What we're up to this month

Follow the fun on instagram @mmvalade @dylanvalade

Based in Petoskey MI

Northern Michigan Vacation Guides

Update!  Meghann opened a fun yoga studio in Harbor Springs, MI

Be Inspired

Have you ever been up north?  Yes? Sweet, please find something on our site you've never seen or tried before and do it this year!  Nope?  Perfect, we want to help you find a weekend trip that will inspire you and hopefully help you enjoy Michigan as much as we have!

Creativity is America’s greatest resource. Inspiration breeds creativity and here are four things you can do every time you need to be inspired.

1. Get your endorphins and adrenalin pumping by doing something active.
2. Experience something for the first time like a new sport, hobby, restaurant or beautiful place.
3. Meet a new person.
4. Give back by supporting something you love.

Completing this cycle takes you through different emotions, draws on your own knowledge and lets you learn from others.  You'll be frustrated by something and have an opportunity to improve it.  You'’ll gain perspective by seeing how other people live and how they solve the same problems.  Finally, you'll support someone else with your time or money.  The hardest part is breaking out of your regular routine... and that's where We Are Up North comes in!

I'm Dylan Valade, a web designer and outdoorsman from Petoskey.  My career allows me to live anywhere in the world and my choice is Michigan.  Meghann Gerling is a Michigan ski champ and Boyne City native who lives in Grand Rapids and works at Wolverine for Merrell and Chaco.  Meghan spends all of her free time with me and together we are the unofficial local guides for Up North.  We were fortunate enough to have creative, active families who raised us to work hard, learn, teach and most importantly... explore.  We started skiing, swimming and sailing the northern lakes from the time we could walk.  30 years later I want the opportunity to share my passion with you so that you and your families can enjoy Michigan as much as I have.

Treasure Hunting

In May 2011 I started buying gift certificates from places I love Up North and hiding them in wooden boxes out in the wilderness.  Every week a new hidden treasure is released as a geocache or as a photo hunt that is won by sending in a picture of yourself visiting one of our favorite places.  Our newsletter subscribers find out the details on Thursday a full day before the treasure's location is released to everyone else on our website.  Sometimes the treasure is found in 24 hours and other times not at all!

Not everybody wants to try out some extreme sport or a new hobby to get their blood pumping, but everyone is excited about finding buried treasure.

Try New Places

Fortunately, new places don’t have to be new.  One of our goals is to use the latest technologies to help our favorite old businesses attract new customers.  Last fall, Meghann and I were eating breakfast at American Spoon in Petoskey before they closed for the season and decided that when they reopened in the spring we wanted to help them hit the ground running.

For Memorial Weekend we launched weareupnorth.com featuring Perry's Whitewater American Rush!  Which is a trip to the historic Perry Hotel, whitewater kayaking down the Bear River, and breakfast at American Spoon's Gelato Cafe in downtown Petoskey.

Providing search optimization, professional photography and a fun website gives a family-owned rural business the ability to reach outside of their community and find new customers online.

3 Hours from Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit

We Are Up North is not just for northerners and you can have a weekend getaway for the cost of your gas.  Experiences on our website within a few hours of Grand Rapids include mountain biking in Harbor Springs, camping the Jordan River and zip lining at 40 miles an hour above Lake Charlevoix.  These are family friendly destinations that you may already know.  If you go Up North for skiing, golf weekends, sports tournaments or boating look at our website and try one thing you haven't seen or done before.

Here is an email I received from Margie, one of our website readers whom I have never met:

"I LOVE the idea of what you have put together!  We are from downstate but have a place in Gaylord and are always looking for 'day trips'.  I don't think that we would take part in the geocache … but thanks for getting this info out there!"

Margie goes on to say, "I'm very excited to find our next adventure to a new up north city!"

Lisa, a Grand Rapids resident and a person I've never met wrote to us on Twitter this morning and said "just booked a weekend at the Perry Hotel in Petoskey. Thanks. Love your site!"

Reaching completely new customers on behalf of businesses 200 miles away is serious impact!

First Hand

We try everything first before selecting what will be featured on the website and recommended to our visitors.  Meghann and I are good at teaching other people how to do the activities we love.  Watch us try everything on the website and then decide for yourself if it is something you or your family want to try.  While most of my peers have been working in metropolitan offices I've been living in Rocky Mountains and northern Michigan learning to lots of outdoors activities from experts.  Now its time for me to give back everything I can to teach others how to enjoy.  Stay tuned to learn how to camp, fly fish, drive a boat, sail, ski, teach kids to ski, and tons of other great Up North activities.

This picture of a sunset on Lake Michigan from the Homestead in Glen Arbor has 20 minutes of sunset remaining. See Meg's quote below to find out how we know!

Real World

Our fixed monthly costs are fuel, gift certificates, server space and backup storage.  Variable costs include park passes, museum donations, tips for local information and lodging.  We are accepting sponsorship in the form of donations and advertisements displayed on the website.  Banner ads must be a photo of your location, employees or product (food, rooms, etc.).  If we try your services out and aren't fans, then your ads will be removed from our site.  Contact me dylan@weareupnorth.com if you have a great Up North offering and are interested in advertising with us.

Convention and Visitor Bureaus, we are reaching out to you!  If you want to see your area featured for a week or season on weareupnorth.com, our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter then please contact us and let us know what costs you can cover for us to visit and explore your area like a local.  We need insider tips about the REALLY good places from people who know.  We want to camp, hike, try off the wall places, hidden spots, meet passionate people and see Up North!  Help us help you!

We invest in technology that improves the online visual experience.  As suggestions and problems for mobile users and new features, we work to implement them and improve the website. If anyone is willing to donate some equipment to improve the experience on weareupnorth.com here is the equipment we need:

  • A panoramic or wide angle digital camera lens for Canon EOS Rebel
  • A waterproof HD video camera from GoPro with extra mounts for helmets and extreme sports.  The point of view video camera can be expanded for 3D video which would let our visitors experience a once in a lifetime activity like sky diving or back county snowboarding at home in 3D to see if they want to try themselves.

Start Today

This week, get your adrenalin pumping by zip lining in Boyne City, meet Matt and Katy the owners of M-22 and Crystal River Outfitters in Glen Arbor, or give back by supporting the National Parks Service.  Trust me, it will spark your inspiration and creativity will follow.

Even if you can’t go Up North this weekend, do something you’ve never before or haven’t tried in over 10 years and tell someone about it.  With the help of your endowment, you can watch us grow and find things in Michigan you never knew existed.

Upcoming summer destinations include Traverse City, Blissfest, Leelanua Peninsula, Pictured Rocks and Mackinac Island.

What Do You Think about Based in Petoskey MI?

Locals Tip

Most places we go and activities we do were passed on to us by someone we trust but Up North activities are usually passed down from the previous generation.  If you are the first generation in your family to spend time up north you probably look to friends, websites or visitor bureaus for ideas.

Hiding a gift certificate in the woods so that someone else could experience a beautiful hike and delicious breakfast seems silly but if you were willing to take our advice, then your meal is on us.

up north michigan poster

"If you fan out your fingers and put them in front of a sunset, every finger from the horizon to sun is 15 minutes of remaining sunset. If the horizon and sun are five fingers apart you have exactly one hour left before dark!" Meghann
"Michigan is the best state in the union and my favorite place on Earth." Dylan