Glamping in Michigan

A new glamping adventure is coming to Michigan. Bella Solviva is Michigan’s first glamping eco-resort, located on 229 acres in northern Michigan. Northern Michigan is a mecca for camping enthusiasts. Michigan’s state park system takes over 1 million camping reservations per year, and campers spend up to $800 million per year on camping trips just for campsites and food.

Bella Solviva owners Brad and Sandy Carlson loved to camp with their family, but didn’t love the cramped close quarters that most campgrounds offered. So they took matters into their own hands and developed a property in the beautiful Jordan River Valley. “With sweeping vistas, winding creeks, cedar and pine forests, and towering hardwoods, we knew this was home,” said Brad. “The two ponds, one which features an adventure island in the center of the pond, will be sure to stir the imagination of your children and create family memories for years to come.”

photo, courtesy Brad Carlson

The property will eventually include 100 camping sites that will offer accommodation options from tents to tree houses to vintage RVs to suites and cabins, from just $57 a night to $1,000 a night for the most luxurious experience. The site will also offer themed areas like the adventure island and an equestrian center, and a few areas will also be available in winter months to appeal to hunters. It will also include group spaces in a village-like setting with common areas designed to foster community and social events. Projects on the horizon include a clubhouse; laundry facilities; a swimming pool; tennis and multipurpose sports courts; a natural playground; an ice skating rink in the winter; a recreation hall with a variety of games; and trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

photo, courtesy Brad Carlson

Bella Solviva also aims to be 100 percent energy independent when completed, and will install solar panels, wind turbines, hydropower, and heat generators as it’s developed. The resort intends to open this fall with a grand opening in spring 2016.

The resort also offers a number of ways you can glamp at a reduced price or even for free. “We are thrilled to partner with you in building a legacy of traditions,” says the resort’s website. “Use our referral program to share your excitement about Bella Solviva and glamp with us for free. Check out our surveys to receive a discount on your first reservation, and visit our sponsorship page to customize a glamping accommodation to your own personal specifications. We are building it so you can come! Let’s do this!”

Read more about Bella Solviva and find out how to glamp at a reduced rate at BellaSolviva.com.

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Roundbows?

Carol (my magazine designer) and I were marveling at the magic of moonbows the other day, and she told me that she’d seen a round rainbow while vacationing in Hawaii. That’s right—a full circle—like this one, photographed from the window of a plane …

Photo by Steve Kaufman via Wikipedia

Or this one, photographed from the Golden Gate Bridge, which includes something called a Brocken spectre

Photo by Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons

Spectacular!

“Rainbows are both beautiful and rare, but we see more than our fair share of them in Hawaii because our mountains and trade winds combine to produce rain on the slopes of the mountains,” explains Richard Brill of Honolulu’s Star Advertiser. “Because of the orientation of the islands, it is not unusual for the low morning or afternoon sun to shine under clouds over the mountains and illuminate rain beneath the clouds.”

Photo by Paul Bica via Wikimedia Commons

After all, Honolulu is known as the “rainbow capital of the world.”

“In theory, every rainbow is a circle, but from the ground, only its upper half can be seen. Since the rainbow’s center is diametrically opposed to the sun’s position in the sky, more of the circle comes into view as the sun approaches the horizon, meaning that the largest section of the circle normally seen is about 50 percent during sunset or sunrise,” Wikipedia informs. “Viewing the rainbow’s lower half requires the presence of water droplets below the observer’s horizon, as well as sunlight that is able to reach them. These requirements are not usually met when the viewer is at ground level, either because droplets are absent in the required position, or because the sunlight is obstructed by the landscape behind the observer. From a high viewpoint such as a high building or an aircraft, however, the requirements can be met and the full circle rainbow can be seen.”

But, wait … you can actually create your own mini version of a full-circle rainbow with the mist from an ordinary garden hose (you don’t even have to be in Hawaii to do it).

Here’s how:

Give it a try!

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Bird Identification

You may remember me telling you about Bird Song Hero, and online game that helps you learn to identify the cheeps and tweets you hear in the trees outside your window.

Well, the ever-clever “birdbrains” at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have now teamed up with the Visipedia Computer Vision Group at Cornell Tech to bring us the Merlin Bird Photo ID, a website that can identify 400 of the mostly commonly encountered birds in the United States and Canada using photographs uploaded by bird watchers.

Photo by Kevin Cole via Wikimedia Commons

“It gets the bird right in the top three results about 90 percent of the time, and it’s designed to keep improving the more people use it,” said Jessie Barry at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “That’s truly amazing, considering that the computer vision community started working on the challenge of bird identification only a few years ago.”

Here’s how it works:

You upload a photo of a bird and provide the location where the photo was taken. Next, you draw a box around the bird using your mouse and click on its bill, eye, and tail.

In a flash, Merlin scours thousands of online images and more than 70 million sightings recorded by bird enthusiasts in the eBird.org database and offers you a short list of possible species.

When you identify your species and click “This is My Bird,” Merlin will save your record to help improve future performance.

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