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Cold snap!

After a warmer fall than usual, Mother Nature is trying to balance the scales with below zero weather for the holidays. It's time to transition to the season of Hygge (pronounced hue-guh). Hygge is the Dannish concept of cozy contentment, whether alone or with friends, indoors or out. How do you bring more Hygge into your life? After a day on the groomed cross country ski trails or a spin at the skating rink, head home for hot chocolate and warm fuzzy socks. Invite friends over for board games in front of the fireplace. Clean up one room or a corner of your home and fill it with things that make you happy. Favorite pictures, candles, books you want to read; if a window is nearby, even better. Set aside some time for yourself this winter to enjoy your cozy space and work on being content and thankful.

As we slide into the new year we can use this cold snap as a refreshing reset. A time to slow down, get cozy, and reflect on all the blessings and challenges we have overcome. And what about the new year? Are there any lessons 2017 taught us that we can take into 2018? What about things we'd like to leave behind in 2017? Go for it! You have permission to make 2018 your year. Don't hold yourself back. 

When you're ready for a break, head to Alpena, the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes. You can snowshoe or ice fish your stress away and leave feeling recharged and restored. Cozy up with a glass of local wine or a latte from one of our charming hometown coffee shops. Alpena is the perfect place to push pause, and reset your priorities. We'll see you soon.
Mary Beth Stutzman, 
along with Nicole Carr & Jessie Morasky 
Your Visit Alpena! team at the Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Let it Snow! 5 Fun Things to do After an Alpena Snowstorm 
There are so many things to do after an Alpena snowstorm, like shovel...plow...snow know, the adult stuff. Set that aside for a couple hours of care-free fun with
Check out this awesome snowman! Construction and photo courtesy of Katelyn Carr & Family. 
these wayyyy better ideas, from us to you! 
  1. Do you wanna build a snowman? Yes, yes you do! Stick with the traditional approach for classic family fun and nostalgia. Start with a snowball packed tightly and roll around through the snow, making it bigger and bigger until you have the base. The base should be bigger than the middle and the top. Repeat for the middle and top pieces, with the top being the smallest. Grab a scarf, some coal for the eyes, smile, and buttons, and a carrot for the nose and you've got yourself a classic snowman! Show us your snowmen by tagging #visitalpena #alpenasnowman #sanctuaryofthegreatlakes
  2. Cross country skiing at Norway Ridge. The seven miles of groomed trails at Norway Ridge are perfect for the cross country skier. Trail markers make it easy to determine which loop you are on and the snowy trees that surround you provide the perfect views and photo-ops! Ski rentals are available at Harborside Cycle & Sport
  3. Snowshoeing through Besser Natural Area. You can snowshoe all the way to the ghost town of Bell for a fun day after the storm. Here's an idea, bring a lunch for a winter picnic by the old remaining stone chimney. Take pictures and hashtag it #visitalpena #winterpicnicsatbell #sanctuaryofthegreatlakes 
    If you haven't tried out snowshoeing yet, put it on your bucket list for this winter! Photo courtesy of Jason Lampel. 
  4. Snow fort construction followed by epic snowball fight. Remember the days of snow fort construction during an hour recess? When you'd hope and pray the other kids didn't wreck it during the next recess period! Well worry no more because this time it's in your own back yard and you have full control of your snow fortress size, strength, and capabilities! Grab a friend, grab your kids, and grab your spouse and may the best team win during the best snowball fight of the year! 
  5. Relax by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and Christmas movies. Ahhhh...put on your best cozy pajamas and relax. You deserve it!

Gotta-Check-It-Out Adventure: Outdoor Winter Photo Walk Checklist 
What exactly is a photo walk? A photo walk
Winter lake view captured by Heather May. 
is when you walk around photographing your surroundings...that's it! So pick a beautiful, wintery place like Norway Ridge, the covered bridge connecting Duck Park to Island Park, or downtown Alpena for a fun, small cityscape, just to name a few!
What You'll Need:
  • You will not need a fancy-schmansy camera for this winter photo walk. All you will need is your cell phone camera or a point-and-shoot camera. 
  • A theme. Not necessary but fun and good way to stay on track. Your theme can be nature, people, lights, objects, black and white or color, etc. 
  • Set a time and distance. Perhaps your photo walk will be a couple city blocks during the sunset, or a couple of country miles during the sunrise. 
  • Invite a friend for your photo walk, start a photo walk group, or go on a solo adventure. 
This time of year is especially beautiful for a winter photo walk as all the twinkling Christmas lights reflect off the snow below and the holiday décor. 
Give Yourself a Winter Mood Boost
Winter is here and it came in FAST this year. One week it was still in the 50's and then BAM-- snow and single digit temperatures! Although it may sound frigid, the combination of nature and exercise is one of the best stress-relievers available to mankind and it doesn't cost a cent. When it gets cold outside and the snow is falling, it's tempting to want to hole up indoors, but that can exacerbate the winter blues! Let nature invigorate you.

The sights and sounds of nature have a relaxing
Getting outside and moving more will help curb the seasonal sadness.
and calming effect, no matter what season it is. Many of us can fall into the trap of winter blahs; or even a more challenging clinical condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is cyclical and usually causes depressive periods during fall and winter seasons and non-depressed periods during spring and summer. While the typical winter blues may leave you feeling a bit mopey, cabin-feverish, or bummed that you can't get outside more; other symptoms of the more serious condition, SAD, include sleeping more than usual, having less energy, losing interest in activities, and an inability to focus and think clearly. Keep away the moody blues and help improve SAD symptoms by following these natural tips:

1) Increase Exposure to Daylight: Open curtains during the day. Sit near bright windows. Spend time outside for daily walks. Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D. It also increases your body's serotonin, a hormone that helps you feel happier and more energetic. Even if there are winter clouds covering the sun, you will still absorb some vitamin D. 

2) Move More: Exercise alone creates a natural feeling of euphoria by causing your brain to release endorphins. The perfect natural remedy to cure the winter blues is to go outside and play. Bundle up in warm clothes and get ready to rejuvenate the happy, healthy, and adventurous you.

3) Good Sleep Habits: Practicing consistent sleep hygiene is important year-round. Set a consistent bed-time (that's right, bedtimes aren't just for kids!) and wake time. Find a relaxing routine in the evening, maybe a cup of caffeine-free tea and a warm bath or a few pages in a book. Wake up with an energizing stretch and set a positive intention for the day.

4) Healthy, Nourishing Nutrition: We all know that eating healthy is important but many struggle with making good food choices throughout the day. While everyone's body and nutrition requirements are different some good rules of thumb for everyone to follow include: drinking more water throughout the day, cut out processed foods, and increase consumption of veggies.

Take a Look at What's Coming Up

Check out the community calendar to find information about upcoming community events :

sanc'tu-ar'y (sangk-choo-er-ee) n., pl -ies
1. A sacred place. 2. A place of refuge from stress, pressure, and anxiety. 3. Where one leaves their cares behind to embrace a place known for its serenity. 4. Alpena, Michigan.
Alpena's Holiday Traditions
Whether it's Christmas tree shopping for that perfect beautiful Blue Spruce or Douglas Fir, baking cookies in the kitchen all night, or singing Christmas carols around the neighborhood- just about everybody has a holiday family tradition or two! In light of the spirit of Christmas just a few days away, we have collected stories of current and former Alpena residents, as well as the childhood stories of people who hold holiday traditions in Alpena that are near and dear to their hearts. 

From our Facebook Fans: 
"Every Christmas day, my oldest sister, Perri Ritzler Talaska, hosts a family gathering at her and her husband's farm in Posen, Mich. If the weather cooperates, I usually round-up the family for a photo in front of the big red Talaska barn." - Jenni Ritzler Johns

"Every year we drive up on Christmas Eve from Toledo and have dinner at a local restaurant with my dad and sister. Then we proceed to tour the beautiful light display in the subdivision at the end of Third St., and then to the cool light display by the railroad tracks near Third St. "
                - Jenni Ritzler Johns 

"My old-fashioned Christmas tree. I'm quite far away from family and this kind of tradition. My husband and I just do whatever we want on Christmas ...which is usually nice, peaceful and involves books! New Year is the big blow-out here in Scotland."
                - Janet Thorne Foley

"Every year since I was perhaps seven, members of the Stepanski clan have met, first in Maple Ridge Township at Leonard and Eva's farm and now at Alpena Yacht Club, to feast, open presents and give each other love...sixty years and counting."
                - Connie Stafford
"Gifting the kids with fun holiday pajamas and taking a picture! I can only hope I can get them to do this forever!" -
Katelyn Carr

"I so miss the Norwegian cookies my mom and aunt would make, plus being together Christmas Day, and most of all being with my family and going to church on Christmas Eve while singing silent night holding a candle. Those were the best times. Of course, I could go on and on."
                - Nancy Stachnik

"We like to splurge on lobster tails from Cracker Barrel and the liver pate from Perch's is a must every holiday season...two staple spots in Alpena for our traditional holiday cuisine...and lots of eggnog! All before the New Year holiday slim down on Jan 1."
                - Catherine Chaplin

"Three generations of Christmas Eve walks on the frozen lake or in my grandmother's neighborhood depending on where she was living. A 50-year tradition!"
                - Allison Modrzynski

"We leave old toys under the tree on Christmas Eve. Santa then takes them back to the North Pole to fix up and give to other kids."
                - Jennifer Dingess
"Our monkey tree topper!" - Samantha Dunkelberger

"The Live Nativity at TriPoint Church of God, seeing the lights and luminaries on Barrington Ct. and Kensington Circle on Christmas Eve, the lights on North St., Alpena Furniture's window display, Mr. Diamond's amazing light tree on Werth Rd, and of course yelling "There's Rudolph" at the red light on top of the water tower." 
                - Julie Zarske Benson

"Every Christmas Eve we get together at my uncle's house for a fun night of appetizers, party games, and holiday beverages. Then we go out to my parents' house where we unwrap one gift (it's always new Christmas jammies!) and settle in for the night. On Christmas Day we unwrap presents together and my mom always bakes this delicious breakfast casserole and French toast. Then everyone takes a nap! This has been our family tradition for decades." 
                - Nicole Carr

Call For Entries: Fresh Takes Video Contest

Earn cash for your video creations! It's time to start thinking about getting your entry ready for the Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau FRESH TAKES Video Contest! We have also added a PEOPLE's CHOICE award this year. Details on how to vote for your favorite video, will be released in early January.

Entries are due Dec. 29. Check out full rules and instructions for entering the Fresh Takes Video Contest here:

Take Your Favorite Adventure Wherever You Go! 
Sanctuary of the Great Lakes logo gear is available now on so you never have to leave your favorite adventure behind. Travel mugs, stainless water bottles, t-shirts, totes, and field packs and more are waiting for your next expedition. Choose your favorite adventure and then choose your item. 

Hometown Tastes: Soft Gingerbread Cookies
From the kitchen of: Haley W. 
The cookie that really gets you in the spirit of Christmas!
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, but still cool, cut into 1/2- inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1. With an electric mixer, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt at low speed until combined, about 20 seconds. Stop the mixer and add the butter pieces. Mix at medium-low speed until the mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and with the mixer running, gradually add the molasses and milk. Mix until the dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds should do it. Increase the speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, approximately 10 seconds. 

2. Scrap dough onto work surface; divide in half. Working one portion at a time, shape the dough into 2 round disks. Cover them in plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 20-30 minutes. Alternatively, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight. 

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

4. Remove cookie dough from the fridge and roll into 2-inch diameter balls. Be careful not to overwork the dough as it will lose its chill and get too warm. Roll each dough ball into the granulated sugar until coated. Transfer ball to confectioners sugar and roll again until coated evenly. Place the coated dough balls 1-inch apart from one another on the baking sheet. 

5. Bake the cookies until set in the centers, 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool the cookies on the sheets 2 minutes, then remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Store gingerbread crinkle cookies in an airtight containers for up to a week. 


What happened to the old drive-in? Where can kids go to be active when it's raining out? How many parks are in the City of Alpena? Send us a question about Alpena to and we'll answer it in the next newsletter.

Until Next Time ...
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We look forward to seeing you out and about. Take care!

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This newsletter is brought to you by the Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau on behalf of the Alpena community. Copyright Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. All rights reserved.  |  989-354-4181  |