye of this oil painter

On any given summer morning, you might find artist Wendy McWhorter packing up her Volkswagen Beetle convertible to head down the road to capture the morning light against the lush backdrop of northwest Michigan. She’s always ready to catch nature’s ephemeral beauty and the area’s history in her signature countryside paintings.


A refreshing dip in the lake (Torch Lake and Lake Michigan are among her favorites) will be her post-lunch reward after a morning spent painting. McWhorter, who lives in Kewadin, north of Elk Rapids, is a former elementary and middle school art teacher. Her impressionistic oil paintings are gaining renown in her community and beyond for their focus on preservation.

McWhorter’s favorite subjects are the barns of Antrim, Charlevoix, and Leelanau counties, once part of homesteaders’ property on which they built a new life for their families. Following her career as an art teacher, McWhorter found a passion for painting historic farms and the flora that would have surrounded them. Coneflowers, lilacs, daffodils, irises, and forgetme-nots, which were popular in northwest Michigan at the turn of the 20th century, often pop up in her work. She also likes to tuck a slice of Lake Michigan in the background of many paintings — it’s a nod to

the beautiful views many of the farms once had.

“I’ve painted many of the houses and farmsteads in historic Port Oneida,” McWhorter says, referring to part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore that features a large collection of preserved farms that are typical of the turn-of-the-century farms found throughout the Midwest. (Learn more at the Port Oneida Farms Heritage Center or attend the Port Oneida Fair Aug. 9-10.)

McWhorter seeks inspiration from some of the great impressionist painters, like Monet.

“I liked how they followed the light,” the artist muses. She’s also influenced by the late artist Wolf Kahn and Franklin, Mich., artist Peggy Hawley.

McWhorter likes to capture the fleeting beauty of nature through thick brushstrokes that impart intensity, vibrant paints, and harmonious color pairings. “I love the mixing of the colors and I like how juicy the colors become,” she says.

The former teacher also loves to pour herself into her community through her work with intellectually and physically challenged young adults, and says she enjoys teaching workshops at Interlochen. In the warmer months, McWhorter likes to paint en plein air, and can often be found at plein air events in Leland, Glen Arbor, and Petoskey.

Once she finds (or returns to) a worthy subject, McWhorter reimagines its surroundings. Dilapidated farmhouses seem to

Above left: All’s serene in “Opening Day at Cottage.” Above right: “Lady Lightkeeper Summer Garden” showcases lightkeeper quarters on North Manitou Island. Inset: Painter Wendy McWhorter says “I love the mixing of the colors and I like how juicy the colors become.”

come back to life amid the backdrop of McWhorter’s sparkling blue lakes.

“This whole area, northwest Michigan, is integral to my subjects,” McWhorter says, while preparing for a show at the Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park in Traverse City (the show runs through June 20).

She explains that she prepares to paint each piece she undertakes by creating a color study in her preferred high-key (lighter end of the value scale) palette, always pulling in complementary and analogous colors; greens and violets rank high on her list of shades. Then, she dives in, painting on birch panels. She easily gets lost in the process, inspired by the area’s natural beauty — and her efforts aren’t going unnoticed. She was selected as the Port Oneida Fair 2023 poster winner for Forgotten Coneflowers at Burfiend Farm, and garnered local attention for the places she hopes to preserve.

Although McWhorter’s work often focuses on local history, water is what keeps her anchored here. “Fresh water is crucial to my well-being as an artist,” McWhorter says. Whether she’s painting along Grand Traverse Bay, taking a dip in Torch Lake, or reimagining a farmhouse’s view, the water is never forgotten. “It’s why I’ve always come back to Michigan. Michigan is home because that’s where the water is.”


Wendy McWhorter’s artwork “Bayview” was chosen as part of a public art exhibit called “Unique Art of Antrim County” and will be displayed in downtown Bellaire June-October. To see more of her work, visit wendymcwhorterartist.com or follow her on Instagram @wendypaintswithoils.

Right: ”May Blossoms” captures the refreshing light of the spring season. Above: The artist paints along a favorite shoreline. “Fresh water is crucial to my well-being as an artist,” she says. Right: “Path to Beach,” portraying Sleeping Bear Bay near Glen Haven, inspires viewers’ eyes to take a pleasant “walk” to the beach.

Wonderful Woodwork

Design-and-build experts produce fascinating custom furniture, from bourbon-tasting tables to yacht additions

Photography by Michael Bartello

well as intricately patterned wood flooring.

SmithMade recently began focusing on customized engineered wood dining tables with artisan metal bases made by Mark Newman of Metal Mind Fabrication in Marine City. The tables range in price from $3,500-$6,000 and are offered in a selection of designs, shapes, sizes, and wood options for a custom look and feel.

When Jeff Smith and Shayn Smith met a decade ago, they discovered they had more than a surname in common. Over the following year, the two highly skilled woodworking artisans collaborated on several projects and found they shared a similar passion for their craft. It seemed a natural next step to combine their talents by launching a fine woodworking company, which they called SmithMade. With a mix of nationwide residential and corporate clients, the Shelby Township-based business offers luxury custom furniture, cabinetry, and decorative surfaces. SmithMade’s unique specialty is custom veneer designs — an art form known as marquetry. Among their many upscale projects, the duo has created artful staircases, fireplace surrounds, and wall panels, as

“We often work in partnership with other companies or designers and the client,” Shayn Smith says. “We get to know the clients as individuals and find out what really matters or is interesting to them, so we can bring it into the design.”

Adds Jeff Smith: “Whatever a client can imagine, we can create. We like challenges. We take the time, do the research, and feed off each other. It’s important to be open to what’s possible (so we can) create meaningful pieces. We (make) 3-D drawings to give the client a clear description of the project, but we want the finished product to be even better and have a connection.”

Their designs range from refined rustic to sleek modern, and the partners work with a variety of domestic and exotic woods including walnut burl, hickory, and African wenge. Depending on the vision for a project, it might incorporate luxurious elements such as leather, jade,

Left: Shayn Smith and Jeff Smith of SmithMade work on a special design. Above: Great Lakes buffs are especially fond of this unique flooring, with a special compass inlay, created by SmithMade.

abalone, or sterling silver. They can also add lighting elements to furniture items. Many of SmithMade’s exclusive furniture pieces will become family heirlooms.

“I enjoy designing specific things for specific people, and the artistic freedom that comes with each project,” Shayn explains. “I love working with di erent materials. In custom work, it’s always the little details that make it special.”

SmithMade recently fabricated a bourbon barrel co ee table for a bourbon tasting room in a Macomb County home on Cusick Lake. “We researched what it requires to make bourbon and an authentic bourbon table,” Je says. “To make it special, we added an amber-colored glass top with integrated LED lighting inside the barrel.”

The partners have worked on many memorable commercial projects, including statement tabletops for New Orleans’

Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In a collaboration with Detroit-based design studio Pophouse, the artists fashioned distinctive wood panels for the Compuware Building in Detroit. They also recently collaborated with George P. Johnson to produce a floating front desk for the north lobby of General Motors’ Design Center in Warren.

pieces that meet their high standard of craftmanship, they’ve expanded their collaborations with other select companies to reduce production times. “We’ve also focused on upgrading and automating our shop to refine our process and become more e cient,” Je says.

SmithMade has also produced custom woodwork for luxury yachts and private planes — which, according to the partners, requires very precise specifications, ultralight panels, and special adhesives.

Je and Shayn reveal that since time is their biggest challenge in producing

“(We get a sense of) satisfaction from (giving) the client a one-of-a-kind piece with a meaningful story as a legacy. It’s something that will be in their family for generations to come,” he adds.

MORE INFORMATION: smith-made.com

Right: SmithMade’s walnut burl executive desk adds a handsome touch to this home offi ce. Below, left to right: The Antoinette table, a fumed eucalyptus dining table, and a bourbon barrel coffee table are just a few of the company’s beautiful products.

Great Lakes Colors

1. Rising Blue Artwork by VICTORIA BORGES is calming yet bold. Price upon request, Lighting Resource Studio, Michigan Design Center, Troy, michigan design.com.

Serene shades of water add splashes of style to your getaway home

2. BENJAMIN MOORE ’s Mystic Lake is representative of cool, tranquil water. Price upon request, various locations, benjamin moore.com.

3. This charming Blue Floral Tray and Towel Set from LITTLE LUXURIES OF MACKINAC ISLAND adds a feminine vibe to your party spread. $42, Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island, Mackinac Island, littleluxuries ofmackinac.com.

4. ARHAUS ’ Sendero Outdoor Lumbar Pillow Cover features a print reminiscent of rolling waves. $69, Arhaus, Ann Arbor and Troy, arhaus.com

5. LE CREUSET ’s Heritage Covered Rectangle Caribbean Baking Dish is functional and stylish. $135, Crate & Barrel, Novi, crateand barrel.com, lecreuset.com.

6. The Mediterraneo Sofa by BAKER offers a versatile shape in a vivid hue. Price upon request, Baker | McGuire, Michigan Design Center, Troy, bakerfurniture.com, michigandesign. com.

7. A blue blanket in a traditional print, like this one from HOUSE ON HANSEN , adds a classic touch. $30, House on Hansen, Ludington, house onhansen.com.

5. 1. 3. 4. 6. 7. 2.
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Cool Down

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Some ice cream- and popsicle-themed goodies, just in time for summer

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5. The S’WELL Ice Cream Chiller keeps ice cream cold for up to four hours — perfect for a picnic or backyard BBQ. $35, swell.com.

6. SUR LA TABLE ’s Melamine Ice Cream Bowls are perfect for serving up delicious scoops. $19.95 for four, Sur la Table, various locations, surlatable.com.

1. 6. 4. 2. 3. 5.

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The View

Celebrated architect Lou DesRosiers designed his Leland-area home to showcase a splendid panoramic vista

BLUE | SUMMER 2024 51
MICHIGAN A spectacular view awaits friends and family during mealtime at the DesRosiers home.

ecades ago, award-winning architect Lou DesRosiers and his wife, JoJo, would take their sons, Glenn and Paul, on family getaways to northwest Michigan’s Homestead resort in Glen Arbor. “We loved it,” DesRosiers recalls. Located on Lake Michigan, the beachfront resort’s surroundings launched the couple into a search for property for a second home in the region. “I wanted the best parts — sunsets, undulating shoreline, and islands,” DesRosiers says.

After looking on and off for about 20 years, “from Mackinac to Saugatuck,” the busy designer finally found his paradise — a heavenly slice of Leelanau Peninsula on Good Harbor Bay that looks

out to both the South and North Manitou islands. They’re “the last islands you see before hitting Chicago,” DesRosiers says.

Besides the islands, he also can see The Whaleback, Pyramid Point, the famous Crib lighthouse (eight miles offshore from Leland), and the South Manitou Island Lighthouse. The Whaleback is one of Leelanau County’s more famous geographical landmarks; the point juts into Lake Michigan just south of Leland and forms the north point of Good Harbor Bay.

“We sited the house so we could capture the best in sunsets,” DesRosiers says. He placed a stake in the center of the lot on the lake side. Then using a long string, he sited the house off that stake and

Lou and JoJo DesRosiers’ Lelandarea home features gorgeous views from every room, including the kitchen and dining area.

placed the stake farther back on the property. Next, he laid the house out off the string line. “I had placed the great room view precisely due west,” DesRosiers says.

The Bloomfield Hills-based architect, who has worked on residences throughout the United States, as well as in Canada and Pakistan, says he’s happiest when he’s home, especially at his treasured peninsula getaway. “I love, love, love to talk about our Great Lakes and how unique and fantastic they are,” he enthuses. “Did you know you can see Michigan from outer space?”

Five years ago, the couple put the finishing touches on the home, including lower-level upgrades and finishes, custom mahogany shelving in the main level, and a powder room that features gorgeous onyx counters.

Given the lovely water views from every room, the couple kept the interiors simple, so as not to detract from Mother Nature’s always-changing masterpiece theater.

All of the interiors were designed by DesRosiers and his wife. For the kitchen, they chose Ontario-based Downsview Kitchens cabinetry, which

Above: The kitchen cabinetry has simple lines and plenty of room for the couple’s decorative accents. Below: The laundry room and stairway blend seamlessly with the rest of the home, thanks to consistency in materials.
MICHIGAN BLUE | SUMMER 2024 Top: Neutral tones and clean lines allow Mother Nature’s splendor to take center stage in the primary suite. Below: Pieces by favorite artists adorn the great room. Custom mahogany shelving is perfect for displaying special items.

never bored. The view is our entertainment.”

provides a clean and contemporary feel. Nearby, two iconic Barcelona chairs that were purchased in 1968 seem to say Come, sit here and watch magic through these windows.

Additional contemporary accents include Parsons tables, a Platner table, an A. Rudin sofa, lounge chairs, and a handsome 10-foot-long dining table desgined and crafted by Vogue Furniture of Royal Oak. The table was made from African rosewood doors that were in DesRosiers’ Bloomfield Hills office. “There were 9-foot doorwalls from the 1960s there, as that building was owned by Knoll, the furniture company, at one time,” DesRosiers says. “We made furniture out of that wood.”

Complementing the contemporary furnishings are intriguing materials such as Indiana limestone, which was used for the mantel and exterior masonry wall caps, for example, and Brazilian slate and sapele mahogany, which were selected for the flooring.

As for artistic adornments, one of the couple’s favorite artists is Frank Gallo, who lived in the Chicago area and attended Cranbrook Academy of Art. Sounding just like an architect, DesRosiers says of Gallo’s pieces, “We like that they’re dimensional and sculptural, but on a flat plane.” Gallo’s works can be found throughout the home, from the powder room to the great room. Other treasures include handmade sculptures and ceramics made by local artist Benjamin Maier, whose gallery is in Leland.

In the powder room, an onyx sink, an integral part of the entire glowing vanity, features a sensory spout from Italy. It projects out from the mirrored wall behind the vanity. You don’t see a sink drain, as it’s a hidden slot. “A sink is a basin. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated,” DesRosiers says. The water just disappears.”

They say design is in the details, and that’s evident at the DesRosiers’ retreat. Take, for example, the pivot doors, which rotate vertically with aligned hinges fixated on the top and bottom, and make larger door entrances feasible.

“My front door is a 5-foot by 10-foot pivot door; there’s no threshold. It’s flush, inside and out. I

wanted it clean and level and smooth,” DesRosiers says. He’s not worried about a northern chill or wind seeping in between door and flooring in the cold winter months, due to a felt seal running along the bottom of the door. And he’s quick to note that someday there may be a wheelchair that needs to go through that door. “A wheelchair will fit with plenty of space, and you won’t have to bump over it.”

There’s also a 5-foot by 9-foot pivot door (frameless glass) in the primary bathroom shower. “It’s easily wide enough for a wheelchair,” the architect shares. The pivot allows users to reach in between the door and wall to turn the shower on, “so you don’t get nailed by cold water,” he says with a laugh. Speaking of the shower, you won’t find evidence

An onyx sink in the powder room is an integral part of the glowing vanity.

of a drain there, either, as water travels to and through a hidden slot below the seat. A tuckedaway television in the wall is perfectly positioned so someone soaking in the tub can watch TV. Of course, sunset views also are a main attraction from this perspective.

More inventive design comes in the way of radiant-heated floors in the interior, and on the outside porch and walkways. “All the snow melts immediately,” DesRosiers says.

With two bedrooms on the main floor and two in the lower level, there’s plenty of room for the DesRosiers’ sons to visit. The home features 5,500 finished square feet (3,000 on the main floor and 2,500 on the lower level). The entire trim module of the house is based on 2 inches. “Countertop widths, exterior window frames, door trim, et cetera,” DesRosiers says. Even the mahogany reveals on the exterior measure 2 inches.

Seven- by10-foot tempered-glass windows (1-inch

A convenient outdoor shower is located under an archway.
BLUE | SUMMER 2024 57
MICHIGAN Lou and JoJo DesRosiers enjoy sitting in these Barcelona chairs and listening to the waves.
Lake Michigan blues complement the home’s Western cedar and mahogany tones. The terrace’s glass rails are supported by stainless steel.

bronze/insulated) abut to one another. “I prefer things flush,” the architect notes. “These windows are supported by ¾-inch fins and withstand super high winds.” The exterior features Western cedar and 2-inch mahogany reveals (mahogany is also seen indoors, creating a cohesive appeal) and Fond du Lac stone, which echoes the stone on the interior, too. A convenient outdoor shower is located under an archway, while a storage room is tucked under the terrace and reached through the archway. Stairs lead to the terrace, which is surrounded by glass rails held up by stainless steel (there are no vertical supports, so the views are unobstructed). To top it off, cement roof shingles that are moss green in color will last more than a lifetime.

A beckoning sandy beach beyond a gentle slope welcomes swimmers and beachcombers. DesRosiers shares that he’s swum as early as April 1 and as late as Dec. 12 in the refreshing waters of Lake Michigan. “Sometimes it’s just a dip and not a swim,” he acknowledges. And what does he think is the best design element? “It’s an entire ecosystem of water and trees and storms and sky and beach, and all of this is changing in front of you throughout the seasons, which is so exciting.”

The couple also is treated to some up-close views of watercraft. “When storms come in, big freighters will move closer to our shore for safety,”

DesRosiers says. “One time the SS Arthur M. Anderson anchored near us for a good while.” The couple was so enchanted by the massive ship, which was the last ship to be in contact with the SS Edmund Fitzgerald before she sank in 1975, they commissioned a San Francisco-based model-boat builder to create a replica that now sits over the lower-level fireplace.

“We’re never bored,” DesRosiers says. “The view is our entertainment.”



DesRosiers Architects, Bloomfield Hills, desarch.com


Cabinet – African Ebony

Cantilever of Mirrored Wall, Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak

Faucet – Italian Motion Sensor

Flooring – Brazilian Slate, 2-foot x 4-foot

Sink and Vanity – Cream Onyx (lit from beneath)

Toilet – Gerber


Table – Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak

Wall Paint – Antique White, Pittsburgh Paints


Chairs and Sofas – A. Rudin

Chairs, Leather – 1968 Barcelona Fireplace – Log-Burning, Prefabricated with Gas Logs, 50inch, Montigo Flooring – Engineered Sapele Mahogany, 5-inch; Stone, Brazilian Slate, 2-foot x 4-foot x ¾-inch Table, Coffee – Platner, Knoll TVs – Samsung Wall Paint – Antique White, Pittsburgh Paints

Wall Unit – 2-inch Mahogany

Veneer, 10-foot x 14-foot, Easling Construction Co., Leland


Cabinetry – Downsview Kitchens and Fine Custom Cabinetry

Faucet – Dornbracht

Flooring – Engineered Sapele

Mahogany, 5-inch; Stone, Brazilian Slate, 2-foot x 4-foot x ¾-inch Ovens – Wolf

Range – Thermador Refrigerator – Sub-Zero


Dryer and Washing Machine – LG Skylights – Velux


Railings – Polished Stainless Steel, Mahogany Posts, 14-inch

SS Cables

Stairs – Mahogany, Stringers with Floating Treads and Inlaid Carpet


Wall Paint – Antique White, Pittsburgh Paints


Deck and Patio – Pavers and Walkways, 24-inch x 24-inch x 2-inch, Hanover Architectural


Doors and Windows – Custom,

2-inch x 6-inch Mahogany Frames with 1-inch Bronze Tinted Low Front Door – 5-foot x 10-foot Pivot

Door Glass and Mahogany

Glass – Grabill Windows & Doors, Almont

Railings – Custom, Stainless Steel and Glass

Roof – Cement Shingles, 12-inch x 12-inch x ¾-inch, Moss Green

Stone Walls – Fond du Lac, Random Ashlar with 60 percent Jumbos

Wood – Walls and Fascia, Western Cedar 12-inch Clear plus 2-foot Horizontal Bands of Mahogany


Builder – Crystal River Construction, Glen Arbor

Electrical – Alpha Electrical & Engineering, Troy

Heating – Sedlacek Plumbing and

Four-season beauty is always in store, say the homeowners. “The grounds are lovely throughout the year,” Lou DesRosiers says.

Heating, Kingsley

Interior Design – JoJo and Lou DesRosiers, DesRosiers Architects, Bloomfield Hills

Landscaping – JP Landscape & Irrigation, Grawn

Marble and Tile Installation –Scott Seaman

Masonry – O’Neal Masonry

Roofing – Ingram Roofing, Rochester

Hikers will encounter few people on the trails at Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area north of Ludington, where the dunes can rise 150 feet above Lake Michigan.


Immerse yourself in the beauty of Michigan’s water wonderland along these stellar trails


here’s no better way to spend a summer day than walking the beach. Michigan’s lakeside trails wend beneath leafy hardwoods, brightened by colorful wildflowers and berry bushes. And always, just a few feet away, lies the promise of a splash in the surf.

From easy state park strolls to scenic bike paths and challenging backpacking routes, Michigan is criss-crossed by trails. Here are a few of my favorites that also can be hiked in various segments.


LENGTH: 6-mile loop


Knee-high dune grass, thick stands of maple and birch, and sweeping views of Lake Michigan await hikers in the Nordhouse Dunes. Given its location just

north of Ludington State Park, one of the state’s most popular, this trail offers surprisingly few encounters with other people. That may be due to the trail’s moderately demanding terrain, up and over 4,000-year-old dunes that rise 150 feet above lake level.

For those who are up to the challenge, the trail offers plenty of rewards. The route ascends the ancient dunes, their once-bare crests now thick with hardwoods, before dropping into depressions that hide small ponds. Watch for the deer, fox, porcupines, and other wildlife that shelter here before continuing toward the lakeshore. There, seagulls soar, the endangered Pitcher’s thistle and piping plover thrive, and the Lake Michigan surf promises a refreshing dip.

TIP: If the 6-mile loop proves too challenging, stick to the trail’s 1.5-mile beach segment, accessed via the national forest campsite on West Forest Trail Road.


LENGTH: 2.5 miles round trip


With 2.5 miles of unblemished beach and 1,000 acres of coastal dunes, Saugatuck Dunes State Park ranks as one of West Michigan’s most popular.

The state park features four primary trails; the Livingston Trail is among the best for a true wilderness experience on easy terrain. The trail rolls gently up and over the ridgeline of ancient, forested dunes, which are furnished with stairsteps of exposed tree roots, shaded by towering hardwoods, bordered by nodding columbines and asters, and supplied with tempting red raspberries — if previous hikers and the resident deer haven’t beat you to them.

The Livingston Trail ends at Lake Michigan, where you’ll find a beautiful swimming beach and miles of golden sand. It’s a perfect spot for soaking up the sun before heading back.

TIP: The Saugatuck Dunes are home to 13 miles of hiking trails. Extend your hike by walking up the beach to return to the parking area via an alternate trail.


LENGTH: 42 miles one way


The approximately 42 miles of trail that follow Lake Superior in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore piggyback on the North Country Trail — which, at 4,600 miles, is the nation’s longest national scenic trail.

Here, the trail climbs over russet sandstone ridges and descends onto isolated beaches, traverses forest floors shaded by white pines (and carpeted with their needles), and passes splashing waterfalls. All along the way, there’s the beauty of

Saugatuck Dunes State Park’s Livingston Trail offers a true wilderness experience through 1,000 acres of coastal dunes ending at 2.5 miles of Lake Michigan beach.

Tobin Harbor is dotted with tiny tree-covered islands where loons, kayakers, and even playful otters like to splash around. The hike’s endpoint is Suzy’s Cave, from which the trail takes its name — it’s an inland rock arch created by the pounding Lake Superior surf when water levels were higher. The cave makes a lovely, cool picnic spot before returning to Rock Harbor.


Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area fs.usda.gov

Saugatuck Dunes State Park michigandnr.com/ parksandtrails

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore nps.gov/piro

Suzy’s Cave Trail nps.gov/isro

Bridge to Bay Trail bridgetobay.org

Lake Superior.

Many of the Pictured Rocks’ most popular landmarks lie along the trail, including Munising Falls, Miners Castle, Miners Beach, Chapel Rock, Spray Falls, and the Au Sable Light Station. But don’t discount quieter trailside charms: the solitary views of mirror-calm Lake Superior; delicate Jack-in-the-pulpit and trout lilies; and downed, moss-covered tree trunks (perfect picnic spots).

TIP: Parking areas near Munising Falls, Miners Castle, Miners Beach, and the Au Sable Light offer easy access for shorter day trips.


LENGTH: 4.3 miles round trip


Over gnarled tree roots and across spongey evergreen needles, alongside the calm waters of Tobin Harbor, and past clumps of thimbleberries, Suzy’s Cave Trail promises some of Isle Royale’s finest scenery with little of the challenging hiking or weather exposure Isle Royale is famous for.

The trail departs from Rock Harbor near the seaplane dock, rising and dipping over rocky ledges and roots through an aromatic evergreen forest on a gradual upward climb.

TIP: Return to Rock Harbor the way you came, or make a loop, returning by way of the Harbor Trail, alongside Lake Superior.


LENGTH: 50 miles one way DIFFICULTY: Easy

Following a diverse system of boardwalks, riverwalks, bike paths, and city streets, the Bridge to Bay Trail follows the St. Clair River and the Lake Huron shore near the base of Michigan’s Thumb, with glimpses of lighthouses and Great Lakes freighters along the way. Because the route is entirely paved, it’s popular with cyclists and pedestrians. The Bridge to Bay Trail begins on Lake St. Clair in New Baltimore. Graceful sailboats dot the lake to the south as the trail heads to Algonac and the St. Clair River, which parallels the trail all the way to Port Huron. Rest in charming villages such as Marine City and St. Clair over coffee or ice cream; stop for photo opportunities at lighthouses in Algonac, Marine City, and Port Huron; and marvel at the passing Great Lakes freighters on one of many riverside park benches.

TIP: Most of the Bridge to Bay’s quietest roads and designated vehicle-free stretches lie between the towns of Algonac and Port Huron.

Above: Hikers along the North Country Trail near Munising can enjoy fabulous views of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the beautiful colors of Lake Superior. Inset: Suzy’s Cave Trail provides some of Isle Royale’s most striking scenery, located along its rugged Lake Superior coastline.

Beach House MAKEOVER

Unexpected leaks required a change of plans; the result is an inviting home with natural appeal

Ahhhh, the views of Pine Lake! The homeowners love their upper-level terrace just off the master suite.

This page: With lots of space for the kids to play, along with the beckoning water, the home’s environs are appreciated year-round. Opposite page: This room showcases the Krachts’ desire for a home with organic elements and a natural palette.


The Kracht family had lived in their West Bloomfield home on Pine Lake for about two months when they discovered some serious leaks and water damage.

“We had ice damming and, unbeknownst to us, it had been going on for years prior to us moving in. It caused rot, mold, and more,” says homeowner Erin Waligora Kracht. So for three and a half years, she and her husband and children moved from a hotel to an apartment, to a rental home, and then to another apartment, while their lakeside dream home was undergoing a complete restoration.

“They found years of ice damage and black mold,” recalls Kristin Eleni Shellenbarger, the couple’s interior designer and owner of Bloomfield Hills-based Iron Key Designs.

Shellenbarger was initially brought on to help with kitchen repairs from the water damage. At that time, she worked for Artichoke Interiors. “I ended up working with the Krachts for nearly three years,” she says. “The home had to be gutted and we completely remodeled it.”

Kracht and her husband, Eric, who have three

children — two of whom were born during the remodeling process — wanted a home with organic elements that would exude a natural appeal. “We love the beach and water,” says Erin, explaining that she grew up on a lake in Fenton and loved the years she lived close to the water in California. Her husband, who once lived in Hawaii, also has a penchant for waterside living. “We call the home a ‘modern beach house,’ ” Shellenbarger says.

On the outside, the team did away with what Shellenbarger calls “1980s funky curves,” glass blocks, and most of the stucco. “We used a new Hardie board cladding in a navy paint,” she says.

The Krachts called on Birmingham-based DesignTeam Plus to help with the architectural end of things. “Harold (Remlinger, principal architect) was brilliant and knowledgeable,” Eric Kracht says. “It was his idea to use different materials, like metal on one side, that break it up.” Two decks, one off the master suite and one off the family room, look out to the lake.

Mother Nature’s appeal is evident throughout the interior. As for the palette, the couple and their designer went with predominantly blacks, blues, and neutrals, including lots of wood. “There are natural wood textures throughout, which look great with the black. To bring the water in, we used turquoise, teal, and blue tones,” Shellenbarger says.

In the kitchen, a shiplap island in matte black complements counters made of wood from Tree Purposed, based in Livonia. The wood gives the room a warm feeling, says Shellenbarger, who also


points out that visitors immediately notice a column in the island. “It helps support the second floor, so we embraced it and used it as an architectural element, adding shiplap,” she says. The counters around the range are stainless steel.

The family loves to gather on what they call “the top floor,” which is above the second floor and is a bonus room of sorts. It features a wall of pine boards that were stained several different colors, to give it interest. “We picked three different finishes and, rather than stack the wood, we staggered it,” Shellenbarger says.

On the second floor, the designer and architect created a new hallway.

Laundry spaces include one in the basement and an added one on the second floor. “At first we were thinking it could be a playroom, but then we thought, let’s do a second-floor laundry,” Shellenbarger says. With custom-built matte black barnstyle doors, simple white subway tile, touches of turquoise, and a quartz countertop, it’s a peaceful place in which to work.

One of Erin’s main goals was to have nearly zero maintenance, especially after the extensive length of time spent “under construction,” she says. To

Above: The master suite features wallpaper with a calming forest theme. Top: The kitchen’s shiplap island in matte black is an eye-catcher.
The primary bath exudes peace, thanks to wood accents and neutral tones.



Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger, Iron Key Designs, LLC, Bloomfield Hills, ironkeydesigns.com


DesignTeam Plus, Birmingham


Bathtub – Kohler, Kohler

Signature Store by First Supply, Birmingham Countertops – Quartz, Stone for You, Oak Park

Shower Floor – Ann Sacks, Michigan Design Center, Troy Wall – Cedar wood Walls, Tile – Virginia Tile Co., Michigan Design Center, Troy


Bed Frame and Headboard –West Elm, Birmingham Fan – Big Ass Fans, Kentucky

Wall Treatment – Murals Wallpaper, Etsy


Fan – Minka Aire, Herald Wholesale, Troy

Fireplace Surround – Virginia Tile Co., Michigan Design Center, Troy Flooring – Ciot, Troy

Shelving and Mantle – Tree

Purposed, Livonia

Sofa and Loveseat – West Elm, Birmingham Table, Surfboard – Etsy


Backsplash – Glass, TileBar, New York

Cabinetry – Shelby Cabinet Shop, Shelby Township Countertop – Stainless Steel, MCM Fixture Co., Hazel Park Countertop, Island – Beech, Tree Purposed, Livonia

Flooring – Oak, Smith’s

Hardwood & Construction Inc., St. Clair Shores

Hood – Vent-A-Hood, Witbeck

Home Appliance Mart, West

that end, even the primary suite’s deck materials offer easy care. “I wanted low or no maintenance anywhere I could have it,” the homeowner says, “so we have aluminum deck flooring inspired by our aluminum dock.”

The forest-themed wallpaper that hangs behind the couple’s bed is calming. “Erin read an article on forest bathing, and the concept is if you can be among trees or see trees, even if it’s photography, you’ll enjoy a calming effect,” Shellenbarger explains. Adds Erin: “It lowers your blood pressure.”

Continuing with the homeowners’ desire to use wood throughout, the primary bath and the hallway leading to the bath are wrapped in beautiful cedar. “I was obsessed with the cedar,” Shellenbarger says. The shower tile is made of a lava stone, and the designer says “It’s supposed to be like a crystal in your home, and gives you positive energy.”

When asked about her favorite spot, Erin takes her time to answer. “That’s hard,” she says. “There are so many areas we love. I guess it has to be the lower-level family room. We sit there a lot and play with the kids, with the lake as our backdrop. We love to watch the sunsets from there.”

Adds Shellenbarger: “We didn’t want it to feel like a cold, modern house — and I think we accomplished that.”


Shelving, Display – Custom, Tree Purposed, Livonia


Backsplash – Ciot, Troy

Cabinetry and Storage –Shelby Cabinet Shop, Shelby Township

Doors, Barn Style – Custom Flooring – Ciot, Troy

Paint, Cabinets — SherwinWilliams, Oceanside 6496

Paint, Doors — Sherwin-Williams, Tricorn Black 6258

Sink – Ikea, Canton

Washer and Dryer – LG, Witbeck Home Appliance Mart, West Bloomfield


Backsplash – Pine, Iron Key Designs, Custom Cabinetry – Shelby Cabinet Shop, Shelby Township

Carpet – Georgia Quality

Carpet Outlet, Holly Fan – Minka Aire, Herald Wholesale, Troy

Paint, Railing — SherwinWilliams, Tricorn Black, Matte Railing – Iron Key Designs, Custom

Shelving, Display – Tree

Purposed, Livonia Sofa – Pottery Barn


Building Materials – Stucco, Cedar Hardie Board with SherwinWilliams’ Rainstorm 6230

Paint Company – Armor Tough Coatings, Holly


This page: An inviting kids’ playspace, with FLOR carpet-tile flooring, has plenty of room. One can even take a ride on a little swing! Opposite page: A second-floor laundry room (top) has custombuilt matte black barn-style doors. The floor above the second floor has a playspace (below) with a unique wood treatment.


Creative Flipping

Burgers, a summer staple, don’t have to be traditional

Summer is in full swing. Your kids, your friends, and the family members you’ve been waiting all year to see are finally able to come together to enjoy time spent walking the beach, kayaking, hiking, biking, boating, fishing, swimming, shopping, and stargazing — everything our Michigan lakes and their nearby towns have to offer.

And then, everybody’s hungry. For lunches or dinners that can be handily cooked via skillet, oven, or grill, not much beats the ease of a veggie, salmon, or beef hamburger patty. Served with store-bought packaged salad or slaw, farm-fresh corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes, and maybe even a microwave-


Easy does it — not much beats the ease of grilling a hamburger patty.

Served with storebought potato salad or packaged slaw, farm-fresh corn on the cob, and sliced tomatoes, what else do you need? Special bean-packed vegan burgers, see recipe at right, can also be tossed on the grill.


(No soy or dairy, no manufactured protein product, and unlimited versatility for the recipe’s vegetable ingredients)


2 (15 ounce) cans of black beans or pinto beans (can substitute other beans such as kidney, cannellini, white)

1 cup your choice of any combination of cooked, diced vegetables (some ideas: onion, asparagus, mushroom, sweet potato, broccoli, patted-dry spinach)

1/3 cup tomato paste or ketchup

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

1/4 cup oat bran (note: although oat bran is naturally free of gluten, not all varieties are safe for those with celiac disease)

Feel free to experiment with different spices such as chili powder, paprika, cumin, etc.



baked potato, these will satisfy the hungriest of your sun-kissed, fun-worn family and guests with a minimum of effort, and give you the ability to meet everyone’s mealtime needs and tastes. They can even be made and cooked ahead of time, and then frozen.

Here are my favorite patty recipes.

If grilling, preheat your grill to high heat. Although these aren’t meant to taste like meat or be a meat substitute, the color and texture will be more like hamburger if you use pinto beans.

Drain and rinse the beans, and then thoroughly drain them again. In a large bowl, mash the beans by hand or, if preferred, in a food processor. Mix the mashed beans with all other ingredients. Form the mixture into 8-12 patties, depending on the desired size. If the mixture is too wet to form a patty, gradually add more oat bran. For deliciously crispy results, pan-fry them in an oiled skillet on medium heat for six minutes on each side, turning only once. To bake, use a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes on each side. You can also grill them on the barbecue, on a greased sheet of foil, for eight minutes on each side.


Serve wrapped in lettuce, on a bun or bread, topping a salad, or solo on a plate. These burgers can be served with condiments or toppings such as salsa, mustard, sliced olives, peppers, avocado, mushrooms, pickles, or grilled onion — and so much more.


Have some fish lovers coming over for dinner? Get out the mayo and cornmeal and mix that in with canned or fresh salmon for a truly tasty burger.


Drain the salmon well to prevent having patties that are too moist to hold their shape. When forming the patties, if frying (the preferred method), make sure the oil in the pan is sizzling before adding the patties.



2 cans salmon (each can 14¾ ounces)

½ cup flour

½ cup cornmeal

½ cup minced onion

2 eggs

3/8 cups mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¾ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons oil, if pan-frying


Drain salmon, carefully removing all bones. In a large bowl, use a fork to flake the salmon. Add the lemon juice and mix. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Form into eight patties. In an oiled skillet heated to medium-high heat, fry until golden brown, turning only once. If baking is preferred (though pan-frying is most popular), preheat oven to 425 degrees and bake them on an oiled cookie sheet for 15 minutes, turn them over, and bake for another five minutes. If grilling, squeeze any excess moisture from the mixture before forming patties, and grill at 300 degrees on a foil-lined grill pan for 10 minutes on each side.


Even those who don’t relish seafood or salmon — and children, too — are fans of this easy and tasty recipe. Any number of sauces can be used with these patties, including honey mustard; mayo mixed with plain Greek yogurt, dill, and seasoned salt; a tangy sauce made from four parts mayo and one part yellow or Dijon mustard; tartar sauce; lemon-garlic butter; spicy “buffalo” sauce; or just plain lemon juice from fresh wedges.



Meat purchased from the meat counter needs to be used within two days, but pre-packaged beef (in one-pound, cryovac-type packaging) allows you to keep the beef longer, according to the use-by package date, offering more flexibility with meal plans and changes. To prevent the burgers from bulging when they cook, press your thumb into the middle of each patty. Never press a burger when it’s cooking; you’ll lose precious moisture. Your burgers will also be juicier if you use meat that’s no leaner than 85 percent.

Adding a splash of Worcestershire sauce to ground chuck before shaping your patties creates extra flavor.



3 pounds ground chuck or (recommended) three one-pound units of pre-packaged organic, grass-fed beef that’s 85 percent lean

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon Lawrey’s seasoned salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper (coarse grind preferred) If baking, you’ll use salt and pepper for sprinkling, too.


In a large stainless steel or glass bowl, mix all ingredients. Form into 9-12 patties, depending on desired size. To cook on the stovetop, grease skillet with a light oil. Heat the pan on medium high until the oil is hot. Add the burger patties. The pan should be hot enough for the meat to sizzle. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for five to six minutes. Flip the burgers and cook another five minutes. The burgers should be firm to the touch and read 160-165 degrees with a meat thermometer.

To bake, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Use nonstick spray to coat a baking sheet that has sides to catch the juice. Arrange the patties on the sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip the burgers, and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Bake another 10 minutes, or until the thermometer reads 160-165 degrees. You may need to stack two burgers to insert the thermometer. For grilling, pre-heat the grill to 375-400 degrees. Place the burgers on the grill and leave the lid open. Cook for five minutes on each side, flipping only once. Cook for another five minutes, or until the burgers reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees, for food safety.


Have some fun with condiments and toppings. You can try bacon, fried egg, avocado, grilled or raw onion, peppers, lettuce, tomato, spicy or dill pickles — whatever your guests can fit between a burger and a bun that’s spread with mayo, mustard, chipotle or barbecue sauce, sweet or spicy ketchup, Thousand Island dressing, or just plain!




For summertime thrills, indulge in a bevy of outdoor adventures throughout the state’s southwest region

Trails at Warren Dunes State Park, near Sawyer, include three miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan beach, forested sections, several steep open dune bowls, and plenty of moderate hiking challenges.

hat makes southwest Michigan such an inviting summer playground? Plenty.

The region features some of America’s finest freshwater beaches, stretching for more than 100 miles from Muskegon to the Indiana border, in addition to remarkable coastal marshes that are worth exploring and endless trails that meander through scenic, diverse landscapes and over massive sand dunes that often lead to breathtaking views.

pier and lighthouses in the background, make for memorable experiences,” says Pat Whalen, the Michigan DNR’s Plainwell District supervisor.

South Haven’s South Beach made afar. com’s list of 8 Great Lakeside Beaches in the USA. It’s one of seven public beaches within a five-mile stretch and o ers the most amenities, including grills, picnic areas, playgrounds, kayak and paddleboard rentals, and access to South Haven’s historic lighthouse, perched along a pier extending out into Lake Michigan.

North Beach also has a pier and the longest stretch of sand of South Haven’s beaches, as well as beach volleyball courts, and kayak and paddleboard rentals. Packard Park Beach features picnic facilities, small dunes, and a deck overlooking Lake Michigan.


Grand Haven/South Haven southhaven.org visitgrandhaven.com shorelinevisitorsguide/ grand haven state park

Southwest Marshes chikamingopenlands.org newbuff aloexplored.org

Michigan’s Adventure miadventure.com

Southwest Dunes shorelinevisitorsguide/ hoff master-state-park miottawa.org/parks/dunes shorelinevisitorsguide/ warren-woods-state-park

Third Coast Surf Shop thirdcoastsurfshop.com

Sea Hawk Fishing Charters fi shseahawk.com

Water sports such as boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, surfing, and water skiing abound on Lake Michigan, countless inland lakes, and miles of rivers. The fishing is legendary. And don’t overlook Michigan’s Adventure, the state’s largest amusement park.

Here are a few ways to indulge in this summertime paradise.


Grand Haven State Park and the lively village of South Haven are two of the best options for enjoying the sun, sand, and surf.

Grand Haven State Park’s beach has been drawing nationwide attention. It made Fodor’s list of the 15 best lake beaches in the United States, USA Today readers voted it the nation’s second-best freshwater beach, and Travel + Leisure magazine called it one of the 25 best beaches in the U.S.

The beach features a half-mile of golden sand along Lake Michigan and the mouth of the Grand River, and visitors can soak in views of Lake Michigan, Grand Haven Pier, and two lighthouses. There’s also access to a boardwalk leading into town.

“The beach’s location within walking distance of Grand Haven and its spectacular sunsets, with the Grand Haven south

“Our North and South beaches are where you’ll find seminal American beachscapes with concessions, volleyball, other recreational activities, splash pads, and a festive atmosphere,” says Trenton Bulat, southhaven.org’s digital media manager. “For those seeking a more quiet and natural escape, the beaches at the North Point Conservation Area and Deerlick Creek Park o er two of the most distinctive vantages of Lake Michigan.”


Coastal marshes are some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the state, supporting a rich variety of animal and plant life.

Near New Bu alo, the Galien River Marsh Preserve can be accessed via the 86-acre Galien River County Park and the 150-acre Louis J. Sima Preserve. At Galien, an elevated canopy walkway takes visitors above the treetops and leads to a 60-foot-high overlook tower. A 600-footlong, marsh-level boardwalk gives you the feeling of walking on water, as well as opportunities for close-up views of turtles, deer, birds, and other wildlife. The 1.2-mile Ridge Trail loops its way under a shady canopy and features steep ravines leading down to the marsh and river. Kayaking through the park is another option.


Adventure Park near Muskegon.

The Louis J. Sima Preserve is accessible only by kayak from a public boat launch in New Buffalo and features emergent wetland plant species and a variety of wildlife, including more than 200 bird species.

“Galien River Marsh is a unique wetland that’s hydrologically connected to Lake Michigan through the Galien River,” says Dan Engel, stewardship manager for Chikaming Open Lands. “That means when the water levels in the lake are high, the water levels in the marsh are high, and vice versa. This habitat is critical to many wildlife and has been designated an important bird area by the Audubon Society. It even has a nesting bald eagle pair.”

The 800-meter loop trail at Grand Beach Marsh Preserve south of New Buffalo winds along a coastal plain marsh to an oak forest, wet prairie, and sand prairie. There’s also a pond-like depression in the middle of the preserve and remnants of an old sand dune with oak, maple, and sassafras trees growing from it.

“The coastal plain marsh here is a habitat that only exists in a handful of places in Michigan and contains many unique species,” Engel says. “Many plants found there are considered disjunct, meaning they’re separated from the main body of their population along the Atlantic Coast.”


A single ticket provides access to more than 60 rides and the other attractions at Michigan’s Adventure and WildWater

Shivering Timbers and Thunderhawk are the park’s signature roller coasters, each offering a different kind of experience. The wooden Shivering Timbers climbs 125 feet before plunging down the same distance at a 55-degree angle and reaching a top speed of 65 miles per hour.

Thunderhawk is Michigan’s only suspended looping rollercoaster and climbs 120 feet before an 86-foot freefall followed by barrel rolls and inverted wing loops while reaching 50 miles per hour.

Cool off at the Adventure Falls and Loggers Run, which are wet rides.

Younger guests flock to Camp Snoopy, which features the Woodstock Express rollercoaster, a hot air balloon ride, a petting zoo, a huge playground, and other rides like Mud Buggies and Trailblazers.

WildWater Adventure Park, meanwhile, has the Funnel of Fear waterslide, where visitors race down on rafts, in addition to three wave pools, body slides, and speed slides. Younger children will want to check out the Half Pint Paradise and Beach Party attractions.


Southwest Michigan’s sand dunes offer some of the state’s most scenic hiking trails, and P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Norton Shores, North Ottawa Dunes County Park (Ferrysburg), and Warren Dunes State Park (Sawyer) are three of the best places to take in gorgeous scenery.

Hoffmaster State Park and North Ottawa Dunes border each other, and their 20 miles of trails connect through forested

and more open dunes, complete with stunning overlooks and beach walking.

Hoffmaster’s Gillette Nature Center, where you’ll find exhibits telling the story of Michigan’s dunes, is a good place to access trails including the Lake Michigan Trail, with a climb of 193 steps to reach an amazing panorama of the lake and much of the park’s 1,200 acres. The path continues through forest and dunes before reaching the beach.

The 2.7-mile Homestead Trail loops through wooded dunes and a short stretch of beach. Black Creek Trail (1.7 miles) runs along a creek and climbs to the top of a dune for another breathtaking view before ending where Black Creek empties into Lake Michigan.

“A fun feature of Hoffmaster State Park is that all trails lead to the open dune and Lake Michigan beach,” notes Whalen, of the DNR Plainwell District. “The abrupt change from forest to scenic vista and lake views is memorable to new visitors.”

The 593-acre North Ottawa Dunes can be reached from Coast Guard Park or North Beach County Park. Enjoy eye-popping topography with an elevation change of 185 feet in forested dune formations. Eight dunes exceed 750 feet in height. Stairs lead to a sweeping view of Lake Michigan and the Grand River near the southwest corner of the park.

Warren Dunes’ most popular path is the 4-mile Mount Randall loop, which ascends to the summit of a 260-foot dune. The trail offers descents, forested dunes, and beach walking.

At the Warren Dunes Trail (a 5.1-mile

Above: The Galien River Marsh Preserve near New Buffalo has a 600-foot-long, marsh-level boardwalk with a 60-foot-high overlook tower. Right: The Lazy River at Michigan’s Adventure and WildWater Adventure Park is a fun way to celebrate summer.

waves,” Goossen adds. “For an activity entire families can participate in, surf lessons are the way to go.”

loop), there’s a mile of beach walking, forested sections, and an old water tower. The Beach Trail (a 3.6-mile loop) takes hikers over wooded dunes before a 3-mile walk along Lake Michigan.

“Majestic, towering dunes at Warren Woods offer just the right amount of challenge and plenty of rewards, with breathtaking views and three miles of pristine, undeveloped shoreline,” says Collette Kemper of New Buffalo Explored, a southwest Michigan tourism organization. “You’ll encounter forest, dunes, steep open bowls, and more.”


“Whether you’re after an active experience on Lake Michigan, a river, or dune, we have the gear and knowledge to ensure families experience the caliber of adventure we know is possible,” says Liz Goossen, manager of Third Coast Surf Shop in St. Joseph. Third Coast is ideal for anyone who wants to cross Great Lakes surfing off their bucket list. The shop offers lessons, and surfboard and wetsuit rentals.

“We connect people with everything they need for the current surfing conditions and share tips on where to chase

Third Coast can also hook people up with sandboarding opportunities at the towering dunes of nearby Warren Dunes State Park. Sandboards and sand sleds, which are exclusively designed for riding down or across the face of a dune, are available for rent.

“If there was ever a bucket list item to check off, it’s sandboarding,” Goossen asserts. “You can slide down a sandy slope with views of sprawling dunes and vast Lake Michigan.” Through its affiliated outfitter, Third Coast Paddling, the company offers kayak and standup paddleboard rentals for use on Lake Michigan or area rivers at five sites: the Paw Paw River in St. Joseph, the Galien River (New Buffalo), Silver Beach (St. Joseph), Wade’s Bayou (Saugatuck), and Warren Dunes. “Our river rental sites are picked based on ease of access and the mellowness of currents,” Goossen explains. “Our routes are out-and-backs. There’s no need to arrange shuttles.”


For nearly 40 years, anglers of all ages and skill levels have spent time on Lake Michigan and the St. Joseph River reeling in significant catches with Capt. Russ Clark.

Clark operates Sea Hawk Fishing Charters out of Benton Harbor, with Lake Michigan outings from April through September and year-round river trips. During

the summer months he’s joined by Capt. Jeremee Curtis, who has won his share of fishing tournaments during the past decade.

“We put our knowledge to work to offer the best experience,” Clark says. “We know where the fish are and are all about keeping things fun, with no pressure.”Clark and his crew have everything covered, including equipment, bait, boxed lunches, photos with the day’s catch, and coolers in which to transport fish home after they’ve been cleaned and bagged.

Clients can also opt to have their freshly caught bounty cooked at one of the local restaurants with which Sea Hawk partners.

Sea Hawk offers Lake Michigan outings of five and seven hours, as well as a twoday package of fishing. St. Joseph River trips last seven hours (7 a.m.-2 p.m.).

“During the summer season, people are mainly catching a good mix of salmon, lake trout, and steelhead,” Clark says. “Summer is also when Lake Michigan is usually calmest. We get people from all over the country. Sometimes we might take the Great Lakes for granted, but for people from other areas, it’s like being on the ocean.”

Left: Sea Hawk Fishing Charters in Benton Harbor takes guests out to Lake Michigan. Center: South Haven’s city beaches are among the best in the state and are highly rated in national rankings. Right: Third Coast Surf Shop/Third Coast Paddling offers rental sports equipment for use on Lake Michigan or five local rivers.

Dalton & Tomich, PLC

PPart of the joy of living in Michigan is the abundance of waterways, whether it’s inland lakes, the Great Lakes, or the many winding rivers. The opportunity to own property on the water is truly a privilege, but it can come with its own set of challenges. Before taking the plunge to purchase your dream lakefront or riverside property, it’s important to understand your rights when it comes to docks, water access, and what’s considered fair use. If you’ve already secured a property and are experiencing issues or see them on the horizon, it’s paramount to have the right guidance and counsel in your corner.

Dalton & Tomich, PLC are attorneys who focus on land use and zoning, with an emphasis on riparian and waterfront

issues — a unique and nuanced area of legal practice. They deal with permitting through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and can assist with neighbor conflicts and preparing and appealing permitting decisions. Based in Detroit, Dalton & Tomich serves all of Michigan, and has experience and knowledge in this area of specialization that most attorneys don’t.

Clients seek out Dalton & Tomich for various waterfront-related issues — and often, it isn’t because of a dispute. The team may also provide due diligence or expert analysis prior to a waterfront property purchase. Larry Opalewski, who leads the land use and zoning practice

area, says, “We prefer to avoid litigation in most cases because it takes time and money, and doesn’t help to foster neighborly relationships.” In the event that litigation does become necessary, the team at Dalton & Tomich has the vital experience to achieve a good outcome. A free, 30-minute consultation with the team can help you decide next steps. Visit daltontomich.com to learn more.

Dalton & Tomich, PLC

719 Griswold St., Suite 270

Detroit, MI 48226





84 Tasting Room

Modales shifts to growing organic grapes, while Fenn Valley celebrates 50 years of crafting wine.

86 Dining Out

The Local Epicurean invites you to experience its fun, interactive cooking classes.

The Belle Isle Aquarium, designed by architect Albert Kahn in 1904, features vaulted ceilings covered with opaline green glass tiles. They still shine and then some. Read about the facility’s renovation inside this section.

88 Book It

The Inn at Stonecliffe on Mackinac Island showcases a $40-million renovation.

90 Discoveries

The Belle Isle Aquarium is a Detroit gem once again, thanks to a magnificent update.


Southwest Winery Updates

Modales shifts to growing organic grapes, while Fenn Valley celebrates 50 years of crafting fruit-driven wines

Here’s a look at what’s happening at two southwest wineries around Fennville that are popular tasting-room destinations: Modales Winery and Fenn Valley Vineyards.

Modales Winery

“We want people to say, ‘This is good wine,’ not ‘This is good wine — for Michigan,’ ” says Andrew Backlin, winemaker at Modales Winery in Fennville. That goal drives Backlin, and owners Jim and Carol Gonzalez, to create exceptional wines.

The winery’s foremost project is to grow 100-percent organic grapes. The change is a three-year process, and Backlin says they’re currently in year three.

This shift reflects what Backlin says is best described as the soul of the winery. While he notes that local academia said an entirely organic vineyard is “not really viable,” Modales Winery went all in. Why? Backlin says the focus was changed to maintain the health and vitality of the land and the grapes grown there.

While the move to organic growing is new, sustainability was already a focus at the winery, with all grape skins and stems composted on-site. A geothermal facility was recently built on the property, and going solar-powered is in the future.

This natural approach is also part of the establishment’s wine-making philosophy. Describing the wines as “low intervention wines,” Backlin explains that “almost 90 percent of our production is

Modales Winery’s welcoming tasting room and 3,500square-foot patio draw some 800 visitors on summer weekends.

naturally fermented; there’s no yeast added. We maintain the biology. It’s unique to us. We don’t add sulfites at the beginning of the crush; whatever is on the grapes is on the grapes. No one else is going to have that same balance of microbes.”

Red wines are a favorite at Modales, but the winery also is known for exceptional white wines, sparkling wines, and hard ciders.

The welcoming vibe of the 16-acre vineyard (there’s an additional 24 acres down the road) draws up to 800 visitors on summer weekends, when the tasting room and a 3,500-square-foot patio are popular spots for enjoying wine. Tours are a favorite activity, along with scheduled events including a Nouveau Beaujolais experience each November.

Fenn Valley Vineyards

With its slogan “The Lake Effect Everybody Loves,” Fenn Valley Vineyards acknowledges the influence of nearby Lake Michigan on the wines it creates. The climate and environment of the southwest region, so close to the shores of “the Big Lake,” significantly contribute to the quality of the wines made there and the health of the delicate vines.

The drive to the Fennville winery takes visitors along country roads flanked by maple trees and sumac, and past an occasional 19th century farmhouse. The energy at Fenn Valley’s tasting room is


Modales Winery modaleswines.com

Fenn Valley Vineyards fennvalley.com

Ice Wine. Described as “dessert by itself,” the ice wine boasts five-star reviews across wine and tourist websites. So favored are Fenn Valley wines, in fact, that Lesperance says the winery is now shipping more wine to consumers than ever before.

Fruit-based hard ciders, with apple and cherry among the options, also are available.

both charming and vibrant, with arches opening to spacious rooms with ceilings lined by twinkle lights, where visitors enjoy Fenn Valley wines.

The richness of the tasting room’s ambience is enhanced with items such as an antique wine press, old wine barrels, and a metal sculpture of grapes that’s several feet tall. The laid-back, lakeshore feel is agri-tourism at its finest.

The 240-acre, family-owned Fenn Valley estate has been a vital part of the southwest Michigan lakeshore community for more than 50 years; its first grapevines were planted in 1974.

Makers of several award-winning wines, the vineyard offers unique selections such as Capriccio, a dry red blend that’s unoaked, and Sonata, a white blend. Those who imbibe are likely to notice what Brian Lesperance, winery vice president, attributes to the excellence of its wines: a great microclimate and keeping quality fruit at the core of winemaking.

“We’re very fruit-driven,” Lesperance says. “We tend to be light-handed in the cellar, to get wines with the essence of the fruits they’re made of. Even on Bordeaux-style reds, the oak will be there, but it won’t be the center; the fruit will be the center of the experience.”

Fenn Valley is wine-proud, and it has reason to be. Bottles of wine strung with awards adorn walls stocked with bottles for purchase, among them the popular 42

Since joining the team in 2012, Lesperance has noticed trends in wines and in those who are drinking them. He says observing these trends and growing with the times keeps Fenn Valley among the most popular Michigan wines.

One such trend is the result of the shift of wine-drinkers, with the baby boomer generation waning and younger generations approaching wine differently. “The younger generation of wine-drinkers is less interested in what’s on trend,” he says. “They’re scoping out grapes native to the area or different in some way. They’re open to trying new things and looking for unique experiences as opposed to on-trend experiences.”

Modales Winery’s Nouveau is a vivacious red that’s bright, light, and tasty. Fenn Valley Vineyards’ award-winning wines include unique selections such as a dry red blend that’s unoaked and a white blend, all with fruit as the center of the wine-drinking experience.

Start Chopping

From novices to foodies, The Local Epicurean entices interested chefs to experience its interactive cooking classes

Unlike many newlyweds who honeymoon in a tropical locale, Alex and Carly Salinas spent their post-wedding days close to home — stirring tomato sauce, stretching pasta dough, and stuffing tortellini at The Local Epicurean, a gourmet food emporium and cooking school in the Eastown district of Grand Rapids.

With a traveling honeymoon planned later, the couple jumped at the chance to participate in a private, hands-on cooking class, courtesy of a gift certificate they received at their wedding a few days before.

“It was so much fun and our chef, Fumi, was so welcoming,” recalls Carly, a supply chain manager at Steelcase in Grand Rapids and a self-described novice cook.

For starters, she and Alex tied on red aprons and sipped staff-prepared cucumber martinis as they began chopping tomatoes and kneading pasta dough at the back of the shop, surrounded by hanging salamis, baguettes, and gourmet goodies of all kinds.

“It was a great ‘date night,’ ” Carly says of the interactive cooking experience. “We did the Sicilian Scampi class and made a three-course meal that included a burrata caprese salad, which we now make at home all the time. We made a tomato basil sauce and handmade tortellini, and finished with a lemon basil gelato. It was all so good, and we got some great cooking tips!”

Alex, a high school athletic trainer and injury prevention specialist, does much of the cooking at home. His go-tos are often Mexican fare and America’s Test Kitchen recipes. He was pumped to make pasta from scratch for the first time, he says, and credits the class with improving his

knife skills and boosting his confidence in the kitchen.

“We’ve cooked more adventurously since then,” he says, adding that he and Carly immediately used the discount extended by The Local Epicurean to graduates to buy a gift certificate for their next class. They chose the threecourse Diver Scallops dinner, featuring pan-seared lemon scallops atop scissor noodles and spinach cream sauce, lemon goat cheese wedge salad, and house-made lemon mint gelato.

The couple also bought gourmet gifts for friends and family after browsing the shop’s wide assortment of sauces, wines, cheeses, oils, vinegars (notably a 25-yearold balsamic vinegar that stars in the school’s burrata caprese salad), and more than 120 handmade artisanal pastas, seasonally rotated and in myriad shapes and sizes.

Depending on the time of year, the fresh, dry pastas may include portobello or parmesan egg noodles; pumpkin chipotle pappardelle; mezzaluna, a stuffed crescent-shaped pasta with sealed, curved edges; a big, round tube pasta called paccheri; and a striped pasta that made a spring debut in the store. They make everything the old-fashioned way — every single noodle is cut by hand.

Ryan Raredon and his partner launched The Local Epicurean nearly 11 years ago. They began by selling fresh pasta at local farmers markets. “No one was making pasta when we started,” Raredon says, “and we soon learned why — it’s very labor-intensive, truly a labor of love.”

The demand was so great, he recalls, that they soon opened a storefront and grew over the decade to their current 20-employee shop and cooking school,

Top: Making pasta is a main component of The Local Epicurean’s private cooking classes. Below: All students gain valuable insights on how to create perfect noodles by hand.
PLAN IT! The Local Epicurean thelocalepicurean.com

which is open seven days per week and boasts more than 30,000 graduates. “The joke is that (I) had been in the concrete business, so had some mixing experience,” Raredon says.

The big news is that The Local Epicurean is now starting to offer franchise opportunities; the first franchisee is expected to open in East Lansing in late summer or early fall.

Fumi Kamarake, one of the school’s popular instructors, joined the team three years ago, after making a big impression on Raredon during a chance encounter at the shop. It’s a tale reminiscent of the classic Hollywood legend of how actress Lana Turner was discovered at the Schwab’s drugstore soda counter.

“She was in here shopping and we got into a conversation about black garlic,” Raredon says of Kamarake. “She’s definitely a foodie. She showed me some pictures of what she’d made and I said, ‘Oh, my goodness, you should come here and cook with us!’”

These days, he adds, Fumi is a customer favorite with many repeat students, and epitomizes the cooking school’s philosophy.

“Cooking is fun, it brings people together,” he says. “We want all our classes to be approachable for everyone, whatever their cooking skills might be. We see many people who have never cooked anything before, especially the guys coming into class.

“We showcase a lot of techniques and recipes, but that’s not the primary experience. It’s more about coming together, talking about food, and (sharing) food stories — the origins of food,” he adds. “Our goal is to make it fun and enjoyable, and less technical than maybe a more traditional cooking school would offer.”

Private two-hour classes start at $99 per person for two to 10 participants. Students choose their three-course menu from 18 selections, each of which is available any time of day. Up to 40 students can participate in team-building exercises or custom experiences such as showers and bachelorette parties.

BLUE | SUMMER 2024 87
MICHIGAN Above: The Local Epicurean’s teachers help students boost their kitchen confidence. Left: The two-hour cooking classes allow students to prepare a three-course meal in an enjoyable setting. Here’s an entree example.

One Fantastic Face-lift

Mackinac Island’s 120-year-old iconic resort, The Inn at Stonecliffe, showcases a luxurious $40-million renovation

Built in 1904 as the private summer estate of 19th century industrialist Michael Cudahy and his family, The Inn at Stonecliffe has served as a luxury boutique hotel on Mackinac Island for more than five decades. After being closed for two years to undergo a $40-million renovation, the luxury resort is once again ready to welcome guests.

Situated on a 15-acre western bluff nearly two miles from Mackinac Island’s downtown district, Stonecliffe is a full-service resort with enhanced accommodations, restaurants, meeting spaces, and recreational amenities for couples, families, and corporate or leisure groups.

Three elegant private cottages are among the new offerings at Stonecliffe; each sleeps up to nine or 10 guests. The cottages feature three spacious bedrooms (including a master suite), 2.5 bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a dining room, a living room, and a covered front porch that affords breathtaking views of the Straits of Mackinac.

Thirty-two guest rooms — including a handful of suites with kitchenettes, dining space, and a private patio or balcony — comprise the 26,000-square-foot Summer House. All of the rooms have been meticulously updated with vibrant colors, patterns, and textures.

The original 18,500-square-foot, Tudor-style mansion retains its classic character on the outside while embracing modern interior updates, including a full restoration and the addition of air conditioning throughout.

The lobby was lightened up with a fresh coat of paint that, along with the existing colorful stained-glass windows, highlights the main stairwell to the second floor. Visitors are invited to relax in the first-floor library, grab a drink in Horsey’s pub, or enjoy an elegant dinner in The Straits main dining room, where classic dishes are crafted from regionally

sourced ingredients. Both restaurants have cozy fireplaces to alleviate the chill on cooler nights, while adding to the Up North ambience.

Upstairs, 16 distinctive guest rooms, mostly kings, feature transformed bathrooms and calming, water-inspired décor. The mansion also boasts a new brick patio, complete with a fountain centerpiece.

Adjacent to the mansion, The Backyard, a new open-air barbecue pavilion, offers elevated casual dining experiences like fish boils, hog roasts, and grilled pizza nights, in addition to cooking classes, a visiting chef series, and other culinary events.

Other additions to Stonecliffe include a wellness center with a sauna, adults-only pool, and cabanas; The Mercantile, with homemade ice cream, a coffee bar, and grab-and-go snacks and souvenirs; and a 3,000-square-foot stone and glass Sunset Pavilion Event Center, ideal for weddings or corporate retreats for up to 150 guests for a sit-down function or 200 for a standing reception. In all, the Stonecliffe campus features plenty of space for relaxing.

BOOK IT! The Inn at Stonecliffe theinnatstonecliffe.com
Above: Guests in this welcoming guest room will find a cozy reading/lounging area where they can sip on a just-made cup of hot tea or coffee. Below: Plush cottages are designed for family gatherings and can accommodate up to 10 guests. Above Right: The sprawling lawn shows off flowing gardens, lush landscaping, and gorgeous water perspectives.

Guests also will find a family-friendly pool; flowing gardens and lush landscaping; a sprawling lawn with a new fire pit, solo stoves, Adirondack chairs, and classic lawn games; and an expansion of the heritage apple orchard complete with bee hives and chicken coops, creating a tranquil country vibe.

As bicycling is one of the primary modes of transportation on the island, Stonecliffe will rent bikes for guests looking to head downtown or around the various routes to experience Mackinac’s natural, cultural, and historic wonders. Carriage taxi service is available. Throughout the season, Stonecliffe plans to offer live music to enhance the island experience.

“We’re so excited to have Stonecliffe back in operation. We’ve missed them the past two seasons, but it’s going to be worth the wait,” says Tim Hygh,

CEO of Mackinac Island Tourism.

“They’ve turned their stately property into a spectacular showcase. In addition to renovating the existing property, we know guests are going to be impressed with the new cottages and other new amenities. The thought and craftsmanship that has gone into the renovation is incredibly impressive.”

For years, Detroit-born philanthropist William Pulte had been a silent partner at Stonecliffe. Within three years of his 2018 death, his Pulte Family Charitable Foundation was gifted full ownership of the iconic property. Stonecliffe will operate under a unique business model with 100 percent of the profits returning to the foundation to fund grants and support mental health shelters, foster programs, and other global initiatives.

In addition to Stonecliffe, the Pulte

Family Charitable Foundation (formed in 1990) owns Saint John’s Resort in Plymouth, which also has been undergoing renovations and a reconfiguration of its 27-hole golf course. The foundation, which reported $6.6 million in charitable giving in 2022, partners with nearly 200 nonprofit organizations and educational institutions around the world for its various humanitarian causes. Members of the Pulte family also own the Harbour View Inn and Murray Hotel, both on Mackinac Island.

Above: An inviting lobby greets visitors upon arrival. Note the detailed millwork and pretty blue-and-cream palette. Right: Bringing the outside in, the inn’s event center is an ideal spot for weddings, meetings, and retreats.

Beaux Arts Beauty

A pandemic-era closure gave the Belle Isle Aquarium’s caretakers an opportunity to make this Detroit gem shine

Some cultural institutions waited out the pandemic quietly. Detroit’s Belle Isle Aquarium and the Belle Isle Conservancy used the downtime to dive into an extensive renovation of the historic structure.

“Renovating an aquarium involves closing tanks, which nobody likes,” says Amanda Murray, senior aquarist of the Belle Isle Aquarium. “During the pandemic we could do that and not feel bad.”

At nearly 120 years old, the Belle Isle Aquarium — which opened in 1904 as the world’s third-largest aquarium — needed attention.

Detroit architect Albert Kahn designed the Beaux Arts building with vaulted ceilings and skylights that resembled submarine

hatches. He covered the walls and ceilings with opaline green glass tiles, all of which gave guests the illusion of being underwater. Fish tanks were set in the walls, like windows on a marine world, and saltwater tanks were filled with seawater delivered via rail cars from the Atlantic Ocean.

Over the years, the aquarium, which now ranks as the nation’s oldest, updated its tanks, improved its water filtration systems, and underwent thorough cleanings to return the sparkle to ceiling tiles that had grown dingy. But nothing compared to the renovations taken on during its COVID-era shutdown.

Beginning in March 2020, the Belle Isle Conservancy began a 16-month, $1.2-million improvement project that

added 21st-century water filters, replaced leaky glass, and added aquatic plants to tanks. They also combined smaller tanks to make larger spaces for species that had outgrown their habitats.

Behind-the-scenes updates enhanced animal care facilities, and a new medical lab was installed for ailing aquatic creatures. The public’s favorite improvement was the addition of three axolotls (salamanders).

Murray anticipates the installation of the aquarium’s first AC unit by the end of 2024, and its fish food prep area should be completed soon thereafter. There’s even talk of restoring the aquarium’s Prohibition-era basement speakeasy if funds become available.

Murray says improving the quality of life for the residents is no small task.

“We want to be very deliberate about the kinds of habitats we place our animals in,” Murray says. “They’re living their lives in this aquarium, and we want those lives to be healthy and happy ones.”


Belle Isle Aquarium belleisleconservancy.org/bia

Above: The 120-year-old Belle Isle Aquarium is the nation’s oldest. Left: Lots of behind-thescenes improvements and upgrades to the viewing areas were part of the renovations. Inset: Three new endangered axolotls are a big hit.

The Best of Mid-Twentieth Century Modern Architecture

The Alden B. Dow Home and Studio engages the imagination and elicits emotional responses in all who experience this powerful statement of Mid-Twentieth Century Modern architecture. Planted into an encompassing pond, the Home and Studio is alive with reflective light, soaring roof lines, diverging angles, brilliant color and the perfect balance of enticement and tranquility. It truly is an “oasis of architecture and inspiration.” Schedule your visit for architectural tours, educational programs, Michigan history and much more.

616.957. 1969 trukitchens.com home remodels kitchens bathrooms (866) 315-7678 abdow.org

TEarly-morning Peace

kayaker focuses on the loon, one of Michigan’s most beloved birds

Text and photo by Jenifer

he common loon is one of my favorite waterfowl, especially when I spot one during summer breeding season while kayaking on Pickerel Lake near Newaygo.

Loons are both solitary and social birds. They nest on quiet lakes and large ponds from the 45th to the 48th parallel, including those in central Michigan and northward. Typically there’s only one breeding pair per lake. Loons are also more intelligent than most waterfowl. An average adult loon can swim up to 20 miles per hour, dive up to 200 feet in depth, and hold their breath between five and 10 minutes!

I’m largely a self-taught photographer and enjoy kayaking in my sit-in kayak (most of these types range from 12 to 14 feet). Along for the ride is my DSLR and 200-600mm zoom lens, and I either shoot my camera freehand or with the assistance of a small monopod.

Photographing birds in a kayak requires considering a lot of factors: balance, posture, camera settings, wind, sun direction and intensity, other boats on the lake — and, of course, the bird’s behavior. It’s an activity I do repeatedly because of the peace it brings. Every paddle is a di erent journey that I look forward to.

A typical morning paddle starts before sunrise so I can be on

P.S. Pickerel Lake is a 318-acre natural lake in southern Newaygo County, approximately 2 miles north of Newaygo. The lake is irregularly shaped, with five di erent basins. Each of the basins is at least 37 feet deep; the deepest is approximately 73 feet deep. To learn more about the common loon, visit nwf.org or michiganloons.org.

the water as the sun comes up. Most often, the wind is calm at this hour, there’s no boat tra c, and the only noise heard is the haunting call of the common loon from somewhere across the lake, giving me an idea of where my morning destination should be.

Predicting the loon’s behavior so I can anticipate a wing flap or a fish catch is usually how I try to capture my images, and this comes from the experience of observation. Having the camera ready is critical, although holding a 7-pound camera makes your arms sore pretty quickly! That’s why I started using a monopod for support underneath. The biggest challenge is wind, because it will blow the kayak. Then I have to set the camera down and paddle into a di erent position, and by then the loon may have decided to dive back underwater.

Jenifer Selwa, of Newaygo, showcases her loon photography at jenselwa.com.

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